Rabbi Elie Kaunfer is an alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, Class XV, and the Executive Director of Mechon Hadar (www.mechonhadar.org). Elie served as scholar-in-residence at this year’s General Assembly. He can be reached at kaunfer@gmail.com.

Years ago, when I was preparing for my Wexner interview, I gathered a few friends in my apartment for a mock interview. One of the questions my friend asked was: If you could address the leadership of the American Jewish community, what would you tell them? I remember bumbling through some answer, and begging to move on to the next question.

In Denver at the General Assembly, I had the surreal experience of my mock Wexner interview question actually coming true: I was asked to address the 3,000 attendees of the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. I spent weeks thinking through what I would say, asking friends and family, talking to my students, running through drafts, and sifting through texts.

In the end, I turned to my dad for inspiration. He had written a beautiful segment for a radio show in Rhode Island describing our relationship as refracted through the Torah study we do over the phone every week. Inspired by my dad’s words, I crafted a simple message: Torah can change our lives and our relationships, and Torah shouldn’t be limited to the elite. (You can read the full text of the talks at http://www.mechonhadar.org/jfnaga2011).

At the GA, we celebrated Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson’s appointment as President of The Wexner Foundation. In her remarks, she said: “I could never imagine that I would be doing what I am today.” Living out the mock interview scenario at the GA, I couldn’t agree more.