Executive Director Musings

I get great satisfaction from talking to leaders about their dreams and what they hope to achieve at their organizations, synagogues, schools or camps. We strategize, identify potential partners and collaborators, and talk about next steps. Our conversations may lead to what they want their leadership legacy to be, how they will know if they have reached their goals and who else they can engage to be on their “team.” We talk about possibilities.

I hope that they get as excited as I do about these discussions. I am thankful that ACHARAI gives our community’s leaders the space to imagine the Jewish future together. It’s a gift we give to each other.

Beth Gansky

ACHARAI Celebrates!
A Lesson in Hakarat HaTov!

At ACHARAI, we pride ourselves in teaching Jewish values that inform our decisions and shape our leadership styles. We are learners and (hopefully!) we are doers. Last month, we were overjoyed to model a core Jewish value, Hakarat HaTov (literally, recognizing the good)! Expressing gratitude was the theme of our third ACHARAI Celebrates! evening, as we honored Sue and David Leibman, and presented Dan Hirschhorn with the Debra Silberman Weinberg Leadership award. The Jewish Museum provided the perfect venue for a warm and inspiring evening, as our guests enjoyed the exhibits and delicious food, and especially each other's company. Thank you, Sue, David and Dan for humbly modeling selfless dedication to the welfare of Klal Israel through your good works and acts of tzedakah! We are grateful to you!

Erika Schon and Martha Weiman, Co-chairs

Check out pictures here!

Upcoming Alumni Programs


Sunday, March 24th | Art With a Heart Alumni Event


What did you like best about being an ACHARAI Fellow?
I greatly enjoyed learning about leadership concepts that I did not even know existed! The comradery within our cohort and the relationships I formed with other Fellows and the faculty will be valued for a long time.

What is the most valuable skill you took away from the ACHARAI Fellows Program?
I believe that the most valuable skill I took away from the ACHARAI Fellows Program is how to effectively and naturally show gratitude to those individuals I work with and who work so hard to make the organization’s successes happen.

How has your leadership style changed/improved since completing the ACHARAI Fellows Program?
I have a better appreciation of the reality that one can only accomplish change through changing oneself, and as a result of the changes that the leader makes in his or herself, one can then inspire others to change as well.


Name: Eli Robbins, Cohort VI
Chairman of the Board, Joblink of Maryland and President Shomrei Emunah


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Leadership and the Hanukkah Shamash

By Teddy Weinberger
(article linked to website)

The following is my free translation based on the work of my friend and teacher, Rabbi Lior Engelman. When we were children it was clear which of the Hanukkah candles was the most important: the shamash, the “helper” candle. It is the most prominent and tallest candle – it is one of a kind. The shamash is the leader of the pack, the only one that can light the rest. In advance of the Hanukkah plays in preschool, everyone wanted to be the shamash, and the child who landed the part was happy indeed. Adults, too, are very impressed by the shamash. We similarly want to lead by standing out. And if we can’t lead, we often make do with getting close to the local shamash and serving him. However, anyone who has learned some of the basic laws of Hanukkah discovers something unusual: The tradition puts the focus on the regular candles and not on the shamash. Precisely, the regular candles tell the miraculous story of Hanukkah: the victory of the Maccabees and the solitary flask of olive oil that sufficed until the rededication of the Temple. The regular candles are so precious to us that we do not wish to benefit from them for profane purposes; as it says in the liturgy: “And no one may use them except to look at them, and to be reminded to thank and praise Your great name for all your miraculous rescues.”

Read more>>


Mazel Tov to:

Pam Platt on the birth of a new granddaughter, Hailey Rebecca Platt.
Linda Hurwitz on the marriage of her son, Michael Hurwitz to Morgan Barker.
Ellen Kahan Zager on her book, And There Was Evening and There was Morning getting named one of the best Jewish children’s books of 2018.
Isaac Pretter on receiving The Associated’s Julius Rosenberg Memorial Award.
David Kramer on the marriage of his daughter, Avigail Kramer to Aryeh Itzkowitz.

Condolences to:

Sally Davis on the loss of her mother, Elaine Solodar Ross this past November.
Maureen David on the loss of her mother, Margaret T. (Donovan) “Peg” Walsh this past October.