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Innovation Fund giving circle grants $80,000 for arts, culture, community building

Marie Krulewitch-Brown will launch Ish in September 2017, an OTR Jewish-Israeli festival of arts culture.

The David Project is one of the four young professional community building projects the Jewish Federation giving circle funded.

Six Points is one of the $80,000 giving circle projects funded by the Jewish Federation grants for community building.

Moishe House in Columbia-Tusculum hosts community building events for young professionals.


Next fall, the Jewish Innovation Fund will bring a new festival of arts and culture to Washington Park. It is one of four projects backed by an $80,000 grant from the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, which aims to celebrate Cincinnati’s rich Jewish history by writing its next chapter.

In late September, when the weather is still graciously warm, a circle of dancers will play the mainstage in Washington Park while the sizzle of fresh falafel dropping into a fryer will signal the launch of Ish, a festival of Jewish and Israeli arts and culture. It’s just one of the experiences you can expect in 2017 from the four projects backed by $80,000 worth of grant money.

The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati has been the center or organizing, fundraising and community building for 120 years. According to its mission statement, the Federation “envisions an exceptional Cincinnati Jewish community and…brings diverse groups together to build it.”

This central objective around community building was the original impetus for the Jewish Innovation Fund.

“We wanted to capitalize on the entrepreneurial spirit of Cincinnati,” said Danielle Minson, chief development officer at the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. “And ultimately, we wanted to build community.”

Cincinnati culture and community building

The Jewish Innovation Fund began with a “giving circle” of eight donors, an innovative way to give in which a group of donors pool resources and make giving decisions together. The giving circle pledged $80,000 to fund project grants around Jewish culture and community building. The rules were simple: the winning projects would impact the Jewish community, innovate and include a community partner or fiscal agent.

Ultimately, the committee chose four winning projects for 2017:
  • Ish: It’s Nosh Your Typical Market, a fusion of Jewish and Israeli arts and culture that's slated for next September in Washington Park.
  • Six Points Collective, a nonprofit Jewish organization that specializes in creating organic, creative and spiritual experiences for young professionals and millennials in the Cincinnati area.
  • Moishe House Cincinnati, which brings to Cincinnati the national Moishe House concept of peer-led, home-based programming for young adults and their Jewish communities.
  • The David Project, the national Israel advocacy organization, which is enhancing Cincinnati Hillel’s effort to bring additional non-Jewish student leaders to Israel.
Marie Krulewitch-Browne, director of Ish, hopes her Jewish cultural arts festival will make Cincinnati a destination for Midwestern Jewish culture. As someone who splits her time between the arts world and the Jewish community, Krulewitch-Browne started to see the intersections between the two communities and saw an opportunity.

A taste of Jewish arts and culture in OTR

Ish promises to honor Cincinnati’s Jewish heritage with “grandma’s matzo ball soup” and klezmer music, as well as introducing attendees to contemporary art, music and food. The event will highlight Israeli culture apart from the country’s Jewish identity by including artists who aren’t Jewish but claim Israeli heritage.

Washington Park, already a major Cincinnati center for arts and culture, was the natural choice for Ish’s location. Krulewitch-Browne explained that downtown is also the site of the original Manischewitz factory and the historic Plum St. Temple. Though the focus of Ish is Jewish-Israeli culture, Krulewitch-Browne believes that the event is important to all of Cincinnati.

“Cincinnatians loves to celebrate Cincinnati,” she said. “This is a firsthand opportunity to really taste, experience and engage directly with Jewish-Israeli culture and community.”

A gathering place for young professionals

While Ish brings the vibrancy of Jewish culture to a public space, another project, Moishe House, creates vibrancy in a cozier setting. Walking through the door, the house is alive with conversation. The smell of brisket cooking in the kitchen wafts through the house, which is a place for community building and programming for young professionals.

“It’s a different kind of invitation when you’re inviting someone into your home rather than a bar,” said Ben Pagliaro, one of the three residents of Moishe House.

Providing a homey atmosphere with plenty of space, Moishe House will host social events from Acro Yoga classes to opportunities for Jewish learning like “Tuesdays, Tacos and Torah.” Pagliaro was quick to emphasize, however, that he hopes that the community will generate its own ideas for programming while Moishe House provides the space.

Nestled in the brightly painted neighborhood of Columbia-Tusculum, Moishe House is Cincinnati’s version of a literal home to three young Jewish adults who want to open their door to the community. Pagliaro said that iterations of Moishe House exist all over the world, but each house adapts based on the needs of the community. In addition to peer-driven programming, Cincinnati’s Moishe House acts as a unifying entity for several already thriving groups for young Jewish adults.
The four $80,000 innovation grant projects:
  • Ish: It’s Nosh Your Typical Market, a fusion of Jewish and Israeli arts and culture slated for this coming September in Washington Park.
  • Six Points Collective, a nonprofit Jewish organization that specializes in creating organic, creative and spiritual experiences for young professionals and millennials in the Cincinnati area.
  • Moishe House Cincinnati, which brings to Cincinnati the national Moishe House concept of peer-led, home-based programming for young adults and their Jewish communities.
  • The David Project, the national Israel advocacy organization, which is enhancing Cincinnati Hillel’s effort to bring additional non-Jewish student leaders to Israel.


Connecting with young thought leaders

While the Jewish Innovation Fund didn’t limit its entries to millennial projects, the project has definitely created a rich opportunity for the Jewish community to connect to young thought leaders. Minson confirmed that the success and innovations generated during this year’s grant cycle means that the Federation will continue the Jewish Innovation Fund next year.

For more information on the Jewish Innovation Fund and the 2017 winners, visit the blog.
 
Allison Smith Cohen is a non-profit professional, alumna of Miami University's creative writing graduate program, certified yoga instructor and Columbia Tusculum based writer at  allisoncohen.writes@gmail.com
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