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When Leaders Make Bad Decisions

Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 by David Arnow and Paul Ohana

Jacob acquires Esau’s birthright for a bowl of stew. Jacob, the home-body buys; Esau, the hunter, sells. Twin brothers — very different decisions. The story has a lot to say about what goes into making a good long-term decision.   We can assume that as a good hunter Esau possessed a number of physical skills along with other abilities — the capacity to anticipate his quarry’s moves, to bide his time, to strike at the opportune moment and an element of guile as well…


Heard Round Wexworld: #JFNAGA

Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 by Einat Hurvitz, Abby Phelps, Joshua Fixler and Elizabeth Bonney

The Wexner Foundation brought Wexner Graduate Fellow Classes 24 and 25 and Wexner Israel Fellowship Class 26 to this year’s JFNA General Assembly.  As a group, we gathered for meals and to reflect throughout on the entire experience, from the plenaries to the individual sessions.  Participants were also honored to hear from Vice President Joe Biden, and to experience a few “FEDTalks,” the GA’s own take on TEDtalks.  Fellows had the chance to mingle with man…


Can Websites Be Spry? Giving the Public Power Tools

Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 by Jason Rubenstein

I’m proud and grateful to invite the Wexner community — and those in your communities — to explore Hadar’s new website:   This isn’t another brochure site: its heart is a pair of databases of durable, high-quality content. The site’s most ambitious and distinctive feature is a new tool for prayer-leaders, from beginner to experienced. At a glance, users can stream or download the standard (Ashkenazi) nusach for a prayer, c…


And the Walls Come Tumbling Down

Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by Jacob Ari Labendz

Twenty-five years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Erected in 1961, it stood less than a kilometer from where I sit now. The end of the Cold War destabilized Jewish identities and politics around the world. I still recall marching on Washington in 1987 to “free” Soviet Jewry.  In a matter of moments, that sacred mission, which had been a cornerstone of American Jewish life, no longer demanded our attention. Berlin also reminds us of the Second World War and the Hol…


Going Up

Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by Rabbi Akivah Herzfeld

Aliyah was a dream that my wife and I had, sometimes talking about it as a dream for the distant future. As we became parents to four children, we looked around and considered the best place to raise them. We visited Israel on a pilot trip last January to see if we should move there.   We were especially drawn to Israel because of the love that Israelis showed to our little children, the oldest of whom was then only five years old. One example: At the end of a long and tiring three weeks …


Heard ‘Round Wexworld: Mission Up!

Posted on Wednesday, November 05, 2014 by Mojdeh Khaghan Danial, Mytyl Simancas-Bister, Ellen Rose

True to its name, a mission is extremely purpose-driven, and superbly intense. It jam-packs past, present, future, fear, uncertainty and hope, and you come home reeling and exhausted from a sensory and emotional overload. None of this is negative — it is usually a self-and-community-transforming-event that you slowly unpack and savor for some time thereafter.   My husband Robert and I very recently had the privilege to lead approximately 50 fellow Miamians to Berlin and then Is…


How Social Engineering Can Help Us Build Healthier Jewish Communities

Posted on Wednesday, November 05, 2014 by Rachel Nussbaum

In 2006, Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum co-founded The Kavana Cooperative, a new kind of nondenominational Jewish community for the twenty-first century, deeply committed to religious pluralism and strongly influenced by Seattle start-up culture. This week, eJewishPhilanthropy posted a story from Rachel which presents the fascinating results of a demographic study of Kavana members, or “partners,” that showcase what’s unique about Kavana’s institutional model, what’s working…


And, We Are Off: The New Wexner Senior Leadership Program

Posted on Tuesday, November 04, 2014 by Ra'anan Avital

This is my first contribution to WexnerLEADS since becoming Director General of The Wexner Foundation, Israel, six months ago. I’ve chosen this moment to write because I have something to “report”: we have just completed the admission process for the first cohort of our new Wexner Senior Leadership Program. Prior to my arrival, the Foundation engaged senior Israeli public service leaders, as well as a number of prominent Wexner Israel Fellowship alumni, to explore additional wa…


Widening the Tent with Jewish Mindfulness

Posted on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 by Jennie Litvack

Last summer, at the Wexner Heritage Summer Institute in Snowbird, Utah, participants brainstormed about challenges facing Jewish life in North America. I listened: “How can Judaism be more meaningful for people’s lives today?” “How can synagogues be more relevant for Jewish life?” “How can young professionals be drawn into Jewish life?”  All of these questions were similarly on our minds when the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington (JMCW) was j…


France, the World’s Third-Largest Jewish Populace: Ça Va

Posted on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 by Diane and Howard Zack

Paris is home to 300,000 of France’s 600,000 Jews. Anti-Semitism is being fomented by a dangerous “cocktail” composed of radical Muslims along with, increasingly, those on the far left who were inflamed by the Gaza conflict. We went to show support and understand the unique strengths and vulnerabilities of the French Jewish community, which actually dates back nearly 2,000 years. Going beyond the terrifying headlines from this past summer, we met so many of our impressive, comp…


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