What is the Yesod Program?

The Yesod Community Leadership Development program helps Federation communities build their pipeline of excellent volunteer leadership through hands-on training in practical leadership skill development that includes Jewish texts to frame and inspire the conversation. This program is a collaboration between The Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence at the Jewish Federations of North America and the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning.

Bringing this program to a community is an investment in the development of individuals with leadership potential in order to build sustainable volunteer leadership as well as solid and empowering volunteer succession plans.

The Yesod curriculum is offered exclusively through the Jewish Federations of North America.

Yesod Community Leadership Development Program

Who participates in the program?

Federation Communities identifies leaders or future leaders to participate in their cohort each year. As the needs of each community vary, some may create cohorts for specific leaders such as Women’s Philanthropy or Young Leadership where others may include constituent agencies, professionals or synagogue leaders. The Yesod Program can be customized to the needs of a local community.

About the Curriculum

Federation communities have the opportunity to select one of two available curricula to be taught to their cohort. Both Curricula were written by Dr. Erica Brown and feature eight modules of instruction, with focus shared equally between personal and organizational leadership skill training. Utilizing case studies and other leadership exercises, the modules are designed to give lay leaders a focused time to learn, network and be challenged in the presence of like-minded individuals who can help them reflect on their own leadership obstacles and opportunities.

Like all courses of the Florence Melton School of Jewish Learning, The Yesod Program encourages the active participation of every adult learner in the room in an atmosphere of respect and sensitivity to the multiple voices present.

Curriculum I, Jewish Leadership 2.0, was designed in 2014 and updated in 2017. It features central themes about personal and organizational leadership. Curriculum II, Leading with Inspiration: A Jewish Approach was designed in 2018 and features a special emphasis on communication skills. It also features new text and case studies for communities who have already taught Curriculum I and would like to provide additional learning opportunities in the same effective format.

Who teaches the Curriculum?

The instructors for Yesod Programs are referred to as facilitators, as they help to facilitate meaningful conversations that help participants create a learning community through shared language, open-ended questions, compassion and friendship.

The facilitator is selected by the Federation community and should be someone who is knowledgeable in both Jewish texts and in leadership development and community affairs. Some facilitators may be Jewish educators working at a Federation or partner agency, or a teacher or rabbi well known in the community. Some communities use a pairing of a leadership development expert with a Jewish educator.

For additional information or if you have questions, please contact:

  • Rebecca Zuck Sowers, Senior Program Manager, Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence, Jewish Federations of North America at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 212-284-6786.
  • Rabbi Rachel Rudis Bovitz, Executive Director, Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 847-714-9843 x1.