New UpStart groups blaze trail of Jewish innovation

By Categories: In the Media
An Article from the Jweekly
June 13, 2013
By Emma Silvers

UpStart Bay Area, the S.F.-based nonprofit that supports up-and-coming Jewish social entrepreneurs, welcomed three new groups into its cohort this month, while transitioning five current UpStarter organizations to alumni status meaning theyve proven to be sustainable organizations on their own. The new groups cover a wide scope of interests.


Come and Listen! is a radio show/podcast that features commentary and interviews with emerging Jewish thought leaders, geared toward young adults. Co-founders and sisters Alyssa Kapnik and Hannah Kapnik Ashar (an S.F.-based reporter-photographer and a Boulder, Colo.based Jewish educator and doula, respectively) serve as hosts, in a style of dialogue they describe as Car Talk meets This American Life. Episodes so far have included Love and Death, Sexuality and Gender and Language and Law.

Rosh Pina, founded by Elana Naftalin-Kelman, is aimed at making Jewish institutions more welcoming, inclusive and accessible to those with special needs; the nonprofit will help organizations make that happen through a yearlong program. Naftalin-Kelman, a Berkeley resident who co-developed the education program Edah, has worked in special education and Jewish education for more than 15 years and directs the special-needs program at Camp Ramah in Ojai.

Jlens, founded by Julie Hammerman, is a San Franciscobased nonprofit that seeks to promote impact investing in the Jewish community, helping investors select industries or companies to support in a way that incorporates Jewish values particularly around social and environmental justice with an emphasis on Israel. Hammerman, who has served on the boards of the ADL and the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and Jewish Community Relations Council, has extensive experience in finance and social enterprise, having advised families as well as Fortune 500 companies on socially responsible investing.

These groups, described by UpStart CEO Toby Rubin as creative social entrepreneurs [who] are reimagining and expanding Jewish life, join continuing UpStarters Urban Adamah, A Wider Bridge, The Kitchen, Ketuv and Edah.

The organizations transitioning into alumni status are Fair Trade Judaica, G-dcast, Kevah, Moishe House and Wilderness Torah.  They will continue to be part of the UpStart family, receiving support and acting as mentors for current UpStarters, said Rubin.

Our purpose is to enable entrepreneurs to bring bold Jewish ideas to light. We help them reach Up to people in new ways that are meaningful, more inclusive, and create a brighter future for our Jewish community and the world we share.

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