Innovators tout their ideas at Federation meeting

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ConnectGens fellows (left to right, top to bottom): Rabbi Baruch Rock, Jeremy Pesner, Rabbi Mark Novak, Amy Jablin Forseter, Sarah Weissmann, Arya Marvazy, Erica Brody, Jenna Shaw and Joshua Margolin (Not pictured: Ian Cohen). Photo by rlstevensphotograph
ConnectGens fellows (left to right, top to bottom): Rabbi Baruch Rock, Jeremy Pesner, Rabbi Mark Novak, Amy Jablin Forseter, Sarah Weissmann, Arya Marvazy, Erica Brody, Jenna Shaw and Joshua Margolin (Not pictured: Ian Cohen).
Photo by rlstevensphotograph

Sarah Weissmann is a “Reform girl who fell in love with an Orthodox boy.” Both their families were “overjoyed when we decided to get married,” she said, but they had many “preconceived notions of each other’s Jewish communities.”

Out of that experience came Daughters of the Tribes, a group Weissmann founded to foster intrafaith dialogue among Jewish women. The group was one of 10 local social innovations highlighted at the June 11 Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s annual meeting.

The 10 innovators comprise the current fellows of the Federation’s ConnectGens program, which seeks to foster innovation in the Washington-area Jewish community.

This year’s fellows have all established their own programs, including one that uses sports to help underprivileged Israeli students, another to promote a local Holocaust remembrance walk and one that works to include Jews with disabilities in community life.

Jeremy Pesner’s project aims to connect Israelis and Americans in the field of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). His project aims to strengthen the political and economic relationships between the two countries.

“Participants will be exposed to cutting-edge research and opportunities from a variety of government agencies and will leave the program with new, actionable project[s] they may choose to develop with their colleagues,” he said.

Amy Jablin Forseter’s project is a response to what is for many a private matter – infertility. Her organization, The Red Stone, aims to create “a safe space for emotional and spiritual support and education and awareness to the greater Jewish community,” she said.

Forseter, who has two children of her own, said she wants to help create a Jewish future “one baby at a time.” The Red Stone offers peer-led support groups to “help women feel less isolated, build their knowledge of how to handle various situations and assist women dealing with this life crisis of infertility,” she said.

Arya Marvazy believes that Jews today are unaware of the Jewish resources available to them. His solution is Encyclopedia Jewtannica, an online network hub he is building of existing Jewish organizations by topic.

“We need a single space where Jews of all ages can access the organizations and websites that have been created to serve Jews,” Marvazy said.

At the meeting, held at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, the Federation also screened videos about agency activities, including the Federation’s Israel mission and Good Deeds Day. Federation volunteers received awards for their lifetime dedication and commitment to the organization.

Federation President Liza Levy told the audience, “Each one of us has the ability to unlock the magic of the Jewish community.”

alaz@washingtonjewishweek.com

@alexalaz130

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