WHAT MAKE S A LE ADER JE WISH?
ELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM issue fifteen
Leadership Rising Up: Visions for
TENT CITY SUMMER
going social in israel
THE THING WE CARRIED
FALL 2011 $6.95
GENDER AND LEADERSHIP
a murky relationship
leadership steering committee Maya Bernstein, Melissa Cowen, Josh Fialkoff, Roben Kantor, Rene Kariel, Vicky Kulikov, David Krantz, Samantha Pohl, Ezra Shanken, Mae Singerman, Aimee Weiss associate editors Marc Bailes, Farrah Green, David Krantz, Rachel Krauser, Dalia Wolfson peer advisors Rafi Cashman, Addie Klein, Zev Nagel, Michal Waldfogel assistant editors Gavin Beinart-Smollen, Jane Blumental Martin, Rachel Olstein, David Russell copy editors Miriam Bader, Melissa Scholten art director Jerrin Kay photography director Naomi Zeidman photographers Tamir Kalifa, Sam Ketay, Yael Miriam, Olga Savchuk, Gayle Squires, Robert Weinberg advertising and circulation director Simi Hinden
Special thanks to Benita Lebow for her support of this issue.
leadership rising up
visions for the future >> shirlee harel
Jewish Innovation and the establishment
ultimate roi >> david brown
a multigenerational enterprise >> rachel ain
not your father’s federation This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
y’s ask why
FEATURES + m a s t h e a d
editor & publisher Deborah Fishman
>> jackie menter
Creative Commons: We think the Creative Commons approach to content is smart because it gives creators flexibility in their licensing choices and it allows for seamless sharing of content. At PresenTense, our exclusive rights to content expire after no more than 120 days. At that time, we encourage our authors and photographers to adopt a CC license for their work. www.presentense.org ISSN:1939-249X PresenTense is an international grassroots effort to inspire and enable socially-minded pioneering amongst the Jewish People, and this Magazine is made possible by a network of volunteers around the world. PresenTense Magazine is an all volunteer effort with 501(c)3 nonprofit status. If you would like to reach a young Jewish audience through our pages, subscribe to our publication, or purchase a bulk order for your organization or event, please contact Simi Hinden at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to support PresenTense in its mission to enrich Jewish life, please make checks payable to the PresenTense Group, Inc. noting “magazine” in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to: PresenTense Group, Inc. 131 West 86th Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10024. PresenTense accepts submissions, pitches, and letters to the editor by email: email@example.com. Cover photo by Tamir Kalifa. Design by Jerrin Kay. Contributors’ map by Miriam Novoplansky.
contents issue fifteen presentense.org/magazine 2011
Dancing at JFNA’s TribeFest in Las Vegas. Photo by Sam Ketay, JFNA.
issue fifteen 2011
04 CONTRIBUTORS’ Map 06 EDITORIAL
AROUND THE WORLD 08 The Thing We Carried transporting tradition > zev nagel 10 Jews of Siberia in the jewish autonomous region > jason pressberg 11 Camps for
Volunteerism reshaping the ukraine > anna litovskaya
HERE & NOW 12 Woman to Watch stosh cotler > devorah matkowsky
13 Man with a Plan adam berman > rachel krauser
20 Left Behind why we need truly global jewish leaders > naomi sage
36 not your father’s
22 Winners of the cRISPEE
Society 24 jewish team captains observant at-bats > morris levin
YOU Leading from? networking your nonprofit > lisa colton
44 Art for a change an under-tapped tool > yael miriam
28 What Makes a Leader
Jewish? narrative, torah, and relationships > benjamin ross
30 leadership rising up visions for the future > shirlee harel
16 PresenTense Fellows
32 Jewish Innovation and the establishment ultimate roi > david brown
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41 Which Rule Book are
27 Gender and Leadership a murky relationship > charlie schwartz
14 Rules of Engagement lessons in leadership > roben kantor
JEWISH FUTURE a conversation > miriam brosseau
42 innovation and the
18 Prosumers IN THE
38 Tent City Summer going social in israel > tamir kalifa
25 Leading by Design new lesson plans > maya bernstein 26 GENDER EQUaLITY what you can do for your organization’s success > joanna samuels
IDEAS & INNOVATION
LEAD THE WAY creating change > rachel perten
federation y’s ask why > jackie menter
Leadership a multigenerational enterprise > rachel ain
arts cultural change agents speak out > anne hromadka
46 CHALLAH and our
annual review rest is in the recipe > gayle squires > michal waldfogel
e n d PAGE 48 jewish vs. business
wisdom how they compare > matthew hoffman
LEARNING. LEADERSHIP. VISION. Earning a degree at The Jewish Theological Seminary is about achieving intellectual and spiritual growth while gaining practical skills. Through rigorous study of Jewish texts and civilizations with our renowned world-class faculty, you develop a sophisticated understanding of the richness of Jewish religion, cultures, and experiences. At JTS, you engage with Jewish tradition within a dynamic and diverse community, and integrate study and community in new and unimagined ways.
JTS offers undergraduate, graduate, rabbinical, and cantorial degrees to prepare religious, academic, professional, and lay leaders for the Jewish community and beyond.
The Jewish Theological Seminary Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies The Graduate School H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music The Rabbinical School William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education 3
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Elephants in the Room
hat are the challenges of being a Jewish leader in today’s here & now? In thinking about issues of leadership in the Jewish community, women at the helm the PT15 Steering Committee brainstormed our “elephants in the room”—issues that are plainly perceived, but that few dare Jewish communal institutions may be filled to broach, let alone solve. The elephants represented on these pages constitute to the brim with intelligent, career-driven our common observations and concerns. women, but when will women make it to The eternal elephant in the room is money. After 15 magazine issues and over the top ranks of status and pay? 500 volunteer contributors engaged around the world, the in-print publication of PresenTense Magazine is in jeopardy. If you believe, as we do, in this magazine, please allow us to continue through subscribing with the QR code on the facing page. Leaders must adapt to new realities and new opportunities. To solve the issues presented on these pages, the Jewish community would do well to turn to our vibrant network. Enable our network to be the thought leaders, change agents, and executors of the visions we work so tirelessly on to transform and advance the Jewish community. Thank you for your enduring support and contributions, whether it be time, money, Aimee W eiss is a or resources. We hope you will join us in our exploration of Jewish life in the here & now graduate student a t NYU Wag and support the ventures, causes, and dreams of all of us in the PresenTense network. PT ne r.
The PT SC weighs in on Jewish leadership issues Israel and the
a How do we manag e the dissonance between Israelis and North America ns? What role does th e Diaspora have in shaping Israel as a model society?
Who’s on Deck? Are young leaders prepared, educated, and committed enough to take the helm from soonto-be-retiring Baby Boomers? Where are the incentives to keep professionals motivated to be change agents in their organizations? And how do we best use the expertise of Baby Boomers to serve as volunteer leadership?
Ezra Shanken is the Director of Emerging Leaders and Philanthropists at the UJA-Fed eration of NY.
Vicky Kulik ov is t Develo he pment Associa the Jew te at ish Fed Greate e r Kans ration of as City .
From (P rofe to (Prof ssional) Gener a essiona How wou l) Gener tion ld our com a tion mun Jew
ish lead al instituti ons be ership po ers inherently buil sitions, e t mentors structured if n hip into a suring co als from ll le nti one point of connec nuity by bridging in adof strong tion to th mentorsh e next? D dividuip lead to oes lac perpetua l burnout? k
works for UJASamantha Pohl and is a Wexner Federation of NY . Davidson scholar w/ Graduate Fello
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e expectation ctively created th lle co ’ve we at th Now periences will be entity-building ex id sh wi Je e’s on that se, can we ever for by someone el id pa d sh an ed id ov pr if at all, can Jewi pectation? How, s tie ni rtu po veer from this ex op ip nd their leadersh ’? ay pl to organizations expa ay ‘p uals who cannot to include individ
Josh Fialkoff is the founder of Fialkoff Consultin g, LLC and has served as a SC member with th e CJP/PresenTens e Boston Fellows hip.
issue fifteen 2011
ommuis the C r o t n a K Charles Roben er in the amily c ffi O s F nication terman n Schus ffice. and Lyn o on’s DC Foundati
Creating Jewish Leadership
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onomic n i sed ec s e rg r p e e es of Em of d two typ the sphere e o s e m t h t a do Can In an es, how d gether? resourc ions come to e learning an t t a a e it r iz il e n c h a t a f g or tter r will o? nity be hem, o commu ip between t etween the tw h b s leader a distinction be always
Are we teaching our leaders the necessary knowledge base and connection to Jewish heritage, culture, and traditions to become transformational Jewish leaders? How do we move to a model of programming for Jews of all ages instead of favoring some age groups over others? And how do we transform Jewish organizations to truly embody Jewish values? Melissa Co for the Jew wen works ish Federa tion of Greater Ea st Philanthro Bay in Women’s py.
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Mae Sing er of Commu man is the Manage nity Partne r rships and Alumni in the PJA & JFSJ Servic Learning D e epartmen t.
Maya Ber nstein co nsults to Jewish soci al entrepre neurs, designs grou p learning experience and blogs s, on Jewish innovation and change at UpStart Bay Area.
How d ronmen o t Jewish we motivate comm t he unit leader ship in y to take aba climat e chan ting ge?
David Kr preside antz is the nt and chairpe of the bo rs tors of ard of direc- on the Gre en Zion Allianc e: is Campa The Grassro t ots ign for a Sust able Is ainrael.
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AROUND THE WORLD 8
Ceremony in Hungary.
The Thing We Carried transporting tradition >> zev nagel
adly, the contents of our bags do not tell many stories from 10 months of travel around the world. With airlines limiting baggage to barely 20 kilograms, we could bring back only a few of the choicest souvenirs. Yet if you were to inspect our suitcases carefully, as airport security frequently did, you would find a single item that we continuously carried: a small plastic bag containing a candle, cloves, and a box of matchesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;all the elements, sans a bottle of local booze, needed for reciting havdalah, the Hebrew prayer that signals the end of Shabbat and ushers in the beginning of a new week. But a havdalah set is not just a physical constant in a year of perpetual travel and chronic impermanence. It also serves as
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a poignant metaphor for the global expression of Jewish identity and connectivity felt throughout our travels, in practically every city and country we visited. By defining the separation of Shabbat from the other days of the week, havdalah poignantly reminds us that Jewish life demands creating community around sacred space and time. I came to live overseas and in these communities through my work with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) as their 2010-2011 Ralph I. Goldman Fellow in International Jewish Service. The fellowship is a self-designed, paid, professional development opportunity to live and work in usually two to three locations where JDC is active, while gaining a deeper understanding of the inner workings of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s
presentense.org/magazine around the world
Havdalah poignantly reminds us that Jewish life demands creating community around sacred space and time.
Courtesy of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
largest Jewish humanitarian aid organization. During the course of my fellowship, I worked on leadership training programs for young Jewish professionals in Eastern Europe and community development initiatives in the newly emerging Jewish communities of Asia. For young Jewish adults in the Balkans, who we met on social and weekend retreats, havdalah declares the inevitable end of the precious few days they have each year to feel part of something greater than themselves. The Jewish communities of the former Yugoslavia have survived the Holocaust, outlasted Communist dictators, and weathered the storms of ethnic violence. But their strength is surely not in numbers. As Simone Tiano, a young Jewish woman from Thessalonica, Greece, points out, “Coming from a small community like mine means that I don’t have many opportunities to share Judaism with others.” And so Tiano, like so many of her friends, comes to regional events like those sponsored by the JDC to learn about Jewish identity and peoplehood and celebrate Jewish life together. Similarly in Shanghai—where Jews once fled to escape the Nazis—on each Saturday night, a motley crew of Israeli diamond dealers, Hasidic mashgichim (kosher food supervisors), Russian computer programmers, American hedge fund managers, and French clothing manufacturers join hands to conclude the Jewish day of rest. For these traveling businessmen and even permanent residents of China, havdalah means an end to the protective bubble to which they safely retreat each week. “We are all strangers in a strange land,” says Ran Fridman, a RussianAmerican entrepreneur, who after years of travel through Southeast Asia now calls Shanghai his permanent home. Fridman and his friends of various walks of Jewish life—Sephardim, Ashkenazim, devoutly religious, and even the secular—join together each week to create community. And it’s no different in the hilly countryside of Western
around the world presentense.org/magazine
Ukraine, where youth gather to talk about the future of Jewish life there. Almost 30 Ukrainian Jewish students are selected each year to come to Metsudah, JDC’s seminal young leadership program in the Ukraine, to learn about group dynamics and hone their leadership skills, while developing an independent project to enhance Jewish life in their local communities. For the almost too-eager social entrepreneurs, these treasured moments are when they are treated with the “dignity and honor that they can be agents for change in this world and make a difference,” explains Amit Segal, the Israeli facilitator who guides this year’s cohort. On Saturday night, the soft whisper of the Metsudah students’ voices, chanting a popular havdalah tune, gracefully protest tomorrow’s impending departure. No one wants to leave. Because here, among their Jewish friends, they can leave behind their troubles at home—a dying grandmother, the chronically unemployed parent, the sister with acute autism, and intimidation and anti-Semitism at school. Yes, perhaps struggles we might have seen closer to home, but all the more dire in a country like the Ukraine with a deficient social welfare system, corruption, and a brutal history of Jewish oppression and denial. And for us wandering Jews, havdalah always means saying goodbye, each and every time, to the new friends we made. At the beginning of each encounter, we were a bunch of utter strangers, but by the end we were a family, sharing a common identity and purpose. Hamavdil bein kodesh l’chol, bein or l’choshekh, bein Yisrael l’amim. “[Blessed be the one] who separates between sacred and profane, between light and darkness, between the Jewish people and the nations of the world,” reads the havdalah prayer. The weekly Shabbat experience helps to positively construct a Jewish identity that alleviates loneliness. It enables the creation of a distinct community that shares in the desire to overcome the alienation and adversities of social life. And so havdalah signals the disbanding of this community protected by hallowed time, created out of the perhaps sheer flimsiness of the notion that “we are all Jews” but strengthened in the end by the passionate commitment to a shared heritage and vigorous sense of a collective future. Surely, this does not negate the swelling issues that rightfully divide us. But it serves as a reminder that, in spite of those differences, no matter where we are, the internal and eternal calling of simply “being Jewish” can often be powerful enough to bring us together. PT Zev Nagel recently served as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Ralph I. Goldman Fellow in International Jewish Service. He and his wife, Na’amit, lived in overseas Jewish communities in Europe, Asia, and the Former Soviet Union working on community development, Jewish identity, and leadership training programs.
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Jews of siberia in the jewish autonomous region >> jason pressberg
he Soviet Union was a terrible place to be a Jew, and Siberia was terrible place to be no matter what your background was. In 1934, Stalin created the “Jewish Autonomous Region” in Siberia. It was his attempt to solve the “Jewish question.” While a small number of Jews had been forced to Siberia under the Czarist government, Stalin took Jewish settlement in Siberia to a new level. Yiddish advertisements encouraging Jewish migration promised a better life for those who went willingly to this new region, where Jews would have autonomy and Yiddish heritage and socialism would predominate. In a historical anomaly, a small number of Jews even migrated from the United States. Until around 150 years ago, Siberia was mostly empty. Natives— similar to Alaska’s Eskimos—lived in small pockets, but the majority of the land did not have to be fought for. The Jews, naturally, were given a land that no one else would want—an empty swamp. The irony should not be lost on Zionists. Today Jews think of Siberia as the place where refuseniks—Soviet Jews who wished to leave the Soviet Union and were denied exit visas— were sent for hard labor in work camps referred to as the gulags. But there is much more in Siberia than just an empty wasteland. In the city of Khabarovsk, 12,000 Jews remain. Jewish life revolves around a building Photo provided by Robert Weinberg. near the center of town that, similar to many far-flung Jewish communities, houses multiple Jewish institutions in shared space in its three stories: the synagogue, Hillel, relief programs, and Jewish secondary schools. The Jews of Khabarovsk are aided by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC or the Joint). Founded in 1914, with active relief work—mostly Jewish and some non-sectarian—in over 70 countries, the JDC represents the American Jewish community in taking care of struggling Jews all over the world. David Zandi—who grew up in Great Neck, a wealthy Jewish suburb on Long Island—recently returned from a JDC-sponsored trip to
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Siberia for young adults. Family ties have often brought him to Israel, but this trip was very different. He was not going to discover his roots or connect with his homeland. He traveled to Siberia to connect with Jews who know what real poverty is and benefit from the American Jewish community’s aid. Zandi was shown JDC-funded programs for youth at risk, the elderly in need, and Jewish education. It is strange to think of Jews remaining in Siberia. The Iron Curtain has fallen, Russian Jews have flooded into Israel and the United States, jobs are scarce, and the weather—brutally hot in the summer, bitterly cold in the months of winter—is horrendous. While communism has fallen, its effects linger on. “The apartments of the widows we visited have not been updated in the slightest,” said Zandi. “The flooring, the wall paper—it’s all classic 1970s Soviet Union. Nothing has changed.” A new life could await these people somewhere else. “One of these widows wanted to travel to Israel, but she would forfeit her small pension. She spoke to Israeli officials about making aliyah. They said they could fly her to Israel and put her into a hotel for two weeks, but after that she would be on her own with no income in a country where she could not speak the language.” As a result, she spends her remaining years alone in her small apartment, only leaving occasionally for groceries and medicine. The other widow Zandi met had no intention of going anywhere. “This is where my husband is buried,” she said. She expressed gratitude that the JDC could help her make ends meet.
The apartments of the widows we visited have not been updated in the slightest. The flooring, the wall paper—it’s all classic 1970s Soviet Union. Nothing has changed. Though Khabarovsk has a larger Jewish population, the Jewish Autonomous Region has its capital in the small city of Birobidzhan, where Jews make up around 5% of the population. The sign welcoming visitors is still in Yiddish and Russian. Jewish life here revolves around a complex of two buildings—a synagogue and a community center. In front of each is a memorial to dead Jews: one for the Holocaust, another for the attacks in Mumbai. The future of today’s Jewish teenagers living in Siberia is uncertain. Many of those who are passionate about their Jewish identities are moving away as soon as they can, while those who stay are increasingly becoming more secularized. Still, there is hope. In Khabarovsk, the Hillel is active, there is a minyan on Shabbat and holidays, and Jews are slowly discovering their heritage. “I feel connected to Jews all over the world and I’m glad the money American Jews donate goes to help them in some way,” Zandi reflected. “I’m not sure if there will be Jews here in 40 years. No one does. But at least the Joint is trying to do what they can. I’m glad I could be a part of it.” PT Jason Pressberg works at Northeastern University Hillel in Boston and enjoys leading Birthright trips every winter and summer. In his free time, he teaches tennis and is preparing for his wedding in New Orleans this November.
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Camps for Volunteerism reshaping the ukraine >> anna litovskaya
hile having tea with my groupmate Olga Savchuk at Paideia (The European institute of Jewish Studies in Sweden), we started sharing our backgrounds. I had just graduated from the International Relations department of the Linguistic University, Russia, while Savchuk is an ecology student at the Kyiv Mohyla Academy. Yet we had something in common: the experience of going abroad to volunteer at Jewish camps. I did social work in Spain and Israel, some farming in the Czech Republic and Russia, and volunteered as an interpreter, while she had worked as an educator for Jewish camps every summer. Then we came up with an idea: to create a volunteer Jewish summer camp that would reshape Jewish life in Ukraine. The vision behind the idea is to create and train a core of volunteers serving small- and medium-sized communities in Ukraine. Doing so responds to the main need of those communities: sustainable self-development. Currently most communities are sponsored by external funds while many young members remain inactive. The volunteer summer camp aims to promote the notion of volunteering—not a very established one in Ukrainian society— through facilitating a win-win situation: enabling communities to obtain services for free while participants receive new knowledge and skills useful for their professional development. The most important task, of course, is to simultaneously meet the needs of the community and make the camp attractive for participants. While we received organizational support, it took us more than a year to find the right contacts, raise money, and recruit participants for the pilot camp for the Bila Tserkva Jewish community, which took place last summer. It brought together 14 volunteers ages 14-23, from all over Ukraine as well as Margarita Kortsenshteyn from Moscow and two full-time JDC volunteers from New York. We figured out the needs of the community while negotiating with Tatyana Kirishun, the head teacher of the Jewish school in Bila Tserkva, who helped us with local logistics. She said that they would need volunteers for cleaning the cemetery, preparing for the celebration of Victory Day, cleaning the grounds of the Jewish summer base, around the world presentense.org/magazine
and painting the school front yard. Due to the weather forecast and other scheduled activities, we focused on two tasks. One was to paint the staircases and pavilions in the front yard of the school. That was the creative part of work. In the end, one of the pavilions became a place for self-expression. “I liked staying in the countryside, meeting new people, visiting the Jewish school, and most of all painting. I’d like the next camp to have more creative activities, singing, dancing, and interacting with kids,” said Margarita Kortsenshteyn, 23, from Moscow. The other task was At camp. Photos by Olga Savchuk. to collect wooden sticks and branches on the grounds of the Jewish The volunteer sumsummer base, where we were living. It was a cozy place in the middle of the woods with mer camp aims little two-room wooden houses and tall old to promote the notion of pine trees. Fresh air and a river nearby made us wake up not later than 8 a.m. to enjoy a volunteering—not a very morning walk. When the participants had established one in Ukraifree time, they played sports outside, had tea in one of the wooden houses, read, or nian society—through just talked. The director of the summer base, a refacilitating a win-win situasort mostly for elderly people, was appretion: enabling communities ciative of our work. Instead of a greeting, she started every morning with a request: to obtain services for free “Girls, you have to make more camps like while participants receive this and bring more young people here— then this place will live!” new knowledge and skills Surprisingly enough, the practical part useful for their professional of the work was also embraced enthusiastically. It seems that any task can be enterdevelopment. taining if you turn it into a competition or leave space for self-expression. in Eastern Europe. Yet now, as the pilot camp is ”The friendly, family-like atmosphere over, we will continue our work—training voldidn’t let me feel down, even on the coldunteers during educational seminars and helpest days,” said Sergey Rudyansky, 17, from ing communities through summer camps. PT Bila Tserkva, Ukraine, referring to the bad weather of rain five days out of seven. Anna Litovskaya lives in Krivoy Rog, A volunteer summer camp is not someUkraine. thing that has been experienced previously issue fifteen 2011
Man with a PlaN adam berman >> rachel krauser
HERE & NOW
dam Berman was a typical allAmerican kid, obsessed with the LA Dodgers and baseball cards. But something inside him hungered for more. “As early as the third grade,” recalled Berman, “I began asking myself big life questions, like: Who am I? Why am I here? What’s the point of it all?” His answer came to him when, at age 17, he saw Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” issue for 1989, this time featuring neither celebrity nor Nobel Laureate but Planet Earth. “The whole issue was devoted to environmental degradation. I remember reading it and just sobbing,” Berman said. “Something about the reality of what was happening to our planet touched me deeply.” Later, armed with years of Jewish day school, summer camp, and a BS in environmental policy from Brown University, Berman went on to become director of the Teva Learning Center, the largest Jewish environmental-educational organization in the country. In 2002, Berman was appointed the executive director of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in rural Connecticut, where he founded Adamah: The Jewish Environmental Fellowship. Adamah—“earth” in Hebrew—is a three-month residential leadership-training program for young Jewish adults that integrates organic farming and environmental literacy with progressive Jewish living and learning. Since its first seeds were planted, more than 100 of its alumni now serve in leadership positions throughout the Jewish world. Adam left Isabella Freedman in 2009 to return to California, where he founded Urban Adamah: The Jewish Sustainability Corps, an organic farm and Jewish environmental-education center located in Berkeley (www.urbanadamah.org). “Urban Adamah is Adamah 2.0,” Berman said. “It takes the best of what we learned in rural Connecticut and leverages it for even greater impact in the world.” Urban Adamah operates with a core staff and groups of a dozen fellows in their 20s who spend three months living together and integrating social and environmental
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Adam Berman Berkeley, CA
Watch him because: He’s working to combine Jewish tradition, ethics, and living with making our planet a better, healthier, and just place for us all. issues and sustainable agriculture with Jewish living and learning. Fellows come from various backgrounds, but all have demonstrated strong leadership experience in the communities in which they have been involved in the past. They cultivate the farm, run educational programs for visitors, and partner with local organizations to address issues of poverty and food security within the community. Over 90% of the produce grown on the farm is distributed locally to those in need through soup kitchens and food banks. Community building, communication, facilitation, and public speaking are just some of the leadership skills that are developed through the course of the fellowship. Fellows work with area non-profits dedicated to fighting poverty and hunger, building food gardens in poor neighborhoods, teaching families how to grow and harvest their own produce, and teaching how to prepare healthy food using fresh ingredients from local food banks. “Our urban location means we can reach significant numbers of people,” Berman said, highlighting the major difference between the Urban Adamah and Adamah programs. “Being in a city means we can also focus on social activism. Our farm not only produces first-rate organic produce, we also provide it free of charge to those with barriers to quality nourishment.”
A typical day for the fellows begins with a daily meditation and service, loosely based on shacharit (morning prayers); staff and fellows join to connect and set their intentions for the day ahead. Then the fellows head to the farm to work. Farm chores may include building compost bins or a new greenhouse, seeding, harvesting, farm development, or maintenance. All produce is organically grown in raised beds. All farm structures are portable in the event that the farm needs to relocate to a different parcel of vacant urban land. In the evenings, fellows attend study sessions, with topics ranging from the basics of farm management to the complexities of global climate change. Several times a week the farm welcomes visitors, including children from local Hebrew schools and summer camps. “Some of our alumni will choose to pursue paths in urban agriculature, but most won’t,” Berman explained. “Mainly, they will take the gifts of the program—engaged Judaism, environmental training, community building skills, and leadership development—to become agents of change in their own lives in their communities.” PT Rachel Krauser has recently returned from living most of her adult life in Israel, and is currently enjoying rediscovering life in New York City.
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WOMAN TO WATCH stosh cotler >> devorah matkowsky
Stosh Cotler New York, NY
Watch hER because: She’s strengthening the world of Jewish transformative leadership in her organization and the Jewish social justice community.
tosh Cotler eats, sleeps, and breathes leadership, and says all leaders should do the same. “Leadership is learnable—something we practice moment to moment, day by day,” Cotler says. Cotler is a driving force in Jewish leadership as the executive vice president of the recently merged Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA) and Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ). She is also the creator of the Selah Leadership Training program, which works to improve the skills of leaders in the field. Selah focuses on transformative leadership, which involves adopting practices such as daily meditation, journaling, or a restful Shabbat to identify unconscious behaviors and take control of them. Cotler believes it is important for her to exemplify these transformative leadership practices. “It’s important that I model what I say I’m about—that I walk the talk, that there’s not a disconnect between my values and how I behave, that I’m treating my colleagues with respect, that I’m actually building trust among the relationships I have,” she says. “But [I also want to create] an environment as a whole where people are building trust amongst each other.” All of these together allow for a more open, creative, and innovative dialogue that brings greater change and success, Cotler says. Selah’s leadership model consists of collaboration and partnership. This may have contributed to Cotler’s success in harmohere & now presentense.org/magazine
niously merging JFSJ with the PJA. In addition to leading the senior management team, Cotler heads an ongoing Internal Culture Management Team, which is tasked with creating a new culture for the organization and making sure that it is practiced. This model encourages partnerships instead of competition with other Jewish organizations. Cotler has been working in the social justice field since age 18. In her mid-20s,
homophobia, transphobia, sexism,” Cotler recounts. “As a queer person myself, it was a shock (in a great way) to be able to bring my full self to the experience and feel like I could be whole in a Jewish space.” Since joining JFSJ in 2005, Cotler has been passionate about changing the world through a Jewish organization. She believes that if Jewish organizations would come back to the table in social justice movements, it would show young Jews already interested in social action that they can pursue their goals within a Jewish context. PJA-JFSJ also helps develop young leaders through the Jeremiah Fellowship. This program takes Jews in their early 20s who are interested in social change, leadership, and Jewish values, and equips them with the tools to become agents of change in their communities. “There are people who are born leaders…who have charisma,” Cotler says. “But in fact what makes a leader effective goes far beyond those types of qualities. Most people who are effective in leadership have a very high level of self-awareness, have the ability to manage their own state, understand dynamics that are playing out in a group, have the ability to create rapport and trust with others.” Cotler says that this leadership pipeline, where each leader is always developing, is
Through really effective skill-building, training, and mentoring, anyone can develop themselves to be more effective in the world.
she started an anti-violence organization for women and youth to educate individuals and communities on issues of gender justice and anti-sexual and domestic violence. It partnered with another organization on community organizing with young women of color and low-income young women. But her vision of social justice in a Jewish context is more recent. Raised in a non-observant home in Portland, Oregon, a spiritual crisis in her mid-20s led her to explore Buddhism. But then she happened to attend a Passover seder. “Most of the people were queer, and the Hagaddah that they made incorporated a range of social justice themes, particularly themes around
accessible to everyone. “Through really effective skill-building, training, and mentoring, anyone can develop themselves to be more effective in the world,” she says. “If we all think that we’re potential agents for change, it’s really our job to tap into that potential over and over again.” PT
Devorah Matkowsky is making aliyah this fall, leaving behind over 13 years in educational software management. She plans to use her master’s in Jewish Professional Studies to work in Jewish education for emerging adults, and find many opportunities to sing.
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RULES OF ENGAGEMENT lessons in leadership >> roben kantor
rom Moses to modern-day heroes, stories of great Jewish leaders reveal that while the need for leadership is constant, the type of leaders needed is constantly changing. The Talmud tells us: “As the generation, so the leader; as the leader, so the generation.” But there are lasting lessons that hold across time and place. In keeping with the Jewish tradition of transmitting wisdom and stories from generation to generation, two veritable leaders with a combined
IDEAS & INNOVATION
President of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation for nearly two decades, Sandy Cardin stewards the Schusterman vision of empowering young Jews to create Jewish life, strengthen global Jewish communities, connect with the state of Israel, and repair the world. He oversaw the growth of a one-office foundation into a global philanthropic network that includes the ROI Community, the Schusterman Foundation-Israel, the Jerusalem Season of Culture, and a team of over 25 professionals. Sandy has served on the boards of the Council on Foundations and Jewish Funders Network; he was named the 2011 Milender Fellow for the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University; and he annually gives the PresenTense Summer Institute keynote address on the state of philanthropy.
Talk about a time you think you failed as a leader. What happened and what did you learn? (Maya Bernstein, Palo Alto, California) My greatest leadership failure came during the period when Charles Schusterman died in late 2000, and Lynn became Chair of the Foundation. Even though we had a succession plan in place and Lynn had been intimately involved in the Foundation since its founding, I did not adequately anticipate what would happen when we lost our “center of gravity.” The transition was anything but smooth, and we sought outside help to reestablish our footing. Looking back, I recognize that it was my role to manage the transition, not allow myself to become part of the problem. Important transitions —no matter their size and scope—require intense planning, foresight, and the ability to cope with the unexpected.
hat is the most common leadership mistake you see W among your colleagues, at your organization or at others? (Isaac Bernstein, Brooklyn, New York) There is a great story Lynn tells about how she and Charles once nearly missed a play in New York because Charles stopped to buy a hot dog and ended up getting into a lengthy discussion with the street vendor about the business of selling from a food cart. The same was true whether Charles was in a room with five-year-olds or with the titans of industry; he always listened with an open mind, ready to implement a good piece of data into his thinking. It points to what many leaders fail to appreciate or act upon: Great ideas and information can come from the most unassuming of sources, especially young people.
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five decades of experience respond to a series of questions submitted by PresenTense readers. Sandy Cardin, president of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of Israel-based SodaStream International, share stories of transitions and torpedoes, of hot dog vendors and heroes, all while speaking honestly of their failures, of cultivating leadership, and of what is most needed amongst Jewish leaders today.
an leadership be learned? If so, what character traits C and attitudes should we try to develop amongst Jewish children and teens to increase the likelihood that they will develop into Jewish leaders in the future? (Samantha Feinberg, Kansas City, Missouri) Yes, I believe leadership can be learned just as it can be strengthened. With so many styles of leadership, anyone who is thoughtful, engaging, passionate, and committed can exert leadership through learning a style that works for them. When it comes to developing leaders in the Jewish community, we need to do a better job of taking advantage of our population’s impressive diversity and empowering young people to use the skills, strengths, passions, and commitments they possess for the benefit of others. The ROI Community is built to do exactly that: bring together young Jews with a diverse set of leadership skills and enable them to connect and create together.
What do you hope to see in the next generation of Jewish communal leaders? (Sarah Schonberg, Washington, DC) We need a leader who, like John F. Kennedy back in the 1960s, reminds us to put our responsibility to our community before the community’s responsibility to us. Belonging to a community is not only about our right to receive, but also involves an obligation to give back. Leaders who help us achieve the proper balance between the two will be those who will help us achieve the kind of global Jewish community that will enable us to be a true “light among the nations.”
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Daniel Birnbaum is the CEO of SodaStream International, the Israel-based maker of home carbonation systems that offer fizzy refreshments both healthier and more environmentally friendly than their canned soda counterparts. When Daniel took over at SodaStream in 2007, it was a flat-lining business. Today, it is a formidable competitor in the billion-dollar beverage industry, with a presence in 42 countries and more than 1,400 employees worldwide. Previously, Daniel was the General Manager of Nike Israel and is responsible for bringing Pillsbury to Israel. In his spare time, Daniel, who made aliyah with his family when he was seven years old, serves as a High Holiday cantor in a congregation in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was the keynote speaker at the 2011 ROI Summit.
Talk about a time you think you failed as a leader. What happened and what did you learn? (Maya Bernstein, Palo Alto, California) Nearly 30 years ago, as an Israeli submarine officer, my department, under my leadership, decided to invent a new protocol for launching a torpedo. The automatic launch system we were using was not working properly, so I decided to just do a manual override. But the torpedo ignited in the tube without exiting, causing damage to the Israeli Navy to the tune of just north of $100,000 and ruining a major naval exercise. My department was embarrassed, and I was admonished by a disciplinary tribunal. It was a painful experience. While having courage, taking risks, and even failing is good, it should be done intelligently. I call it failing responsibly. Importantly, I lost neither my self-confidence nor my willingness to take risks, and I learned a lesson or two in how to lead a team through ambiguity and emerge stronger, even after a crisis.
hat is the most common leadership mistake you see W among your colleagues, at your organization or at others? (Isaac Bernstein, Brooklyn, New York) Risk averseness and lack of courage. Especially in corporate America, people are motivated to not make mistakes. They don’t want to get fired. They manage the status quo, so that tomorrow, not much has changed from today. If you want to create a different tomorrow, you have to roll up your sleeves, love yourself even if you fail, and give that confidence and empowerment to the people you work with.
Can leadership be learned? If so, what character traits
and attitudes should we try to develop amongst Jewish children and teens to increase the likelihood that they will develop into Jewish leaders in the future? (Samantha Feinberg, Kansas City, Missouri)
Leadership is a skill that can be learned, not just a gift or an attitude. We need to seed the new generation with knowledge of Jewish heritage and tradition, creating an emotional bond as a source of motivation and purpose for emerging Jewish leaders. And we need to help young
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people develop role models. As a young person, I grew up in Sde Boker, near the home of David Ben Gurion, and had the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with many of his guests, such as Yitzchak Rabin, Moshe Dayan, and Golda Meir. These great leaders were also regular people and were once young children as I was at the time. With the foundation of knowledge, the motivation of purpose, and a little self-confidence, today’s young people can take initiative in their communities and truly blossom into great leaders.
What do you hope to see in the next generation of Jewish communal leaders? (Sarah Schonberg, Washington, DC) I hope Jewish leadership will be able to balance our responsibility as human beings to the world with the need to support Israel. Leaders must lead with the recognition that we as Jews have the responsibility to preserve our Jewish culture, heritage, and religion. It’s both a gift and an obligation. And I expect to see the type of leadership that has the courage to create change in Israel and to promote peace and tolerance, first among the fragmented Israeli society and second between Israel and her neighbors. PT
As the generation, so the leader; as the leader, so the generation.
Roben Kantor is the Communications Officer for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. She holds a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University.
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PresenTense Fellows creating change >> rachel perten
eaders aspire to personal and communal greatness, they inspire people with their ideals, and they serve as role models to their communities in so many ways. Though their dreams may differ, all leaders share one important trait—the passion and the courage to change the world. PresenTense fellows are not only leading their local and global communi-
EVAN KLEINMAN 2011 NYC Fellow Punk Jews
Punk Jews is a documentary series showcasing Jewish artists, musicians, and activists expressing Jewish culture and spirituality in unique and unconventional ways. We also organize events and have an interactive website where people from any Jewish background as well as non-Jews can come together.
BECCA RUSSELL-EINHORN 2011 Global Fellow The Activist Institite The Activist Institute is a semesterlong program for students to learn practical organizing, advocacy, and strategic communications skills that will help them develop their leadership abilities as a new generation of progressive policy activists. AI believes young people are the key to creating a world of equality and justice.
2011 NYC Fellow Heart to Heart
Heart to Heart is a grassroots network of Jewish college students sharing their vibrant Jewish lives with their peers through simple friendships integrated with initiatives such as intimate Shabbat dinners, explanatory learning, and holiday programming.
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ties through their ventures—they are also working to cultivate networks of future leaders who can take on and further their causes through exponential engagement. PresenTense caught up with a few 2011 fellows who are engaged in leadership development and asked them >>
1 Always keep as open-minded as you can. 2 I hope that the stories and images in “Punk Jews” will inspire people to
talk about their personal relationships with Judaism. I also hope that it will encourage inclusiveness and diverse voices. I hope people will see “Punk Jews” as a call to action to take initiative in creating and fostering the kind of vibrant Jewish culture and peoplehood they wish to be a part of.
3 I have received a lot of interest in screening “Punk Jews” from Jewish
1 I want this world to be a place where progress isn’t just coming from people in a DC nonprofit or a local community group. I want people to talk about equality and justice in every field and every community and every job. We are all affected by our opportunities or the lack thereof—not just people who make these issues their career—and we need to stand up for what’s right in all venues. 2 In five years, I see The Activist Institute up and running, with the Energy, Environment, and Sustainability House hosting 60 students per year through our semester program. I see our programs spurring more activism 1 Real change comes when people transcend boundaries and forge their own paths.
2 Organized Judaism will be anchored in synagogues, schools, and Federations, but centered on an increased number of people who will live and breathe a vibrant Judaism. Jewish communities and individuals will take ownership over their Jewishness, and be proactive in building meaningful and inclusive bridges to others. 3 A large part of our mission is to include, impact, and re-imagine the in-
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Lead the Way 1 What is the message you would like to get out to the world? 2 In five years’ time, what would you like to see as the impact of your endeavor? What will have changed in your local community, as well as the community at large?
organizations and Jewish film festivals across the world. I look forward to exposing all types of people to the documentary. This is important because different groups have built-in followings and direct access to people outside of my networks who may be interested in viewing this film. By working together, we can create exciting events, working together to inspire and engage Jews nationwide.
on our students’ campuses and starting up another program focused on a new issue in a different city.
3 I see The Activist Institute as an organization with broad reach that will encompass students of all races, religions, and backgrounds. But without the support of the Jewish community and organizations like PresenTense, I wouldn’t have made nearly as much progress with my venture.
stitutions and general organization of the Jewish world. Heart to Heart works from within to empower ‘insiders’ of the Jewish world to reach ‘outsiders.’ There’s also the fundamental idea of Am Yisrael, a collective people, a unified mission, and a cohesive network—and to do that you have to include the organized Jewish world and infrastructures.
4 It’s sometimes hard for me to cultivate leadership. In what I do, there are no quick
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3 What part do you see the organized Jewish world playing in furthering your mission? Why do you view this as important or not important? 4 What challenges do you face in cultivating leadership within your community?
4 The only challenge I see in cultivating
leadership in our local communities is not believing enough in ourselves. If we believe something is truly important and meaningful for the community, an authentic leader must have the perseverance to march on regardless of personal challenges.
5 What does the idea of leadership mean to you, and why is building leadership important to you? Rachel Perten volunteered as a Coach in the 2011 PresenTense NYC Fellowship. She currently works at the American Friends of Migdal Ohr and is a graduate of the NYU dual master’s degree program.
a cause that they are truly passionate about for which they are willing to go to great lengths to achieve success. Building ethical and strong leadership in the community is important because it creates support systems that are vital for the community to thrive.
5 I believe that everyone has a natural
leader inside of them. It’s a matter of having
4 In the progressive community, there’s an
5 I’ve learned in the last few years that a good leader knows when to step back and knows how to push other people to achieve their potential. Building leadership is a core element of The Activist Institute. It’s important because it’s a skill that keeps spreading to create more and more leaders and, in our case, more direction and change on social justice issues.
results, no positions of power, no financial incentives—so I think it takes some unrelenting persistence, true humility, and deep buy-in to really develop it.
inclusiveness within Judaism. But these issues are intrinsically tied to the identity and the future of every member of the Jewish people. It takes leadership to promote mass empowerment and mobilization of the Jewish people, and that still remains an uphill battle.
issue of, well, too many issues. It feels overwhelming to try and tackle them all, and organizations are constantly trying to attract attention for their issue, making it feel like everything is insurmountable. I think that one of our challenges is trying to create a generation of young progressive leaders who are equipped with the tools to handle any issue, but the drive to focus on one.
5 Leadership means taking real responsibility for ourselves, our communities, and those outside of our communities. One of the biggest challenges that I see is that not enough people think they have anything to give or realize that they have a responsibility to support
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Prosumers in the jewish future a conversation >> miriam brosseau
ewish Futures Conferences are designed to provide a forum to address the Jewish educational community’s challenge of remaining relevant to 21st century learners and their families. Bringing to the forefront many of the leading voices in education and technology of our community, the Jewish Futures Conferences raise awareness about the current landscape among 21st century educators and leaders and challenge all to bring new possibilities for Jewish education that can engage and inspire. As part of these conferences, the Jewish Futures competitions also encourage emerging voices to contribute their thoughts and ideas on the future of Jewish education, with winners presenting their work at a Jewish Futures Conference. This year’s theme is: “How will Jewish life, living, and learning change as we move to a society in which individuals are not only consumers of information and culture, but also producers of their own and others’ experiences?” We issued a challenge to the Jewish Futures Facebook group: to
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collectively create an article which addressed the connections and complexities between “prosumerism” and leadership. The article’s creation modeled the concept: each contributor produced his or her own content, and simultaneously consumed that of others. Many members, from students to seasoned professionals, artists to technical gurus, and everything in between, responded passionately and articulately, bringing in their varied experiences and presenting diverse views on the ultimate question, “In a world of producer/consumers, what does ‘leadership’ mean?” Jewish Futures is a partnership between The Jewish Education Project and JESNA’S Lippman Kanfer Institute in conjunction with The Jewish Federations of North America and UJA Federation of New York. The Conference is held this year on November 7th in Denver, Colorado, at the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America. PT Miriam Brosseau is half of the Biblegum Pop duo Stereo Sinai, along with her husband, producer Alan Jay Sufrin. She is also a DarimOnline team member.
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issue fifteen 2011
Left Behind why we need truly global jewish leaders >> naomi sage
Photo courtesy of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
icture this. Almaty, Kazakhstan, 200 miles from China’s border. A majority Muslim country, Kazakhstan is home to a Jewish community of 50,000. The country’s Jews, along with their Muslim neighbors, suffered religious oppression for decades under Soviet rule. Today, Kazakhstan’s proud Jewish community is working to rebuild Jewish life. For most, the Jewish community of Kazakhstan is off the map. And yet, it was a visit to Almaty that inspired Ethan Prosnit, a 20-something from Connecticut, to seek a career in the rabbinate. He reflects, “We don’t cherish being Jewish in America. We rarely have to ask—why is it important to live a Jewish life? But when you go to these communities where being Jewish is a deliberate choice, it forces us to ask those questions.” Kazakhstan not only “made me see how lucky I am, but also what I can do to strengthen Jewish life—how I can enrich an overseas community with my perspective and vice versa, how I can enliven Jewish life through connection to the greater Jewish people.” Prosnit’s story hints at the power inher-
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ent in the words: “There is a single Jewish world: intertwined, interconnected,” spoken by a true Jewish hero, Ralph I. Goldman. Goldman stood at David Ben Gurion’s side during Israel’s War of Independence and, in the 1980s, ensured that Jews trapped behind the Iron Curtain were not forgotten. He understood that the Jewish people are— and always have been—a global people, and that this demands great responsibility of our leaders. Today, more than ever, we have an opportunity to realize this vision. But to do so will require a dramatic change in the way we educate and train our leaders. The world is flatter, faster, and more integrated than ever before. “Today, to be local is to be global,” explains Professor Colette Mazzucelli of New York University’s Center for Global Affairs. “Through technology, through migration—we are interconnected.” Individuals are constantly on the move, defying borders, and making homes in multiple locations. Young Jews are no different. We are eager to engage with the world, and are doing so through international service, study abroad, and careers with global cor-
porations. Leadership in this dynamic, ever-changing context requires a new type of education. Trends within the secular arena demonstrate that individuals and institutions are adapting modes of thinking and training to enable a generation to be better equipped to respond to the world. For example, leading academic institutions are creating global leadership programs. “We seek to educate global citizens,” Tufts President Emeritus Dr. Lawrence Bacow explains, “because, today, anyone who wants to play a leadership role in virtually any field must comprehend the cultural, religious, and geopolitical forces that define how nations and societies interact.” Clearly, the secular world is keen to prepare its leaders for a changing world. But is the Jewish community keeping pace? North American Jewry has invested a great deal in developing the ‘next generation’ of Jewish leadership, fostering both academic programs aimed at training Jewish professional leadership as well as tailored fellowship opportunities for lay leaders. Yet, while many emphasize the importance of Israel—students of Brandeis University’s
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A JDC volunteer at a rural school in Gondar, Ethiopia.
Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program participate in a required seminar in Israel; rabbinical students at Hebrew Union College (HUC) spend their first year of studies on the school’s Jerusalem campus—little weight is placed on the approximately 20% of global Jewry outside of North America or Israel. We are a community that makes up 0.2 percent of the world population, whose members reside in over 90 countries, with new communities popping up in Asia and other parts of the world every year. The global education that our leaders can—and do—get in the secular arena is not enough. Twenty-first century Jewish leadership requires a global outlook through a uniquely Jewish lens. The initiatives we support have not adjusted to generational shifts in global perspectives or to the dynamic changes in the world. Yoni Gordis, of the Center for Leadership Initiatives, says, “The globalized world in which we now live requires a new set of skills and attitudes about the nature of community and its boundaries. The tools with which we equip our leaders need to be
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radically looked at and radically changed.” Gordis worries that “if we fail to ‘catch up’ with the pace at which the world is changing, our leaders won’t be prepared to address the challenges of the future.” The Jewish world needs a comprehensive platform that educates and trains young people to lead in a globalized world—and a globalized Jewish world. While new efforts must be pioneered, there are also simple steps we can take as a community to strengthen existing initiatives. Every graduate program in Jewish professional leadership should include a mandatory course on global Jewish issues. As a participant in one of these programs, I always felt that my education would have been richer had the curriculum included a global Jewish outlook. Our leadership initiatives should incorporate a service or study visit to an overseas Jewish community. It was Prosnit’s week-long JDC service experience in Kazakhstan that sparked a career dedicated to Jewish service. His story is one of many. Imagine the potential in expanding such opportunities.
Our service and fellowship programs should integrate a global mix of participants. Gordis has seen the promise of an interconnected Jewish community through his experience developing ROI, an international community of innovators pioneered by philanthropist Lynn Schusterman. “By being linked to one another, the group has been able to build upon their common values and strengths, while at the same time respecting the diversity within the Jewish world.” Moving forward, we need a perspective that takes into account a globalized world and a globalized Jewish people. If we ignore this, we risk missing a tremendous opportunity to strengthen Jewish life around the world. PT Naomi Sage is the Senior Program Director for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Next Generation and Service Initiative, and is spearheading the launch of a new global leadership institute to train an international group of young leaders with the know-how to lead 21st century global Jewish interventions.
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WINNERS OF THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY PHOTO CONTEST The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Rothberg International School is proud to announce the fifth annual exhibit winners for the CRISPEE Contest: Rothberg International School Photo Exhibit Extravaganza, an annual photo contest and year-long exhibit for students who studied abroad during the previous academic year. The focus of the contest was “What most typifies your experience at the Hebrew University and/or in Israel to you?” The competition was judged
by the Rothberg International School’s Office of Academic Affairs and PresenTense Magazine. This exhibit is sponsored by RIS’s Office of Academic Affairs, PresenTense Magazine, Interglobal Travel, and Talk ‘n’ Save. To see the full exhibit, please visit:
Emily Landau, Mt. Holyoke College, Ethiopian Bombshells
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Merav Hebbare, Ohio State University, Airing the Laundry
Michael Eizyk, Washington University of St. Louis, An After Class Conversation
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Jewish team captains observant at-bats >> morris levin
Naama Shafir. Photo by the University of Toledo.
he season’s change from summer to fall brings Rosh HaShanah and, with the month of Tishrei, baseball’s postseason and the World Series. The timing is fateful: American sports have long occupied a unique role in Jewish American identity. A great challenge of Jewish living in the Diaspora has entailed the delicate balance between social integration into civil society and the maintenance of Jewish identity. Hanukah happens in Jerusalem whether one does anything or not; menorahs shine in the windows of virtually every home for eight days, and there is no end to jelly donuts. In America, however, bringing Jewish behavior into the mainstream can often be daunting. Naama Shafir of the Hoshaya yishuv in the Galil is in her final undergraduate year at the University of Toledo and plays basketball. Shafir is religious and, in adherence with her practice, elects to cover her shoulders and upper arms on the court. Wearing a t-shirt under one’s jersey is a common practice in the NCAA for both men and women. On a college court, Shafir dresses like a lot of other players. It has not hurt her game; she led Toledo to the WNIT championship in April by scoring 40 points in the final. This year, however, Shafir was presented with a dilemma. Israel qualified for the 2011 European Women Basketball Championship, a qualifying tournament for the FIBA World Championship for Women and for the Olympic Games. FIBA, international basketball’s European headquarters, does not permit players to wear undershirts. In an effort to address FIBA’s regulations, the team created a jersey with sleeves to conform to Shafir’s religious needs. In the event that FIBA would reject the ad-hoc solution, Shafir was prepared to sit out, and the squad brought an extra player to the tournament. Ultimately, the wardrobe decision was approved, and Shafir had publicly been loyal to her Jewish identity in her willingness to practice modesty.
It is striking to compare this golden age to the leadership specifically Jewish in character that Koufax and Greenberg modeled—in their public actions and not merely in their ethnic checkbox. 24
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Shafir is only a contemporary example of Jewish athletes calling attention to religious observance. In the 1930s and 1960s, Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax became Jewish leaders for their actions on and off the baseball field around the High Holidays, displaying their public affirmations of their Jewish identity in the face of the wider public. In 1934, with his team in the pennant race, Greenberg played on Rosh Hashanah and hit two homeruns to beat the Red Sox but chose to sit out the Yom Kippur game. Only the baseball writers noticed Greenberg was missing—an absence that ended the streak of 143 straight games that season. Greenberg was 23 years old in 1934, and he broke out that year hitting .339 and leading the American League in doubles with 63. Any community consternation at Greenberg’s playing on Rosh Hashanah was wildly drowned out by pride in the youngster’s extraordinary success. Koufax, too, demonstrated a strong commitment to Jewish holidays. The best pitcher in all of Major League Baseball for the six-year period 1961 to 1966, Koufax publicly sat out the first game of the 1965 World Series, which was played in Bloomington, Minnesota against the Minnesota Twins. Though he had previously appeared in the Series in 1959 and 1963, none of his scheduled appearances coincided with Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. Koufax’s very public decision to sit out the game was a moment of leadership, presenting an active model of Jewish identification to the American community. That a US minority ethnic community might take communal pride in the success and celebrity of one of its own is not unique to America’s Jewish community. Joe DiMaggio was a source of deep pride to the ItalianAmerican community in the 1930s and 1940s. A generation of Mexican-Americans became Dodgers fans with Fernando Valenzuela’s rookie success in 1981. Ethan Kensky, writing about Greenberg for the Jewish Review of Books this past summer, characterized the current generation of Jewish ballplayers (All-Stars Ryan Braun, Kevin Youkilis, and Ian Kinsler) as a golden age. Yet it is striking to compare this golden age to the leadership specifically Jewish in character that Koufax and Greenberg modeled—in their public actions and not merely in their ethnic checkbox. It is even more striking when actions like those of Shafir come at a time when, concurrent with the ability of American Jews to aspresentense.org/magazine society
similate beyond the boundaries of our Jewish identity, there is a shift in the wider American society toward a respect for individual religious practice. NFL player Husain Abdullah fasts for the duration of the Muslim liturgical month of Ramadan. Shawn Bradley had a successful NBA career following two years on a Mormon mission.
Greenberg, Koufax, and Shafir’s willingness to assert their Jewish identity above their commitments as professional athletes and public expectations set them apart from Braun, Youkilis, and Kinsler, who have defined themselves as successful ballplayers but have yet to assert their Jewish identity at the risk of their professional opportunities. The decisions of
these sports leaders have both defined and exemplied trends in Jewish—and more broadly religious—identity in America as a whole. PT Morris Levin worked at PNC Bank until last December when he left to start his own firm, Elysian Fields Baseball LLC, to invest in minor league baseball.
Leading by Design new lesson plans >> maya bernstein
t the core of leadership is the ability to assess a situation, name its challenges, imagine new possibilities, and attempt to implement those imagined new paths. It is necessary for those who care about the future of the Jewish community to apply this approach to our own educational systems. What is and isn’t working in our spaces of Jewish education? How can we educate today’s Jewish children to be excited about Judaism, nourished by it, and use its teachings to contribute meaningfully to society? There has been much recent debate about the best ways to achieve a Jewish day school’s vision: to instill a grounding in Jewish values and a deep sense of Jewish identity, a love of learning and a rigorous overall education, and the imperative to make a positive, mending impact on the world. In addition to teaching content and skills, we need to better explore the pedagogic tools to inspire life-long learning, flexibility, creativity, and engagement. Design Thinking, developed by Rolf Faste and David Kelley from Stanford University, uses the human-centered approach of designers to solve problems in business, social, and educational sectors. This method is invaluable in achieving the paradigm-shift Dr. Jonathan Woocher claims is critical for the success of Jewish education, in which we “put learners at the center of our thinking and practice, and not just as the consumers of what we offer” (RJ.org, Reinventing Jewish Education, August 15, 2011). The Design Thinking process has three phases that can be used both to solve meta-challenges facing schools and also as a tool in the classroom. In the inspiration phase, students, teachers, or administrators interview those affected by a particular problem. Interviewing leads to the development of empathy. Putting oneself in the emotional and experiential space of another is critical in framing a genuine challenge. Participants develop interview skills, learn how to ask probing questions, and develop compassion for others. After a close reading of the interview data and additional research into the issues that emerge, the group pools the information and crafts a problem statement to define the core challenge. In the ideation phase, the group comes up with potential solutions to the problem. This phase involves teaching and learning about creativity, pushing boundaries, allowing for many perspectives, and valuing the ideas of others. It births unexpected and innovative solutions to the well-defined problem as participants come up with as many ideas as they can; the most inspired bubble to the top. The final phase of the process is implementation. This involves prototyping, where participants choose one or two of their many proposed ideas, design them, and present them to the original interviewees. The feedback allows them to test ideas until they reach a meaningful solution. “There is often the perception that 21st century skills are nice-tosociety presentense.org/magazine
PresenTense Fellowships utilize Design Theory in the curriculum.
have additions to a facts-based core curriculum. On the contrary, these skills are essential in a world of ever-growing complexity. The beauty of Design Thinking is that it can be applied in very diverse ways to meet the needs and realities of different schools,” said Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, Co-Founder of Lime Design Associates, which brings Design Thinking tools into educational environments. “Design Thinking provides the tools to dig deep in the complexities of our reality, understanding the point of view of the different stakeholders, and fosters the creative confidence that we can reinvent our future, rooted in the core values that guide us.” These tools can help administrators better define the challenge facing middle-class parents attempting to pay for multiple children to attend multiple years of day school education. They can help teachers better understand their students, their learning styles, and their interests. And they can help students feel more ownership of their learning as they frame the challenges and pose solutions in various subject areas. I hope Jewish day schools will explore the Design Thinking method to help to frame probing, relevant questions, and creative, impactful solutions. We should focus our energies on creating educational environments that are exciting and collaborative, where teachers guide learning processes, and students help shape the direction of the learning. We should seek pedagogic methodologies that prepare students to be active participants in society and weave connections between their Jewish learning and their actions in the secular world. I envision a future where students bring curiosity, interpretive skills, desire, and courage to make an effective impact that is deeply embedded in core Jewish values. PT Maya Bernstein, an author, is Director of Education at Upstart Bay Area, which supports new ideas in the Jewish community. She helps Jewish innovators design more effective and substantive programs and consults with organizations on innovation and change processes.
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Gender equality what you can do for your organization’s success >> joanna samuels
t’s not just about the women, it turns out. The biggest and most pleasant surprise of my work at Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community (AWP) is that it affords me a unique window into the inner workings of Jewish communal organizations. Through helping boards to create generous parental leave policies, coaching women on how to negotiate more effectively, and mentoring men on ways to bring action to their beliefs in gender equity and shared leadership, I have learned a lot about the Jewish communal sector and about the role of organizational culture in making change. But it starts with women and their allies. Savvy and idealistic professionals, female and male, are intent on effecting change in their workplaces from wherever they are on the organizational chart. The good news? Many Jewish organizations are listening. In the past 24 months, more than 40 organizations have signed on to AWP’s Better Work Better Life Campaign, either adopting a generous paid parental leave policy or formalized flexible work arrangements for their employees. In the same time period, women have become the top professionals at prominent foundations, social justice organizations, and at two large-city Jewish Federations. Dozens of male leaders have signed AWP’s pledge not to appear on or convene all-male public forums at Jewish communal conferences. The people that helped to make these changes work in a diverse sampling of the Jewish com-
Yes, it takes courage to create the tension that conversations about gender usually bring about. But that’s leadership: the capacity to create disequilibrium for the sake of values that you care about and to ride out the challenging moments.
munal sector—from start-up to institutional stronghold, from a three-person staff to a 500-person staff, from arts incubators to social services agencies. The not-so-good news? Other organizations remain mired in inaction when faced with these same concerns from their own staffers. These organizations have failed to promote capable women to positions of visibility and authority, have repeatedly tabled
the issue of parental leave for staff, and have boards, C-suites, and public programs that are almost entirely male. Employees at these organizations who do raise issues about gender equity feel paranoid or subtly punished for having done so. The not-so-surprising difference I observe between the “good news” and “not-so-good news” organizations is that their success on the gender equity front correlates to their overall organizational success. Those in the former category tend to be organizations that are thriving or are poised to thrive. They successfully reinvent themselves to impact a shrinking communal landscape. The latter organizations, uncertain of where they fit in a changed Jewish community, are struggling to understand their core mission. What a coincidence—or not. The skills that the “good news” organizations utilize when they make difficult changes to level the playing field between women and men are the very same skills that enable them to do the adaptive work of leadership in an uncertain and competitive field. The challenge is to reimagine what a leader looks like, how a leader should be compensated, and what dynamism, success, or tradition looks like. The ability to engage and work toward sustainable answers to these challenges requires creativity, courage, and the ability to live with uncertainty. Conversely, when organizational leaders either explicitly or subtly shut down conversations that might help move their organiza-
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tions toward greater gender equity, they are silencing the very voices that will help seed their success. When leaders repeatedly answer difficult questions with responses like “women don’t WANT the jobs” or “women are not as good at fundraising” or “we cannot afford to give our employees parental leave,” they are revealing a failure to utilize creativity and courage. Is it any wonder that the organizations that they lead are suffering for lack of
By Yaron Goldfarb. www.artomanut.com.
these very same qualities? One recommendation that I have for communal leaders is to listen carefully when a conversation related to gender arises. Adaptive changes take time and work to implement. The capacity to respond truly to the issues at hand reveals a tremendous amount about oneself and the organization. Idealistic and savvy employees should begin workplace conversations about gender and effectiveness. Yes, it takes courage to create the tension that conversations about gender usually bring about. But that’s leadership: the capacity to create disequilibrium for the sake of values that you care about and to ride out the challenging moments. All of our organizations can improve. When both leaders and staff people see that equity and effectiveness are linked, then they will welcome conversations about women’s roles, the nature of work, and how to live out values through actions. Not because there are easy solutions to these challenges—but because working toward making our organizations healthier and more effective on the gender equity front will result in organizations that are healthier and more effective on every front. PT Rabbi Joanna Samuels is director of strategic initiatives at Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community.
Gender and leadership
azing back at my job search this past spring, I’m now able to notice the subtle trends and patterns that only time and distance can bring into relief, in particular the lack of women in the highest levels of leadership in the organizations I encountered. Time and time again, I found myself interviewing at organizations where charismatic, visionary men occupy the upper echelons of leadership. As a man who hopes to be a leader and visionary in the Jewish world, the question emerges: How can I address issues of gender inequality in Jewish organizational life? In hindsight, the gender inequality I anecdotally experienced shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Jewish demographers have clearly documented the absence of women from the highest levels of Jewish leadership, even as female participation in Jewish public life increases. The United Jewish Communities in partnership with Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community (AWP) found that in 2006, while women occupied 70% of the Federation workforce, they represented 24% of executives and CEOs. The gender gap is even starker in my field, the Conservative rabbinate, where of the largest class of Conservative synagogues only one has a woman as a senior rabbi. According to a 2004 report, the salary gap among male Conservative rabbis and their female counterparts ranges from $10,000-$24,000. The need to address issues of gender within the Jewish community is becoming more urgent in the face of a key 21st-century shift in the nature of effective leadership. Uri Brafman’s “The Starfish and The Spider” uses an apt zoological metaphor to articulate this shift. He equates the old style of organizational leadership with a spider that houses its knowledge, power, and control in a centralized “brain” and thus cannot survive without its head. In contrast to the spider, Brafman depicts starfish organizations as having largely decentralized leadership and power structures. Unlike their spider counterparts, they are not tied to the fate of one person and can regenerate like the arms of a starfish when the need arises. A starfish organization is run by people with high emotional intelligence, empathy, the ability to listen, and many strong social ties—traits which Western society often describes as feminine. While these new trends might seem to favor a rise in equality in the workplace, Professor Joyce Fletcher notes in her work “Paradox of Post Heroic Leadership” that the opposite is often true. Fletcher writes, “When women enact the kind of leadership practices that share power or enable and contribute to the development of others, they are likely to be seen as selfless givers who ‘like helping’ and expect nothing in return.” Women who take on the traits of effective 21st-century leadership run the risk of being seen not as exceptional and progressive leaders, but as playing into long-engrained gender roles and stereotypes. So what is a man engaged in the Jewish world to do? Beginning the conversation about gender is not always easy, as the nature of how gender is developed, expressed, and understood is complex and often very personal. But in spite of this challenge, to be an effective leader, one must delve into the issues of gender and gender disparity to ensure not just that our values are enacted in our institutions, but that our institutions are healthy, productive, and sustainable. PT Rabbi Charlie Schwartz is the Director of Digital Engagement and Learning for The Jewish Theological Seminary. He held the 2009 iCenter Chair for Israel Education at the PresenTense Institute, where he co-founded MediaMidrash.org, an educational technology venture.
Marlene Burns ©2011. www.KavanahPress.com.
a murky relationship >> charlie schwartz
tips for gender equality In their work “Leveling the Playing Field,” a guidebook to creating gender equality in the Jewish world, Shifra Bronznick, Didi Goldenhar, and Marty Linsky extensively outline how organizations can adapt to allow for greater gender equality. While the adaptive change necessary for cultivating more diverse and balanced leadership is an in-depth, long-term process, Rabbi Joanna Samuels of AWP (see p. 26) points out three practical places to start. 1 Make gender an issue By using gender as a lens to understand dynamics and issues, the difficult questions around how gender plays into leadership will rise to the surface. Don’t shy away from those difficult conversations. Confront those conversations with honesty, directness, and resilience. When assembling panels, scholars, or facilitators, work to ensure a gender balance. 2 Push organizational policy forward Explore organizational policy around work-life balance and the options for flexible work schedules, allowing for parents who choose to spend time rearing children to stay in the workforce. The adoption of flexible works schedules can in fact result in a win-win situation for organizations. As “Leveling the Playing Field” points out, “On the cost side, flexibility decreases staff turnover and absenteeism; on the productivity side, flexibility motivates staff to review work processes, strengthen teamwork, and introduce cross-training—all of which improves organizational effective.” 3 B’shem omro We learn from Jewish tradition the importance of quoting a saying from the proper source. The same is true in the organizational world. Ensure that credit for ideas, comments, and work are given to the proper source regardless of gender.
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issue fifteen 2011
What makes a leader Jewish? narrative, torah, and relationships >> benjamin ross
recently began my first semester of rabbinical school. I’m in kita aleph (beginner Hebrew) and learning to chant Torah for the first time since my bar mitzvah. It’s an exercise in humility. For some, this is the beginning of their Jewish leadership story. For me, it represents the culmination of 15 years as a community organizer developing leaders, in and out of the Jewish community. As an organizer, I supported the growth of hundreds of leaders, rabbinical students, college students, and Jews working for social change. At the time, I defined a leader as someone who had a following and who developed others and their capacity to make change. Now that I am studying to be an “ordained” Jewish leader, I wonder: What qualifies me to do the job? As I begin my rabbinical training, I find myself reflecting: What does it mean to be a leader of the Jewish people? What separates a Jewish leader from any other leader? You can find thousands of books, podcasts, videos, and seminars on leadership. I leave the question of defining leadership to the experts, but I have yet to see media that proposes being more Jewish in order to be a better leader. Once I started digging into the question of Jewish leadership, I found as many opinions and positions as there are ways to make matzah balls. Speaking to others was illuminating; I uncovered varied ways in which Jewish leaders distinguish themselves and began to understand my own position on Jewish leadership. I have identified three components vital to Jewish leadership: seeking to understand the Jewish narrative and entering it; developing a personal Torah; and investing in relationships with others.
Entering the Jewish Narrative One summer in college, I visited the Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. The tour guide bent down, scooped up a handful of earth, and told us, “These might look like white pebbles, but they are bone chips.” My eyes rose to absorb the emerald green of the forest and the bright blue sky. Immediately, the black and white photographs of the Holocaust—history itself—went Technicolor. I could almost feel my breath coming into alignment with the breath of history. Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with Rev. Martin Luther King, the American civil rights movement, ghettos and shtetls, the dynamic and scrappy Diaspora communities, the destruction of the First and Second Temple. All became more palpable after that day in Birkenau. Many communities have their unique narrative simultaneously defining a history while illuminating a future direction. African Americans might understand their narrative through the stories of the slave trade, Jim Crow laws and the struggle for civil rights, or through individuals such as W.E.B DuBois, Zora Neal Hurston, and President Barack Obama. Each community, each person, cre-
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ates and contributes to framing a personal historical narrative. After that moment in Poland, when the Jewish narrative came alive for me, I understood I was not only bound to its past, but needed to participate in shaping its future. I don’t want to overdramatize it. There was no burning bush; it was more subtle. Individuals experience this connection in small and large ways all the time: at a Passover meal, walking a picket line, working at a food bank, or joining a Jewish organization seeking to make the world more whole. Study, action, and reflection, in their many forms, are the gateway. This can play out in myriad ways. Meir Lakein, lead organizer for the Jewish Organizing Initiative, succinctly describes how a connection to our narrative impacts how we show up as Jews. “A solid Jewish leader has to value the universal and the particular. The writer Doug McAdams researched people who went to the South for freedom summer in the 60s, who stayed and who left over the course of the rising tensions. Those who stayed were more likely Jewish than other faiths, like Jonah fleeing the responsibility to serve the community, and then getting swallowed up by a large fish. We are obligated to serve more than ourselves, and when things get hard, you can’t just drop it.” Approaching leadership moments from the standpoint of the Jewish narrative and seeking to serve the universal and the particular has pushed me to be more expansive and creative in how I approach challenges, identify resources, and explore solutions.
Cultivating a personal Torah When I say Torah, I mean one’s personal truth. From two of my teachers, Rabbis Sheila Weinberg and Jeff Roth, I learned that “Personal Torah” is what we have to give over in the world; it is our master teaching; our individualized flavor packet, if the world were a ramen noodles package. I uncovered my personal Torah when I started organizing in my congregation as a lay leader. Rather than working solely as an advocate or organizer for others, I became a leader as a Jew, standing for justice, shoulder to shoulder with other communities. I began to understand the interconnectedness between our capacity as Jews to effectively make the world a better place and our tradition’s wisdom relating to sustainability and building community. I now know in my kishkas: The deeper we delve into our tradition, the stronger we become in our lives, and the more capable we become in affecting positive change in the world. This shift was monumental. I began to feel I was in conversation with my Torah and the arc of Jewish tradition. I was neither a good nor bad Jew. Whether I ate bacon or kept the Sabbath, I was still in the mix. That is where I feel most Jewish—in the messiness of life, acting to make the world a better place informed by my
The deeper we delve into our tradition, the stronger we become in our lives, and the more capable we become in affecting positive change in the world.
Photo provided by PJA & JFSJ.
Judaism. What would it look like if we all entered the messiness and had the chutzpah to put our personal Torah out to the world? As leaders, we must model being comfortable in our own personal Torah. In real time, one’s Torah can be operationalized in communities and organizations. Ruth Messenger, President of the American Jewish World Service, often speaks about how she draws on Jewish values for guidance and inspiration when making leadership decisions: “How an organization does its payroll, its benefits, its personnel policies, its sensitivity to labor and environmental issues, etc. is all part of what we should talk about as qualities of [and perhaps measurements for] Jewish leadership.”
Jews, Christians, and Muslims organizing for a stronger and healthier community in Columbus, Ohio.
Investing in Relationships Finally, Jewish leadership is about investing in relationships. Central to my conception of Jewish leadership are relationships both with Jews, and as a public Jew, with secular people or people of other faiths. Martin Buber thus summarizes the power of relationships: “When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.” If God isn’t for you, it might be humanity, nature, goodness, or justice. How do we understand ourselves, our relationship to the Jewish narrative, and our own personal Torah unless we are in relationship with others? Last summer I refreshed my understanding of prayer through several relationships with Muslim organizers developed during an interfaith organizing training program at Jewish Funds for Justice (JFSJ), my former employer. During one of the training days, everyone was invited to observe the Muslim call to prayer and service. I was moved by the beauty, sincerity, and physicality of the prayer, and felt compelled to reengage my own prayer practice. Concurrently, several of the Muslim organizers relayed to me an appreciation for sharing stories and reflections, successes and failures, from my first few years organizing as well as my evolving relationship with Judaism. Through these relationships, I better understand my own story and am inspired by hearing theirs. It is nearly impossible not to connect when we retell our stories, listen to one another, identify shared interests, values, and history, and act together. These relationships awaken a new perspective or understanding, and we are challenged to rethink our narrative. Relationships, with individuals and our traditions, animate our understanding of ourselves. Who are we when we are not in relationship with others? The dynamic interplay between entering the Jewish narrative, my personal Torah, and the relationships I cultivate propel me forward and help prepare me to be a formal Jewish leader. Although I may not yet be able to banter in Hebrew, chant Torah fluently, or retell the entire story of the Jewish people, I’m in the mix. PT
Before I left JFSJ, I sketched out a list of nine qualities of leadership I have sought to cultivate to be a more skillful leader in the world. Five are listed here; find the rest at www.presentense.org/magazine. 1 Soft eyes: Allow your gaze to soften and take in the larger landscape. Sometimes our laser-like focus leads us to miss the bigger picture. 2 The power is in the relationship: Everything we accomplish is through our relationships with others, from creating to actualizing a vision. Everything is ultimately co-created and co-founded. 3 Cultivate any practice: The discipline and regularity of a practice (daily journaling, prayer, yoga, working out, meditation, or walks in nature) is the stable force allowing us to see the impermanence of everything. 4 Seek mentorship and mentor others: This might also be called co-development. In my experience it has always been mutual, never unidirectional. 5 Listen, allow for silence: This goes two ways, both with those you are with, as well as with what is arising internally. Too often we listen for what we want to hear, or we cut people off when we think we know what they are saying. Or we are uncomfortable with silence.
Benjamin Ross is currently pursuing a rabbinical degree at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and is a Wexner Fellow. Previously, Benjamin served as the Chief of Field Operations for Jewish Funds for Justice where he oversaw five national leadership initiatives.
issue fifteen 2011
Leadership rising up visions for the future >> shirlee harel
Gil Murciano speaks with protesters.
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he young generation in Israel has spoken. For too long, young Israelis returned from their post-army travels with a sense of indifference and complacency. Recent outbursts of public protests around Israel have created an opportunity for a new generation to discover their voice, and many have taken to the challenge. There is a sense of pride and arousal on the streets throughout Israel, with protestors demanding from their leaders social justice and a new approach to leadership. All the faces of Israeli society have joined the protests. However, it is the young generation that has taken the leading role and is recognizing the importance of planning for the future and demanding long-term change. These protests are doing more for the Israeli public than seeking the changes vocalized; this movement has given the young generation in Israel a sense of purpose and connectivity. Public protests across Israel calling for economic and social reform have brought the young generation to ask: “If not now, when?” While experiencing an unexpected epiphany, they are ready to act as a unifying force and venture on a journey of a social revolution and self-assessment. The sheer act of protest is encouraging young protestors to prioritize their own values and to think concretely about their vision for the State of Israel. Talia Gorodess and Gil Murciano co-founded the protest tent site at Kikar HaMedina, Tel-Aviv’s largest open city square. By day, Gorodess, 28, and Murciano, 31, work at the Reut Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan strategy group based in Tel Aviv. Gorodess heads a taskforce that deals with the relationship between Israel and the Jewish world, and Murciano is a member of Israel’s National Security team. By night, Gorodess and Murciano led dozens of open-dialogue discussions around socio-
Photo provided by Gil Murciano.
The innovative and accessible outlook of the young protestors allows for an open flow of dialogue. Gorodess describes, “We may not be experts, but we know what we want—and we know how to work with both professors and activists in order to get it.” The Israeli government assigned a taskforce, to be led by Professor Manuel Trajtenberg, former chairmen of the National Economic Council, to engage the public and recommend changes to the government in both outlook and policies. Gorodess describes the excitement of presenting in front of the committee for socio-economic change, chaired by Trajtenberg, “proving it is possible to change the rules of the game while staying pragmatic and not boycotting anyone.” These young people are examples of how leaders are using their personal skills to motivate others and galvanize reform. “There is a question to be asked about what role a national security analyst plays in social-economic protest. What I brought to the protest was my feeling that ‘social’ issues and ‘economic’ issues are interlinked,” Murciano explains. “It was also the feeling that the mutual unwritten contract between citizens of Israel and their country has been severely damaged. A country that asks its 18-year-olds to defend and even sacrifice their lives should not and cannot threaten them later as simple pawns or statistic numbers in an imaginary supply and demand equation.” Murciano describes, “For a very long time I walked around with the feeling that there is something very wrong about the way that the Israeli society behaves—there is a paralyzing feeling of cynicism—a tendency to see any form of civil gathering as futile or even juvenile. In an era of civil stagnation and subliminal marketing, I wanted a taste of the old Israel. Personally, I think this round of civil protests is a lot about preserving the innocence of a society, the one that existed way before the era of tycoons, start-ups, and foreign investors. For me the struggle is not to go back to the past; rather it’s about tilting back the balance we had in those days and creating hope for the future.” Murciano explains that connecting to people was something he
We may not be experts, but we know what we want —and we know how to work with both professors and activists in order to get it.
economic issues in Israel and joined the leadership team of the protests. “Walking around Rothschild Boulevard during the first week of the revolution, I felt both inspired and worried at the same time. I knew that this ‘Woodstock’ wouldn’t last forever, and in any case couldn’t bring about real change in socio-economic priorities in Israel,” Gorodess describes. “That’s when I decided to start a new camp. The purpose would be to bring people who would think together, on the ground, about practical ways that would allow some of our demands to be met in the short term and in the long term, start a new democratic movement that would bring real change to Israel, change the government’s priorities, and for the first time hold our elected representatives accountable for their actions—so that we don’t have to bring our living rooms to the squares next time something goes wrong.”
craved. “There is something to be said about human interaction that is what makes it all worth it even if we won’t achieve many of our goals. In a way, I feel like I have rediscovered Israel. Starting from the coffee shop owner who paved our camp with sweets and cold coffee for Shabbat to people like Amnon, 80 years old, who participated in four wars—the fact that only a fraction of all Israelis do miluim (reserve duty) brings him close to tears. I guess that in the end it is all about the people.” This leadership movement embraces civil empowerment and lays out a systematic solution for all Israeli residents to partake in the economic growth and benefit of accumulating and materializing capital. Effective leadership is needed to make Israel’s national protests constructive, and young people are stepping forward and offering their generation a hopeful vision for the future. PT Shirlee Harel is the Director of Development at the Reut Institute located in Tel Aviv, Israel.
issue fifteen 2011
Jewish Innovation and the establishment ultimate roi >> david brown
Photo by ROI.
To even acknowledge there is such a thing as ‘a’ community establishment is to play into the factory of false dichotomies rampant in the Jewish world. The author, David Brown, at ROI this summer.
his June, I joined 150 innovators from across the Jewish world at the ROI conference, a “global community of Jewish innovators.” The people and projects I encountered inspired me. Many individuals present had turned their ideas into reality with little or no backing from communal institutions. As someone whose innovative work has been supported by the communal establishment, I was humbled by the people I met—real pioneers pushing boundaries, many aiming to offer a more diverse, inclusive, and engaging spectrum of Jewish expression. Nevertheless, the conference raised questions for me about what “Jewish innovation” is, how the Jewish innovation sector can grow, and how it works in relation to the organized Jewish community. To assess these issues, I developed an informal survey on SurveyMonkey.com. I sent it to approximately 70 individuals over the course of two weeks; 31 completed it in full. The sample included professionals who self-define as innovators, have participated in ‘innovation gatherings’, or whom I define as innovators—people who work using new ideas and approaches to engage people in topics relating to Judaism and Jewish culture. They ranged in age, with a little over one third between 25 and 30; the majority from the US or England; there was also global representation from South Africa, Israel, Mexico, Central and Eastern Europe, and Australia. The survey provided interesting responses regarding how we should consider the interconnectedness between the establishment and the innovation scenes, and how we might address alternative expressions of Judaism. The interpretations of what is “Jewish” in Jewish innovation varied tremendously. Some respondents expressed a clear Jewish idea of innovation. “Jewish innovation treats the entirety of Jewish text, history, and practice as a set of tools which can be leveraged and utilised…We are made better with the infusion of Jewish values and ritual, while Judaism is made better through the good will and creative energy that we bring to it,” responded Benji Holzman, Tzedek’s Overseas Program Coordinator in Ghana.
Nevertheless, others suggested there is possibly nothing intrinsically Jewish about Jewish innovation other than context: “Innovation is doing something that has not been done before. Jewish innovation is doing something that has never been done before in the Jewish community,” said Vincent Knowles, founder of Shabbat B’Sadeh, London. The lack of consensus about what defines “Jewish” innovation was also evident in the variety of responses about the Jewish content of Jewish innovation: 80% agreed it is “defined by those doing the innovating.” 74% agreed that Jewish innovation “should still include three or more of the following: connection to Torah/a covenant with a higher being/values, Israel, Jewish history, family life, or Hebrew language and culture” (based on Avraham Infeld’s five-legged table). There is a link between how Jewish innovators handle Jewish values and culture and how they relate to mainstream communal institutions. I observed that there is a recognition that the authority for what defines content as Jewish is shifting to a more pluralistic approach with increased individual autonomy. At the same time, those polled —many who have had Jewish educational experiences—still feel there are some central building blocks that can provide the foundation for any type of Jewish innovation. The establishment often supports projects that are in line with its particular political and religious viewpoints. This might explain why respondents were split with 35.5% each agreeing and disagreeing with the statement: “The Jewish establishment in my community welcomes innovation, supports it with guidance and resources, and acknowledges the autonomy and flexibility of innovation and innovators.” There were positive examples where the establishment provided support and encouragement for innovation: “Federation has been incredibly helpful to us in providing connections, ideas, and speaking opportunities… We are lucky to have wonderful working relationships with several large Jewish agencies,” said Rachel Ishofsky, Associate Executive Director for Jewish Heart for Africa, US. However, there were far more examples of obstacles for innovators. “The establishment was more than just counterproductive. Since they had a different opinion, they actively worked against the project,” responded Ilja Sichrovsky, founder, Muslim-Jewish Conference, Austria. “The Jewish establishment was initially very hostile toward my ideas regarding innovative ways to approach Israeli edufeatures presentense.org/magazine
Was Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai the first truly Jewish innovator?
cation…The majority of Jewish organizations and leaders remain resistant to changing According to tradition, ben Zakkai was a pacifist in Jerusalem traditional educational in 68 C.E. when the city was under siege. Jerusalem was conmodels,” said Yoav trolled by the Zealots, people who would rather die than surrenSchaefer, Executive der to Rome. Ben Zakkai urged surrender, but the Zealots would Director, Avi Schaefer not hear of it, so ben Zakkai faked his own death and had his Fund, US. disciples smuggle him out of Jerusalem in a coffin. They carried Joshua Avedon, cothe coffin to the tent of Vespasian (the Roman ruler), where ben founder of Jumpstart Zakkai emerged from the coffin. He told Vespasian that he had in California, warns had a vision (some would say, a shrewd political insight) that about how we position Vespasian would soon be Emperor, and he asked Vespasian innovation in relation to set aside a place in Yavneh where he could start a small to the establishment: school and study Torah in peace. Vespasian promised that if “To even acknowledge the prophecy came true, he would grant ben Zakkai’s request. Vespasian became Emperor within a year, and kept his word, althere is such a thing lowing the school to be established after the war was over. The as ‘a’ community esschool ben Zakkai established at Yavneh became the center of tablishment is to play Jewish learning for centuries and replaced Jerusalem as the into the factory of false seat of the Sanhedrin. With others, Zakkai went on to establish dichotomies rampant prayer as a replacement for sacrifice and further adapt Judaism in the Jewish world… to this new reality (adapted from Jewish Virtual Library). There is a communal and institutional inertia that must be overcome for Jewish life to fully flower in the 21st century.” abbi Yochanan was insightSimilarly, David Wolkin, Executive Diful, creative, daring, could rector of Limmud in New York, adds caution pitch (even to enemy leadto how innovation may be embraced by the ers), and had the ability to impleestablishment: “It seems to be the case, at ment his innovation. Not only that, least in the US, that ‘innovation’ is the latest but in true measure of successful establishment buzzword that is being repeatinnovation, Rabbi Yochanan’s ideas ed into meaninglessness.” By highlighting also proved to be transferable, repthese issues, Avedon and Wolkin emphasize licable, scalable, and sustainable. that clarity of understanding and sincerity For much of the last 2000 years in of approach are needed for the genuine immost parts of the world, the practice provement offered by Jewish innovation and of Judaism was shaped by the acthe place this has within communal leadertions of Rabbi Yochanan and the inship relations. novative move from temple ritual to If ROI is to have a far and wide impact, study and prayer. Jewish innovation must engage with a critical Rabbi Yochanan innovated from mass and access the mainstream. If the “Jewwithin to preserve and adapt Juish” in these innovations is to guide people daism in response to particular in new, yet still value-driven ways, we must circumstances, based on the perask ourselves: What place do our texts, traceived needs of the community he ditions, culture, and communal institutions served—seeking support from the have? How do we create in a way that conJewish community, leaders, and nects with what has already been created? even the non-Jewish powerbrokers The current incarnation of Jewish innoof the time. Still today, his actions vation may not transform Jewish life in a way resonate in discussions on what is that impacts the Jewish people in the way “Jewish” about Jewish innovation, Rabbi Yochanan did (see sidebar). However, and what role Jewish innovators play if the right frameworks are established bewithin the broader communal estabtween Jewish innovators, Jewish innovation, lishment. and existing communal structures, we may create enough dynamic and diverse platforms of Jewish affiliation so that there are more valDavid Brown is the Jewish Social Action ues and endeavors that unite us than where Forum Coordinator. we disagree. PT
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Photo courtesy of PJ Library.
Transferring Leadership a multigenerational enterprise >> rachel ain
Parent and child reading a book from PJ Library.
There is an attempt today to use the youngest generation as a catalyst to inspire an older generation, giving them motivation to engage more deeply with Judaism and Jewish life—not to mention creating new leaders among parents.
was 10 years old when my parents took me to the National Mall in Washington, DC, to march for the freedom of Soviet Jewry. I remember feeling connected to the Jewish people as a whole. Walking with my parents, I felt their passion, and it placed in me a personal commitment to “kol yisrael arevim zeh lazeh” (“All of Israel is responsible for one another.”) Participating and leading in the Jewish community was something I learned from my parents at a young age. As the Jewish community develops new leaders, funders, professionals, and volunteers, we must examine different ways to transfer knowledge and leadership. The knowledge goes beyond book knowl-
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edge. It includes the skills, stories, traditions, and values that come with being Jewish. The following approaches all use a multigenerational strategy to produce strong leaders.
From Parent to Child Susie Stern, the campaign chairwoman for Jewish Federations of North America, and her husband, Jeff, also went to the march for Soviet Jewry in 1987, sharing their experience with their sons and taking the time to explain why they were going to the march. To-
From Child to Parent But what happens when the parents don’t have the same experience or confidence to share knowledge about the Jewish community? How can the community help? It can help by focusing on the children to connect with the parents. There is an attempt today to use the youngest generation as a catalyst to inspire an older generation, giving them motivation to engage more deeply with Judaism and Jewish life—not to mention creating new leaders among parents. The PJ Library (www.pjlibrary.org) is an outreach program that started in Massachusetts with the generosity of Harold Grinspoon, and has blossomed into an international enterprise. It sends Jewish children, ages six months to eight years, a Jewish-themed book or compact disc each month. This model is different from the Stern family’s in that it enables parents (no matter what their Jewish experiences were) to take part in raising Jewishly literate and engaged children. But it wouldn’t happen without the excitement of their children. Some 70,000 families in more than 135 communities in the United States and Canada participate in the program. The PJ Library program showcases how
Jewish leadership skills can transfer up to the parents. “My children’s excitement when they receive their books in the mail is positively contagious, and we love that this is a Jewish learning tool we can share with our young children,” Jane Blumenthal Martin, a parent in Overland Park, Kansas, says.
A Communal Approach The first two models rely on familial bonds. This third model of multigenerational learning focuses on programming geared toward different generations. Congregation Beth Sholom - Chevra Shas (www.cbscs.org), in Syracuse, New York, began by having empty-nesters spend time with young families and middle-school students spend time with retirees. Then programs were implemented to bring people together. These programs enabled the crosspollination of knowledge in an atmosphere where congregants Susie Stern with Secretary Hillary Clinton at the Kotel. were excited to share their information. The result: Concontagious. They inspired me to take a leadgregants became leaders. They ership role within that community so that I were inspired by the words and the deeds of could continue the work they had begun so the people with whom they were forming many years earlier.” relationships. Each generation on its own will certainly Ronny Goeler, the synagogue’s presihave its own personality, way of advocating, dent, used to sit in the back row on the and issues with which it is concerned. But High Holidays. “Intergenerational proto best bring about change, transfer knowlgramming has given me the opportunity edge, raise funds, and inspire leadership, to share stories about growing up Jewishthe Jewish community needs to bring the ly with people I typically would not have generations together to address the needs of mixed with,” Goeler says. “It has allowed the day. As the Jewish community continme the opportunity to get a broad feel for ues to strive for strong leaders, these three the congregation and provided me invalumodels can be used to help fuel the passionable perspective. Since getting involved ate flames of all Jews: young and old, learnin the congregation as a regular, I started ers and seekers, people on a path to make attending classes, becoming an adult bar the world better than it already is. PT mitzvah, and now I am the president.”
Deb Sikora, 40, whose two children attend the local day school, became a leader after learning from an older couple who were among the founding members of the synagogue. “The stories they told of their involvement ‘back in the day’ were truly inspirational,” Sikora says. “Their passion for, and pride in, building the foundation of the thriving community that exists today were
Photo by AP.
day they continue to act as role models for their adult children by serving as lay leaders on a local and national level in the Jewish community. “We made sure that our children were included in and understood our communal work,” Jeff Stern says. “We gave them the tools and have watched in awe as they have found their own way to take their place in the community.” Their son Michael is a member of JFNA’s National Young Leadership Cabinet. “Growing up in a home where I watched my parents so involved in UJA-Federation taught me the importance of communitybased giving from an early age,” Michael Stern says. Michael’s wife, Janna Fishman Stern, is also a cabinet member. “The Jewish notion of tikkun olam, performing good deeds to repair the world’s ills, was instilled in me from a very early age,” she says. “My parents sent me to Jewish day school to ensure that I would have a deep understanding of our tradition.” Susie Stern says the message was clear to her children: “As parents, our hope for our children was that they be good people, be happy, and be fulfilled in their lives. Part of that formula is giving back.”
Rabbi Rachel Ain is the Senior Director for Leadership Development at the Jewish Federations of North America, where she oversees the national young leadership cabinet experience and works with local communities on engaging and developing the next generation of leaders for the North American Jewish community.
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Not Your Father’s Federation
FEATURES p a r a d i g m s h i f t
midst the excitement of the blackjack tables and the whizzing sounds of slot machines, hundreds of familiar faces, wearing Jewish Federation name badges, make their way through smoke-filled casino floors and scurry down the escalators to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. It’s not a scene our parents or grandparents would have experienced at a Federation young adults conference. There is no card calling, no long speeches or formal stuffy dinners. It’s an entirely different atmosphere: a new type of event to engage a new generation of young Jewish leaders in their 20s and 30s. This was the first ever TribeFest conference in Las Vegas last March, sponsored by The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA)— the umbrella organization for over 157 Jewish Federations in the US and Canada. As opposed to JFNA’s previous young professionals conferences comprised of lectures, breakouts, and legislative advocacy, TribeFest featured sports and arts celebrities and young Jewish innovators from all backgrounds as presenters. Rather than showcases of Federation programs and accomplishments, the 1,300 participants experienced the diversity of innovative Jewish programming available to young Jews, with 46 different groups presenting. TribeFest was organized by young leaders who are members of JFNA’s National Young Leadership Cabinet program. Cabinet members are selected from Federations throughout the country and work together at the national level. “TribeFest is the biggest new initiative that JFNA is undertaking to appeal to the younger generation,” Brian Katz, JFNA Co-Chair of National Young Leadership, explains. “JFNA recognizes that it can’t be everything to everyone. Other groups have attractive messages and goals, and we are learning to partner with them.” JFNA just announced that TribeFest will be held again in March 2012 at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. TribeFest is part of a profound shift in philosophy at JFNA toward engaging young adults in their 20s and 30s. Now, more than ever, a top priority at JFNA is outreach and engagement to maintain a steady flow of vibrant young Jews into the Federation movement. “JFNA has moved away from leadership development as a single agenda item,” Katz explains. Rather than jumping into leadership development, the new approach
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focuses on first attracting and engaging potential young leaders—a step in the process that Federations didn’t really have to work hard at in the past. For decades, Federation had been the central address for supporting the Jewish community. Since 1963, a select group of 300 young professionals (ages 30-45) have been participating in Federation’s National Young Leadership Cabinet program. Each Cabinet member makes a significant philanthropic contribution to their local Federation campaign, totaling nearly $2 million collectively each year. Yet according to a 2010 JFNA study, the number of donors to the Federations has declined by half over the past 25 years, from roughly 900,000 to 450,000. “The decline is due, in part, to a decision by Federation leaders to focus their attention largely on wooing big donors. But as its pool of donors is getting disproportionately older—some 90 percent of Federation donors are older than 45—officials are especially concerned about reaching out to the young, as those under the age of 45 have been particularly apathetic toward the Federations.” As a result, “only 29 percent of Jews ages 19 to 36 even knew that Federations exist according to a separate study, conducted in 2009” (Jacob Berkman, “Jewish Federations Try a Sin City Adventure to Woo a New Generation of Donors” March 20, 2011, The Chronicle of Philanthropy). Faced with these sobering numbers, JFNA realized that without the steady flow of new young adults being inspired to become Jewishly involved, the future of Cabinet, and Federation itself, would be bleak. One move away from focusing solely on those with the highest donor potential to concentrating on the 20-30 age range is the restructuring of its National Young Leadership Department to include a new section devoted to “Young Adult Populations.” This department works in conjunction with programs like Masa, OTZMA, Birthright NEXT, and Moishe House; all Federationfunded programs for the 20-30s population. JFNA’s Director of Young Adult Populations, Tali Ruderman Strom, is thrilled that JFNA is “investing the time, money, and resources needed for this demographic.” Strom outlines JFNA’s new approach to engaging young adults: Step 1: Help them understand why it matters to them to be Jewish; Step 2: Help them understand the power of being
connected to the Jewish community; Step 3: Help them recognize that the Federation system offers a most effective and rewarding manner in which to give back. This approach is essentially a prelude to the more traditional leadership training that Federations have always provided. It’s an elongation of the process, which concentrates on relationship building and connecting GenY’ers to each other and the Jewish community, as the first step in a trajectory to greater involvement. At the structural level, JFNA’s Young Leadership Cabinet has created a new Young Adult Advisory Committee and is asking those in their 20s-30s themselves for input. “JFNA is taking leadership and outreach and putting them [the Gen Y’ers] in charge of outreach for their own age group,” Katz explains. This paradigm shift at the highest levels of the Federation movement is trickling down to the regional young leadership programs where they exist at Federations across the continent. Young adult programming is open to the involvement of anyone in the proscribed age demographic, whether or not they give to their Federation campaign. While tzedakah will always remain a core mission of Federation, building communities of young Jews networked together through shared interests is just as important. “JFNA recognizes that it is not necessarily going to see an immediate return on its investment in this age demographic, but strongly believes in the long term it will strengthen our movement,” Strom says. The goal is to engage and challenge these young leaders, motivating them to join together to create a thriving Jewish community reaching well into the future. Jerry Silverman, JFNA President and CEO since 2009, underscored, “A new goal [at JFNA] is to get people involved Jewishly as a priority.” Prior to the inaugural TribeFest, Silverman told Federation Young Adult Directors, “If someone attends TribeFest, goes home, and gets involved with their JCC through their Federation experience, then we will have achieved success and have strengthened the Jewish community.” PT Jackie Menter is Director of Professional Philanthropy at Jewish Federation & Family Services in Orange County, CA. She blogs at tachlis.wordpress.com and tweets as @jackiementer. presentense.org/magazine features
Photo by Sam Ketay, JFNA.
y’s ask why >> jackie menter
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Rather than jumping into leadership development, the new approach focuses on first attracting and engaging potential young leaders â&#x20AC;&#x201D;a step in the process that Federations didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really have to work hard at in the past.
Ravid Kahalani from the band Yemen Blues performs during the Mash Up at TribeFest.
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Tent city summer going social in israel >> tamir kalifa Thousands of Israelis sit in the middle of the intersection of Ibn Gabriol and Kaplan streets in downtown Tel Aviv protesting the high cost of housing and demanding social reform. The â&#x20AC;&#x153;Tent Cityâ&#x20AC;? on Rothschild Boulevard, started by 27-year-old Daphne Leef, grew into a massive social movement as similar demonstrations took place simultaneously in other Israeli cities throughout the summer.
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Pictured at right from top to bottom >> The minimal cost of living and community kitchens providing free food allowed “Tent City” residents to explore the discourse of social reform and make Rothschild Boulevard more than just a temporary home. Leaders of the Tent City movement chat in the makeshift office close to Habima Square. To provide basic amenities, generators powered fans, televisions, basic appliances, and electricity for television crews. Israelis relax over music and conversation on an average day at the “Tent City” in downtown Tel Aviv. The positive, progressive energy of the movement encouraged many Israelis to label it as their “Summer of Love.”
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An estimated 60,000 demonstrators march through downtown Tel Aviv on Saturday, July 30.
Daphne Leef, the leader of the Habima â&#x20AC;&#x153;Tent Cityâ&#x20AC;? protest movement, speaks in front of thousands at the conclusion of the rally against the high cost of housing in Israel on July 23. Leef erected the first tent across the street from Habima Square on Rothschild Boulevard, using Facebook to encourage others to do the same all across the state.
Tamir Kalifa is a 22-year-old American photographer based in Austin, where he studies journalism and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas. Born to an Israeli mother and an American father, Tamir reports on issues in Israel relevant to English-speaking audiences. He plans to move to Israel upon graduation.
Which Rule Book Are You Leading From? networking your nonprofit >> lisa colton
The best way to achieve your mission is by developing, engaging, empowering, and supporting your networks.
assessment and strategies for new organizational success in achieving one’s mission is the tectonic shift for many of today’s leaders. While this all may seem quite overwhelming, I actually think it’s great news for Jewish communal organizations. Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, two of the gurus of the non-profit technology field, understand how these major shifts can make us
all feel dizzy. Thus, they’ve published an accessible, friendly, and amazingly practical guidebook to help us understand the new rules of the game and the ways to apply social media tools and social strategies today. The Networked Nonprofit provides a chapter-by-chapter schooling, blending theory with case studies (from large and small, newer and older organizations). Rather than focusing on the technology (though they do cover Facebook, Twitter, wikis, blogs, and more), Kanter and Fine structure the book around the new rules of the game, which is incredibly effective at developing a vocabulary, perspective, and lens through which to see organizational work in a new light. The book dives deeply into the power of networks—for fundraising, volunteering, publicity—which is nothing new, but is exponentially more empowered (and important) in today’s digital age. Over the past few years, we’ve seen generations of books appear on the shelves. First it was Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff about the strategies of social technologies for business. Later they each published books on new models of leadership in a digital age, Open Leadership (Li) and Empowered (Bernoff), since the implications of social technologies aren’t just about the IT or marketing departments—they impact every pore of a business. Similarly, The Networked Nonprofit has become the foundational text for the nonprofit community and has already been followed by other strategy and leadership books.
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In addition to exploring ways in which you can work with networks outside of your office, I encourage you to also start thinking of your staff (and board and volunteers) as an internal network. In the past, seniority and experience were prized. Today, those for whom the social media and this “networked” perspective is second nature have certain unique skills and knowledge
Beth Kanter & Allison Fine, The Networked Nonprofit. San Francisco: JosseyBass, 2010. 224 pp. that are much needed to evolve the Jewish communal organizations into this new paradigm. The Networked Nonprofit can be a valuable tool to help you apply your skills in strategic ways, understand guideposts and measurements, and develop a shared language with other leaders. When the book was published, I gave a copy to each of our major funders, board members, and staff, all who are interested in this field, but many who also appreciated how the book helped them articulate their instincts and perceive how their strategies were (or were not) in line with the larger “movement” in the field. “By being more strategic about how we develop and use our networks, we can do our work more effectively,” says Caren Levine, Darim Online’s Director of the Learning Networks. “Our organizational mantra has become ‘Do what we do best and network the rest,’ a quote straight out of The Networked Nonprofit.” The bottom line here is not actually about technology. It’s about your mission. And the best way to achieve your mission is by developing, engaging, empowering, and supporting your networks. Because isn’t that what our Jewish communal goals are really all about? PT Lisa Colton is the President of Darim Online: www.darimonline.org
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ARTS & C u l t u r e
he rules of the game have changed. With the rise and rapid evolution of the internet over the past decade or so, not only have we seen new generations of widgets and gadgets, but also radical change in decision making, patterns of community engagement, and individual empowerment. And what naturally flows from these changes are major shifts in organizational strategy and leadership. Many of those in leadership positions today were raised, educated, and trained in a previous era based on 20th-century rules of the game. Leadership was hierarchical, information flows were controlled and deliberate, market research and ‘product development’ cycles were slow and calculated. Today, leaders need to think differently about their role, their organizations, and how to be effective and efficient in their work. In a world where change happens quickly and we’re inundated with information and opportunities constantly, how must we adapt our organizations, strategy, and leadership? Authenticity and transparency have become paramount above all else as a way to build trust and relationships. The development cycle of new ideas and products is now more often than not in a “permanent beta” mode. Risk assessment has done a complete flip-flop, where the risk of staying the same (something well known, without the complexities of change) is now greater than the risk of major change (unknown, complex, new). This transformation of risk
INnovation and the arts cultural change agents speak out >> anne hromadka
he Jewish cultural renaissance in North America has led to an explosion of Jewish art initiatives and cultural projects, independent spiritual groups, and alternative educational programs. Since 2008, due in part to the economic downturn, several major Jewish culture initiatives faced serious challenges, evidenced by the closure of JDub Records and the discontinuation of the printed editions of Heeb and Zeek magazines. These changes have shown how Jewish culture initiatives
attract funders and the need for increased second-stage or mezzanine funding to help organizations mature past their start-up phases. On August 29th, 2011, a panel of key young Jewish culture professionals participated in a conference call about leadership in the Jewish art sector. We asked them to think critically about their role as stewards of cultural change and reflect on ways our sector might improve.
When discussing leadership in the arts, people often focus on creative thinking as a professional asset. What are skills unique to this field that have made you a Jewish arts leader? Dara: The ability to do outreach well is an asset to be a leader in the field: outreach in terms of reaching an audience, gaining visitors, but also in terms of fundraising. Paige: Passion: self-motivation for a larger cause. In line with the concept of outreach, it’s trying to reach as many people as possible, coming from a very personal place to reach a universal audience.
Josh: Listening is a cornerstone of relationship-building and community work—to engage deeply in listening to others with the best intentions, and creating a culture where community partners and funders are participants. I believe in building community through our personal stories. Another important piece is mentorship. Both formal and informal mentors have invested in me, and in turn have invested in the field. It’s also important for me to be a mentor and invest in the next generation of Jewish leaders.
Innovation has been an “in” word in the Jewish community for some time. However, when it comes to art and culture, “new” has always been the name of the game. Do you think that Jewish arts and culture programs, organizations, and artists are pushing boundaries in similar ways as the secular arts community? Dara: We’ve had lots of different discussions at the CJM about the types of technology that a museum can use. A couple of my colleagues did a workshop in New York a couple of weeks ago about creating gaming situations to engage the Jewish community. Approaching this from the arts side, I’m a bit wary of adding a heavy layer of technology onto an exhibition just for the sake of technology. As a curator, we want to ensure technology used at the CJM enhances an exhibition and that we’re finding ways to engage with audiences on different levels in ways that are innovative, thinking beyond the use of technology. Paige: I’m interested in digital innovation, but I agree—there’s a time and a place. For me, museum exhibitions allowing participatory experiences are exciting innovations. Aaron: Where I see funders often missing a major step is the ‘why.’ Why
do we do this work? Why do we care that it’s Jewish? Why do people make Jewish art? Why do people engage with it? Once you get to meaning and personal relevance, and figure out both what’s driving people to create it and audiences to interact with it, whether that will then be described by others as “innovative” or not is beside the point. Josh: Funders who are willing to explore the ‘why’ have made a huge contribution to Jewish life and arts and culture as a whole. I am grateful to the funders of the Six Point Fellowship. Yet I am concerned with the lack of mezzanine funding in the field. There are many organizations that have created innovative and new models. How as a community we continue to support the work they’re doing is of the utmost importance. On that note, I would say that JDub’s closing is a major loss for the field and their great contribution has paved the way for many of the projects of the innovation sector.
If we reflect on the Jewish arts and general organized Jewish community, what are ways we could improve in this upcoming year 5772? Do the Jewish arts or the broader Jewish community have anything to repent for this year? Aaron: Going back to comparing Jewish arts to the secular arts world, the community needs to be pushing artists more in the quality of work and Jewish content. We’re often sensitive to wanting to honor anyone’s desire to contribute, and we should be excited that an artist wants to make a Jewish project, or start a new Jewish program or initiative. But we have a responsibility as leaders, as stewards of philanthropic support, and as artists working with peers, to be able to give honest feedback to help our peers
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improve and to be all that they can. Great Jewish art is not kiruv (the act of bringing secularized Jews closer to Judaism). Great works of Jewish art challenge us and push us to ask questions and delve deep inside. That only happens when you have deep, thoughtful work. I really believe that requires a practice of feedback and self-reflection that I’m often afraid we lack in the Jewish community.
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Josh: Six Points is committed to offering applicants feedback, even if we can’t take them as fellows, to help them strengthen their future applications. In LA, our grant information sessions provided a meeting ground for Jewish artists. We learned that regional artists were hungry for a peer community. We’re committed to facilitating these micro-communities where artists can reach out to each other and continue to deepen the Jewish content of their work. Dara: One of my most memorable experiences at the CJM was our inaugural exhibition. We commissioned seven contemporary artists to respond to Bereshit, and the artists—not all of whom were Jewish—met with scholars at JTS in New York to engage in serious text study. They really found it meaningful, and their projects took on different tones after their study. For our “Are We There Yet?” exhibition, we had a couple sessions with scholars and artists to think deeply about Jewish questions. But I have heard some criticisms from people in the local arts community that we are pushing artists to work in a way that they wouldn’t naturally. I definitely take that criticism seriously.
Where I see funders often missing a major step is the ‘why.’ Why do we do this work? Why do we care that it’s Jewish? Why do people make Jewish art? Why do people engage with it?
The Jewish Artist’s Initiative (JAI) has had a similar project, an Artists’ Beit Midrash, where various rabbis in the community lead study sessions with our members, in part funded by the Jewish Community Foundation. Some members shared that they always wanted to go to Jewish study groups but felt intimidated because they did not have formal Jewish education as a child. However, being in a room full of artistic peers created a safe place. On the other hand, not as many people created new work as we expected. You can provide the study context, but this will not always generate immediate creation of new works of art. Paige: I know many local communities have Jewish art groups which meet to study and create specific works. Are we guiding our community to create a voice of identity through exploring these concepts and study sessions? What is our role in these situations as innovators and leaders? How we control, steer, and influence the Jewish cultural community to have a conscious voice and speak for themselves is important. As Jewish innovators, we could choose to work together to help the Jewish culture field find a unified voice and shared message of why we do this work. PT Anne Hromadka launched the Nu ART [Insert Jewish Culture Here] Mobile Gallery Project, a fully functional art and educational space set up inside an altered recreational vehicle (RV), as a 2011 Global PresenTense Fellow.
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Panel Aaron Bisman co-founded JDub, a notfor-profit forging vibrant connections to Judaism through music, media, and cultural events, and led the organization as President and CEO from inception through 2011. He co-founded the Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists, was a Joshua Venture Fellow, and has been recognized by the Forward 50 and the White House as part of Jewish American Heritage Month. Aaron discovered and managed Hasidic Reggae singer Matisyahu and Israeli globetrotting superstars Balkan Beat Box. In 2005, Aaron co-founded Altshul, a traditional egalitarian community in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Paige Dansinger has a master’s in art history and specializes in art that reflects Jewish life. Paige is working on creating JAMM - Jewish Art Museum Mobile, an innovative, globally accessible smartphone Jewish museum including drop pin GPS walking tours and street-corner digital museum experiences at significant Jewish sites. Paige is an internationally known fine artist and designer of restaurants, interiors, and exhibitions. Josh Feldman is the Associate Director of the Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists. Passionate about the intersection of art and leadership development, Josh was most recently the Jeremiah Fellowship national director for the Progressive Jewish Alliance. He is an alumnus of the Jeremiah Fellowship and Selah and is a member of the Selah National Leadership Team. He is a co-founder of East Side Jews. Dara Solomon joined the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) of San Francisco in 2006 to develop the inaugural exhibitions for their Daniel Libeskind-designed building. She has become the curator of the Museum’s exhibition program. Prior, she worked at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, and with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art. She holds an M.A. in arts administration from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a B.A. in religion and art history from the University of Toronto.
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Art for a change
ARTS e d u c a t i o n
an under-tapped tool >> yael miriam
ver the past 10 years, Jewish arts initiatives have been expanding—with the potential to engage us in new and meaningful ways, support the expansion of a diversified community, and deepen understanding of our culture. Yet while the opportunities for those already engaged in both their Jewish and artistic identities are flourishing, there is even greater potential to develop educational opportunities and outreach—to allow art to be the great tool of social change it has the potential to be. For those interested in Jewish exploration, engaging with Jewish art has many advantages. The shared experience of engaging with art and artistic programming provides a focal point which brings together Jews from a variety of backgrounds. This offers the potential for developing pluralistic, diverse communities. Furthermore, art provides a center for our Jewish life and identity, which is an alternative or compliment to religious observance or political affiliation regarding Israel. “Art presents a nontraditional way of issue fifteen 2011
relating to Jewish values; for young people to whom the traditions are not compelling, art offers a way to cultivate a Jewish identity that, while itself new, is grounded in deep Jewish values,” Elise Bernhardt, CEO of The Foundation for Jewish Culture, states. Art allows us to develop our own identity more deeply and holistically around Jewish ethics and ideas without being dogmatic or exclusionary. “Good art is more about the questions than the answers—a very Jewish quality in itself,” Bernhardt explains. Once art is integrated into a communal narrative, proponents of art’s place in Jewish life believe that it is not just an internal force holding the community together, but that it can be a force affecting the wider world as well. One such leader in Jewish art nonprofits, Aaron Bisman, founder of JDub Records, a Jewish record label and key contributor to the world of Jewish arts which is soon closing, states, “Art can play an important role in social change within a community, as both a prophetic voice catalyzing a new vision as well as a mirror reflecting
the needs, desires, hopes, and heartache. At its most powerful moments, Jewish culture can serve in these roles for the Jewish community.” Having the opportunity to connect with Jewish life and creative life simultaneously offers opportunities for an expansive Jewish network as well as an exciting cultural experience. Yet simply the creation of, and access to, art is not enough when the work is often left without contextualization. Resident Artist of The Jewish Agency’s
Good art is more about the questions than the answers —a very Jewish quality in itself.
educational program Makom Robbie Gringras comments, “Just a piece of art may do presentense.org/magazine presentense.org/magazine arts section & culture name
Photo by Yael Miriam.
Artwork from a workshop with Jewish and Muslim children in Israel.
nothing, but if you place a piece of art in a particular structure, it allows for a way to look at your lives and engage with it.” We are lacking the critical debriefs and educational opportunities following an artistic event that can expand upon the content of the work in a profound way, utilizing the power of the arts to consider new philosophies we have not previously entertained. Not only can education be applied to the world of art with great results—the reverse is true as well. The dread that far too many of us are familiar with as we enter Hebrew school or synagogue or even Jewish summer camp is often felt because the learning does not appeal to all of our senses and meet us where we are. In this digital age, we require kinesthetic learning and creative, active involvement. The arts are a powerful and underused tool in this field. “What we consume is what we become, and the more we can do so with Jewish and Israeli art, the closer we are to our own Jew-
arts issue& fifteen culture2011 presentense.org/magazine
ish identity. It’s all part of our discourse, our language. To be able to reference an Israeli film allows our identity to become that much richer, and Judaism, Israel, and Zionism is a living-breathing thing,” says Edoe Cohen of Omanoot.com. As attendance at events screening Israeli films, exhibits of visual art based on Talumdic text, and high intensity concerts in Hebrew and English increases, so too should our facilitation of educational dialogues around the Jewish themes of that work. This is a profound opportunity to open up nuanced discussion regarding critical issues of Jewish peoplehood and identity. We yearn for these conversations, and the arts have always been a place where these experiences can take shape. Yet for those who do not already selfidentify as Jewishly affiliated or artistic, accessing these opportunities can be challenging. Currently, Jewish artistic creators and consumers often find themselves within the
same preexisting community, and the need for expansion to those beyond that circle have not been met. It is the responsibility of those working in the field of Jewish art to both reach out to new audiences as well as to develop programming that supports learning at artistic events. It is not enough for Jewish artists to produce Jewishly; we must encourage Jewish consumption, knowledge acquisition, and the support of engaging with new ideas within diverse group settings. By utilizing art as a tool to strengthen individual Jewish identity and the complexities of a Jewish peoplehood, we allow creative thought to deepen who we are. PT Yael Miriam is a Brooklyn-based performance artist and educator. She recently returned from living in Tel Aviv as a recipient of the Dorot Fellowship.
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Challah and our Annual Review
>> gayle squires
FOOD C OLUMN
resenTense’s food column, I was told, needed a photograph of a freshly-baked challah to accompany a challah recipe and “a Rosh Hashana meditation.” They lost me at meditation. I’m not spiritual. I giggle at a mere whiff of hooky kooky. Michal (the “meditator”) happened to be here in Boston, and I invited her over for a little baking. When Michal knocked on my door, I was on the phone, my 5 p.m. teleconference having run late. I invited her in, offered her a drink and anything else she could find in my refrigerator, and then promptly disappeared into my home office for another 20 minutes. Phone in hand, but computer off, I finally rejoined her in the kitchen and we settled down to work. She explained that her challah recipe was less about the ingredients and more about the process and experience. My phone rang. “I’m sorry, I have to take this.” Phone cradled between ear and shoulder, I pulled out eggs and yeast from the refrigerator, and continued my call, opening one of the silverware drawers and pointing toward the measuring cups and then running back to my office to draft a quick email. Upon my return, Michal was measuring out ingredients, rifling through my cabinets to find what she needed. “Good, you made yourself at home.” I put my phone down at the far edge of the counter. I reached for my KitchenAid mixing bowl—and she said we could use the bowl, but we wouldn’t be using the mixer. We’d be kneading it ourselves. “Right. I forgot about that part.” I switched to a regular bowl, added the ingredients, and we waited for the bubbles. Michal explained the theory behind what she calls “deep breath baking.” She views the baking of challah as an allegory for the week: The reward for hard work is a period of much-needed (get it?) rest over Shabbat. She recommends preparing the challah with intention and attention, savoring all the senses stimulated by the look, feel, smell, and taste.
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We decided that our challah would be filled with the intentions of love and groundedness. Once the yeast had proofed, we measured out flour, salt, oil, water, and eggs and began to mix. After a few swipes with a wooden spoon, I dug in with my hands. I turned the shaggy dough out onto my counter and began to knead. Michal’s technique for kneading dough starts not with the arms and shoulders, but with the entire body, taking a bracing stance and rocking back and forth with the dough. She explained that kneading the dough strengthens the bonds between wheat proteins to form gluten and create elasticity. She instructed me to breathe deeply, taking advantage of the elasticity of my own lungs and filling them to capacity. I built up a rhythm: inhale—lean back—scoop and gather dough, exhale—lean forward—push dough, inhale—back—scoop and gather, exhale—forward—push. For the next 10 minutes, I focused on the rocking motion, watching my hands push and pull the dough. It reminded me of how I feel when I roll out pastry dough. Calm. My mind free and uncluttered. I found myself thinking of little more than the back and forth and the responding dough. Michal emphasized that rest is in the challah recipe. When she normally teaches her deep breath baking course, she spends the hour while the challah is rising to lead a yoga class. Participants often arrive to her class armed with a mat. Despite my misgivings, I didn’t escape the meditation part. By the time the challah was in the oven, I was ready. We braided the loaves, doused them with egg wash, and loaded them into the oven. While the air filled with the sweet scent of bread, Michal led me through two meditations, one to help ground me and another to open up my heart. The txmer buzzed. I felt invigorated. We enjoyed the fruits of our labor. PT Gayle Squires writes the food blog Kosher Camembert. After long days in the office as a healthcare executive, she spends her evenings and weekends cooking, eating, and sharing her recipes and stories with friends and family.
presentense.org/magazine arts & culture
Photo by Gayle Squires.
rest is in the recipe
>> michal waldfogel
hallah bread, one of our most delicious traditions, is also one of our wisest. The golden, braided bread teaches us to live a balanced, meaningful life. Preparing challah from scratch is not easy. Measuring and mixing the ingredients requires concentration. Kneading can work you into a sweat. Yet as hard as you work, at some point the most productive thing you can do is to take your hands off of the dough. The resulting bread will actually suffer if you spend the
prescribed rise-time continuing to knead. For busy leaders, time for rest can seem like a scant resource. This is where the wisdom of challah becomes clear. The challah knows: Rest is part of the recipe. Each Rosh Hashana, Jews are obligated to take a few days out of the busy work routine to reflect on the year, our own personal ‘annual review’. The challah continues to be our teacher during the practices around the High Holy Days. On the Rosh Hashana table, the challah is sweet and round. As we search for well-roundedness, we must do so with a drop of
honey: a sense of humor and self-compassion. As leaders, we serve others. We are passionate about changing the world. We love what we do. Yet without the proper balance, we risk burn-out. Just like challah, we too need a balance of work, rest, and enjoying the fruits of our labor. PT Michal Waldfogel was a 2011 PresenTense/Tribe 12 Fellow in Philadelphia and is the founder of Deep Breath Baking.
PREPARING YOUR OWN CHALLAH THIS NEW YEAR Preparing challah is a practice in intention and nourishment. As you set out to make dough, it’s important to be aware of your attitude toward the work. Just as you hold tension in your body, you may also hold it in your thoughts, draining your attention and energy from what you really want to be doing. Choosing an intention, or kavanah, infuses the challah with the nourishment we seek. The bread becomes a metaphor for attitudes we wish to express, qualities we wish to embody.
Consider these questions as a guide to infuse your challah: • With what intentions will you infuse your challah? • How do you want to nourish yourself and those you love in the new year? • How do you approach your work? Is yours a frantic energy, a scrambling to get everything done? How can you make it more nourishing? • How much energy do you spend thinking about what’s not getting done? • Has my life been balanced this past year? In work? In rest? In play? • What can I do (or stop doing) to find more balance in the coming year? • How can I find balance so that I am leading from my over-flow rather than drawing on reserves, inviting burn-out?
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Sweet Rosh Ha’Shana Challah Recipe by Deep Breath Baking 1 packet active dry yeast 1/3 cup brown sugar 1 ¾ cup warm water ½ cup vegetable oil 1/3 cup honey
4 eggs plus 1 for egg wash 3 ½ tsp salt About 4 cups unbleached white flour About 4 cups whole what flour
WORK 1. Stir one packet of yeast and 1/3 cup sugar with 1 ¾ cup warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let sit 5 minutes. 2. Mix in ½ cup oil, 4 eggs, 3 ½ tsp salt. 3. Add one cup at a time of flour (about 7-8 cups total) until no longer sticky and springs back to the touch. 4. Knead 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. REST 5. Place dough in a bowl and cover with plastic or dampened towel. Keep it somewhere warm and nurturing to rest for at least 45-90 minutes (until doubled in size). 6. Gently press down dough and give it some more time to rest (it’s been working hard!)—about another hour. PLAY 7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F 8. Press down dough and separate into two chunks. 9. Roll each into a long rope with one end thicker than the other. For each, hold the thicker end still and wrap the thinner end around, creating a circular loaf. 10. Add eggwash (1 egg, 2 Tbs water) and toppings. 11. Let rise for another 20 minutes or so. 12. Bake about 12 minutes (until it’s firm on the outside and smooshy on the inside). 13. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for about 20 minutes more. 14. Enjoy the fruits of your labor! Note: Deep Breath Baking may result in a feeling of relaxation and groundedness. It will definitely result in two delicious, medium-sized loaves of challah.
presentense.org/magazine issue section fifteen 2011 name
Jewish vs. Business Wisdom how they compare >> matthew hoffman PresenTense asked business and community leaders to share advice on leadership from their business experiences. We found that the wisdom contained in these insights has sources in Jewish texts. Here is the result! PT
It is our responsibility to choose our actions based on how we want the world to work and those around us to act. In professional life, this means we do good by doing good business. By doing good business, we can create value that goes beyond dollars and cents. Surround yourself with good people that share this view, and don’t let anyone distract you from this goal. In the end, not only will you be proud of your positive imWAYNE KIMMEL: Founder and Managing pact, but it will also service Partner, Artists & Instigators; Treasurer, Jewish your business. Federation of Greater Philadelphia
The last section of Pirkei Avot 1:6 reads: Judge everyone with kaf zchut. This means to “judge someone favorably” or “see the positive side.” Even the first part of 1:6 mentions the importance of having peers/ colleagues/friends and teachers/mentors/exemplars.
Matthew Hoffman is a business broker with the Benjamin Ross Group. He is a member of the executive committee of the Tribe 12 Social Entrepreneur Fellowship in Philadelphia.
My teacher Rabbi Michael Marmur taught: “There is a gematria which points out that between ratzui and matzui the difference is 160, which is kessef.” Ratzui is “that which is desired”—the world we want to live in. Matzui is “that which is found”—the world as it exists today. Kessef literally means “money” but can also be considered resources. This teaches that we have the ability, through our efforts and resources, to bring the world closer to the place we want it to be. Indeed, that is the only way. Dan Medwin
DAN MEDWIN: Publishing Technology Manager, Central Conference of American Rabbis Visual T’filah
My greatest non-profit lesson to impart comes by way of my brother Marc, who founded the non-profit that I have presided over for the past six years. There are two types of Boards to establish to support you in your leadership of a non-profit: one that advises and one that acts. In starting up our non-profit, we selected a board of grassroots activists, who could contribute by way of their ambassadorship and volunteerism, rather than merely their advice and money. Advice and money are good; but having a group of people invested in your organization’s mission who are willing to get their hands dirty and act rather than talk - this was and continues to be a big part of the our rapid Daniel Erlbaum: success. President & CEO, Finch Brands; President, Jewish Relief Agency
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Participation bridges the gap between the world that we are born into and the world that we leave behind.
One of my best lessons came by way of a former business partner, which is to look for the best in your competiJEFFREY BARRACK: Partner, tion. Many leaders seek Barrack, Rodos & Bacine; President, to quell their anxieties Hillel of Greater Philadelphia by noticing and scoffing at that which their competitors are doing poorly. But looking for the worst in your competitors does nothing to impact or improve how Honi the circle maker saw an old man you conduct your own planting a carob tree, and said to him: business or organiza“How long does it take for this tree tion. Looking for the to bear fruit?” He answered, “Seventy years.” “Are you certain you will best allows you to: 1) live for another 70 years?” The man Incorporate great ideas; replied, “I found ready-grown carob 2) Be realistic about what trees in the world; as my forefathers it’s going to take to win; and planted these for me, so too I plant 3) Identify areas in which to these for my children.” excel where there are truly op– Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 23 portunities to differentiate. MIRIAM BROSSEAU: Darim Online; Stereo Sinai
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issue fifteen 2011
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