In just over a month the founding members of this blog will be completing their fellowship with the Lookstein Center at Bar Ilan University and the Jim Joseph Foundation to create online communities of practice (CoP) for Jewish educators.
We were part of the first cohort of this new initiative, and so high expectations for the programs success, coupled with the recognition that there would be a steep learning curve for the fellowship's implementation, went hand-in-hand over the past two years.
Without question, I have been transformed by this opportunity. The program asked me to consider both my leadership and management style. It forced me to think critically about many of the fundamental assumptions about how the Jewish community should work and how Jewish professionals need to prepare themselves for the digital age. It has pushed me to incorporate emerging technology into my professional work both in and outside the classroom. It has exposed me, with greater sensitivity, to the diversity of our Jewish community and its professionals. It has helped me to create a broader network of colleagues and introduced me to people, places, and ideas that were unfamiliar.
Over the course of the fellowship, I often became frustrated by the challenge of birthing my community of practice and encouraging other JCC colleagues to participate. Even now, participation is not what I envisioned and the CoP still has a far way to go to be the resource for the field I believe it can be.
As is typical of new ventures, the process is often more fulfilling than the first product. I can't show you what I would consider a successful CoP just yet but, give a few minutes, and I can share with you a powerful learning experience that is certain to change the way I serve the Jewish community forever.
I am indebted to both the program's creators Rabbi Shalom Berger and Esther Feldman, as well as the Jim Joseph Foundation, for their innovative thinking in developing this first-of-a-kind opportunity.