New Jewish Social Innovation; Checking In

I had the privilege yesterday to participate on a panel at the first ever Consultation on Jewish Social Entrepreneurship and New Leadership Development. Held at the Kraft Center of Columbia University, the event was sponsored and co-ordinated by the Lippman-Kanfer Institute at JESNA and the UJC. Geared towards communal professionals, funders and innovators, this passionate and diverse audience came together to learn, to network, and most important to find ways to go forward together.

I will have more to say on this stimulating and educational experience later in the week, but for now two links to friends and fellow participants with their thoughts on the day.

from Esther Kustanowitz:

What is Jewish Social Entrepreneurship?

Every time I attend something, I’m given a nametag. As those who have visited my apartment over the years can attest, many of these nametags still live in my residence. I’ve had many titles on many tags, depending on where I was. But at the program, jointly sponsored by JESNA’s Lippman-Kanfer Institute and the UJC, and held at the Kraft Center at Columbia, trying to determine what Jewish social entrepreneurship is and how we can take it to the next level, I find myself straddling the line between the entrepreneurs and the institutions, solidly in the court of neither.

from Seth Cohen:

On Jewish Innovation: Social Entrepreneurs and the Framing of the Zera’im Movement

What do we call this movement of social entrepreneurial diversity?  I admit that I find the term “social entrepreneur” to be one that belies the Jewish essence we need to ascribe to it. And I think that, like other Jewish movements in the past, we must find a name that begins to communicate what its fundamental Jewish conception is about.  Because in naming, we begin to create a common understanding of the Jewish act of creation of which we are collectively partaking.

In the search for a name, we seek the essence of that which we will name – that which it is “really about.”  When I think about the essence of Jewish social entrepreneurship, I think it in terms of a manifestation of the planting of seeds of Jewish innovation in our communities.  Seeds that can be planted inside the framework of existing organizations or in new formal and informal organizations.  Seeds that help grow into the Jewish fruits that nourish our communities, help provide shade for those who need a form of Jewish sheltering and provide the important resources and materials of which our communities are built.  These seed sometimes are planted deliberately in one place, or are planted in another place that is more hospitable than all others. Sometimes those seeds are blown across landscapes, finally rooting in the most unexpected or out-of-the-way places.  Some seeds are nurtured and succeed in their natural form of growth, where as others, because of the adversity of the conditions are not destined to grow much at all, instead yielding to the consequences of natural (or contrived) selection.

update from a September 10th UJC Leadership Briefing:

The consultation brought together, for the first time, over 130 Jewish social entrepreneurs, federation volunteers and professionals, funders and incubator program professionals from North America and Israel to foster conversation and develop relationships among those who aim to further social entrepreneurship, and the development of new leaders in the Jewish community.

Read the complete Leadership Briefing here.