This year, we kicked off our first-ever cohort in which we brought together Senior Jewish Executives from DC-based Jewish organizations to learn together at the Religious Action Center in DC. Across denominations and backgrounds, Jewish organizational leaders from Religious Action Center, GatherDC, Hillel International, Jews United for Justice, Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School, Sixth and I, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, Bend the Arc and Charles E. Smith Day School, made time to prioritize learning collaboratively led by Hadar's DC-based faculty person, Rabbi Avi Strausberg. The cohort will meet five times over the course of 2019-2020 for learning over breakfast. The cohort will culminate with the opportunity to spend four days in intensive, immersive learning with other Jewish professionals at Hadar's Jewish Professionals Institute in New York.
The goals of this cohort are three-fold. First, Jewish professionals dedicate a lot of time to the Jewish community often with little time left over to replenish their own spiritual resources and to deepen their own Torah knowledge. Through learning as a cohort, we hope to engage in Torah that will not only enrich the lives of these professionals as Jews but also speak directly to some of the questions that arise in the work of Jewish executives. Second, the cohort learning is a chance for these professionals to collaborate together and build community across organizational and denominational boundaries through the language of Torah. Lastly, we hope this learning transforms the very cultures at these organizations, as their leaders are inspired to bring more Torah into their work and to provide increased opportunities for learning for their employees.
Our learning together is focusing on nuanced questions around Money and Power. Namely, how do we navigate relationships of power imbalance specifically in moments when complicated questions of power and money arise? We are exploring questions like: what do we do when good leaders go bad, or how and in what way do we hold people in power accountable for their actions? We’ll ask: is it okay to perhaps falsely flatter people in power, particularly when money is on the line? We’ll also ask questions around how our position of power impacts when and how we speak up and speak out.
As an organization, we are excited about the rich conversations that have already come out of our first meetings together. Participants report that these opportunities to learn Torah on questions that are directly relevant to moral questions of today have been meaningful and impactful. We look forward to seeing how this model might be replicated and expanded in other cities in the future.