Comings and Goings: Leichtag Foundation
A native Jerusalemite and a longtime educator known around the globe for her engaging and authentic pedagogic approaches, Chaya has relocated with her family to Encinitas, California from Jerusalem for the next two years. She will serve as the Commons’ Jewish scholar-in-residence while developing on-the-ground strategies to deepen Jewish educational content and engagement opportunities Commons-wide, including the Foundation, The Hive at Leichtag Commons and Coastal Roots Farm.
During her two years in Encinitas, she will also continue speaking, consulting and serving as a Jewish educator for certain programs across North America and the world where they align with, and inform, her work at the Commons and the Foundation.
From 2014 to 2018, she served as Founding Director of Hevruta, a pluralistic gap-year program for Israeli and North American post-high school students based at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Prior to that, she was a scholar-in-residence at the Paideia Institute in Sweden, where she taught Talmud and established an educator’s track. Chaya holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from Hebrew University for which she wrote a thesis on Ultra-Orthodox women, religion, and the state. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Jewish Philosophy from Ben Gurion University.
A well-known activist and leader in Jerusalem, Chaya is a founding Advisory Leadership Board member of the Jerusalem Model, an initiative that engages more than 200 young social entrepreneurs and civil society leaders from diverse demographics including Ultra-Orthodox, religious and secular Jews; Muslim and Christian religious and secular Palestinians; immigrants; Ethiopian Israelis and others, deepening professional development and excellence to build a vibrant and resilient city from the ground up. Her commitment to developing alternatives within the realm of religion and state led her to co-finding Hashgacha Pratit, an alternative kashrut system, and focus on creating egalitarian wedding ceremonies and other initiatives that combine feminism and Jewish identity. Chaya also recently received her rabbinic ordination from The Hartman Institute and HaMidrasha at Oranim.
“Integrating Jewish wisdom, traditions and resilient practices is core to who we are and why we serve the community,” said Charlene Seidle, Leichtag Foundation Executive Vice President. “At Leichtag Commons, we have welcomed thousands of visitors and program participants from around our community and the world. Most are not affiliated with any other Jewish program or institution. We want to serve these new and longtime friends with core, substantive, Jewish value-added content but also not be prescriptive about specific ritual or practice result. Chaya’s experience, inspirational and creativity will help guide us to a new and important phase of community service.”