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Jewish Women’s Foundation awards $349,890 in grants

 The 2014 grant recipients' projects promote social change and address the needs of Jewish women and girls.    

The Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago has awarded $349,890 to 21 unique projects that improve the lives of Jewish women and girls locally and around the world.

The grants focus on projects that promote social change at the individual, community and institutional levels. The total includes the foundation’s second multiyear grant and grants from The Ellie Fund.

“The Jewish Women’s Foundation trustees seek to expand and improve opportunities in all aspects of Jewish women’s and girls’ lives through strategic and effective grant making,” said JWF Chair Gerri Kahnweiler. “Each of the 2014 grantees advances the quality of life for Jewish women and girls by investing in their security, well-being and overall potential." The foundation is an independent project of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

JWF awarded the largest grant in its history to SHALVA’s Legal LiaisonProgram. The $75,000 grant – $25,000 a year over three years – is JWF’s second multiyear impact initiative. The Legal Liaison Program integrates an attorney into the victim’s support process. When SHALVA’s clinical staff identifies a need, clients are referred to a legal liaison, who explains legal documents and procedures, facilitates communication with the victim’s attorney, and addresses issues such as child custody, bankruptcy and orders of protection. The liaison also is responsible for recruiting attorneys to provide pro bono or affordable legal representation to SHALVA’s clients, as well as promoting awareness and education on the legal needs of domestic violence victims within the community.

In the past, SHALVA has addressed clients’ legal needs through referrals, education and support services. With the addition of the legal liaison, SHALVA’s staff will be able to address a wider spectrum of client needs. Legal issues are the fastest-growing need facing SHALVA’s clients. “The issue of violence against women and girls in the Chicago Jewish community is a priority for our foundation, and we are thrilled to support this all-encompassing program,” Kahnweiler said.

From a pool of over $2.5 million in grant requests this year, JWF trustees identified and selected those projects that best reflect the foundation’s mission. The process included detailed reviews of grant proposals and budgets, conference calls with program staff, and site visits.

“Our trustees are an intelligent and thoughtful group of women,” said JWF Grants Chair Shari Slavin. “They carefully consider which programs would most benefit Jewish women and girls today and in the years to come. Our model works extremely well and is proven each year with the quality of our grants docket.”

In addition to SHALVA’s Legal Liaison Program, new grantees this year include ATZUM: Task Force on Human Trafficking; Adva Center: Community Empowerment to Improve the Lives of Women and Girls; Beit Morasha: Women's Halakha Program for Senior Scholars; Jewish Women International: Sexual Assault Prevention Program; National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore Section: Jewish Community Against Sex Trafficking Coalition Chicago; Roger Baldwin Foundation of ACLU, Inc.: Reproductive Rights Project; Shalom Bait, Asociacion Civil de Prevencion de la Violencia Familiar: Pursuing Justice, the Law as a Tool of Change; and TrueChild: Improving Health, Economic Empowerment and Leadership Among Jewish Tweens by Addressing Feminine Gender Norms.

JWF also renewed grants to AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps; Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation: End Demand Illinois Campaign; Center for the Advancement of Women in the Public Sphere at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute: The Gender Index: Monitoring and Promoting the Status of Women in Israel; Center for Women’s Justice Public Interest Litigation Project; Eden Center: Crisis and Health Intervention Training for Israeli Mikvah Attendants; Jewish Community Center: BeTween: A Jewish Community Planning Initiative; Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago: Ma’yan Research Training Internship.

Additionally, JWF’s Ellie Fund, established by founding JWF Trustee Ellen Block, awarded seven grants to organizations working to help girls and women reach their full potential. These include:

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation: Empowering Young Men to End Sexual Exploitation Program; JUF/Jewish Federation: Ma’yan Research Training Internship; Mavoi Satum: Justice and Support for All – Legal Representation and Social Support for Mesoravot Get; NATAL-Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War: Empowering Women: Training Early Childhood Teachers to Become Leaders, Influencers, and Important Community; and The Voices and Faces Project: The Stories We Tell; Women Moving Millions.

Overall, JWF increased the support of local projects to nine and seven international. The foundation increased the number of new grants to 10 and renewed six others.

A detailed list of this year’s grantees is as follows:

Economic Security/Legal Reform for Women & Girls

ATZUM: Task Force on Human Trafficking (TFHT): Working on the grassroots level with other NGOs, TFHT engages the public, government, and law enforcement agencies to confront and eradicate sex trafficking in Israel. This project combines a multi-pronged approach which includes lobbying for reform in the areas of prevention, border closure, services for victims, and prosecution of traffickers, pimps, and johns. TFHT is at the forefront of efforts to ensure that the currently seated Knesset legislate a Nordic Model law, designed to criminalize the purchase of sexual services and protect the prostituted person. Grant amount: $5,000

Center for the Advancement of Women in the Public Sphere (WIPS) at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute: The Gender Index: Monitoring and Promoting the Status of Women in Israel: Launched in 2012, the Gender Index measures the rates and trends of gender inequality in Israel across a variety of issues including but not limited to, income, political representation, educational attainment, and rates of violence. This multidimensional tool monitors changes over time, and can be used to create a snapshot of the depth and breadth of gender inequality throughout the country. By raising awareness among data generating organizations, women’s groups, and policy makers this project demonstrates how gender specific data can and should be used to inform policy recommendations. RenewalGrant amount: $15,000

Center for Women’s Justice (CWJ): The Public Interest Litigation Project: This project promotes women’s rights by filing precedent setting lawsuits in civil courts across Israel to address discriminatory decisions and policies decided by Israel’s rabbinic courts. Get refusal and extortion (husbands who refuse to grant their wives a divorce) are among the top priorities of these lawsuits.  Through litigation and public awareness activities, CWJ challenges unfair rulings and wins monetary damages for wives who were denied a get, thereby deterring husbands from using the get as a tool for extortion. By promoting legal reform in the Israeli civil court system, this project secures justice and fair treatment for women throughout the country. Renewal Grant amount: $15,000

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE): End Demand Illinois (EDI) Campaign: This organizing and advocacy campaign is dedicated to transforming Illinois’ response to prostitution and sex trafficking through pioneering legislative and policy reform. EDI is grounded in the belief that the sexual exploitation of women and girls through prostitution and sex trafficking will never end until our community refocuses its resources on holding those who create and support the demand for the domestic sex trade (i.e. pimps, johns and traffickers) accountable.  CAASE recognizes that systemic change can emerge through faith communities, and is committed to engaging the Jewish community in this important effort. Not only is this initiative based in Chicago, but it continues to produce groundbreaking reform for Illinois that can be replicated throughout the United States. Renewal Grant amount: $10,000

Roger Baldwin Foundation of ACLU, Inc.: Reproductive Rights Project:  This project seeks to ensure that women in Illinois can access the reproductive health care and information they need regardless of the religious beliefs of their employers and health care providers. Using the full force of the ACLU’s integrated advocacy efforts, the project will aim to secure legal and public policy victories that will prohibit the use of religion to deny essential medical care and justify discrimination. Among other things, this project will simultaneously undertake a public awareness campaign, sharpening litigation, and develop legal and public health strategies to advance legislative efforts.  Grant amount: $18,000

TrueChild:Improving Health, Economic Empowerment and Leadership Among Jewish Tweens by Addressing Feminine Gender Norms:  This project recognizes that many programs aimed at girls and young women fail to fully take into account how the cultural influence of rigid gender norms can impact behavior.  Grounded in the understanding that doing work with a “gender lens” requires conducting a full gender analysis, this project will help create best practice models for gender-based programming in Chicago’s Jewish community. Engaging both parents and professionals who work with girls, TrueChild will also create new resources that can be used to inform and teach Jewish girls how to think critically about harmful and rigid feminine norms. Grant amount: $15,000


Education/Leadership Development for Women & Girls

Adva Center: Community Empowerment to Improve the Lives of Women and Girls: This grassroots community organizing project is designed to give Israeli women the tools they need to become politically active in both formal and informal settings throughout their community. The program aims to increase women's political and economic power by providing them with knowledge about their economy and society and about the inner workings of their local and national governments. Through education, women in communities throughout Israel will become empowered to effect change in their local municipalities. Grant amount: $11,700

AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps: AVODAH engages Jews in their 20s and 30s in a year-long service learning program to combat poverty and promote social justice.  The program consists of work placements at Chicagoland anti-poverty agencies; communal living of corps members; mentoring; and educational sessions that include social activist training, education on the dynamics of urban poverty, and Jewish study. JWF funding supports the incorporation of gender-specific education into the corps members’ regular trainings. By increasing corps members’ connection to social activism, civic engagement, and Jewish values, this program is developing the next generation of young female Jewish leaders and activists who are committed to social justice and gender equality.  Renewal Grant amount: $8,500

Beit Morasha: Women's Halakha Program for Senior Scholars: The Women's Halakha Program at Beit Morasha trains women senior Torah scholars to qualify for rabbinic exams and serve as religious scholarly and educational leaders. These women have the opportunity to study and take examinations parallel to the requirements for male rabbinical candidates in Israel. For the first time in Jewish history, women Torah scholars have become the educational core of advanced Torah study for women and girls in Modern Orthodox society. The program also aspires to encourage inclusion of women in senior Jewish scholarly leadership positions such as rabbinic organizations, conferences, and leadership of Jewish centers of higher learning, shifting community and individual behavior. Grant amount: $10,000

Jewish Community Centers (JCC): BeTween: A Jewish Community Planning Initiative:

A two year grant from JWF (2013-2014) enabled JCFS and partnering agencies to complete the needs assessment and finalize recommendations for BeTween implementation. BeTween aims to enhance the social, mental, spiritual, physical and emotional health of pre-teen Jewish girls in the Chicago area, and ensure that parents and other adults in their lives have the awareness and skills to support them. To reach this goal, JCC will launch three programs in 2015, which emerged as the most promising practices: Girl Scouts, Girls on the Run, and Smarty Pants Yoga.  BeTween will also continue to serve as an ongoing vehicle for incubating, hosting, expanding and generating referrals for other community programming targeting pre-teen girls. Drawing from input received from parents, service providers and teen girls, this project promotes a coordinated, sustainable initiative that cuts across community settings and nurtures all parts of a Jewish tween girl as she is becoming a woman. Renewal Grant amount: $13,700

Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago: Ma’yan Research Training Internship: This 15-month internship program provides a girls only space where participants engage in serious inquiry about the topics that matter most to them. This project helps girls develop critical thinking and research skills and allows teens to engage in feminist discussions through bi-monthly meetings. RTI achieves a secondary goal of producing new, well-researched evidence of the needs and experiences of Jewish teen girls, which can be used by community professionals to improve existing programs. This project is a partnership between the New York-based Ma’yan, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and DePaul University’s Beck Research Initiative for Women, Gender and Community. Grant amount: $15,150

National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore Section (NCJW): Jewish Community Against Sex Trafficking Coalition Chicago (JCAST Chicago): JCAST Chicago works to eradicate sex trafficking in the Chicagoland area through public awareness, community engagement, and advocacy at local, state and national levels.  Inspired by Jewish values, JCAST partners with interfaith and human rights groups, non-profit organizations, government officials, and law enforcement agencies. By serving as the Jewish voice against sex trafficking in Chicago, JCAST seeks to ensure that the Jewish community understands how sex trafficking affects our community, and recognize how we as Jews, have a moral imperative to advocate for policies, services for victims, and greater awareness. Grant amount: $16,000


Health & Well-Being for Women & Girls

Eden Center: Crisis and Health Intervention Training for Israeli Mikvah Attendants:This project seeks to change the objective of mikvah (ritual bath) attendants from performance of the mikvah ritual to working towards becoming an advocate for women’s health and well-being. Through a series of educational programs, Israeli mikvah attendants will address pressing issues such as domestic violence, post-partum depression, and breast health. This project seeks to shift individual and community behavior by educating and empowering mikvah attendants to recognize, inform, and advocate for the myriad of women with whom they interface on a regular basis. Renewal Grant amount: $20,000

Jewish Women International (JWI): Sexual Assault Prevention Program: Through this program, JWI seeks to address misconceptions and change the way college students perceive and respond to the critical issue of sexual assault on campus. Working with the Hillels at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, JWI will develop and implement workshops on sexual assault for Jewish students that covers key issues including statistics and facts, tips for bystander intervention, ways to assess consent from a partner, and strategies for supporting victims. This co-ed program will emphasize the need for personal and community responsibility, and provide realistic tools for men and women to use as they step in as active bystanders and seek to change the culture on college campuses.  Grant amount: $24,000

Shalom Bait, Asociacion Civil de Prevencion de la Violencia Familiar: Pursuing Justice, the Law as a Tool of Change:  Shalom Bait is the only Jewish organization working directly to meet the needs of Jewish victims of domestic violence in Argentina.  Located in Buenos Aires, Shalom Bait provides Jewish victims of domestic violence with legal counseling and representation as they engage in legal battles against their abusers.  Shalom Bait staff also work to increase public awareness, train professionals in the community on how to intervene in cases involving domestic violence, and engage in advocacy efforts to enforce and strengthen the domestic violence laws in Argentina.  This project works to break the silence surrounding domestic violence and promotes and protects the rights of victims.  Grant amount: $18,000

Multiyear Grant to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls in the Chicago Jewish Community - Year 1

SHALVA: Legal Liaison Program:  SHALVA, the oldest independent Jewish domestic violence agency in the United States, works to address domestic abuse in Chicago Jewish homes and families through counseling and education.  To better assist clients, SHALVA’s Legal Liaison Program will hire attorneys to provide legal information and support to women who are engaged in lengthy legal battles with the men who abused them.  The program will also educate divorce attorneys and judges on the differences between and the complexities of a divorce where there has been abuse versus a contentious divorce. The program seeks to create awareness of how abusers use the legal system to further the abuse, reassert control and wear down their partners. The Legal Liaison helps SHALVA’s clients better understand the complicated legal process and facilitates communication with their attorneys. Additionally, the Legal Liaison works to identify and recruit attorneys who will provide pro bono legal representation for SHALVA’s clients.  By providing crucial post-separation assistance, this project promotes the long-term safety of Jewish women impacted by domestic abuse. Grant amount: $25,000 per year for three years for a total of $75,000 – first installment


The Ellie Fund of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE): Empowering Young Men to End Sexual Exploitation Program: This school-based prevention program engages young men in high school as allies in efforts to address and prevent sexual violence and exploitation. Through a series of workshops, young men learn about the exploitative dynamics and violence that exists in the sex trade in order to deter their involvement in this industry as consumers as well as facilitate a more personal understanding of how sexual violence and exploitation affects them and their communities. Companion sessions are also held with high school aged young women. Learning about sexual exploitation not only deters men from purchasing sex, but it also has the possibility to affect change in young men’s relationships with women and empower them to become part of the solution to end sexual exploitation and violence. RenewalGrant amount: $12,000

Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago: Ma’yan Research Training Internship:See above description.  The grant will support the first cohort of interns. Grant amount $20,000

Mavoi Satum: Justice and Support for All – Legal Representation and Social Support for Mesoravot Get: Working in Israel, this project provides social and legal support to agunot, women whose husbands refuse to give them a religious divorce (get). For many women, the process of securing a get can take many years, and ongoing legal and social support is crucial to ensure that women’s rights are protected. Through this project women receive individual legal consultation and representation in both civil and religious courts as well as social support to help them address feelings of powerlessness and rebuild their lives. RenewalGrant amount: $20,000

NATAL-Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War:Empowering Women: Training Early Childhood Teachers to Become Leaders, Influencers, and Important Community Resources: This program provides trauma awareness and leadership training to early childhood teachers, enabling them to become strong public advocates in NATAL’s nation-wide campaign to raise awareness of war and terror-related trauma as it affects children and families. With teachers as advocates, children will be able to get the vital help they need to reverse the impact of trauma and prevent the development of life-long debilitating symptoms. As strong public advocates, teachers will play an important role in ensuring the future health and well-being of the next generation of Israelis- and thus of Israel. Grant amount: $22,840

The Voices and Faces Project: The Stories We Tell:  This award-winning, Chicago-based storytelling initiative looks at how public testimony can be used as a tool for social change, and will bring the testimonies of Jewish survivors of sexual violence to the attention of the public. Believing that survivors can make political and cultural changes in our society, this project will provide survivors with an opportunity to give voice to their experiences and reflect how those experiences place an explicit demand on the standards of justice in our culture. By sharing the testimony of those who have lived through or witnessed gender related violence, the project seeks to challenge the public responses to violence against women.  Grant amount: $25,000

Women Moving Millions (WMM): WMM is a community of individuals who have made gifts and pledges of one million or more to organizations and initiatives promoting the advancement and empowerment of women and girls. This community believes that women and girls are the single best investment towards creating healthy societies, economic growth, and global stabilization. WMM is committed to funding systemic change and building a peaceful and equitable world. These funds will be used to increase awareness of the need to invest philanthropic resources in projects aimed at helping women and girls. Grant amount: $10,000

For more information on grants awarded or the Foundation, contact Sara Kalish, Senior Program Officer, at (312) 444-2846 or email

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