Lurie Micro-grant

Karen Berk, from left, Paula Kaufman, Karen Paneth, Judy Herman, Ellen Half, Marilyn Mendelman, Sami Kahn and Lisa Goldsand cook for Moms2B, a recipient of the Lurie Micro-Grant. 

Temple Israel in Columbus honored Tom and Nancy Lurie for the Lurie Micro-Grant Program during a celebration Shabbat last month.

Lurie micro-grants, which provide seed funding for local Jewish engagement projects, was conceived by the Luries along with former Temple Israel Senior Rabbi Misha Zinkow.

“The Lurie Micro-Grant Program has helped transform our congregation and our connectivity to each other as well as the broader community,” said Rabbi Sharon Mars, Senior Rabbi at Temple Israel, according to a news release. “By empowering congregants to generate and pursue ideas, programs and projects that improve lives, the program is the embodiment of tikkun olam, healing the world.”

For nearly a decade, the program has provided seed funding and program support for dozens of Jewish engagement projects, according to the release.

“The Lurie Micro-Grant Program started as an effort to deepen the quality of individual and family participation in temple life and strengthen connections to the community and Reform Judaism,” Nancy Lurie said in the release. “Tom and I have been gratified by the level of participation and impact of the program, grateful to all who have participated in making the program a success and personally inspired by working with the committee.”

Over about 10 years the program has engaged hundreds of congregants. Some projects that have received funding include:

• Moms2Be, started by Temple Israel congregant Dr. Patricia Gabbe, began as an effort to help pregnant teens have healthy pregnancies and combat the infant mortality crisis in Ohio. It has served more than 1,500 young women in the Columbus area.

• The Jewish Meditation Project offers Temple Israel congregants opportunities to partake in Jewish meditation sessions regularly.

• Mitzvah Angels provides services to congregants such as a ride to Shabbat services, a meal or a visit, during times of need.

• Love and Hugs for Zusman Hospice provides individualized bears to hospice patients.

• Tikkunapalooza, Temple Israel’s annual congregation-wide day of volunteering has congregants serving meals, cleaning and beautifying spaces, visiting with the elderly and participating in other meaningful activities. It allows more than 250 congregants to participate annually.

Other initiatives including the Homeless Shelter project, the Sewing Circle, Temple Israel participation in B.R.E.A.D., Transition Networking Group, The Temple Israel Prison Project, Jewish Book Club, the Temple Israel community garden and Hazon CSA have received support, according to the release.

“I believe the Lurie micro-grant given to Moms 2B were far more than philanthropic – they were life-saving,” said Karen Paneth, a Moms2Be volunteer. “The grants contributed greatly to helping this organization achieve its mission: to empower pregnant women in high-risk neighborhoods to deliver full term healthy babies. Lurie micro-grant funds were used to provide these women and their babies with the resources and support they need, from healthy meals to newborn essentials such as clothing, toys and infant car seats.”

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