Bikkurim admits two new startups to its incubator

Bikkurim Admits Two New Startups to Incubator ImmerseNYC and the Shefa School will receive combined package of funding, in-kind resources, and capacity building over two years, valued at $120,000 per organization
(June 27, 2013) Bikkurim has accepted two new organizations into its incubator program:

The Shefa School (www.shefaschool.org) is the first pluralistic Jewish day school in New York providing a K-8 education for children with special needs. Shefa seeks to make the Jewish education of children with learning differences a communal commitment and responsibility.
ImmserseNYC (www.immersenyc.org) is the first pluralistic community mikveh project in NYC. ImmerseNYC introduces New York Jews to the myriad ways that powerful and transformational mikveh rituals can add meaning to their Jewish lives.

ImmerseNYC and the Shefa School were accepted through a competitive application process to which 19 organizations applied. 22 communal leaders including members of the Bikkurim Board, alumni, and colleagues helped to review and vet the proposals.

“Bikkurim is thrilled to welcome the Shefa School and ImmerseNYC into our community of innovative startups and post-startups”, said Andrea Fram Plotkin, chair of the Selection Committee. “These projects represent exciting additions to the Jewish landscape. We know from our incubation of Matan back in 2000, that many parents struggle to find a Jewish education for children who are different learners. This is not just the problem for parents and schools, it is a communal problem and it requires a communal response. ImmerseNYC is building off the innovative work of Mayyim Hayyim in reviving the ritual of mikveh for today’s Jewish community and broadening the opportunities for Jews to engage in this unique spiritual and embodied Jewish experience. Both the Shefa School and Immerse NYC are advancing new Jewish ideas by expanding pluralism and creating more opportunities to engage in meaningful Jewish life.”

“We are so excited to be a part of Bikkurim,” said Shefa School founder, Ilana Ruskay-Kidd. “We have learned in our initial stages of planning that infrastructure and support are essential ingredients in launching big dreams. The staff and board of the Shefa School believe that Bikkurim is going to be a huge resource for helping us grow and prepare to open our school and welcome students in September 2014. It is moving to see that Bikkurim is once again at the forefront of our community and understands

that it is our entire community needs to come together and say, families shouldn’t have to choose between a quality Jewish education and a quality special needs education.”
“We’re honored to be selected as an incubated project at Bikkurim,” stated ImmerseNYC founder and executive director, Rabbi Sara Luria. “In the last year, we’ve seen the incredible potential that immersion rituals can have in transforming individual lives. With Bikkurim’s help, our work is poised to have a much more significant impact across the denominations and affiliations of our New York Jewish community.”

The Shefa School and ImmerseNYC join Bikkurim’s current residents, Yeshivat Maharat and the Jewish Diaster Repsonse Corps (JDRC).

Bikkurim: Advancing New Jewish Ideas energizes and enriches the North American Jewish community through two initiatives:
The Incubator helps visionaries to transform their dreams into viable organizations by providing free office space, peer community, stipends, customized organizational consulting, training, and networking opportunities to innovative Jewish startups headquartered in the New York metropolitan area.

Atid Hazak (Strong Future) ensures compelling new Jewish ideas thrive and endure by supporting post- startups as they prepare to grow and scale for impact. The pilot phase of Atid Hazak is being launched in collaboration with the Natan Fund to support Hazon, an organization dedicated to creating healthier and more sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond.

Since 2000, Bikkurim has provided over $3.5 million dollars of direct and in-kind support to 29 new ideas. Bikkurim is a joint project of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Kaminer Family. Visit our website to learn more: www.bikkurim.org