Jewish Agency’s Misha Galperin Receives Widespread Praise for New Book

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With 'Reimagining Leadership in Jewish Organizations,' Dr. Misha Galperin, the Jewish Agency's President and CEO for International Development, has issued a clarion call for greater responsiveness, inclusion and flexibility

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Dr. Misha Galperin President and CEO, International Development Jewish Agency for Israel

Dr. Misha Galperin, President and Chief Executive Officer, International Development, for The Jewish Agency for Israel, has written a new book urging Jewish leaders to adopt more forward-thinking models.

The book has garnered rave reviews, including stellar accolades in eJewishPhilanthropy—the professional Jewish community’s most influential online forum—and endorsements from a ‘who’s who’ of some of the most influential leaders in today’s Jewish world, including UJA Federation Executive Vice President and CEO John Ruskay, Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago President Steve Nasitir, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network (CLSPN) President Sandy Cardin, Andrea & Charles Bronfman President Jeff Solomon, former American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Executive Vice President Steve Schwager, Nadav Foundation President Irina Kogan Nevzlin, Foundation for Jewish Culture President and CEO Elise Bernhardt, past Hadassah National President Marlene Post, writer and educator Erica Brown, Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky and James Tisch, Chairman of The Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors.

“Although it may be hard to believe that a book about leadership can be exciting, Reimagining Leadership in Jewish Organizations: Ten Practical Lessons to Help You Implement Change and Achieve Your Goals by Misha Galperin is exactly that,” writes reviewer Stephen G. Donshik, who teaches International non-profit leadership and management at Hebrew University and runs a consulting practice. “This book offers a new and innovative way to conceptualize successful leadership and provides a framework for understanding how organizations can benefit from both a clear verbalization of what a leader is and what goes into developing leadership skills.”

In the book, published by Jewish Lights, Dr. Galperin weaves Jewish text and wisdom—as well as his experiences as a clinical psychologist, immigrant from the former Soviet Union, and professional leader at two of the nation’s largest Jewish federations and the world’s largest Jewish non-profit organization—to offer 10 practical lessons for non-profit leadership. The specific areas he addresses are recruitment, retention, board development, relations with lay leadership, partnership, mentorship, vision, risk taking, speed and inspiration.

“Not everyone is suited to be a leader,” Donshik points out in his review. “All too often people are placed in leadership positions because they have donated a significant amount of money to one of the community’s organization or because a position has to be filled with someone who is available.

“When there is greater clarity about what is needed and desired then the community will be more selective and reach out to those who possess the appropriate abilities and skills.”
Dr. Galperin was named one of the Jewish community’s five most influential figures in the 2010 edition of the Forward 50. He recently told Jewish Week’s Stewart Ain that “In today’s world—particularly in the Jewish community—you need to have vision emerge not from a single individual but from a group of people who are going to feel part of it, buy into it, have ownership of it.”

The inspiration for Dr. Galperin’s book came during the height of the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement when he noticed the common denominator behind these movements was the vacuum of leadership. Protestors were frustrated that they had nobody in power to represent them, so their only outlet was to take to the streets. He became concerned that, for the same reasons, the organized Jewish world could soon find itself completely disconnected from the very people it needs the most: those with the vision, talent and passion to secure a vibrant Jewish future, but no leadership to help harness their energy.

“There is a great dissatisfaction with what is going on in the Jewish world and the institutions that shape our community,” Dr. Galperin writes in his acknowledgements. “Jewish people are voting with their feet and leaving organizations, sometimes ones with which their families have been associated for generations. Younger people are voting with their feet by walking in the opposite direction. They’re not joining in the first place.”

He adds: “Growing up in the former Soviet Union, I was a firsthand observer to certain views about power, associated as I was with a movement decidedly against the mainstream. When I came to the United States, I became part of the Jewish organizational life. What I encountered was a world of Jewish organizations, one that I deeply admired.

“I came from the desert of Jewish organizational life to a world teeming with it… To me what the American Jewish community created is simply extraordinary. I am not trying to the break idols, as in the Abraham story. My major motivation for becoming part of this world was so that when the next set of Jews are in need, like my family was, the system would be there for them. But the system also needs to be responsive and renewed in order for it to be effective.”
Reimagining Leadership in Jewish Organizations is Dr. Galperin’s second book. Previously, he co-authored The Case for Jewish Peoplehood with Erica Brown. Currently on sale at Amazon.com, all proceeds from the book will benefit The Jewish Agency for Israel.

About The Jewish Agency for Israel
Investing in a vibrant Jewish future, The Jewish Agency for Israel continues to address the greatest challenges of our People in every generation. We connect the global Jewish family, bringing Jews to Israel- and Israel to Jews. We build a better society in Israel- and beyond- energizing young Israelis and their worldwide peers to rediscover a collective sense of Jewish purpose. At the same time, The Jewish Agency continues to be the Jewish world’s first responder, prepared to rescue and bring Jews home to Israel from countries where they live at-risk. More information can be obtained at http://www.jewishagency.org.

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Joshua Berkman
Jewish Agency for Israel
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