The second cohort of the Jewish Experiential Leadership Institute (JELI), run in conjunction with the Jewish Theological Seminary, came together in St. Louis, Mo. for its third of four retreats in mid-November. JELI, or Jewish Experiential Leadership Institute, is an online and in-person program designed to foster “leadership through a Jewish lens” in JCC professionals.
The fellows experienced the St. Louis Jewish and larger community from all angles, engaging in rich learning sessions while visiting with more than a dozen communal leaders, experiencing the local JCC, synagogues, and taking a historical tour of Jewish St. Louis, including a trip up the famous St. Louis arch. One key takeaway from the week: Change begins with creating a shared vision and building relationships to support that vision. If JELI participants want to see actionable change in their communities they must take the lead first in changing the conversation.
Fellows also presented the progress of the independent learning projects. Each is implementing a new initiative at their JCC that adds value to the institution and reflects the fellow’s growth in JELI. Projects include a staff on-boarding program, Jewish learning roundtables, strengthening board processes through Jewish values-inspired staff retreats.
In addition, the first JELI cohort reunited in October for a retreat in Philadelphia, aimed at exploring the complementary and contrasting narratives of the Jewish experience in North America, as it has been informed by both American and Jewish values. Fellows visited two local JCCs, historic downtown Philly and the National Museum of American Jewish History.
Both cohorts will be on hand presenting work at JCCs of North America Professional Conference in March. At that time, the second cohort will graduate.