On March 5, the first class of the newly expanded Wexner Field Fellowship (WFF), developed in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation, came together for their first ever Spring Institute at the Inn at Serenbe outside Atlanta, GA.  The fifteen Field Fellows spent most of the time getting to know one another and hearing each other’s Jewish Journeys, while also being oriented to The Wexner Foundation and the required components of the program, including professional coaching and ongoing Jewish learning.  Yocheved Sidoff, a member of Class 1, reflected on the experience:

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?  And how did we get to where we are now?  We talked about the people who shaped our passions, the peaks in our lives and the places we traveled.  And, most importantly, what were the moments that pushed us to define our unique identity as Jews and compelled us to devote our professional lives to the Jewish community?

Suddenly, the people around me were no longer detailed CV's of degrees and relevant employment.  They were not just nice people to have a cup of coffee with.

Now, their souls shined bright.  Their truths emanated.  Their realness emerged.

And let me tell you, they're beautiful.

Yocheved Sidof, WFF Fellow (Class 1) founded Lamplighters Yeshivah in Brooklyn, NY after 10 years of professional experience as a photographer, filmmaker, writer and educator.  As Executive Director, Lamplighters grew from a hopeful endeavor inspired by a troubled school system to a fast-growing movement in education reform—a lab school that combines Judaics, Montessori methodology and behavioral science to fully customize the environment for each child.  She is a featured writer for Hevria.com on issues silenced in the Orthodox world and a sought-after speaker and workshop facilitator in diverse communities on many topics. Her Iranian background, Hasidic upbringing and world travels have allowed her to collaborate across many different communities.  Yocheved graduated magna cum laude with her BA in Psychology from Stern College and has studied at Neve Yerushalayim, a women’s college in Jerusalem.  She and her husband have four children.  She can be reached at yocheved@lamplightersyeshivah.com.