SVARA Completes the UpStart Accelerator


Jewish life is evolving.

As the world rapidly changes, so do the diverse needs, interests, and values of modern Jews. Consequently, groundbreaking social entrepreneurs have taken on the mantle of widening the tent of Jewish life, offering new and unique approaches to meeting the spiritual and social needs of today’s community. They draw on our tradition’s intrinsic ability to shape contemporary expressions of Judaism’s enduring values.

In this new paradigm, LGBTQ Jews find belonging, Spanish-speaking Central and South Americans can engage in programming tailored for them, and the intellectually curious can steep themselves in Jewish text and tradition that nurtures their modern worldviews.

To make their greatest impact, these organizations partner with UpStart, a lab, launchpad, and support system for our community’s bravest leaders and boldest ideas. UpStart’s Accelerator program fuels promising entrepreneurial organizations with the tools, wisdom, and support they need to thrive and endure. As the latest cohort of graduates completes the Accelerator this June, we celebrate their work and impact in Jewish communities all around the world.


SVARA is a traditionally radical yeshiva dedicated to the serious study of Talmud through the lens of queer experiences. SVARA’s unique pedagogy makes Talmud study in the original accessible—for the first time in Jewish history—to all who want to learn. At SVARA, everyone—queer, straight, trans, alef-bet beginners, experienced talmudists, secular, religious, Jews, non-Jews— learns together in a mixed-level bet midrash that recognizes as crucial the insights of all those on the margins.

SVARA’s Queer Talmud Camp – a cross between a retreat, sleepaway camp, and residential yeshiva – has grown exponentially since 2015 from 50 participants to nearly 200 people, becoming an international community of queers, radicals, activists, and artists reclaiming and reshaping their tradition.

Thanks to the support of the Jim Joseph Foundation, the first cohort of SVARA’s nine-month Transformative Talmud Teaching Fellowship will begin this year. They will begin to train Talmud teachers and bet midrash leaders in every city and in every country in the SVARA method.

Want to support their work? To be part of the traditionally radical queer Jewish future, or to follow its progress, join the mailing list and like SVARA on Facebook.

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