Yesterday, Slingshot announced this year’s honourees. 50 “innovative” Jewish nonprofits are included in their annual guide. Great and worthy organisations (including my place of employment)!
And, for the first time, one of the fifty was a Canadian nonprofit: Makom.
a joyous, grassroots, downtown community, building traditional and progressive Jewish life in Toronto. Makom creates an inclusive and diverse space, committed to Jewish questioning and learning, arts and culture, spirited prayer and ritual, and social and environmental activism. Makom is bringing back vital, multi-faceted and creative Jewish life to a place where it once thrived. This vibrant new community is based in the Kiever Synagogue, a beautiful, historic synagogue in Kensington Market, Toronto’s old Jewish neighbourhood.
Congratulations to them (and, really, I mean it – many of us at Jewschool are friends with some of their organisers).
But this announcement spurred a bit of a discussion amongst us bloggers. Is an indie minyan in Toronto really “innovative”? Is this really the most innovative thing Canada has to offer? Is it really an indie minyan if they have a “rabbi and spiritual leader”?
The parametres for Slingshot are (really, really boiling it down here) “innovative nonprofit.” Most of the indie minyanim and havuros that I know of back home (says the Canadian living in the US) are not registered/incorporated as nonprofits, so they don’t make the cut. Should we be surprised that Canada’s only recognized-by-Slingshot organisation is in Toronto? Toronto has the largest Jewish community in Canada and most American organisations/funders overlook the other cities/communities entirely. So, no, it’s not surprising that a winner (of an American competition) would come from Toronto. (Begrudgingly admits the Vancouverite.)
What other Canadian communities could have been included in TWJ’s not-Slingshot guide? Here are just a few cool organisations happening north of the border:
- Adam v’Adamah Environmental Society in BC.
- BC’s Comox Valley Jewish Community Connection and Okanagan Jewish Community Association, which both get on here just because they exist at all in those two large geographic regions with very few Jews.
- Kulanu Toronto, a Jewish LGBTQ group.
- McGill QPIRG’s Young Jews for Social Justice Jewstice League, the klezmer band with political underpinnings, the go-to for music for anarchist and social justice events around Montreal.
- Ga’ava, queering up Montreal.
- J-Peg, keepin’ Jews warm in Manisnowba.
- NHC Canamica Retreat.
- Radio613 out of Queen’s University Radio.
- The Jewish Community Havura of Newfoundland and Labrador. When there are 350ish Jews livin’ on the rock, existing = innovation, right?
- Torat HaTeva, the Jewish Nature Centre of Canada.
- Victoria Society for Humanistic Judaism, serving a large percentage of Victoria, and Vancouver Island’s, Jews.
- YAC: Young Adult Community in Vancouver.
Obviously this list isn’t comprehensive or exhaustive. (Though, unlike Slingshot, it includes at least a couple organisations in “fly-over country.”) And, obviously, some of these organisations wouldn’t meet Slingshot’s criteria for many reasons. But it doesn’t matter. They make my list.
Do you know of other orgs in Canada that should be included or noted? Leave a comment. (And if you know of other organizations (look at my American spelling!) in the US that could have made Slingshot’s guide (or your personal guide), let us know in the comments too.)