I entered the Wexner Heritage program as a passionate lay leader, thirsty for knowledge and innovative thinking.  By the end of the program, I was ready to take my leadership experience to the next level, and I began to explore the impact I could have as a Jewish professional.  My Wexner experience opened doors and provided me with the luxury of interviewing with top leadership of a variety of Jewish organizations.  This was an extremely valuable part of my transition process.  It gave me an opportunity to learn firsthand what the visions of our Jewish community leaders are and the challenges they and our community are facing.  It gave me an opportunity to explore where I could make the greatest impact. 

It was no surprise to learn that Jewish professionals spend a lot of time worrying about the fate of the Jewish future and whether our Jewish communities and institutions will still be here for future generations.  Our Wexner Heritage Washington DC 13 cohort has had many discussions over the value of community partnerships.  We brainstormed ways that our organizations and institutions might be able to work together to share resources and expertise to create a stronger and more resilient Jewish community.  This continues to be my focus.

Within less than six months after completing the Wexner Heritage Program, I was incredibly fortunate to find the perfect position in an organization that is fueled by a mission of Jewish engagement and embraces innovative thinking, collaboration and partnerships.  My leap to becoming a Jewish professional landed in a place where I feel I am making a difference.  I have the opportunity to shift a culture and create a movement.

The most important decisions a family will ever make are primarily in the hands of the Jewish mother: what schools the kids will attend, who they will socialize with, what neighborhood they will live in.  Jewish mothers know this and so does the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project.  This is where my path has taken me in the newest chapter of my leadership journey. 

The Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) was established in 2008 by eight diverse Jewish women from the Washington DC area, who came from all walks of life, affiliations, observance and ages, but all agreed that it was time to empower and inspire women with the rich beauty of their Jewish heritage.  Their flagship project is Momentum — an eight-day, highly subsidized journey of a lifetime to Israel with the women paying only their airfare.  Over 7,000 women and men from 21 different countries have already experienced this life-changing trip, returning home with the best gift of all — a deep, eternal connection to Israel and a heart filled with Jewish values. The JWRP believes that “If we work together, we can do so much more.”

The Wexner Heritage Program made a profound impact on my understanding of the complex issues facing Jews today and the need for innovative thinking about how to address them.  Wexner Programs have been influential in their ability to address these issues head on with Jewish leaders around the world.  Investing in leaders who will ensure Jewish continuity is an investment in our future.

“Inspire a woman, you inspire a family.  Inspire enough families, you inspire a community.  Inspire enough communities, you can change the world.”

For more information about JWRP click here.

Mindy Berger, a Wexner Heritage alum (Washington DC 13), is a Partnership Manager for JWRP.  She is passionate about her Jewish leadership and volunteer involvement and recently created ACHOT, a B’nai Mitzvah program for mothers and daughters that celebrates the vital role of Jewish women in community life.  She had a successful career in advertising, marketing, and communications and co-founded Signature Design in 1992.  Mindy resides in Rockville, MD with her husband and three children.and can be reached at MindyB@JWRP.org.