Past Innovation Panel Grant Recipients


Beth Israel Center: Florence Melton Adult Mini-School

Awarded up to $11,000

The Florence Melton Adult Mini-School offers the opportunity to bring a curriculum to Madison that was developed by the Melton Center at the Hebrew University as a pluralistic program, unusual in the field of adult Jewish education today. The Melton program is exceptional in that it successfully balances depth (it is an opportunity for adults to learn fundamental texts and ideas of Jewish life) and access (it was developed to be easily accessible and to help students achieve a significant depth of knowledge) for all participants. Melton presents the opportunity for a diverse group to come together, learn about and discuss Jewish texts, ideas and ideals that are fundamental to everyone in a supportive and nurturing environment.


Shir Hadash: Midwest Jewish Diversity Retreat

Awarded up to $2,000

The target population for the project is diverse Jewish families in the Midwest, including Jewish families that include people of color, Jewish families with transracially adopted children, interfaith Jewish families that include people of color, and people of color who have converted to Judaism. The goals include creating an experience for diverse Jewish families in the Midwest to cultivate an increased sense of community and positive Jewish identity; to provide Jewish organizations in the region an opportunity to “make real” their commitment to Jewish diversity through promoting the retreat, recruiting participants, and contributing to scholarships for the event; and to reach out to isolated individuals and groups of Jewish people of color in the region with a tangible goal: attend the retreat and build connections with other diverse Midwest Jews. The panel approved a subsidy of $200 for up to 10 participants from Dane County to attend the retreat before March 1, 2016.


Jewish Federation of Madison: MineCraft Israel

Awarded $1500

This project seeks to engage the young Jewish Madison community (ages 6 to 18) via social media and gaming to connect them with other Jewish kids in Madison and to connect them with kids in Israel likely focused on the the Sovev Kinneret region (part of the new P2G program). As the program gains traction we will also consider including the other P2G U.S. communities (Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Tulsa). The initial scope of the proposal focuses on Minecraft, however a website and other social medial may be considered in the future. Minecraft is an online game where users can build anything they can imagine (like houses, boats, caves, towers, cars, etc.). Players can work together to build bigger projects with more details. Embedded in the game is an instant messaging (IM) option and a “Skype” like voice chat (VM) (optional if parents permit) allowing players to communicate and develop relationships. In Minecraft Israel the focus will be around building things related to Israel like notable landmarks potentially including the following: Dome of the Rock, Western Wall, Temple Mount, Tel Aviv Port, and Tower of David. For the kids in Israel we will focus on having them build notable structures from the Madison area (Capital, UW campus, Camp Randall, etc.).


YJP – Chabad Affiliate: Justice and the War on Terror – CLE Seminar

Awarded $2000

Justice and the War on Terror is an all-new, two-part CLE seminar. Rabbi Avremel Matusof is planning this seminar for late summer or early fall of 2015. Depending on the time of day, we will offer brunch or a buffet dinner between the two lessons. Attorneys will receive 3 CLE credits for participation, as this course will be accredited from the Wisconsin State Bar.



Camp Shalom/Family Ed - Winter Maccabia

Awarded $4930

Winter Maccabia was for 2nd-5th graders. This three day event included transportation, snacks and days full of fun led by responsible high school and college aged Coaches. Winter break was a great time to reach out to Camp Shalom campers and other Jewish youth who were home during winter break and looking for something fun to do.


Wisconsin Jewish Conference – Public Policy and Advocacy Training

Awarded $3670

The Wisconsin Jewish Conference (WJC) provided in-depth public policy and advocacy training for the Madison Jewish community as part of a public policy series meant to increase the political engagement of the Madison Jewish community and facilitate participation in the Wisconsin Interfaith Advocacy Day.


Jewish Federation of Madison Outreach – Shabbat 75

Awarded $4930

The Jewish Federation of Madison’s 75th anniversary is in 2015. To commemorate this momentous event, the entire Jewish Community was invited to participate in a collective Shabbat celebration last spring. 75 people hosted Shabbat dinners in honor of the 75th year anniversary. In addition to the symbolism, this event facilitated ongoing efforts to strengthen ties among existing members of the Jewish community and to intimately welcome those new to the area. The JFM Outreach coordinator planned and organized this event.


Joint Collaboration/Congregation Shaarei Shamayim lead agency – Jewish Dialogue

Awarded $4200

Shaarei Shamayim, Temple Beth El, Beth Israel Center, UW Hillel and the Jewish Federation of Madison expanded the successful community dialogue sessions about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict held in April-May 2014. Madison’s Jews, who came from all perspectives, denominations and backgrounds, shared their opinions, learned about perspectives different from their own, and reflected on their own experiences, feelings, and ideas. Due to a strong desire in the Madison Jewish community to expand this dialogue, these five Madison Jewish organizations work together to plan and implement a monthly Jewish dialogue program beginning in January 2015.


CSS – Mad Town Youth Volunteer Week

Awarded $5585

In August, 2014, thanks to Jewish Federation’s Innovation Grant, Congregation Shaarei Shamayim successfully launched its first week-long volunteer program for Jewish high school students in the Madison area. Fourteen Jewish teens from Temple Beth El, Beth Israel Center, and Congregation Shaarei Shamayim volunteered at five different community organizations/institutions in the Madison area that address poverty and racism. The week ended with a Shabbat camping trip at the Goodman Jewish Community Campus. This program was extremely successful, and several teens have expressed a desire to do the program again and promote it to their friends. Congregation Shaarei Shamayim requested funding again this year to improve the program and build upon the unique model they have established.



Beth Israel Center: Torah and Mindfulness

Awarded $3000 for one year

Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell, co-founder and director of the Center for Jewish Mindfulness (Chicago) and the Director of Regional Programing for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality (New York), will conduct two daylong retreats (on Sundays) and provide a structure for participants to engage between the retreats. Together, participants will explore the foundations of Jewish mindfulness practice and how it can support and enhance other Jewish practices like Torah study, prayer, and Bikur Cholim.


UW Hillel: Alumni Campus Engagement (ACE) Initiative

Awarded $10,000 for one year

The Youth Movement Alumni Campus Engagement Initiative (ACE) is designed to provide internships and campus leadership to UW Jewish students who were previously active, involved and or leaders, in their home Jewish youth movements (BBYO, NFTY, USY, NCSY, Young Judea, etc.) and Jewish summer camps. The program will train students in Hillel’s model of peer leadership and engagement and provide funds and resources for peer programming and one-to-one engagement. The interns will identify, meet and engage hundreds of students during the academic year. These Peer Engagement Interns will also plan a host of programs and activities that are in alignment with the interests of the alumni from these various organizations.


Mayrent Institute: Viskonsin! Tales from Yiddish Wisconsin

Awarded $5000

The project aims at unearthing the Yiddish history of Wisconsin and the entire upper Midwest. With the larger Viskonsin! project, they are trying to bring together known research (e.g. from scholars such as Jonathan Pollack and Mark Louden), actually do new research (Henry Sapoznik is doing some great work on Yiddish-language media), and identify sources that will support further research. Within A Biselle KlezKamp, this will lead to two streams of new programming. First, some of the sessions will have content specifically about Wisconsin / the upper Midwest. Second, they will be offering a few sessions that will essentially be public oral history interviews with elders from the community who can speak about Wisconsin Yiddish history first hand. The lectures and oral history sections will be led by different members of their faculty which is exciting because they teach the attendees about the history of the very area we live in. In so doing, they make an argument about how important Yiddish history is in Wisconsin.



Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies: Semester for the Arts

Awarded $6948

To fund the Fusion Concerts on April 5th and 6th, 2014, a free concert open to the public. Fusions aims to highlight the connections and commonalities between Arabic and Jewish art music, which are rarely heard together. The three artists, Oud artist Taiseer Elias, Composer/Pianist Menachem Wiesenberg, and Cellist/Pedagogue Uri Vardi,​ feel passionate about the value of collaborating through the music of their two cultures, which have so often experienced conflict. They hope that sharing this connection with audiences will result in both a moving musical experience and a different view of what is possible through artistic exchange


Jewish Federation of Madison: Website and Online Communications Advancement

Awarded $2,000

For research and expansion making the website the hub of Jewish Madison communication.


Congregation Shaarei Shamayim – Study and Action Jewish Service Learning for High School Teens

Awarded $7,785

A week of volunteering and learning about Madison's pressing social issues with other Jewish teens in August 2014. The program included learning about such issues as the achievement gap, poverty, and homelessness and volunteering at a variety of organizations including schools, community centers, and programs working for social change.

  • Innovation Panel Grant

    Supported by a board designated endowment fund as a result of an anonymous bequest, JFMIP will award up to $28,000 annually to deserving, creative initiatives for Madison’s Jewish community.