Reclaiming Judaism is a non-denominational non-profit that gathers leading Jewish innovators, authors and educators from every walk of Jewish life worldwide. We collaborate in mitzvah-centered initiatives in regard to tikkun olam—care for the planet and social justice, advancing contemporary Jewish culture, public and professional training, and also programs and materials in the field of experiential and spiritual education and guidance.
Our model emphasizes maximum involvement of talented volunteers, minimal staffing and cost savings and through the use cutting edge technology.
Our present initiatives include:
-- JSE: Jewish Spiritual Education is a distance-learning certification program for Jewish educators (principals, teachers, tutors, camp & guidance counselors, youth leaders & clergy) designed to advance the skills of Jewish educators yearning to more effectively engage students and transmit the meaning, relevance and joy of Jewish learning and living.
We focus on the skills of Jewish storytelling and spiritual development (hashpa'ah), coupled with depth studies in the texts, practices and methods of mussar (ethical development) and mitzvah. 52 mitzvot are coupled with middot (character attributes that can be cultivated) and matched with a significant repertoire of stories drawn from midrash and folktales, as well as contemporary Jewish literature.
Methods of experiential education such as InterPlay and training in professional Jewish storytelling and dynamic youth mentoring will be at the heart of this work.
Funding needs: Jewish educators earn less than secretaries and simply can't generally afford quality training (many have virtually no training). We are seeking scholarship support and travel grants for participants.
-- The Bar/Bat Mitzvah [R]evolution Initiative, honored by the Covenant Foundation, through which we reframe this too-often rote rite of passage into a process of meaningful mentoring of youth and families across the threshold of childhood into empowered young adulthood. Over 2500 families across the full spectrum of Jewish practice were reached with our Bar/Bat Mitzvah Family Adventure Retreats and Workshops, over 15,000 have utilized our guidebook, newsletter and internet resources, and our annual training for Jewish educators draws over 100 visionary educators from across North America, Great Britain and Europe. An updated 2nd edition of our award-winning first guidebook, Reclaiming Bar/Bat Mitzvah as a Spiritual Rite of Passage was released in 2014.
Funding needs: a. A video series for training b'nei mitzvah through this lens is planned and in need of full funding.
b. We plan a second guidebook edition that will include methods, principles and materials developed and tested since the first volume was published and to be correlated closely with the video series.
c. We have recruited several special education experts to adapt the decade of work we have put into this initiative in order to be able to offer training, materials and methods for those who are attempting to serve ill, mentally and developmentally disabled students attempting b'nei mitzvah preparation.
d. Scholarship funds for youth and families to participate in our annual Family B Mitzvah! Adventure Retreats.
-- Our Hashpa'ah Initiative for Jewish healing after the Holocaust resulted in the first formal training for Jewish clergy in how to work one-on-one through the lens of meaningful, well-grounded, authentic Jewish spirituality. The first such trainings at any Jewish seminary were offered by our faculty and members of our original focus group have now ensured that trainings are provided at all seminaries that are open to the concept. Methods are now publicly available through Volume of of series on Jewish Spiritual Guidance which is titled: Seeking and Soaring: Jewish Approaches to Spiritual Development and Guidance.
Funding needs: Subsidy so that we can commence the second volume which will focus on youth, adolescents and teens and the settings in Jewish life where professionals offer support.
-- The Mitzvah-Centered Life Initiative has just published two major resources and has a third in process, as well as a major traveling in-service training and public education program in the R&D phase. The thesis is that the mission of the Jewish people is to illuminate the path of holy healthy living through mitzvah-centered, rather than self-centered living, in the context of the cultivation of the self as a vessel for the light of mitzvah.
Our first resource in this initiative, Mitzvah Stories: Seeds for Inspiration and Learning, created in honor of Peninnah Schram, was created via a juried process and offers stories by 60 authors, clergy and storytellers. This volume has received exceptional reviews from the Jewish Book Council and visibility in many major 2012 publications. These new, provocative, inclusive, contemporary stories cover 52 mitzvot for mature readers wanting seeking a more meaningful relationship to their Judaism. There is a free 44-page downloadable discussion guide for book groups and a matching deck of 52 Mitzvah Cards.
Over 6000 copies sold in an 11 month period and all revenue goes to support JSE scholarships. Our next volume, New Mitzvah Stories for the Whole Family, created in honor of Danny Siegel, has just been released with a Jewish spiritual education discussion and activity guide incorporated after ever story.
Funding needs: Over 120 professional storytellers are involved in this initiative and they are ready to go out on the road to bring Mitzvah Stories Festivals and educator-in-service trainings to every kind of Jewish community. Coordinator and publicity funds are dearly needed.
Also happening in our ReclaimingJudaism.org R&D division:
--Illuminated Letters: Invisible Threads of Connection, a traveling exhibition that engages participants in connection to Torah and meaningful Jewish practice through magnificent panels and programs that teach the core spiritual roots of Hebrew and Torah.
Funding needs: Fully funded for its R&D phase and hugely successful launch at the Oregon Jewish Museum, funds for this exhibition to travel are now needed.
--Our websites www.reclaimingjudaism.org and bmitzvah.org contain hundreds of pages of free innovative resources for teachers and seekers of meaningful living through a Jewish lens. Bmitzvah.org, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah [R]evolution,founded in the late 1990's was the first website on the Internet to provide meaningful bar/bat mitzvah resources and to address the spiritual needs of b'nei mitzvah families.
--Reclaiming Judaism Press: Is our non-profit publishing division, dedicated to creating needed new resources for meaningful Jewish living which reveal the daily applications of Judaism's core spiritual practices within a context of respectful pluralism. We convene leading innovators, storytellers, rabbis, authors, and educators from across the full spectrum of Jewish life and practice as volunteers in the creation of each book and resource. All funds generated by these volumes are put toward scholarships to train Jewish educators and clergy in dynamic teaching and guidance methods for Jewish learning and living.
Reclaiming Judaism programs have been given in hundreds of cities in over 78 countries world-wide. We are so grateful for the support of the visionary donors who appreciate the way we have of anticipating what will be needed and doing our best to have it ready for when the primary institutions of Jewish life are ready to undertake the necessary sacred shifts.Founder and director, Rabbi Goldie Milgram and her major partner in this work, Rabbi Shohama Wiener have been recognized by the Covenant Foundation. Reclaiming Judaism initiatives are funded by foundations such as The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Myerhoff Foundation, Hadassah Foundation, Makor Ha-Lev Foundation, the Beitman Philanthropic Fund, and many others, including private donations from participants and readers. We are a 501C3 non-profit registered in the State of New York, serving internationally.
E-mail contact: Rabbi Goldie Milgram, Founder and Executive Vice President
Donations are welcome at the DONATE button and for security to receive our mailing address, please contact Rabbi Milgram, firstname.lastname@example.org.