The 2016 ConnectGens Fellowship

The ConnectGens Fellowship is presented in partnership between The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and Agudas Achim Congregation, and powered by PresenTense.

We’re THRILLED to have launched our 2016 ConnectGens Fellowship with an extraordinary group of 11 passionate, talented fellows ready and eager to reinvigorate our community with their incredible ideas for social change!


What is the fellowship?
The 2016 ConnectGens Fellowship empowers Jewish social innovators with the training, tools and connections to transform their BIG IDEAS into ventures that will mobilize our Jewish community. Fellows connect with talented mentors, motivated peers and inspiring coaches to invigorate social change and turn their innovative ideas into a reality.

Meet the fellows!

Joseph Eisman: Evan Initiatives
Joseph hopes to elevate Evan Initiatives, an organization that strives to provide unique and meaningful ways for individuals and communities to connect with Jewish history. He hopes expanding this program will inspire others to develop lasting connections to our shared Jewish past, present and future.

Jake Ifshin: Emerging Gardeners
Jake’s venture seeks to strengthen synagogue communities by planning, constructing and implementing cooperative synagogue gardens. The program will encourage families of all ages to develop a better understanding of and appreciation for food production, healthy eating and environmental sustainability.

Ariel Levinson-Waldman: Tzedek DC
Ariel’s venture, Tzedek DC, aims to help those living in poverty throughout the Greater Washington community by increasing their access to affordable civil legal aid services.  Tzedek DC will partner with DC’s Jewish and other philanthropic community leaders to provide affordable, quality legal representation for our most vulnerable residents.

Larissa Marco: Ezra
Larissa is passionate about helping seniors live independently in their own homes. She hopes to launch Ezra, a program that will provide personal concierge services for elderly clients, including help running errands, grocery delivery, transportation and more.

Dana Marlowe: Support the Girls
Dana hopes to take her non-profit organization, Support the Girls, to the next level to ensure that no woman ever has to choose between feeding herself and caring for her personal health. She wants to provide every woman with bras and feminine hygiene products that are essential to their health, self-esteem and employment.

Melissa Murphy: Beautiful World
Melissa wants to bring basic beauty services to those living in at-risk communities. She hopes to build a successful venture that will provide kavod (dignity) to residents of assisted living establishments, homeless shelters and at-risk teen centers. Everyone, regardless of circumstance, should be able to feel beautiful.

Deborah Rosen: Respecting the Dual Cultural Identity of Jewish Adoptees
Deborah seeks to launch a program to help adopted children smoothly integrate into their new Jewish homes. She hopes to curb the alienation adoptees can feel in a newfangled culture by providing them with education, resources and a supportive community of peers facing similar situations.

Tova Scherr: Register4All
Tova hopes to establish an online wedding and baby registry focused on providing critical resources for the wider community. She plans to create a website where couples and new families can request gifts to their registries in the form of philanthropic donations to local charities.

Sarah Sicherman: ShalomLearning
Sarah is committed to bridging the gap between online Hebrew School education and active participation in local Jewish life. She hopes to enrich’s online Hebrew School initiative (for families that do not have access to organized Jewish life, or choose to be unaffiliated) and inspire online participants to get involved in the Jewish community

Ben Wacks: Generations
Ben has a desire to preserve the memories of Holocaust survivors amongst Jewish people of all ages. He hopes to launch a venture that will encourage Holocaust survivors to directly connect with Hebrew school students, Jewish young adults and others so they can develop a personal, emotional connection with the Holocaust and keep the memory alive.

Pablo Zylberglait: DavenHack
Pablo has a passion for Jewish ritual as the path to spiritual fulfillment and mindfulness. He hopes to launch an easily accessible, low barrier program (including live instruction, online resources, a manual, etc.) for those of all backgrounds to understand Jewish ritual practice in order to make it a part of their own lives.

Contact or 301-230-7200.

Want to get involved?
Applications for the 2016 ConnectGens Fellowship are now closed. Please email if you are interested in applying next year.

What do we look for in a ConnectGens Fellow?
We look for someone who dreams of reinvigorating our Jewish community with fresh ideas for social change. We seek out aspiring leaders with a creative mind and a deep commitment to improving our community. The fellowship is open to Jewish individuals throughout DC, MD and VA of all ages, genders and backgrounds.

NOTE: Preferential selection to the fellowship will be given to ventures that are (1) applicable to Jewish life/activities, (2) beneficial to synagogue life, (3) or specifically beneficial to the Northern Virginia Jewish community.

Want to get involved?

Become a Fellow
Become a Fellow
Fellows are community entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for a venture that will address the needs of our community locally and/or abroad and inspire the Jewish community.

Become a Mentor
Become a Coach
Coaches are skilled professionals with a wealth of experience and desire to share insight with Fellows as they develop their idea into a sustainable venture. Coaches provide counsel, support, and set an example of a professional role model. They help Fellows work through the action steps needed to launch their ideas into reality.

Become a Fellow
Subject matter eExpert
Subject Matter Experts are individuals with deep professional background, who have professional skills and can provide up to three ‘office hours’ a month. SMEs are especially helpful to social start-ups in the fields of law, finance, marketing, accounting and more – and office hours with a SME are often noted the most tactically helpful contribution individuals can make.

What does the fellowship provide?

The fellowship provides an outstanding curriculum based on “Design Theory,” Fellows will learn the theories and practical tools in the following modules:

  • Determining Vision
  • Environmental Scanning
  • Social Business Models
  • Prototyping and Assessment
  • Operations and Finance
  • Sales and Fundraising

Fellows also receive:

  • A six-month fellowship comprised of interactive seminars and workshops with business and entrepreneurial experts that equips Jewish social innovators with skills, tools and networks to make a positive impact on our future.
  • One-on-one mentorship and coaching from talented leaders in the community
  • Collaborative peer round tables to hone and share ideas
  • Training and support from Federation and PresenTense’s professional staff
  • An elite community Launch Night to present ideas to the public

When is it?

  • November 11 – ConnectGens Open House
  • November 18 – Applications Due
  • December 3 – Speed Interview Night
  • Week of December 7 –Fellows Selected
  • January 10 – Fellowship Orientation and Seminar #1
  • January 28– Mentor/Coach Orientation and Roundtable #1
  • February 25 – Fellowship Seminar #2
  • March 31 – Fellowship Seminar #4
  • April 12 – Fellowship Seminar #5
  • April 20 – Roundtable #2
  • May 11 – Fellowship Seminar #6
  • May 23 – Mock Launch Night
  • June 2016 – Launch Night

Who are past ConnectGens Fellows?

NOVA Tribe Series
The DC Jewish young professional community has grown exponentially in the past few years, but those from Northern Virginia are still underrepresented and disengaged. NOW is the time to inspire them.” – Stacy Miller, 2012 Fellow

Leveling the Playing Field
I was inspired to launch this venture after donating equipment to a school in Botswana. The small effort it took me compared to the big impact it had on the teachers led me down this amazing road.” –Max Levitt, 2013 Fellow

“I was inspired to launch Tribelle by the success of my bubbe’s own jewelry line, which transformed her into an assertive, secure woman. My goal is to turn Tribelle into a vehicle to cultivate female entrepreneurship in Israel” – Elizabeth Weingarten, 2013 Fellow

Minyan of Thinkers
Our generation is full of deep thinkers who can push our community forward. The Minyan of Thinkers is an opportunity to build on the collective energy of our members to create positive social change and feel empowered as a generation.” – Cheryl Pruce, 2012 Fellow

Kvelling over ConnectGens:

The ConnectGens Fellowship channels creativity and innovation in a way that positively benefits our community.” – Zachary Lainer, 2013 Steering Committee 

The Fellows are transforming ideas into action right before our eyes. They give us a proud glimpse into the future of our community.” – Morgan Greenhouse, 2013 Co-Chair

Contact or 301-230-7200.

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