Tag Archives: Leadership Development

A Precious Resource

resource library

By Melissa Cordish
As Jews, we understand that the concept of a covenant is central to our tradition. From Abraham and Sarah to our collective experience at Sinai, the theme of Brit appears over and over again. Striving to understand what is expected of us and working to fulfill these expectations is part of the essence of being a Jew. This concept is also key to the relationship between volunteers and the organizations for which they serve; A clear mutual understanding is critical the achievement of a meaningful volunteer experience. Members of boards or committees accept responsibility for their work and, in return, expect a level of respect and enrichment from their experience.

To facilitate this mutually beneficial relationship, The Associated’s Center for Community Engagement and Leadership (CCEL) has developed a Brit Avodah, a covenant of service, between board members and the organizations they serve. CCEL works both within The Associated system and in the general Jewish community to ensure that those who generously give their time and talent come away from the experience feeling good about the work they have done and also enriched by their interaction with the organization.

This is no small feat. To achieve this goal, CCEL has developed the tools organizations need to keep volunteers engaged in their board or committee experience and works with organizations to help them put these best practices into action. A robust resource library covering everything from writing a D’var Torah to ice breakers for meetings to Jewish values is featured on the Associated’s website and is available to the community.

CCEL professionals and ambassadors also work directly with volunteers in The Associated system to ensure that their communal role is well-suited to their wants and needs. By meeting individually with each person and exploring his or her strengths and areas of interest, CCEL is able to match volunteers to the right leadership opportunity. Some people pursue involvement which utilizes their particular talents; others may choose an area of need which resonates with them. No matter what they seek, CCEL can help connect an interested volunteer with the right opportunity.

CCEL’s commitment to this mission reflects important elements in Jewish communal life in Baltimore – the effective use of the time and talent of our volunteers and the cultivation of a cadre of active leaders for tomorrow. These dedicated volunteers are an incredible asset to our community. The decisions made by these boards and committees have the potential to impact countless lives. And the stronger and better trained that cohort of leaders is, the stronger our community will be.

Baltimore is unique among Jewish communities. Many struggle to engage leaders and lack a plan for succession among their boards. The Associated has been training future generations for many years and benefits from a robust cadre of volunteers who are poised and prepared to lead our community for years to come. Every committee or board member working in our community has the ability to lead from any chair. These leaders move our communal agenda forward and take care of our community. Thanks to them and their willingness to learn and grow in their roles, our community truly is in good hands.

Melissa Cordish is chair of The Associated’s Center for Community Engagement and Leadership.


Leave a comment

Filed under Leadership Development, Professionals, Volunteering & Advocacy

Beth Tfiloh at the 2012 General Assembly

By Aaron K.
Class of 2013
Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School

“Life is full of tears of joy and tears of despair. Life is not made of years but of moments” – Elie Wiesel

Just as Martin Luther King demonstrated on the National Mall in 1963 for a cause he firmly believed in, so too did 250,000 people demonstrate on December 6, 1987 for the support of Soviet Jewry. The issue: Jews throughout the Soviet Union were living under anti-religious, anti-Semitic and Communist oppression and were denied the ability to emigrate. They were hunted down by the KGB for even the slightest detection of religious practice. Possessing scant knowledge of Jewish history, customs and holidays, many of them either assimilated or converted. Those that chose to fight, however subtle it may have been, were called refusniks and were often convicted of treason and sentenced to long and harsh prison sentences in Siberia.

Perhaps the most famous refusnik, Natan Sharansky,was sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment in a Siberian labor camp for teaching Hebrew to students. While he was frequently held in solitary confinement and in a special “torture cell,” Sharansky became the first political prisoner released by Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, thanks to intense political pressure from Ronald Reagan and the Jewish community in the United States.

This December we mark the 25th anniversary of the largest active protest on behalf of the Jewish community in American history. It was protests like these that helped end the Soviet oppression just a few months later.

Yet the passage of time diminishes the reality of history, making it belong to ‘those’ people, in another age, epoch, and place. This is a phenomenon that the Jewish community desperately hopes to avoid. As the last of Holocaust survivors die off, it is up to future generations to remember such tragic and important events as if they experienced them.

As such, about 20 students from Beth Tfiloh’s senior class headed down to the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly. Few had ever heard of the issue of Soviet Jewry until we were inspired by the stories and open dialogue of Elie Wiesel and Natan Sharansky. Their leadership among the Jewish community and their dedication to our history is truly admirable.

Students like Marisa K., class of ’13, shared in Wiesel’s sentiment regarding the historical illiteracy of young people. “I was appalled to learn that such an event had never been made known to me and my peers. We definitely need to do a better job as a community to make sure that our history is never forgotten.”

In response, Rabbi Frank is coordinating a significant program this winter dedicated to understanding the Soviet Jewry movement.

Regardless, the American Jewish community in the 80s and 90s protested vociferously. According to senior Josh L., their actions were truly commendable.

“Political advocacy in response to the Soviet Jewry crisis yielded tangible results. From this, I learned that we must actively pursue justice rather than passively acquiesce in the status quo.”

As an overall conclusion on the hour long conversation Tali V. ’13 had this to say, “It was incredible to witness Wiesel and Sharansky, two men from different generations of savage anti-Semitism involving Jewish concentration camps and gulags, sitting together and conversing in today’s society of Jewish freedom and power.”

While the dialogue between Sharansky and Wiesel was certainly the main event at the General Assembly, seniors got chances to see the inner workings of the North American Jewish community by listening to unique speakers that spoke about issues such as: Israel and the Media: Tools for Effective Communication; Investing in Israel and Improving Results; and, Israel’s Haredi Community Today.

Economics student Elliott S. ’13 was very impressed with the session about investing in Israel for its information and open dialogue between the audience and the presenter. “As I intend to study economics in college next year it was very mind opening to learn that Israel’s market is a great opportunity for American companies.”

During lunch, the delegates from Beth Tfiloh sat with staff and lay leaders from The Associated and helped the community by writing letters to American soldiers returning home for the holidays and by making blankets for poor and needy children. “Very seldom do I get to have a direct impact on the Jewish community as I do at the General Assembly. I can make blankets for the poor and yet I can sign up to learn more about other issues from so many other organizations as well. It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience,” commented Yuval M. ’13.

In addition, the break gave students a chance to chat with members of dozens of organizations and learn about the services many of these groups provide. The students thoroughly enjoyed getting free souvenirs, whether a Theodore Herzl mug provided by the World Zionist Organization, a free t-shirt courtesy of the JFNA, popcorn, jelly beans, free newspapers from the Jerusalem Post and even massages. According to Jordan S. ’13, who went with his local National Conference of Synagogue Youth group (NCSY), “Like AIPAC, this was a great opportunity to meet Jews and supporters of Jewish causes from around the world and build a meaningful relationship with them.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Jewish Learning, Leadership Development, Teens, Volunteering & Advocacy

Meeting Engagement

By Allison Magat
Chair of Center for Community Engagement & Leadership

Have you ever been sitting in a boring, unorganized or chaotic meeting? Chances are you left feeling miserable and wondering why you spent your valuable time attending. On the flip side, have you ever been to a meeting that made you feel motivated, excited or inspired? You probably felt good afterwards, and began looking for more ways to get involved.

People feel good about being involved in a meeting that is well facilitated, interactive and results-oriented. Making sure that the outcome of this meeting is successful takes leadership from a lay and professional partnership. In order to create the ideal meeting, three areas must be addressed: Prework, Meeting Management, & Follow Up.

Meetings serve many purposes including information sharing, decision making, status checks and brainstorming. The decision about who to invite depends on what you want to accomplish. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to ask yourself — who needs to be part of this conversation? When deciding who to invite, determine what you will consider a “good outcome” and make sure to have the right people in the room.

You should be able to define the purpose of the meeting in one or two sentences at most. For example, “this meeting is to plan the new campaign strategy” or “the purpose is to discuss succession planning.” Additionally, it’s important to never plan a meeting whose goals can be met with an email. Meetings should not be a series of committee reports with little or no time for discussion. Instead, the reports and agenda should be sent out beforehand, with the assumption that people read all the documents and come prepared to discuss them.

Meeting Management
Now that the pre-work and planning has been completed, you should be able to facilitate an effective meeting. Making sure you have access to your organization’s mission, vision and values is an essential part of engaging your members.

Additionally, having a few basic rules of engagement will help the meeting run more smoothly and make people accountable for their behavior. Ask your members to share their ideas for rules of engagement and have your boards decide on the top three to five that should be adopted. Examples of these rules of engagement may include the silencing of cell phones/electronic devices, the expectation that everyone is present for the full duration of the meeting and an emphasis on the importance of mutual kavod/respect.

One of the hardest tasks of running an effective meeting is time management. As the facilitator, make sure that all members respect the time allotted for the meeting and use your agenda as a time guide. Most importantly, the facilitator needs to help the group stay focused and productive by setting a positive, productive tone for interaction among members. As the meeting facilitator, it is important to manage discussion, encourage brainstorming and participation, synthesize the conversation and then call for a decision.

Evaluation, Action Steps, and Follow-up
Receiving feedback right afterwards is essential in order to improve the meeting process for next time. Don’t wait until the next day to ask for feedback. Instead leave five to 10 minutes at the end of the meeting for evaluation or ask for written feedback. Sending out minutes will record who attended, what was discussed, any decisions made and any action items assigned. The minutes should be distributed to all members, whether or not they attended. Lastly, follow-up between meetings as a “check-in” will be helpful in deciding if members need assistance with their action items.

Following these guidelines will pave the path for a successful meeting that is productive, dynamic and exciting! Members will look forward to future meetings and will know that their time was valued and appreciated.

Check out resources for meeting management and engagement created by The ASSOCIATED’s Center for Community Engagement and Leadership>>

Leave a comment

Filed under Leadership Development, Professionals

New Professionals … Leadership … Cohort …. Fellowship … Professional Development … Recruit … Retain … Train

By Cindy Goldstein
Executive Director of DFI

What do all of these buzz words have in common?

As the Friedman Fellowship enters into its fourth year, the Darrell D. Friedman Institute for Professional Development at the Weinberg Center (DFI) is pleased to introduce to you its newest cohort of outstanding new Jewish communal professionals working in the Baltimore area. The Friedman Fellows are nominated by their organizations and selected among an outstanding and promising group of new Jewish professional leaders who are in the field up to three years.

DFI has been selecting a cohort of up to 10 participants each year since the fall of 2009, awarding fellowship funds to be used over a two-year period to new professionals working in Jewish organizations, synagogues and agencies in Baltimore. The fellowship enables them to have a mentor and to engage in professional development opportunities that enhance their professional skills and Judaic competencies. These experiences lead to excellent service in their work and to career advancement in the Jewish communal field.

The Friedman Fellowship is supported by an endowment created by community leaders and donors. It was matched by the Weinberg Foundation, all of whom recognized Darrell Friedman when he retired as President and CEO of THE ASSOCIATED. We are therefore able to attract and retain new fresh grow leadership in the field and to Baltimore. This is a “perk” for an organization and a fellow, allowing them to grow professionally thanks to the generosity of our community’s leadership and THE ASSOCIATED’s strong commitment to professional development.

This fall we are introducing KADIMA, a leadership development pilot program facilitated by Beth Gansky, leadership coach, created for the Friedman Fellows, to assist them in clarifying and developing their professional  and leadership goals, to provide tools to advance their careers and to create a cohort and network of these new professionals to  further their learning and collaboration in our community. Participating will be our newest cohort, listed below, along with our continuing 2012 fellows: Molly Amster, CHAI, Melissa Berman, JCC; Brad Cohen, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation; Marisa Danto, THE ASSOCIATED; Rabbi Kelley Gludt, Beth Am;  Nechama Goldman, AJOP; Caren Leven, Oheb Shalom;  Loryn Strauzer, BHI.

Our newest cohort, selected this fall of 2013, include:

  • Sora Brill, Donor Services Representative, THE ASSOCIATED
  • Carly Frank, Campaign Associate, THE ASSOCIATED
  • Ilana Knobel, Special Events Coordinator, UMD Hillel
  • Darren Levin, JLIC Rabbi, Johns Hopkins University Hillel
  • Lane Levine, Community Network Director, Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.
  • Amanda Max, Children’s Service Director, Jewish Community Center
  • Lara Nicolson, Family Engagement Associate, Center for Jewish Education
  • Jessica Shimberg, Associate Director for Jewish Life and Learning, UMD Hillel
  • Ahuva Spetner, Program Director, JEPGirls of Maryland

For a complete list of all Friedman Fellows, and to apply for next year, visit www.thedfi.org>>

1 Comment

Filed under Leadership Development, Professionals

On Manhigut

By Erika Schon
Former Director
Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University

The Hebrew word for leadership, manhigut, reminds us that we expect a certain conduct, or minhag, from our professional and lay leaders. This behavior includes the careful consideration of succession. Dr. Hal M. Lewis, the noted author on Jewish leadership, writes “the essence of an authentic leader in Jewish tradition is the individual who is always in search of his or her replacement…the true test of success is the long-term continuity of an idea or movement.”  

And so, with humility and gratitude for a challenging and rewarding tenure both at Baltimore Hebrew University and, for the last three years, at Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University, I have taken this notion to heart. 

I am proud to announce that on July 1, Jill Max assumed the position of Director of BHI. Jill is already well-positioned to take on the helm of BHI, having spent the past year as Assistant Director of BHI, focusing on Adult Education initiatives. I know you will join me in wishing Jill ongoing success in her new and expanded responsibilities.

It has truly been a privilege and an honor to play a role in the establishment of Baltimore Hebrew Institute. The integration of BHU’s programs into Towson University was a landmark achievement that was possible through the close collaboration and support of the ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. The transition required not only bridge funding, but also creativity and bold thinking to develop a new educational model. 

As you know, I have tremendous respect and excitement for the programs and students that we are supporting here at TU. In just three years, Towson has become a recognized address for Jewish Education, Jewish Communal Service and Jewish Studies, with outstanding academic offerings for both undergraduate and graduate students. With an exceptional Judaic library collection, dedicated Towson faculty and staff, enthusiastic and talented students and strong University-wide support, I am certain that we have found a wonderful new home for our programs. Each year, I couldn’t be more proud of the BHI-affiliated graduates and I know they are also proud to be members of our BHI family.

As I write this, I am also participating in another first at Towson University that was made possible through the ASSOCIATED’s support: the Instructional Leadership Institute for Jewish Educators runs from July 9 – 13th. Today is day three of the stimulating, well-organized and enlightening week-long course. The 45 educators enrolled in the course span the broadest spectrum of Jewish affiliation and each brings unique experiences and perspectives to the class exercises and conversations. The Institute is being taught by four expert faculty members from Towson University’s Center for Leadership in Education. Following the five days of intense classroom study, the course will continue with online forums throughout the year.  

The success of this innovative professional development initiative has already generated tremendous enthusiasm from all the students and I am personally thrilled to participate as I prepare to launch new music education projects next year. 

To the ASSOCIATED, as well as all of our stakeholders and friends, thank you for your trust and support during our journey together. May we go m’chayil l’chayil, from strength to strength!

Leave a comment

Filed under Jewish Learning, Leadership Development

Recognizing Volunteers

By Leah Berry
Director of Engagement and Leadership

As we wrap up the current fiscal year, it is important that we take the opportunity to reflect on our accomplishments, recognize our lay leaders and volunteers for their efforts and identify their next steps for involvement.

When recognition is done successfully, it is ongoing, personal and thoughtful.  People don’t always take the time to say thank you because they busy, don’t always have an attitude of gratitude ingrained in them. Being thankful and expressing gratitude is a profound Jewish value. As Jews, every morning we wake up and recite Modeh Ani expressing our gratefulness for all that we have been given. In Judaism, the word for thank you is todah which comes from the word, l’hodot, to praise. Hakarat hatov is another way that one expresses thanks which literally translates as recognizing goodness.

Power of the personal thank you note
A handwritten note goes further in many cases than a public honor. Notes should be personal and meaningful. Let’s use Dayenu as a great example of a wonderful expression of appreciation. Dayenu is broken up into specific components to help the reader realize the many miracles that took place in the Exodus story. Dayenu teaches us to be specific, detailed and break down the different aspects of what people have done for us, when we are expressing our gratitude.  Take advantage of unexpected moments to send a thank you (during an experience with a volunteer versus at the end of the year when they might be expecting it).

Creating a culture of appreciation and gratitude
As it states in Psalms, Olam Chesed Yibaneh, the world is held up/built on kindness. As lay and professional leaders in the community, we need to create an ongoing culture of gratitude. Everyone has different life experiences and some individuals don’t feel comfortable giving and/or receiving gratitude. We need to orchestrate an environment where people feel good about giving and receiving appreciation. When someone decides to take on a project, they are not always expecting to be appreciated but there is minor disappointment when they don’t feel appreciated. People need to feel appreciated and a sense of belonging.

What’s next for the outgoing leader?
Creating plans for outgoing leaders helps to ensure their future involvement while gleaning
important lessons learned from their tenure in their leadership position.

  • Meet in person with your chair(s) to thank him/her, discuss the year as a whole, accomplishments, challenges, their overall experience, etc. Also discuss his/her interests going forward. (If he/she is concluding the term, determine what the individual wants to do next. Get a range of interestsIf he/she is not completing the term, it is never too early to begin this general conversation.) Following the meeting, should the individual require a new placement, work with the appropriate person in your organization to follow-up on the various interests.

During your transition meeting, consider asking the following questions:

  • What did you learn during your tenure in this leadership position?
  • Are there particular aspects of the work, or new things that you saw/learned that piqued your interest? What should we be aware of in future planning?
  • What do you think is next for you?

THE ASSOCIATED offers the “cultivation form” to help you with this process. Download the form now>>

Leave a comment

Filed under Leadership Development

What a Community!

By Cindy Goldstein
Executive Director
The Darrell D. Friedman Institute for Professional Development at the Weinberg Center

I feel so fortunate to work in a Jewish community that values its professionals. The success of our community depends upon the quality and success of our excellent professionals that we have in every agency, organization and synagogue. Do you know why they are excellent? Because they value learning, growing and expanding their knowledge so they can perform their jobs better, provide the best service, and advance their own careers in this fabulous field of what we call Jewish communal service. Professionals have a passion for their work, they want to make a difference, they believe in building relationships with their volunteer leaders and their clients/customers/congregants. They are part of a caring team, striving to make this world a better place for all of us, that’s what Jewish community is all about.

And that is what June 5 will be about.

On June 5, professionals will have the opportunity to gather with their colleagues from around the country. The Jewish Communal Service Association (JCSA) will be holding its annual program, a day of professional development, right here at our Weinberg Park Heights JCC.  We will have the opportunity to celebrate with our mentor and friend, Marc B. Terrill, President of THE ASSOCIATED, who will be installed as the new JCSA President. Marc cares about all the professionals in our community. He values the role that each of us plays and the difference we can and do make in our community. He is a true mentor and colleague.

We’re on the cutting edge of nonprofits, continually striving to meet new challenges. Chip Edelsburg, the Executive Director of the Jim Joseph Foundation, will speak of “Big Ideas, Bold Solutions: The Challenges and Choices of Today’s Jewish Community Professionals.”

Also among the top speakers expected in Baltimore for the conference are: Shifra Bronznick, founding President of Advancing Women Professionals; Miriam Brosseau, Social Media Coalitions Manager at The Jewish Education Project; David Cygielman, co-founder and CEO of Moishe House; William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA); Sarah Gershman, President of Green Room Speakers; and Deborah Grayson Riegel, coach, trainer and speaker.

“This is an excellent opportunity for Baltimore to showcase its rich and vibrant Jewish community to other professionals from across the country,” said Michael Hoffman. “Working with THE ASSOCIATED’s professional development arm, the Darrell D. Friedman Institute, JCSA is putting on a diverse program that will inform the work of our most-seasoned professionals and help ensure the future success of the country’s newer staff.”

Are you one of the hundreds of passionate professionals working for a Jewish organization in Baltimore, striving to make a difference in our community? Then join us on June 5 to network with your colleagues, learn from experts in our field, and go back to your organization renewed and rejuvenated! Register at www.thedfi.org/jcsa.

1 Comment

Filed under Leadership Development