They say a good mensch is hard to find. Without the Professional Leaders Project (PLP), the Los Angeles Jewish community might never have met mensches like Gabe Halimi and Ari Moss (“L.A.’s Top Ten Mensches,” The Jewish Journal, Dec. 31). Or innovators like Elishia Shokrian Bolour, who launched the Society of Young Philanthropists here in Southern California and is expanding it to Dallas. Now that PLP has announced it will suspend operations, who knows how many prospective mensches will never be discovered?
Rhoda Weisman, executive director of the Professional Leaders Project, which is designed to engender and support a new generation of leaders in the Jewish community, talks about why the Jewish establishment needs to change, why young leaders are just as crucial as big donors and what it's like to be a woman at the top.
During the opening session for the Professional Leaders Project (PLP), a conference for young Jewish leaders, a man delivered inspirations via PowerPoint, asking us to consider the one "moment" that inspired us to connect to Jewish projects and commit to the Jewish professional world.
If the group of Gen Y-ers -- also known as Millenials or NextGens or iGens -- who gathered for a Jewish leadership conference in Santa Monica last week are any indication, it seems that parents who did everything to build their children's resumes and self esteem may have been on to something. This handpicked group of Jewish leaders in their 20s and early 30s have the self-confidence to think -- to actually believe -- that if the old people would just make some room for them, or maybe get out of the way altogether, they could fix this mess of a world. They are committed to social justice; they are willing to get their hands dirty; they have great ideas, time to volunteer, and they have the arrogance, self-centeredness and technological savvy to bring their ideas to fruition. The question is how to channel all that into the Jewish community.
By the end of the Professional Leaders Project gathering in Santa Monica, I walked away with three things: a stack of business cards, some good stories and a condom from KinkyJews.com in a package that featured an Israeli flag on the front and an off-color, yet highly creative tagline we can't print here.