On his Jewish journey, doing it all and keeping it real
My work is aligned “with my life journey and Jewish journey. World Jewry is in my DNA,” says Ariel Libhaber MA/MBA ’08. Born in Argentina, raised and educated there and in Israel and South Africa, Ariel emigrated to the United States in 2005. He settled in Boston, attracted by its multiculturalism, old-world charm and world-class institutions.
Trained as a sociologist, he found work at the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University where he learned about and was invited to join the Hornstein Program.
This was a turning point for Ariel. Equipped with an expanding and “empowering set of tools and insight” into the Jewish world of nonprofits, he did his fieldwork at Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston (CJP) where he began testing and applying his new knowledge. His focus was on a strategic plan for their Israel and Overseas programs and Boston-Haifa Connection. After he graduated, CJP hired him to keep working on the project.
Today Ariel is director of CJP’s Boston-Haifa Connection. “The exciting thing with the work at Boston-Haifa is that I was able to be a part of it from planning to implementation, oversight and growth,” says Ariel. He’s seen projects from brainstorming stages through implementation to meeting the people for whom the projects were designed to serve. “It's very rewarding and I'm lucky to have been a part of it and to see it continue to thrive and grow.”
“We are in the people business,” says Ariel. “At the core of what we do is a deep commitment to each other and the Jewish People. We truly care about our future and know that we are stronger together than apart.”
In His Own Words: An Interview with Ariel Libhaber
While you were doing this work to propose new strategies for Boston-Haifa Connection, did you ever think you’d see them realized to this extent?
You mentioned a collective goal. Is that goal connected to World Jewry or would you describe it some other way?
Pew reports that there’s a shrinking “middle” in American Jewish society with fewer Jews identifying as Jewish. How do you think this affects or will affect world Jewry?
Speaking of the future, and with the knowledge we have about the challenges facing World Jewry, in what position will the Jewish people be in 25, 50, and 100 years from now?
It sounds to me like your job is very demanding. How do you balance work and personal life and do you ever struggle with burnout?
Did your education at Hornstein and your double degree prove to be a turning point for you in your career? Or could you have made the same achievements without it?
“We are knee-deep in each other's lives, for better or worse.... This is all based on the notion of Jewish Peoplehood, that we should be part of and play a role in each other's lives and do some good for this world.”
Ariel Libhaber MA/MBA ’08