The Greater Phoenix Jewish community is growing and changing at a rapid pace. Synagogues and community organizations have been working hard to recruit leadership to meet their needs for today. Unfortunately, only a small number of these groups have made it part of their mission to recruit and train the leaders of the future. Two Valley Beit Midrash programs have sought to change that. Start Me Up! focuses on giving innovators the tools to build their own projects. But this was only one piece of the puzzle. There was still a gap that needed to be filled. So it was, through the help of the Jewish Community Foundation, that the Jewish Leadership Corps (JLC) was established.
As the first cohort of JLC, we knew we were a part of something never before tried in a local Jewish community: a program designed exclusively for young people with the purpose of supporting and building leadership skills to take back to other organizations and initiatives. Over the course of eight months, we heard lectures from and workshopped with innovators of our time: leaders like Dr. Max Klau of City Year, Naomi Korb Weiss of PresenTense and Rabbis Ari Hart, Irwin Kula and Noah Farkas, and, of course Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, the creator of and guiding force behind JLC.