Living Our Values: Mark Gurvis, MAJCS '84

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mark Gurvis has enjoyed a rich and meaningful career within the Jewish professional world. He graduated from the School of Jewish Communal Service (now the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management) in 1984 and serves as the Executive Vice President of Jewish Federations of North America. Since graduating, Mark has spent his career strengthening Jewish communities, both locally and nationally. 

Reflecting on evolutions in the Jewish professional field, Mark pointed to three main changes he’s experienced. The first he shared was the different way we talk about what it means to be a Jewish professional, based on the expanded credentials of today’s Jewish professionals. Professionals once entered the field from mostly two types of degrees: Jewish communal service and social work. Now, professionals enter with a myriad of degrees and experiences, which alters the conversation of what it means to be a Jewish professional. The second difference Mark cites is an increased flow of information, which makes communicating a well crafted response to nuanced issues challenging. Where once he could wait until the end of the day to leave notes at the homes of his lay leaders, now responses are expected on the spot. The third evolution Mark points to is the increasing polarization of today’s communities and nations. As a result, it is harder to find a middle ground or compromise for a concensus based system, such as that of the Jewish Federation. "The issues we face are complicated," says Mark, "but that is the world in which we live. This is still for me the most exciting and vibrant work I can do." 

Since graduating, Mark has felt a continued connection to HUC-JIR. In thinking back to his time at the College-Institute, he pointed to the unique learning environment, where future clergy, educators, and communal professionals learn side-by-side, as helping to broaden his view of the Jewish landscape. “HUC-JIR provided me with the knowledge base and skills to start me down my career path. The experience I had [at HUC-JIR] shaped and propelled my career in a direction that was meaningful and successful. This is an institution that I connected with and I take responsibility to give back to it and feel blessed to be in a position to do so.”

The College-Institute highlighted Mark’s 2013 appointment as Executive Vice President of Jewish Federations of North America, which can be found here.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.