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TORCH Named One of North America’s Most Innovative Jewish Nonprofits | October 2011

Also Published at JTA | JHV

Seventh Annual “Slingshot” Guidebook Names 50 Most Innovative Jewish Nonprofits in America

(Houston, Texas) – October 18, 2011 - TORCH (Torah Outreach Resource center of Houston) has been named one of the nation’s 50 most innovative Jewish nonprofits in Slingshot ’11-‘12, a resource guide for Jewish innovation. TORCH was selected for this list because of its innovative programming and proven effectiveness in inspiring Jews to live more Jewishly. Slingshot is used by philanthropists, volunteers, not-for-profit executives, and program participants to identify path-finding and trailblazing organizations grappling with concerns in Jewish life such as identity, community, and tradition. TORCH was chosen for the Seventh Guide by a panel of 36 foundation professionals from across North America.

In order to be listed in Slingshot, organizations are selected from among hundreds of nominees. Finalists are chosen based on their strength in four areas: innovation, impact, leadership, and organizational efficiency.

TORCH encourages people of all backgrounds to connect, re-connect or strengthen their personal connection with Judaism through innovative educational programs. By lowering the walls of synagogue and affiliation barriers TORCH brings learning to the masses. Without a specific place of study and no membership dues, thousands are beginning or expanding their personal spiritual journey with TORCH’s non-judgmental approach.

An increasing numbers Jews are rapidly finding their personal Jewish experiences less meaningful. As the NJPS (National Jewish Population Survey) confirms “only 48% of Jews find being Jewish relevant.” We seek to make Judaism relevant to each individual in the Greater Houston area. TORCH reaches out to every Jew, with love and friendship. Countless Jews have come to rely on TORCH as their sole source for meaningful Jewish experience. “TORCH is committed to engaging Houston’s next generation of Jews in relevant and meaningful ways. Being included in Slingshot ’11/’12 is a strong validation for the work we are doing” says Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe.

Additionally, Slingshot exposes TORCH to a vibrant funding community, a valuable vehicle as we work to grow our capacity and take our programming to the next level.

According to Will Schneider, Executive Director of Slingshot, “Slingshot celebrates the relative peace and prosperity that Jews enjoy in the United States and Canada while highlighting those organizations that work to ensure that Jewish life isn’t left behind as the world moves forward. Slingshot ’11-’12 is an inspirational look at a Jewish community that is adapting to changing needs in Jewish life. We had more applications than ever this year, with a wider variety of missions. In order to be selected by our evaluators, innovations and their impact had to resonate more than ever.”

Inspired five years ago by Slingshot, a group of next-generation philanthropists launched the Slingshot Fund, a collective giving mechanism to support innovative Jewish life. In just five cycles, 55 members of the Slingshot Fund have contributed more than $1.8 million to innovative Jewish not-for-profits.

Jonathan Raiffe, the Chairman of Slingshot shared, “The Slingshot guide makes a statement to the Jewish community and beyond that next gen funders embrace change, innovation, and evaluation when meeting the needs of our community. Slingshot promotes organizations that hold themselves accountable to all their stakeholders and up to the same scrutiny as for-profit organizations, while pushing the boundaries of how to solve the most pressing issues. Slingshot is about making a statement as to what we believe are the greatest needs and what organizations are doing the best job to fulfill those needs. Organizations that receive grants from Slingshot clearly identify an unmet need and offer proven models and solutions that can have a far-reaching impact.”

Slingshot ’11/’12 was released on October 18, 2011. The community will meet on March 14 in New York City at the annual Slingshot Day, where over 250 not-for-profit leaders, foundation professionals, and funders of all ages will engage in candid conversations about philanthropy and innovation.

Slingshot was created by a team of young funders as a guidebook to help funders of all ages diversify their giving portfolios with the most innovative and effective organizations and programs in North America. This guide contains information about each organization’s origin, mission, strategy, impact and budget, as well as details about its unique character. Now in its seventh edition, Slingshot has proven to be a catalyst for next generation funding and offers a telling snapshot of shifting trends in North America's Jewish community. The book, published annually, is available in hard copy and as a free download at

TORCH’s mission is to Connect Jews and Judaism by providing meaningful learning opportunities for every Jewish individual in the Houston area irrespective of background, affiliation, denomination or level of observance and to enable them to experience the joy and vibrancy of Judaism in a welcoming environment. For more information please visit or contact TORCH at or call (713) 721-6400.

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