In 2018, RPF made a grant to the Religious Action Center (RAC) to bring together rabbis from across the country who felt compelled to speak out on justice issues but were afraid of dividing their congregations. With our support, the organization—which represents the largest Jewish denominational movement in the United States—held a two-day, in-person training for 150 rabbis working with politically diverse communities. With this renewal grant, the RAC will host a next-level moral leadership training for rabbis while also training the congregational leaders who support them. This year-long effort will invite hundreds of rabbis and their congregations to study current issues, build powerful relationships across lines of difference, and provide moral leadership with confidence and skill.
Photograph by Mike Courier for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
In the years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, RPF helped the Jewish anti-poverty organization Avodah bring its Service Corps program to the Big Easy. Service Corps—which invites young Jews to commit a year of work to local organizations addressing poverty and other justice issues—continues to play a meaningful role in the New Orleans community today. With this model in mind, Avodah is launching a San Diego Service Corps in response to the immigration and refugee crisis. In addition to providing immediate assistance to individuals and organizations helping immigrants and refugees on the ground, this project will amplify the Jewish response to the growing crisis and add to the pipeline of young Jewish leaders committed to social justice.
At a time when polarization has become toxic and violence against religious minorities is on the rise, the One America Movement (OAM) envisions a country where social cohesion is strong and groups work together constructively across difference to confront pressing issues like race relations, poverty, opioids, immigration, and more. The non-profit organizes and facilitates politically, racially, and religiously diverse groups made up of unlikely partners that dialogue and volunteer together, visit each other’s houses of worship, and join forces to improve their communities through activities. RPF’s support will help OAM dramatically expand its reach across the country.
Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO) creates classroom lesson plans that use history to teach students to be upstanders—rather than bystanders—to intolerance. They also provide professional development to educators so that they can confidently lead FHAO activities in their schools. With a new partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in place, FHAO has a unique opportunity to engage 10th-grade World History teachers working across the district. With support from RPF, they will pilot a project to engage these teachers in an effort to dramatically increase the number of students who learn about the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the moral lessons of these historic events.
Despite the fact that people of color currently make up an estimated 15 percent of the American Jewish population (and growing), the organized Jewish community often acts and is viewed as if it is all white. In fact, very few day schools, Jewish community centers, synagogues, summer camps, teen programs and/or Jewish start-ups have strategies to engage or even welcome Jews of color. This allows racism and insularity to fester and diminishes the connectedness and vibrancy of Jewish life. This initiative aims to address this problem. It has developed tools for outreach, invested in research to help illuminate racial diversity among American Jews, and made grants to help establish a pipeline of non-white Jewish leaders—all in an effort to make Jews of color more visible and valued. At the heart of this work: a pooled fund that will distribute grants with a focus on building professional pathways so more Jews of color can work in and shape Jewish institutions.
The #MeToo Movement has made it clear that the Jewish community is subject to the same problematic power dynamics that exist in other communities. Born of this realization, the Safety Respect Equity Coalition (SRE) works to create equitable Jewish workplaces and communal spaces by addressing sexual harassment, sexism, and gender discrimination. It brings together more than 100 organizations, funders, individuals and experts to 1) financially support projects that tackle this issue, 2) produce and distribute resources for people who have experienced harassment, 3) provide guidance to organizations looking to strengthen their workplace culture, and 4) institutionalize standards to prevent and address gender discrimination and sexual harassment in Jewish workplaces.
Established more than 80 years ago to aid refugees of Nazi persecution resettling in America, The Blue Card is the only national non-profit organization that provides critical cash assistance to Holocaust Survivors in need. More than half of all Blue Card survivors live below the poverty line. Since its founding, The Blue Card has distributed more than $42.5 million to help survivors pay for food, medication, rent, and other necessities. This renewed funding from RPF will help the non-profit reach its goal of providing more than $3 million in cash assistance to survivors in need each year.
Bet Tzedek’s Holocaust Survivors Justice Network (HSJN) is a team of roughly 1,000 attorneys nationwide who offer pro bono legal assistance to help Survivors access much needed (but hard to get) reparations from the German government. Since RPF began funding the network, it has helped more than 5,000 Survivors secure an estimated $25 million in reparations. This renewal grant will make it possible for HJSN to offer reparations assistance to an estimated 250 survivors per year and expand the network’s capacity to provide additional legal support to Survivors, such as advance life planning and preservation of housing rights, which helps prevent homelessness.