May 29, 2018

What I Learned at Borinsky AM

Michelle Retik Borinsky Program Participant

It’s hard to put into words my recent experience participating in the Borinsky program. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was delighted to have been invited to join, and I said yes without hesitation. Luckily for me, it was more than I could have imagined.

The eight-week Arthur Borinsky Young Leadership Series exposes a select group of rising leaders to different aspects of the Federation world. In its morning session, sponsored by Women’s Philanthropy, we delve into the Federation allocation process, the valued role of leadership in the community, and the missions of various local and overseas agencies.

The first meeting focused on getting to know one another. Each of us had a different reason for wanting to participate and we each hoped to gain something different from the eight weeks ahead. Yet we all had a common desire – wanting to be more involved in our Jewish community – and we easily bonded immediately. Personally, as my children have gotten older and have aged out of religious school, I was looking for a new connection to my Jewish community. I knew Borinsky was going to provide that for me.

Every Thursday we learned about all the ways in which Greater MetroWest improves the lives of people in need, both within our immediate community and around the world. More importantly, we were learning about how we could get involved. I not only learned a lot at each of the eight sessions, but I often was spurred to action afterwards.

One of my favorite sessions was held at the JCC MetroWest in West Orange where we engaged in “speed dating” to learn quick facts about many of Federation’s partner agencies. I was shocked how many great programs existed that I had never heard of! My favorite discovery was the WAE Center in West Orange, a holistic, creative and expressive art center for people with disabilities. I was so impressed with what they were doing at this agency that I drove there immediately. We now have an amazing painting hanging in our home, painted by one of the WAE Center artists.

At another session, we learned how our Federation helps Israel. The session was presented by some of the shlichim (young Israeli emissaries) who serve to educate adults and children in our community about Israel. I was so inspired by these shlichim (or Rishonim as we call them in Greater MetroWest), that my family now plans to host a Rishon from Israel this fall, which will be a great experience for my kids.

Completing the Borinsky program was bittersweet. I know it is just the beginning of my involvement in the Greater MetroWest community, although I miss my Thursday morning group. The most important thing I have learned is: the more involved I become and the more time I give, the more rewarded I will be. I’m looking forward to the opportunities that lay ahead for me!

Michelle Retik is the owner of Squirrel and the Bee, a grain- and gluten-free bake shop in Millburn, which has become a favorite local meeting spot for many women in Women’s Philanthropy, especially since its products are certified kosher and are even kosher for Passover. In January, Michelle graciously hosted a Women’s Philanthropy Lion of Judah Impact Series event at her shop.