Dayenu v’ Hineynu: Breaking the Glass Ceiling for Women in Jewish Senior Leadership

The following original poem was inspired by the essay “If You Want to Know the Truth, Examine the Budget” written by Karen Erlichman, DMin, LCSW for eJewish Philanthropy.

This poem was also written for my many female friends and colleagues who dedicate their entire careers to serving the Jewish community as programming directors, assistant directors, campaign directors, campaign associates, department directors, operations directors, social workers….and so much more.

Dayenu v’ Hineynu

Hi there,
It’s so nice to meet you.
No, I’m not here to get you coffee.
I’m your new CEO!

Nervous? No, I’m not nervous.
Am I, in my skirt suit and heels, making you nervous?

After all, I’ve been preparing my whole life for this.

And you paid for it.

Your name graced the entrance way to my Hillel building where I led groups in Israel advocacy and planned pluralistic Shabbat experiences.

I sent you a thank you note for sponsoring my study abroad program at Hebrew University.

Later more thank you notes: for giving me the opportunity to spend a year serving Jewish communities overseas, for supporting my graduate work in advanced Jewish studies, for funding my grant for Jewish service learning projects.

You allowed for the hundreds of young Jews that I guided on Birthright-Israel trips to explore their personal Jewish identities in our homeland.

You patted me on the back when I led major donor events and enthusiastically encouraged our community to invest in legacy giving.

You gave me a wink and a “great job, kiddo!” when I successfully hosted the Israeli Ambassador to the United States.

You came into my office, closed the door, and told me that I was the only one you trusted in the whole office to lead a major new allocations initiative.

“But you’re so young,” you say.

No, not really. I’m in my late 30s or early 40s.

Ask that man down the hall, the one sitting in the office marked “CEO,” how old he was in his first CEO role. I can assure you, he was younger than me.

You panic, as study after study comes back. We are losing the next generation- we have no one to replace our senior leadership.
The man down the hall is ready to retire.

Yet, here we are, lifting our voices in leadership, ready to be called.

Hineynu

You’ve invested so much in us.

 We’re grateful.

We are the next generation.

We’re here.

We’re ready.

Are you disappointed that so many of us turned out to be women?

Dayenu

Copyright 2017, Shoshanna R. Schechter-Shaffin

About the Author
Shoshanna Schechter-Shaffin is a highly energetic and engaging speaker, writer, career Jewish Educator and Jewish Professional. She is the Executive Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, served on the faculty of the Department of Religious Studies and Women's Studies at Randolph-Macon College and currently serves on the faculties of Humanities, Religious Studies, and Gender Studies at the University of Texas-El Paso. Originally from Silver Spring, Maryland, Shoshanna is a graduate of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. She earned her Bachelors degree in Anthropology and Jewish Studies from the University of Maryland and a Masters Degree in Jewish Studies with a focus on Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary where she will begin pursuing an Ed.D in Jewish Education this Fall.
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