Selah Leadership Program FAQs

What will I learn?

The Selah Curriculum integrates personal transformation, organizational optimization, and collaboration skills within a Jewish framework. For Jews of Color seeking to explore professional and personal development skills through the lens of both Jewish identity and racial identity, this curriculum will offer:

  • Personal transformation skills help participants facilitate clear communication, give and receive effective feedback, and manage their emotional state
  • Organizational performance and collaboration skills trainings help participants develop systems for work and staff management, goal setting and planning, and implementation of effective meetings
  • Collaboration skills help participants develop a shared understanding of how to build partnerships to support effective social change work
  • Jewish learning and values are infused throughout most training modules, and all trainings include opportunities for each individual to explore and reflect on his or her Jewish identity and how it intersects with one’s leadership and social justice work

What is included in the Selah Leadership Program?

  • Nine days of training over six months
  • Peer coaching
  • On-going homework and organizational tools that you will be able to use with your home teams
  • Selah Leadership Program workbook and Online Learning Lab, complete with readings, materials, and resources that bring together the best of organizational development and personal leadership practices
  • Membership in the Selah Network (upon completing the six-month training), including membership in the Selah JOC sub-network

What impact will Selah have on my ability to be an effective leader?

  • Confidence in leadership, supervision, and management skills
  • Ability to manage one’s own feelings and reactions to others
  • Ability to act in a more conscious and intentional way, increasing strategic focus and clear decision-making
  • Clarity of purpose or inspiration for social justice work
  • Develop relationships, establish trust and rapport with others
  • Balance and pace of work priorities
  • Resources for naming the impact of race and racism on Jewish leadership
  • Connection to a supportive community of other Jewish Leaders of Color

What is a Selah Cohort?

A Selah cohort includes about 20 leaders who participate in all trainings together over a six-month period, forming a learning community. Through training together, each cohort’s members develop a common skill set and a sense of accountability and mutual support. Members foster an aligned vision for leadership development and build the trust necessary for risk-taking and innovative collaboration. Selah cohort members gain skills in personal mastery, organizational effectiveness, and collaboration in the field. Cohorts can be regional, national or constituency-based.

What is Selah’s definition of social justice?

Selah works with Jewish leaders working at or playing a significant volunteer leadership role in Jewish and non-Jewish organizations that are engaged in systemic social change -- work that challenges existing power relationships to produce long-term, sustainable solutions to social and economic justice issues. Participants who have been accepted to Selah in the past come from Jewish and non-Jewish organizations that work on systemic change from a variety of different approaches including community organizing, direct action, advocacy, education, social change philanthropy, and arts and culture. Individuals and organizations whose work is primarily the provision of social services are not eligible unless they or their organizations are also engaged in wider policy change, organizing, or systemic change efforts.

What kind of Jew do I need to be?

Participants in Selah come from a diverse range of Jewish knowledge, background and experience. Some participants have little to no knowledge of Judaism, practices or ritual, others come with rabbinical degrees. Some identify as secular Jews, some as cultural Jews, others as religious Jews. What unites Selah participants is their shared interest in exploring the connections between their work for justice, leadership and Judaism. This range and representation of Jewish leadership creates a more expansive picture of what leadership means, where it happens, and who qualifies as a Jewish social justice leader.

Why is Cohort 15 focused on Jewish Leaders of Color?

The American Jewish community is multiracial – current estimates are that between 10-20% of the American Jewish community identify as Jews of Color. Yet,  – there continues to be only a few prominent Jewish leaders of color in Jewish mainstream organizations. At the same time, there are Jews of color playing significant leadership roles in secular social justice movements. This cohort aims to support Jewish leaders working both within and outside of the Jewish community.

As a national organization that exists to reinvigorate the Jewish community's commitment to working across racial, class, and gender lines toward a more just, fair, and compassionate America, it is our moral responsibility to hold these spaces and facilitate ways for all Jews to build meaningful relationships and find repair with one another over time. Bend the Arc believes that reflective leadership is paramount in building a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming Jewish community on several levels: one that allows people to bring their full selves and identities, and one that truly reflects the ever-changing face of the Jewish population at large. It is for this main reason that we have chosen to dedicate a second of two Selah cohorts to training Jewish leaders of color.

In 2015, Selah launched its first cohort for Jewish Leaders of Color, Selah Cohort 14. You can read about the participants here. Primarily led and informed by people of color, Selah Cohort 15 will not only be a unique and powerful space for the participants, but aims to contribute to the wider anti-racist efforts in the country, including the Jewish social justice sector. Part of the purpose of this project is to create a safe, healing space where Jewish leaders of color can build deep, interdependent relationships with each other to advance and support each other in their leadership inside and outside the Jewish community. The program curriculum is informed by the shared experiences and needs of Jewish leaders of color. It is intentional in acknowledging this and forging a space where those experiences can be honored, and needs can be met. This cohort is open to self-identified Jewish leaders of color, which could include Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews.

What are the criteria for eligibility?

  • Must be a social change leader of color working or playing a significant volunteer leadership role in a Jewish organization, OR;  A social change leader of color with a Jewish identity working or playing a significant volunteer leadership role in a non-Jewish or secular social change organization
  • Demonstrated effective leadership with a minimum of seven years of experience in the social justice sector
  • Position of influence within your organization or organizing network
  • Work requiring collaboration with others, and/or supervision
  • Religious, cultural, or other Jewish identity that informs your social change work
  • Commitment to personal growth
  • Desire to be part of a group learning environment and intentional network

What are some examples of past participants?

  • Legislative campaign director for health-care advocacy initiative.
  • Community organizer working on affordable housing campaign.
  • Founding executive director of organization fostering innovative technology for social justice organizations.
  • Rabbi at a large synagogue with a community organizing initiative.
  • Performance artist working on LGBT awareness in the Jewish community.
  • Program coordinator at environmental justice organization who serves as community lay-leader and co-founder of Jewish spiritual group with orientation toward social justice and community activism.
  • Development director of Jewish organization dedicated to education and advocacy serving low-income communities.
  • Feminist philanthropist funding cutting-edge organizations and programs for women and girls.
  • CEO of leading organization in socially responsible investment field.

How much does Selah cost?

The true cost of the Selah Leadership Program is over $7,000 per participant.  Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and funders, including the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Jews of Color Field-Building Fund*, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Grossberg Abrams Foundation, Mandel-Rodis Fund and Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, we are able to offer Selah on a sliding scale from $600 - $1500, based on your organization's or individual budget. This cost includes room, board, materials and training for all 9 full days of the program.  It does not include travel. Selah is a professional development program and therefore, we encourage organizations that an individual works for or represents pay for the program, rather than an individual. We can provide additional documentation to help secure professional development time or funding from one's organization. In circumstances where an organization or the individual is unable to cover the cost of participation, we have additional funding available to ensure that cost alone is not a barrier to participation in the program.

NOTE: If your organization will not cover tuition, please be in touch. We have a different price scale based on income and are committed to working with you to make participation possible.

*A collaborative fund made possible with the support of the Leichtag Foundation, Jim Joseph Foundation, and the Walter and Elise Haas, Sr. Fund.

Selah Leadership Program Sliding Scale Tuition

If your organization is covering tuition and the annual budget is:

Selah Tuition

$0 < $499,999


$500,000 - $999,000


$1,000,00 - $4,999,999


$5,000,000 - $9,999,999


$10,000,000 and up


How do I apply?

Candidates may submit applications online at

In addition to basic information and answering a number of questions, the application requires two letters of recommendation from people who know your leadership:  one from inside your organization and one from outside.

October 16, 2017                    Application deadline

November 20, 2017        Applicants are notified of their acceptance status

What are the requirements and time expectations for my participation in a Selah Cohort?

Due to the intensive nature of the training and Selah's focus on building a cohesive learning community, participants must be able to attend all trainings in full. In addition, Selah cohort members complete monthly homework assignments and meet with a small team of 2 to 3 people to reflect on weekly homework assignments (a total of 2 to 4 hours each month), and participate in a monthly peer-coaching and learning call (1-1.5 hours/month).  In total, the average time commitment per month is between 3 to 6 hours.

What does “Selah” mean?

The name “Selah”, which means “rock” in Hebrew, was inspired in part by our collaboration with the Rockwood Leadership Institute. In Hebrew prayer and song, including the Psalms, the term Selah is often used at the break of a passage as a call to the reader to “stop and listen” before moving to the next passage. Selah believes that leadership requires the ability to “stop and listen” to cultivate the ability to reflect on our work, our skills, and our mission, vision, and values. Being an effective leader requires inner awareness and self-management as well as skillful engagement with the outside world. Selah teaches Jewish social justice leaders how to cultivate the internal power and presence necessary to change external systems. We believe both are necessary for social transformation.

What is the Selah Network?

Upon completion of the six-month training program, Selah participants become members of the Selah Network.  The Selah Network consists of over 300 members and is a place to foster relationships, strategize, learn from one another, and find the support leaders need for their work over the course of their careers. Every several years, the entire network is invited for multi-day training to reengage with Selah practices and learn with Selahniks from different cohorts.

How selective is Selah?

Bend the Arc’s Selah Leadership Program is highly selective.  Our most recent National Cohort received over 90 applications.  Because each cohort is unique, we encourage those who are not accepted for a cohort to reapply.

Who leads the Selah trainings?

The Selah Leadership Program is led by a team of Bend the Arc staff and trainers affiliated with the Rockwood Leadership Institute. Our core trainers and key staff include:

José Acevedo

José Acevedo, Rockwood Leadership Institute, Consultant, Selah Trainer

José will be one of the two trainers from the Rockwood Leadership Institute facilitating retreat sessions, and will also play a lead role in shaping the Cohort 15 curriculum. He is a senior partner at New World Consulting and an expert in facilitating the development of leadership skills and the creation of high-performing organizations. José has spent the last 30 years helping a broad range of groups throughout the world build effective learning teams that function innovatively in pursuit of specific organizational results. José has been a lead trainer for a dozen previous Selah cohorts.

Michael Bell

Michael Bell, Rockwood Leadership Institute, Consultant, Selah Trainer

Alongside José, Michael will serve as a trainer and facilitator for Selah Cohort 15. He is the co-founder, president and CEO of InPartnership Consulting Inc., an organizational development and strategic change firm specializing in global diversity and leadership development. Michael is a leader in the fields of organizational development, diversity and strategic planning. We are excited to welcome Michael as a first-time Selah trainer and facilitator.

Yavilah McCoy

Yavilah McCoy, Consultant, Selah Trainer

Yavilah McCoy is the lead consultant and trainer for Selah Cohort 15. She is the CEO of the international diversity consulting group, VISIONS Inc. in Boston. Yavilah is a certified coach for the Auburn Theological Seminary's Pastoral Coach Training Program and a fellow for their Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle. Yavilah was voted one of “16 Faith Leaders to Watch” by the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. She is a certified trainer for the A World of Difference Institute, the National Coalition Building Institute, and the National Center for Community and Justice. As a career Jewish professional, Yavilah directed the launch of the “Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project” for Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Ruderman Family Foundation in Boston. Yavilah also worked for Bronfman Philanthropies as the Boston Director of The Curriculum Initiative, (TCI), a non-profit educational consultancy that serviced 600 prep schools across the nation with resources for Jewish identity and culture. Yavilah was one of the inaugural recipients of the Joshua Venture Fellowship, and the founding director of Ayecha, one of the first nonprofit Jewish organizations to provide education and advocacy for Jews of Color in the US.

Adina AlpertAdina Alpert, Selah Program Manager

Adina Alpert is the Program Manager for Bend the Arc’s Selah Leadership Program, which transforms and connects Jewish leaders and organizations to build a powerful social justice sector. In her previous role supporting CEO Stosh Cotler, she managed several internal projects related to organizational culture and norms as well as our racial equity goals. She has recently assumed the Selah Program Manager role and will be working with program founder and CEO Stosh Cotler and former program director Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block to continue evolving Selah programming, including future cohorts and Network gatherings.

Adina comes to this work with a background in education and facilitation. She served as Director of Youth Programming at Congregation Beth Am in San Diego before coming to Bend the Arc. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Adina holds a BA in Political Science and Education from UC San Diego.