With $6m. Naming Gift, HUC School of Jewish Nonprofit Management Surges Forward

The School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (SJNM) at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC) has been named with a transformative gift from Marcie and Howard Zelikow. The first Jewish communal service graduate program to be established in America forty-five years ago, this School continues to be at the forefront preparing nonprofit professionals today for leadership careers in the Jewish community. With this gift, it is now poised to broaden its impact, both geographically and across the range of Jewish professional fields.

The $5 million Zelikow Endowment, along with their $1 million commitment for current operations, will provide core support for the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, including its administration, faculty, student financial aid, technology enhancement and more.

“The key to ensuring a vibrant Jewish future is preparing excellent Jewish leaders who, in addition to their deep Judaic knowledge and pastoral capacity, are also proficient in the core nonprofit professional skills that are essential today, including management, financial planning, fundraising, organizational change, and strategic planning,” says Marcie Zelikow. “Such professional development will provide Jewish leaders of today and tomorrow with the expertise to sustain, transform, and create institutions, in partnership with their lay leaders.”

For the SJNM community, this is nothing less than a major vindication. For only 5 years ago, HUC found itself under major financial pressure and proposed suspending admissions at what was then called the School of Jewish Communal Service (SJCS). Board politics, and city-centric ego, played a part, but SJCS was simply not a financial drain on HUC and the perceived gains were non-existent. Following a very public campaign, the Board maintained the status quo.

One year later, the school was rebranded as the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management – not only a name understood by most – but a recognition of the changes, and skill-sets, required by those ascending to leadership roles in our various organizations.

Today, as the Zelikow School extends its reach beyond the Los Angeles campus, where rabbinical and education students regularly take courses and pursue joint graduate degrees, plans are developing to offer cross campus and online learning, utilizing hybrid educational models to enable students in all of HUC’s programs and campuses, along with alumni around the world, to study with the School’s faculty. Particularly exciting, in what would be the first of its kind, the School is exploring together with JDC Entwine a program to train professionals for international work.

Speaking to eJP on the evolving nature of the field, Brenda Gevertz, executive director of JPro Network, said: “HUC-JIR has been a leader in providing the skills and knowledge needed to lead our field and this gift can only benefit our Jewish community. Graduates of dual degree programs, such as HUC-JIR’s, enter the field best prepared to provide the leadership we need. Our community is diverse and complex and academic programs provide a strong foundation for career success. The cross-fertilization of clergy, educators and community professionals benefitting from this gift strengthens all of us.”

We couldn’t agree more.

The official dedication of the Zelikow School will take place on Sunday, February 8th at HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles.