About Clal

Our Vision

We dream of a world where Jewish wisdom is a public good that is accessible to all.

Our Values

Embracing optimism and opportunity

No matter what the future brings, we believe it offers opportunities.  From the obviously positive times to the darker moments, Clal views change itself as a chance to help people to grow and the world to flourish.

This means embracing questions and doubt (alongside answers and faith) to create and uncover the solutions we seek.

In other words, Clal embraces a conscious optimism born from thousands of years of Jewish experience and wisdom. Whether it’s developing new ideas, working with new technologies, or embracing new social movements, we are committed to being an active part of the evolution of humanity.

Privileging people over ideology

In the worldview of Clal, there is no ideology that can possibly be more valuable than even one person. We view ideologies as being in service to people, each of whom possesses infinite value, dignity, and equality. Thus, it is the people who take priority, and if there is a conflict between the two, we will always choose the welfare of people over the promotion of an ideology.

This value extends into further ones, which include seeing that being loving, just, and compassionate is not just more important than being right, it is what’s right. It is an end unto itself, and one we extend into all we do.

Championing pluralism and partial truth

To believe in the value of pluralism is not to discount the need for disagreement and even conflict. Just the opposite. Clal’s call to action is this: it is only through listening and connecting to others that we will be able to make disagreements and conflicts productive.

It is through this deep pluralism that we believe people and communities can access the partial truth of those who view the world differently than them while still retaining and strengthening their own identities and beliefs.

Building public good and communal wellbeing

We embrace questions, doubts, and change, not as steps to destroy what previously existed but to build upon it and realize what is yet undreamed.

We further believe that Jewish wisdom is not a limited good, but one meant for all people who may benefit from it. Many of the questions and doubts people hold often emerge from unmet needs: needs which can be addressed by Jewish wisdom. Jewish wisdom becomes a greater public good by embracing people, their questions, and those unmet needs.

By caring deeply about people and our relationships and investing thoughtfully in communities both old and new, we are innovating what has yet to be.

Our Impact




Fiscal Sponsorships


Passionate team members


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People reached

Our Leaders

Executive Vice President
Rabbi Elan Babchuck

Rabbi Elan Babchuck is a rabbi and entrepreneur who spends much of his time exploring the rich intersections between these two traditions. Ordained as a rabbi in 2012, he received his MBA that year, as well. He’s committed to leaving behind a world that is more compassionate, connected, and just than the one he found, and – in pursuit of that commitment – he is the Executive Vice President at Clal, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and the Founding Executive Director of Glean Network, an incubator, and network for entrepreneurs who are building new models of faith in action, which partners with Columbia Business School.

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Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

Listed for many years in Newsweek as one of America’s “50 Most Influential Rabbis,” and recognized as one of our nation’s leading “Preachers & Teachers,” by Beliefnet.com, Fox News regular contributor, Washington Post blogger, and think tank President Brad Hirschfield is the author of You Don’t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism (Harmony, 2008). He also conceived and hosted two groundbreaking series for Bridges TV—American Muslim TV Network, Building Bridges: Abrahamic Perspectives on the World Today (three seasons), and American Pilgrimage. He is also the Co-founder and Executive Editor of The Wisdom Daily.

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President Emeritus
Rabbi Irwin Kula

Rabbi Irwin Kula is a disruptive spiritual innovator and rogue thinker. A 7th generation rabbi he is Co-President of Clal–The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership a do-tank committed to making Jewish a Public Good. A thought leader on the intersection of innovation, religion, and human flourishing, Irwin has worked with leaders from the Dalai Lama to Queen Noor and with organizations, foundations, and businesses in the United States and around the world to inspire people to live with greater passion, purpose, creativity and compassion.

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Senior Director of Innovation
Rabbi Julia Appel

Rabbi Appel creates and leads Clal’s Jewish community training programs in innovation and entrepreneurship, including the on-the-ground program “Spark” and the graduate course for rabbinical and cantorial students “Leading Through Innovation.” She most recently launched The Belonging Project, which enables Jewish communal institutions to measure and improve the culture of belonging among their community members. Rabbi Appel has been bringing her entrepreneurial lens to congregational and organizational settings for over a decade in both the United States and Canada. Read More

Director of Leadership Formation
Rabbi Joshua Stanton

Joshua Stanton is Rabbi of East End Temple in Manhattan and a Senior Fellow at Clal. He serves on the Board of Governors of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, which liaises on behalf of Jewish communities worldwide with the Vatican and other international religious bodies.

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Director Of Finance
Aliza J. Kaplan

As Director of Finance, Aliza J. Kaplan manages the financial operations of the organization, and her responsibilities include financial and legal issues, budgeting, investing, and human resources.

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Director of Program Administration and Operations
Shelli Aderman

Shelli Aderman, she/her comes to Clal from a varied and exciting background, where she started learning to code computers as a child. As an adult, Shelli continued her fascination with all things behind-the-scenes in a career of theatrical stage management and administration. As the Program Administrator for many of Clal’s varied projects, including Glean, Rabbis Without Borders, and Stand and See, she gets to use all of her backstage skills in the support of rabbis.

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Clal Teaching Fellow, Assistant to the Presidents, and LEAP Program Manager.
Janet R. Kirchheimer

Janet R. Kirchheimer is a Clal Teaching Fellow, Assistant to the Presidents, and LEAP Program Manager. A poet, essayist, creative writing teacher, and filmmaker, she is the author of How to Spot One of Us (2007, Clal). Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, her work has appeared in numerous journals, anthologies, and on-line publications.

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Assistant Editor of The Wisdom Daily
Lela Casey

Lela Casey has a BA in International Politics from Penn State and a BA in Elementary Education from Rhode Island College.  After teaching for several years, she began pursuing a career in writing.  Her work has been featured on many websites including Kveller, Hevria, and Elephant Journal.

Along with her work as assistant editor for The Wisdom Daily, she currently is an arts and culture journalist for Radius Mag and guest editor at Hevria.

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