OU’s Women’s Initiative gives grants for innovative programs

OU’s Women’s Initiative gives grants for innovative programs

A PLAN DEVELOPED by Synagogue of the Suburban Torah Center in Livingston is one of 16 innovative programs selected by the Orthodox Union (OU) for its Women’s Initiative Challenge Grant. 

The OU, the umbrella organization for the North American Orthodox community, selected the programs from a field of 93 applications, all for projects aiming to support the spiritual, religious, and communal growth of Orthodox women. 

Suburban Torah will use the grant to create the Women’s Center for Inspired Judaism. Equipped with a coffee bar, multimedia capabilities, and spaces for gatherings, the center will be designed to offer programs for women and girls in a relaxed environment. Planned activities include mother-daughter learning, “latte and learning,” educational cooking classes, activities for seniors, and programs for tween and teenage girls.

Among the grant recipients, from 11 states, are three others from New Jersey: Summer Women’s Beit Midrash, Congregation Keter Torah, Teaneck; Women’s Professional Mentorship Program, Congregation Darchei Noam, Fair Lawn; and Women’s Institute of Learning and Leadership, Congregation Shomrei Torah, Fair Lawn. 

Applications were evaluated for the creativity of the proposed program, the target audience, and whether the project could be replicated in other communities.

The challenge grant “captures the positive energy of so many communities,” said Rebbetzin Dr. Adina Shmidman, founding director of the OU’s Department of Women’s Initiatives. The initiative is “empowering our communities to develop creative approaches to addressing spiritual and communal needs.”

OU executive vice president Allen Fagin said the programs being underwritten “will prove to be crucial additions to their shul programming, and we look forward to sharing them broadly to benefit women in communities throughout North America.”

The OU Women’s Initiative, now in its inaugural year, ran a Shavuot speaker series, which offered learning opportunities by women in shuls across the country. Upcoming initiatives include a multi-city mikvah attendant training program; a “leil hitoriru” evening of spiritual inspiration, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; and the creation of the Women’s Impact Institute, a leadership training program.

OU president Moishe Bane said his organization is privileged to “partner with women of extraordinary vision and commitment from across the community, to pursue exciting and innovative initiatives seeking to enhance the religious and spiritual growth of the contemporary Jewish woman.”

For more information, visit ou.org. 

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