SF-based Jewish Community Federation and Schusterman Philanthropic Network Announce 10 Micro-Grants for Innovative Jewish Projects in the Bay Area

San Francisco, CA – Today, the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties, in partnership with the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network, announced 10 new micro-grants for innovative Jewish projects in the Bay Area through Schusterman’s #MakeItHappen Micro-Grants Initiative. #MakeItHappen is a global call-to-action for Jewish individuals to submit inspiring ideas for creating Jewish experiences in their communities. Schusterman selected 50 ideas from around the world for micro-grants. The Federation then selected 10 additional Bay Area projects, each for $1,000 grants that are funded by the Federation.
“These micro-grants are intended as a big thumbs up for emerging leaders, thinkers, and visionaries who seek to contribute to our local Jewish community,” said Jim Offel, interim CEO of the Federation. “One of Jennifer Gorovitz’s last acts as CEO was to facilitate this grant round in order to support innovation in the Bay Area and to recognize those who are making a difference in engaging a new generation in Jewish life. This is part and parcel of her vision for changing the way we approach grantmaking in our community. Thank you to the Schusterman network for its important work to support Jewish ideas.”
Micro-grant winners and their projects are:

  • Baby & Me Shabbat – Talia Perlman, Redwood City: “I am trying to have a place on the Peninsula for parents with Jewish babies to have a Shabbat program with their babies. This is a very important but missing niche for young adults on the Peninsula. Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City has offered to host a special Shabbat morning program for families with babies under the age of 2. The group will open with a familiar song, followed by a brief discussion for the parents on a family-oriented topic with Jewish content. This will be followed by additional songs, movement, puppets or other activity to interest the babies and toddlers.”
  • Bringing San Francisco’s Jewish history to life at the Haas-Lilienthal house – Rebecca Grossman-Kahn, San Francisco: “The Haas-Lilienthal house is San Francisco’s Victorian architectural gem, visited by thousands of tourists and locals each year. While every visitor to the house admires the lush oak wainscoting, elegant art glass, and amazing story of surviving the 1906 earthquake, few learn that the Haas and Lilienthal families were prominent in the Jewish community, involved in Mt Zion hospital, the Federation of Jewish Charities, and the council of Jewish women. There is a rich, hidden history of Jewish San Francisco, and the Haas-Lilienthal house is the perfect place to tell the stories.”
  • Exploring Forgiveness at San Quentin State Prison – Lesley Schisgall Currier, San Francisco: “Inmates who participate in Shakespeare at San Quentin performed The Merchant of Venice in June 2013, followed by a symposium led by Rabbi Daniel Isaacson. In November, inmates performed autobiographical theater pieces inspired by themes from The Merchant of Venice, including the theme of forgiveness. We would like to share this powerful, inspiring work with young Jewish people in our community. We propose a workshop at San Quentin that includes performances of scenes from the play, discussion led by Rabbi Isaacson and others about forgiveness and the Jewish tradition, structured dialogue, and performances of autobiographical theater pieces about forgiveness by men in the Shakespeare at San Quentin program.”
  • ParshaNut: A Parsha Hub on the Internet – David Kasher, Oakland: “I have a parsha blog on Tumblr that I post on every week. And this isn’t so unusual. There are lots of people writing about the weekly Torah portion on the web. But it’s hard to know where to go to find them. I propose to create a website that lists and links all the various contemporary parsha commentaries, as well as leaves space for visitors to offer their own thoughts on the parsha.”
  • Pay-it-Forward // Shabbat dinner – Benjamin Abram, San Francisco: “A dear friend convinced me to co-host a Shabbat dinner with him at my home last year; since then, I’ve been on a serious ‘kick’ and have hosted on over two dozen Friday nights. Without his impetus and encouragement, I would never have thought to perform the mitzvah of sanctifying the Sabbath in this way. I’d like a #MakeItHappen grant to encourage eight other people to host Shabbat dinners for their first time next year.”
  • Reap The Fruit – Irisa and Jonah Charney-Sirott, Berkeley: “Reap the Fruit would offer a quarterly delivery of Jewish-themed literature, music and/or films. As with the current PJ Library program, the chosen books and music or film would be accompanied by a short explanation and appreciation of the chosen work. Selections could range from overlooked Jewish classics to cutting edge portrayals of modern Jewish life.”
  • Rock-n-Soul Sunday School – Rabbi Yosef Langer, San Francisco: “Most American youth that received a secular education and begrudgingly went to Sunday School had a short-lived and negative experience, which also was the end of their religious education. Our Fourth Friday Shabbat Happy Hour, in the new SoMa Shul in San Francisco, has attracted upwards of 100 people every month. What we would like to do is a wrap-around multi-media event (at this same location) on Saturday night – a ‘Rock-n-Soul Sunday School’ event. It will be a presentation with music and visuals to depict the Jewish lifestyle, including Shabbat, Chanukah, Purim, and other Jewish things. Food and drink will be included. No speeches, just visual, musical, and multi-media experiences, camaraderie, and cheers!”
  • Salon with Meaning – Lois Wander, San Francisco: “To bring people together in an informal and homey setting to learn, to be entertained, to engage, and to be part of a giving experience. Every season I will host a salon with speakers or entertainers, with Jewish content, and instead of an honorarium/fee, they will receive a donation to the charity of their choice. The salon will be an opportunity to showcase their organization and encourage others to get involved.”
  • SF Jewish History Tour aboard the Mitzvah Cable Car – Moshe Langer, San Francisco: “To take local Jews and groups from Jewish organizations on a San Francisco Jewish History Tour aboard the Mitzvah Cable Car. The tour would tell the story of how Jews have been part of the city’s fabric since 1850 and how the Jewish community is a major part of its success.”
  • The Zingeray – Anthony Russell, Oakland: “I want to hold a zingeray, which is a social gathering to sing, listen and pass on Yiddish songs, ballads, lullabies, narratives and romances, performed in a casual, inclusive style and space, as befits a folk idiom. I would like to hold this zingeray in the Bay Area, an area renowned as a center of research, preservation performance and celebration of diverse kinds of traditional culture and roots music, but not so much as a center of performative Jewish, and specifically Yiddish, culture.”

#MakeItHappen is a means of promoting and supporting a new generation of Jewish leadership, especially those who may have otherwise received no assistance from the philanthropic community. Selected projects will identify creative means of engaging, serving, and leading local Jewish communities.


The Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund connects people of all ages, backgrounds, and perspectives to the power of the Jewish community to improve the world. We partner with donors, organizations, and foundations to address pressing issues facing our community, and develop innovative strategies that result in deep and lasting impact locally, in Israel, and around the world. Learn more at www.jewishfed.org.

For immediate release

April 10, 2014


Ilan Kayatsky