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What I want to do

Mission: Jewish Milestones is a nonprofit educational resource dedicated to deepening the engagement of Jews with their heritage by supporting active participation in authentically Jewish and personally meaningful rites of passage: typically related to birth, maturation, partnering and loss. Recognized as one of the most innovative Jewish nonprofits operating in North America today, Jewish Milestones has been included in Slingshot: A Resource Guide to American Jewish Innovation for five years in a row. Over the past five years, Jewish Milestones has gone from being the hypothesis of two Jewish educators in Berkeley, California, to a highly respected, well-staffed non-profit, making a difference in the lives of thousands of Jews. Today the organization is poised to make a substantial contribution in the national area as well. “We’ve spent the past five years working to meet the needs of the celebrants themselves, who are seeking personalized, education-oriented consultations and ritual-related resource referrals that will allow them to actively engage in the creation of their rituals. We have also been addressing the need for professional development among facilitators – clergy and lay people – in order to cultivate reflective practitioners, promote best practices and help augment their own capacity to design and facilitate meaningful and authentic rituals in the context of their own communities,” said Rachel Brodie, a Co-Founder and the Executive Director of Jewish Milestones. The result, as one of their clients put it is “a powerhouse organization changing the face of Jewish life ‘simply’ by responding to the presenting issues of those who seek their help.”

What matters to me

The Context: Since 2004, Jewish Milestones has been operating on the frontlines of the radically reconfigured landscape of Jewish life in North America. National surveys confirm the trend among liberal Jews of loosening connections with traditional Jewish communal structures (such as synagogues and federations) and deliberate distancing from broad communal designations of identity, as well as denominational distinctions. According to Brandeis University Professor of American Jewish History, Jonathan Sarna, the fastest growing sector in Jewish life is “Other,” those who do not identify with any particular Jewish group (such as Reform, Conservative, secular, etc.). The increased emphasis on individual expression and the significant autonomy Jews are exercising in making choices about Jewish identity and practice are contributing to the rise of grassroots organizations. Jewish Milestones is one such organization, dedicated to “meeting Jews where they are” rather than where some of the more traditional communal organizations may wish them to be. Who we serve: Jewish Milestones serves ritual-seekers who self-identify as religious/observant, spiritual but not religious, cultural/secular, “just Jewish”, interfaith or other. We serve Jews with physical or cognitive challenges, those who endure economic hardship, non traditional families, Jewish immigrants to the United States, LGBT Jews, Jews of color, Jews by choice, non Jews in Jewish families and limitless others. Some are members of synagogues or are connected with other Jewish institutions, while others are not. The common denominator among our clients is their desire for participation in a meaningful ritual marking an important life milestone. Jewish Milestones also addresses the need for professional development among ritual facilitators – clergy and lay people – in order to promote best practices, augment their capacity to design meaningful, authentic rituals and encourage innovation.

What inspires me

Key Accomplishments: In just five years Jewish Milestones has - • Offered Education and Referral services to more than 1500 clients and their families with our high-touch, personalized service • Provided training and support to hundreds of ritual facilitators in a wide variety of areas including skill development, ritual innovation and creation, as well as programs on specific Jewish lifecycle rituals • Built a state of the art database enabling us to make the highest quality referrals to ritual facilitators, clergy, tutors, service leaders and others • Developed a Ritual Resource Library which includes books (both informational and inspirational) on traditional and contemporary Jewish lifecycle rituals; articles; music; sample rituals, invitations, and programs; and Jewish rituals objects available for loan • Raised money to purchase a Torah scroll which is now available on loan for lifecycle rituals and begun construction on a portable ark for this Torah • Partnered with highly regarded national organizations such as Storahtelling, Mayyim Hayyim, Jewish Mosaic, STAR: Synagogue Transformation and Renewal, among others, to bring our expertise to programs across the country

Berkeley, CA USA

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Jewish Mosaic: The National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity
November 4, 2009

Jewish Mosaic is an outstanding, mission-driven organization that has made a significant contribution toward the greater project of making Judaism relevant and welcoming for all Jews (even for those who don't realize it). I have availed myself of their immense collection of resources (human and material), been inspired by their leaders -- Gregg Drinkwater and Karen Erlichman, in particular -- and been moved to act in solidarity with LGBTQ Jews on sanctifying and legalizing same-sex marriage, transgender inclusion and other issues thanks to the advocacy and educational efforts of Jewish Mosaic.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the integrity, passion and clarity of vision among the leadership.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

thoughtful, committed to the highest quality work, personally inspiring....

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


Professional with expertise in this field & I have collaborated with them in programming and contributed to their Torah Queeries project.