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New Federation Initiative Helps Young Latins Get Involved in North Dade Jewish Community

Over the past decade, North Dade has enjoyed several waves of immigration from different Latin American countries. In fact, the 2014 Greater Miami Jewish Federation Population Study found a 64 percent growth of Hispanic Jewish adults from 2004 to 2014. Many of the new immigrants are young professionals who are eager to get involved and give back to the Jewish community. Michelle Strulovic, a Venezuelan who was active in her home community and in college at Brandeis University, recognized both the challenge and the opportunity. “We are blessed to constantly have people who were leaders in their respective communities move to Miami,” she said. “Through J-Impact, we provide them a deep understanding of how our community works and empower them with leadership training to become our community's future leaders."

Strulovic approached the Greater Miami Jewish Federation with an idea for a new and different leadership program that would help Latins feel at home in Miami. The result was J-Impact, a six-session leadership development program held this spring at the Michael-Ann Russell JCC and attracting a cohort of educated, successful and Jewish-minded young Latins.

J-Impact is leadership development combined with project-based learning. Participants were educated about the community, met with current leaders, and helped to re-imagine Shalom Miami, a Federation program for welcoming and engaging newcomers. PresenTense, a New York-based group that specializes in using entrepreneurial tools to develop programs for the Jewish community, jumpstarted the Shalom Miami project-planning process.

Jacobo Serfati, Chair of Federation’s International Division, opened the first session of J-Impact and strongly supported the program. “We need to continue to educate and inspire,” he said. “J-Impact is leadership development with a twist. It’s learning combined with action.”

Mauricio Sion, Campaign Chair of the International Division, agreed: “There are so many talented newcomers and they have great ideas and energy. We need to invest today in our future leadership.”

Adam Kolett, Director of Federation’s North Dade Branch, and Soiby Seidner, International Division Director, worked to find enthusiastic participants for the first cohort of J-Impact. Kolett noted, “This is a great group of young people with incredible leadership potential. Shalom Miami is now being re-energized, and we have more young Latins who are better prepared to make a difference in our community.”

Federation is considering creating a second cohort with a new project. “This is a program with a lot of promise,” said Kolett. “Young professionals aren’t satisfied with classroom learning alone. They want to take action and make an immediate impact.”

For more information about J-Impact, Federation’s North Dade Branch or the International Division, please call 305.705.0800.

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