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Mayim Bialik Puts Energy Into Leadership Initiative

September 18, 2013 By:
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Mayim Bialik

Mayim Bialik, star of shows like Blossom and The Big Bang Theory, looks at her generation and sometimes thinks, “We’ve lost that passion and pride” in Judaism.

With that deficiency in mind, the 37-year-old actress has become a co-chair of Core 18 Leaders Lab, a new Jewish leadership-training program from Jerusalem U, a nonprofit educational organization.

The organization is seeking candidates to participate in an seven-month program that is aimed at helping entrepreneurs ages 19-25 to develop ideas rooted in Jewish values. 

Afterwards, the organization will select some of the fellows to participate in a 10-month follow-up program, which tries to help participants grow their businesses by providing access to mentors and potential seed money.

Bialik joined one of her co-chairs, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who recently retired as the chief rabbi of Britain, on a conference call Sept. 13 to discuss the new program. The other chair is Tal Ben-Shahar, a former lecturer at Harvard University.

The organization, whose president and executive director are based in the Philadelphia area, features several other local connections, including an advisory board member, David Magerman, a venture capitalist and philanthropist; and youth advisory board members Sara Greenberg, a Philly native who is pursuing a joint master’s degree in business and public policy from the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Adam Wachs, a student at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. 

Bialik, who lives a largely observant lifestyle, said the organization would like to see participants become “agents of change” and thinks that the activism should “be rooted in Jewish values.”

For the first five months of the program, the entrepreneurs will work to develop projects in their local communities and participate in weekly webinars and regional and national conferences. The first national one will be around Martin Luther King Day in Philadelphia. Participants will then spend two months next summer in Israel interning and learning in a leadership program at Interdisciplinary Center Herz­liya.

When asked how Core 18 differed from the numerous other Jewish leadership programs, such as the local accelerator, Tribe 12 Fellowship, Bialik said the program was not developed with the “sense that there is a problem with existing Jewish leadership programs.”

But rather it stems from the idea that we “need more young leadership,” Bialik said. Her involvement, along with Sacks and Ben-Shahar, who taught the popular “Positive Psychology” course at Harvard, provides “very different, very interesting people and hopefully recognizable faces” that will distinguish Core 18 from other leadership programs, she said.

The actress said she is not yet sure how hands-on she will be in the program, but added, “I sincerely am putting my name and my time and my energy” into the endeavor. 

“That’s how much I believe in it.”

Those interested in applying should visit Core18.org. The deadline for applications is Oct. 15.

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