Amitim Fellowship – Leadership Development in Germany

Over the past three decades German Jewry has been the fastest growing Jewish community in the world – almost entirely due to Russian Jewish immigration. Jews of Russian origin now comprise 90% of the total, although that is not reflected in the make-up of the formal community leadership. The need to develop Jewish identity and the motivation to become active in Jewish life among young Russian-speaking German Jews is a complex challenge for many reasons that include their non-identification as Russian or Germans, broad geographical dispersion of Jews throughout the country and a lack in Jewish involvement coming from the home. The Amitim Fellowship provided a two-year program of leadership and skills development training for around 200 young adults (18-35), with the Pincus Fund being instrumental in developing and financially supporting this initiative.  In the third year of the project, an elite group of 30 Amitim participants are submitting proposals for their start-up initiatives and 6-8 projects that aim to address Jewish educational issues will be selected for implementation. The fellows will work in teams of 3-5 people each, utilizing their skills and interests and will receive small seed funding grants to start-up their proposed projects.  Ongoing mentoring from Amitim staff and selected mentors – some of who are professionals and educational entrepreneurs, others being graduates of the two-year Amitim Fellowship program, is a significant component of the initiative.  This phase of the Amitim Fellowship is designed to be a real-time exercise in project development and the management of change, which will both round off the educational program they have undergone, create a bridge between a leadership learning path and community activism, and produce some real ‘products’ for the Jewish community.