Board of Directors | State of Our Union Message

Shalom and Chag Pesach Sameach!

The ALEPH Board of Directors is writing to share some updates about ALEPH with you.

First of all, please know that we hold each of you as a member of our extended ALEPH and Jewish Renewal family. Collectively we are those whom Reb Zalman z”l hoped would carry on the work of renewing the spiritual vibrancy of Judaism, and lay the foundation for the evolutions to come. ALEPH certainly does not “own” Jewish renewal, but we are the primary organizational manifestation of Reb Zalman z”l’s vision and his efforts. All of us who continually work to cultivate ALEPH’s vibrancy and creativity are proud of the work we do. You are part of that—whether you’ve been a Kallah or Ruach attender, called in for a Tikshoret course, become a member or sustainer, are a teacher, a network community member, an AOP student or VAAD member, an ALEPH Program Director, a Board member… or any of the myriad of other points of connection that brought you into the ALEPH extended family.

We want to be sure to keep you informed with how ALEPH, as an organization, is doing. We have been vigorously re-building the ALEPH Board. Over these past months, several new Board members have joined or re-joined the ALEPH Board, and we are collectively rejoicing in the energy and dedication they bring, not to mention talent. We’ve welcomed Rabbi Jeff Roth, Rabbi Anne Brener, Neil Markowitz, Susan Raskin Abrams and RP Whitmore-Bard, with others coming “on board” soon. These new Board members strengthen ALEPH by bringing a diversity of background, age and valuable experience.

The life of an organization is ever evolving. Our ability to lead rests on our willingness to be honest, thoughtful, kind, cooperative and caring with each other. It depends on good process, and transparency. We know that we cannot create an organization that is better than we are willing to be as individuals. We value spiritual direction, we work with wise consultants, and we keep learning and growing. Although the Board refrains from publicly discussing internal ALEPH governance issues, the Board wants to let you know that we are rebuilding ALEPH with the dedication of amazing people and are truly hopeful that as time progresses, we’ll have new opportunities for productive collaboration.

Significant developments have also taken place at the ALEPH staff level. We officially brought on a new Executive Director, SooJi Min-Maranda, in January. She began to serve on an advisory basis starting in November, so she has been integrating her life into ALEPH for many months. Some of you may have met her at OHALAH. SooJi has a wealth of senior nonprofit management experience, from development and direct service to policy and advocacy. Previous senior management posts include the Executive Director of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health and Korean American Community Services. She is bringing a high-level of professionalism to the office, and to secure ALEPH’s functionality was faced with some difficult staffing decisions early in her tenure. As one result of her restructuring of staff, ALEPH no longer has two Deputy Directors. The position that was eliminated was held by Tamy Jacobs, who was much loved. We are saddened that Tamy Jacobs’ staff role with ALEPH ended but she will always be a valued member of our ALEPH family and the extended Jewish Renewal community.

The ALEPH staff has been hard at work getting Kallah ready. The team includes SooJi Min-Maranda, Steve Weinberg, Stephanie Bello, Lynda Simons, Ming Liu, and in February, Jennifer Evers was hired as our new Kallah Event Manager. Jennifer has a strong background in event management and recently served SheKnowsMedia as their senior logistics manager. She has run operations for conferences with anywhere from 800 to 4,000 attendees. She is getting Kallah in fabulous shape. Registration for 4-day classes and 1-day workshops is live. We’ve already announced both teachers and descriptions for both the 4-day classes and 1-day workshops. We’re also delighted that many of our long-time Kallah volunteers are back on the planning team—Annie Klein, Deb Barsel and Sandy Pond. We know we are in good hands with this dream trio!

With your help, we are diving into the work of growing ALEPH:

  • The relaunch of our ALEPH Network Communities is also in progress. We worked hard to develop new concrete benefits for our network communities, such as the ALEPH Communities’ Listserv, the Communities Advisory Council, and Continuing Education discounts for our network members. SooJi will be convening a virtual Communities Advisory Council meeting pre- and post-Kallah, as well as a session onsite in Amherst in July.
  • We are deepening relationships with new funding partners. The Harold Grinspoon Foundation has made a grant designed to assist local families to attend Kallah. We are still in the early days of our conversations with other foundations whose mission and vision are a match for ours, and we are excited about the possibilities for future support.
  • We’ve issued open invitations to ALEPH musmachim and developing communities and projects to work with ALEPH as a fiscal sponsor, so that ALEPH can be a true incubator of creative new start-ups and innovative ventures.
  • We are exploring strategic partnerships on many different levels, with organizations large and small. These promising partnerships are in the early development stages. More to come on these nascent partnerships.

We are only as strong as the individuals and communities that together are ALEPH. We thank you for being a member of this remarkable ALEPH family. We honor your commitment to renewing Judaism as a vital force in the spiritual life of the Jewish people. Pesach/Passover has arrived. May we all discover new liberatory possibilities for our lives and our world.