Can Jewish Organizations Really Work Collaboratively? Early Lessons from Nadiv

February 27, 2013

Source: Avi Chai Foundation


The writers recount some of the findings of the first evaluation report on the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Nadiv Initiative, an experiment designed to create new connections between Jewish camps and schools, leveraging unique professional knowledge and best practices for the benefit of both which was conducted by BTW informing change.


Nadiv involves a complex array of individual, organizational and system collaboration in order to produce camp and school alumni whose Judaism deeply engages both their heads and their hearts:

  • Each of six experiential Jewish educators is “shared” by a camp and a school in the same geographic area.
  • Each camp-school pair works together to determine the role of their Nadiv educator.
  • Educators, heads of school and camp directors participate collectively in a community of practice to learn from one another’s successes and challenges.
  • The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) and the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) together helped develop the program and are directing its implementation.
  • Two foundations (AVI CHAI and Jim Joseph) have co-invested in the project, communicating regularly and learning the give-and-take required by funding partnerships.

While Nadiv is just in its early stages of implementation, the first evaluation report has been conducted by BTW informing change. One of the two sections of the report, “The Nadiv Story, Unfolding,” tells the story of Nadiv’s collaborative process as it unfolded, with all the turns and twists in the road. The second section, “Key Learnings from Nadiv’s Launch,” shares successes along with key learnings and offers recommendations for ongoing implementation and future partnerships.


Even in this early stage, Nadiv is turning out to be a fascinating story about collaboration, with multiple characters and plotlines. At the individual level, six educators from a range of backgrounds are working across institutions and denominational affiliations to support one another and share learnings. At an organizational level, camps and schools are leveraging their partnership to retain a talented educator and strengthen one another’s educational work, bringing more of the joy of camp to school and introducing more of the substance of school to camp. At the field level, FJC and URJ are deepening their relationship, identifying shared measures for success, and laying the groundwork for future collaborative efforts. And on the funder level, two foundations deeply committed to Jewish education are bridging their differences to enhance their leverage. While it is too early to identify concrete results, BTW’s report notes encouragingly: “The most common words used to describe the nascent partnerships are respect, communication, collaboration, support and trust.”


Read their post on the AVI CHAI Blog

Updated: Mar. 11, 2013