• Community Leadership Initiative

  • About


    The Community Leadership Initiative aims to create and empower a cadre of community pillars by investing in today’s emerging Orthodox lay leaders. The program will:

    1.  Expose participants to the top thinkers and key opinion leaders in the field of leadership
    2.  Familiarize participants with the challenges, trends and opportunities that arise in steering Jewish organizations and communities
    3.  Deepen their commitment to playing the critical role of lay leader in their community
    4.  Teach the theories and best practices of successful community leadership through exploration of case studies, role playing and strategic analysis, couched within the framework of Torah thought


    Organizational Benefits

    Many Jewish organizations struggle to find talented young lay leaders who are willing to assume the mantle of leadership. The Community Leadership Initiative (CLI) program is designed to take the natural passion and energy of younger adults and nurture and channel it to maximize their involvement in playing a more active leadership role in the organization, while serving as role models for others to follow. Participants gain the practical knowledge, skills and vocabulary to meaningfully participate in the governance of the organization, as well as programming, strategic management, consensus building and growth efforts. A particular emphasis is placed on empowering participants with the skills to effectively execute fundraising initiatives and help steer organizations toward a model of long-term financial sustainability. In short, this program aims to groom the next generation of lay leaders.

    Background: The Washington Fellows Program

    For two consecutive years, Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future successfully cultivated cohorts of young leaders in the Washington, D.C. community as a test pilot for this program. Presently, 100% of the participants are actively involved in leadership positions throughout their communities. After financial investments in excess of $225,000, the program has been continually adapted and improved, and is now being scaled to reach a national audience. This will enable the CLI program to have a reach that is both far and wide and effect positive change in communities nationwide.

    The Process
    • Within a select geographic region, Yeshiva University will form a partnership with Jewish institutions demonstrating momentum, growth and a willingness to invest in their future
    • Those organizations will be invited to nominate their best communal lay leaders
    • Nominees will be congratulated by YU in recognition of their leadership potential and invited to apply through the CLI website
    • Each organization must have a minimum of two representatives enrolled in the program
    • Following the application and interview process, 20 committed lay leaders are chosen, representing five to seven communities within a geographic region

    • Due to participants' busy schedules, as well as the geographic distances between one community and the next, the program comprises 13 total sessions, a synthesis of live classes, peer-to-peer learning and online collaboration
    • Over the course of six months, participants dedicate one Sunday per month for a live seminar (five Sundays in total), which takes place in a nearby, centrally located community
    • Additionally, two evenings per month are set aside for interactive webinars (eight evenings in total)
    • To reinforce the material, participants are given podcasts/readings to review between sessions
    • In building a virtual community and encouraging collaboration, participants are able to contribute to an online forum to further advance leadership discussions among their peers

    The CLI program would not be complete without the involvement of the communal professionals. Their participation and guidance are welcomed and incorporated throughout the program. Even upon completion of the program, this virtual community of lay leaders will remain engaged by participating in future online study, development and mentorship opportunities.

    Financial Investment

    Currently, Yeshiva University’s cost for training a single participant exceeds $4,000. As a commitment to each participant, the University will invest $3,500 toward his or her training. Sponsoring organizations will fund the remaining $500 per participant, as an investment in their lay leadership.

    Upon completion of the program, sponsoring organizations and participants will be given a framed certificate from Yeshiva University to recognize their commitment to the future of Jewish leadership.

  • Contact Us

    For more information, please email Rabbi Ari Sytner, director of community initiatives, at sytner@yu.edu.

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