The SJNM academic program is complemented by a number of community-building and professional development experiences. In addition to the bi-annual Israel Seminar and field practicum described under “The Program”, students have a variety of opportunities to build their Jewish professional network and identity.
Kick-off Shabbat Retreat
Each year’s summer session begins with a Kick-off Shabbat Retreat planned by the second-year students to welcome the new class and begin to weave together the cohorts. Built around the celebration of Shabbat, the retreat incorporates recreational, social and identity-clarification activities designed to introduce the students to one another and to the faculty. Taking place at the Shalom Institute in the hills of Malibu, California, the retreat is a key component in building and expanding the SJNM community.
The Rabbi Louis Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence
Each Summer Session concludes with the Rabbi Louis Bernstein Scholar-in-Residence featuring a leading Jewish and community professional. In recent years this three-day seminar has featured Larry Moses (President Emeritus of the Wexner Foundation), Dr. John Ruskay (Executive Vice-President and CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York), Nancy Kaufman (President/CEO of the National Council for Jewish Women), Ruth Messinger (President and CEO of American Jewish World Service), and Shifra Bronznik (Founder and Director of Advancing Jewish Women Professionals). Addressing a wide range of issues, such as Jewish community organizing, gender inequality in the Jewish community, the Jewish social justice agenda, and patterns of contemporary Jewish identity, the scholars provide both cutting-edge analysis and models of professional engagement.
Culmination Addresses by recent Scholars-in-Residence
2012 - Larry Moses
2011 - John Ruskay
2010 - Nancy Kaufman
2009 - Ruth Messinger
2008 - Shifra Bronznick
Each Tuesday during the Summer Session, professionals and lay leaders from the LA Jewish community present perspectives on the summer’s topic over lunch with both cohorts of students, as well as members of the faculty, administration, alumni and SJNM Advisory Board. The Summer 2012 topic was: “Jewish Community Relations: Where Self-Interest Meets Community Interest,” organized and moderated by Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, former National Director of Interfaith and Intergroup Relations of the American Jewish Committee. Other topics in recent years have included: “Presenting Culture: (In)Forming Jewish Identity” and “Trends in Contemporary Jewish Philanthropy.”
Videos of the 2012 Lunch & Learn Encounter Seminar
The Spiegel Seminar in Jewish Values
Established by alumna Marty Spiegel to draw attention to complex issues in Jewish family and communal life, this lunchtime seminar brings together the entire campus… students in SJNM, the Rhea Hirsch School of Education, and the Rabbinical School, as well as faculty and administration. With six sessions over the course of the academic year, the seminars include text study relating to how the issues are perceived in the traditional literature, case studies, personal testimony and access to community resources dealing with the issues. The 2012-13 theme is: “Addiction in the Jewish Community.” Previous year’s themes have included: "Money and the Jewish Community," “Difficult Decision – Issues of Conception, Adoption & Abortion,” “Abuse in the Jewish Community throughout the Life Cycle,” and “The Changing Face of the American Jewish Family.”
One of the key facets of Jewish organizational life is the lay-professional partnership. Even more than in the broader nonprofit arena, the lay-professional relationship in the Jewish community is critical to organizational effectiveness and success. In order to give students an opportunity to explore this partnership, the SJNM Advisory Board sponsors a Mentorship Program matching students with prominent lay leaders in the community. Mentors give students the opportunity to see things from the perspective of the lay leader, whether in dealing with issues that arise in the classroom or internships, or through attending Board meetings, fundraising dinners, or solicitations.