By Marla Goodman, 2021-22 J Leaders Academy Fellow
I’m proud to say that I was a fellow in this past year’s J Leaders Academy. It was an incredible experience for me. I loved everything that I learned about leadership skill development, but what I appreciate most are the connections I made with the other fellows in the program.
The three most common reasons Jews connect with Judaism growing up is that they attend a Jewish day school, participate in Jewish summer camp, or visit Israel through a Birthright or family trip. But once college is completed and work life begins – often away from our families, our Jewish identity is truly in our own hands- perhaps for the very first time. So how can young adult Jews begin to explore and express their own identity, especially if they, like myself, are less observant and do not attend synagogue services regularly?
One great answer is to participate in the J Leaders Academy. This program features lectures and discussions from a wide variety of leaders including successful entrepreneurs, corporate and non-profit executives, Jewish scholars, and leadership consultants. What I found most meaningful was how these discussions were guided by Jewish teachings and ethics. The program gives young adults like me the priceless opportunity to learn from these talented individuals and invest in ourselves while building Jewish community with like-minded Jewish individuals our own age.
This past Friday, J Leaders first two Academy cohorts came together for a Shabbat dinner to receive our certificates and reflect on our experience. It was a fun and enriching opportunity to celebrate our achievements together. I would recommend J Leaders to anyone looking to expand their leadership skills, explore and strengthen their Jewish identity, and make some incredible friends.