Shaping The Next Wave Of Jewish Women Leaders

Rachel Neymark was a relative newcomer to the National Council of Jewish Women Minnesota last year when she took part in the agency’s four-month-long “Leading For Change” program. She was so inspired that she decided to get involved in this year’s edition.

This year’s program is three individual workshops rather than a four-month commitment and offers participants the chance building leadership, skills, and knowledge.

“This gives an opportunity to meet other social-justice focused Jewish women,” Neymark said. “It’s a welcoming group. It was really welcoming last year, and because it was built so you would see everyone once a month, everyone who came had the expectation of getting to know each other. But we’ll try to build community in these one-off workshops.”

Sara Schonwald, who is facilitating the first session, said that while two hours barely enough time to scratch the surface it gives people an opportunity to start learning how to meet people where they are at.

“Building the foundation takes time, but what this will do is be the beginning of the exploration,” she said. “This workshop is an introduction to diversity and equity work. It can inform and transform how we work as an org and agents for social change.”

The topics for these sessions were chosen based on a survey of NCJW members, which asked: “What can you offer and what want to see?”

“These workshops give people skills they can put to work immediately – at NCJW, in other community organizations, at work, or in life,” said NCJW Minnesota executive director Beth Gendler. “We’re so fortunate to have really skilled volunteer facilitators who believe in our mission and are as passionate as we are about developing community leaders and change-makers, and Leading for Change graduates who are quickly becoming the next generation of NCJW leaders, volunteers, and advocates.”

Said Schonwald: “Part of our mission is to think of a three-legged stool: Promoted social justice, equity through direct service, and develop leaders. This is the leadership piece. How can we develop them so they can be most effective in their work? This is what we learned from our users that this is the biggest thing we can do. It brings out incredible leaders and talent who can be leaders in the organization.”

Unlike last year’s session where participants signed up for the entire course, this offers users to sign up for whichever programs they want to attend.

“Had I not done it last year wouldn’t have helped plan this year,” Neymark said. This is a great opportunity to bring in new people. It can lead to being interested in a lot of different programs.”

“It was really welcoming last year,” “Because it was built so you would see everyone once a month, everyone who came had the expectation of getting to know each other. But we’ll try to build the community in the one-off workshops. The facilitators we have are good at that. Even if you come with a friend, they’ll encourage people to meet new people. The environment I encountered was really open. We’ll try to build the same this time.”

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This year’s sessions all take place at Temple Israel from 7-9 p.m.

March 14: How We Learn to Work Across Differences

Presenter: Sara Schonwald

Participants will learn about their own and others’ cultural identities – and become more adept at navigating cultural differences and similarities – in predictable, developmental stages. Join us to explore each of these developmental stages, and identify ways we might use this framework to become more effective leaders and activists.

April 4: Turning Your Passion Into Action

Presenters: Judith Kahn and Lynne Hvidsten

Do you want to persuade an elected official (or supervisor; or board) toward a particular course of action. During this workshop, you will learn and practice techniques that can help you convey complex issues succinctly and with a compelling message.

May 23: Coming Together For Good

Presenters: Cino Adelson and Judith Kahn

Bringing a group of people together to accomplish great things is an art mixed with a bit of science. In this workshop, participants talk about how to bring people together to accomplish a common goal.