Why Was the Wexner Heritage Program Created?
Leslie H. Wexner, Founder and CEO of Limited Brands, was asked in the early 1980's if he would get in line to become campaign chair of a major, national Jewish organization. "I don't think so," he responded.
"Why not?" he was asked.
"Because growing up, my folks moved around a lot, and I never got a good Jewish education. I don't feel adequately prepared to assume a major Jewish leadership position. It would be like my asking you to become chairman of The Limited. What do you know about women's clothing?"
Later, Les realized that others probably felt similarly when they were approached to assume Jewish leadership positions. Either they accepted such positions despite feeling unprepared, or they declined those positions, depriving the Jewish community of their considerable talents. In either case, the Jewish community lost out.
In response to this experience, Les met with Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman (z"l), former Chief Executive Officer of the National United Jewish Appeal. Together, they conceived and established the Wexner Heritage Program in 1985.
In the fall of 1985, the first Wexner Heritage Seminar Program was convened, and we have been moving ahead at full speed ever since.
What is the Purpose of the Wexner Heritage Program?
The purpose of the Wexner Heritage Program is to educate Jewish communal leaders in the history, thought, traditions and contemporary challenges of the Jewish people.
The program seeks to expand the leadership vision of its members, deepen their Jewish values, and bring a Jewish language of discourse to their policy and decision-making in the community.
By upgrading their skills in these ways, the Program enables its members to serve their communities with an enhanced sense of Jewish authenticity, confidence and effectiveness. This motivates the members to undertake ever greater responsibilities in community leadership.