Religious and Secular Leaders Travel Abroad with Gesher to Reconcile Differences and Meet Diaspora Jewry

Participants with Chief Rabbi Sacks; photo courtesy Gesher.
Participants with Chief Rabbi Sacks; photo by Tamar Dressler.

A new project gathering Israeli leaders from ultra-Orthodox, secular and religious communities is making headway in healing Israel’s social fabric.

This Leadership Course organized by Gesher, an Israeli organization dedicated to bridging the gaps in Israeli society, has just returned from five days in London where their group of 20 delegates learned from Diaspora models of community, leadership and confronted many of Israel’s internal challenges through dialogue and a set of challenging meetings.

“I don’t think anyone has ever done this before.” Remarked Ilan Geal-Dor, Gesher’s CEO, who traveled with the group. “We have a mix ranging from important ultra-Orthodox rabbis to secular journalists and everything in between. The group also formed relationships with Britain’s Jewish leadership and learned a tremendous amount from those encounters.”

The Gesher Leadership Course begins with a six month program gathering a diverse range of community leaders, during which participants engage in active dialogue, sharpen their leadership skills and gain knowledge about the Israeli populations represented.

After the initial six months, participants will create practical projects that bridge communities – transforming these lessons into projects within their own areas of specialty and increasing tolerance and understanding among different factions of Israeli society.

“This group of talented individuals in their 30’s and 40’s are proving an invaluable investment. They have already demonstrated serious leadership qualities and are poised to do great things for the Jewish people and Israel. And now they are working together to build a stronger future for all of us.” Commented Yoni Sherizen, who helped design the program.

Results from this first cohort are so successful that Gesher is already planning another group for next year.