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Home » Network: Reconstructionist Incubator (2016-17)

Network: Reconstructionist Incubator (2016-17)

Reconstructionist Incubator: How might we move bold ideas to action?

Facilitated by Cyd Weissman, Assistant Vice President for Innovation and Impact at RRC/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities

For Reconstructionist Rabbis & their thought partners

Thursdays 12:30 p.m.-1:50 p.m. EST – Feb. 16, March 2, March 16, April 6, April 27 and May 4

This network will support rabbis in applying an entrepreneurial approach to turn their bold ideas and early stage experiments into action. Rabbis working within an organization or dreaming of a startup to re-construct the Jewish landscape are encouraged to participate.

Three grant opportunities ranging from $2,000-$20,000 are available to support the projects incubated through this network. 

Participants will learn with entrepreneurial experts, benefit from the wisdom of colleagues and have access to grant funding. Sessions will include topics like branding, capital raising, marketing, and value propositions. Guest entrepreneurial leaders will include Rabbi Douglas Heifetz, Rabbi George Wielechowski, Rabbi Hayim Herring, Toby Rubin, and Rabbi Sid Schwarz.

Entrepreneurship and intra-preneurship are not lone-ranger activities. Rabbis are encouraged to invite a work partner.



Session 1

Incubator Session 1 Recording


Reconstructionist Incubator Session 2 Recording

Difference between branding and marketing

Reconstructionist Incubator Session 3 Recording

General Links


Session 4 - Rabbi Sid Schwarz

Fourth Session Highlights Page

Reconstructionist Incubator Session 4 Recording


Session 5 - Rabbi Hayim Herring

Fifth Session Highlights Page

Reconstructionist Incubator Session 5 Recording


Session 6 - Toby Rubin

Sixth Session Highlights Page

Incubator Session 6 Powerpoint

Reconstructionist Incubator Session 6 Recording


Additional Resources


Presenter Bios

Rabbi Doug Heifetz (RRC 2005) serves as the rabbi of Oseh Shalom, a Reconstructionist Jewish synagogue in Laurel, Maryland. Since his arrival in 2006, he’s worked with a talented team of staff and lay leaders to create a full schedule of traditional and exploratory worship services, life cycle events, and cultural and educational programs for people of all ages. Together with teen students from the synagogue, he created and launched two mobile games, including one of the top Shofar games on iTunes and the Google Play store. He served as the President of the Washington Board of Rabbis from 2014-2016. He recently launched an artisan silversmith company, Lost & Forged, featured on the websites of Organic Spa Magazine and Baltimore Style. He will leave his position at Oseh Shalom this August, 2017, in order to dedicate himself to art and entrepreneurship, within the Jewish community and beyond. He will continue to live at his current home in Silver Spring, Maryland, together with his wife, Elaine, his children, Dalya and Judah (ages 7 & 10), and his hound dog, Ruby.

Toby Rubin is the Founder of UpStart, where she recently completed her ten-year tenure as CEO. In that role, Toby built a team of leaders that brought UpStart from an idea to Jewish start-up to a high-impact, paradigm-shifting organization. By the time of her successful founder’s transition, UpStart was positioned for significant geographic and programmatic expansion, having just launched its second regional hub in Chicago. Toby’s interest in entrepreneurship and innovation arose after years of partnering with - and providing professional development to - professionals working within established non-profits and governmental entities. She saw too many new ideas being lost in the face of inhospitable systems. She “couldn’t not” find a solution to such a frustrating problem, and sought to empower and accelerate the success of the many talented young professionals coming through her door. In addition, she brought her training in design thinking at Stanford d. school into the organization which led to development of a robust line of business, including groundbreaking work in building internal innovation capacity within Jewish day schools, improving the quality of program creation by dozens of emerging and mature organizations, and building the capacity of hundreds of professionals to integrate a “human centered design” perspective into their daily practice.

Prior to founding UpStart, Toby spent 7 years at the BJE-San Francisco filling a variety of roles from directing a fellowship for educators of Jewish teens to serving as Associate Director. In her first career she litigated to secure education rights of persons with disabilities. Toby’s “UpStart story,” combined with decades of executive lay leadership, has given Toby unique insight and expertise into the non-profit, Jewish, and innovation sectors.

Rabbi Sid Schwarz is a senior fellow at Clal: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership where he directs the Clergy Leadership Incubator (CLI), a program that trains rabbis to be visionary spiritual leaders. He also directs the New Paradigm Spiritual Communities Initiative which is building the capacity of emerging spiritual communities across the country.

Sid founded and led PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values for 21 years. He is also the founding rabbi of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, MD where he continues to teach and lead services. Dr. Schwarz holds a Ph.D. in Jewish history and is the author of two groundbreaking books—Finding a Spiritual Home: How a New Generation of Jews Can Transform the American Synagogue (Jewish Lights, 2000) and Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World (Jewish Lights, 2006). 

Sid was awarded the prestigious Covenant Award for his pioneering work in the field of Jewish education and was named by Newsweek as one of the 50 most influential rabbis in North America. Sid’s latest book is Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future (Jewish Lights, 2013).

Rabbi George Wielechowski is a spiritual leader, entrepreneur, and the founding Director of the Open Dor Project (http://www.opendorproject.org). He earned his M.A. from Johns Hopkins University and his rabbinic ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Prior to his work with the Open Dor Project, Rabbi George most recently served on the clergy team of Beth El Congregation of Baltimore, where he focused on creating accessible and welcoming community and co-launched a new center for Jewish spirituality. He is co-founder of Mosaicverse, an emerging sacred writings search technology and study community for multi-faith learners. Rabbi George also serves on the Strategic Planning Committee of the RRC Board of Governors and is a member of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Clergy Leadership Program.

As an entrepreneur and executive, Rabbi George’s creative, marketing, and organization building experience spans over 15 years and includes diverse disciplines. He has developed, branded, and managed early-stage startups in the technology, religious education, and consumer product sectors and has led communications and marketing teams in a variety of industries, including religious and educational non-profits, software companies, digital content creation, consumer food products, the hospitality industry, and luxury real estate development.

An active writer, filmmaker, and digital media producer, Rabbi George’s creative credits also include published essays and feature film, animation, documentary, and national television credits.

He lives with his wife and two sons in Cardiff, CA.

Three Grants to Support Reconstructionist Clergy Incubator

  1. 2017-2018 Auerbach Ignition and Launch Grants. Presently enrolled RRC students and clergy who graduated in 2015 and 2016 can apply for Aurbach Ignition grants up to $2,000 grants. You can also apply for the Auerbach Launch Grant for $20,000 with a 2:1 matching grant. See more information here. Applications available soon.
  2. Reconstructionist Clergy Incubator Grants for Reconstructionist clergy who enroll in the Incubator Network and are not eligible for the Auerbach grants can apply for one of two grants for $5000 each. This grant supports Reconstructionist rabbis in turning bold ideas into action as they work to crack the 21st century code of Jewish community, meaning, and action. Applications available at the conclusion of the Network, and will be awarded in June 2017. 
  3. The Aviv Revolving Loan Fund supports growth and vitality in the Reconstructionist movement. Congregations and havurot affiliated with the Reconstructionist movement at any level—Enter, Engage or Invest—can apply for these no-interest loans of up to $20,000.
    • Up to two loans will be disbursed each year.
    • Recipient congregations will have up to five years to repay the loans.
    • Recipient congregations will be eligible to have fifty percent of the amount borrowed forgiven entirely if they meet the following criteria: 1) they demonstrate that they have achieved most or all of the objectives of their loan application, 2) they report on their progress as required by the loan agreement, and 3) they repay the first half of the amount borrowed on schedule.

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