About the National Center to Encourage Judaism
The National Center to Encourage Judaism is a private foundation that funds efforts to help non-Jews, including those in interfaith marriages, to understand and appreciate what Judaism has to offer. Its ultimate objective is to help Judaism grow by encouraging conversion, helping lapsed Jews rediscover Judaism, and helping those in interfaith marriages see the benefits of raising their children as Jews. To help achieve its objectives, NCEJ offers grants to synagogues and other organizations that sponsor programs teaching non-Jews in their communities about Judaism.
NCEJ was founded in 1995 by Ash and Gloria Gerecht of Silver Spring, MD to encourage synagogues to grow membership by reaching out to non-Jews in their community. For over 20 years, it has provided Jewish organizations throughout the U.S. with hundreds of grants, primarily to offset the cost of advertising “Introduction to Judaism” classes, “Ask the Rabbi” coffeehouses, and other such programs. The foundation has also funded a number of initiatives, including the Gerecht Family Institute for Outreach at Hebrew Union College in New York. This HUC program is designed to help future rabbis and cantors at HUC become more aware of the importance of encouraging both outreach and conversion to Judaism.
Since 1995 NCEJ has:
- Published the Jewish Proclaimer, a print and online newsletter sent free to synagogues and other Jewish organizations nationwide, highlighting grantees and programs the foundation has funded.
- Paid for thousands of dollars worth of advertising for Taste of Judaism and other such programs in communities across the country, for ads in non-Jewish publications that reach non-Jews.
- Supported such efforts such as:
- Local advertising focusing on Judaism’s pluses
- Synagogue Open Houses for non-Jews and Introduction to Judaism classes.
- Ask-the-Rabbi-Anything sessions, and other such informative programs.