AVI CHAI concluded its general grant making on December 31, 2019.

Yitro: Exploring Perspective and Hospitality in Austin

Posted by: Guest

January 2, 2019

In this post and its accompanying photos, Briana Holtzman and Teri McGuire from the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) reflect on the third seminar of the fourth cohort of the Yitro Leadership Program, which is funded by The AVI CHAI Foundation. The program works with associate and assistant camp directors, with the goals of strengthening their leadership skills, with emphasis on their identities as Jewish leaders, in order to enhance Jewish culture and experience at camp. The program creates a strong network of peers for continuing collaboration and learning. More information about the Yitro program can be found here.
By: Briana Holtzman and Teri McGuire
The third seminar of the Yitro IV cohort took place in and around Austin, Texas from December 10-12. The Yitro community gathered to reflect on the myriad of ways that the themes of perspective (hashkafa) and hospitality enhance the quality of their work as middle managers.
Throughout the seminar, our cohort of camp professionals learned from Artist in Residence: Sarit Wishnevski, explored Austin’s quirky side, and challenged each other to consider their multiple perspectives they hold vis-à-vis their roles in building and sustaining their communities.
Sarit, a personal chef for many years, is well versed in the art of food and hospitality. Fellows were invited to get involved, discussing how hospitality shows up in their work and each taking a part in cooking a part of one of the seminar’s meals. Fellows discussed hospitality as a well-rounded art form, one rooted in Jewish tradition, that can be experienced when engaging all five senses. Through Sarit’s approach to hospitality our Yitro community was able to think more about the aspects that make our communities more welcoming and engaging.
Taking advantage of Austin’s unique personality and culture sparked fellows to think about holy spaces, intentional and not. At Austin’s Cathedral of Junk, fellows noted how everyday objects, used and discarded materials, were given new life and purpose. This interactive piece of art provided a great entrée into speaking about the varieties of prospective people have and how so often we look at things one way and do not put in extra effort to see an opposing view or opinion. The Cathedral of Junk also speaks to the theme of hospitality as its artist, Vince, has created something that attracts many people to his home and has to think intentionally about how to do so, especially with neighbors who might not like the noise level – just like Jewish camp!
As the Yitro community deepens, more time is dedicated to developing learning agility among peers. The second day of our seminar was designed to have fellows learning from one another. Our fellows gain a great deal when they are engaging with one another and learning from the variety of perspectives and knowledge within the group. From sessions understanding each person’s leadership archetype to learning focused on the ways perspective can show up in our camp communities to mussar study, Yitro fellows grappled with their unique and essential roles.

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