The School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (SJNM) at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) 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 the premier graduate school 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 official dedication of the Zelikow School will take place on Sunday, February 8 at 4 pm at HUC-JIR’s Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles.
“We are enormously grateful to Howard and Marcie Zelikow for their extraordinary generosity in support of our renowned program preparing leaders for the nonprofit sector,” says Rabbi Aaron Panken, HUC-JIR President. “With the Zelikows’ landmark support, the Zelikow School will grow in its ability to prepare future generations of skilled professionals to serve the institutions, agencies, and organizations of global Jewish life. We have a series of significant programs planned that will expand the influence of this program tremendously, helping reach young Jewish leaders around the world.”
“Our investment in the Zelikow School is an investment in the Jewish future. We are proud to support its ever growing impact on Jewish life in the Reform Movement and across the Jewish landscape, today and for the generations to come,” states Marcie Zelikow, immediate past Chair of the School’s Advisory Board and a member of HUC-JIR’s Board of Governors.
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,” asserts 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.”
Richard Siegel, who will retire as Director at the Zelikow School of Jewish NonProfit Management (ZSJNM) at the end of this academic year, agrees. “Now more than ever, Jewish organizations, whether start-ups or legacy institutions, need business-savvy, Jewishly educated, and visionary professional leaders to help them address both the enormous challenges and significant opportunities facing the Jewish world and the broader society.” The search committee has convened and is actively recruiting a new director to build upon Richard Siegel’s successful work in advancing the school during his seven year tenure.
Marcie and Howard Zelikow, active leaders at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, CA, are strong advocates for the ZSJNM’s unique mission: providing a practice-based graduate education for new generations of Jewish professionals to shape the future of the American Jewish community. “Howard and I are very deliberate in our philanthropy and give thoughtful consideration to our allocations,” Marcie Zelikow explains. “We decided that we wanted to make a gift that would have a more profound impact on the future of Jewish organizational life by preparing the next generations of their professional leaders. We feel that the only way in which congregations and Jewish agencies and institutions are guaranteed to thrive going forward is if they have well-trained leaders able to guide them.”
Dr. Joshua Holo, Dean of the HUC-JIR Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, notes, “Marcie and Howard Zelikow’s endowment gift will help the Zelikow School become a truly national, and even international, resource, enabling HUC-JIR to offer courses and certifications in nonprofit management to rabbinical, cantorial, and education students on all of its campuses, as well as executive degrees and certification for rabbis, cantors, educators, and communal professionals already in the field.”
Marcie Zelikow was first exposed to Jewish communal leadership through her family’s activism in Cleveland. This heritage motivated her to become a lay leader at Federation and Jewish Family Service in Los Angeles, where she first met Jerry Bubis, the School’s founding director. His invitation to join the School’s Advisory Board has led to a decade of rewarding and meaningful experiences for Zelikow, who describes her personal fulfillment as a mentor to nonprofit management students. “It is exciting to be with young people who are focused on effecting positive change in our world. At a time in our society when there is a pervasive sense of loss of confidence in the future, these students express an optimism that is truly inspiring.”
The Zelikow School currently features a number of unique elements that contribute to its distinction as a world class educational institution. These include a diverse array of supervised internships at respected Jewish institutions across southern California; a dual-degree relationship with the superb graduate programs at the University of Southern California; an exciting lay-mentorship program that brings students into sustained contact with experienced Jewish lay leaders to benefit from their skills and insights; and a biennial Israel Seminar that offers students the opportunity to cultivate a more sophisticated understanding of Israeli society and build relationships with Israeli counterparts to foster stronger Israel engagement in the North American communities they will one day lead.
As the Zelikow School extends its reach beyond the HUC-JIR Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, 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 rabbinical, cantorial, and education students on HUC-JIR’s campuses in Cincinnati, New York, and Jerusalem, and alumni in diverse communities around the world, to study with the Zelikow School’s faculty. This visionary gift will help pave the way to a brighter and more influential future for the ZSJNM, for HUC-JIR, and for the Jewish community as a whole.