JDC writes about how participation in its Moscow based young leaders training program, Knafaim, helped Tanya Kirzner discover her Jewish roots and launch her own professional development program for young Jews. Based in Moscow, the Knafaim program cultivates young, local Jewish leadership. The year-long program provides young adults (ages 20-30) with education and training to enhance their management abilities, improve their professional skills, and broaden their Jewish knowledge, all in order to deepen their connection to the Jewish community and nurture constant and continuous involvement in Jewish life in Moscow.
Tanya learned of the program through a friend and decided to apply, thinking it might be a good way to meet other young Jews. She joined the program’s first class, consisting of 21 of her peers who demonstrate the creativity, drive, and ability to become community leaders. The program encompasses components of personal development, Jewish education, and project management and empowers the participants to design and implement their own ecological, educational, or social Jewish-themed projects that benefit the larger community as a whole and the Jewish community in particular.
Tanya’s project—a Yeda seminar—was inspired by her own success in Russia’s booming energy sector and her desire to create educational and networking opportunities for young Jews in the business world. Because Knafaim participants take ownership of the development, funding, and implementation of their project, Tanya worked hard to get Jewish experts, sponsors, and participants onboard; in turn, she began to feel that she was becoming a part of an expansive community herself.
Following great feedback from attendees of her first session—who felt the program gave them access to valuable networking opportunities and job prospects for the future—Tanya is already at work designing the program for the next session.