Here are comments from some alumni of the CLI program.
The framework of the (CLI) program is one where you learn a new approach, have the opportunity to implement it within the context of your work, and are then given the safe space to process the results with your rabbinic colleagues and your rabbinic mentor. This type of mentorship and built-in chevruta has been such a blessing throughout the CLI program and the relationships go well beyond the two-year fellowship. CLI has afforded me the opportunity to dream big and then to create the change that will allow those dreams to become a reality.
Rabbi Aderet Drucker, Cohort 1
As (Open Temple’s) founding rabbi, a lot of people ask me how I was able to found an emerging community “ex nihilo.” It takes a lot of support, skill and mentorship. CLI provided me with all of these resources. When describing the program to others, I describe it as “as if I were studying for a Rabbinic MBA.” 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, Cohort 1
Upon entering the CLI program, I had just launched my current professional project–an emergent community in Metro Detroit called The Well. Needless to say, as any startup venture, the sailing was not always smooth. Having access not only to Rabbi Sid Schwarz, who constantly made himself available to be of support, but also to high-level mentoring/coaching from more experienced rabbis who, simply put, were exceptional, was transformational for me personally, and without question is one of the primary reasons in my mind that our organization has flourished these past two years, touching thousands of young Jewish adults, garnering national attention (Slingshot Guide ’17) and investment (Open Dor Project inaugural cohort).
Rabbi Dan Horwitz, Cohort 2
In CLI I found colleagues who are self-confident, curious, quick and flexible thinkers. I was paired with a mentor who shares my artistic sensibilities and who has put into place the sort of cross-pollination of the arts and religious life that I aspire to establish, and I was offered the very available ear of one of the great thinkers on North American Jewish communal life – in Sid. In the two years of my rabbinate, coinciding with the two years of my CLI fellowship, I have made tremendous strides in my endeavor to restore Or Shalom to its vision of itself as … the first-established Jewish Renewal congregation (in North America).
Rabbi Hannah Dresner, Cohort 2
I have participated in fellowships in the past that provide theoretical training but failed to pair it with any infrastructure of support or accountability to implement the teaching. CLI has multiple ways to gently push us as participants– through the support of peers, the guidance of mentors, and Rabbi Sid’s check-ins. That’s the key to the program’s success. The most difficult thing for me about implementing change is not the “how” but the resilience needed upon hitting resistance. CLI gave me the support and accountability to keep pushing – to stay focused on the ultimate vision, not the immediate challenges.
Rabbi Sarah Bassin, Cohort 3
Thanks to CLI, I’ve been able to more fully articulate my vision for Jewish life and for myself as a spiritual leader. I am more comfortable taking risks and more strategic in my thinking. The group has given me valuable relationships and expanded my thinking. The readings were terrific, and I look forward to returning to them over the course of the next year to better hone my skills and sharpen my thinking. I am more able to be an effective change agent and to think big. “Nothing has to happen; anything can happen” rattles around in my brain… I have been able to dream bigger and imagine wider thanks to CLI.
Rabbi Sarah Freidson, Cohort 3
CLI’s two-year program has included multiple learning opportunities to accelerate and innovate my rabbinate…Over this time, I have become a far more visionary leader, using design thinking to bring new initiatives to fruition. I have been able to build up our ritual and board leadership, while launching a synagogue-wide lay program called Homegrown Judaism to develop future leadership. We have navigated the pandemic thanks to “pivoting” and “adapting”, words that were already baked into the curriculum, pre-pandemic. I am a more confident rabbi and person, able to think strategically and to articulate myself in critical leadership moments with greater ease. On a personal level, I have found an even better work-life balance in the past two years by re-prioritizing what is essential to my work.
Rabbi David Fainsilber, Cohort 4
I am more daring, more strategic and calmer in the face of adversity because I am a CLI fellow. I have been able to have more impact these last two years because I have had drawn on the wisdom of CLI. I learned to bring people along with me, because the CLI model values the strength of the collective over the charisma and power of the single rabbi-prophet-leader. The hours spent in conversation and study have nourished me and given me a sense of momentum through the (Black Lives Matter) uprising and the pandemic. I appreciate that CLI doesn’t want us to become a particular kind of rabbi, but rather supports us in finding our own path, with integrity, humility and love. I know that the learning and the “heat” (CLI-speak for loving challenge and agitation) that I have received over these last two years will continue to do their work on me.
Rabbi Arielle Lekach-Rosenberg, Cohort 4