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Harmonious Impact

Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Fran Gordon

On my 1992 application for the Wexner Heritage Program, I wrote about Cantor Jerome B. Kopmar as the most influential person in my life.  Long before there was communal conversation about informal Jewish education, Cantor Kopmar was educating Jewish youth in Akron through the medium of Jewish choral music.  I only sang in the choir for one year and was brokenhearted when Cantor Kopmar left, knowing deep in my 11 year old soul that I was losing something special.     When I …

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Building Connections between Israelis and Americans: Two Families at a Time

Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Anita Greenwald

When challenged to dream about and take action on a new project through the Wexner Foundation’s inaugural Summit: Stronger Together: (Re-) Imagining the North American Jewish and Israel Relationship, I knew that it had to be through people to people connections (P2P). When you care about someone, you start to care about where they live.  Lifelong bonds are established.  You travel to see one another.  It works.   I met with Jewish lay leaders from Boston in 2015. &nbs…

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Paying Sukkot Forward

Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2017 by Claude Szyfer

Throughout so many classes, sessions and discussions, Wexner Heritage members and alumni spend a lot of time brainstorming ways to increase inclusion, affiliation and other vital issues relating to Jewish identity.   One of my dearest friends has come up with an idea that I believe is brilliant in both design and execution.  While my friend prefers to remain anonymous — we are both fans of the Rambam’s eight levels of charity, particularly his highest level where the …

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Hello Imposter Syndrome

Posted on Thursday, March 16, 2017 by Yocheved Sidof

When I read the Wexner Field Fellows' bios, I freaked out.  Not gonna lie. Long lists of prestigious degrees, accolades, awards and unique experiences that oozed heavy-duty, envy-worthy accomplishments.   Hello, #impostersyndrome. Then, I met them.  Down to earth, funny, open and curious.  From all over, doing all kinds of things, all committed to Jewish communal work and leadership. And then, over the course of three days, we each shared our Jewish Journey. Who are we? &…

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Heard Round WexWorld: Wexner Senior Leaders at Harvard

Posted on Thursday, March 16, 2017 by Dana Marshakl-Marom, Orit Cotev, Lev Drucker, Michael Levinrad, Yael Cohen, Victor Weiss, Yarona Shalom

During the four weeks the Wexner Senior Leaders (WSL 17) were studying at the Harvard Kennedy School they had several opportunities to interact with the local Jewish community. Some had Shabbat dinners with undergraduates at Harvard Hillel and others at the homes of communal leaders, including Wexner Heritage alumni.  The Senior Leaders also visited Gann Academy — a pluralistic high school — where they met teachers designing the Israel education program and sat in on c…

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Of Blessed Memory

Posted on Thursday, March 09, 2017 by Jen Schmitz

Every Memorial Day weekend the Greater St Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America honors our Jewish veterans by planting flags at over 6,500 grave sites in seven St Louis Community Jewish cemeteries.  This program has been in place for many years, with my family participating over the last five years. The recent cemetery vandalism at Chased Shel Emeth has suddenly thrust this annual family tradition into my current stream of consciousness.  To be specific, I remember walking t…

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Raising the Happiness Quotient (HQ)

Posted on Thursday, March 09, 2017 by Dr. Erica Brown

How’s your happiness? There is a well-known expression in the Talmud applicable at this time of year: “When the month of Adar enters, we increase in joy.”  During the Hebrew month of Av, the Talmud continues, when we mark the destruction of Jerusalem and the loss of our holiest sanctuary, we are supposed to reduce our happiness (BT Ta’anit 29a), what I call a halakhic (legal) seasonal affective disorder.  It sounds as if our emotions can be turned on and off li…

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And Another Song Will Rise

Posted on Thursday, February 23, 2017 by Michelle Hoberman

“Why is this happening?” is the question I am asked over and over again by my non-Jewish coworkers and friends.  But, not once has a Jewish person asked me this question — not my family, not my Jewish friends and not even my own children.  Is it because we are afraid to ask why?    I often find myself asking how and what questions.  How are we going to respond?  How can I help?  What are we going to do?  Yet, I still avoid the why. &nbs…

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A Heated Debate for the Sake of Heaven

Posted on Thursday, February 23, 2017 by Leah Sarna, Matt Reingold, Sara Wolkenfeld and Dr. Rivka Press Schwartz

"An Alternative History of American Modern Orthodoxy" by Leah Sarna, WGF Fellow (Class 27)   Conjure up in your mind a world in which Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik ztz”l, founder, philosopher, and halakhic mind of Modern Orthodoxy, had been born a woman.  Our community would be utterly different. Josefa Beila Soloveitchik would have studied Tanakh growing up, but she would not have been tutored in the complex methodologies of Brisk.  Her incredible soul and brainpower woul…

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Lessons from Rav Emmunah

Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2017 by Zohar Atkins

The sages taught: Never again.   Rav Fear said: Let us stockpile every advantage and every power for ourselves so none can use it against us in the future.   Rav Emmunah said: Let us help societies share powers and advantages more equally, so no individual or group will use its brute strength to intimidate, dominate, exploit or otherwise lord themselves over others.   And the law is with Emmunah. For of the students of Rav Fear it is taught that their favorite Scriptural ver…

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