Initiative on Israeli Pluralism and Jewish Diversity: Israel & Overseas Allocations for 2018

The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati has allocated $201,000 in Israel & Overseas Directed Funding in fiscal year 2018 to fund efforts toward Israeli pluralism.


The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati is supporting a new national Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) initiative to promote pluralism in Israel. The intent of this new program, the Israel Religious Expression Platform (iRep), is to support Jewish diversity and freedom of religious expression in Israel. The majority of funding during the initiative’s two-year period will be used for the funding of nonprofit organizations whose work advances iRep’s mission.

The iRep Advisory Board represents a wide base of supporters from across the religious and political spectrum, including members of the Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox communities in Israel and in North America.

Our CEO, Shep Englander, has laid out the mission behind the funding. 


We are funding for 2018: Israel & Overseas Directed Funding:

  • Israel Religious Expression Platform of JFNA (iRep):  $25,000
  • Salary for part-time representative in Israel: $36,000
  • Six local Israeli programs:  $60,000 (see below for details)​
  • One JAFI program: $30,000 (see below for details)
  • One JDC program: $50,000 (see below for details)


After the Federation's volunteers' regular review process, we decided to fund six local Israeli programs: 



2018 Allocation

Atid Bamidbar


Beit Tefilah Israeli


Israel Hofsheet


Shalom Hartman Institute


Beit Israel Netanya


Congregation Natan Ya


Details about each Israeli organization:

  • Atid Bamidbar—Series of evening workshops will equip Russian-speaking parents, including new immigrants from Ukraine and Russia. The program will expose them to diverse options of Jewish life and practice that they can choose to apply in their own families and lives. Each group of parents will participate in at least: (a) one series of 8-10 2-hr workshops on pluralistic Jewish identity; (b) 2 Family Seminars on Wheels (with their children); and (c) 2 Jewish holiday celebrations.
  • Beit Tefilah Israeli—Five-month course that provides 25 participants with the necessary tools to create and hold Kabbalat Shabbat services and Jewish holiday ceremonies throughout Israel. The participants will study and practice the necessary textual, musical and spiritual skills to create satellite communities of Beit Tefilah Israeli around the country. The Course consists of 12, 3.5 hour-long sessions, one intensive weekend and a final project practicum with mentoring.
  • Israel Hofsheet—Israel Hofsheet’s HUB program,serves as a platform for graduates from our Center for Training and New Initiatives to develop new initiates in Jewish pluralism. The program will include eight group meetings. The participants will then be matched with leaders in the field of Jewish pluralism for mentoring.
  • Shalom Hartman Institute—Beit Midrash for New Israeli Rabbis brings together ultra-Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, traditional-Masorti, liberal, and secular leaders to define a relevant, pluralistic model of Israeli-Jewish leadership for our times. The program creates a cadre of community leaders versed in a pluralistic Jewish language to establish and lead communities within Israeli society.​
  • Beit Israel Netanya—"Havdalah Plus" which would be a short musical traditional Havdalah service, followed immediately by a "sing along". This will occur once a month and be open to our entire neighborhood in addition to the greater Netanya area around us.  The Sing Along would be led by the musically talented Birnbaum family, the children and grandchildren of our Rabbi Emeritus and his wife.  We will feature traditional Israeli songs of the past as well as liturgical settings of popular psalms. By advertising extensively in the print and radio media, as well as on social networks, we want to attract secular families in our immediate area.
  • Congregation Natan Ya— in a series of 40 classes, events, lectures and conferences, Rabbi Dr. Edgar Nof and guest lecturers – including female rabbis of the Israeli Reform Movement, will learn and debate the status of the women in Jewish sources in many fields and in the religious practice today in the State of Israel.

The two JDC programs we funded are: 



2018 Allocation

JAFI – Nativ Program in Israel


JDC – FSU Humanitarian Assistance


Details about each JDC program:

  • JAFI: More than 4,000 soldiers serving at any given time are of Jewish descent, but are either not considered Jewish by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate or are Halachically Jewish, but possess limited knowledge of Jewish history, tradition, and observance. Approximately 80% have roots in the Former Soviet Union (FSU). The Nativ program is a 4 1/2 week, pluralistic Jewish and Zionist educational program. Nativ provides a safe space for immigrant soldiers to learn about their roots, solidify their connections to Israel and the Jewish people, develop personal connections to Jewish practice and culture and, for those who are eligible and choose to pursue conversion, embrace the full benefits of recognized Jewish status.
  • JDC: FSU states still lack coherent social safety nets for their poorest citizens. Elderly Jews on minimal pensions struggle to meet critical daily needs amid rising prices, costly and often unavailable medicine, and inaccessible care. JDC’s program addresses the critical material and emotional needs across the FSU. Our support is particularly crucial to those elderly Jews who cannot survive on their meager pensions, but do not quality for Claims Conference restitution funds. Assistance includes homecare, winter relief and emergency assistance.