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The Transformative Power of a New Experience

Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 by Ella Shteingart

The 2014 siyum (culmination ceremony) of the Wexner Heritage Program was historic. It marked the graduation of 20 extraordinary North American Jewish leaders, all born in the Former Soviet Union.   The Wexner Heritage Program has had Russian-born members take part in previous Heritage classes.  These few individuals represented the tiny percentage of the few Russian Jews who had become involved with the Jewish community and Jewish communal leadership.   For more than 20 years,…

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With Thanks to Craig Taubman, We Bring You One of This Week’s "Jewels of Elul"

Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 by Asher Lopatin

In college I was the “big man on campus.” Well, not all of campus… just Hillel. One guy always bothered me. He wanted the glory of leading services on Friday nights (Kabbalat Shabbat) for the big crowd at Hillel, but he never showed up when we needed people at Hillel for services on Shabbat mornings. In fact, he committed the ultimate crime: going to Young Israel instead of Hillel on Shabbat mornings. We weren’t good enough for him. I felt that it was just not fair to Hi…

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What Six Jews Would Make Your List?

Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2014 by Daniel Kirzane

This year I’m teaching an informal elective class for 7th-12th graders called “Jews Who Changed the World”.  The class is six weeks long, and I'd like to go over one personality each class.  I'm interested in not only “teaching history” but also raising the question: How do we think the “Jewishness” of prominent Jewish individuals influenced their achievement?  As such, I'm inclined not to focus on Jews who rocked the Jewish world but rath…

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A New Year and a New Start for Body and Soul

Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2014 by Edith R. Brotman

The secular New Year in the middle of winter never made sense to me.  In contrast, Fall, with its themes of return (of people to school, to work and seriousness from the frivolity of summer; of leaves and flowers back to the earth after their rich and glorious bloom) and dying/retreating (of plants, and birds, insects; people and other animals hunkering down, seeking shelter and going inside) is a much better time to think about letting go and starting over. The Days of Repentance can feel…

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36 Minutes LIVE: The Elul Series Launches with Great Success

Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2014 by Angie Atkins

The Wexner Foundation is piloting a way for our alumni, members and fellows to meet, learn, discuss and refresh their leadership toolbox. "36 Minutes LIVE: The Elul Series", which consists of six stand-alone videoconferences during the month of Elul, already has RSVPs approaching 100 people per session. Last week, Member of Knesset Ruth Calderon challenged participants to go beyond “rote forgiveness” through an exploration of a Talmudic story about Rav Abba and a butcher.  &nbs…

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Good Question for Elul: How Do We Really Define Our Sense of Personal and Communal Obligation?

Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 by Malka Fleischmann

To unravel the complexity of our Wexner Graduate Fellowship Summer Institute's theme, fellows had to explore the personal and communal implications of Jewish "obligation." With so many fellows in disagreement about whether their Jewishness and Jewish leadership necessarily implied a theologically, culturally or historically driven sense of obligation, it was challenging to create frameworks for our conversations. Amazingly enough, though, as the institute drew to a close with preparations for th…

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Living With the Tension of Empathy Instead of Black and White

Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 by Barbara Langsam Shuman

One of our local journalists compared metropolitan St. Louis to the fictional "Mayberry," the setting of the Andy Griffith Show.  While that’s a stretch – metropolitan St. Louis encompasses 11 counties, and St. Louis County is an amalgam of 90-plus municipalities, including Ferguson – so many of us have had contact with some of the major "players" in this far-reaching tragedy. I know many of the individuals who have been at the center of the Ferguson story and it…

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The Importance of Jewish Summer Camp in My Life

Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 by Rodney Freeman

As the proud father of four Jewish summer campers, the husband of a Jewish summer camper and a former Jewish camper myself, I can tell you that camps had a profound impact on my family’s connection to Judaism. While I’m passionate about making sure more kids in our community can attend Jewish summer camps, I also love cycling. That’s why I decided to bring the two together. In the spring of 2013, I brought my idea for a community cycling event to benefit local summer camps to …

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Be a Stronger Wind

Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 by Monica Rodriguez Kuniyoshi

If you’re reading this, you know the power of a Wexner Institute. This was my first exposure to the intense intellectual stimulation and deep commitment of the entire Wexner enterprise, as experienced at the Wexner Heritage New Member Institute in Aspen that just finished last Friday. Deciding where to focus this reflection has been difficult—should I emphasize the numerous ah-ha moments inspired by the excellent faculty? The easy camaraderie among the San Francisco, Denver and New E…

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Convene Challenge Collaborate

Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 by Devin Schain

I wanted to let the Wexner Network know about a fortuitous overlap of events. For those planning to attend the General Assembly this year in Washington, D.C., taking place November 9 – 11, you will be in town during National Education Week. I am involved in National Education Week through some pro bono work I do trying to close the achievement gap,  and know many in the Wexner Network also have education at the forefront of their Jewish agendas. National Education Week is the only eve…

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