Last fall, the Wexner Israel Fellows (Class 29) took part in a seminar on Personal and Public Narratives in the Center of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School . The seminar focused on the power of narratives in calling people to action. In my narrative, I shared my personal relationship to Judaism over the years through specific examples – from being a counselor in a summer program in Israel for American Jewish teens where I learned a lot from them about Jewish life, to learning as an adult together with other secular Israelis in a beit midrash setting. I then recounted our group experiences concerning Judaism in North America — meeting Jews and understanding their varied connections to Jewish practice, values and community. I went on to suggest that our cohort of fellows enhance the richness of our own Judaism this year by gathering together for a series of Hevrutah study sessions to examine Jewish sources that would give us more insight into Jewish content.
This was the basis for five Hevrutah sessions that we enjoyed together over the Spring semester. Every two or three weeks, the Wexner Israel Fellows, our spouses, and invited Israelis at the Kennedy School met together with a leader or a Rabbi from the Jewish Boston community (many of whom were Wexner Alumni) and discussed Jewish sources (Bible, Talmud and more) while focusing on issues such as: Moral Leadership, Tikkun Olam, Women and Leadership, Parenting Resilient Children and What Makes Us Human. This is an opportunity to thank Wexner staff Elisha Gechter (Senior Program Manager, Wexner Israel Programs at Harvard), Rabbi Jane Kanarek (WGF Class 13), Rabbi Getzel Davis, Rabbi Benjamin Samuels (WGF Class 4) and Dr. Jon Levisohn (WGF Class 10), who all volunteered and led Hevrutah sessions with us. We learned more about one another and about the meaning that Judaism has to offer each of us. As one of the participants described the Hevrutah experience, “it not only exposed me to the amazing leaders in the Boston Jewish community, but also allowed me to interact with Jewish texts and ideas in a new and different way.” The Hevrutah experience has certainly left me wanting more, and thinking about how we can keep this learning going when we return to Israel.
Wexner Israel Fellow Leora Sidi (Class 29) serves as the Head of the Collective Agreements Department in the Legal Advisor’s Office of the Trade Union Division at the General Federation of Labor in Israel. In this position, she is responsible for overseeing collective agreements, signed by the General Federation of Labor, which have improved wages and working conditions for many workers in Israel. From 2005 to 2010, Leora served as a lawyer in the Legal Advisor’s Office of the Wage and Labor Agreements Department in the Ministry of Finance. Prior to that, she served as a legal intern at the Legal Department at the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament). Leora holds an LLB Degree and an MA in Public Policy from Hebrew University.