Here are comments from some alumni of the CLI program.

An active moment at a CLI retreat

(As a result of participating in CLI) I feel that I made significant progress toward becoming a “visionary spiritual leader.” In many ways, I feel like a newborn, just starting out, now that I can see what the path is. But there is excitement in that, because I sense that I’ll be applying what I’ve learned here for years to come. Because our cohort has set up ways to continue to be in touch, I feel we are well-disposed to continue learning and growing in our leadership, and that this tree will continue to bear fruit for years to come.

CLI has been a wonderful opportunity to get some high-level training (eg. adaptive leadership theory; evaluation design, etc.); meet some phenomenal peers, mentors and teachers – across and beyond the denominational spectrum; and engage in rigorous self-evaluation, self-definition, and visioning. This last piece has been probably the most productive for me. … The lay leaders’ evaluation of me was slightly painful, particularly in reflecting that I had not clearly enough articulated my personal vision for the community – or at least not to everyone. This feedback actually prompted me to start articulating it for myself and begin sharing it with certain key organizational leaders… This was invaluable.


CLI was truly transformational. It forced me to challenge my previously held assumptions about effective leadership, the role of the rabbi, and organizational change. It pushed me to recognize the roles I had played in creating the very messes I was desperately but unsuccessfully trying to solve. It challenged me to work more slowly, carefully, and methodically – to enlist partners, build consensus, and get on the balcony to see what was really going on. It reminded me that Torah and meaning-making is at the core of my work, and my leadership is meaningless unless I infuse my leadership with the very Torah I hope to instill as a product of the changes I want to make. I have no doubt that I will be a more effective change agent now and/or in the future because of CLI.

CLI helped to get me out of the bubble – the bubble of my own synagogue, the bubble of my own city, the bubble of my own Movement, and the bubble of my previous definitions of rabbinic success. It has helped me to appreciate myself as well as helped to bring an even greater level of humility to the work I do. Being surrounded by such brilliant, talented, and diverse rabbinic leaders through this program has been inspiring and I have learned so much from them. I have gained a new level of self-confidence to vision, develop, articulate, and then execute on ideas and know how to strategically bring about change. A great deal of the success of this program was Sid’s leadership and ability to harness the potential within each one of us as well as our collective power. He gave us the space to own this group for ourselves and future cohorts will have to figure out their own flow. Therefore, as long as Sid continues to lead as he does now (sometimes from the front and other times from the rear), future cohorts will be able to figure out their own definition of success. This has been a transformational part of my rabbinate.

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