Strengthening Sephardi Communities: A Professional Development Series (Virtual)

Growing strong Sephardi and Mizrahi leaders, institutions, and communal partnerships to reinforce our shared interests and unite us in our commonalities.

What tools must we, as committed Jewish leaders of historically marginalized Jewish communities, gain to help our communities thrive into the future? What knowledge, skills, and support systems could we benefit from both personally and professionally?

Based on data collected from over 200 Sephardi leaders in the United States, this six-session series aims to answer these questions by meeting the pressing needs of Jewish professionals and lay leaders who have dedicated their lives to Sephardi communities and Jewish causes. While we have a diversity of backgrounds, we share in the need to learn, to engage, and to grow as individuals and as a community of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews.

An unprecedented learning opportunity for Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewish communal professionals, lay leaders, organizations, and institutions, addressing our diverse needs.

Building intra-communal capacities and connectedness is essential to reinforce our Sephardi values for ourselves, for the communities we serve, and for the larger Jewish communal ecosystem in North America. The Sephardic Leadership Institute has curated an exclusive offering of leadership development training sessions to arm you with the tools necessary to develop thriving organizations, lasting alliances with your fellow Sephardi communal leaders, and to create the solid foundation needed to uplift and empower our diverse Sephardi and Mizrahi leaders and communities.

Aimed at: This program is designed for Jewish professionals and lay leaders of Sephardi, Mizrahi, and Middle Eastern Jewish communities, including administrators, rabbis, activists, educators, nonprofit professionals, social entrepreneurs, board members, and volunteers.

Structure: A series of seven virtual sessions from July to December 2022. To receive the full benefit of this series, we encourage participants to attend as many sessions as possible.

Facilitated by: Each session will be facilitated by highly regarded leaders in their fields. Each facilitator brings years of experience and knowledge to the program as well as insights into the unique challenges and opportunities facing Sephardi and Mizrahi leaders.

Program Details

Dates: From July 2022 to December 2022

Location: Online. Zoom link provided upon registration.

“Action without study–even action is lacking, since it is a branch without roots. And study without action is a root without a branch.”

– Rabbi Benzion Uziel, Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1939 to 1953


Learning Arc

July 2022: Social Media 101

The Sephardic Leadership Institute is pleased to invite you to the kick-off session of a year-long professional development program aimed at building strong Sephardi leaders, institutions, and communal partnerships.

During the first session, participants will have the opportunity to learn social media basics and best practices from digital influencer Hen Mazzig. Although he now makes his home in London, Hen grew up in Israel, the son of Jewish refugees from Iraq and Tunisia. Over 100 million users have interacted with his online content, and much of his messaging is grounded in the experiences of his family. Hen has been featured on the BBC, SkyNews, and NBC, and in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, International Business Times, Newsweek, and many Jewish publications. In 2019, he co-founded the Tel Aviv Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to using data-driven social media strategies to stand up for Jewish people online. As the Institute’s senior fellow, he has trained a dynamic roster of Jewish advocates in messaging and social media.

Date and Time: Tuesday, July 12th from 11:30AM to 1PM Pacific/2:30 to 4PM Eastern.

August 2022: Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This session will help participants build foundational language and knowledge around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and Sephardi Jewish Americans. The session will be facilitated by Dr. Mijal Bitton who will untangle some of the ideas, social constructs, and language about how Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews are defined and categorized in the Jewish community and more broadly. Participants will walk away with new language, knowledge, and  fresh perspectives on complicated issues of race, ethnicity, and heritage in North America.

Speaker’s Bio:

Dr. Mijal Bitton is a Scholar in Residence at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, and the Rosh Kehilla (communal leader) and co-founder of the Downtown Minyan in New York City. Mijal received a BA from Yeshiva University and earned her doctorate from New York University, where she conducted an ethnographic study of a Syrian Jewish community with a focus on developing the field of contemporary Sephardic studies in America.  She is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship and is a recognized national and international scholar and leader of Sephardic Jewish communities.

Date and Time: Wednesday, August 10th from 11:30AM to 1PM Pacific/2:30 to 4PM Eastern


September 2022: Strategic Communications

During this third session we will explore how strategic communications can be utilized as a tool in advancing diverse Sephardi organizations,  institutions, and leaders. We will learn basics about message development, public relations, branding, communications processes, and how our communal messages must be crafted for specific target audiences.

This session will be facilitated by Nathan Miller, founder and CEO of Miller Inc., an award-winning strategic communications firm that works at the intersection of business, diplomacy, and social impact.

Speaker’s Bio:

Nathan Miller is a communications strategist sought out by executives at the highest levels of business, government, and the non-profit world, who has helped dozens of organizations tell their stories better – and navigate complex issues and crises spanning the globe.

Before founding Miller Ink in 2013, Nathan was the Director of Speechwriting for Israel’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, serving as a senior communications adviser and the chief speechwriter for Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor as he effectively advocated on behalf of Jewish refugees from North Africa and the Middle East. Nathan also served as the policy director of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and as a Goldman Fellow at the Transatlantic Institute, a think tank in Brussels, Belgium.

Date and Time: Thursday, September 15th from 11:30AM to 1PM Pacific/2:30 to 4PM Eastern

September 2022: Strategic Planning

In the middle of the professional development series, we welcome you to learn how to transform your institution through strategic planning. Facilitated by a co-founder of Plan A Advisors, this session will focus on the impactful role strategic planning can play in helping your institution reach its highest potential. We will learn the basics of strategic planning and how to design a process that is data-driven yet highly personalized toward the goals and vision of you and your organization.

This session is a must for social entrepreneurs and those working in synagogues and community organizations!

Speaker’s Bio:

Adam Gaynor, Ph.D.  advises a wide range of nonprofits on their strategic direction and has deep experience in higher education and independent schools, social justice and human service organizations, faith-based organizations and philanthropies. Dr. Gaynor, the descendent of Tunisian Jews, works closely with clients on long-range and business plans, campaigns and fundraising strategy, board composition and function, and strategic partnerships and mergers. Dr. Gaynor formed Plan A Advisors® from The Whelan Group, a Manhattan consulting firm. Dr. Gaynor was previously Executive Director of The Curriculum Initiative, a national program that worked with over 240 prominent independent schools. He has served in a range of nonprofit leadership positions including Assistant Director of the Bronfman Center at NYU, social work consultant with The Educational Alliance on school-based programs, Program Director at the Jewish Agency’s Department of Education in Jerusalem, and Director of Multicultural Affairs at Bates College. Dr. Gaynor earned a BA in Women’s Studies from Bates College, an MS in Social Work from Columbia University, an MA in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Education and Jewish Studies at NYU. He was a Scholar-in-Residence at NYU School of Law in 2011-12.

Date and Time: Thursday, September 29th from 11:30AM to 1PM Pacific/2:30 to 4PM Eastern

October 2022: Advocacy and Government Relations

During this gathering we will learn the basics of advocacy and government relations. Building upon lessons from the beginning of the series, we will gain basic tools on how to implement effective advocacy campaigns related to federal and state policy. We will explore best practices in working with our elected officials and discuss the unique challenges and limitations our Sephardi and Mizrahi communities face when advocating for diverse issues of importance to our communities.

Date and Time: Wednesday, October 19th from 11:30AM to 1PM Pacific/2:30 to 4PM Eastern

November 2022: Revitalizing Sephardic Synagogues

In this session, Rabbi Daniel Hadar will guide participants to think through ways of invigorating their Sephardic and Mizrahi synagogues around the country. How can we inspire pride, provide meaning, and grow our communities’ presence? We will learn from Rabbi Hadar’s experience at Temple Moses in Miami and discover how we too might be able to increase participation and engagement.

Speaker’s Bio:

Rabbi Daniel Hadar is the Head Rabbi of the Historic Sephardic Kehilla – Temple Moses. The Kehilla serves as a center for Ladino speaking Jews from Turkey, Greece and the Balkans. His family is originally from Izmir, Turkey and his extended family is from Salonika and Rhodes, Greece. He has lectured extensively on Sephardic history, life and Torah and has written the commentary on the recently published Sephardic Mahzor series. He founded the ‘Next Sephardic Generation’, a grassroots organization aimed at revitalizing and rebuilding the Ladino-Sephardic community worldwide. He is currently editing and writing the commentary for the new Sephardic outreach siddur being published later this year. In addition to his communal work, he is also a practicing Intellectual property attorney.  He has a BA in History from UM, a Masters in Talmudic Law from Ner Israel Rabbinical College and graduated with honors from University of Michigan Law School

UPDATED Date and Time: Thursday, November 17th from 11:30AM to 1PM Pacific/2:30PM to 4PM Eastern

December 2022: Fundraising 101

Our learning series will conclude with a session focused on the basics of fundraising in 2022/23. This session will provide an overview of traditional and contemporary methods of fundraising, such as online giving. We will explore fundraising basics such as budgeting, grant writing, and fundraising resources for Jewish professionals and causes.

This final course will provide a segue into the second leadership development series, beginning in January 2023, which will take a deeper dive into fundraising specifics relevant to Sephardi and Mizrahi communities.

Date and Time: Thursday, December 8th from 11:30AM to 1PM Pacific/2:30 to 4PM Eastern

Speaker’s Bio:

Connie Kanter is the Chief Executive Officer of Samis Foundation as of March 2019. She served as a Samis Board Member from 2010 to 2019, as Grants Committee vice-chair, and on the Finance and Audit, and Planning Committees. Prior stepping into her role as Samis CEO, she was the CFO/Sr. VP, Finance and Business Affairs at Seattle University. She spent most of her career in finance at high technology manufacturing companies and is a business leader recognized for her skills in financial management and strategic planning. Connie received her undergraduate degree with honors from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and her MBA from Booth School at the University of Chicago. She is a Certified Public Accountant. Connie has served in a variety of leadership positions in the Jewish community including the boards of Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, Kline Galland Center, and Seattle Hebrew Academy. She was a member of the UJC Young Leadership Cabinet and Wexner Heritage Program


Cost: Thanks to a generous grant from the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund this program is free. Please register below for the first session and you will receive subsequent zoom links for each session that follows.

We encourage your full participation as this will be an opportunity to learn and to meet other Sephardic and Mizrahi leaders throughout the United States.

Questions About the Program?

For more information or any questions you might have, please contact Ty Alhadeff at