Posted by: Wayne L. Firestone, President on 7/17/2007 12:39:00 PM
When Jewish leaders are setting the agenda for the Jewish future does Hillel have a seat at the table? You bet.
I have just returned from Israel where I presented to the Conference on the Future of the Jewish People, an event that brought together 120 of the leaders of the Jewish community in Israel and the diaspora. The conference dealt with four subject areas: Geopolitics, Jewish Identity/Demography, Communities, and Leadership.
For example, it became clear to many of the participants from overseas that prominent Israeli political figures did not have a true understanding of diaspora Jewish life.
As a participant in the Leadership session chaired by Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz, I was asked to address another conspicuous gap in our community: the absence of women and young people in decision-making forums and in high-level leadership positions. I am pleased that the conference adopted recommendations to provide resources for grassroots-initiated programs by undergraduates and young adults, and to strive to include individuals in ledership capacities from "all walks of life, especially women."
Hillel is invited to participate in these meetings because we have demonstrated that we have our finger on the pulse of young Jews in Israel and the diaspora. We understand not just where the Jewish community has been, but where it is going. And Hillel has shown, on three continents, that a pluralistic, inclusive and dynamic Jewish community can thrive on campus.
The key to creating these campus communities is talented, well-trained professionals. While I was in Israel I met with Hillel professionals studying at the Pardes school of Jewish studies. We provide this intensive Jewish education to our staff to deepen their understanding of classical Jewish texts and to enable them to foster meaningful Jewish experiences for their students.
I returned to the States and immediately met with over 100 professionals attending our New Professionals Orientation in Washington, D.C. The individuals attending NPI were as diverse as the students we serve. I was pleased to see many professionals we engaged as undergraduates -- many through the Taglit-birthright israel program -- who have developed an enduring commitment to Jewish life and who wish to return the favor to college students.
The dedication and idealism of our professionals inspires me, as I’m sure it will inspire their students. This is where the Jewish future starts.
RE: Report from the Jewish Future
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