COJECO Announces Inaugural Keystone Fellowship Participants

COJECO KeystoneCOJECO has announced the inaugural 18-person cohort of the COJECO Keystone Fellowship, a visionary effort to cultivate and nurture distinguished lay leaders committed to shaping the Jewish future and strengthening their nominating organizations.

Sponsored by the UJA-Federation of NY, the Keystone Fellowship is a unique partnership between COJECO, the central coordinating body of the Russian-speaking Jewish community of NY, and NYU Wagner School of Public Service. The curriculum will weave the practical skills of institutional governance and fiduciary responsibilities with the most current and dynamic models of Jewish and leadership learning. Participants will explore their own identity and relationship to the larger Jewish community; learn the foundations of governance with the leading academics; meet with some of the most influential and innovative leaders of the Jewish world and start envisioning future Jewish community and their role in it. This year-long program will begin in January 2015 with an intensive three-day retreat, followed by 15 group sessions and a week-long immersive learning experience in Israel. NYU Wagner will provide an executive graduate certificate to Keystone Fellowship participants upon completion of the program.

Dr. David Elcott, Co-Director the NYU Wagner and Judaic Studies Dual Degree Program and Taub Professor of Practice in Public Service and Leadership, explains, “In the Jewish world, there is a pressing need for well-trained and thoughtful volunteer leaders to steer our organizations, from synagogues and schools, to those providing social welfare and culture, to those engaging in political action and social justice. As the demands and pressures facing Jewish agencies and organizations increase, supporting further advancement of mid-level leaders becomes even more urgent.”

The COJECO Keystone Fellowship aims to assist Jewish institutions in cultivating and nurturing their lay leaders. Through the outreach efforts of the Keystone Staff Team, over 60 candidates were nominated by a wide range of Jewish nonprofit agencies in the New York Metropolitan Area. After a rigorous application and interview process guided by the Keystone Steering Committee, 18 outstanding candidates have been selected for the 2015 Keystone Fellowship Cohort, and can be viewed on the COJECO website.

The Keystone Fellowship proposes to restructure how the Russian-speaking and American Jewish communities relate to one another by modeling a singular, inclusive platform for Jewish leaders. The first 18 person cohort represents a broad array of organizational involvement, religious observance, cultural background, and goals for the Jewish future. This community building and leadership empowerment model will integrate various subgroups rather than seek to assimilate a minority in the dominant mainstream. “This is the Jewish future, one of diversity and pluralism,” explains Roman Shmulenson, Executive Director of COJECO. “The Keystone Fellowship is an innovative approach toward a truly collective sense of Jewish peoplehood – the human bond and sense of shared destiny that makes us a people.”