A Nation at a Crossroads
The dream of Zionism – to build a homeland for the Jewish people in the land of Israel – was never only about creating a place of safety and survival, although these were important aspects of the need for a Jewish state. The dream was also about a yearning to build a model society based on Jewish ethical principles and spiritual ideals.
Today, there is a deep crisis of Jewish values in Israel. Although the State has been built, the Zionist dream for a moral, value-based society has yet to be fulfilled. Israeli society is seeking fresh leadership inspired by Jewish values to lead the next generation.
Kolot, an Israel-based nonprofit, is responding to this crisis. Kolot’s vision is to create a moral, value-based society in the State of Israel that can be an example to all nations. Utilizing its own custom-designed curricula, its mission is to train networks of leaders throughout Israel to use Jewish ethical principles as the basis for creating a values-driven vision for the Jewish State.
Kolot’s leadership training is based on seven pillars. These Jewish values are woven into Kolot’s curricula and viewed as the basis of a just Jewish society. They include principles of equality and justice, the role of dialogue and respectful disagreement as a basis for democracy, the importance of humility, modesty, and personal sense of mission for healing and repairing ourselves and the world.
Through individual and group study, Kolot facilitators guide students to explore how Judaism’s unique ethical principles can be turned into action to inform their personal and professional decision-making. Through shared educational experiences, Kolot enables program participants to create connections with each other and peers in other countries, thus strengthening the ability to impact society.
Kolot was founded in 1997 by Mordechai Bar-Or after the assassination of the late Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. It began as a leading organization within the Israeli Jewish renewal movement, providing educational experiences to lay leaders across Israel through study of historic Jewish texts. Its name, “Kolot” (voices in Hebrew), reflects its commitment to pluralism and the inclusion of all voices within Israel. Based on its success of educating more than 2,500 individuals, Kolot has now evolved to have an even greater impact on Israeli Society.
Today, Kolot can be described as a Beit Midrash for social action leadership. It partners with Israeli leaders to explore shared Jewish values, empowers them to create their own value-based framework for decision making and challenges them to apply these new tools in their work. Utilizing this new way of thinking, these leaders are changing the way that Israel does business, educates its children, runs an army, and builds a shared society.
Kolot’s work is guided by a Living Torah Theory of Change that sets it apart from other organizations. Key components incorporate and expand on its original, tested approach:
- Customized curricula and language drawn from Jewish sources to enable Kolot participants to develop value-based responses to current societal challenges.
- In-depth learning and a methodology that encourages discourse to enable participants to learn from each other, build relationships, and develop a shared collective vision and mission for the next generation of Jewish life.
- A focus on training emerging leaders in positions of professional influence to act as change agents.
- Ongoing Torah study for Kolot alumni to offer continued guidance, inspiration, and connection.
- Targeted focus on professionals in different areas of society based on geographic location, professional circles and major organizational systems.