The Union for Traditional Judaism, Taking the MTV Challenge, North America, Europe, and Israel
Taking the MTV Challenge is a cutting-edge media curriculum that teaches teens and adults to apply traditional Jewish values to the interpretation of difficult material from media sources such as television shows and the Internet. Targum Shlishi’s support is to help the program develop new lessons. Taking the MTV Challenge teaches students to deconstruct visual images and filter the messages they encounter through the prism of Jewish values found in classical texts such as the Bible, Talmud, and other rabbinic sources. Created in 1997 by the Union for Traditional Judaism, Taking the MTV Challenge is a response to the prevalence of negative media images and messaging relating to subjects such as violence, promiscuity, misogyny, drug abuse, cynicism, and inter-group hatred. The program is in use at more than 350 locations in North America, Europe, and Israel, with new lesson plans continually being developed. The Union for Traditional Judaism is a trans-denominational education and outreach organization that promotes traditional Jewish values among all Jews.
Canfei Nesharim, Two Environmental and Torah Learning Programs, Washington, D.C.
Canfei Nesharim’s mission is to inspire the Jewish community to understand and act on the relationship between Jewish law, traditional Jewish sources and modern environmental issues. Canfei Nesharim’s engagement focus is currently in the Orthodox Jewish community, where the lack of environmental awareness is greatest. In 2008 Targum Shlishi is supporting two Canfei Nesharim initiatives: Eitz Chaim Hi: A Weekly Commentary on Torah, Environmental Learning and Action; and True Joy Through Water: Appreciate Water this Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret. Canfei Nesharim’s Torah commentary includes environmentally related Jewish teachings on each weekly Torah portion, the goal being to inspire and empower the audience to take environmental actions. The weekly e-mail is distributed, accessible in a web-based resource library, and will be published in a book. True Joy Through Water will expand a pilot initiative already introduced to more than thirty communities that centers on the holidays of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret and teaches communities to appreciate water and the connections between Torah, nature, and the environment.
NCSY South America Program, Summer Trip for Teens, Latin America
The only program to focus on Jewish teens in South America, NCSY South America is dedicated to making Judaism a priority in the lives of teenagers by inspiring them about their Jewish heritage and encouraging them to interact with the world in a Jewish way. To date, the program is in Chile and Argentina, with plans to expand to the whole of Latin America. Targum Shlishi helped support the program’s summer trip, which typically has a major positive impact on the students.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Mentally Insufficient Day Center, Djerba, Tunisia
On the Tunisian island of Djerba, home to the oldest continuous Jewish settlements in the world that have preserved a traditional way of life, mentally impaired individuals—local Arab Muslims, Jews, and Berbers alike—now enjoy new possibilities thanks to a recently established therapeutic and vocational training farm. In cooperation with the Tunisian National Federation of Charities (UTSS), with the support of Christian groups in Europe, and significantly assisted by the Jewish doctor of Djerba, the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) underwrote the purchase of a 11,100-square-meter farm in the fall of 2008. Since then these handicapped adolescents, their families and disabled older workers have been working to renovate the farm buildings, plant trees, install an irrigation system, and expand a burgeoning program of animal husbandry. According to Yechiel Bar-Chaim, the JDC’s country director for Tunisia, the project’s goal is both to offer new opportunities to disabled individuals to develop their potential and “to demonstrate in a tangible way how the three separate and distinct faith communities can overcome what divides them in order to show mutual concern and support for the most vulnerable.”
Jewish Spiritual Literacy, Inc., Jew-Tube, Baltimore
With Targum Shlishi’s support, Jewish Spiritual Literacy, headed by Rabbi Alexander Seinfeld, created a youtube channel and four experimental educational videos developed to deliver meaningful Jewish content. The foundations’ support helped the organization purchase the equipment and software necessary to produce the videos. Although the videos were aimed at children, they received an immediate positive response from teachers, who found them to be valuable classroom tools. Additionally, other Jewish organizations and outreach groups found the videos to be impactful and began partnering with Jewish Spiritual Literacy. The videos grew out of the recently developed interactive website created by the organization, which Targum Shlishi also supported. The website builds on The Art of Amazement, Rabbi Seinfeld’s 2003 book describing the unique instructional method he developed to teach Judaism.
Orthodox Union, ParnossahWorks: Helping Professionals with Employment, New York
Many in today’s challenging economy are losing jobs due to retrenchment and outsourcing. ParnossahWorks (meaning Livelihood) is an innovative young program established by the Orthodox Union in New York that helps mid-career professionals find meaningful employment. Targum Shlishi’s support helped expand the program’s reach to the national level—previously, it had been limited to the New York metropolitan area.
Lookstein Center at Bar Ilan University, Enhancing Jewish Education in the Baltic States
There are four Jewish day schools in the Baltic region, none of which have effective Jewish Studies programs. Targum Shlishi is working with the Lookstein Center at Bar Ilan University to improve Jewish Studies education at these schools by funding a training program that will address curricular materials and pedagogical skills. Why the Baltics? In 1930 the region (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) was home to almost 200,000 Jews. Today, the Jewish population is approximately 23,500. Members of the small Jewish population remaining in this once-thriving region are in general not well educated Jewishly, but are eager to learn.
United Jewish Generations, Fine Arts & Culture for the Elderly (FACE), Miami
Dedicated to bringing arts and entertainment to the elderly population—both living on their own and at elder facilities—with Targum Shlishi’s support this initiative brought four musical entertainment shows and one comedy show to those living independently and brought Jewish music performances to more than twenty locations. Feedback from both seniors and activity directors has been overwhslmingly positive.
Targum Shlishi, Grants for Dissertations in Jewish Studies, Miami
Six students have received grants from Targum Shlishi of $2,500 each to support their dissertation work on subjects related to Jewish Studies. The topics of the students’ research range widely, from Medieval Europe to contemporary America, and from Holocaust survivors in Israel to “Crypto-Jews” in Brazil. This is the second year that Targum Shlishi has offered this grant. The award recipients are:
- Rachel Gordan, How did Judaism become an American religion in the post-war period?
- Katelyn Mesler, Cultural exchange among Jews and Christians during the Middle Ages along the Northwestern Mediterranean
- Cantor David Moses Presler, The role of music literacy in Jewish education
- Yair Saguey, The emergence in recent decades of communities of Bnel Anusim in Brazil
- Adva Seltser, Jewish youth in interwar Poland
- Michal Shaul, The role of Holocaust survivors among the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel from 1945 to 1967
The Jewish Museum, Books in Focus, New York
Targum Shlishi partnered with two other funders to to support the 2009 season of Books in Focus at The Jewish Museum. Books in Focus is slated to be a series of five author readings, discussions, and book signings highlighting recently published books with Jewish themes. The programs typically attract hundreds of audience members. The line-up for 2009 is: The Forger’s Spell, by Edward Dolnick; The Last Chicken in America, by Ellen Litman; Pictures at an Exhibition, by Sara Houghteling; In Conversation: Ariel Sabar and Sadia Shepard with Lucette Lagnado; andAll Other Nights, by Dara Horn.
Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis, Conference, Waltham, MA
Targum Shlishi is helping to support the upcoming conference Teaching Rabbinic Literature: Bridging Scholarship and Pedagogy, to take place in early 2009. The event is organized by the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis, with the hopes that bringing together Jewish studies professors, rabbis, and day school teachers will encourage interaction and exchange of ideas between the different groups. Targum Shlishi is funding a post-conference publication to disseminate the ideas and innovations explored during the proceedings.
Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, Conversations, New York
Targum Shlishi helped support the first issue ofConversations, the journal of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, published in 2008. The theme of the issue was “Orthodoxy and Kelal Yisrael.” Targum Shlishi’s director, Aryeh Rubin, contributed an article titled “Toward a Kinder, Gentler, More Tolerant and Flexible Orthodoxy.” The Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals is dedicated to fostering an appreciation of diversity within Orthodoxy and seeks to apply the ancient wisdom of Judaism to the challenges of contemporary society. This first issue ofConversations focused on the relationship of the Orthodox Jewish community to the Jewish people at large and hopes to remind people that Orthodoxy, as part of the entire Jewish community, should function “meaningfully and intelligently within that broader context,” according to the publication’s introduction.
Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education, Excellence in Teaching Awards, Miami
Since 2005, Targum Shlishi has funded annual awards to recognize the contributions of exceptional teachers at day schools, congregational schools, and early childhood programs in the Miami area. The awards program, part of a five-year grant to CAJE, is intended to identify and promote Jewish educational leadership at the local-school level and to encourage and motivate educational innovation and excellence. The seven teachers who received 2008 awards are: Barbara Bernstein of Beth Am Day School; Arlene Fishbein of Samuel Scheck Hillel Community Day School; Emily Friedman of Congregation Bet Breira; Susana Novak of Beth Am Day School; Eilat Schmalbach of Temple Beth Am Religious School; Maya Slavin of The Margaux Early Childhood School of Temple Judea and Temple Beth Am Religious School; and Ayala Ze-ev of Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Greater Miami Hebrew Academy.
Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Summer Curriculum Workshop, Jerusalem, Israel
The Pardes Institute offers a creative curriculum based on classical Jewish texts to adults from all backgrounds and all levels of religious observance. It adheres to the model of yeshiva learning, but it emphasizes co-education—it was among the first institutions to offer women immersion in the classic method of Talmud study as well as the first to put women on the Talmud faculty. Length of study time at Pardes varies widely, ranging from a week to several semesters. Funding from Targum Shlishi was applied to Pardes’ Summer Curriculum Workshop.
NEFESH-International, Yitti Leibel Helpline, Teaneck, NJ
NEFESH-International is an organization of Orthodox Jewish mental health professionals that is an international leader in overcoming denial and stigmatization of mental illness that prevents many in the Orthodox community from obtaining help with social and emotional problems. Targum Shlishi is supporting the Yitti Leibel HelpLine, a telephone call-in line where people can anonymously discuss their issues with NEFESH’s mental health professionals at no charge. The HelpLine operates six days a week and is staffed by more than fifty psychologists, social workers, and an addiction therapist who volunteer their time in the service of a low-cost program with substantial impact. Because it is the only service of its kind, calls come from near and far—most come from the New York metro area, but also from Europe, Israel, and Australia. Because there is so much stigma in the community, the HelpLine provides a convenient and anonymous way for people to get help. Targum Shlishi’s funding was geared specifically to help NEFESH market the HelpLine and reach a wider audience. ”
Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education, Miami Jewish Film Festival 2008, Miami
The ten-day-long Miami Jewish Film Festival typically screens more than forty Jewish-themed features, documentaries, and short films from around the world. The festival focuses on international movies that are artistically significant, touch on some aspect of the Jewish experience, and speak to the diverse Jewish community. The films have included many Academy-Award nominated features that otherwise might never have been shown in South Florida. Screenings are often accompanied by special programs, such as discussions with producers, directors, and actors. The Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE) organizes the festival. Targum Shlishi sponsored the British film Sixty Six, a coming of age comedy featuring a boy on the cusp of his bar mitzvah, with interference from both the World Cup Final on the same day and his family’s looming financial troubles.
Targum Shlishi, Website Archive for Rabbi Dr. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, Miami
A new website that will make available over two hundred lectures by Rabbi Dr. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg in digital format, along with selected writings, is under development. Greenberg’s long career and many interests have led him from teaching in university classrooms to founding schools and organizations, as well as heading several major Jewish institutions, while maintaining his role as a congregational rabbi. Greenberg’s influence on modern Jewish life is underscored by his involvement with numerous organizations and endeavors dedicated to enriching American Jewry, including Birthright Israel. He is the founding president emeritus of CLAL – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, which is dedicated to the development of adult and leadership education, as well as president emeritus of Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation. By helping to fund this project Targum Shlishi hopes to create a resource for those familiar with Greenberg’s work and also to introduce him to a new generation.
Update: While 2008 was a year of development, the website later went online and can be found at