Local groups make Slingshot Guide

Participating college students with Hillel’s Ask Big Questions program discuss the issues of the day.
Participating college students with Hillel’s Ask Big Questions program discuss the issues of the day.

Jews United For Justice and Hillel’s Ask Big Questions made the list. Sunflower Bakery had its debut on the Disabilities and Inclusion list while Career Gateway now is on the Women and Girls supplement. And Sixth & I Historic Synagogue continued as a “standard bearer.”

These local organizations are proud entries to The Slingshot Guide, a comprehensive guide of innovative Jewish nonprofits that has been coming out for nine years. It’s been called the place to turn to when researching innovative groups to support and finding organizations to be used as models.

Jacob Feinspan, executive director of JUFJ, called it “so exciting to be recognized as a player” and be listed in the top 50 Jewish organizations that are innovative in their approach and make an impact throughout the Jewish world.

“I can’t tell you how many times in the past five years I have heard people say, ‘I wish I heard about Jews United for Justice earlier,’ ” Feinspan said. He believes being listed now will really get the word out as he knows many people have “used the guide just to see what’s happening in the broader Jewish world.”


Ask Big Questions, the Hillel International organization that brings together college students together for conversations, is included for the second year in a row in the guide. It was named one of the nation’s 50 most innovative Jewish nonprofits for the ways in which it transforms the depth of conversation and relationships that college students have with one another, regardless of how far apart their views.

Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of Hillel International, noted, “Slingshot’s recognition validates the creative and innovative work Hillel continues to do on 550 campuses and in five continents around the world — to engage students of all backgrounds in Jewish life, learning and Israel.”

“The Slingshot Guide is an essential resource for putting a national spotlight on inspiring work happening in local communities across North America,” said Julie Finkelstein, program director of Slingshot. “Highlighting so many unique organizations throughout the Washington, D.C., metro area is a testament to the community’s commitment to building and sustaining engaging, relevant and impactful Jewish opportunities.”

This is the first year The Slingshot Guide listed 18 groups in each of two new categories — women and girls and disabilities and inclusion. The Sunflower Bakery in Gaithersburg made the disabilities and inclusion list for its support of people with developmental and cognitive disabilities who work in the bakery and learn marketable skills.

“We are thrilled to be in the Slingshot Guide. To be able to have the exposure nationally that it provides, and locally, too, it’s great to have that recognition and that help,” said Laurie Wexler, co-founder and co-director of administration and development. She is optimistic that new donors will become interested, and Sunflower Bakery will become a model for other companies to follow, she said.

Career Gateway, a division of Jewish Council for the Aging in Rockville, was named to the women and girls supplement. The program helps women over the age of 50 enter or return to the workplace.

Koranee Peppe, grants writer for the council, said she hoped people would learn about Career Gateway now that it’s in the guide. “It’s what a lot of well-known kind of savvy philanthropists in the Jewish community go to when they are looking what to fund,” she said of Slingshots printed and online resources.

Jewish Women International is also one of the 18 leading Jewish groups committed to having an impact on women and girls’ lives. The D.C.-based group strives to empower females through economic literacy, community training, healthy relationships education and leadership programs.

“We are honored to be among the many innovative organizations that have benefited from The Slingshot Guide,” said Lori Weinstein, CEO/executive director.

Sixth & I Historic Synagogue has been on the main list for six of the nine years the guide has come out, making it one of the list’s “standard bearers.” Rabbi Scott Perlo happily announced, “There is a great deal of prestige associated with that. Our credibility is enhanced.”

The synagogue was included for all its innovative work “as a tally of who we are” and not for any particular program, he said.

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See also: Do Slingshot innovators reap rewards?

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