Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jewish Professional Leadership Series and Social Entrepreneurship

I can easily say that one of the huge perks of working at a Jewish institution has to be the Jewish Professional Leadership Series led by Mindee Fredman -- and I'm not just saying that because this blog appears on the website (www.jewishinstlouis.org - check it out!) that I work for...

I was skeptical of the program at first. The series falls under the umbrella of the Jewish Federation-run Professional Excellence program, which " builds the capacity of the St. Louis Jewish community to recruit, train and retain high quality professionals who will lead and deliver services of excellence."

Needless to say excellence is a high priority - which is why I was recruited to be a part of this new group. Just kidding! Kind of. But for real.

To return to the point, I was skeptical at first. I was unsure about this new program that catered toward a small group of young adults that worked in Jewish professions - I mean, I work with Jews all day; I work out with them after 5pm at the J; and I live in a super Jewish hood (U City).

But after I heard the list of other participants, and the topics that would be covered (i.e., 'work-life balance,' 'fundraising,' 'career planning,' to name a few) I figured I would give it a try.

The meetings take place in a different Jewish location each session, so that we become more familiar with the institutions here in St. Louis, on a more personal level. We've met at Bais Abraham, Temple Emanuel, St. Louis Hillel, and Next Dor, just to name a few.

Essentially, the series centers around a certain theme, and an experienced Jewish professional who has knowledge of that theme speaks, or provides an interactive exercise.

A perfect example would be last week's theme: Social entrepreneurship.

Social Entrepreneurship was one of those things that really ticked me off, because it was one of those buzz words you hear, and you kinda understand... but in reality not at all (damn you, Twitter generation!)

After one hour with energetic expert speaker Barb Levin, I had resolved to become the next great entrepreneur. Well not entirely, but at least I understood what it was: someone who makes a change - cultural, emotional, thoughtful- in society. And I learned how change could look in our own Jewish community... and a little on how to go about it.

Of course, our venue, Next Dor, was the perfect example. One of the main cogs in creating and running Next Dor (who will remain nameless because he gets waaaay too much press) saw a gap in Jewish St. Louis society: post-college kids were moving away from St. Louis because they could not find the type of Jewish community they were seeking - a cultural and social approach to religion. Now the Next Dor house is bursting at the seams with programming, ideas, and especially people. Art, yoga, gardening, business, networking, and of course food (helloooo Jews) are all found at Next Dor.

Like Next Dor, the Jewish Professional Leadership Series has easily exceeded (my) expectations. I am so thankful to be a part of an intelligent, funny, motivated group of my peers, and to listen to seasoned (read: old ... JUST KIDDING) professionals whose advice and teachings are certainly taken to heart. The lessons we learn will prove to be priceless, and one day, the basis for leadership and change in our community.

--This piece was writted by P.J. Edelman, Content Manager for Jewishinstlouis.org . The St. Lou Jew is always interested in getting new perspectives (aka having other people write for us) so if you have an idea for a story or an opinion you'd like shared, email us at thestloujew at gmail dot com.

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