Saturday, March 4, 2017

Let the Good Times Roll! Sushi as a Lesson for Life and Leadership

Contributed by Danny Charney


Bright and early, the Diller Teen Fellows Cohort 20 gathered back in the city for workshop #6, but with a twist! A new location, a bright and sun centered loft in the middle of Potrero Hill. We were all a little sleepy, because of the early start time of the workshop, but we were excited to get things rolling (literally-  as in sushi rolling!).

We started off by having a check in about our week, to reconnect and to breathe a little bit on this peaceful Sunday morning. Lara then proceeded to ask us a question to wake us up and to get our brains to start moving.

She asked, “How do our values translate into goals, and how can goals shape our lives?” I was perplexed by this question, and really thought about my values and how they relate to my goals. After a thoughtful discussion, Lara led us into a talk on a statement by a prominent Israeli Politician, Yair Lapid. We talked all about the current political climate here in the USA, and why dialogue is necessary for a balanced view. After both of those thoughtful conversations, Lara and Aaron gave us some time to work in our Self-Management Shabbaton committees, and reminded us that later in the workshop, we would be having an influential guest speaker, and a spectacular cooking demonstration. I for one was super excited!

After the productive work in our committees, we gathered back together, and Lara introduced our guest speaker for today, Alex Sandrovosky from L’chaim foods. He introduced himself and told us a little tidbit about his life and his idea for his catering/sushi company. He explained to us his mission and goal for his company, “to sustain a kosher catering business, while taking meat out of the equation, in order to make a larger impact in the Bay Area community.” He then gave us some advice that he said to take with open ears. He said, in his opinion, “Even if you are very successful in life, you may also have some sadness.” A lot of the members in the cohort had differing opinions on his view. I for one, thought this was a very difficult view to comprehend. I look at the meaning of success as different for each individual person and for some, sadness was not part of that journey, so I somewhat disagreed with his opinion. After some deep conversation we had a surprise, we were making sushi! We all went into the kitchen, and Alex and his assistant showed us the art of making sushi. It was super exciting and I can now say, I somewhat am a sushi master!

After making the sushi, we all went back and thanked Alex for the insightful lesson. We then processed all the information we just learned and debriefed. Lara then talked about how this relates to our Shabbaton that was coming up later in the month, and how we should all have a goal, vision, and mission, to make this Shabbaton meaningful and empowering. 

Afterwards, we took some time to write in our journals about this wonderful experience we  just had.  Before it was time to part ways, and get some sleep, Lara had an announcement. She was unfortunately leaving the Diller program as a coordinator. We were all devastated, but we ultimately knew that the friendships we made with her are going to be kept for life. She promised us that a new coordinator, who is just as amazing as her would be filling her shoes. We all then hurried over to her and gave her the biggest hugs. Fundamentally this was a profound workshop that was influential in our Diller journey, to help us become better leaders, and to get us fellows to start thinking about our life's  mission, vision, and goal.

I for one am excited to continue this journey and make the most of our time left with Lara as meaningful and joyous!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Embarking on a journey: New Year, New lessons in leadership!

Contributed by Kayla Buki

After spending winter break apart, our cohort reunited at a summer camp-decorated Federation board room for Workshop #5. We kicked things off by presenting our Israeli partners. Some highlights were Chloe’s 2 truths and a lie, Akiva’s killer rap, and Danny and Emma’s awesome slideshows! The presentation made us all that much more excited to meet our partners IRL (in real life).
Next, Lara lead an activity to preface the lesson+discussion that was to come. The instructions were simple: split up into 3 teams, each team got to choose 3 objects from a bin of knick-knacks, and then we had to prove to Lara that our team had “won”. Simple? Yes. Easy? Not quite. Despite the seemingly straight-forward instructions, each team was confused on how to prove their victory. And still, the question remained: had we really won?  
After some short team meetings, we reconvened to explain exactly why our teams had won the game. Different methods were utilized to do so. One team used a figurative approach and explained how each of their chosen objects represented aspects of life. One team explained that in order to win the game, you had to cover yourself in stickers, and that’s exactly what they did. One team stood firm in the fact that they had won, and delivered a speech on why that was true.
So, who won? We followed up with a discussion about setting goals and the satisfaction that comes with those meeting those goals, which was a perfect segway into our next activity: “The Journey of Bread and Water”.
We learned that every successful journey is four-fold, and must comprise of a mission, vision, goal, and objectives. We begin with a mission: what are we addressing and why are we addressing it? We practiced recognizing mission by matching popular companies with their corresponding mission statements. Next up comes the vision, the “where are we headed?” question that needs to be addressed.
You would think that goals would come next, but what came next was actually a snack break on the roof of the federation. The beautiful view of the bay was admired, pizza was consumed, and then it was back to business.
Okay now comes goals. This component of the process asks “how are we going to achieve what we wish to do and follow through with our mission and vision?”. Finally, objectives are the clear, attainable, measurable, and time bound things that need to happen to reach said goals.
We debriefed the lesson and then moved on to our upcoming Self Management Shabbaton. We decided on deadlines, talked about logistics, and most excitingly, decided on a theme: “What is my place in the world: עבר,עַכשָׁיו ,עתיד (Past, Present, Future)”.
We walked away from the workshop with a new way to manage our goals, and we can’t wait to use it as we prepare for February’s shabbaton!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cohort 20 and the Shabbaton that ended California's drought

Contributed by Liora Ami

After three workshops at which we fellows seemed a little awkward and nervous, the free flowing nature of the Shabbaton was welcomed by all of us with open arms. It was surprising how fast we all clicked as the Shabbaton progressed. It started off with a party bus (I had to arrive to the Shabbaton late but I heard it was INCREDIBLE) which picked up fellows at the JCF and then picked up others in Marin and brought them to the lovely Walker Creek Ranch.

The cohort celebrated our first Shabbat together and discussed Shabbat expectations through a few different activities. Dinner was eaten, and then I joined the rest of my cohort in time for the Maagal Lilah, or the evening circle. We sat in a circle and answered prompts in the dark, and listen to our fellow teens speak their truths. Then it was off to ‘bed’. We sat in the bunks talking, playing games, and bonding with each other freely. Then it was time for bed, and we fell asleep easily from the excitement of the day!
Not the site of a murder mystery - actually quite cozy
The next morning we were up and ready to go for a delicious breakfast of French toast! It was yummy and got us ready for a full day, which was filled with learning and laughter. We walked through some rain, to the maple room which was full of light and had chairs set up in a circle. We read poems and did yoga, then did some fun bonding activities with Kylie, a staff member from Walker Creek! We played Human Knot, Where the Wind blows, and laughed a bunch. We said goodbye to Kylie, and were off to a lunch provided by the incredible staff of Walker Creek Ranch. After lunch we had a block of free time where some of us went on a hike, others took naps, while others talked, and we all had individual one on one conversations with our Diller Staff. The one on ones were interesting and informative, and it was nice to have a check in about how the weekend was going.

After break, we all met back up and had and INTENSE game of jeopardy with categories like Bay Area Sports, Famous Jews, and Pot Pourri. Next, we all came together for Havdalah led by fellows Maytal and Julie. It was incredible and we watched as Samantha kept the sizzle of the candle meeting the wine last for more than 5 minutes! We ate dinner and then had a little free time where Kayla and Maytal entertained us with their hilarious magic tricks! We then went back to the Maple room where we learned about our Jewish identities and how we don't always fit into a label with the “Jewish Identity Buffet”.

We ended the night with a Maagal Lilah where we chose cards that matched our feelings and discussed them. After a fun but long day, we went to bed quickly and woke up in the morning with an excitement for the coming day.

We had been warned to get a lot of sleep because what we were doing in the morning was going to be incredible. And boy were they right! Late Nite Art, a bay area company, joined us for some team building art.

We answered prompts through different medias onto a long sheet of butcher paper. The experience was life changing, and the result on the piece of paper was beautiful. We all cut out pieces of the butcher paper to take home with us and to remember the shabbaton by.

We were off to lunch after this incredible experience, and we were buzzing… because soon we were going to discover our Israeli partners! After giving feedback and discussing the weekend, we stood in a circle as Lara read off our Israeli partners and gave us a photo of them! It was exciting and we immediately tried to find our new friends on facebook. Soon a party bus arrived to take us home, we loaded up and said some goodbyes and were off, sad to leave Walker Creek but excited for the upcoming workshops and retreats with our new best friends.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jewish Art and Leadership - Cohort 20 goes to the Contemporary Jewish Museum!

Contributed by Chloe Middler

Our third meeting was hosted at the Contemporary Jewish Museum! We started off the evening by exploring an exhibit at the museum: The Negev Wheel. This was a super cool exhibit and we were all amazed by how beautiful it was. The piece is filled with sand from the Negev desert and rotates. We discussed the symbolism behind the wheel and what it means to be Jewish. We decided that even though the sand was imported from Israel, the sand in the wheel could have originated from anywhere in the world by the time the winds carried it there. What is important is that it ended up coming together in Israel, and thus illustrating a connection to Judaism.
Being Jewish doesn't have one set definition. You don't have to practice the religion in one certain way, or be from a certain place. A big part of our Jewish identity comes together though the community that we are all in, regardless of where we originally come from.

Our next activity was about leadership. We filled out a survey about our leadership style and then explored a text from Exodus about different leadership styles. We watched two people argue for something that they believed in, and observed their argument style/ability to prove their point. This led to a discussion of how to be an effective leader, even if that meant stepping back sometimes. 

After eating dinner, we heard from Talya Feldman, a representative from IsraAid. She told us about her experience in Greece, helping Syrian refugees. She, and the members of IsraAid, worked with Palestinians, Israelis, and other people from all over the world in order to accomplish one goal. She told us that she learned the importance of not only respecting, but celebrating each others differences. She said that these people are now a part of her family, even though they come from so many different backgrounds.

Overall, it was an illuminating night full of rich and eye-opening discussions. We are so excited to see each other again at our first Shabbaton retreat!