Who We Are
Elchanan Clingman

1. When were you at Hadar?

I spent some time learning at Hadar during an executive learning seminar, for a week in early 2012.

2. Where are you now (physically)?

I am now physically on a plane to Las Vegas, but I currently live in Washington Heights.

3. What are you up to now?

I am up to 30,000 feet approximately. :) In my life right now I have 3 primary projects. My main job is helping run Elementem Photography, a photography print retail company. We work with photographers and license their images, which we make into really awesome prints for sale. At the same time, I'm exploring opportunities as a startup founder to make finding employees and hiring at small businesses much easier to do. And I'm also helping revitalize the Washington Heights Orthodox community by being involved in the Beis, a warm innovative-traditional community that hosts a monthly Shabbaton, and holiday events.

4. Is there a beautiful piece of Torah from your Hadar days that you keep close to your heart?

While I don't have a specific piece of Torah from Hadar that I can recall, I fondly remember the "avirah" of the Beit Midrash, the sound of voices unique in its mixture of men and women, students, executives and teachers, that I think upon often as an ideal model for Jewish learning and religious experience.

5. If you could describe your experience at Hadar in one word what would it be (feel free to elaborate beyond a single word)?


6. Can you tell us a little about your microgrant work?

The microgrant I was granted was one of the best gifts I've ever received. While I strongly believe in the power of Jewish community, I find myself, in my late 20s, feeling less called to be involved in that community. Attending shul on Shabbat, for me, the central communal experience in my life, has become less and less important as a vehicle for my religious experience. And yet, I still miss the community, the fun parts of shul, the people, the food, and the joy. The microgrant I received was an attempt to channel my desire for creating an event to recapture that, by focusing on one of the most overlooked components of the Jewish religious experience: Shabbat day kiddush. Hadar helped us pay for an amazing kiddush, and we had about 40-50 people come to my apartment, to partake in all sorts of "MaTaMim," delicacies abound. We created a space for people to come after, or instead of, synagogue service, a place for people to spend time with other fun-loving Jews, on Shabbat. If we brought a little bit of oneg to even a few Jews, who may have felt bored, lazy, or uncomfortable to go to Shul that day, we succeeded, and couldn't have done so without Hadar's generous grant.

7. Is there a time this past year when Hadar specifically came to mind?

As I'm involved in helping create, restore, and inspire a traditionally Orthodox community in Washington Heights, I think often about Hadar as an inspiration and a model for a successful learning, and prayer community. I recognize the tremendous challenge involved in creating a space where both devotion and acceptance are expected, where faith and openness to possibility are explored honestly, and where people feel both inspired and comfortable. Hadar, in any experiences I've had with the teachers, students, or general community, does this all seemlessly, and serves as my personal model for successful Jewish innovation and tradition.