Applying Jewish Wisdom
and Civic Engagement
The Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom celebrates programs that apply the ever-accumulating body of Jewish wisdom to help people—Jews and fellow travelers—navigate life’s big questions, from how to be a good parent, partner, consumer, and citizen, to how to manage the struggles life throws our way, and much more. The 2018-19 Prize sought submissions from social-impact organizations that have an existing program or the seed of a new idea to apply Jewish wisdom to support democracy and civic engagement.
The winners of the 2018-19 Prize are:
Being the Change: Public Policy, Justice, and Advocacy is a timely, intensive, expert-led summer course for teens that unites applied Talmudic wisdom about engaging across difference; the ritual power of a siyyum, which defines success as being engaged in a reciprocal relationship with learning and democracy over time; and strategies for advocacy that empower, mobilize and sustain.
Three Occasions: Shalosh Regalim for Civic Engagement
Three Occasions harnesses the power of ritual and spiritual teachings implicit in Judaism's three pilgrimage holidays to help increase civic engagement and advance regional progress in the St. Louis metro region and beyond.
Rebuilding Democracy empowers participants to use Jewish concepts and wisdom like hesed, brit, mitzvot, eilu v’eilu, and parshanut to teach healthy political norms: seeing fellow citizens as human before partisan, elevating a shared national purpose, respecting dissent, safely interrogating conflicting narratives, and upholding the primacy of institutions over agendas.
CIVruta will convene community leaders from different backgrounds in Los Angeles for a day-long civic beit midrash aimed at encouraging and equipping them to bring the Jewishly informed democratic values of diversity, inclusion, and dignity to service on local boards and commissions.
Facing History’s Jewish Education Program provides educators with professional development and classroom resources that connect humanities content to Jewish wisdom, texts, and history, and to the ethical choices students face in their own lives—thereby inspiring students to combat prejudice with compassion, and indifference with civic participation.
The Tivnu Gap Year, the first and only Jewish gap year in the U.S., brings high school graduates to Portland for a nine-month experience that includes individually tailored internships with a wide range of local, grassroots direct-service and advocacy organizations; skilled construction of tiny homes with and for houseless individuals; study of today's most important social justice issues through Jewish and other sources; and collective living within their own pluralistic Jewish households.
What others are saying
The 2018-19 Prize was open to:
Over 120 organizations submitted applications from October 22 through November 30, 2018. An informational webinar for prospective applicants was held on Thursday, November 1, 2018. 100 applicants who met the eligibility requirements were invited to submit a second, more detailed application in December.
CRITERIA FOR SELECTION
Each application was reviewed by at least three external reviewers according to the following criteria:
Application of Jewish Wisdom
Relevance to this year’s Prize focus on democracy and civic engagement
Impact (or, in the case of new ideas, potential for impact)
Scalability and adaptability
We used Democracy Fund’s Six Pillars of a Healthy Democracy when assessing impact on democracy and civic engagement:
Successful applicants reflected respect for the idea that Jewish texts, teachings, history, culture, ritual, and practices lend themselves to multiple legitimate interpretations and applications.
The Established Programs and New Ideas that received the highest scores from the external reviewers advanced to the Semi-Finalist round. From that group, members of the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah Board and representatives from our funding partners selected Finalists. A distinguished and diverse panel of judges then chose the winners from the Finalists. These winners were announced on March 18, 2019 at the Jewish Funders Network Conference in San Francisco and received award sculptures designed by the artist Yair Kira.
Naomi & Nehemiah Cohen Foundation
Dr. Ari Y. Kelman
Stanford Graduate School of Education
Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation
Brenda Bodenheimer Zlatin
Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation
Rabbi Dr. Dan Judson
Rabbi Gabi Weinberg
The Tikvah Fund
Nathan Cummings Foundation
Circle of Service Foundation
Dr. Jon A. Levisohn
Einhorn Family Charitable Trust
The Klarman Family Foundation
Rabbi Dr. Joshua Feigelson
The University of Chicago Divinity School
Lesley Said Matsa
Crown Family Philanthropies
Dr. Meredith Woocher
Dr. Shaul Kelner
Shayna Rose Triebwasser
Righteous Persons Foundation
Walter & Elise Haas Fund
Rabbi Dr. Vanessa Ochs
University of Virginia
Harold Grinspoon Foundation
Jewish Funders Network
Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson
The Wexner Foundation
Rabbi Dr. David Ellenson
Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Dr. Jonathan Sarna
Charles and Lynn Shusterman Foundation
Johns Hopkins University
Any U.S-based 501(c)(3) or fiscally-sponsored organization, including current grantees of Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, were eligible to submit an established program or new idea for consideration. Political action committees, 501(c)(4) organizations, and programs currently funded by our foundation were ineligible for the Prize.
We use the phrase "Applied Jewish Wisdom" to refer to the application of particular Jewish wisdom to universal human questions. We believe that the ever-accumulating body of Jewish wisdom offers inspiration and guidance to help people—Jews and fellow travelers—navigate life’s big questions, from how to be a good parent, partner, consumer, and citizen, to how to manage the struggles life throws our way, and much more.
The 2018-19 Lippman Kanfer Prize was sponsored by Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah with support from Democracy Fund.
We awarded $150,000 in prize money. Established programs were eligible for awards of $30,000 and new ideas were eligible for awards of $15,000.
The deadline for applications was November 30, 2018 at 3pm EST. A subset of applicants were invited to submit a second, more detailed application in December.
The Prize was non-partisan. Political action committees and 501(c)(4) organizations were ineligible for the Prize.
We were interested in learning about creative applications of our ancient tradition to nurturing and sustaining democracy in the 21st century. We were looking for solutions to the challenges facing democracy writ large (e.g., How might we foster respect for viewpoint diversity? How might we encourage broader participation in the political process?), not for any particular political agenda. Today more than ever, we want to focus on the common questions we share, not the ones that divide us.
We sought projects working specifically on civic engagement and democracy in the United States.
Winners were publicly announced on March 18, 2019 at the Jewish Funders Network Conference in San Francisco.
Yes, an organization could submit two applications: one application for the new ideas category, and one application for the established programs category.
The 2018-19 Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom was run by Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah with support from Democracy Fund. To stay updated about the Prize, please join our mailing list.
The Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom celebrates applications of Jewish wisdom that help people live better lives and shape a better world. In 2016, the inaugural Lippman Kanfer Prize celebrated applications of Jewish wisdom in all areas of life and received over 200 applications from a diverse array of organizations. The 2016 Prize winners were announced at that year’s Jewish Futures Conference.
About Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah
About Democracy Fund
Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah encourages and supports endeavors to help people —Jews and fellow travelers— access and apply Jewish wisdom to live better lives and shape a better world. In other words, we apply particular Jewish wisdom to universal human questions. We also continue the Lippman Kanfer family’s commitment to strengthening the ecosystem for innovation in the Jewish community and to the pursuit of justice. For more information, visit www.lkflt.org.
The Democracy Fund invests in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. For more information, visit www.democracyfund.org.