Orthodox Union’s Women’s Initiative Underwrites 16 Synagogue Programs that Support Spiritual, Religious & Communal Involvement for Women

26 Jul 2018

NEW YORK – The Orthodox Union (OU), the nation’s oldest and largest umbrella organization for the North American Orthodox Jewish community, will underwrite the cost of 16 innovative programs in 11 states that will support the spiritual, religious and communal growth of Orthodox women. The programs were selected from a field of 93 applications for its Women’s Initiative Challenge Grant.

The Challenge Grant recipients are:

Applications were evaluated based on the creativity of the proposed program, target audience, and whether the project could be replicated in other communities.

“The Challenge Grant is an exciting initiative that captures the positive energy of so many communities,” said Rebbetzin Dr. Adina Shmidman, founding director of the OU’s Department of Women’s Initiatives. “The Women’s Initiative is proudly empowering our communities to develop creative approaches to addressing spiritual and communal needs. Once these programs are piloted, they can be offered widely in other communities so that they too can benefit from the wisdom and experience of these successful initiatives.”

“Coming on the heels of its extremely successful national Shavuot programming by female scholars, the Women’s Initiative received an impressive response to its Challenge Grant,” said Allen Fagin, Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union. “We have no doubt that the proposals will prove to be crucial additions to their shul programming and we look forward to sharing them broadly to benefit women in communities throughout North America.”

The Challenge Grant is one of many programs the OU Women’s Initiative is launching in its inaugural year.  The Women’s Initiative ran a well-received Shavuot speaker series, which created and promoted high level learning opportunities presented by women on Shavuot in shuls across the country, many of which had not previously hosted women educators in this capacity.  Upcoming initiatives include a multi-city Mikveh Attendant training program addressing Mikvah client medical and mental health needs; a Leil Hitoriru, an evening of spiritual inspiration between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, an evening of spiritual inspiration and the creation of the Women’s Impact Institute, a leadership training program.

“For more than a century the Orthodox Union has addressed the religious and spiritual needs of the American Jewish community. Ever changing circumstances and challenges, however, compel the ongoing exploration of new approaches to advance our connection to God, both as individuals and collectively as a community,” said OU President Moishe Bane. “We therefore feel particularly privileged to be partnering with women of extraordinary vision and commitment from across the community, to pursue exciting and innovative initiatives seeking to enhance the religious and spiritual growth of the contemporary Jewish woman.”

About the Orthodox Union

Founded in 1898, the Orthodox Union, (OU), serves as the voice of American Orthodox Jewry, with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network. As the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry, the OU is at the forefront of advocacy work on both state and federal levels, outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals through NCSY and Birthright Israel/Israel Free Spirit trip organizer, and Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, among many other divisions and programs. For more information, visit https://www.ou.org/.