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Jewish Journal

‘LaunchBox’ is Next Big Jewish Idea winner

by Lauren Bottner

July 5, 2011 | 6:18 pm

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles announced Batsheva Frankel’s “LaunchBox” as the winner of the Next Big Jewish Idea (NBJI) competition on July 6.  Scott Minkow, Federation Vice President of Partnerships & Innovation, delivered the news to Frankel by removing one of his “I have the Next Big Jewish Idea” pins that have been circulating in the community for months and pinned her, saying, “I have to take this off because you are the one who has the next big Jewish idea.” Frankel told The Jewish Journal she was “over the moon and felt like I won the lottery.” Her idea initially was called JEWWW in a Box.

Monthly LaunchBoxes will be filled with activities, learning materials and links to online Jewish resources, such as interactive e-learning classes to help community members incorporate Jewish traditions and rituals into their lives. Frankel, a Judaic studies and English teacher at Shalhevet High School, will receive up to $100,000 in funding plus in-kind services to turn her dream into a reality.  Frankel’s idea is to reach all corners of the Jewish community to give Jews the tools they need not only to be Jewish but to do Jewish.  “I know that what is successful in reaching people is experiential activities: a Shabbat table, Birthright trips, Jewish summer camp. The boxes will help facilitate that to Jews who otherwise might not have any connection with their Judaism in a meaningful way,” Frankel explained.

Minkow says the competition started a conversation among Jews in Los Angeles. “It was delightful and unexpected to hear that people were talking about the competition in grocery lines,” she said. The Federation started its centennial year with the NBJI competition, calling for ideas to benefit the greater L.A. community. More than 350 ideas were submitted, and the last round of voting on the five finalists closed June 2.  The judges, all leaders in their respective fields, were Joshua Avedon, Aimee Bender, Larry Cohen, Jonathan Greenblatt, Rachel Levin, Todd Presner, David Suissa, Nina Tassler and Amelia Xann. 

“The good news that we learned from all of the submissions and voters is that most everyone wants to be in the conversation. And that’s a win for us,” Federation President Jay Sanderson said.

So what will be in these LaunchBoxes? That’s the next big question.  “We’re going to have to think outside of the box, to inspire people on their terms to do Jewish,” Minkow said.  The good news is that once a box is wanted, the goal has been reached and it’s already been opened.

“This isn’t an end.  It’s a beginning of many new ideas and a perfect way to launch The Federation’s next 100 years,” Minkow said.

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