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Influential Slingshot Guide Cites Local Agencies

October 30, 2013 By:
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Children do some planting as part of a Jewish Farm School program at Camp Eden Village in New York. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Farm School

Four local organizations made it on to one of the most coveted lists in Jewish life — the annual Slingshot Guide.

The guide named the Jewish Learning Venture, based in Melrose Park, and the Jewish Farm School, a national environmental group based in Philadelphia, as two of the 50 most innovative Jewish organizations in the country.

Slingshot, a New York-based group, also rolled out a new supplement to its annual guide, highlighting the work of 18 Jewish organizations in the area of special needs. The Bryn Mawr-based JCHAI made that list.

And Moving Traditions, a Jenkintown-based organization devoted to Jewish education and identity-building for teenagers, was listed as one of 17 “standard bearers,” organizations included year after year as models in innovation. It was also cited as one of 18 Jewish organizations committed to impacting the lives of women and girls in a second special supplement.

The Slingshot organization was founded in 2004 by a group of young entrepreneurs looking to fund innovative organizations and programs that had the potential to transform Jewish life. The funders have mostly spotlighted startup organizations.

Slingshot describes its online and printed list as a kind of Zagat guide for individuals looking to support Jewish programs that are making a difference. Landing a spot on Slingshot has meant a major boost in visibility, prestige and, oftentimes, fundraising.

In addition, being named in the guide makes groups eligible to directly apply for dollars from the Slingshot Fund.

Organizations were selected from a pool of hundreds of finalists by 83 individuals with experience in grant-making and Jewish communal service.

The Jewish Farm School was co-founded in 2006 by local resident Nati Passow, who still serves as its director. The group runs programs in organic farming and urban sustainability in Philadelphia, Camp Eden Village in New York, and other locales.

“By combining rural and urban agricultural education programs, the Jewish Farm School has caught the attention of the mainstream Jewish community, where interest in sustainable food and environmental education is spiking,” the guide states. “Jewish Farm School provides hands-on opportunities for the Jewish community to re-connect with the land, live more sustainably and learn about food production.”

For its part, Moving Traditions was cited by Slingshot for providing “thousands of Jewish teens with ways to grapple with their daily lives in a Jewish context and with Jewish wisdom.” 

JCHAI, serving a total of 70 clients, supports people with intellectual disabilities and autism living in three group homes, several apartments and in their own homes. It is planning to build an integrated apartment building on the Schwartz Campus in Bryn Mawr, which is owned by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

Slingshot specifically highlighted JCHAI At Home, which provides independent living skills for people living in their own homes or with their families.

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