Five Minutes with Erik Ludwig, New Director of the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

This summer HUC-JIR's ZSJNM welcomed our new director, Erik Ludwig. The students have spent the past few weeks getting to know Erik, and now it’s our turn. We challenged Erik to answer a few of our questions and learned quite a bit. Read below to learn about Erik’s thoughts on the importance of building a leadership pipeline, entrepreneurial capacity-building, and favorite flavor of ice cream (Cherry Garcia, anyone?). 

First, a little bit about Erik...

Erik comes to the Zelikow School and the College-Institute with a broad range of expertise in the Jewish nonprofit ecosystem, philanthropy and fundraising, professional leadership development, and management and governance of Jewish organizations.  Before coming to HUC-JIR, he was with UpStart Bay Area, where he served as Chief Accelerator Officer, responsible for providing entrepreneurial Jewish leaders with organizational capacity-building and technical know-how aimed at making Jewish life accessible, relevant, and transformative. Erik began his career at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco as a teen program manager and has since held leadership positions within JCCs and Federation. His academic studies focused on education, culture and society and he is currently completing his doctoral dissertation at the Univeristy of Utah, exploring how the “ethic of care” is performed in Jewish Schools.


How about a few of your favorites?

Favorite Ice Cream: Cherry Garcia
Favorite Vacation Spot: Lake Tana, Ethiopia – it is also the homeland of my daughter Lilah (6) and my son Jaspar (3).
Favorite Band: Often depends upon my mood, but the Grateful Dead is always in my playlist.


What are some highlights from your Jewish journey?

Hmm…there have been a lot of transformative experiences over the years, a few highlights:

  • Founding Club 18 at the JCCSF,
  • Israel trip with JCCA Merrin Teen Fellows cohort 2, 
  • Developing a statewide Anne Frank Exhibit in partnership with the Utah Governor’s Office, and
  • Being appointed the Director of the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.


What changes have you seen in the Jewish community in your lifetime?

Two of the big shifts have been:

1. The changing role and demographics of lay leadership.
2. The embrace of innovation protocols in Jewish startup organizations and institutions.


What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Jewish community today?

One of the biggetst challenges is the need to develop a leadership pipeline with the skillset to establish and maintain sustainable organizations. This must happen within the reality of a Jewish communal landscape that is increasingly dynamic and in which one’s neighborhood is no longer defined by the street one lives on.

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.