Young Entrepreneurs to receive $25,000

Natan and NEXT Announce 2014 Grants

Contact: Jason Edelstein, (510) 239-1102

NEW YORK, NY (August 13, 2014) – NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation and the Natan Fund today announced the recipients of the 2014 Natan/NEXT Grants for Social Entrepreneurs, designed to support ongoing cultural, spiritual, educational, service, and community-buildi​ng projects run by young Jewish adults for their peers. The grants will total $25,000 to three recipients to further realize their vision of Jewish life in their communities.  

“We are always excited to award these grants to passionate young Jewish adults who are driven to inspire others,” says Morlie Levin, CEO of NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation. “Like many of their peers in the Birthright Israel generation, they have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and want to create truly authentic Jewish experiences for their friends and communities. These grants are one way we can support their creativity and desire to shape vibrant Jewish life.”

Jackie Fishman, assistant director of the Natan Fund, says, “Every year, we see incredible initiatives that represent the diversity and ingenuity of young Jewish adults. From technology to culture to spirituality, these projects will help more young adults connect to each other and express their Jewish identity in new ways. We are excited to see how they evolve and impact our community.”

This year’s Natan/NEXT Grants for Social Entrepreneurs recipients are:

Nathan DeGroot, Mikdash: Portland's East Side Jewish Cooperative

Mikdash is a cooperative Jewish community and grassroots incubator for creativity, spirituality, and culture. Based on Portland’s east side, Mikdash supports and empowers folks to generously share their "gifts"—their skills, passions, talents and interests—with one another, to help facilitate the growth of meaningful community. Nathan is a fifth-year student at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College and founder of Mikdash.

Leora Maccabee Itman, TC Jewfolk

TC Jewfolk is an independent, entrepreneurial start-up using social media and community-based journalism to connect, engage, and inspire young Jews in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Leora is the founder of TC Jewfolk and Chair of the Board of Directors for Jewfolk Media, its parent nonprofit organization.  Leora is an attorney at Maslon, Edelman, Borman & Brand, LLP.

David Zvi Kalman, Open Quorum

Open Quorum/Jewish Public Media is a new online platform for creating, curating, and promoting excellent Jewish ideas and creative expression through podcasts like Talking in Shul and Responsa Radio, videos, and live events like SermonSlam. David is co-founder and president of Open Quorum, a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania in medieval Jewish and Islamic law, and serves as one of Mechon Hadar's Campus Scholars. 

In previous grant rounds, Natan and NEXT awarded more than 21 grants to social entrepreneurs, totaling $156,000. From new spiritual communities to a Jewish music festival to a create-your-own haggadah website, past grantees have realized their dreams by creating and building start-up projects to help young Jewish adults explore Jewish life.


Natan inspires young philanthropists to become actively engaged in Jewish giving by funding innovative projects that are shaping the Jewish future. 

NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation helps turn ten day trips to Israel into lifelong Jewish journeys. Building on the Birthright Israel experience, NEXT empowers communities, professionals, and Birthrighters themselves to create meaningful Jewish opportunities for young adults.​