To survive we must adapt and change. We must disrupt, iterate, and take risks. This is the bold challenge posed by Dr. Jonathan Mirvis in his new book, It’s Our Challenge: A Social Entrepreneurship Approach to Jewish Education. As someone who has worked side by side with Jewish social entrepreneurs for the past two decades, I could not agree more. We stagnate at our peril. However, it is not enough to merely be bold and creative. For innovation, entrepreneurship, and intrapreneurship to make strong contributions to the Jewish future we need to really understand how these processes work. We need to understand how concepts born in the commercial sector are best adapted for use in the nonprofit sector. We need to delve into cases of successful entrepreneurs and unpack the factors that contributed to their success. We need to trace the process that gives birth to new norms and practices, pushing beyond the novelty of a singular innovation. These are the offerings contained in It’s Our Challenge: A Social Entrepreneurship Approach to Jewish Education. Dr. Mirvis, himself an educator, entrepreneur, and senior lecturer at the Melton Centre for Jewish Education at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, weaves together an academic analysis of social entrepreneurship with case examples and vignettes about Jewish educational entrepreneurs. The format is engaging and the content is rich. Dr. Mirvis inter-weaves theory and practice, making the case for entrepreneurship, but also demonstrating how it is integrated into a broader landscape. In this book, innovation is not the silver bullet, but a tool that needs to be honed and refined and one that belongs in every Jewish communal toolkit.
Dr. Mirvis knows and understands entrepreneurs. His own experience leading the Florence Melton Mini-Schools attests to that. He knows that entrepreneurs at their core are problem solvers. They are so bothered by the status quo that they cannot sit still—how could this become relevant to more people? How could we make this more convenient and accessible? How could this be more affordable? They don’t rest at night until they have cracked the code. As Dr. Mirvis states: “entrepreneurs are not always the first, but they are the most persistent and successful. ”Entrepreneurship is not only about having the most creative ideas, it is about figuring out how to move them forward.
Read more at the Journal of Jewish Education.