As a parent and grandparent, I wonder: Have I provided the next generations in our family with a sufficient foundation on which they can thrive, one that will enable them to find their way through these challenging times? How different are the challenges we face today as a society and a people from those of a decade ago, two decades ago, five?

These constant questions arose as I began planning the 2017 Milender Seminar, the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program’s biennial three-day residency seminar for its graduate students that first began in 1975.

This year on March 5 we welcome Rabbi Joy Levitt, Executive Director of the JCC Manhattan, as our 2017 Milender Fellow. It was in conversation with Joy that many relevant questions about Jewish leadership crystallized. Joy talked with me about her own path and her early formative experiences as a young professional. She later said, “The world doesn’t feel any less challenging to me now, and I worry about whether we have laid down enough roadways for our children to find their own way.”

I thought about the idea of challenges. Of course, Joy was right. The challenges of the late ‘60s which she and I began to make our way were every bit as daunting as today…but the world, and particularly, the Jewish world, is very different today from then.

We, at least the generations of our children and grandchildren, seem in many ways to be more urban than suburban, a characteristic documented in the Boston Jewish Community Study conducted by our colleagues at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University.

And, if we are more urban today than we were, then the enterprises which serve us must be confronting a whole host of new issues, from patterns of affiliation to consumerist mindsets… let alone what and how to deliver mission-fulfilling experiences.

Joy and I thought it would be good to gather some friends—and thought-leaders—to chat about the “Challenges of Leadership for the 21st Century Jewish Community.” We look forward to an informal give-and-take public program in which Joy, Rabbi Bill Hamilton of Brookline’s Congregation Kehillath Israel, Mark Sokoll, the President and CEO of the JCCs of Greater Boston, and Rabbi Elaine Zecher, Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Boston share challenges that they have either confronted or that they are currently experiencing. We will be encouraging constructive conversation with the panel and the members of the audience. The idea is to have a conversation, free-flowing and unstructured, that will enable the audience to gain fresh insights into the views of the 21st century Jewish community as well as how our current leaders approach the opportunities and challenges in the institutions they lead.

As for me, I cannot wait for Sunday, March 5, at 7:30 PM in the Rapaporte Treasure Hall of the Goldfarb Library on the campus of Brandeis University.

NOTE: This event will be live-streamed. To watch, click on this link on March 5 at 7:30: brandeis.edu/streaming

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