Cincinnati, OH -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/24/2011 -- OurJewishCommunity.org, believed to be the largest online Jewish congregation, has been named one of the nation’s 50 most innovative Jewish nonprofits in Slingshot ’11-‘12, a resource guide for Jewish innovation. OurJewishCommunity.org was selected for this list because of its groundbreaking use of technology to create an online Jewish community with a contemporary Jewish voice and philosophy.
Slingshot is used by philanthropists, volunteers, not-for-profit executives, and program participants to identify path-finding and trailblazing organizations grappling with concerns in Jewish life such as identity, community, and tradition. OurJewishCommunity.org was chosen for the first time by a panel of 36 foundation professionals from across North America.
In order to be listed in Slingshot, organizations are selected from among hundreds of nominees. Finalists are chosen based on their strength in four areas: innovation, impact, leadership, and organizational efficiency.
OurJewishCommunity.org is an online community integrating Judaism and social media to address the needs of modern Jews. Providing a spiritual home, a meaningful voice, and a resource for people worldwide seeking a contemporary Jewish identity and experience, OurJewishCommunity.org reaches out to unaffiliated Jews who desire a stronger, more meaningful Jewish connection. By leveraging technology to meet people where they are, OurJewishCommunity.org provides an opportunity to participate in a contemporary Jewish experience. Since its launch in 2008, OurJewishCommunity.org has reached over 250,000 people in 155 countries.
Rabbi Robert Barr, one of the two rabbis of OurJewishCommunity.org, said, “When we began to create OurJewishCommunity.org just over four years ago, there were no models of anything like this in the Jewish community. We truly entered uncharted territory and have exceeded even our own expectations in terms of the reach we’ve had and the impact we’ve had on people’s lives around the world.”
Rabbi Laura Baum, also one of the rabbis of OurJewishCommunity.org, added, “Being listed in Slingshot is important validation from Jewish professionals from across the country for the work we are doing. People who work in the worlds of Jewish foundations and Jewish innovation value what we’ve accomplished. While being recognized by Slingshot does not guarantee financial support, we are hopeful that increased recognition will in time lead to increase financial support from national philanthropic organizations or individuals.”
OurJewishCommunity.org, an initiative of Congregation Beth Adam, will host an event on Sunday, November 20 at 10 AM to celebrate its recognition by Slingshot. Will Schneider, Executive Director of Slingshot, will be at Congregation Beth Adam that morning to lead a presentation and conversation about Jewish innovation. This event at the congregation (10001 Loveland-Madeira Rd, Loveland, OH 45140) is open to the public with RSVP at http://www.bethadam.org.
During the evaluation process of Slingshot, evaluators praised OurJewishCommunity.org for “staying on top of the tech field to move with it, not behind it.” Another evaluator noted, “I am not familiar with any other organization that uses social media and a web presence as the end product rather than as an outreach tool to bring people into the community.”
According to Will Schneider, Executive Director of Slingshot, “Slingshot ’11-’12 is an inspirational look at a Jewish community that is adapting to changing needs in Jewish life. We had more applications than ever this year, with a wider variety of missions. In order to be selected by our evaluators, innovations and their impact had to resonate more than ever.”
Inspired five years ago by Slingshot, a group of next-generation philanthropists launched the Slingshot Fund, a collective giving mechanism to support innovative Jewish life. In just five cycles, 55 members of the Slingshot Fund have contributed more than $1.8 million to innovative Jewish not-for-profits.
Slingshot ’11/’12 was released on October 18, 2011. The community will meet on March 14 in New York City at the annual Slingshot Day, where over 250 not-for-profit leaders, foundation professionals, and funders of all ages will engage in candid conversations about philanthropy and innovation.
OurJewishCommunity.org is the world’s first progressive online synagogue. Launched on September 1, 2008, OurJewishCommunity.org has reached more than 250,000 individuals in all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 155 countries. The online community features blogs, audio podcasts through iTunes, video podcasts through YouTube, streaming holiday services, discussion boards, holiday eCards, recipes, educational materials for all ages, and more. We have more than 3,000 followers on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/JewsOnline and http://www.twitter.com/Rabbi) and OurJewishCommunity.org has over 10,000 Facebook fans (http://www.facebook.com/ourjewishcommunity).
Slingshot was created by a team of young funders as a guidebook to help funders of all ages diversify their giving portfolios with the most innovative and effective organizations and programs in North America. This guide contains information about each organization’s origin, mission, strategy, impact and budget, as well as details about its unique character. Now in its seventh edition, Slingshot has proven to be a catalyst for next generation funding and offers a telling snapshot of shifting trends in North America's Jewish community. The book, published annually, is available in hard copy and as a free download at http://www.slingshotfund.org.
Laura Baum, Rabbi, OurJewishCommunity.org
As the Founding Rabbi of OurJewishCommunity.org, Rabbi Laura Baum works to engage Jews through social media and other technology. Baum was named one of the 50 most influential female rabbis by the Jewish Forward and has been featured in the New York Times, CNN.com, and the Jerusalem Post. “Baum’s Blog” is a central feature of OurJewishCommunity.org as are Rabbi Baum’s YouTube podcasts. An expert on social media and the changing needs of the Jewish community, Rabbi Baum has created a new model for engaging those seeking a new way to connect to Judaism.
Rabbi Baum was ordained by Hebrew Union College in 2008 and has taught as an adjunct instructor there. She graduated from Yale University in 2001 Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with distinction in the Psychology major. She will receive an M.B.A. from Xavier University this spring.
Robert B. Barr, Rabbi, OurJewishCommunity.org
Rabbi Robert B. Barr, ordained by Hebrew Union College in 1981, is the Founding Rabbi of Congregation Beth Adam in Cincinnati, Ohio. Under his leadership for the last 30 years, Beth Adam has grown from 6 members to over 300. The congregation has a significant voice and is a resource for liberal Jews worldwide. Rabbi Barr first imagined the online congregation and has played a continuing role in its development, including his weekly podcasts (“Barr’s Banter”) which are available on iTunes.
Rabbi Barr is active in the leadership of many Jewish organizations and has twice served as president of the Greater Cincinnati Board of Rabbis. Recognized by his peers as a leader in the evolution of modern, liberal Judaism, his writings have been published in journals, books, and web sites around the world.