October 14, 2019

LaunchBox: Federation releases tool kit for Jewish journey

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has released LaunchBox, the winner of its Next Big Jewish Idea contest in 2011, the first in an effort to garner community ideas to strengthen Jewish life. LaunchBox was one of more than 300 submissions to the contest. 

Federation awarded $100,000 in funding, plus office space, mentoring and support services at the Federation’s Wilshire Boulevard headquarters to the winner, Los Angeles educator Batsheva Frankel, who created the winning tool kit intended to help people on their Jewish journey.

Families with teens and young adults are the intended audience for the first LaunchBox installment, titled “Life: What’s the Big Idea?” which contains games, a comic book, music and prompts for creating an ethical will. 

“We tried to speak to them [teens and young adults] in a language they’re participating in, which is games, a comic book, music as well as the more heavy stuff,” Federation CEO and President Jay Sanderson said. 

Frankel will continue to work at Federation offices until June 2013, further developing her concept, and, during that time, one more box will be released. The theme of the next box has yet to be determined, but it will likely be geared toward a similar age group, according to Scott Minkow, vice president of Partnerships and Innovation for Federation.

The contents of the current box explore such topics as the afterlife, ethics, the meaning of existence – big topics on the minds of teens and young adults, Sanderson said.  According to Federation leaders, conversations, testing and focus groups helped determine what should be in the box, and ultimately the box’s content is intended to engage topics “that have direct connections to Judaism and our faith,” Sanderson said. 

One thousand boxes were produced and are available for free by signing up on Federation’s Web site, jewishla.org. 

Contained in a cardboard box, the LaunchBox includes the Competing High Priorities Game, a chips-and-card game that asks players to respond to real-life predicaments by determining which priority — such as family, stability or love — should be considered when dealing with a particular predicament; a five-page comic book that discusses the afterlife; a CD compilation of songs about life, legacy and the afterlife by Jewish songwriters; and more. The official LaunchBox Web site, launchbox-la.org, includes online companion material. 

Federation expects to send out all of its boxes, but Minkow said it will measure the project’s success based on how the boxes are used, not just on how many are distributed. 

To get the feedback it needs, the Federation is asking everyone who signs up for a box to fill out an online survey. “I think success looks like people are engaging in types of conversation that they’re not normally having,” Minkow said.

This is Federation’s first effort to directly create a curriculum for Jewish learning. Federation also has been helping Frankel plan how to make LaunchBox sustainable beyond the summer of 2013.

“We believe in her and believe in the project,” Sanderson said.