I was privileged to join the UpStart Board in 2019. My “why” began as a desire to interact with Jews and Jewish organizations beyond the synagogue and day school experiences, which were my primary connections to Jewish institutions. One of my daughters participated in Avodah, a nonprofit that received early start-up support from UpStart and is now a well established, high functioning, vital organization that has a huge impact on young Jewish adults and the communities they serve. Avodah succeeded in connecting my daughter Jewishly at a time in her life where it would have been easy for her to disconnect from Judaism.
That was the first taste I had of the power of the Jewish venture world. With further exploration I became more and more intrigued by the richness, depth and breadth of the ventures UpStart has helped to crystallize, nurture and grow. Organizations such as Bamidbar, which supports mental health needs and providers using an experiential and wilderness focus; or the Jewish Kids Group which is a model for engaging unaffiliated Jewish families providing education and after school activities that delight and teach children about being Jewish; and the Shomer Collective which uses Jewish wisdom, values and practices to improve end of life experiences from families and their loved ones. This is just a small sample of the diversity of the UpStart network. Our ventures find and serve untapped needs. They take risks understanding that there will be challenges and even failures. UpStart’s team supports the people and ideas that create Jewish entry points and connection, often for those folks who haven’t engaged Jewishly before.