Got Jewish? JRCC Jewish Identity Grants

What does it mean to be Jewish, and how do we connect to our Jewishness? These are perhaps the most powerful questions we can ask ourselves in the 21st Century. The biggest threat to Jewish survival is not antisemitism or assimilation, which many are obsessed with, but rather confused Jewish identity. A pessimistic and negative presentation of being Jewish turns off young Jews more than anything else. When we obsess about anti-Semitism we paint ourselves as perpetual victims. When we over-emphasize the threat of assimilation, it makes us feel like an endangered species. We should instead focus on what being Jewish is all about, and what Judaism has to offer me, my family, and the world.

Judaism is the most powerful idea that the world has ever seen. We have a message that the world needs to hear. The Jewish way of life is a revolutionary force that transforms ordinary lives into lives of meaning. A family that keeps Shabbat is always reminded of what is really important—that there is more to life than accumulating wealth. The kosher laws teach us that we are not mere animals that must feed our every urge and desire, and that eating itself can be holy. A mezuzah on the door tells the world that this home is built for a higher purpose. Judaism teaches lessons that the world urgently needs to learn—that every individual person is created in the image of G‑d, and is therefore unique and valuable; that morality is not relative but absolute; that humans are partners with G‑d in creation, with a mission to create heaven on earth.

These bold Jewish ideas are more relevant now than ever. But bold Jewish ideas need bold Jewish people to perpetuate them. But it isn’t always easy. Connecting to Jewish practices requires patience, learning and guidance. Fortunately, those can be found in in many places, including your local JRCC Branch, Chabad House, or other Jewish centre. But often the observance of Jewish practices also costs money, and cost can often be an obstacle to furthering ones commitment and connection to Judaism. In order to help mitigate this obstacle, the JRCC offers several Jewish Identity Grants as a community service to those who, seeking to grow Jewishly, are met with a financial barrier. The following five Jewish Identity Grants are currently available:

• Tefillin Bank – one free pair of Tefillin for anyone who commits to using them daily.

• Mezuzah Bank – one free Mezuzah for any home without a Mezuzah.

• Kosher Grant – a reimbursement of 50% of the expensed of koshering a home (up to $500).

• Shaitel Grant – a grant of up to $250 towards a shaitel for a bride or a married woman who wants to cover her hair according to Jewish tradition.

• Jewish Discovery Scholarship – financial assistance to help young men and women from the FSU find out more about and connect with their Jewish roots, with a choice of several educational institutions in Israel, New York and New Jersey.

Any Jewish resident of Ontario whose family comes from the FSU can apply to the JRCC for the following grants to enhance their Jewish identity by speaking with one of our rabbis and completing the appropriate application form at