Local Young Adult Leaders on a Mission – to Berlin and Israel


By Raquel Benguiat What motivates local Jewish young adults to get involved in Jewish life? How can we raise awareness of the different Jewish organizations in our community and what they have to offer? What is the common purpose and the mission among the leadership of our Jewish young adult community? These and many more important questions were discussed among the thirty local young adult leaders while exploring Jewish life in Berlin and Israel during the NextGen Leadership Mission powered by the Jewish Federation of San Diego County. But haven’t these questions already been discussed by many others? Why was it important for us to ponder these questions during this mission? Are we any closer to finding the answers for our community? I believe we are, and the following experiences made me … [Read more...]

Revolution or Evolution? 30 Years Later, Community Considers Impact of Women’s Ordination in Conservative Movement

Female members of the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism gather at JTS (December 2012). Photo courtesy.

By Maayan Jaffe eJewish Philanthropy An image of a Chabad emissary placing tefillin on a woman in New York, apparently mistaking her for a man, recently went social media viral. The sensationalism? Women wearing tefillin is discouraged - if not forbidden - in the ultra-Orthodox movement. This is not the case in the Reform and Conservative movements, where women take active roles in Jewish worship. To date, more than 350 women have become rabbis in the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative branches of American Judaism. Last month, the Conservative movement celebrated 30 years since the May ordination of the first Conservative woman rabbi, Rabbi Amy Eilberg. She was ordained in 1985 by the Jewish Theological Seminary. Since then, Conservative women leaders have revolutionized the … [Read more...]

You May Not Like Camp and That’s Okay

girls bunk at camp

By Sharna Marcus As I see the pictures of friends who had children before me waving goodbye to their tweens on their first journey to the overnight camp where their parents met, or moms had their first kiss, or dad had the lead in the play, I can’t help but hope that they have a great summer, while wanting to shout through the Facebook universe: You may not like camp and that’s okay. As a Jewish educator, such words are risky to state out loud. Jewish camp is considered to be the gold standard of our religion. Everyone always asks at meetings, “How can we make Hebrew school to be more like camp so kids will like it?” That question does not resonate with me. In fact, when I tell a colleague, after knowing them very well, that I didn't like camp, it feels like making a revelation like I was a … [Read more...]

Where Eulogy Virtues Are Resume Virtues

We who toil in the vineyards of Jewish life must be every bit as proficient, effective, productive, innovative, tenacious, accomplished, and credentialed as our for-profit counterparts. By Dr. Hal M. Lewis This season of recently completed commencement ceremonies and valedictories featured a seemingly unending spate of references to the writings of NY Times columnist and television pundit, David Brooks. Wherever one turns of late, one encounters Brooks’ popular construct in which he suggests that there are two different types of virtues in life: resume and eulogy. As the names imply, resume virtues are the things we put on our resumes and CVs that describe the skills we bring to the marketplace. Eulogy virtues, are the things that get talked about at our funerals, the deeper attributes about … [Read more...]

PresenTense: Innovation for Innovative Change

At the recent NYC Launch night program, the Fellows pitched their ideas to a panel with backgrounds in technology, startups and the social innovation sector.

By Maayan Jaffe eJewish Philanthropy Judaism has certain pre-set activities every day that encourage people to live in the moment. PresenTense - cool, trendy and buzz-worthy - is equipping passionate people with entrepreneurial skills, tools and support networks through community-based venture accelerators, innovation workshops and entrepreneurship consulting that drive creativity today. The results, however, translate to what promises to be a more vibrant Jewish future. PresenTense started in 2005 as a voguish magazine in New York City. The founders, Aharon Horwitz and Ariel Beery, wanted to publish a periodical about what it is to be young and Jewish in the 21st century. What they realized in a couple of years was that their friends - the writers - weren’t just talking about the issues that … [Read more...]

True But Useless


By David Cygielman For the past several years, I have had the unique opportunity to spend two days with fellow CEOs and Executive Directors from leading national organizations in the Jewish community. The common thread binding us is the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, bringing us together since we are all core grantees. The annual gathering, titled Tzimtzum, is a chance to learn from each other, the Schusterman Foundation team and some incredible outside presenters. Last month during Tzimtzum, we welcomed Dan Heath, co-author of the bestselling books Made to Stick and Switch. We heard plenty of stories and examples of different ways to tackle existing problems, but the biggest takeaway by far was three simple letters - T.B.U. (True But Useless). The concept is simple: we may … [Read more...]

World Zionist Congress Elections Test Democracy in American Jewish Community

Voting in Utah's primary,  Salt Lake City, 2012.

Wealth or political connections too often become the major criteria for leadership positions. By Rafael Medoff JNS.org More than 80 percent of eligible Jewish voters participate in American presidential elections, yet less than 1 percent voted in the recent nationwide election among American Jews. For a community that takes American democracy so seriously, U.S. Jews showed surprisingly little interest in the democratic race that was recently held in their own ranks. Just 56,737 voters participated in the elections for delegates to the World Zionist Congress, even though they had three months in which to vote (January 30-April 30) and were able to cast their ballots without ever needing to leave the comfort of their living rooms. The number of voters represents a sharp drop from those … [Read more...]