Our Stories

Nevertheless, they persisted.

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Dr. Miriam Heller Stern (HUC-JIR) engaged the group in an exploration of creative habits of leadership.

Rona Teitelman and Mollie Breger* (Camp Tawonga)

Rabbi Mychal Copeland (Congregation Sha’ar Zahav) with Sasha Joseph* and Yavilah McCoy (Dimensions Educational Consulting)

Nicole Francis* and Laura Toller Gardner (Peninsula Jewish Community Center)

Jamie Zimmerman and Rebecca Bigman* of Yavneh Day School

Natalie Boskin* of Kehilla Community Synagogue receives her certificate of completion from Jewish LearningWorks staff Jenni Mangel and Dana Sheanin

Because of complications from the pandemic, the siyum was the first time that all participants of Cohort 2 were together in person

Molly Shapiro* with professional coach Tamir Ami Konecky who coached all 21 program participants

Jewish LearningWorks Board Members: Sasha Joseph*, Daniella Forney, Irina Kovriga, and Donald Heller

Daniella Forney and Rabbi Alissa Miller* of Temple Isaiah

Marlena Wong, Alison Stein*, Rachel Schonwetter*, and Danielle Foreman of the Koret Foundation

Rachel Halevi* (JCF Teen Foundation) with Aaron Saxe, Rachel Shamash Schneider*, Josh Miller, Heidy Zohar Ramirez*, and Steve Green (Jim Joseph Foundation)

*denotes a Voices for Good Fellowship participant

This month we celebrated the conclusion of the second Voices for Good Fellowship. This two-year fellowship nurtured a carefully selected group of  women leaders in Bay Area Jewish communal organizations by building collegial relationships, exploring Jewish values in leadership, and facilitating training to address challenges unique to women in Jewish professional life. The Fellows met monthly in small and large group settings through the duration of the experience to realize the Fellowship goals including to:

  • Amplify women’s voices by creating platforms that enable them to speak up and out on issues that matter to them.
  • Strengthen the Jewish community’s talent pipeline by building the skills of our future leaders and the support system of our current ones.
  • Inspire self-reflection as well as individual and collective action to advance gender equity through Jewish wisdom and learning.

Our second cohort of this program formed in winter 2021 deep in the social isolation of the pandemic. In spite of monthly seminars held on Zoom, these women came together and bonded as a group. Each alumna shared stories with me about how the Fellowship experience influenced her life. Some shared that they gained confidence and silenced their sense of imposter syndrome. Others appreciated how the Fellowship helped them garner the courage to ask for a promotion, seek a new job, or pursue graduate education. Several noticed the way in which the Fellowship enabled commitment to stay true to their calling as an educator and leader in Jewish communal spaces.

The Voices for Good Fellowship honored and recognized participants as stewards of the Jewish future. It provided a much-needed space for the participants — as individuals and as a group — to grow as leaders and embrace their role. Two alumnae described their experience of the Fellowship as follows:

“For many women, we haven been taught to ‘be good,’ to raise our hands, to do all our homework. No one ever told me that many of the skills I had mastered so well growing up in school were actually the opposite of what would help me succeed as an adult in the workforce — where speaking up and speaking out are rewarded. Voices for Good helped me see when I need to be bold and contribute my unique perspective and innovative ideas.”

“The learning, thinking and growing we did in the Fellowship prepared our cohort to be disruptors and to give ourselves permission to take up space where we, as women in leadership, may not have been previously invited. We are empowered to utilize our voice, advocate for our needs, for respect. To effect change, and identify where our organizations, and we as individual leaders, are ready for growth.”

The alumnae of this program are women to watch in communal spaces. It was an honor and privilege for me to guide their experience and I look forward to many years of working alongside them in the future. They are found throughout our community — at congregations, JCCs, and foundations. They work tirelessly to overcome obstacles as educators, executive leaders, development professionals, and funders. Their work shapes the experience of Jewish life and learning for families with children as young as 18 months and beyond 18 years as they connect people to Jewish spaces and create meaning and content within them. Our communal organizations are stronger for the presence of their voice and leadership.

Photo Credits: Jonathan Miller – https://www.jonathandmiller.com/