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A Conversation on Emerging Education

The first Leadership Workshop for Jewish Emergent Leaders took place January 15-17, 2007, at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, in Simi Valley, CA. It marked the third meeting of the S3K Leadership Network Working Group on Emergent Sacred Communities. Eighteen Emergent leaders, including four from Israel, attended.

This gathering, the first in a series of four Leadership Workshops funded by the Joseph & Rebecca Meyerhoff Awards Committee and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, focused on education. The program was designed by the participants themselves, in partnership with S3K staff. Expert presenters and facilitators included Dr. Isa Aron, Dr. Gabe Goldman, Rabbi Phil Warmflash, Dr. Ron Wolfson, and Rabbi Josh Zweiback. The core of the meeting focused on the presentation and discussion of case studies, using a process adapted for the group and facilitated by Dr. Aron. Five Working Group members presented cases focusing on prayer education, Shabbat hospitality training, family batei midrash, community development, and synagogue chavurot as learning communities.

Members of the Working Group also engaged in text study, discussed pedagogy and topics ranging from adult education to introduction to prayer to re-inventing b'nei mitzvah. The post-gathering evaluation indicates that it was well received. Participants sought additional interpersonal and small-group programming, as well as presentations from communal practitioners who are pushing the envelope in their own work. As always, participants sought more opportunities, in addition to the five case studies, to hear about other Emergent communities.

The next Leadership Workshop, to be held in October 2007 at the Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center, will focus on prayer. Subsequent Workshops will address organizational leadership (February 2008 in Boulder) and social justice (June 2008 in Seattle).