Naomi Rosenfeld

A Jewish professional shaped by her community… and a community shaped by a Jewish professional

Naomi RosenfeldNaomi Rosenfeld, MA/MBA ’16

How do you help small pockets of isolated groups of people — Jewish students on college campuses in this case — feel connected to the larger community? That's what Naomi Rosenfeld, MA/MBA’16 set out to do as director of Hillel Atlantic Canada where she worked before starting her graduate work at the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University.

“It was a challenge,” admits Naomi. “I was the only Hillel professional working in that sprawling region that's actually larger than California!”

“The region comprised four provinces: New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. I worked with Jewish students from a number of different universities and post-secondary institutions to develop programming that would help them connect with each other and feel like they were part of a larger community.”

While working for Hillel, Naomi re-initiated a weekend-long Shabbaton for students. She brought experts in Israel education from the main offices in Toronto and Montreal to teach and facilitate conversations about Israel, Jewish identity and building Jewish community, among other things.

Another program she introduced was called Shabbat Across Atlantic Canada, a coordinated Shabbat effort in which student groups across the region received Shabbat kits for the Shabbat celebration.

“I sent Shabbat kits by mail,” says Naomi. “Even though we were far apart we felt like a tight group because we all celebrated Shabbat together, so to speak. It was nice.”

The size and vitality of a community clearly contributes to how one experiences it. “I come from Toronto,” says Naomi. “There's a large Jewish community there. But having worked in areas where Jewish communities are smaller, I've seen how people in small communities need to work hard to step up to the plate and drive and strengthen the community because there's simply not a lot of people to fall back on.”

Naomi Rosenfeld, Milender Seminar 2015 Naomi Rosenfeld co-chaired the student committee with Evan Taksar on planning the 2015 Milender Seminar in 2015.

“Certainly large communities have their advantages with all their opportunities and diversity. I can also see the strength of living in a small community… You have the feeling like you own a piece of it and you have a hand in shaping it because it's so small.”

As a FEREP Scholar, Naomi will work for The Jewish Federations of North America for two years after she graduates in May.

“I always felt a deep connection with the Federation system, the Canadian Federation system in particular,” says Naomi, “and very much consider myself a product of that system. I believe that Jewish Federations have the ability to positively shape and impact the entire North American Jewish community.”

Where Naomi will travel next will become clear in the months ahead. She's not so much concerned with size of the community in which she'll work as with the opportunities she'll have to successfully apply her analytical skills, grow and make an impact.

“I have many interests in Federation work: project management, operations management, measurement and reporting, strategic planning, program management. I think that my ideal job will involve some combination of all of them.”

In Her Own Words: An Interview with Naomi Rosenfeld

This interview with Naomi Rosenfeld was published in the Hornstein Program's Impact Newsletter, December 2015. If you would like to quote any part of this conversation, please attribute content to Naomi Rosenfeld and the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University and link to this page. All rights reserved.

“Jewish women have endless opportunities to shape the future of the Jews. So do Jewish men. The question for me isn't so much about whether we have these opportunities as whether or not we're driven enough to see them to fruition.”

Naomi Rosenfeld, MA/MBA ’16