Two Cleveland-based Jewish organizations, Mitsui Collective, led by Yoshi Silverstein, and The Rekindle Fellowship, led by Matt Fieldman and Charmaine Rice, were named to the Slingshot Fund’s “10 to Watch 2022” list, an annual list that highlights young organizations and projects in North America that are making positive change and responding to current needs.
Slingshot Fund, created in 2005, works to mobilize young Jewish philanthropists to shape the Jewish community. Eligible organizations must serve a North American audience, have been in the field for less than five years and provide a fresh way to address a relevant problem. The rest of the list includes The Blue Dove Foundation, Devorah Scholars, Gender Equality in Hiring Project, ish, Jewish Fertility Foundation – Cincinnati, Jewtina y Co., Rise Up and SEA Change Initiative.
Mitsui Collective was officially founded in 2019, but had an Instagram presence in 2018, according to Silverstein. The organization offers programs and workshops on various topics – including Jewishness and nature, Jewish frameworks for wellness, best practices for Jewish diversity, equity and inclusion, and the experiences of Jews of color in North America.
“The simplest way to describe what we do is that we strive to create spaces and practices for people to feel more whole, particularly through the lens of Jewish spirituality, embodied practice and somatic anti-racism,” Silverstein, who lives in Shaker Heights with his wife and daughter, told the Cleveland Jewish News. “We’re looking at the ways we experience life in a Jewish context and applying Jewish learning to actual practice.”
[ Mitsui Collective founder plans Cleveland headquarters, named Schusterman Fellow ]
Silverstein said being included in the Slingshot Fund list is “a huge honor.”
“It’s really great recognition for the work we’re doing and how we want to continue to grow and develop the work,” he said. “It feels really exciting and noteworthy that more attention is being paid to Ohio, and more broadly, the region. It is not a final destination by any means, it’s like a way point. It’s a continual process of arriving as an organization. That work never ends.”
While this validates the work Mitsui Collective seeks to do, Silverstein said he hopes the recognition can help propel the organization a step further.
“We hope this will continue to draw attention and to build off the resources we currently have, especially to build our local presence and provide more growth opportunities,” he said. “People can also see it as a sign that compelling, interesting Jewish things are happening right here in Cleveland.”
The Rekindle Fellowship, which welcomed its first cohort in April 2021, has just started its spring 2022 cohort of 15 participants – Pat Bennett, Daniel Blakemore, Alyson Fieldman, Rabbi Chase Foster, Alethea Ganaway, Ilanit Gerbich-Kalir, Paris Lampkins, Lind Lurie, Devorah Phillips, Adam Rosen, Jami Sanders, Marty Shankle, Derrick Speights, Shirley White and Demetrius Williams.
[ Dialogue, collaboration at forefront of Rekindle Fellowship ]
Once this cohort graduates in June, the program, which aims to create meaningful social change by bringing emerging leaders from the Black and Jewish communities together for thoughtful dialogue, face-to-face interaction and collective action, will have graduated 41 fellows, Fieldman told the CJN.
“Obviously, we’re really excited about being recognized by Slingshot Fund,” he said. “My cofounder Charmaine and I are very dedicated to building Rekindle, and that means we need three things from the community – donors to support future cohorts, willing participants, and communities and organizations that want to bring the program to them.”
The recognition showed Fieldman that its time to step up and steward real change within the Black and Jewish communities through Rekindle, he said.
“We talk a big game in the Jewish community about our societal commitment to social and racial justice, and now is the time to really invest in it,” he said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to keep pushing our message, that we need to put our money where our mouth is and invest in programs that create real relationships. This is more than just winning an award, this is about creating a program that can actually move the needle. We just need the support from the community to be able to do that.”
Fieldman said the honor also fits into the organization’s goal for the future. Following the spring cohort, he added they’ll have space for two fall cohorts – comprised of 30 Rekindle fellows.
“Rekindle has always been built to scale,” he said. “It’s always been about more than just Cleveland. I think we’ve proven the model works here in Cleveland, so I’m looking forward to sharing this playbook with other communities that want to try it out.”
To learn more about Mitsui Collective, visit mitsuicollective.org.
To learn more about The Rekindle Fellowship, visit rekindlefellowship.org.