By Adam Grobman
What is a changemaker?
According to Jewish Federations of North America, a “changemaker is a current or aspiring leader in the Jewish community – they are invested, involved, and dedicated to bettering the world around them.”
This summer, more than 1700 young leaders took a step on that journey by participating in the Jewish Changemakers program offered by JFNA.
The program, in its second year, tapped into the energy of inspired, Jewish young adults ages 20 – 24 by broadening their horizons, expanding their worldviews, and connecting them to a diverse array of peers from more than 120 communities across the globe.
Participants from the Harrisburg area included Eli and Nathan Adler, Hallel Cheskis, Jody Efron, and Jesse Plichta-Kellar.
“Changemakers seemed like a great way to explore different methods of Jewish leadership and participating in a Jewish community,” said Jesse Plichta-Kellar, who works at Dickinson College’s Asbell Center for Jewish Life as an Engagement Associate. “As a young Jewish professional who would like to stay in that world, it seemed like a great experience to have.”
The three-week program brings participants together each day for online sessions exploring personal and global leadership values, social issues like food insecurity, antisemitism, and caring for the most vulnerable, and inspires perspective-building and fresh ways of thinking.
“Each week had its own theme,” Jesse continued, explaining how the program focused on the personal and global, and how to integrate the two to make an impact in participants’ own communities. “I’m really passionate about learning about Jewish communities in places you might not expect, so I enjoyed the 2nd week, where I was able to meet people from Helsinki to Uganda.”
Jesse says that she hopes to use the skills that she learned to make an impact in her job and in the future.
“I walked away learning specific techniques in leading sessions with participants, skills for creating space for people to equitably participate in conversations, and a great networking experience with other young Jewish professionals and aspiring leaders.”