The Leadership Institute Presents "Sustaining a Model of Change and Innovation in a Challenging World"

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Leadership Institute, cosponsored by HUC-JIR and JTS and fully funded by the UJA Federation of New York, gathered on Monday, February 11, 2013, for a symposium, “Sustaining a Model of Change and Innovation in a Challenging World.”  This was the second of two symposia during the two and a half years of the Institute, when congregational teams were invited to join fellows for a day of learning. The day focused on next steps for change projects that fellows are implementing in their congregations.

The symposium began with an introduction and welcome from Dr. Evie Rotstein, Director of the New York School of Education at HUC-JIR, and Melanie Schneider, Senior Planning Executive at the Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal at UJA Federation of New York. Dr. Rotstein explained, “This was an opportunity for leaders to share and understand what leaders deem purposeful work. We want to know who they are and what makes their careers meaningful, what enhances personal interactions and how they inspire others.”

The day continued with keynote speaker Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman, Barbara and Stephen Friedman Professor of Liturgy, Worship, and Ritual at HUC-JIR, who presented on the topic “What are our Overarching Goals for Jewish Engagement in the 21st Century?” Dr. Hoffman outlined how modernity has altered the way in which Jews become engaged in their congregations.

Following Rabbi Hoffman’s presentation, the ninety people in attendance chose one of four workshops during “Tools that Sustain Motivation and Change.”

  • Dr. Leora Isaacs, Chief Program Officer and Director, Berman Center for Applied Innovation, JESNA, presented “Evaluating and Assessing Change."  Dr. Isaacs noted that we know that we need to evaluate our innovative programs, and we understand the fundamentals of program evaluation. Her workshop focused on what data we should collect that will be relevant, meaningful and persuasive for our audiences (ourselves, our funders, our participants), and echniques for collecting data that is really relevant and meaningful (going beyond surveys to observation rubrics, interview protocols, after-action reviews).
  • Yonni Wattenmaker, a  Mentor in the Leadership Institute, and Rabbi Elliott Kleinman, Chief Engagement Officer, HUC-JIR, presented "Funding Change."  In this workshop, they discussed the challenges of funding and explored strategies for sustainability, fiscal and otherwise, once grant money has expired. They looked at potential outlets for securing seed money and getting “buy in” from potential donors.
  • Rabbi Jodie Siff and Susan Werk, Mentors, Leadership Institute, presented, “Sustaining Change." This workshop provided exercises that will enhance the understanding of different leadership styles and goals, listening to others and aiming for the big picture.
  • Leadership Institute alumni Gila Hadani Ward, Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Beth Sholom of Roslyn, NY, and Alex Tansky, Director of Education at Village Temple of New York, NY, presented “A Model for Change: Camping.”  They discussed the ways that camp designs can inspire learning and be integrated into a synagogue program  to create interesting and innovative opportunities. Ward described how Temple Beth Sholom, Roslyn is exploring ways to both integrate methodologies and programs while at the same time creating synergies with existing Jewish overnight camps. Participants discovered how connections are created and cultivated. Tansky described his work on Chibburim, a new model at Village Temple, New York, centered on engaging all age groups within Hebrew School community in a shared, Day-Camp experience.

The fellows and their teams came together for closing inspirational remarks from Rabbi Hoffman, and had time for congregational Team meetings.

Learn more about the Leadership Institute.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first 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 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. www.huc.edu