The OU Visionary Forum: A Unique Think Tank to Generate Innovation in Programming


The OU Visionary Forum: A Unique Think Tank to Generate Innovation in Programming

One July 15th and 16th, the OU Visionary Forum was held at Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, California. The program focused on generating and strategically implementing innovative programs that engage and empower young professionals and millennials in the Jewish community. This two-day think tank was the brainchild of Solly Hess, OU Western States Regional Director, and Rabbi Adam Simon, Director of Advancement at Southern California Yeshiva High School.

In attendance were 20 Jewish influencers, including shul rabbis, non-profit professionals, and lay leaders from communities across North America, including Los Angeles, San Diego, La Jolla, Edmonton, Denver, Portland, Houston, New Jersey, Lakewood, and Baltimore.

Throughout the Visionary Forum, participants worked with renowned experts, coaches, and scholars, including Rhoda Weisman, Dean of the Graduate School of Nonprofit Management at American Jewish University, and Salvador Litvak, AKA the “Accidental Talmudist,” a Jewish filmmaker and lecturer with over one million social media followers. The visionaries shared best practices, examined issues that inhibit communal engagement, explored design thinking and strategic processes, and collaborated on the creation of dynamic, game-changing initiatives.

Participants were guided, through Design Thinking methodologies, to construct comprehensive implementation plans to best impact both their local and global Jewish communities. Rabbi Gershon Albert, Senior Rabbi, Beth Jacob Congregation of Oakland, California, said, “The Visionary Forum was a unique opportunity that allowed me to gather with a group of incredibly talented and innovative leaders. Creating new concepts to address challenges in the Jewish community was already special, but doing it through the iterative process designed by the conference leaders was a technique that I plan to use in my own career as well.”