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Jewish Journal

L.A. Groups Cited for Innovation

by Tom Tugend

October 21, 2009 | 12:49 am

Three Los Angeles organizations have won spots in a listing of the 50 hottest, most innovative and cutting-edge Jewish nonprofits in the United States and Canada.

IKAR, Jewish World Watch and Yiddishkayt Los Angeles are named in the annual Slingshot directory, a Zagat-style guide to Jewish innovation started by a small group of social entrepreneurs five years ago and published by The Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies.

IKAR (“Roots” in Hebrew) was created in 2004 under the leadership of Rabbi Sharon Brous as a congregation melding political activism, spirituality and Jewish identity.

Slingshot cited IKAR as “a brilliant example of what a 21st century shul should be.”

IKAR is among the 10 organizations or projects named nationally in each of the five years that the guide has been published.

Jewish World Watch (JWW) was founded in 2004 by Rabbi Harold Schulweis of Valley Beth Shalom and Janice Kamenir-Reznik as a synagogue and community-based organization to combat genocide and aid its victims.

The organization has gained wide attention through its solar cooker project to help refugees fleeing the Darfur massacres.

Slingshot lauded JWW as “a truly exciting movement on a grass-roots synagogue level to engage communities in social justice.”

Next month, JWW is embarking on a fact-finding mission to probe war-related deaths, starvation, abduction of child soldiers and sexual violence against women and girls in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The mission will also conduct inspections and interviews in Rwanda.

Yiddishkayt Los Angeles, founded in 1995, seeks to introduce contemporary Jewish audiences to their 1,000-year old Yiddish literature and heritage.

Slingshot noted that founder/chair Aaron Paley’s “vision, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit are breaking new ground in Los Angeles and forging new forms of intercultural encounter and engagement.”

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