Eliad Ben Shushan, our Israel Partnership Director in Yokneam and Megiddo, has recently enjoyed some major milestones. Eliad completed a fellowship in the elite Mandel Institute for Nonprofit Leaders in Israel, and he and his wife are expecting a baby any minute! We wish Eliad mazel tov and have asked him to reflect on his Mandel Fellowship experience. (Learn more about our Partnership work in Israel here.)
Q: How has the Mandel program broadened your skills as a Jewish professional?
A: We had varied lectures and workshops in topics like management and leadership, challenges in Israeli society, creative writing, storytelling, and even public speaking and styling! We were led by inspiring people including Natan Sharansky, Morton Mandel (Of blessed memory, who is the founder of the program), several Israeli mayors, and members of the Knesset. For two years I also had a personal mentor, Yuval Elyagur, who worked with me closely on my management skills, team building, and defining personal and partnership goals.
I learned the most from the reflections we had after the workshops led by the director of the program, Vadim Blumin. I understood how beneficial it can be to hear different opinions that are far and different from mine. I learned how to listen carefully, to criticize with much respect, and to learn from everyone — as it is written in Pirke Avot: “Who is the smart person? One who learns from everyone!”
Q: How were you selected for the program?
A: I was a fellow in the first cohort of the Mandel Program for Excellence of the Jewish Agency for returning Shlichim (emissaries for immigration to Israel). I was one of seven people chosen out of 500+ candidates for a . The Mandel Program’s goal is to nurture a young generation of professional leadership in the Jewish Agency, to drive excellence and innovation, and help meet the future challenges of Israeli society.
Q: Tell us about the others in your cohort — how did their experiences contribute to the program?
A: Our cohort was diverse, coming from different Jewish Agency units like Personal Assistant to the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) CEO, Director of Marketing and Recruitment, Director of Global Customer Experience, Schlichim Alumni Relations Director, Social Media Manager, etc. Each meeting offered vast perspectives on the organization and on the entire Jewish world. I come from the Partnership unit and having fellows who are from the Shlichut Department raised many ideas of how to better connect our departments. I learned about other Federations that focus on bringing Shinshinim from their partnership regions, and about the programs that prepare the candidates.
Q: How will you use your new skills and insights in our Partnership work?
A: One of the workshops that influenced me the most was about creating mind maps — a theory developed by Tony Buzan for many large organizations. I use it constantly in my everyday Partnership work, from the staff meetings, personal work meetings with the organizations in the city, and especially now and in the Partnership’s work with the Ethiopian community. I find it beneficial to organize huge amounts of information and see a clearer picture of the changes we want to lead.
I also had the opportunity to learn a lot about the Jewish world and sharpen my senses regarding the real need of Kesher (connection) programs and how important It is to build connections between Israel and America.