Over the last two weeks, many people have offered congratulations on Jewish Learning Venture’s being selected as one of the 50 most innovative organizations in Jewish North America by Slingshot ‘13-‘14. I must admit, it is great to be at the top of the “TripAdvisor” guide to Jewish organizations. And more than that, I am very excited about the recognition when I consider that the other agencies selected are, in the main, start-ups and entrepreneurial initiatives that have recently been developed to meet a need in the Jewish community. Not so Jewish Learning Venture: we are a legacy agency with a history that can be traced back to Rebecca Gratz’s Hebrew Sunday School Society that was founded in 1836.
Jewish Learning Venture exists today because of its dynamic adaptability. During my twenty year tenure as Executive Director in Philadelphia, Jewish Learning Venture – and its predecessors, the Auerbach Center for Jewish Education and Jewish Outreach Partnership – has never maintained a program simply because, “that’s the way it has always been done.” The merger of ACAJE and JOP four years ago in and of itself exemplifies this. While there were differences between the agencies’ cultures and structures, the boards and staffs were willing to push further and develop new programs and resources to address the current needs of Jews and the Jewish community. Our mission of empowering people who seek to make Jewish life, learning and community relevant and meaningful isn’t a “one-and-done.” The work of Jewish Learning Venture lives at the intersection of tradition and innovation. It is a location that demands continual, thoughtful reflection and, sometimes, fearless action. It is a place that is vibrant, open and expansive enough to include many more individuals, organizations and entire communities.
If you look closely at that intersection, you will always find opportunities for meaningful connection and sparks of holiness.
Join the conversation: What does it mean to you to stand at the intersection of tradition and innovation?