The Wexner Israel Fellows Class 29 have had an exciting summer so far.  They arrived along with their families in July and quickly helped each other settle into their homes in Brookline and Cambridge, sharing picnics and weekend explorations.  The five-week HKS Mid Career summer program was book ended first by a welcome day, where they lunched with leaders from the Jewish Community and later had a session on approaching conversations about Israel on campus, and lastly by an opening Institute where professors discussed topic such as US-Israel dynamics, religious identity, communal statistics, and political leanings, where former and current students shared ways to lead on campus vis a vis Israel, and where the group shared Jewish Journeys and leadership challenges, went for a beach hike, and cooked-multiple course meals together.

Plus, one evening last month they enjoyed a “date night” with their spouses at a glass making studio.  It was a chance to step out of the intellectual atmosphere and use the other side of our brains to design fused glass coasters/window hangings – the metaphor of breaking glass and having to add so much heat to create something  beautiful was not lost on the group when it comes to these projects and themselves.

Elisha Gechter, Program Manager for the Wexner Israel Programs at the Harvard Kennedy School, represents The Wexner Foundation at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. Elisha works with mid-career Israelis who spend a year studying for a Master’s in Public Administration at the Kennedy School through the Wexner Israel Fellowship. Elisha also works with Israelis who spend a month of intensive training in Executive Education at the Kennedy School through the Wexner Senior Leadership Program.

Before joining The Wexner Foundation, Elisha worked at Hebrew College in Newton, MA as the Associate Director of Adult Learning and Community Engagement. There, Elisha ran programs to connect parents and people in their 20s and 30s to community and to Jewish wisdom. Before working in MA, Elisha spent three and a half years working at Boston’s Jewish Federation and Combined Jewish Philanthropies, fundraising with local young leaders. She has a BA in psychology from Yeshiva University’s Stern College in New York and an MA MBA from Brandeis’ Heller Hornstein Program in Jewish Leadership and Non-profit Management.

Elisha grew up in Riverdale, NY at the open Orthodox synagogue lead by Rabbi Avi Weiss (the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale). She now attends Minyan Tehillah in Cambridge with her husband Sam Gechter, their daughter Zoe and their son Erez. In her free time Elisha enjoys cooking, gardening and enjoys date nights in Boston that involve live music.