Four Washington-area organizations have made it into the latest Slingshot: A Resource Guide to Jewish Innovation, a Zagat-style guide highlighting what it says are the 50 most innovative Jewish nonprofits across the country.
The Slingshot organization is a funding source advocating for innovation which has disbursed more than $2.5 million to honorees over the past nine years.
The Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington at Adas Israel Congregation, Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, and 2239 have all appeared in previous Slingshot guide editions. The Pearlstone Center is being recognized for the fifth time.
This newest guidebook is the 11th annual. It was released March 7.
Stefanie Rhodes, Slingshot executive director, said the nonprofit intends to help people find, fund and connect to Jewish life, whether through next-generation funders, foundation professionals and funders in the Jewish innovation space, or the innovators themselves.
“Originally, it was created for these next-generation funders to find really cutting-edge things that were happening in Jewish life,” she explained. “Having this resource was helpful not just for them: Over time, what we’ve learned is that people use this for all kinds of reasons.”
The 50 organizations that made the list were narrowed down from 250 applicants based on innovation, impact, strong leadership and organizational effectiveness.
The number of guides differs each year as well. In addition to the national one, this year’s supplements included a Chicago edition, and the Women and Girls edition.
About 28 percent of the organizations in the national guide are first-timers.
“The organizations featured in the guide, wherever they are, are addressing a need in a creative, innovative groundbreaking way,” Rhodes continued. “They are really finding a way to get young Jews to participate in Jewish life” who are otherwise unengaged or unaffiliated.
“There’s so many wonderful [organizations],” she continued, “and it’s sort of this great intersection of things, which really brings out people seemingly for the first time or in brand new ways, and those are all really exciting.”
Some of those ways, like the supplements, include branching out to youth or talking about health issues or women’s issues.
“We’re a very diverse people now, with lots of different interests, and it’s allowing you to plug into multiple needs and interests under the Jewish umbrella that feels inclusive and exciting,” Rhodes said.
“These people are finding ways to connect with others in new, different, creative ways. Judaism is a religion and culture based on tradition, and they’re really respecting the traditions but finding a way to make it new and fresh.”