I know, I know. I said I wasn't going to take on any more jobs: between my work at Federation in LA and my ongoing consultancy with the ROI Community, I'm already working about 8 days a week (except Shabbat - don't try to do the math or you'll hurt yourself). But every once in a while an organization comes along that speaks so perfectly to my interests and experiences that it's impossible to say no.
Jewpros Lacking Boundaries (J-LaB) is inspired by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), an international relief effort staffed by volunteer doctors who travel to sites of tragedy or natural disaster to provide much needed aid - in moments when their skills are most in demand, they relinquish ego in favor of humanitarian aid. Similarly, J-LaB staff is a volunteer workforce, made up entirely of people who currently work for Jewish nonprofit organizations - they too, relinquish their egoes and their professional titles, and become a voice for equality, justice and peace within the Jewish communal world, specifically among the notoriously fickle "NextGen" (20s, 30s and sometimes 40s, depending on where you live).
This group, collectively presenting decades of experience in every sub-area of the Jewish professional field - from fundraising to programmatics, from recruitment to young adult engagement - is uniquely qualified for this work, and achieves its impact through active listening, a virtual version of open space technology, and one-on-one Skype mentoring - all conducted anonymously, to maximize honesty and transparency without fear of repercussions from employers, many of whom are included in the first cohort of organizations counseled by J-LaB.
There's a vital textual component to the curriculum that ensures organizations learn the sources about respect in the workplace, Jewish values and business ethics, and roleplaying workshops designed to identify unwanted behaviors. The organization uses cutting-edge tools, such as social media, virtual reality and Second Life avatars (see some J-LaB staff members in the above photo) to ensure maximum access and anonymity - they have asked me to counsel them on virtual strategy, PR and marketing. (So bloggers can expect pitch letters and press releases from me soon.)
"The organizations in J-LaB's first cohort are innovators, conquering uncharted territory," executive director Minya Zavute says. "When it comes to treating their employees with professional respect, like responsible adults, these are the organizations that require our attention. They're the places where young women are told their new haircuts makes their faces look thinner, where young men are told they're too skinny and should eat something, where people are judged by how young they appear to be instead of for the experience that they clearly have. There's no excuse for this anymore - we believe in the biblical injunction to reprove our fellow Jews, to point out when they're doing something wrong, and our anonymous, no-holds-barred system enables us to do just that."
Furthermore, Zavute maintains, "27.5% of all Jewish communal professionals actively contemplate leaving Jewish nonprofit life every day; we can help reduce that number through a policy of honesty."
Thanks to J-LaB for putting their trust in me. This could be the beginning of something big. And it's an honor to be one of the few public members of their team. For a recent article about J-LaB, click here. For a related article from this blog, read this post.
Photo by Julian Voloj (Zeek Magazine)