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Grant Will Help Kolot Expand Its Programming

January 31, 2008 By:
Michelle Mostovy-Eisenberg, JE Feature
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Kolot: The Center for Jewish Women's and Gender Studies of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote received a grant that will allow the organization to continue offering its courses and programming in Judaism, and in gender and feminist theory, to rabbinical students and the community alike, noted its director, Lori Hope Lefkovitz.

She explained that a $75,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation will be used for general support of current educational and community-based programs, including speaking engagements, that Kolot has organized each year since its founding in 1996.

It may also serve as a means to leverage more fiscal support for its work.

Lefkovitz said that receiving the grant has acted like "a vote of confidence in the kind of work that we do."

The funds will boost new programming opportunities as well, said Lefkovitz. These include a pilot program to be launched in Chicago in March called "Ta'anit Esther: A Jewish Day for Justice," a social-action effort on the Fast of Esther that Kolot plans to take national in the coming years.

The funding will also provide support for an evening of interfaith dialogue and discussion with Susannah Heschel and Amina Wadud on the topic of women and gender in Islam and Judaism on Wednesday, March 12. The event, which is open to the public, will be held at Germantown Jewish Centre in Mount Airy; it is co-sponsored by Kolot, the RRC Department of Religious Studies and the synagogue.

Heschel is the daughter of renowned Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and is herself a Jewish scholar.

Wadud is a professor of Islamic studies, and gained international attention in 2005 when she led prayers to a mixed-gender Muslim congregation in New York City, upsetting conservative Muslims who said that she violated the centuries-old tradition of men leading prayer services.

Additionally, the grant will be used to update and enhance Ritualwell.org, a 21/2-year-old interactive Web site run by Kolot, said Lefkovitz. The site provides viewers with information, resources and music on ceremonies in the Jewish lifecycle. Lefkovitz said that one of the goals is to start an online newsletter, and to have synagogues and Jewish community centers link up to Ritualwell.

The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation was established in 1975 to fund requests from public charities in support of graduate theological education and other causes, such as health care and museums.

The foundation is based in Philadelphia.

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