Executive Musings: When a Chair is Not Just a Chair


“It’s just a chair.”


The other day, I was catching up with an old friend who was very interested in the job portfolio of a Jewish non-profit Executive Director. He asked, “take today, for instance, what did you do?”

“Actually,” I said. “I spent my entire morning looking for the perfect blue lounge chair.”

“What? Why does that matter – it’s just a chair?”

Just a chair? JUST. A. CHAIR?!

In the world of Jewish community building, there’s no such thing as just a chair.

A chair, like the community we’re trying to create, needs to be comfortable and sturdy. It needs to be inviting but never gaudy. It needs to look like it’s exactly where it’s supposed to be while being easy to move and flexible. It needs to be cozy while also working cohesively in a professional environment. A chair needs to be a great place for rest, conversation, and study, for friendship and laughter, joyful singing and quiet support, and perhaps even for a quick afternoon snooze.

A bad chair can lead to bad outcomes. And as Hillel 818 enters the most important year in our history, we can’t have uncomfortable lounge chairs.

Only time will tell if we find our chair. All I can say for sure is that our entire Hillel 818 team has worked tirelessly this summer to ensure that everything, including our new building, staff, program offerings, and board structure, has been given the same amount of strategic thought as those new blue lounge chairs.

Because the current moment demands it.

Expect to hear a whole lot more about the opening of our new building, the historic grant awarded to us by Hillel International, our 6 new staff members, our new board committees, new program initiatives, and finally a return to normalcy on our campuses. This year is a defining moment for Hillel 818, where we move into a new era of bigger impact and greater reach. And so we did not spend our summer twiddling our thumbs but have worked tirelessly to make this the best year in our organization’s storied history.