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, www.lippmankanferprize.org, 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.