Spertus Institute Graduates First Cohort of Israeli Students Trained to Build Bridges Between Israeli and North American Communities

Back row left to right: Omer Tulchinsky, Sveta Blekher, Yoni Kott of Institutional Partner Shorashim, Lana Zilberman Soloway, Yulie Khromchenco, Yotam Tron of Institutional Partner The Institute for Democratic Education, Shany Katzev, Rotem Yehoshua, and Doron Sherf. Front row left to right: Nadav Savaia, Lior Chacham, Director of Spertus Institute’s Center for Jewish Leadership Tal Rosen, Spertus Institute President and CEO Dr. Hal M. Lewis, and Spertus Institute Provost and VP Dr. Dean P. Bell.

Last week, Spertus Institute graduated its first group of Israeli students, from a two-year-long program that focused on leadership skills for Israeli professionals that work with North American Jewish communities.

The graduates – who were awarded both a Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies and Certificate in Jewish Professional Studies – have been studying together for two years, creating a community of best practice devoted to dynamic leadership.

In his commencement address, Spertus Institute President and CEO Dr. Hal M. Lewis, spoke about the program’s deep commitment to both am Yisrael and medinat Yisrael. He said, “At the time the Spertus leadership conceived of an Israeli cohort we never could have predicted how important our efforts would turn out to be. Who would have known that in 2017, a hundred years after the Balfour Declaration and 50 years since the Six Day War, relationships between American and Israeli Jews would be as complex and challenging as they are today?”

He elaborated: “We believed then and believe now that those of us on both sides of the ocean who toil in the vineyards of Jewish life share common challenges and a collective fate. We embrace similar passions, mutual dreams, and shared aspirations. This is true even as we operate within different realities and diverse political worldviews. Despite our differences, we believe that what we have in common, what binds us together is not our Israeli-ness or our American-ness, but our Jewish-ness.”