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In Memoriam: Gerald Bubis, Z"l

Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 by Cindy Chazan

The Wexner Foundation mourns the passing of Gerald Bubis, z”l, who died on August 21. As the founding director of the School of Jewish Communal Service at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerry, as he was fondly known, pioneered and shaped the field of Jewish communal service.  He was an activist for peace in the Middle East.  Jerry was a mentor to many professionals, myself included. In the early ‘70s, when I was  a new professional, he challenged me…

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Don’t Miss Peoplehood’s Most Promising Moment

Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 by Noam Pianko

Definitions of peoplehood remain terribly outdated and ineffective precisely when they are more necessary than ever.   The recent Pew survey about the changing American religious landscape provided some important news for American Jewish leaders — young Jews are not alone in rejecting religious categories of identity. We now know that the category of “JNR” (“Jews of No Religion”) — an acronym that brought great consternation to the American Jewish commu…

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Heard Round Wexworld: The Wexner Graduate Fellowship Summer Institute 2015

Posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 by Sara Aeder, David Block, and Elisheva Massel

The Wexner Graduate Fellowship Summer Institute entitled “God, Spirituality and Belief” ​took place August 16-21, 2015 in Stowe, VT.  The institute was planned by a committee of Wexner Graduate Fellows and Davidson Scholars in a yearlong process around a theme selected by the entire WGF community.  Below are reflections from current Graduate Fellows from three different classes.   My approach as we headed into Summer Institute this year fluctuated between perso…

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Working as a Jewish Chaplain at Rikers Island Correctional Facility

Posted on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 by Andrew Scheer

Working as a Jewish Chaplain at Rikers Island Correctional Facility comes with a unique set of challenges.  For instance, something as simple as sitting down to write this piece involved going through eight metal gates, waiting for an “inmate altercation” to clear and securing one of the few computers in the facility.  When I clicked on an old WexnerLEADS article for inspiration, I received the following message: “Content blocked by your organization - Reason: This We…

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Fame Is Relative

Posted on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 by Lieba Rudolph

    The woman was sitting on the curb outside the car wash, talking on her cell phone. Elkie was sure we had the right person.   “Maya?” I asked.   “One second,” she said to the person on the phone. She looked up at me, slightly annoyed by the interruption.   “I’m Lieba Rudolph, Billy’s wife,” I announced with a smile.   “I gotta go. I just met someone from my family.” I was happy she was so …

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My First Roommate

Posted on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 by Sharon Brous

Reposted with thanks to Craig Taubman and Jewels of Elul    I was young and earnest with a dream summer internship at the Justice Department, living in dorms crowded with college kids from around the country. My roommate was coming a week late and I anxiously awaited her arrival, certain we’d be best friends forever. Way too early one morning, there was a knock on my door. “Hi. I’m your roommate” she said coolly, pushing past me. “So happy to finally mee…

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Fulfilling a Mission to the Very End

Posted on Wednesday, August 12, 2015 by Cass Gottlieb and Jonathan Woocher

The JESNA Board held its final meeting a few days ago in New York, and voted to distribute its remaining endowment funds, totaling around three-quarters of a million dollars, to a variety of organizations doing cutting-edge work in Jewish education. This, together with steps to preserve and make available to scholars and educators the intellectual property JESNA created over the years, will be the last steps the agency takes before its dissolution.   “The JESNA Board?” you sa…

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Meltzing, Marps and Shabboptions: Hebrew at North American Jewish Summer Camps

Posted on Monday, August 10, 2015 by Sarah Bunin Benor and Jonathan Krasner

Have you ever “meltzed” (waited/bussed) a table? Gotten a band-aid at the “marp” (infirmary)? Or selected an elective for “Shabboptions” (Shabbat options) or “t’floptions” (tefilliah options)? Then you most likely attended or worked at a North American Jewish overnight summer camp. These words stem from Hebrew (and English) but have developed uniquely in the rustic settings of Jewish camp.   Over the past two summers, along with our co…

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Framing Challenges in the Positive

Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2015 by Isabel de Koninck

I became Executive Director of Hillel at Drexel University by accident.  Sometimes you look for captivating leadership opportunities - sometimes they find you. I graduated from rabbinical school in June of 2010 poised to spend a year treading water while I waited for my wife to graduate. I would work for Hillel of Greater Philadelphia, where I had interned, in a one-year position created for me, coordinating regional programming.   In August, the CEO of Hillel of Greater Philadelphia…

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In the Aftermath of the Gay Pride Stabbings

Posted on Wednesday, August 05, 2015 by Sam Goldman

During my trip to Israel with the Wexner Heritage Program in 2013, I extended my travels so I could attend the LGBT March in Jerusalem. I was moved to see the diversity of that event. Religious, secular and transgender people marching under a sea of rainbow flags, hand-in-hand, through the ancient city of faith. It was a beautiful experience. I felt safe with the security surrounding us despite knowing that many Jerusalemites saw us as evil sinners.  The occasional stink bomb was hurl…

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