About Selah

What will I learn?

The Selah Curriculum integrates personal transformation, organizational optimization, and collaboration skills within a Jewish framework.

  • 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?

  • Up to seven 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).

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

What is a Selah Cohort?

A Selah cohort includes 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 or national.

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.

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 a Jew do I need to be?

Participants in Selah come from a diverse range of Jewish knowledge, background and experiences. 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 their Jewish identity. 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.

What does the word "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.

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:


Maria Ramos-Chertok, Rockwood Leadership Institute, Consultant, Selah Trainer

Maria Ramos-ChertokMaria Ramos-Chertok is a writer, workshop leader and coach.  She grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey in a purple house that her mother opened as a shelter for battered women and children in the 1970s.  Her early life was filled with political activism and exposure to social justice issues.  She came to California in 1980 to attend UC Berkeley as an undergraduate and moved to Philadelphia to attend the University of Pennsylvania School of Law (Class of 1987).  Her book, Cultural Considerations in Domestic Violence Cases (1999) was nominated for the annual Howell Heflin Award - an award given to State Justice Institute (SJI) supported projects that have a high likelihood of significantly improving the quality of justice in state courts across the nation.

Maria joined the training team of Rockwood Leadership Institute in 2007 and has worked with Selah as a webinar leader.

She has recently completed her debut novel, Rosie’s Blues and is currently working on her next book, Jobs: Life Lessons told through Paystubs.

Leslie Sholl Jaffe, Rockwood Leadership Institute, Consultant, Selah Trainer

Leslie Sholl JaffeLeslie Sholl Jaffe has over 26 years experience as a consultant and trainer across a broad spectrum of businesses and non-profit organizations.  Some of her more recent client work includes: Senior consultant and trainer for the Rockwood Leadership Institute specifically working with SEIU’s senior leadership development; Caesars Entertainment CodeGreen and the City of Las Vegas Sustainability Managers; Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy; the Human Rights Campaign Equality Leaders; and Bend the Arc.

Leslie’s work creates environments that enable people to transform their lives and achieve results.  Unlike interventions which seek only to increase skill level that impacts behavior, Leslie's work gets at the core elements that produce long-term results in individuals, teams and organization systems. By working to identify and analyze deeply held convictions which motivate decisions, behaviors and relationships with others, Leslie facilitates dramatically increased business results.  Her expertise is in organization and leadership development, curriculum design and facilitation; effective communication; meeting facilitation and coaching for personal and professional development.

Yavilah McCoy, Consultant, Selah Trainer

Yavilah McCoyYavilah McCoy is the founder of Ayecha, one of the first nonprofit Jewish organizations to provide Jewish Diversity education and advocacy for Jews of color in the United States. Yavilah is an educator, activist and spiritual teacher that has worked extensively within multi-faith communities to increase racial justice and expand equity and inclusion. She is a certified trainer for the A World of Difference Institute, National Coalition Building Institute, and the National Center for Community and Justice. Yavilah provides consulting services to a wide spectrum of agencies and communities through her directorship of Dimensions Educational Consulting in Boston.

Other Selah staff

Jason Kimelman-Block, Rabbi-in-Residence and Deputy Director, Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Jason Kimelman-BlockRabbi Jason Kimelman-Block is Deputy Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, where he works to bring the voices of progressive American Jews into the halls of power in Washington DC.  An alumn of the Selah Leadership Program’s first cohort, he has overseen the program since 2011.  He is the co-editor and co-author of
Just: Judaism. Action. Social Change and served as the Director of the PANIM Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values. He received his rabbinic ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and his B.A. in Political Science from Grinnell College.  Jason is also a founding member of Eastern Village Cohousing, where he lives with his wife Devora and their four children.

 Kayla Glick, Administrative Assistant of Programs, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice 

Kayla GlickKayla Glick is the Administrative Assistant of Programs at Bend the Arc. In this role, she supports Bend the Arc’s programs including the Selah Leadership Program and the interfaith Community Organizing Residency. Before joining Bend the Arc, Kayla was a Community Organizer at Jews United for Justice and Corps Member with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. Kayla graduated from Tufts University in 2013 with a BA in Classical Studies. 

Why is Cohort 14 focused on Jewish Leaders of Color?

Bend the Arc is committed to being part of a broader movement to counter systemic patterns of racism in the Jewish community (including our own organization) and the country. While the American Jewish community is multi-racial – current estimates are that between 10-20% of the American Jewish community identify as Jews of Color or as multi-racial – there are few Jews of Color in positions of prominent leadership within Jewish organizations and few Jewish programs dedicated to specifically serving their needs.  

The Selah Leadership Program seeks to serve and support Jews of Color who are leading within social justice movements and who value a supportive Jewish space to grow their leadership, build community, re-energize and make change.

Past participants include:

    • 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 strong 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.
    • Documentary filmmaker who directed film and created dialogue initiative highlighting Palestinian and Israeli peace activists.
    • 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.

Selah is accepting applications for our 14th Cohort, due October 12th, 2015. Apply here.

Download more information about the Selah Leadership Program

Know an outstanding leader who would be a good match for Selah? Recommend them here.

Applicants should save the following dates.

Attendance in all sessions is required for the program. 

Training 1: January 10-13, 2016 (Sunday-Wednesday); Calistoga, CA

Training 2: April 4-6, 2016 (Monday-Wednesday); Reisterstown, MD

The Selah Leadership Program is a program of Bend the Arc, in partnership with the Rockwood Leadership Institute. Selah’s generous supporters include the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Grossberg Abrams Foundation. Selah is the first leadership training designed specifically for Jewish leaders working across the social change field. Since its founding in 2004, Selah has trained more than 300 leaders from over 200 organizations. Selah participants come from diverse religious backgrounds and include secular and observant Jews who work for Jewish and secular social justice organizations.