Matthew Mishory SEDER 06.05.16 Winner
Project Name: ABSENT

Project Summary: For over a hundred years, Mărculeşti was a vibrant Jewish agricultural and mercantile community in Bessarabia (now present-day Moldova). In July 1941, the village was the site of an unimaginable atrocity. Seventy-four years later, few speak clearly or honestly about what happened. ABSENT is a cinematic portrait of the ghost village of Mărculeşti, its current inhabitants, and their very complex relationship to their own history. Working entirely on location, acclaimed writer/director Matthew Mishory documents one of Europe's poorest, most remote, and least-visited places. A US-Romania-Swiss co-production, structured as a not-for-profit entity, the film premiered in Europe in late 2015 and is now available for US audiences. To learn more:

We will use the grant to put on a free screening for the LA Jewish Community. Our approach is to combine screenings with valuable learning opportunities in conjunction with our educational partners, such as the LA Museum of the Holocaust and local synagogues.

Aaron Henne SEDER 11.20.13 Winner
Project Name: Tefilláh

Description: tefilláh, a multidisciplinary theatrical experience will unpack the vivid drama and moving humanity inherent in prayer services, by investigating their histories, legacies and structures in intensely physical, intellectually challenging and strikingly lyrical ways. The show will have a two weekend run in Los Angeles in June 2014, as well as a presentation weekend at Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue, which is serving as a development partner.

As a theatrical production with multiple locations designated for presentation, we hope to reach different geographic populations within the Jewish community. Our history has also demonstrated that the work has the potential to appeal both to those with a deep interest in, and knowledge of, Jewish scholarship and those for whom the promise of radical, challenging theatre has the most appeal. The conversations that the show will foster will only help to increase the awareness of, and possibilities inherent in, the making and presentation of performing arts with a focus on Jewish themes that can speak to today's concerns, both political and personal in nature. As for sharing it with the SEDER community, all pre-show and post-show discussions will be available to those who attend and there will also be opportunities to see/participate in an open rehearsal and to receive regular updates about the process.

Jenni Alpert SEDER 10.17.13 Winner
Project Name: Sentimental Song: Shabbat

Description:  Many people have a firm grasp on their own personal, cultural, and spiritual identities. However, there are countless individuals, especially at-risk children in the foster care system, who are searching to define their own identities and starving to learn how to connect with a community. I happen to be born into a Jewish family and placed in the foster care system shortly after my birth, up until I was just shy of 4 years old, when I was then adopted by a Jewish family. My adopted family raised and provided me with Jewish values and many amazing opportunities to learn about and most importantly, experience Jewish culture. Around the same time, I was introduced to the art of music which became a way that I could calmly connect with community while creating a safe place to express feelings. Since these enriching experiences and music making has all played such huge roles in shaping my personal and Jewish identity, I decided to create “Sentimental Song: Shabbat” for both at-risk children who identify with Judaism and local lower income temples that are in need of Jewish experiences through music.

The children will benefit from Jewish experiences and will gain tools over the course of “Sentimental Song: Shabbat”  by singing songs, hearing stories, and experiencing Shabbat rituals together learning the meanings of each activity. They will be given opportunities to nurture their own identities through cultural activities, Shabbat experiences infused with music, discussions regarding establishing values, art projects such as making a Shabbat-a-Bag to take home with them (a bag filled with Shabbat goodies, Shabbat candles, a mini juice, and a mini challah) that they themselves will design and decorate, and learning tools on developing more inner peace. 

This experience will help them to strengthen their values and find ways to connect within the community in positive ways. Discovering and developing one’s identity is a lifetime journey, for there is much in the world to absorb. Additionally, there are so many different ways to learn how to express one’s self.

The grant would cover the costs of the event which would include Shabbat items needed for the experience (challah, juice, candles), Shabbat-a-bag items (bag, candles, mini juice, mini challah), markers and crayons, paper, printouts of the songs for children to take home, a small performance fee, transportation, a small sound system, and a way to make an acoustic live recording of the musical limud concert which would be of the Jewish songs and meanings as a way to capture the children's very own personal experience as a free mp3 download for them to keep at the end of the program.

For each "Sentimental Song: Shabbat"  event, the estimate cost is about between $250-$300. Ideally, I would like to be able to complete at least three of them at different organizations to start.

Should "Sentimental Song: Shabbat" project be selected, at an upcoming Seder Art Night guests will be offered a mini version of “Sentimental Song: Shabbat” with music and learning hosted by yours truly. Each attendee will receive their very own personalized Shabbat-a-Bag to take home with them (a bag filled with Shabbat goodies, Shabbat Candles, a mini juice, and a mini challah) as well designed and decorated by the different children I have visited. 

David A. Rodwin SEDER 9.9.12 Winner 

Project Name: Bernstein in Palestine

Description: Combining traditional storytelling with a musically infused TED Talk, I’ll share an evening-length tale of musical genius Leonard Bernstein and his travels to Israel during the 1948 War for Independence where he conducted the Israeli Philharmonic on the front lines. While he was there partly to lend whatever support he could to that nascent state, he was also running away from a personal problem that would dog him the rest of his life - the question: What do you do when you're a gay man and you find your bashert… only to discover she's a woman?

Bernstein was not only the first great American classical conductor, he was actually the first American conductor of ANY major American orchestra. What’s more, when he rose to fame many found it outrageous that he was young, gay and worst of all… unabashedly Jewish. But unlike so many before him, he not only refused to hide his religion, he made it a prominent part of his public identity, going so far as to set his first oratorio in Hebrew – unheard of at the time. He created history in so many ways, from composing hit musicals like West side Story to writing and staring in dozens of national broadcasts for CBS’ Omnibus Series and the Young People’s Concerts through which he brought demystified classical music and brought it to millions of Americans.

Despite all that, many younger people have never even heard of Bernstein. And those who know his name and possibly West Side Story, rarely know of his personal story, nor his extraordinary relationship with Israel which made him a hero to that young nation.

I plan to use my grant to travel to New York and spend a week with Bernstein’s eldest daughter, Jamie, in order to get from her what I can’t find in the history books, because Lenny did eventually marry his soul mate with whom he raised a family in an unlikely, complicated, difficult and loving scenario. I’m creating a 90-minute multi-media touring production of this story which I plan to bring to synagogues, JCCs and theatres in LA and around the world. Once complete, if selected as a SEDER Winner I'd like to share it with the SEDER community at a future event.

Hillel Smith SEDER 3.29.12 Winner 

Project Name: The Jewish Poster Project

Description: Throughout modern history, Jews have appropriated the practical technology of the day in the creation of art, propaganda, and advertising. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in old technologies like letterpress and silkscreen, combined with advances in digital image creation. Additionally, these technological advances have contributed to burgeoning interest in typography and other new forms of art. As a part of this project, I will create a series of Jewish posters utilizing these media in attempt to infuse Jewish art and craft with an aesthetic and substance previously foreign to it. Because some of these media are easy to use and of interest to the young population at large, I will devise an activity program of some kind—a stencil workshop, for example—where everyone can make their own prints. 

Update: Hillel used the grant money to upgrade all of his equipment, including new spray paint, stencil materials, and safety gear. Pieces facilitated by the Seder grant have been displayed at HUC, USC Hillel, and NCJW. Hillel was also able to purchase enough materials and safety gear to be able to teach spray paint stencil classes, which he has done at Camp Ramah, AJU, BCI, LimmudLA, and a number of other Jewish institutions. This work ultimately led to the creation of a spray painted mural at Camp Ramah and an upcoming Jewish mural project sponsored by Asylum Arts.

Emily Bowen Cohen SEDER 12.12.11 Winner 

Project Name: A Member of Two Tribes

Description: “A Member of Two Tribes” is graphic memoir that I am writing and drawing about growing up Native American and Jewish in a small town in Oklahoma. The excerpt from the memoir shared on 12.12.11 recounts my first day of Hebrew school.

I will use the money to make my memoir into a twenty-page comic book. I would like to share this comic book with students in Jewish day schools and religious schools in LA.  I would read them my story and then lead a discussion about a time they have felt like an outcast. Using this as a starting point, I would like to have a dialogue with them about diversity in the Jewish community. I would also purchase with this grant money a computer software program that would allow me to make an app for phones or tablets. The SEDER community can receive updates of my book using this app as well as a synopsis of my discussion.

At a time like this, I think it’s critical that we foster empathy in our young adults. It is very important to make the Jewish community diverse and inclusive. If we have a personal connection with people who are different than us, I believe we are more likely to have an open mind about their views.

Update: Emily has held one workshop at Temple Beth Am working with students to explore issues of diversity. During the workshop the students read an excerpt of “A Member of Two Tribes,” were taught basics of illustration and created their own comics. Emily asked the kids to use a personal memory to make their comic strip. She urged them to think about how being Jewish informs what they do. In addition, Emily has launched a website for the project and she received high praise from The Prosen Post, the blog of the Jewish Book Council. 

Nina Storey SEDER 5.4.11 Winner 

Project Name: "My Happy New Year"

Description: I am a singer/songwriter from Boulder, Colorado. My music spans various subject matters and genres. I have always been proud of my Jewish heritage and culture and its influence has always found its way into my music. I often share personal Jewish traditions with my fans including writing songs about my family Chanukkah, or vloging about how to make Matza Ball Soup.

At the 5.4.11 SEDER I performed a new song called, "My Happy New Year" which I wrote on Rosh Hoshana. It is my take on a Rabbi's sermon I once heard about the last moments of the year and how in the precious 60 minutes before the sun sets on Yom Kippur, we have a unique opportunity to communicate and share our feelings with G-D.

I will use this micro grant, to help me record this song as well as several other songs with Jewish themes that have never previously been recorded. In addition, I will send you each a personal video of how to make my Magic Matzo Ball Soup as well as send you an early release of the song, "My Happy New Year".

Update: Nina used the SEDER funds last winter to help her record the song "My Happy New Year." As a thank you to the community a download link with a free copy of the song was shared with attendees at the 12.12.11 SEDER and the 3.29.12 SEDER. Nina has just released her latest CD, "Think Twice."  Click here to learn more. She will be debuting the album in venues throughout LA including a Special CD Release Show on August 30th at Molly Malone's9 pm, Los Angeles, CA. More info at:

William Deutsch  SEDER 2.22.11 Winner 

Project Name: Notes From The Tribe

Description: I want to create a quarterly zine showcasing various Jewish perspectives through a variety of printed mediums. This zine, will be a collection of various Jewish perspectives expressed through means of photography, writing, poetry, interviews, graphic design, illustration, graphs or any other means of visually representing a particular topic. Specifically this will be a quarterly zine, 18black and white pages in length with a color cover.  Each issue will be centered around a designated theme (e.g. Ruach/spirit, Kashrut/dietary laws, Woody Allen/icon, Simchas/celebrations) and those that would like to participate (either through being contacted by me or through word of mouth) will contribute.  

Update: Will created his first ever zine with the SEDER winnings. It has been distributed at SEDER events and at several other large venues. He also leveraged his SEDER grant project proposal and zine concept to apply for the Six Points Fellowship. He received these funds in order to significantly expand his project idea. To learn more about with Will's latest zine, upcoming exhibitions and follow his Six Points Project check out the newly redesigned Notes from the Tribe website.  

He also decided to join the SEDER Planning Team after being selected the first winner. Will has helped tremendously with our planning and branding efforts. Our logo, great looking fliers and cool sign are all complements of Will.