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The North American Jewish community today faces a reality very different from the one it was originally built to serve – in demographics, identity, and participation. Affiliation with communal institutions has dropped precipitously. Yet, over 90% of Jews are proud to be Jewish.

Almost every Jew deeply connects with their Jewish identity, and yet most don’t want what Jewish institutions have on offer. 

The solution isn’t to make people want things through marketing or outreach. It’s empathizing with and listening to our constituents deeply enough to make things people want.

Faith in North America is shifting, and the Jewish community must shift, too. Spark is a training program designed to make this process of transformation as simple, clear, and linear as possible. Equally important, we believe institutions can do so without losing connection to their histories, straying from their missions, or alienating their current members.

What is Spark?

Spark is a customizable training program to reinvigorate Jewish communities, using cutting-edge innovation methods to better serve their members. To date, over 50 institutional teams, representing 225 Jewish professionals and lay leaders in 8 cities, have completed the Spark Fellowship. We guide teams step-by-step through the user-centered design process of:

  • Learning the sociological context and best practices in the field
  • Researching and rediscovering the needs of your people by interviewing them
  • Designing likely-to-succeed innovations aimed at serving them better
  • Implementing designs, testing innovations through low-cost and low-stakes prototypes

Completed once, institutions create and test a new innovation. Through many iterations, institutions build a sustained culture of creativity and experimentation.

Alumni are more confident in creating institutional innovations, driving real-world change, and better serving the needs of their community. Institutions see a mindset shift enabling them to make bold decisions and chart new paths for the future.

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Who is Spark for?

  • Federations jump-starting their city-wide innovation efforts – may also focus on one underserved demographic, like interfaith families or young adults
  • Graduate programs and professional fellowships that want to offer unique, practical field skills for a changing Jewish world
  • Jewish institutions seeking to teach innovation methods to staff and participants
  • Rabbinical schools and associations investing in skills and capacity-building for alumni
  • Customizable for your needs – from 2-day workshops to 12-month fellowships

Bring Spark to your community

Want to bring Spark’s innovation training to your Jewish community? Contact Rabbi Julia Appel at