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Brandeis launches leadership incubator for Russian-speaking Jewish communal professionals

The Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry, in partnership with the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University, has announced the launch of a professional development program for Russian-speaking Jewish communal professionals.

With support from the Genesis Philanthropy Group and the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Brandeis Jewish Leadership Incubator (BJLI) will host a 12-month fellowship for Russian-speaking professionals who work at Jewish communal organizations in the United States and Canada. The program, designed for individuals with one to five years of professional experience, will help to develop the skill-set, knowledge, and strong network of peers that is critical for professional advancement within the North American Jewish community.

“To date, Russian speakers remain underrepresented in the organized American Jewish community — especially its leadership,” said Victor Vitkin, executive director of the Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry. “The disproportionately low number of Russian-speaking communal professionals deprives Jewish organizations of engaging an exceptional pool of talent. By advancing Russian speakers in the professional Jewish world, the leadership training program will create important opportunities for mutual understanding and enrichment for all segments of the American Jewish community.”

The fellowship will encompass intensive professional seminars, overseas educational travel and a year-long cycle of online instruction. BJLI curriculum will emphasize core management and leadership skills in the context of Jewish teaching, as well as American and Russian Jewish history. Prominent faculty from Brandeis University, leaders from major Jewish organizations, and leading practitioners in a variety of relevant fields will teach the BJLI courses and modules.

The program is scheduled to begin in January 2015. Up to 15 candidates will be accepted into the first cohort, with the goal of representing organizations from the range of Jewish communal institutions across North America.

Brandeis University is a national leader in recruiting and training Russian-speaking students for leadership positions in the U.S. and globally. Under the aegis of the Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry, Russian-speaking college students and young adults develop their leadership potential and enrich their knowledge of Russian Jewish heritage and the Jewish community. The Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program provides residential graduate leadership training in a dual-degree program combining intensive academics, field-based experiences, and international travel to prepare visionary leaders for the 21st century Jewish community.

“Hornstein is deeply experienced in training Jewish leaders and innovators,” said Ellen Smith, Hornstein director and associate professor in Brandeis’ Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. “The Brandeis Jewish Leadership Incubator is the next important step in bringing Russian-speakers to these opportunities and networks, to the advantage of the entire Jewish community.”

“In launching the Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry, we were looking to create systemic change in opportunities available in higher education for engaging Russian-speaking Jews in North America,” said Ilia Salita, executive director of Genesis Philanthropy Group in North America. “The combination of this, now prominent, institute focused on Russian Jewry with the premier program training leaders for the Jewish community, is truly unique. As the home of such an innovative initiative, Brandeis University is exceptionally well-placed to ensure that BJLI makes a significant contribution to nurturing the next generation of effective Russian-speaking Jewish communal professionals.”

“Creating more vibrant Jewish life fundamentally entails developing Jewish leaders from diverse backgrounds with the skill sets to engage 21st century Jewish communities,” added Chip Edelsberg, executive director of the Jim Joseph Foundation. “The BJLI will help these efforts significantly by offering this unique leadership training program for Russian-speaking Jewish community professionals. These leaders will have the opportunity to grow together as a cohort, learn from expert instructors, and experience Brandeis University’s dynamic academic environment.”

Categories: General, International Affairs

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