Natan/NEXT Grantees

Recipients of the Natan/NEXT Grants for Social Entrepreneurs

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Grant Recipients
Round 6  - 2013

Jesse Freedman - Jewish Plays Project

The Jewish Plays Project puts bold, progressive Jewish conversations on world stages. It aims to bring great plays to life in order to create new pathways to Jewish identity. Jesse is a New York City-based theater artist and teaching artist. He is also the co-founder of Meta-Phys. Ed, a multidisciplinary performance collective that creates Jewish text-based theater.

Naomi Leight - Jewcer

Jewcer teaches independent Jewish creators and organizations how to use crowdfunding technology to fundraise for their initiatives and the global Jewish community. Naomi is co-founder of and serves as the media, communications and diplomacy specialist. Currently, she is the assistant director for Research & Publications at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School and a partner in Rimona Consulting.

Steven Philp - Mishkan Chicago

Mishkan Chicago is an independent spiritual community reclaiming Judaism’s dynamic core through creative, intellectual, and authentic engagement with our inherited tradition. Steven is Mishkan's rabbinic intern and graphic designer. He is currently a dual-degree student at the University of Chicago, pursuing his Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work.

David Singer - Makom

Makom, an innovative spiritual community in Dallas, is a hub for experimentation and imagination. Makom takes the synagogue out of the synagogue, empowering Jews to build traditional, dynamic Jewish life on their own terms. David is the founder and rabbi of Makom, and was named by The Jewish Daily Forward as one of American's Most Inspiring Rabbis.

Grant Recipients
Round 5  - Spring 2012

Russell Gottschalk - Atlanta Jewish Music Festival

The Atlanta Jewish Music Festival is the preeminent producer and promoter of live, contemporary Jewish music experiences in Atlanta, providing opportunities for musicians and audiences to deepen their connection to Jewish music, culture and each other. While engaging Atlanta to the global Jewish music renaissance, AJMF adds to the diverse cultural landscape of Georgia's capital and fosters a more vibrant Jewish community throughout the Southeast.

Russell Gottschalk is the director and founder of AJMF, a Birthright alum (Winter '06-'07) and an active member of Atlanta's young Jewish community. Russell and the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival were also recipients of the third round of Natan/NEXT Grants for Social Entrepreneurs.

Lizzi Heydemann - Mishkan Chicago

Mishkan Chicago is a spiritual community in Chicago reclaiming Judaism’s dynamic essence through prayer and learning experiences rooted in music and intellectual exploration, creating community through Shabbat and holidays celebration, one-to-one interaction, and small-group classes. The ancient Mishkan in the desert brought together the Israelites from across the spectrum of the community, and so do we: young, young-at-heart, LGBTQ Jews, Jews in interfaith relationships and from all denominational and religious backgrounds. Founded by Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann in the Fall of 2011, we really believe that Judaism is a vehicle for bringing more light, more goodness, more justice, and more joy into the world, and that inspired prayer and inspired living reinforce on another.

Stacy Miller - NOVA Tribe Series

NOVA Tribe Series provides Jewish young professionals living and working in Northern Virginia with innovative programming and leadership activities that promote learning about and giving back to the Northern Virginia community. We seek to construct a new model for engaging suburban Jewish young adults, create an active young professional Jewish community in Northern Virginia and develop the next generation of Jewish leaders.

Stacy Miller is the founder of NOVA Tribe Series. She is an active member of the Greater Washington Jewish community and is currently a ConnectGens PresenTense Fellow. In summer 2011 she was selected to participate in the DC Birthright Alumni Leadership Mission to Israel.

Jeremy Gillick - Green Chaverim

Green Chaverim plants vegetable garden and fruit trees at synagogues in the Bay Area. It seeks to connect synagogues with their land, draw unaffiliated Jews into synagogues and, in the process, help transform synagogues into dynamic community hubs, offering agricultural workshops to neighborhood residents, donating produce to local causes--schools, medical clinics, and individuals in need--and encouraging the consumption of interfaith salad. GC hopes to provide the support and training necessary to make these gardens self sustaining. Ideally, they will serve as community and educational resources for generations to come.

Grant Recipients
Round 4  - Summer 2011

David Merel - mIsrael

mIsrael is a fully interactive map, guide, and historical reference app for state of Israel. The application can be used both as an educational tool as well as a travel companion. When used in Israel, the app uses GPS to pinpoint the location of the user and will provide historical information, pictures, videos, and timelines about the specific area, as well as comments from other users. Biblical references about the location can be accessed, including passage information in both Hebrew and English. Additionally, when traveling in Israel the app can refer users to nearby attractions, stores, transportation services as well as provide local travel tips and advisories. When used outside of Israel as an educational tool, users can interact with a virtual map of Israel; by selecting a location on the map, users will be have access to the same information as a traveler.

David and his team at mIsrael were also recipients of the second round of Natan/NEXT Grants for Social Entrepreneurs.

Elan Margulies - Etz HaSadeh: A Center for Jewish Spirituality

Etz HaSadeh is a program of Pushing the Envelope Farm, a 14-acre community and educational farm located near Chicago. The farm is a residential community which engages with the land according to organic principles, ecological design and Jewish values. The name, Etz HaSadeh comes from the passage in the Torah, ki adam etz hasadeh, “a person is a tree of the field”. By exploring the connections between the human and natural world, this project aims to build vibrant Jewish life by engaging participants in a series of hands-on workshops built around the Jewish calendar and agricultural cycles. Workshops range from harvesting and making Hanukah candles from local beeswax, to threshing and grinding wheat for Challah baking. Farm manager and educator Elan Margulies has worked extensively in the field of Jewish and environmental education since he staffed a Shorashim Birthright trip in 2006.

Janelle Eagle - Twice Blessed

Twice Blessed is a tri-lateral interactive art project addressing the issues of being young, queer Jewish in contemporary America. Consisting of a documentary film, an interactive on-line social community, and an accompanying curriculum that turns the art into action, the three elements cross-market a conversation about identity issue in an innovative way.

Grant Recipients
Round 3  - Winter 2011

Miriam Steinberg-Egeth - Minyan Tikvah

Minyan Tikvah is a new lay-led traditional egalitarian Saturday morning minyan in Center City, Philadelphia that was founded in August 2009 by five Center City residents in their 20s and 30s. Minyan Tikvah meets for Shabbat morning services once a month. Following services and Kiddush, everyone is invited back to a nearby home for a community lunch. The members of the organizing committee come from a variety of religious and professional experiences, and Minyan Tikvah's services attract participants from a wide range of ages and backgrounds.

Miriam is the director of Hillel of Greater Philadelphia's Jewish Graduate Student Network and participated in the first round of Birthright Israel trips in December 1999-2000.

Miriam Steinberg-Egeth and Minyan Tikvah were also recipients of the first round of Natan/NEXT Grants for Social Entrepreneurs.

Jill Zenoff - HaNachalah: The Urban Jewish Homestead

A quarter acre of land located on the grounds of the Bernard Horwich JCC will serve as the hub of urban agricultural activity in the Chicago Jewish community.

Urban Jewish Homesteading is the practice of Do-It-Yourself Tikkun Olam. Through working the land as our ancestors did before us, Jews from all walks of life can revitalize their connection to some of the most basic principles of Judaism. By providing positive experiences in nature we can breath life into old traditions, explore the foundation of our faith, and foster a greater understanding of Torah.

Russell Gottschalk - Atlanta Jewish Music Festival

See description above in Round 5.

Joshua Epstein - Beit Kayam, Ravenna Kibbutz

Beit Kayam is part of the Ravenna Kibbutz community in North Seattle. The goal of this program is two-fold. First, to create a unique opportunity for residents of the house to create, experience, and model a living laboratory of residential, Jewish sustainable living. Second, the house is meant to be a hub for unique programs and connections for young Jews interested in sustainability, who may or may not previously be immersed in Jewish culture.

Grant Recipients
Round 2  - Summer 2010

Shira Kaiserman - JZog Kickball

JZog takes advantage of the long-standing secular tradition of kickball in New York City to bring together young Jewish professionals in an open and welcoming setting. Founder Shira Kaiserman will be organizing teams of twenty players this Spring and creating opportunities for members from all different Jewish backgrounds to get to know one another.

Daniel Sieradski - Jew It Yourself

Jew It Yourself: The Do It Yourself Guide to Every Day Jewish Living is a suite of online tools and offline initiatives that promote independent Jewish learning, practice and community building. J.I.Y., like &, will offer user generated "do it yourself" video instruction on Jewish beliefs, rituals, cooking and crafts in a pluralistic, non-denominational, welcoming, and relevant environment. In addition to showcasing user generated content and highlighting the best existing content from around the web, J.I.Y. is producing its own original video series featuring young Jewish innovators, leaders and educators teaching Jewish essentials.

Jill Zenoff - The Gan Project

The Gan Project endeavors to create a vibrant, sustainable, and healthy Chicago Jewish community through recurring, action oriented environmental and agricultural programming. Through working the land as our ancestors did before us, Jews from all walks of life can revitalize their connection to some of the most basic principles of Judaism. By providing positive experiences in nature we can breath life into old traditions, explore the foundation of our faith, and foster a greater understanding of Torah.

David Merel - mIsrael

See description above in Round 4.

Hadass Gerson - Tree House Gallery

TreeHouse Gallery is a multi-purposed art space that blends the ethos of the kibbutz with contemporary creative practices in San Francisco and the Bay Area. TreeHouse programming consists of art exhibitions, urban gardening workshops, contemporary film screenings, jewish cooking classes and, creative writing seminars that all foster exploration of our collective spirituality. These artistically driven programs explore how our vibrant cultural tapestry can be rewoven within our modern creative impulses.

Grant Recipients
Round 1  - Winter 2010

Sam White - Candlestick Readings

"I have had a lot of interesting conversations about reading, writing fiction, and being Jewish, but too often they have been cut short. Candlestick Readings and Book Clubs will gather a community of people to exchange their writing, interest in literature, and perspectives on Judaism."

Candlestick Readings is a reading series and book club that brings together working Jewish writers, musicians, and performers on the stage and in conversation about Jewish literature. At the reading series, young Jewish artists perform their work, exploring American life and the influence of Jewish identity amidst the thriving literary scene in New York and Brooklyn. The book clubs will read and discuss important Jewish voices, such as Stanley Elkin, Deborah Eisenberg, Woody Allen, and Philip Roth.

Miriam Steinberg-Egeth - Minyan Tikvah

See description above in Round 3.

Eileen Levinson - is an online resource for Jews of all backgrounds to upload, exchange and personalize Passover Haggadot. For each section of the Haggadah, users may share original texts and artwork reflecting their unique perspective on the Passover story. These clips are sorted and tagged in a public searchable web library for other users who want to create their own Haggadah. The site is currently accepting beta testers and preliminary submissions, and will be available for public use for Passover 2011.

Johanna Bronk - A Kneaded Twist

"Since challah is such an important icon in Judaism, I aim to create a variety that is organic and local. This way, people can feel good about consuming it from health, ethical, and environmental standpoints. After all, if our religious practices don't encourage us to be our best selves, what will?"

The mission of A Kneaded Twist is to help actualize the Jewish tradition of healthy and ethical eating and agriculture. A Kneaded Twist is a kosher, organic and local-grain challah bakery based in Brooklyn, NY. Following the Community Supported Agriculture model, individuals make monthly purchases for weekly deliveries to Brooklyn and Manhattan. CSAs help consumers feel more connected to their food by acknowledging from where it came. A Kneaded Twist has spelt and vegan options available for purchase.