The Mayerson Family Foundations is a Jewish trust set up in Cincinnati decades ago by a family looking to give back to the community. Since then, the foundation has grown to include multiple programs and grant initiatives, with three in particular making it easier for the Jewish community to connect: Access, Shalom Family and Fusion Family.
Access is designed specifically for young Jewish adults who may or may not have an active Jewish life outside the program. Through Access, these young professionals attend cocktail parties, dinners and social outings in an environment that focuses on inclusivity.
“We try to engage individuals who might not otherwise have anything to do with the Jewish community,” said Rachel Rothstein, with the Mayerson Family Foundations’ public relations team. “We’re providing simple, unintimidating networking events where people of a similar background can meet one another.”
With Shalom Family, families with young children are invited to strengthen their Jewish ties through holiday parties, festivals and classes that bring parent and child together. Shalom Family even organizes parents’ nights out, giving the adults a chance to meet up with likeminded Jewish adults who have children.
And at Fusion Family, families with interfaith marriages or conversions have a place to relate to others going through similar experiences. The program includes speakers, adult-only events and workshops where parents and children can learn more about Jewish holidays. The initiative also includes a branch called New Traditions, in which families receive care packages filled with ritual items they may need to celebrate Jewish holidays.
“We’re creating unintimidating, easy going ways to connect with Judaism,” Rothstein said. “It gives interfaith families a chance to connect with other families like themselves.”
It’s all part of a theory of inclusiveness that aims to draw the Jewish community together, regardless of their background or level of practice.
“There’s a changing landscape in how Jewish people connect with their Judaism,” Rothstein said. “I’m a young professional who considers herself culturally Jewish, as a lot of my peers do. They might not go to synagogue, they might not have Shabbat dinner every week, but they consider themselves to be culturally Jewish. They speak the language.”
.ORG-Connection: Access is often the first entry point into the Jewish community for Jewish young adults who are looking for an alternative to more traditional offerings. Access programming is consumer driven and most events are free or deeply subsidized. Hundreds of people have made connections through Access’ cutting edge social events and six Signature Programs, designed to appeal to this constituency’s wide variety of interests.
.ORG-Connection: Shalom Family is geared for young families who are either weakly engaged in Jewish life, or weakly connected to the Jewish community. Because this stage of life represents a critical time in which young parents are making choices about their family’s Jewish involvement, Shalom Family offers a variety of opportunities for greater connection.
.ORG-Connection: Fusion Family is designed for families, or couples in committed relationships, in which at least one person recently converted to Judaism, is Jewish and in a relationship with someone considering his or her options for becoming Jewish, or is happy with his or her own religion. Fusion offers a variety of opportunities for involvement, discussion and education and provides an alternative to current interfaith programs in the Jewish community for families who want to meet others like themselves and get a taste of Jewish culture, religion and tradition.