Monday, December 8, 2008

New York City Skills Summit, Y?'s side

A whirlwind trip to New York provided Zuz and I the opportunity to meet some of the most influential Jewish minds in the areas of philanthropy and non-profit work, including Rhoda Weisman, who had some interesting things to say.

After nearly 36 hours in New York City, Zuz and I returned to St. Louis, drained from seeing so many friends, and trying to absorb as much of the energy and creativity as we could.

Waking up at 4 am on Saturday, we caught a 6 am flight to Chicago, then a direct to Laguardia. We were already exhausted from Shabbat dinner the night before, but running on adrenaline.

We got into the city and went our separate ways. After a whole day (and night) of seeing friends and family, Zuz and I found our way to Hebrew Union College, late, and nearly comatose with exhaustion.

And then it happened. I walked down stairs into a social hall filled with young Jews, and mentors. Was the immediate rush of energy I felt a result being surrounded by so much potential, or was it the sudden influx of attractive Jewish women now in the periphery of my bleary vision?

Either way, I knew that I had to muster what little attention span I had for those few hours I was able to spend at the Skills Summit.

As a bit of background, PLP, the Professional Leadership Project, hosts the SkillsSummit to develop young Jewish leadership along one of three tracks, fund raising, volunteering/membership, and community organizing.

Zuz and I joined the community organizing track along side Ira Forman, Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, as well as Scott Sherman, founder of the Transformative Action Institute.

Through novel exercises, case studies, and mentorship, we were able to connect with these amazing visionaries, as well with our peers, many of whom are just as incredible.

We had an incredibly quick and intense speed mentorship program, in which I had the opportunity to sit down with Rhoda Weisman and ask questions about the sustainability of much of what we are doing.

"Give away power as quickly as you can," she said. "It is the only way to continuously bring people into the fold and to ensure that you are able to step out of the spotlight."

Zuz and I were both deeply impressed by her intellect and deliberate, point-by-point articulateness.

We were able to connect with Rebecca from Moishe House Philly, which brought several really interesting ideas to the surface, and which we hope to act on soon.

Perhaps even better, as soon as people heard that we were reppin STL, Jewish Geography kicked into overdrive, with people giving us the names of friends who were lonely in the Louie. That means we have our work cut out for us!

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