Scott Hurley is an alumnus of the Wexner Heritage Program, San Francisco 08 and JCC President on the San Francisco Peninsula.  Scott can be reached at

I chose Judaism because my family was going to be in the Jewish community and I wanted to be an official member instead of a long term guest.   I was drawn to the Jewish values of family, education and the importance of leading an examined life. Actually engaging in my new “clan” was challenging, however. 

Wherever I went, I felt out of place and unconnected.   I enjoyed celebrating Shabbat at home but little else was impactful.   I feared that my choice of Judaism while good in theory, was going to be uneventful in practice.

I unexpectedly found a way in when I was introduced to Judy Edelson, our JCC’s Executive Director.   The social customs with which I grew up did not prepare me for the volume of words Judy delivered, but my friendship with Judy and volunteer work at our JCC changed my Jewish experience forever and created a connection for me to Judaism.

As leaders, we are lucky to work with talented Jewish professionals.   The relationship between lay and professional leaders is a blurry one, as we are co-workers in a shifting hierarchy where we take turns leading and following.   The relationship works best when supported by friendship and respect as we share a passion about the Jewish institutions to which we devote our energy and hearts.

I continue to learn from so many fellow volunteers and dedicated professionals. Thanks to one blurry relationship, I found a clear path to contribute to our Jewish community while enriching my life and family.