Leeds lay leaders Raina Sheaf and Susie Gordon attended the first Yesod senior professional leadership programme in Barcelona last week.

The Challenges of Change conference organised by the Jewish Development Committee (JDC) included delegates from organisations with a broad range of expertise around Europe.
Representatives from Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, Estonia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Athens attended the three-day professional learning retreat.

“The conference was incredible and we have created a close support network,” said Susie, Leeds Jewish Representative Council.

“After a couple of hours it was clear our challenges are no different to any other community.
“When it comes to change, people automatically think they will lose something rather than gain. Change can be overwhelming in terms of time, information and staff, and the bigger change is, then the more preparation is required.

“You must evaluate the impact of change around various areas including key decision makers and resources available, and then learn from others who have already done it.

“It’s also essential to engage partners, deal with internal and external stakeholders to make the case for change.”

She added: “The Rep Council has a vision for the Jewish community but every communal organisation is part of the bigger picture to move things forward.

“We will take the lead delivering a community engagement exercise, simultaneously create a community crisis management plan and begin the creation of our community strategic plan.
“The JDC have been really supportive, and it’s important they help ensure we thrive in our own right as an organisation but also together as a community.”

Raina Sheaf of The Zone Youth and Family Centre found the programme enlightening.
“Change can be enriching because of new opportunities,” she said. “Discussions offered clarity and you must go forward, but when you hit a problem, then embrace it.

She added, “The problems communities face are similar; however they are different in terms of decision making and finance.

“Leeds has a communal strategy but must keep it fluid, meaningful and current.
“The Zone is an integral part of the overall strategy because we are based on the Brodetsky school campus so are a gateway to activities for families and new ones coming to Leeds.
“Moving to the campus three years ago came at the right time, because as we develop and grow so will the community.”

Dani Serlin and Clare Goldwater of Yesod, and Russell Wolkind of JDC Europe, led the conference.

Guest speakers included David Raphael of Yesod, Sally Berkovic of the Rothschild Foundation and Mario Izcovich of Leatid.

Yesod is a partnership of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Rothschild Foundation Europe and American JDC.

The body invests in Jewish community professionals, educators and activists to strengthen Jewish life in Europe through professional development and Jewish fluency of opportunities.