Four of our participants recently attended Masa's Building Future Leadership conference in Jerusalem. Here's what Katie, one of our 10 month Coexistence track volunteers, had to say about the experience:
I recently spent a week with five hundred young Jews who are committed
to improving the global Jewish community. From Tikkun Olam, I was
joined by Nate Kemphues, Lisa Tankanow and Jodie Suckle at the
Building Future Leadership conference in Jerusalem. We participated
in workshops ranging from public speaking, tikkun olam, Israel
advocacy, team building skills, social entrepreneurship, to Jewish
leadership during the Holocaust. While the workshops were well put
together and interesting, I found that the people around me were the
most fascinating and motivating aspects of the conference. In the
small group that we participated in for the entire week, we heard from
young Jews who wanted to revitalize the Conservative movement,
radically change the way North American Jewish education works, bring
young Jewish communal professionals to Israel, and build stronger ties
between Jews and non-Jews across the globe.
Although the conference participants were a highlight, an evening
event called "Open Space" provided an amazing example of how to start
paradigm changing conversations. All 500 of the conference attendees
were crammed into a large room with large pieces of paper filling the
center of the space. A large box of markers was dumped onto the pile
of paper and we were told to write down any topic about any issue.
Topics were all over the place, from "Who is a Jew?" to "Do Jewish
Federations still matter?" to "Post Modernism and Zionism." We were
then told to pick a group, engage in the conversation and to move on
to a different topic if we weren't contributing to the conversation.
It was a truly impressive evening that we developed for ourselves and
that led to a variety of exchanges dealing with Judaism in the
Diaspora over the remainder of the week.
Discussing the challenges facing the Diaspora over meals and during
free time allowed me to finally commit to what I want to be doing for
the next five years of my life: professional Jewish communal work with
young adults and college students. I spent the last evening of the
conference discussing my resume and working on interviewing skills
with a conference attendee who used to be an HR manager at a Fortune
500 company. Friday morning I sent off an application to a position
that I never would have applied for if I hadn't received encouragement
and advice at the Building Future Leaders conference. While I'm a
long shot for the job, the conference was the motivation I needed to
commit to a serious job search so that I can help build the Jewish
community I want to raise my children in.
Katie Vogel is a native of Detroit, Michigan and attended graduate
school for urban planning at the University of Cincinnati. She plans
on returning to Chicago, Illinois after riding her bicycle from Moscow
to Berlin with her husband, Nate Kemphues. A participant in the 10
month Coexistence Track, Katie splits her time between grant writing
and research, pretending to be a dinosaur while chasing
kindergartners, tutoring English to high school students and
researching and developing bicycle legislation and policy for Israel.