Keep Asking Why

by Aliza Kline This is the season for asking questions - often in groups of four (though my father, and my seven year-old daughter will both argue that at the Seder we ask one question and then offer four responses). Let’s not stop just because the holiday has past. What if we keep asking why? What would that look like as a daily practice? What do we have to acknowledge before we can make space for learning something new? Moses got his starring role in our exodus because he gained empathy for the Hebrew slaves, he bared witness and was ultimately overcome with emotion, understanding the struggle and desire for freedom. But the real test was his encounter with the burning bush. Rabbi Noa Kushner reminded me of the Exodus verse when Moses passes by the bush, and rather than writing it off as a … [Read more...]

Adopting a Collaborative Leadership Paradigm

The problem is that the Jewish Community hasn’t yet fully internalized the need for a new leadership paradigm that places networking and collaboration at its center. by Andrés Spokoiny When I watched Rabbi Brander’s passionate argument for embracing “prosumer” culture in our communal organizations, I was inspired. As the head of an organization focused on networking and collaboration among funders, the model he advocates is precisely where I believe we need to focus if we are to build the best-possible Jewish future. I’d like to expand on what that means, from a funder’s perspective. … [Read more...]

Revisiting a Joshua-esque Model of Leadership: Response to Rabbi Kenneth Brander


by Dr. Hal M. Lewis In his ELI talk, Rabbi Kenneth Brander argues in favor of what he calls a “Joshua-esque model of leadership,” a view that understands leadership as collaborative, rather than unilateral. While I agree that collaboration, or what I have referred to in my own research as “power sharing not power hoarding,” can be an effective approach to decision-making and problem solving, I take exception to Rabbi Brander’s facile analyses of the leadership styles of Moses and Joshua. Moses, according to Brander, was a “top-down” leader, in contradistinction to Joshua who sought to “empower others to lead with” him. Cognizant of the well-known barb that in academe arguments are so passionate because the stakes are so small, I must nonetheless assert that if there are lessons to be … [Read more...]

Collaborative Leadership in a Prosumer Generation

In partnership with ELI Talks, eJewish Philanthropy will be running a number of submissions in response to an ELI Talk given by Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Dean of the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future. Rabbi Brander discusses how a challenging chapter in his family's life and the example of Joshua showed him the benefits of real collaboration between lay and organizational leaders for the modern Jewish community. Watch Rabbi Brander’s talk here and join the discussion. The first response, by Dr. Hal Lewis, can be found here. In the coming weeks, additional responses will be posted; all (including previous Eli Talk conversations) will be available here. … [Read more...]

Premium Jewish Value

by David Bryfman The New York Times online has a free and premium subscription. Naturally, I joined for free. After a few weeks of enjoying free articles, I reached my permitted limit and could not reach the one article that I was really looking forward to. So I took the $5 plunge and paid for a premium service; recognizing that the value of having the full NY Times delivered to my screen whenever I wanted it was much greater than saving the few dollars a month. … [Read more...]

Jewish Learners As Consumers; The Conversation Continues

by David Behrman Sam Glassenberg says we need to treat Jewish learners as consumers, and create a Jewish experience good enough that they want to buy it. And he’s right. Why? Because “every Jew is a Jew by choice.” We all make choices about how we spend our time. There is a “global marketplace of ideas and commitments” as Joshua Avedon, Shawn Landres, and Felicia Herman observe in The Jewish Innovation Economy. And they are wise to include commitments. The things that pull on our time can pull us away from Jewish practice and from Judaism. … [Read more...]

An Online Conversation With Sam Glassenberg and Lisa Colton

ELI Talks

In his ELI Talk from November 2012, Sam Glassenberg explores how by focusing on consumer needs and producing products like JDate, we can create successful for-profit models that have greater reach and, as an unintended consequence, change the direction of other challenges of the Jewish community. In a series of articles here on eJewish Philanthropy in response to Sam's talk, many new ideas, challenges and opportunities have come to the surface. Join us for this online conversation where we'll hear more about Sam's ideas, and you'll have an opportunity to ask him your OWN questions. The conversation will be held on March 20th, from 12-1 pm EST, and will be moderated by fellow ELI talks presenter Lisa Colton. Viewers will be able to watch Lisa and Sam through livestream video. Those who … [Read more...]

Jewish Education is Not a Game

by Russel Neiss In an evocative Eli talk, Sam Glassenberg suggests that by ignoring global Jewish problems and focusing on market based solutions to meet the needs of individual Jews we'll sell a lot of things and as a side effect we might do some good too. As evidence, he sites JDate's success at building 'Jewish continuity,' paying particular attention to the amount of users and money that the site generates. I'm not going to spend much time quibbling with Sam's statistics, (despite the fact that there have been countless articles about gentiles on JDate), but instead I want to get right to the heart of the issue. … [Read more...]