Apply to CLI

Clergy Leadership Incubator

Taking your rabbinate to the next level

The Clergy Leadership Incubator (CLI) is a two-year fellowship for rabbis to encourage innovative thinking and equip rabbis to serve as transformative change agents in the communities that they serve. CLI is fiscally sponsored by Hazon and is directed by Rabbi Sid Schwarz. The acronym—CLI—reminds us that clergy are intended to be human vessels (klei kadosh) that create sacred communities in which Jews can find meaning and purpose.

We are looking for rabbis who think big, are prepared to dramatically re-think how synagogues function or are engaged in launching a spiritual alternative to synagogues of their own design. The syllabus integrates methodologies from the fields of design thinking, adaptive leadership and the best thinking of the past twenty years in the field of synagogue transformation. In addition, CLI Fellows are supported by both a rabbinic mentor from the CLI national mentor team and by a peer cohort that will form an interdenominational community of practice.

The goal of CLI is to train a select group of rabbis with the skills to be effective change agents in their communities. During the course of the two-year program, each participant will be expected to develop a specific innovation that s/he will seek to implement in the community/institution that they are serving. The program will help rabbis “incubate” their innovation projects and navigate their respective congregational/organizational cultures so that they can begin to shift the paradigm of the spiritual community itself.

Cohort 4 is open to rabbis in years 5-15 of their rabbinate. The program fee of $2,000/year covers three mandatory retreats, monthly meetings with a mentor, monthly meetings with a Community of Practice, all curricular materials and training from national experts in a wide range of fields and personal coaching. Applications are being accepted until March 1, 2019. The program will begin in June 2019 and conclude in June 2021. There is no programming in the summer months. For more information check out:



“CLI has transformed my rabbinate! The expert knowledge, support and encouragement I received through the CLI fellowship helped me take my rabbinate to the next level. The most valuable aspect of the program for me was the leadership training we did at the retreats and the ongoing learning CLI provided through monthly meetings and emails.” -Rabbi Salomon Gruenwald, Hebrew Education Alliance, Denver, CO

“From building my business vocabulary and my deepened understanding of leadership, to the techniques and skills I acquired to be strategic in risk taking, I emerge from CLI as a more resilient and prepared leader for my community.” -Rabbi Lori Shapiro, Founder/Rabbi, The Open Temple, Venice, CA

“CLI is an extraordinarily well-designed process, modeling through practice the very principles it aims to teach.  The program interweaves multiple elements of training with rhythm, rigor and a certain elegance. The retreats have been extraordinary experiences, allowing CLI Fellows access to a very high level of expertise from executive leadership trainers to personality mapping consultants to researchers and thinkers.” -Rabbi Sarah Bracha Gershuny, Cong. Nevei Kodesh, Boulder, CO

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can apply?

A: An ordained rabbi from any denomination or rabbinic training program who is serving a congregation, be it a traditional one or an alternative spiritual community. Regardless of age, eligible rabbis must be at least in their fifth year in their rabbinate. Preference will be given to rabbis who have at least one year of tenure in their existing position with a mutual commitment (their own and the community being served) to continue for at least one more year. The most veteran rabbi we will consider will be in their fifteenth year of their rabbinate. While most Fellows are working as the sole rabbi for a congregation, we do accept assistants and associates with the permission of their senior rabbi. We will also consider applications from rabbis who are contemplating or are in the process of launching an entrepreneurial spiritual alternative for Jews outside the context of a conventional synagogue.

Q: Who else will be in the program?

A: We will be selecting 20 rabbis for the two-year cohort. Our objective will be to create a cohort that is diverse in terms of gender and religious ideology across the denominational spectrum.

Q: What is the timetable for the program?

A: Applications were due March 1, 2019. Notification of acceptance will be on March 15, 2019. The opening webinar will take place in June 2019. The three required retreats are as follows:

  • Oct. 28-31, 2019: Capital Retreat Center, Waynesboro, PA
  • Oct. 26-29, 2020: Brandeis-Bardin Institute, Brandeis, CA
  • June 21-24, 2021: Isabella Freedman Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

No programming takes place in July/August

Q: What is the financial obligation for the program?

A: The fee is $2,000 for each of the two years of the program. This represents a fraction of the cost that such training programs would cost at university sponsored programs.  The fee will include the costs for the three 4-day retreats, one in year one and two in year two. The fee also includes all program materials and access to a rabbinic mentor and a peer community of practice. Transportation to and from the retreats will be the responsibility of the participant though travel subsidies will be available.

Q: What are the expectations of CLI Fellows?

A: In addition to the three required retreats, which are highlights of the program, there is a well-designed program that includes several additional expectations, all of which are guided and supported by the program.

  • Each CLI Fellow will develop a vision statement and an innovation project;
  • Monthly meeting with a Community of Practice of peers;
  • Monthly meeting with a rabbinic mentor from the CLI national mentor team;
  • Monthly readings from a syllabus of between 20-50 pages;
  • Periodic assessment instruments that support the Fellow and provide input to the program design.

Q: What if I change jobs or career path during the two years of the program?

A: We recognize that in rare cases a rabbi may choose to leave the congregational rabbinate in the midst of the two-year program. Such a rabbi may complete the CLI program. We expect that there will be significant leadership lessons as part of the transition that will be applicable to other professional settings.

Q: There are a growing number of programs available for rabbis today. What is unique about CLI?

A: CLI is less a study program than it is a boot camp for visionary leadership. It is very practical. It will help rabbis expand their human potential. It will help rabbis explore their particular leadership styles. It will help rabbis shape a vision that inspires others. It will help rabbis better understand how organizations work and how they can be change agents within those organizations. We highly recommend that all candidates take some time to explore the CLI website to fully understand the program at:

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