For years the Jewish community has lagged behind general society in creative and effective use of technology and new media. This observation (and personal frustration with it) was the genesis of Darim 10 years ago. There are many obstacles – skills, staffing, design, willingness to take risks, or to know where to take risks. And of course, money. In recent years a number of creative, and largely independent, social entrepreneurs in the Jewish community have taken matters into their own hands, building and launching interesting applications on a shoestring, sometimes at night while holding down a full time job to pay the bills. But in general, the organizations, their audiences, the designers and programmers, and the funders haven’t been speaking the same language. Some people are preaching open source and others and pressing CDroms. Where do we go from here? Three of the nation’s largest Jewish foundations – the Righteous Persons Foundation, the Jim Joseph Foundation, and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation – have announced the Jewish New Media Innovation Fund to help energize the community to focus on the need for new media innovations, and to help bring them to life. While a pool of $500,000 injects important dollars to jumpstart new and support developing projects, I think this fund — and the role of three prominent foundations — is a critically important statement to the community. This is not optional anymore. This is our present, and our future, and there is no time to waste. I know a lot of people with some very creative ideas, and this is a tremendous opportunity for us to recognize the talents that exist within the Jewish community, and to take advantage. The fund intends to support interactive, digital efforts that are creative and impactful, and which and engage with Jews and Judaism in ways that promote moremeaningful and vibrant Jewish life in the 21st century. The Fund will support individuals, 501c3 non-profit organizations, social enterprises, and for-profit businesses. Collaborative projects are welcomed and encouraged. All the details and the application form are here. Deadline is November 22, 2010. Funding decisions will be made in February, 2011.