Eleyna Fugman Featured in Upstart’s Annual Report

We are thrilled to share that in only our second year, our Director, Eleyna Fugman was featured in their Annual Report by Upstart, a national organization that mentors outstanding developing Jewish leaders.

Read the full article here.

Excerpt from the article:

In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, UpStart is highlighting inspirational stories of impact from our network.

Raised in a rural California community and in an interfaith home, Eleyna Fugman grew up with a strong sense of social justice, but a weaker sense of what it means to be Jewish.

Her family would celebrate Hanukkah, but only when the holiday appeared on whatever calendar they were using that year.

A key turning point in Eleyna’s Jewish journey was as a young adult in San Francisco in the 1990s. Right around the time she was coming out, she discovered Shabbat through small home-based gatherings, hosted by members of the local queer Jewish community.

“As someone raised without Jewish community or knowledge, my welcome to Judaism was done by other queer Jews,” Eleyna told UpStart in a recent interview. “Over the past 25 years, I’ve seen consistently that our queer Jewish community understands marginalization – and because of that we excel at welcoming everybody. We know that there’s nobody who shouldn’t be welcomed into the Jewish sphere, that all of our voices are important and should be central.”

In 2016, Eleyna co-founded TischPDX, an initiative to identify and train young adult leaders from marginalized identities – including queer, interfaith, and BIPOC – who have demonstrated a commitment to leading their Jewish peers. Through a 16-month leadership incubator, these emerging leaders are offered 50 hours of Jewish education and skill building, combined with peer support, mentorship and stipends.

“Our model is building leadership from the outside in,” Eleyna explains. “Instead of providing programming that marginalized Jews might come to, we are going to marginalized Jews and saying, ‘What are you doing? How can we help you?.’”