Category: Collegial Voices

American Jews Experience Pluralism in Israel

The training that American rabbinical students receive regarding Israel needs to change. Israel bond appeals and guided synagogue trips may remain part of the communal landscape in America, but they (especially the bond appeals) are less important than they once were. Instead, American and Israeli Jews now have a new kind of asset to offer each other: experience and knowledge regarding different kinds of Jewish communities and different ways of being Jewish.

Disrupting the Rabbinate

The rabbinate is being disrupted. Like many other fields, journalism and healthcare among them, technological and societal changes are disrupting the traditional role of a rabbi. “Disruptive innovation” is a term coined by Clay Christensen. According to Wikipedia, “a disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.

What Overachieving Young People Really Need to Hear

I find myself sitting with students who are stressed out and frustrated. They are doing everything “right” yet find themselves craving meaning and a sense of direction. Although they are active on campus, most of them don’t feel that they really belong to a Jewish community. Few are generating their own solutions and starting initiatives. For the most part, they are searching for a connection. As experiential Jewish educators, the gap between inspiration and action is one that should concern us. We create close-knit cohorts, inspire teens, and tell them that they can change the world. However, the world often sends them the opposite message. The reality they encounter leaves them feeling that they are on their own, disconnected, and disempowered.

Serving Those Who Serve

Our congregation has been situated less than twenty minutes away from a large military base for forty years. During that time, the number of military families who have actively sought us out has been quite small, but this past year has taught us that it is worthwhile to actively reach out. With the support of an incubator grant from the…

A Teacher and Her Mentor Reflect on the Same Year

What are the similarities and differences between how a teacher and a mentor perceive strengths, weaknesses and growth? Read these two complementary pieces to see one example of what each values and how reflection plays and important part in the process of learning together and developing as professionals.

To Sustain a Life is to Sustain a Community

I seek out individuals in the community and interview them in order to write their Jewish stories. Through this experience, I have learned that the community is more than just a sum of its parts. The single lives sustained by the Jewish community are the real source of sustenance for the communal structure.

Religious School Inaction or Religious School in Action?

The process began with a massive marketing effort to explain, first, that Project Tikkun Olam was not a day off from school but a day “on.” Even though children were leaving the traditional classroom, our day of action offered an opportunity to further one of the guiding principles of our school: “One who learns in order to teach will be able both to learn and to teach. But, one who learns in order to practice, will be able to learn, to teach, to observe and to practice” (Rabbi Ishmael in Pirkei Avot 4:6).

Not for Self but…: Sacred Service Meets Military Service

There is work, and there is service, and I learned the difference during those few years in the United States military. Being a rabbi was a way of life and not a way to earn a living. Being a Naval chaplain was not merely a way of life but a giving over of my life to the service of my country.

Appreciative Inquiry: Powerful Tool for Service Learners

In every organization there is something that works. In every organization people are eager to share their positive connections to the organization. In every organization people are comfortable on the journey toward the future when they bring with them the very best of the past.

Eating with our Intellectual Rivals: Partnership and Tikkun Olam

In the Jewish community, we can no longer ignore the strict division between organizations. Our clients deserve better relationships between the organizations with which they affiliate. We need to act not in the best interest of self-preservation, but in the best interests of our clients and the Jewish people as a whole.

Circus Rebbe / רב הקרקס

ילדים יהודים שפחדו לבקר בכבר ערבי – עכשיו מגיעים כמה פעמים בשבוע, ובלי היסוס מתארחים בבתי חבריהם בקרקס. הקרקס בהחלט הצליח ליצור מכנה משותף תרבותי, שפה משותפת, אמון הדדי – במקום שקודם לא היו אלה קיימים

Servant Leadership in the Presidency of Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D.

The servant leadership model was introduced by Robert Greenleaf in his 1970 book, “The Servant as Leader.” This particular leadership framework is built around ten operational principles, including the following concepts: the importance of listening; the art of persuasion; a heightened sense of empathy; self-awareness; and a capacity to think beyond the immediate challenges by providing a longer term perspective (conceptualization). According to Greenleaf, “The servant-leader is servant first … It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”

Relationships Make Change: Sacred Service Learning in Israel

We spent two mornings a week discussing Jewish texts, philosophy, social work, anthropology, and most of all social change. Our experience would not be complete without the supplemental discussions that frequently illustrated that while we were all committed to our work in Gedera, it was mostly our relationships with community members that created social change rather than any specific project on which we worked.

Tisha B’Av: An Annual Pause to Stop Baseless Hatred

Is there such a thing as sinat hinam, baseless hatred?

Usually when we hate something or someone, we believe we are justified–we have cause. Somebody slighted us, or even worse overtly harmed us. We disagree with their politics. We think they are disingenuous. I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone who hated someone or something and could declare that it was a baseless hatred.

Doing Good Versus Doing Nothing

Recently, the organizations that ran immersive Jewish service learning experiences, in larger numbers, specifically AJWS (internationally) and Bend the Arc (domestically), either have stopped or are about to stop doing them. From my perspective this creates an educational challenge and an opportunity – one that sacred service leaders should embrace.

Cincinnati: A Communal Jewish Service Learning Model

Funders are often asked to describe how they set priorities and what motivates them to invest in particular programs in certain moments in time. During the formative years of what is proving to be a new epoch in the history of the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, one in which we have taken on the responsibility of stewarding significantly enhanced resources,…

The Evolution of Sacred Service

The launch of an online journal dedicated to the training of rabbis toward  twenty-first century communal leadership through religious service learning is cause for celebration. Its emergence in the first institution of rabbinic education in the western hemisphere, here in Cincinnati, Ohio, says much about our College-Institute. Most importantly, it reflects an ongoing commitment to the original mission of our pioneering…