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2016-02-26 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


February 26, 2016  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Innovation grants will help needy celebrate Shabbat, help community celebrate Hanukkah and much more

The Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties has selected 10 projects proposed by various area synagogues and Jewish organizations to share a portion of the Federation’s new $50,000 Innovation Grant fund set up for out-of-the-box and novel projects.

Two dozen projects were submitted for a total of more than $200,000 in requests.

The committee, comprised of Kevin Lane (chair), Margot Benstock (Federation president), Craig Sher, Irwin Novack, Helaine Solc, Barbara Sterensis and Debbie Sokolov, reviewed the applications over the course of two months.

The committee’s recommendations were taken to the Federation board, which approved the 10 projects.

Criteria for the grant program included an interest in teens, interfaith relationship building and projects that benefit the community at large.

The selected projects are:

• A community-wide Hanukkah celebration for December 2016, sponsored by the Board of Rabbis.

• A college-modeled educational program called “Youniversity” for Menorah Manor residents.

• A Jewish teen network that puts young people in control of their programs through a series of workshops on teen-related topics, offered by Temple B’nai Israel and Congregation Beth Shalom, both of Clearwater.

• A program called “Kehillah – Sustaining our Community” that will bring together community members, young adults, children, and those in need of food in the creation of sustainable planter boxes for the production of fresh vegetables. These are portable garden boxes for growing vegetables and herbs and can be moved around as a family’s home for the correct shade and sun conditions. The program, to be run by Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, will also bring together community members for the creation of Shabbat boxes. The boxes will contain Shabbat candles, copies of prayers and possibly other ingredients to help Gulf Coast clients enjoy the spirit of Shabbat.

• “JConnect Tampa Bay,” a platform for newcomers and young adults that will be created by the Hillels of the Florida Suncoast.

• “Kadima Hillel,” which will introduce high school students to the Jewish college experience, to be led by Hillels of the Florida Suncoast.

• The advancement of the successful “Mitzvah of Memory” program at the Florida Holocaust Museum to a “2.0” version which will use technology to create experiences for the young in farther-flung areas where the Museum is not geographically accessible.

• An interfaith dinner series to engage those who have yet to make a connection to the Jewish community to be offered in Pasco County by Congregation B’nai Emmunah in partnership with the Federation.

• An in-depth study on young families and engagement called “Kivun Chadash” that will yield new directions in youth education and family participation, spearheaded by Temple Beth-El and to benefit the entire community.

• Rainwater harvesting at the Congregation Beth Shalom property in Clearwater and in conjunction with their previous work on a Biblical garden, a project which will allow for the production of organic edibles.

“We launched this [innovation grant] program for several reasons: we wanted to give an opportunity to not just our usual beneficiary agencies but also our religious community to share in the fundraising accomplishments we’ve recently had. We also recognize that the Federation doesn’t have all of the ideas for what our community can and should be doing. By supporting some of these great ideas that are bubbling up from those who are ‘on the ground,’ we feel we’re magnifying our impact,” said Federation executive director, Emilie Socash.

For more information on the innovation grants or Federation activities, visit

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