AJPA JRelease: New Funding Available for Jewish Conversion & Outreach Efforts
Thursday, March 31, 2016
New Funding Available for Jewish Conversion & Outreach Efforts
The National Center for Understanding Judaism (NCEJ), a national foundation that focuses on Jewish outreach and conversion, plans a sharp increase in its 2016 grants for its ongoing programs, and more funding later this year for new programs it is initiating. The Center’s goal is to encourage synagogues and other Jewish organizations to offer opportunities for non-Jews to learn about Judaism, with the ultimate objective of increasing the number of converts.
Over the past decade it has provided grants to hundreds of Jewish organizations throughout the United States. Most grants range from $500 to $1,000 and generally help offset program advertising and marketing costs for Taste of Judaism and Introduction to Judaism courses and similar initiatives, such as Ask-a-Rabbi coffeehouses.
Starting in Spring 2016 NCEJ will offer funding for innovative programs that seek to introduce non-Jews to Jewish practices and traditions, such as Seders and Shabbat dinners. The Center encourages organizations who wish to implement such programs to submit funding proposals. These programs must be geared to the community at large, not to a congregation’s members, in order for NCEJ to consider awarding grants.
Ellen Gerecht, Executive Director of the Foundation, based in suburban Washington, DC, says that bringing in “Jews By Choice” has many benefits for a congregation. Many congregations today struggle with membership recruitment, yet often Jews by Choice are some of the most active members of a congregation. And, though historically Jews have avoided seeking converts, synagogue membership and even Jewish survival may well depend on attracting Jews By Choice, rather than just Jews By Birth, as that population faces crucial demographic challenges with rising intermarriage and smaller family size. She notes that Judaism has much to offer those who are searching for something more in their lives, but it’s traditionally been difficult to learn about Judaism, even if you have a Jewish partner. That is why NCEJ encourages synagogues and other Jewish agencies to offer learning opportunities.
The Center’s grant application process is simple, and open to any Jewish organization. Programs must be open to all in the community. Advertising covered by the program can include banners, flyers, brochures, radio spots, online efforts and other marketing. Print ads must be in general interest media to be eligible.
Applicants can simply fill out a one-page form and if eligible, can receive reimbursement of 50% or more of their advertising costs. Pre-application letters are welcome at any time. NCEJ has a very simple deadline process, which is explained on their website, www.ncejudaism.org. The deadline for Spring 2016 applications is May 31, though programs don’t have to have been completed by that date. Additional grants will be available later this year. Grantees will be notified in advance, though awards will not be disbursed until completion of a program.
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