The founding members, all Russian-speaking Jewish (RSJ) families with children and teens, experienced first-hand the unique challenges of raising children with a strong Jewish identity, strong pro-Israel sentiment, and an understanding of/ affiliation with the American Jewish community.
iMishpacha was born in 2012 when several like-minded individuals decided to band together and create a thriving community through service-based learning experiences as a way to address the unmet needs of the local RSJ community.
Independent of any organized Jewish entity, iMishpacha was established as a true grassroots organization.
Although inexperienced in the social enterprise and without a strong network within the broader Jewish community, the founding members relied on their business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit to create iMishpacha as an agile and low-cost start-up and prove the viability of the enterprise.
The progress was slow due to limited funding and constrained time availability of lay leaders. Yet, the group expanded from 6 families to over 250 participants through pure “word of mouth”.
In the course of this experiment, we had seen many adults step up and lead, organize, and host events (an early indication of the untapped leadership potential in the community).
iMishpacha has made significant progress and attracted tremendous interest in the RSJ community. Over the last few years, many of the families’ children have grown into teenagers and continue to be an integral part of our organization.
As such, teenage engagement is a top priority for the group, and, as a result, our programming has evolved to include inter-generational and skills-building components.
The programming emphasizes volunteerism and service-based learning through monthly mitzvah projects (e.g., working in a soup kitchen, visiting a nursing home, preparing and delivering food and school supplies, etc).
Our goal is to design and deliver programs aimed at encouraging RSJ families to explore their Jewish heritage in its many forms and create life-long engagement in Jewish communal life through cultural and social experiences that resonate within RSJ community (including meaningful leadership opportunities in the NYC’s Jewish organizations).