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Junction

Micro Grant Interview: Mira Niculescu from Paris, France

"My key takeaways have been so much fun, energy, and inspiration. I leave with the gratitude of the people who leave programs with big smiles on their faces and thank us for giving them an entry door to Judaism, and a new community where they feel home, to me, this is priceless."

Mira Niculescu is a certified Jewish Educator and Jewish Mindfulness Teacher. She teaches internationally Torah, Jewish meditation -and yoga- since 2013, and publishes regular articles and paintings in Tenou’a and in her Times of Israel Blog.

She’s a former Yesod “European Leader fellow” at Pardes, currently completing a Ph.D. on Jewish Spirituality at the EHESS.

In 2016, Mira was named one of the “New faces of Judaism” in France. She’s been a micro-grant recipient several times for her Neshama program in Paris. Neshama is a Jewish spirituality project that aims at offering inspiring and meaningful experiences to Jews from all walks of life, in order to create together mindful, joyful and lively Jewish communities.

Programs range from Jewish meditation to Shabbat, from Erev Shira (singing circles) to Torah learning, Neshama’s aim is to empower Jews to reconnect to their heritage and become the change they want to see in the world! We interviewed Mira about her experiences with the grants, hopefully it will inspire your own ideas!

Q. Can you tell us about what you used the micro-grants for?

A. We used the micro-grants for one time events such as; conferences and shabbatot.

Q. What was your key takeaway from the programs you’ve planned?

A. My key takeaways have been so much fun, energy, and inspiration. I leave with the gratitude of the people who leave programs with big smiles on their faces and thank us for giving them an entry door to Judaism, and a new community where they feel home, to me, this is priceless.

Q. What lead you to go to apply for funding?

A. Money! If we wanted to do something good we needed to hire people (speakers, musicians), to have food, to print flyers etc; I was in touch with Junction previously and had received emails encouraging us to apply, so I just went for it!

Micro Grant Interview: Mira Niculescu from Paris, France

Q. What surprised you about the planning process?

A. It surprised me that it is time-consuming but also easier than I thought. I learned you can pull off something in a couple of weeks if you have the motivation and the right people to work with.

Q. What was your Jewish involvement in the past?

A. In the distant past: nonexistent; since 2013-14, Yeshivot (drisha, Pardes), learning circles (the snej), conferences (Limmud, Junction), networks (Nahum Goldman Fellowship, Yesod), and then I founded Neshama in 2014.

Q. What is your Jewish involvement now?

A. I’m heading the vision of my project, Neshama, that is blossoming into a nice community, I moved to Israel where I’m managing Neshama in Paris and I am going to build the equivalent for French Jews here;

Q. What excites you about the Jewish future?

A. That the youth can create the Judaism they want to see!

Q. What should people know about the Parisian Jewish Community?

A. That it’s starting to change for the good! We have more and more young people who went abroad, got inspiration there, and are coming back who don’t settle for the old school institutional deadly Judaism they have been served all their lives; so they start new projects (Batei Midrash, minyanim, meditation classes, Moishe houses, dance etc), and with the help of international associations such as Moishe House, Junction, Yesod etc, they are going for more inclusivity, more creativity, more openness between people and denominations. The youth is starting to change the Parisian Jewish landscape!

Micro Grant Interview: Mira Niculescu from Paris, France

Q. What’s next for you?

A. Finding great investors who are as excited as we are by the vision of Neshama so we can release a Jewish meditation app, a Jewish meditation book, music podcasts to help people learn the prayers and Shabbat songs and Nigunim, and other amazing resources that can empower people and create community!

Junction micro grants are awarded to innovative, engaging young adult community projects and can range from $1000 to $5000.

If you have a new program idea such as a celebration of a Jewish holiday or a Jewish social event and want to make it happen, find out more here!

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