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Dear Friends:

Twenty-five years ago I had the privilege of working with Susan Crown and Barbara Goodman Manilow to establish the Covenant Awards, which have sometimes been called the “Nobel Prizes” of Jewish education, awarded each year to three outstanding Jewish educators.  In the years since, the Covenant Foundation has added another tier of award, the Pomegranate Prize, for exceptionally promising younger educators.
Prizes are now a familiar part of the Jewish philanthropic landscape, recognizing individuals and organizations in areas as diverse as inclusion of people with disabilities, Jewish literature and poetry, Jewish expression in art and design, excellence in a professional field combined with dedication to the Jewish community and Israel, and Jewish humanitarianism.  As I hope you know by now, Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah is now inaugurating a new prize in celebration of the Jubilee of Kanfer family philanthropy called the Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom.
The Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom will recognize exemplary programs that help individuals or communities use Jewish wisdom and sensibilities to live better lives and shape a better world.  Like most prizes, this one will come with a cash award to the winning organizations and several “honor mentions.”  But, our aim in launching this Prize goes beyond recognizing and rewarding a few outstanding programs.  Integral to the Prize is a website,, that will serve as a gathering and display vehicle for a large number of entrants.  By providing profiles of a wide array of programs that are applying Jewish wisdom in diverse ways and in a variety of arenas, we hope both to educate and to inspire: to help organizations learn about models that they might adapt for their own activities and to give everyone involved in this work a sense of its growing scope, reach, and impact.
We hope that you’ll join this endeavor in several ways.  First, help us spread the word and encourage organizations to apply.  (We've made it easy - just click here to tweet.)There are separate categories for organizations whose programs are primarily local or regional and those that operate nationally or globally.  The application form is online on the Prize website and reasonably easy to complete.  Second, encourage people to come to the website to view the Semi-finalists (and come yourself).  We are continually awed by the vision and creativity of programmers across the Jewish community who are finding ways to make Jewish teaching and practice, both traditional and emergent, accessible and relevant to Jews who are seeking inspiration, guidance, and community.  We are looking forward to showcasing some of this creativity on the Prize website in our Semi-finalist portfolio.
The Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom is another arrow in our foundation’s quiver, complementing our grantmaking, convening, thought partnerships, and communications.  All of our efforts have the same goal: to encourage Jews (and others) to look to the accumulating body of Jewish wisdom and sensibilities as valuable sources of insight and support as we all seek to live lives of purpose, fulfillment, and responsibility.  We can’t think of a better way to celebrate 50 years of philanthropy than by bringing recognition and reward to those who exemplify this goal and who are bringing it to realization through their work.

Jon Woocher,


We’re pleased to share several new grants which have been formalized since our last newsletter.  Several of these grants are funding for planning or piloting; we’re pleased to engage in these learning processes via our grant portfolio.
The foundation awarded Jewish Social Justice Roundtable $35,000 to engage in a planning process to identify and describe a potential larger project that strengthens Jewish social justice organizations in applying Jewish wisdom in their ongoing work.  This is the foundation’s first attempt to make a sector wide grant; keep an eye out for a forthcoming blog piece talking more about why we want to explore grants that potentially benefit sectors. 

The foundation also granted Ayeka $50,000 as part of a co-funded grant with AVI CHAI Foundation and Kohelet Foundation to support the Ayeka Jewish Day School Pilot program in three Jewish day schools; this grant will test how the Ayeka pedagogy, in which students engage in text learning in ways that engage their hearts and is life-relevant, can best be implemented and supported with high school students in a day school setting.
After a very successful launch, BimBam (formerly G-dcast) was awarded $65,000 produce an additional 5 parenting videos to accompany the next 5 Shaboom! videos for children.  Be sure to check out the first 5 Shaboom! videos and the accompanying parent videos which were funded by the foundation.

Finally, the foundation granted KOLOT  $40,000 to advance KOLOT’s work exploring and developing educational resources around the concept of Berakha and to strengthen the research and development work of their Beit Midrash.  This grant is part of the foundation’s continued exploration of Berakha as a way of applying Jewish wisdom.
Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom Announcement
In case you missed our formal announcement, it's worth hearing our Board Chair, Marcella Kanfer Rolnick talk about how and why we're launching a Prize for Jewish Wisdom.  Also featuring Board Member Joe Kanfer and President Jon Woocher.


Our Jewish Sensibilities cards have been out in the world for a couple of years now, and we have begun investigating their impact in the wild, so to speak, to help us shape our future work - both with this tool and Jewish Sensibilities overall.

We recently conducted a survey of users, and look forward to sharing a collection of stories from professionals soon, to highlight interesting ways the cards are being used in the field.  One group that has been enthusiastic about developing curriculum around Sensibilities has been Hillel, and we experimented with a new market research technique to learn more about how college students relate to these concepts (and the card decks.)  Using a service called dscout, we asked over 200 students to spend a week capturing Jewish Sensibilities at play in their lives, using text, photos, and short videos.

We promised to award a prize to the most insightful and creative set of entries, but wound up needing to add two honorable mentions.  Many thanks to Grand Prize winner Mara Scoch, and our Honorable Mention Michael Filkins and Aliza Mossman.  We hope you enjoy some of their snippets, below, illustrating the many ways that college students, once exposed to the framework of Jewish Sensibilities, internalize it and apply that wisdom to their lives.
Simcha, Joy
Aliza found herself appreciating life's beauty in small but stunning moments, like a perfect blue sky behind cherry trees, as a feeling that lasted all day when savored intentionally.

Lech Lecha, Take Yourself and Go
Michael took this selfie, making the analogy between Avram, heading into the wilderness, and his own journey deeper and deeper into Judaism during weekly study with his rabbi.

Elu v'Elu, (Both) These and Those
Maya, in her own words, describes her understanding: "In applying this sensibility to my life, nothing strikes me more than the differences in my wardrobe. I'm a student, an athlete, an artist, a Jewish professional. I am a collection of messy and constantly changing things that fit together with no rhyme or reason. I am both organized and creative. I am constantly on the move and having to look cool. In the debate between the aspects of my personality, I've learned to be both this and that."
Please visit The Forward and check out Sh'ma Now's current issue on the Jewish sensibility of Simcha.


We were inspired by this insightful story of Simcha by Laura Yares, particularly as a complement to the Simcha issue of Sh'ma Now (see above).  Add it to your intentional conversations!

Open Source Judaism seems like Living Torah at its finest, as described in this article in the Atlantic.

Katy Perry is into the idea of a tech Shabbat - something our grantee Tiffany Shlain often talks about as part of her personal practices - while she's not busy staying on message to spread the word about Character Day.

If you missed "Speaking of Jewish Identity" - a provocative yet sensitive conversation starter by Andres Spokoiny in eJewishPhilanthropy, go back and read it.  Then check out our response.

We are also stunned by the array of learning opportunities available at Mechon Hadar this summer (and year-round) - it's not too late to sign up.  The Jewish Professionals week long program sound particularly compelling for Jewish leaders who are charged with guiding others, while still progressing on their own Jewish journey.

Last but not least, our staff was delighted to participate in this year's Collaboratory, and deeply enjoyed meeting and reconnecting with so many folks innovating Jewish life in ways that resonate with our approach - applying Jewish wisdom in ways that make our rich tradition tangible to participants.  We really want to shout out to our two ACTIVATE co-presenters, Jeff Kasowitz of Jewish Studio Project and Rebecca Milder of Jewish Enrichment Center.  They are phenomenal people and professionals, and you should check out their work!

What else should we be sharing?  
Click here to send us your recommendations!
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Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah · One GOJO Plaza, Suite 350 · Akron, OH 44311 · USA

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