Two recent grants will help Reconstructing Judaism advance its strategic priorities of pursuing racial justice, investing in rabbinic education and strengthening Jewish communities.
The Wabash Center, which funds higher education in religion and theological studies, awarded $30,000 in new funding to Reconstructing Judaism. With this fiscal support, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College — part of Reconstructing Judaism — will partner with the Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project on integrating the project’s “Dismantling Racism From the Inside Out” curriculum with faculty members.
The 18-month program combines social action with inner spiritual work, and it will be used to help guide faculty members in a spiritual and ethical approach to unlearning racism and anti-blackness. Rabbi Sandra Lawson, director of racial justice, equity and inclusion, and Rabbi Alex Weissman, director of mekhinah and cultural and spiritual life, will lead the process. Rabbis David Jaffe and Yehudah Webster will consult for the project and lead at least one of the in-person sessions.
“I’m so grateful to the Wabash Center for enabling us to pursue this work. It is allowing us to pursue anti-racist practice in a way that is deeply rooted in Jewish tradition,” said Weissman. “Our hope is that by increasing the shared language, frameworks and practices for the faculty to engage in, it helps make the college a more anti-racist space.”
Reconstructing Judaism was also recently awarded $40,000 from the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford, Conn., to continue the Auerbach Entrepreneurial Grant Program. For nearly a decade, this funding has helped place Reconstructing Judaism at the forefront of innovation in progressive Jewish life.
This eight-year-old program supports innovators in creating bold experiments in Jewish life, aiming to offer Reconstructionist Rabbinical College students and graduates experience in conceiving a new idea and bringing it to life. It teaches future and new rabbis to engage in design thinking, identify unmet needs, experiment and assess the results of their work.
The program fosters new initiatives to meet unmet needs and assist underserved populations. Among many things, it has seeded Or Zarua, a thriving community serving empty-nesters; and Hinenu, a Baltimore community that describes itself as a “synagogue-meets-community center-meets-beit midrash-meets-workers co-op.”
“I am so grateful for the financial support, using it to create the Cleveland Jewish Collective,” said Rabbi Miriam Geronimous, RRC ’21, who received Auerbach grants in three successive years to help bring the collective to fruition.
“I had a hunch that people in Cleveland were hungry for a creative, radically inclusive Jewish community,” continued Geronimous. “The funding I received from Auerbach enabled me to test that hypothesis through one-on-one conversations and prototype programs. Over the past three years, I was able to form and deepen relationships, learn more about my community’s needs, and co-create a community I love and feel blessed to serve.”