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Strapping on the Tool Belt

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Educational leaders with a passionate desire to re-construct Jewish education, let’s talk.

If your first thoughts in the morning and your last thoughts at night are about re-shaping Jewish education, then we have a lot to discuss.

There’s no need to make the case for why we need change in Jewish education; that’s been made. Oh, yes, and made again.

Our conversation is about how.

If you are re-making an existing program or Silicon-Valleying it with a start-up, we’re going to talk bricks and mortar. This blog will animate the tools, the issues, the data, and the holy sparks that Jewish educational game changers are using to build the future. “The future is here,” William Gibson said in The Economist, “it is just not widely distributed.”

So let’s distribute.

Yesterday, the faculty of The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College had lunch with close to 20 prospective students. Within minutes I met a vegetarian who manages an ethical butcher shop and an educator from San Francisco’s The Kitchen, where according to their website, “We begin from a place of yes: Every question and request is met with a sense of possibility, optimism and embrace.”

Learning and Jewish living in both of these spaces is guided by doing Jewish in real life settings.

And doing it justly.

Surfer
This summer, my friends Lynn Lancaster and Danny Mishkan launched Sababa Surf Camp so teens could replace stress with riding the waves of joy and resillience. Sababa is Israeli Hebrew slang for “no worries,” and the program is proud to say it is not meant to enhance the college resume. Instead, getting up on a surf board and practicing Jewish meditation along the beaches of Long Island is meant to foster a well balanced life.

This is Jewish “doing for the spirit.”

While I’m at it, here’s a shout out to Aliza Kline and Jessica Minnen. They and their team at One Table invite twenty- and thirty-somethings to Shabbat Together at a home, a restaurant, or a park. One Table invites you to slow down, be with people you love, and savor a meal. The shared human desire to connect and renew is tapped by a Shabbat coach, Etsy/Instacart shopping and an online hub.

One Table turns Shabbat into a verb. Do Jewish your way.

The guiding question for this blog: How to reconstruct Jewish learning so it is lived, and not just learned about?

I’ll highlight the stories of the game changers, and ask them to share their best tools and wisdom.

Pile of business and strategy books
I’ll slog through piles of books, and share with you the insights and methods I learn from titles like Gear-up, Accelerate, and Start Something that Matters.

Together, we’ll explore the sweet spot between entrepreneurial theory and practice.

I’m writing this blog, in part, for selfish reasons. I have to create a syllabus for my spring course, Entrepreneurship. Here’s how RRC’s spring catalogue describes it: “This project-based course introduces students to the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully launch entrepreneurial projects both within existing organizations and outside of them.” To fulfill that promise in one semester, I have to select carefully what’s going to make the biggest impact.

All advice welcomed.

Thank you, Toby Rubin from Upstart for recommending the core text Business Model Generation by Osterwalder and Pigneur and The Lean Start up by Ries.

Unless I’m wrong, RRC is the only movement rabbinical school requiring entrepreneurship as a core course for students. Together, we can identify the most effective tools for leaders who want to turn their heart’s desire into reality. Thank you for joining me as I launch this new blog.

Vice President for Innovation and Impact, Reconstructing Judaism