Hebrew College
Innovation Lab

Innovation Lab LogoA Focus on Music, Spiritual Experience and Innovation
at a Time of Challenge

Funding Available for Creative Projects

What is the Innovation Lab?

This spring, The Innovation Lab at Hebrew College will provide funding to 10-12 participants engaged in designing and implementing innovative approaches to the use of music in communal worship and broader congregational involvement during the coronavirus pandemic. These projects would be chosen for their ability to serve as national models at a time when Jewish communities throughout North America are developing new approaches to musical expression in spiritual and communal life. Hebrew College rabbinic and cantorial alumni/ae and current rabbinic and cantorial students are eligible to apply. Each participant will receive up to $2,500 in funding. The Innovation Lab will also serve as a community for reflection and support as participants address these challenging issues. The Lab will also provide the opportunity for participants to workshop their projects with each other to elicit critique and feedback.

Members of the cohort will participate in an hour and a half weekly seminar on Zoom for 12 weeks meeting on Wednesday afternoons from 3:30– 5 p.m. EST beginning February 3, 2021 and concluding May 26, 2021. The seminar will be led by Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, Ph.D. who will also provide mentoring and supervision to members of the cohort as they implement their projects.

Application deadline: January 11, 2021

What we do in the seminar? 

Seminar discussions will focus on thought leadership and designing projects that address current needs of Jewish communities with a focus on music, prayer and cultural expression. We will consider issues of personal transformation and spiritual growth, education for empowered engagement in Jewish life and the impact of technology and social media on conceptions of community. We will discuss various models of leadership and characteristics that are essential to a leader’s success: fear of failure, resistance, courage, optimism and resilience. We will also consider practical models of project development and management: the use of a project timeline, models of project design, evaluation and fundraising.

We will draw from a broad variety of texts and disciplines – traditional Jewish sources, poetry, contemporary writing on theories of change, ethnomusicology, community organizing and community building.

How much project funding is available? 

The Innovation Lab will provide participants with a grant of $2,500. This can be paid either to the participant or to an institution.


Am I eligible and how do I apply? 

Apply Now by January 11, 2021!

Participation in the Innovation Lab is open to Hebrew College rabbinic and cantorial graduates and current rabbinic and cantorial students. To apply, please submit an application. The application asks participants to describe their project, submit a preliminary budget, stipulate their target population and locale. A committee of Hebrew College faculty, administrators and recent alumni/ae will choose projects for the spring cohort. Applications are due by January 11, 2021 and applicants will be notified about the status of their application by January 20, 2021.

For addition information please contact Rabbi Jeffrey Summit at Jeffrey.summit@tufts.edu




Rabbi Jeff SummitRabbi Jeffrey A. Summit, Ph.D. holds the appointment of Research Professor in the Department of Music and in the Judaic Studies program at Tufts University. He is a Senior Consultant to Hillel International and the Director of an Innovation Lab at Hebrew College. He is the author of Singing God’s Words: The Performance of Biblical Chant in Contemporary Judaism (Oxford University Press) and The Lord’s Song in a Strange Land: Music and Identity in Contemporary Jewish Worship (Oxford University Press). His CD Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) was nominated for a GRAMMY award. His CD with video Delicious Peace: Coffee, Music and Interfaith Harmony in Uganda (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) was awarded Best World Music CD by the Independent Music Awards. His research and writing focus on music and identity, music and spiritual experience, music and advocacy, and the impact of technology on the transmission of tradition.

2019-2020 Grant Recipients & Projects

Rabbi Lev and Joyce Friedman

Read “Innovation Lab Responds to the Pandemic“. (Pictured: Participant Rabi Lev Friedman`18)

Eric Feld
Assessing the impact of the high cost of joining Jewish institutions on patterns of Jewish affiliation and engagement. Through a series of focus groups, Eric explores how financial barriers shape new patters of Jewish involvement in the greater Boston area.

Micah Friedman
Nehgeh B’Lailah: Sharing Shabbat through the Spiritual Practice of Shalosh Seudos (the third meal) –  building community and deepening relationships through learning, singing and gathering at the conclusion of Shabbat.

Michelle Goldhaber
An exchange program between Hebrew College and the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine. The Jewish Studies Program at the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) is a preeminent location for Jewish studies in the FSU. Through academic and interfaith exchange, selected faculty and studies will explore opportunities for collaboration and shared experience.

Jackson Mercer
Yetzirah Beyt – a pluralistic, musical community”  – a select group of musicians will engage with Jewish texts and focus on composing Jewish music inspired by their experience studying the Hallel psalms.

Mimi Micner
“Mussar and Social Change – working with The Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project” — a Jewish startup that integrates Jewish spiritual technology with social change – this weekend retreat for young adult Jewish activists explores how to integrate Jewish spirituality into social justice work so that it becomes more nourishing and transformative work.

Noam Vered Lerman
“Der Tekhines Proyekt” is a project that reclaims traditional Yiddish tekhines that were written and prayed by women and gender-non-conforming people.  It includes workshops, as well as an online database/webpage where people can learn more about the history of prayers written in the vernacular.  These prayers come to life with original melodies.

Jenna Shaw
The Soul Squad is a spirituality fellowship for Jewish college students at Boston University. This fellowship is designed to engage, educate, and empower students to use spirituality as a tool to brings people from diverse backgrounds into a closer relationship with community, Torah, and God.

Lori Troderman
“Re-envisioning Jewish Inclusion in 2020 and Beyond: How Interfaith Couples and Families Belong.”  A day long convocation on Thursday March 26th for conversation and learning on interfaith inclusion in the Jewish community. Learn more

Moshe Webber
Dorshekha (דורשיך): An Immersive Learning Experience for Converts to Judaism” A retreat for those who have converted to Judaism and those who have almost completed the process of conversion. It will gather together a small group of 10 to 15 committed seekers for a week of deep textual learning, music, and reflection. Learn more 

Alumni Projects

Rabbi Laura Bellows, Rab`18
Director Prozdor and Youth Initiatives at Hebrew College and is participating in the Innovation as a way to explore project development and innovation for Jewish students in High School.

Rabbi Lev Friedman, Rab`18
Azamra: an alternative monthly Shabbat minyan infused with neo-Hasidism that opens and renews the heart and soul through music, meditation and prayer. Learn more


Contact Us

For addition information please contact Rabbi Jeff Summit at djudson@hebrewcollege.edu.

Hebrew College President Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

“I find it impossible to be pessimistic about the Jewish future when I engage with our students and alumni, and witness their energy, talent, and desire to be of service. They are writing the next chapter of the Jewish story, and we are helping them do it from a place of depth, compassion, and creativity. The Hebrew College Innovation Lab is designed to elicit their bold ideas, and support them in bringing those ideas to life. I can think of no more wise and gifted mentor than Rabbi Jeffrey Summit to help guide them in this process. We are deeply grateful to a generous anonymous donor who has made this project possible.”