You are here

Letter from the President — Fall 2016

Letter from the President — Fall 2016


The Significance of Renewal

Twice a year, the Jewish calendar forces us to confront the challenge and significance of renewal. In the spring, the Festival of Passover combines the themes of nature’s renewal with our rebirth as a people. Half a year later, the High Holy Days — Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur — offer a more existential message of renewal, with emphasis on personal transformation.

At Spertus during this High Holy Day season, we are mindful of the need for continued renewal. I have written previously of our commitment to institutional heshbon ha’nefesh (introspection) and change. Rather than laurel-resting, our desire is programmatic renewal. We seek to meet the needs of our students and patrons, with new models of high-quality Jewish learning unbound by geography or temporal restraints. We pursue expanded efforts to develop communal leaders capable of responding to our highly volatile Jewish world.

Here are some examples:

  • With a full house of artists, admirers, friends, donors, and colleagues, we recently opened our Ground Level Arts Lab in the space formerly known as the Spertus Shop. The Lab is designed to provide every visitor to Spertus a unique introduction to Jewish arts and culture.

  • We have expanded our highly regarded MA in Jewish Professional Studies degree (offered in Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee, and internationally in Canada and Israel) to now include an Executive Program for experienced communal leaders. Our inaugural cohort includes professionals from Chicago, Toronto, New York, New Jersey, and Cleveland.

  • Our Center for Jewish Leadership (now in its third year) continues to expand its programming. This fall, the fifth local cohort of our Certificate in Jewish Leadership (sponsored jointly with Northwestern University) will begin. In the spring, for the first time, the program will also be offered to students from all over the world through a combination of virtual technology and on-campus workshops.

  • On November 20, the Center for Jewish Leadership will welcome Dan Pallotta for a presentation and workshop. Pallotta is an entrepreneur, author, and humanitarian activist who has altered the standard of what it means to lead in the nonprofit sector.

In this season of transition, allow me to end on a personal note. After four years of incredible service, Mark F. Mehlman’s term as Chairman of the Spertus Board has ended. Mark served Spertus with distinction and class. Under his leadership, we completed our financial turnaround, and we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.

At the same time, we welcome our new Board Chairman, Peter Bensinger, Jr.

Peter is an impassioned Spertus advocate and a leader in the Jewish and general communities of Chicago. He is energetic, thoughtful, and enormously capable. I extend my gratitude to both Peter and Mark for their dedicated service.

To all of you, may 5777 usher in a year of good health, happiness, and renewal.

L’shana tova tikateivu.

Dr. Hal M. Lewis

Dr. Hal M. Lewis
President and CEO
Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership


Read The Leading Edge, Dr. Hal M. Lewis’ blog about Jewish leadership.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Dr. Hal M. Lewis

Dr. Hal M. Lewis is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. A recognized expert on Jewish leadership, he has published widely in the scholarly and popular press. His books include Models and Meanings in the History of Jewish Leadership and From Sanctuary to Boardroom: A Jewish Approach to Leadership.