We dream of a world where Jewish wisdom is a public good that is accessible to all.
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.
Passionate team members
Executive Vice President
Rabbi Elan Babchuck
Rabbi Elan Babchuck is committed to leaving behind a world that is more compassionate and connected than the one he found. In pursuit of that commitment, he serves as the Executive Vice President at Clal, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and the Founding Executive Director of Glean Network, which partners with Columbia Business School. He was ordained in 2012 and earned his MBA that year, as well.
A sought-after thought leader, he has delivered keynotes at stages ranging from TEDx to the US Army’s General Officer Convocation, published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, Washington Post, and Religion News Service, has a column for The Wisdom Daily, contributed to Meaning Making – 8 Values That Drive America’s Newest Generations (2020, St. Mary’s Press) and is the co-author of the forthcoming book Picking Up the Pieces: Leadership After Empire (2023, Fortress Press).
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.
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.
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.
Director of Program Administration and Operations
Shelli Aderman, she/her has been fortunate to work as a theatrical stage manager, Jewish educator, and synagogue administrator for over thirty years. Her diverse career complements her role at Clal, where she is responsible for the logistical and administrative aspects of Clal’s varied projects, including, The Belonging Project, Stand and See, Rabbis Without Borders, Glean, and Spark, among others. Shelli continues to be an active lay leader and educator at Town and Village Synagogue, and she resides with her wife, Narda E. Alcorn, and their children in New York City.
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.
Assistant Editor of The Wisdom Daily
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.
Rebecca specializes in organizational behavior, people analytics, and culture and is deeply passionate about helping Jewish organizations flourish. Currently, at Clal, she is building an offering centered around supporting Jews in the Workplace in the form of Employee Resource Groups.
Rebecca has worked at IBM, PwC, and most recently, Bridgewater, a hedge fund known for their pioneering workplace culture. She’s led strategic talent projects for Fortune 500 companies to improve the employee experience and elevate the quality of people insights on issues including hybrid work, talent recruitment/retention, and DEI. Read More
Rabbi Randy Brown
Rabbi Randy Brown obtained his B.A. in Jewish Studies and Business Administration from the University of Florida in 1995. While living in Israel, Rabbi Brown completed his MBA at Bar-Ilan University and assisted many Israeli high-tech companies with marketing and business plans. In addition, he volunteered as a Foreign Relations Correspondent in English and Spanish for President Shimon Peres. After returning to the States in 1999, Rabbi Brown embarked on a successful career in Commercial Real Estate and Telecommunications.