The Jewish Observer
News from Middle Tennessee's Jewish Community | Sunday, June 23, 2024
The Jewish Observer

‘A plethora of leadership’: Participants reflect after conclusion of debut Leadership 615 program

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Pictured l. to r. Beth Levine, Dr. Mark Goldfarb, Metro Councilmember Sheri Weiner. Photo: Emily Allen

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Leadership 615 participants at the closing dinner. Photo: Emily Allen
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Leadership 615 participant Yuri Livshitz shares his experiences as part of the cohort. Photo: Emily Allen

Scott Fishel initially felt some impostor syndrome upon first joining Leadership 615, a debut fellowship program for mid-career Nashville adults. But he quickly found his place. 

Fishel, 34, is the vice president of acquisitions at Hamilton Creek Partners in his hometown of Nashville. 

“Usually, when I think of Jewish leaders or leadership, …you usually go to your parents or people like that,” Fishel said. “I never really put myself in that category.” 

Once he learned a little more about Leadership 615, Fishel was all in. He said he enjoyed the discussion aspect of the program as well as the many guest speakers. 

“It was a very, very worthwhile experience being able to hear from scholars from different points of view on issues that are pressing for the Jewish community from a macro standpoint … all the way down to the micro — Nashville,” Fishel said of Leadership 615. “There’s a lot of thought that went into it because it was people of different ages, people with different backgrounds, different experiences, and I think everybody approached from different viewpoints. You got a lot of value.” 

The 12 participants of Leadership 615 heard from a former mayor of Nashville, rabbis, professors and a council member, among other local Jewish leaders. 

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Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville Director of Impact, Michal Becker, addresses the cohort and guests. Photo: Emily Allen
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The first cohort of the Leadership 615 program. Photo: Emily Allen

“I think what I really got out of this was how many leaders there probably are in this community, right?” Fishel said. “I just think that there’s a plethora of leadership and people with really good ideas.” 

Yuri Livshitz, a technology leader for Deloitte and participant of Leadership 615, said the program hosted experts to discuss the broader Jewish community in the world and how to run a nonprofit board, a skill he said was new to him. 

Lori Star, a nurse practitioner and participant of Leadership 615, said the group also discussed antisemitism and compared what the local Jewish community looked like decades ago with what it looks like now. 

She emphasized the importance of face-to-face conversation and hearing others’ stories in the age of technology. 

“In a world where we’re so bombarded by media and articles, … you can read, but you’re really missing a dialogue,” Star said. “Because when things are so polarized in this day and age, and information is thrown at you at such a fast pace, it was so nice to be able to receive information from a human being and then be able to talk about it in real time. I think we’ve so missed that.” 

Livshitz said he appreciated the diversity of the program’s cohort, which made for better community bonding and lively discussion. 

“I absolutely love the concept that people from every meaningful Jewish organization in Nashville were represented in this cohort,” Livshitz said. “We all got together, we all got to hear each other’s needs about the protection of the Jewish community and learn from each other. I don’t think any of the folks that were in the cohort would have intersected if it wasn’t for this program.” 

Fishel said meeting Jewish leaders from east Nashville was “fascinating” given that most of the Jewish community and Jewish life have historically been concentrated in west Nashville. He added that the geographical diversity of the cohort “opened [his] mind, [his] eyes to just how big and expansive this community has gotten.” 

A fourth generation Nashvillian, Fishel has seen the progression of the Jewish community over the course of decades.  

“I do believe that the Nashville Jewish community is changing, it’s changing fairly rapidly,” Fishel said. “It is changing from how it was 60 years ago to 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago, just as Nashville continues to change. I think the ability to move with the city and not against the city is so important. I think this program is really doing just that, and I think it’s going to be a tremendous boon to our community.” 

Mark Goldfarb, a former Nashville cardiologist who sponsored Leadership 615, said in a statement to The Jewish Observer Nashville that he is happy with how the past six months have played out, especially given the uncertainties of offering a program for the first time. 

“The camaraderie between the cohort of individuals, many of them coming from a variety of backgrounds, is refreshing and heartwarming and an added plus,” Goldfarb wrote. “I’m thrilled with what we have created thus far and look forward to seeing the long-term results unfold as these future leaders mature and take on larger roles in our community.” 

Livshitz said it was an honor to participate in the pilot program: “It’s a huge opportunity to learn about leadership, about yourself, about your place in the Jewish community.” 


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