You are here

Center for Jewish Leadership

Center for Jewish Leadership


For more information contact:

Betsy Gomberg | 312.322.1756


New opportunities for leadership development will enhance the creativity, knowledge, and effectiveness of the professionals and volunteers who serve Jewish community needs, advancing the missions of the organizations they serve and contributing to a vibrant Jewish future

Inaugural symposium brings together an
international panel of business and social entrepreneurs
to spur ideas for innovation

(Chicago) Rooted in the belief that great Jewish communities need great leaders, this fall Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership launches the Center for Jewish Leadership. This new programmatic center will cultivate innovative approaches to leadership and create leadership development opportunities tailored to the challenges faced by professionals and volunteers working in Jewish communities locally and around the world.

New opportunities for leadership development will be designed to enhance the knowledge, effectiveness, creativity, and strategic agility of current and future Jewish leaders, advancing the missions of the organizations they serve and fostering more vibrant futures for their communities.

The creation of the Center for Jewish Leadership (CJL) comes from an acknowledged need for targeted professional development in the nonprofit sector, a trend that is magnified in the Jewish community for a number of reasons.

According to the March 2014 report Cultivating the Next Generation of Leaders for Jewish Nonprofits by the Leadership Pipeline Initiative, “the vast majority of Jewish nonprofits — 75% to 90% by some estimates — must find new executive leadership in the next 5-7 years.” Yet "many organizations simply don't have the capacity or expertise to effectively cultivate their talent” and “there are not enough leadership development programs serving the field as a whole."

Jewish organizations that do not develop existing talent face two significant challenges when hiring from outside: they need to compete against higher salaries offered by the business sector and they often struggle to find candidates with the specialized knowledge required by Jewish organizations. According to a report in the Journal of Jewish Communal Service (Vol 85, No 1), “The success of Jewish organizations depends to a considerable extent on their ability to retain and promote skilled, experienced, and committed Jewish professionals, especially in the face of the impending leadership gap.” In fact, according to the Leadership Pipeline Initiative report, “Cultivating outstanding leaders is the most powerful lever that organizations have towards becoming more innovative, adaptive, and results-oriented.”

The need for skilled leaders extends beyond those on an organization’s payroll. Too frequently, the only training that nonprofit trustees receive is designed to help them understand an organization’s mission and impact. This compels trustees to rely on their own business skills or life experiences as they oversee the planning, policy development, and financial management of the organizations on whose boards they serve.

The Center for Jewish Leadership — supported with generous grants from the Crown Family — will serve both employees and volunteers of Jewish organizations. CJL programs and initiatives will directly address the need in Jewish agencies and organizations for well-equipped and forward-thinking leadership at every level.

CJL offerings will include graduate degree and certificate programs, master classes and workshops, a Jewish Leaders on Leadership series, an annual leadership symposium, a professional community mentoring program, and micro-grants for innovation and collaboration. Programs offered through the CJL will provide participants with a unique and holistic approach to Jewish leadership that seamlessly integrates deeper understanding of Jewish life, culture, and history with insights and best practices from the worlds of business and nonprofit leadership.

The Center for Jewish Leadership launches officially on Sunday, October 26, 2014, with an Inaugural Symposium: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Jewish Leadership. For this symposium, Spertus Institute brings together a group of impressive innovators from the business world and social sectors, in the US and Israel, to inspire ideas for individual, organizational, and community-wide innovation.

The featured presenter is serial entrepreneur and high tech venture capitalist Jon Medved, currently the founder/CEO of OurCrowd, a crowdfunding platform focused on Israeli startups. According to Forbes, OurCrowd is “one of the largest crowdfunding organizations on the planet,” having raised $50 million for 38 companies since its 2013 launch. Over the past two decades Mr. Medved has invested in more than 140 startup companies, helping bring twelve of them to values in excess of $100 million. Known as a passionate and inspiring speaker, Mr. Medved is a frequent media guest and commentator who has appeared on PBS, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, CBN, and BBC.

Joining Mr. Medved as panelists will be Ariel Beery, Jay Goltz, Dr. Hal M. Lewis, and Toby Rubin.

Ariel Beery
is co-founder/CEO of MobileOCT, an Israeli biophotonics startup enabling mobile phones to detect cancer. He served as the Global CEO of the PresenTense Group, a social ventures accelerator that has franchises in sixteen cities around the world. Jay Goltz is founder/CEO of the Goltz Group. With businesses including Artists Frame Service and Jayson Home, he pioneered the evolution of Chicago’s Clybourn Corridor from an abandoned factory district to a premier shopping destination. He is author of The Street Smart Entrepreneur and ablogger for You’re The Boss,” an ongoing New York Times series on small business leadership. Dr. Hal M. Lewis is the president and CEO of Spertus Institute as well as a recognized author and expert on Jewish leadership. Toby Rubin is an attorney who left law to drive innovation in the Jewish community. She is the founder/CEO of UpStart, a national nonprofit that accelerates projects of Jewish social entrepreneurs and fosters entrepreneurship in established Jewish organizations.

It is exceptional for such a group of trailblazing individuals to come together on one stage. Attendees can look forward to a rare and frank discussion of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, the steps that organizations wishing to innovate must take, and how this knowledge can be leveraged to advance Jewish life.

The symposium is open to the public and will be followed by lunch, providing opportunities for participants to take part in small group discussions based on suggestions from presenters and attendees. Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at 312.322.1773.

In discussing the need for the Center for Jewish Leadership, Dr. Lewis said, “Jewish life today faces complex challenges. Because we cannot solve 21st-century Jewish problems with 20th-century Jewish organizations, the Center for Jewish Leadership is necessary to help Jewish agencies develop first-rate leaders — in both volunteer and professional positions — who are equipped to meet today’s demands.”

Caren Yanis, President of the Crown Family Philanthropies, tied the importance of the Center for Jewish Leadership to the findings of the recent Pew Research Survey, A Portrait of Jewish Americans. She said “The Pew study echoed what we already knew, that people identify with Judaism in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons, and that thinking about Jewish heritage has shifted. In response, the Center for Jewish Leadership at Spertus develops prepared, certified, and committed Jewish leaders to meet the changing needs of American Jewish communities and institutions.”

A full range of CJL master classes and workshops are scheduled for this fall. All are designed for professionals and volunteers working for and with Jewish organizations. Master classes include Business Plans for New Initiatives, Fundraising for Nonprofit Organizations, Jewish Values for Professionals and Lay Leaders, Strategic Planning, and Writing for Social Media. Daylong workshops will be offered on Grantwriting and Negotiation Skills.

In the areas of graduate and certificate programs, in conjunction with the launch of the Center for Jewish Leadership Spertus Institute expands two program areas that have demonstrated their success over the last several years. This fall, Spertus Institute’s Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies program, in which Jewish communal professionals enhance their educational qualifications and learn critical leadership skills in a Jewish context, will welcome the eighth Chicago-area cohort of students, all of whom are already working in Jewish organizations. This spring, Milwaukee will join Pittsburgh and Chicago as the third US city offering the program, and Israel will join Canada as the second international location. In Israel, the program will benefit Israeli nonprofit professionals who work with North American Jewish communities and in the increasingly important area of Israel education. In addition, a new session of the Certificate in Jewish Leadership program will begin in Chicago this fall. A partnership between Spertus Institute and Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies, the Certificate in Jewish Leadership serves established and emerging leaders (including lay leaders) of Jewish organizations. The program consists of a four-part series of courses, group work, and individual mentoring.

# # #

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs — including films, speakers, seminars, and concerts — take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online. For more information, please visit

Spertus Institute is a partner in serving the community, supported by the Jewish United Fund / Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

The Center for Jewish Leadership is supported by generous grants from the Crown Family. We are grateful for their support.

Howard TullmanHoward Tullman

» preview 
» print quality



Jon MedvedJon Medved

» preview 
» print quality



Spertus ExteriorSpertus Institute

» preview 
» print quality