TC Jewfolk Wins $10,000 Jewish Social Entrepreneurs Award

NextMazal Tov to us!

TC Jewfolk Founder Leora Maccabee Itman was just awarded one of three 2014 Natan/NEXT Grants for Social Entrepreneurs for TC Jewfolk’s work using social media and community-based journalism to connect, engage, and inspire young Jews in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The two other grantees are Mikdash: Portland’s East Side Jewish Cooperative​ and Open Quorum.

NatanIn addition to the fact that it’s exciting that two awesome national Jewish organizations have taken notice of the work we’re doing in the Twin Cities, TC Jewfolk will also receive $10,000 from Natan and NEXT to invest in high quality content for TC, launch new marketing efforts, and put on two community building events to be held in 2014 and 2015.

Thanks to receiving a 2014 Natan/NEXT Grant for Social Entrepreneurs, TC Jewfolk already has:

  • Hired two amazing monthly bloggers, Galit Breen and Nina Badzin. Nina Badzin is a Minneapolis-based essayist, short story writer, and a mother of four. She’s a contributing writer at Brain, Child Magazine,, and You can also find her blogging regularly at Galit Breen is a Minnesota writer. On any given day she can be found juggling three kids, one husband, one puggle, and her laptop. Galit has had essays published in several anthologies, is the editor of Pens and Paint, a series anthology of children’s poetry and artwork and co-directs Listen to Your Mother, Twin Cities. Galit is also a freelance writer for allParenting, Everyday Family, Mamalode Magazine, Soleil Moon Frye’s Moonfrye, SheKnows, and The Huffington Post blog. Galit blogs regularly, tweets excessively and may or may not work for dark chocolate.
  • Launched our awesome swag – stainless steel bottle openers that say “L’Chaim” – at young adult events in the Twin Cities. Thanks to Natan and NEXT, these bottle openers are free, and we will let you know on Facebook the next cool event in the the TC where you can get one. We’ll have them at Beth El’s Young Adult Shabbat this Friday night, the St. Paul Young Leadership JewzCruise on September 7, and the JFCS Fall Social on September 18, to name a few.

In addition, plans are in the works to:

  • Hire a weekly Arts & Culture Columnist and a college writer to write about all things Jewish on college campuses. Check out for the announcements with more details about these positions later this week.
  • Throw two fabulous community-building events to be held in 2014 and 2015. Want to help us engage the TC Jewfolk community off-line? We’d love your time, energy, and/or resources to make those events happen. Email [email protected] if you’re interested.

We are so grateful to Natan and NEXT for the honor of this award, and we are absolutely thrilled for this opportunity to kick off this next exciting phase for TC Jewfolk!

Mazal tov

The full text of the Natan/NEXT press release is below:

Natan and NEXT Announce 2014 Grants

Contact: Jason Edelstein, (510) 239-1102

NEW YORK, NY (August 13, 2014) – NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation and the Natan Fund today announced the recipients of the 2014 Natan/NEXT Grants for Social Entrepreneurs, designed to support ongoing cultural, spiritual, educational, service, and community-buildi​ng projects run by young Jewish adults for their peers. The grants will total $25,000 to three recipients to further realize their vision of Jewish life in their communities.

“We are always excited to award these grants to passionate young Jewish adults who are driven to inspire others,” says Morlie Levin, CEO of NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation. “Like many of their peers in the Birthright Israel generation, they have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and want to create truly authentic Jewish experiences for their friends and communities. These grants are one way we can support their creativity and desire to shape vibrant Jewish life.”

Jackie Fishman, assistant director of the Natan Fund, says, “Every year, we see incredible initiatives that represent the diversity and ingenuity of young Jewish adults. From technology to culture to spirituality, these projects will help more young adults connect to each other and express their Jewish identity in new ways. We are excited to see how they evolve and impact our community.”

This year’s Natan/NEXT Grants for Social Entrepreneurs recipients are:

Nathan DeGroot, Mikdash: Portland’s East Side Jewish Cooperative
Mikdash is a cooperative community based in Portland’s East Side that supports creative Jewish living, encourages meaning-making, and builds community amongst young Jewish adults in the Portland area. Nathan is a fifth-year student at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, and is genuinely excited by the potential community that Mikdash could help support.​

Leora Maccabee Itman, TC Jewfolk
TC Jewfolk is an independent, entrepreneurial start-up using social media and community-based journalism to connect, engage, and inspire young Jews in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Leora is the founder of TC Jewfolk and Chair of the Board of Directors for Jewfolk Media, its parent nonprofit organization. Leora is an attorney at Maslon, Edelman, Borman & Brand, LLP.

David Zvi Kalman, Open Quorum
Open Quorum/Jewish Public Media is a new online platform for creating, curating, and promoting excellent Jewish ideas and creative expression through podcasts like Talking in Shul and Responsa Radio, videos, and live events like SermonSlam. David is co-founder and president of Open Quorum, a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania in medieval Jewish and Islamic law, and serves as one of Mechon Hadar’s Campus Scholars.

In previous grant rounds, Natan and NEXT awarded more than 21 grants to social entrepreneurs, totaling $156,000. From new spiritual communities to a Jewish music festival to a create-your-own haggadah website, past grantees have realized their dreams by creating and building start-up projects to help young Jewish adults explore Jewish life.


Natan inspires young philanthropists to become actively engaged in Jewish giving by funding innovative projects that are shaping the Jewish future.

NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation helps turn ten day trips to Israel into lifelong Jewish journeys. Building on the Birthright Israel experience, NEXT empowers communities, professionals, and Birthrighters themselves to create meaningful Jewish opportunities for young adults.​

(Photo, modified, from: David Hilgart)