[by Phyllis Shaikun]
In February 2010, Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services (JHHS), parent company and majority owner of Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare, reaffirmed its commitment to Louisville’s Jewish community by creating JHHS Louisville Jewish Community Excellence Grants as a
permanent funding source to issue grants to local charitable organizations offering programs and services focused on Jewish Culture and Identity, Health, Human Services and Education. The primary goal was to provide programmatic support and funding for capital projects.
Since the first Excellence Grants were awarded in April 2010, many local organizations have sought and received financial support for an exciting array of projects that have enhanced their programming efforts and enriched the Jewish community as well. An impressive overview of grant-funded projects follows.
Jewish Culture and Identity initiatives funded included:
- Chavurat Shalom, a communitywide program for Jewish seniors that meets at The Temple, received a grant to help defray the cost of kosher lunches and transportation for 25-50 participants;
- Chabad of Kentucky, sponsored last spring’s very successful Lag B’Omer Parade and Family Fun Day in conjunction with the Louisville Jewish Day School, the Jewish Community Center (JCC) and The Temple and Louisville Hebrew Schools; and
- The Temple’s Religious School sponsored a citywide Jewish Independence Day program for students attending all local Sunday schools and their families.
In addition, Excellence grants allowed the JCC to construct a community garden at their summer camp program for children ages five-12, introduce Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing! program to help young girls become confident young women with strong Jewish values and identities, and to bring Meredith Jacobs, author of The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat, to Louisville to conduct a Mock Shabbat Dinner for families of children in kindergarten through second grade.
Excellence grants enabled members of the Jewish Community of Louisville’s (JCL) Young Adult Division to hear actress, poet and playwright Vanessa Hidary at their annual event; supported Temple Shalom’s efforts with KlezmerFest 2011 and helped Louisville Girls Leadership, a program of the Alliance for Girls, update and promote “Onward Brave Girls,” a digital storytelling about the role girls played in the underground resistance movement against the Nazis during World War II.
Most recently, an Excellence grant helped the JCL welcome 123 women to the Water Tower to hear actress Mayim Bialik share her ideas about Jewish Awareness and raising Jewish families.
Local Human Services agencies, such as Jewish Family & Career Services, focus on improving our Jewish community’s overall quality of life. Excellence grants have allowed JFCS to sponsor a Health and Wellness Fair for community members 50 and over, which featured medical screenings and speakers on various lifestyle issues; take advantage of staff training opportunities; purchase supplies for the play therapy room and create employment/job development services for displaced Jewish workers.
Excellence Grants funding for Educational Endeavors resulted in the development of some imaginative programming opportunities. They included The Temple Scholars (adult education) class trip to Cincinnati’s Jewish Museum and archives and the hiring of a Hebrew tutor for students in grades four-six. Adath Jeshurun Preschool’s grant permitted the school to host a top-notch teacher in-service training and family event that included teachers and preschool students and their families from Keneseth Israel and The Temple.
The JCL’s PJ Library program received an Excellence grant to expand their program to include children ages six months to eight-years; and The Jewish Festival of the Book Series grant helped grow the annual festival. The High School of Jewish Studies and Louisville Hebrew School’s 200 students benefited from a new copier and the JCL’s Community newspaper received a special grant to help expedite their messaging capabilities with upgraded computer software and equipment.
The JHHS board began the Excellence Grants program in an effort to support the Jewish community, which is part of our mission,” said Jerry Temes, Excellence Grants program co-chair. “We are pleased that funding has already helped in the development of programs that strengthen Jewish identity, health, human services and education. We look forward to issuing even more grants in the years to come.”
Excellence Grants funding remains available for initiatives proposed by qualified Jewish agencies, organizations, religious institutions and schools. Applications may be downloaded from the company’s website: www.jhsmh.org. Click on Make a Gift and the Louisville Jewish Community Excellence Grants’ link is located directly below Community Involvement. Applications may be submitted year ’round and will be reviewed quarterly on January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1.