SOJOURN, JScreen Among Top 50 Jewish Innovators
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SOJOURN, JScreen Among Top 50 Jewish Innovators

Slingshot also honors Moishe House, PJ Library, InterfaithFamily and other national groups active in Atlanta.

Representatives of SOJOURN, JScreen, Moishe House, Jewish Kids Groups, OneTable and the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival relax after making their pitches to the post-Collaboratory pop-up giving circle March 22.
Representatives of SOJOURN, JScreen, Moishe House, Jewish Kids Groups, OneTable and the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival relax after making their pitches to the post-Collaboratory pop-up giving circle March 22.

Two Atlanta-based organizations, JScreen and SOJOURN, have been recognized among the 50 top innovative Jewish organizations in America in the 2018 Slingshot Guide.

“Slingshot highlights some of the most innovative programming in our community, organizations that are uniquely poised to meet today’s needs,” the organization says on its new website.

Slingshot says its 13th national guide, released Monday, June 4, will be its last printed guide, although it will continue to highlight and support Jewish innovation.

In an introduction to the guide, Slingshot Executive Director Stefanie Rhodes says this edition celebrates organizations “led by and for Jews of color, LGBTQ Jews, Latinx Jews, Jews of every denomination, those who identify as Jew-‘ish’ and those who are seeking connection in a community they were not born into.”

SOJOURN: Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity falls into that group in its work across the Southeast in support of LGBTQ people.

“We appreciate the recognition for and the coverage of the effort SOJOURN brings to strengthen and increase LGBTQ+ inclusive communities in the South,” SOJOURN Executive Director Rebecca Stapel-Wax said in an emailed statement to the AJT. “Being included in Slingshot has been a tremendous asset over the years. We have collaborated with other organizations that align with our mission. We have celebrated with the other innovative organizations that are our partners in Atlanta. It has also been exciting to be found by funders who identify with our work and want to contribute to our impact. We look forward to having many more opportunities to share the education and training that builds LGBTQ+ affirmation and empowerment — our core mission.”

It’s the third time Slingshot has recognized SOJOURN, after 2016 and 2014-15.

“As a faith-based agency, SOJOURN is able to access religious communities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana where faith is a major part of society and where no LGBTQ group has had any presence,” the guide says. “It is using this pivotal access to help queer members of the tribe use Judaism as a way to both gather and affirm their equal rights.”

JScreen, the Emory-based nonprofit offering spit tests to screen for more than 200 genetic diseases, also is a third-time Slingshot honoree after also making the 2016 and 2014-15 guides. In line with Slingshot’s 2018 focus, JScreen tests for diseases that are more prevalent in Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews as well as Ashkenazi Jews.

“We are honored to be included in the Slingshot Guide and to be highlighted for our innovative work in genetic screening,” JScreen Executive Director Karen Grinzaid said. “With our roots in Atlanta, we are proud that JScreen has become a household name with national reach and impact. We will continue to keep our sights on the current and future health of the Jewish community.”

Slingshot’s write-up on JScreen notes that it is working on two innovations: an at-home, low-cost test for the BRCA gene, associated with breast and ovarian cancer, especially in Ashkenazim, and an open testing and genetic counseling partnership for the Orthodox community.

Last year, Jewish Kids Groups was the only Atlanta-based organization in the Slingshot Guide. It was JKG’s third time being recognized.

Slingshot’s 50 honorees include several other organizations active in Atlanta, including Honeymoon Israel, InterfaithFamily, Moishe House, OneTable and PJ Library. The Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlantasupported jGirls Magazine, whose initial group of editors included Sandy Springs resident and Weber School student Aliza Abusch-Magder, also made the list, as did the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Miss.

You can see the full list of organizations here and read about the organizations or download the guide here.

Hundreds of organizations applied to be in the guide. The selections were based on innovation, impact, leadership in the field and organizational effectiveness. You can read the methodology here.

“Today, against a backdrop of unrest and activism, the landscape of Jewish innovation is thriving nationwide — a testament to the fierce creativity of our visionary funders,” Rhodes wrote. “I am deeply grateful that they continue to invest in a Jewish future rooted in passion and possibility.”

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