Challenge Grant Recipients

What is the Women’s Initiative Challenge Grant?

  • Through the Challenge Grant, the OU Women’s Initiative challenged synagogues nationwide to develop plans for innovative programming that addresses needs of the women in their respective communities.
  • Grant applications were evaluated based on the creativity, target audience, and how replicable the project would be in other communities.
  • The Women’s Initiative received 93 applications for the Challenge Grant and selected 16 recipients.
  • Grant recipients will receive $5000 to support their proposed projects.
  • In an effort to gauge progress and effectiveness, all Challenge Grant programs will be evaluated throughout the year by the Women’s Initiative.
  • Grant recipients are committed to serving as an “advisor synagogue” to other synagogues and institutions that are interested in replicating the program in their own communities.

Challenge Grant Recipients:

Congregation Keter Torah, Teaneck, NJ

The Women’s Beit Medrash in Halacha and Gemara will take place twice a week for both beginners and advanced learners, pairing women who may be students or working during the day in chevrutot and offering shuirim in the hopes of offering enriching topics that are not typically on the synagogue’s agenda for women.


Young Israel Toco Hills, Atlanta, GA

The Women’s Seder Avodat Yamim Noraim is a program designed to create the environment necessary for women to recharge their batteries, within a pleasant social environment dedicated to preparing themselves spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually for the Yamim Noraim. This will enable women to feel more included in the tefillot and overall experience of the Yamim Noraim.


Keneseth Beth Israel, Richmond, VA

Tools for Life is a program directed toward Jewish women of all ages and educational backgrounds with a special focus on young mothers— a group who historically have had more difficulty participating in synagogue programming due to scheduling and childcare related challenges— with Torah-based tools that can help them access real, tangible emunah in their daily lives and better connect to Hashem, Torah and the community. This course and related chaburot are based on the three pillars of emunah as expounded on by Rav Yosef Elbo in Sefer HaIkrim.


Westwood Kehilla, Los Angeles, CA

Inspired Leadership for Women is a new initiative that will hire a part-time woman who will specialize in developing women’s participation and leadership in the synagogue by working with them to plan and implement programming that specifically speaks to women, significantly increasing their participation in synagogue life while connecting them more deeply to the institution and to each other.


Congregation Darchei Noam, Fair Lawn, NJ

The Women’s Professional Mentorship Program is designed to create a mutually supportive network of Orthodox professional women of all ages; to offer a framework within which women of the community can share tools and knowledge with each other, developing practical workplace skills, and to provide unique professional development opportunities that are sensitive to the needs of Orthodox women in the workplace.


United Orthodox Synagogues, Houston, TX

More than Challah and Candlesticks: Women’s Relationship to Judaism in an Orthodox Context is a program centered around teaching and mentorship designed to maintain and fortify the community in the wake of Hurricane Harvey – the third flood to hit the United Orthodox Synagogues (UOS) community.


Congregation Agudath Sholom, Stamford, CT

Transmitting Torah: By Women…For Women is a program designed to create a vibrant community of women in both beginners and an advanced tracks, to study together as a cohort and prepare d’vrei Torah and shiurim throughout the course of the year.


Young Israel of Hollywood – Ft. Lauderdale, FL

The Eishet Chayil Initiative will provide a series of workshops monthly, delivered by orthodox women who are experts in various fields on a multitude of topics including:

  • Spirituality and bringing HaShem into our lives daily
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Nutrition and fitness
  • Time management
  • Parenting
  • Conflict resolution
  • Building self-confidence
  • Financial literacy


Suburban Torah, Livingston, NJ

The Women’s Center for Inspired Judaism will be a hub of inspiring Jewish learning and activity for the women in the community which will utilize the new physical space of the Center, equipped with a coffee bar, multimedia capabilities and comfortable couches and chairs, to create a flexible area that will offer programs including mother-daughter learning, latte and learning, cooking classes with an educational component, day-time events for seniors, and creative programs for middle school and teen girls.


Lincoln Square Synagogue, New York, NY

The Women’s Torah and Leadership Training Program is a program that will provide the tools for developing a cadre of women leaders armed with self-confidence in crafting and delivering classes, shiurim, d’vrei Torah, as well as teaching strategies for cultivating community growth and effective direction for constituents.


Young Israel of Oceanside, NY

M’Dor L’Dor: Cultivating Jewish Female Leadership Across Generations is a program that features a series of monthly chaburot, pairing pre-teen and teen young women of their youth department with more senior women in the synagogue to examine the history and future of female Orthodox Jewish leadership in our community and beyond, both in regards to education and future action.


Beth Jacob Congregation, Oakland, CA

Learn to Lead (וללמד ללמוד) is a monthly Sunday morning Beit Midrash with a female Rosh Beit Midrash / Community Scholar, designed to both educate and prepare women to present classes or drashot to the entire community throughout the 2018 summer season.


Young Israel of Greater Cleveland, OH

Saturday Night In(side Torah): Learning and Entertainment for the Women of our Community is a weekly program designed to encourage increased engagement in Torah learning for a growing cohort of connected inter-generational women.


Young Israel of Southfield, MI

Your Voice – Our Community is a Shabbat program and Sunday leadership training and team building retreat to take place over Parshat Chaye Sara, focused on gaining concrete leadership skills and tools, as well as strengthening the connections with each other, which will inform the development of future synagogue programming.


Congregation Shomrei Torah, Fair Lawn, NJ

The Women’s Institute of Learning and Leadership is a community-wide institute designed to promote multifaceted programming for girls and women of all ages including a mentorship program, a bat mitzvah program, and learning programs via a real-time interactive learning community that utilizes virtual meeting software to establish shiurim and chavruta opportunities for women.


Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation, Baltimore, MD

The Women’s Education Department will hire staff who will provide classes and chaburot in addition to making various resources available for women in need of guidance.