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North American Community Leadership Program

Strengthening North American Jewish leadership to ensure local communities remain animated by a Judaism of purpose and meaning

SHI North America’s Community Leadership Programs offer high-level, ideas-based Jewish education for North American leaders and change agents who shape the future of Jewish educational, religious, and community life. In key cities, SHI North America creates an integrated local presence by collaborating with professional agencies, leadership networks, and philanthropic partners to identify a community’s needs, leverage its strengths, and enable its leaders to address the community's major challenges and opportunities.  

SHI North America has created a sustainable presence in several North American cities, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Boston.  
This year, SHI North America began an ambitious expansion that is engaging new audiences and communities.  

Washington, D.C.

This year marked the first year of an exciting and dynamic partnership between SHI North America and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. The partnership brought together over 200 national and regional Jewish leaders from across diverse ideological, political, and denominational commitments to engage in values-based learning and discussion. These leaders included think tank analysts, policy directors of national Jewish organizations, senior congregational rabbis, philanthropic leaders, executive directors of DC-based organizations, and influential public Jewish thought leaders.


In addition, the partnership convened hundreds of Jewish community members from the Virginia, Maryland, and DC area for public programs where SHI scholars addressed the complex challenges facing American Jewry broadly and within the unique context of Greater Washington. Attendees of these programs ranged from high school students to octogenarians. 

Gil Preuss

CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

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“A critical component of our partnership with Hartman has been a focus on civic engagement through a Jewish lens. Together, we have successfully integrated Jewish traditions, debates, and ideas into our communal conversations. This work has helped to contextualize and shape current societal discussions for thought leaders from various fields, creating connections between the Jewish content and the civic discourse in which so many Washingtonians are already involved. Our partnership has begun to elevate and shift the Jewish communal conversation on its most pressing issues, engaging leaders from across DC, MD, and Northern VA in ways that may shape their outlook, work, and impact on the world around them.”

New York

SHI North America’s iEngage project, which has successfully engaged North American adults and college students in values-based study of Israel for nearly a decade, is now adapting the ideas and frameworks of iEngage to Jewish day schools and camps. In partnership with UJA-Federation of New York, we are expanding our reach to educational leaders in these frameworks to support them as they develop new methods of teaching Israel with sophistication, integrity, and competency.  Together we are refining the methods of teaching Israel to young audiences in order to develop a deep and nuanced understanding of the issues that define the Israel conversation today.    

In April 2019, we piloted iEngage for summer camps with a convening of 20 camp directors to discuss the challenges of teaching and talking about Israel in a camp setting. Next year, we will continue bringing together camp leaders to study the iEngage curriculum, and we will also bring iEngage content and methodology to day school educators to address the struggles they face around Israel education. The program will provide educators with access to our iEngage Video Lecture Series and leaders’ guides, multiday study convenings, and opportunities to workshop how the content and methodologies can be applied to the populations they serve. 

“hartman has raised the bar on Israel education within the New York community – from creating intimate learning settings for clergy and leadership, to large-scale events for diverse neighborhoods. They are expert at working with new audiences and designing innovative approaches for Israel engagement and Jewish community building. Hartman is a trusted partner, bringing important, nuanced thinking to community conversations.” - Deborah Joselow, Chief Planning Officer, UJA-Federation of New York

Los Angeles

As the second-largest Jewish community in North America, and the third-largest concentration of Jews in the world, the Los Angeles Jewish community provides a significant platform for our work. Through intimate and large-scale learning opportunities, we have created environments for important conversations with every category of community leader: rabbis, lay leaders, educators, and Jewish communal professionals. During the 2018-2019 program year, we held over 80 programs in Los Angeles, reaching hundreds of local Jewish leaders and advancing the ability of the Los Angeles community to respond thoughtfully and adaptively to the unique contours of 21st century Jewish life.


San Francisco

This year, noted scholar Tomer Persico was appointed the first Hartman Bay Area Scholar in Residence and Koret Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish and Israel Studies at UC Berkeley. Tomer, whose academic fields of study are contemporary spirituality, Jewish renewal, and trends of secularization and religiosity in Israel, is an activist for freedom of religion and writes the most popular Hebrew blog on religion in Israel.  

At Berkeley, Tomer taught courses on Introduction to Jewish Mysticism and Contemporary Israeli Religion and Spirituality and was an active lecturer throughout the Bay, especially in the run-up to Israel’s elections in April. In addition to teaching in many of Hartman’s ongoing classes for lay and professional leadership, Tomer lectured for communities including The Kitchen, the Oshman Family JCC, and Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City. His take on the Israeli elections was sought out nationally; he recorded a much-watched live webinar for Hartman rabbis with Rabbi Carla Fenves of Congregation Emanu-El, Tides of Change: Israel's Elections and What They Mean for Israeli Jewish Identity and was interviewed by David Suissa, president of Los Angeles Jewish Journal for Suissa's popular podcast. 

Hartman Beit Midrash for Courageous Communal Leadership

The Beit Midrash for Courageous Communal Leadership supports and strengthens rabbinic, professional, and communal leaders as they respond to the growing political pressures caused by an American Jewish community that continues to become more partisan and divisive. As Jewish leaders face growing tensions and challenges exacerbated by social media and the current political moment, we provide conceptual and practical tools to survive and thrive in their roles and to create a stronger Jewish communal ecosystem that is capable of withstanding these pressures.  


The program launched in New York in the spring of 2018 and in San Francisco in the winter of 2019, convening local journalists, foundation professionals, executive directors, rabbis, educators, campus professionals, and lay leaders. We also organized convenings for alumni of our Hartman Fellowship for Hillel Professionals and our Rabbinic Leadership Initiative, providing professionals who are in the same field with an opportunity to be in dialogue regarding a set of shared concerns. In total, more than 100 lay and professional leaders explored why leading on topics pertaining to Israel and Jewish peoplehood is different and difficult today and what they need in order to lead with confidence. As a result, we are building networks of communal leaders who can support each other during challenging moments and achieve a culture shift on the organizational and communal level.   

Community Leadership Programs are supported by Combined Jewish Philanthropies, William Davidson Foundation, Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Stuart & Denise Kogod, Koret Foundation, John & Lisa Pritzker Family Fund, Marcia Riklis, UJA-Federation of New York, and other generous donors.

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