August 25, 2009, The Jewish Week — Rochelle Kleter never pictured herself as a philanthropist. The first-generation American, born to parents who grew up in the Ukraine, had a hard time finding her place in the Jewish community. “I was one of the only Jewish kids in the public school system” in East Hanover, N.J., she said. “I didn’t know what it meant to keep kosher for Passover. And when I took Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur off as personal days, I was made fun of.”
April 14, 2009, The Jewish Week — When Eric Tanner turned 13, his first act of manhood was to ask family and friends to contribute to his donor-advised fund at the Jewish Communal Fund in lieu of giving bar mitzvah gifts. Eric, now 19, has since drawn from the account to send money to Open Arms, a men’s shelter and soup kitchen in White Plains, where he and his family volunteer each Thanksgiving Day. He has also given a sizable grant to the Challenger Program, which provides sports activities for children with special needs.
What do independent minyanim, JDub Records and the environmental group Hazon have in common? Seemingly nothing. Yet they’re all young Jewish startups founded in the past decade that are attracting legions of disconnected Jews. Together, these organizations make up what has been dubbed the “Jewish Innovation Sector.”