The School of Jewish Communal Service, established more than forty years ago by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), is changing its name to the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (SJNM), reflecting the dramatic changes in the nonprofit and Jewish communal world during the past decades.
The SJNM is unique in the academic world – it is the only graduate program of its kind that is embedded within a Jewish institution of higher learning and enjoys a special partnership with its neighbor, the University of Southern California. Students at the SJNM receive a cutting-edge education in nonprofit management grounded in Jewish history and values, as well as the opportunity to earn one of five dual degrees at USC.
Originally conceived as a graduate program preparing social work-oriented professionals to lead the social service agencies which once dominated the Jewish communal enterprise, the renamed SJNM manifests the new realities of American Jewish life, which has grown to encompass a broad array of organizations and enterprises, including social justice, community relations, Israel advocacy, culture, the arts, education, youth services, camping and outreach, among others. With this diversification and expansion, there has been a growing demand for professionals with the business skills and in-service experience needed to lead these increasingly sophisticated nonprofit organizations. The SJNM’s new name catches up with its own forward-looking curriculum developed over the past decade, where students integrate a solid grounding in Jewish studies, a deep understanding of North American and world Jewish communal dynamics, and leadership skills in fundraising, board relations, strategic planning, organizational development, communication and new media.
The value-statement of SJNM includes regarding Jewish professional leadership as more than a job or even a career, but as a vocation, a “calling” to serve the Jewish people and advance the Jewish experience. Richard Siegel, Director of the SJNM, goes further,
“Too often people only think of the clergy … and occasionally educators … as being “called” to their profession … a calling being less like a career and more like an identity. I believe that the sense of being “called” to this work as a life’s passion … is also true of many Jewish professionals running the myriad organizations in what we call “the Jewish community”… the infrastructure of the Jewish People. I would suspect that this applies in particular to those we see as the outstanding Jewish professional leaders. And I would go so far as to say that I can’t imagine someone becoming a Jewish leader … lay or professional … who doesn’t have this deep-rooted sense that what they are doing is in fact their life’s mission. We want students who come in with this sense of having been “called” to help better the Jewish People … and the Jewish People’s calling to repair a still-broken world.”
The SJNM offers students a 2-year course of study leading to the Master’s in Jewish Nonprofit Management, including supervised fieldwork internships, an Israel seminar, a capstone project, learning opportunities with rabbinical and education students at HUC-JIR, and a unique relationship with the University of Southern California with five dual degree options including an MBA, an MPA, an MSW, an MCMGT and an MPAS. The SJNM’s programs are guided by the values of excellence in educational and professional standards, community-building, integrated education, pluralism, change and innovation, lay-professional partnership and the vocation of Jewish professional leadership as a “calling” to serve the Jewish people and advance the Jewish experience.
The SJNM will be officially launched later today during the meeting of HUC-JIR’s Los Angeles Board of Overseers.