The Synagogue Vegan Challenge

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR OUR NEXT COHORT!

The application for the challenge can be found here

FAQ’s, Terms and Conditions of the challenge can be found at the bottom of this page. Please email emma@shamayim.us with any questions. 

ARE YOU UP FOR THE CHALLENGE?

The goal of the Synagogue Vegan Challenge is simple: to provide training, education, and funding for Jewish communities to incorporate vegan programming for a year! Eight synagogues will be selected this year to host monthly events that serve vegan food and provide education about the Jewish, ethical, environmental, & health reasons to eat plant-based. This annual program, generously sponsored by VegFund, brings veganism to Jewish communities across the country through a friendly, food-based approach. Our first cohort was launched in Fall 2017. Recruitment for the fifth cohort of the SVC is opening shortly. Synagogues that are not meeting in person due to COVID-19 are encouraged to apply as well. We will work with you to execute remote and virtual events for your community and grant funding can be used to send plant-based food to your congregants. 

2021-2022

The eleven synagogues chosen for the fifth cohort of the Synagogue Vegan Challenge are:

Adath Shalom – Rabbi Moshe Rudin –  Parsippany, NJ – USCJ – Conservative

Bais Abraham Congregation – Rabbi Garth Silberstein – St. Louis, MO – Modern Orthodox

Beth El Fairfield – Rabbi Joshua Ratner – Fairfield, CT – Conservative

Beth El Synagogue – Rabbi Steven Abraham – Omaha, NE – Conservative

Central Synagogue – Beth Emeth – Rabbi Michael G Cohen – Rockville Centre, NY – Dual-Affiliated = Reform and Reconstructionist

Chadeish Yameinu Jewish Renewal Congregation Santa Cruz – Rabbi Eli Cohen – Santa Cruz, CA – AfÔ¨Āliated with ALEPH, The Alliance for Jewish Renewal.

Congregation Beth El – Rabbi Ron Koas, Rabbi Arthur Ruberg, Rabbi Emeritus – Norfolk, VA – Conservative

Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel – Rabbi Eric Woodward – New Haven, CT – Conservative

Mekor Habracha/Center City Synagogue – Rabbi Eliezer Hirsch – Philadelphia, PA – Modern Orthodox

Temple Isaiah – Rabbi Dara Frimmer – Los Angeles, CA – Conservative

Temple Sholom of Chicago – Rabbi Rena Singer and Rabbi Shoshanah Conover – Chicago, IL – Reform

2020-2021

The six synagogues chosen for the fourth cohort of the Synagogue Vegan Challenge are:

Beth Chayim Chadashim – Rabbi Jillian R. Cameron & Cantor Juval Porat – Los Angeles, CA – Reform
Congregation Shaarei Kodesh – Rabbi David Baum – Boca Raton, FL – Conservative
Monmouth Reform Temple – Rabbi Marc Kline – Tinton Falls, NJ – Reform
Temple Chai – Rabbi Mari Chernow and Rabbi Bonnie Koppell – Phoenix, AZ – Reform
Temple Solel – Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar (acting) – Hollywood, FL – Reform
The YM and YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood – Rabbi Ari Perten – New York, NY – Community Center

2019-2020

Read about the events held by our 2019 – 2020 SVS participants here.

The five synagogues chosen for the third cohort of the Synagogue Vegan Challenge are:

Sixth & I – Rabbi Jesse Paikin & Rabbi Shira Stutman – Washington, D.C. – Non-denominational
Congregation Bonai Shalom – Rabbi Marc Soloway – Boulder, CO – Conservative
Congregation Beth Sholom – Rabbi Barry Dolinger – Providence, Rhode Island – Modern Orthodox
Chabad of Potomac – Rabbi Mendel Bluming – Potomac, Maryland – Orthodox
B’nai Jeshurun – Roly Matalon, Felicia Sol, Erin Glazer – New York, NY – Unaffiliated‚Äč

2018-2019

The five synagogues chosen for the second cohort of the Synagogue Vegan Challenge are:

Romemu – Rabbi David Ingber – New York, NY – Non-denominational/Renewal 
Congregation Rodef Shalom – Rabbi Rachel Kobrin – Denver, CO – Conservative
OHEL – Rabbi David Paskin – Boca Raton, FL – “Underconstructionist”/Pluralistic 
Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob – Rabbi Ari Hart – Skokie, IL – Modern Orthodox
Ohef Sholom Temple – Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg – Norfolk, VA – Reform

2017 – 2018


‚ÄčThe five synagogues that participated in the first cohort of the Synagogue Vegan Challenge are:

Temple Beth Sholom of the East Valley – Rabbi Kenneth R. Leitner – Chandler, AZ – Conservative
Temple of Aaron  – Rabbi Jeremy Fine – St. Paul, MN – Conservative 
Makom: Creative Downtown Judaism  – Rabbi Aaron levy – Toronto, Canada – Pluralistic
Temple Beth Tikvah – Rabbi Alexandra Shuval-Weiner – Roswell, GA – Reform
Vegan Synagogue Without Walls – Lisa Rosenblatt – Chicago, IL – Nondenominational ‚Äč

FAQ

What is the Synagogue Vegan Challenge?
The Synagogue Vegan Challenge provides your synagogue with money and training to plan vegan events throughout the course of the year. To stimulate interest and incentive, we’re offering a $2,500 grant to participating synagogues who undertake this (fun & delicious) challenge! Our first cohort of five (5) synagogues launched in Fall 2017.

Sounds interesting! How do I apply? 
Applications for our fifth cohort will be opening very soon. Please sign up here to receive our enews and be alerted right when they open!  If your congregation wants to begin your journey towards more plant-forward eating now, please email lisa@shamayim.us to set up an appointment to discuss introducing this ethic into your community. 

When’s the latest my synagogue/community can apply to the Synagogue Vegan Challenge?
Applications will close for the fifth cohort on August 20, 2021.

Due to COVID-19, my synagogue is not currently meeting in person, are we still eligible to apply?

Yes! We understand that is the case in many congregations and we think this is a crucial time to teach our communities about plant-based diets. The current pandemic we are living through is tied to the human consumption of animals. We will work with you to put on remote and virtual education events for your community and the grant funding you receive can go towards sending plant-based foods to your participants.

If my community gets accepted, when do the monthly events begin?

The program will officially kick off in August, September, or October of 2021.
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If my synagogue is accepted, what happens next?
‚ÄčCongratulations on being accepted! Once your synagogue is chosen and terms are agreed to, you will begin meeting with the other members of your cohort and receive training to commence planning your events. Some fun ideas that fulfill the criteria of the grant could be:

–       Host  a vegan catered Shabbat (or, have community members bring their own unique creations!).

–       Show a film promoting animal welfare and discuss it afterwards.

–       Tie a Jewish holiday celebration to the values of eating plant-based and caring for animals.

–       Hold a learning session featuring source sheets from the Shamayim website.

The key is to be creative! We look forward to seeing how individual communities engage in animal welfare & vegan activities. You will fill out surveys and event reports so that we can learn about your programs and hear how your community is responding to being a member of this challenge.

Can the grant go towards non-food items?
The grant usually only covers the direct cost of food. If you have an idea on how you’d like to use the funding that pays for something other than food, please get approval from us first. 

Does every meal have to be vegan if I am accepted into this program?
The requirement is to host one event a month with exclusively vegan food (no meat, dairy, eggs, or honey).

Could I start a new synagogue and use this as seed money or does the synagogue need to exist already? 
Yes, you can start a new one if you are willing to put in the effort! 

If my synagogue/community is selected for the Challenge, what materials will I have to provide you?
We will ask you to do a community-wide survey at the beginning and end of the year so that we can learn what your community thinks about eating vegan at the beginning and then again at the end of your time in the SVC. You will also keep us updated about your monthly events. To do so, we ask you that you fill out a short form after every event. It will include a few pieces of information:

– All the receipts when you are requesting reimbursement.                                                 

– Photos of your recent event (if they’re not on Shabbat or holidays).                                                                   

– Feedback from the participants (survey results).

– Reflections on how the program/event went and a description of upcoming plans. 

What’s VegFund and how are they involved with the Synagogue Vegan Challenge?
VegFund provides grants to vegan activists to support their outreach efforts. They fund events worldwide and inspire people to choose and maintain a vegan lifestyle. We have partnered with them many times in the past, and this is their most generous funding of one of our programs. We thank them for their partnership and friendship.

What if I’m not vegetarian/vegan? Can I still apply? 
Sure! We encourage everyone to apply who might see a benefit to reducing the amount of meat in their diet at the individual and communal level.

If I’m not a vegan, am I a bad person?
Absolutely not! This challenge is not meant to shame or make anyone feel bad about themselves. Rather, the reason we started this challenge is for Jewish communities to think more deeply about the nexus of animal welfare ethics, kashrut (kosher law), and compassion for all. We believe that by encouraging gentle, non-judgmental discussion and by showing how tasty and nutritious a plant-based diet can be, Jewish communities can reduce the amount of meat consumed within their community. 

TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR THE SYNAGOGUE VEGAN CHALLENGE

The synagogue will take on vegan programming for nine months by:

1. Committing in advance to carrying out at least ONE monthly vegan activity for 9 consecutive months.

2. The activities could include, among possible other events: vegan meals, documentary screenings, holiday celebrations, b’nai mitzvah observances, cooking classes, or speakers. Please note that individual synagogues will be reimbursed for food and we will also consider documentary screening fees, literature, or other possible expenditures if pre-approved by Shamayim. You will NOT reimbursed for speakers fees or related travel.

3. Each synagogue shall submit a regular report on its activity and the number of people participating, including the number of unique participants and repeat participants from month to month. The minimum number of unique participants throughout the course of the challenge should be no fewer than 300 people in total at each synagogue. 

4. Participants at each synagogue will be asked to complete a brief survey to provide feedback about their experiences with plant-based eating.                       

5. Each synagogue may submit for reimbursement throughout the year, based on actual program expenditures and receipts.

6. Participating synagogues agree to promote Shamayim programs and initiatives during the course of their time in the SVC. 

Thank you to VegFund for their support and partnership of the Shamayim Synagogue Vegan Challenge!