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.
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 WHP 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 and I am still also a lay leader.
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 and 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. Going through the Wexner Heritage program gave me the courage to adapt its expectations to my skill set, goals and interests and to “cross over” and become a Jewish professional for a mission I believe in with deep conviction.
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 age. 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. More than 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 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. JWRP sees every woman as the potential leader in her family and wants to give them tools and better inspiration (and a cohort too) with which to navigate modern Jewish family life. They believe “Inspire a woman, you inspire a family. Inspire enough families, you inspire a community. Inspire enough communities, you can change the world” — and so do I.
Mindy Berger, WHP Alum (Washington DC 13), is passionate about her Jewish leadership and volunteer involvements. She is a Partnership Manager for JWRP 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 has served on the board of the JCC of Greater Washington and the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, where she has also been an active PRO participant. A graduate from Tufts University and the Art Institute of Boston, she had a successful career in advertising, marketing and communications and co-founded Signature Design. She lives in Rockville, MD with her husband and three children and can be reached at MindyB@JWRP.org.