Rebuilding for a brighter future

For decades, the Jewish communities of the Former Soviet Union were repressed—but they never disappeared. Today, these Jewish communities are experiencing an astonishing revival, and the Kaplan Leadership Initiative fellows from the region are leading the charge.

This year’s Kaplan Fellows include 16 leaders from the FSU, providing Jewish perspectives from across the region. In between seminars, our FSU fellows take part in valuable mentoring and professional guidance training, helping to bring the Initiative’s concepts into action in every represented community.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Kaplan Leadership Initiative in the Foemer Soviet Union is collaborately led by JDC-FSU and JDC Israel Institute for Leadership and Governance. The Global seminar is hosted and led by the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicgao, USA.

Kaplan Leadership Initiative Fellows fulfill the following requirements:

  • Between 25-40 years old.  
  • Hold an academic degree
  • Currently employed in a professional, full time position within the Jewish community in the FSU, Europe or Latin America.
  • At least 5 years of professional experience in Jewish communal/educational frameworks.
  • Speak and understand English at a sufficient level.

The Kaplan Leadership Initiative is funded almost entirely by Ed and Carol Kaplan, excluding visa fees, travel insurance and transportation to local airports.

For FSU and Europe fellows, the following costs are covered by the Kaplan Leadership Initiative:


  • Round trip tickets to international seminars
  • Airport transfers within the city where the seminar is run
  • Same-gender shared accomodation during seminars
  • All meals during seminars
  • Various activities during seminars

Applicants who meet all the qualifications (detailed above) will be notified by program staff in a timely manner. Applicants can expect to interview with several Kaplan Leadership Initiative staff members; the selected participants will be notified well before the beginning of each year’s program.

Each cadre of fellows participates in the initiative for one year. This period includes three regional seminar and one international seminar which is held in Chicago, USA. These seminars generally last several days and include intensive skills training, collaboration and, of course, time to get to know each other. Outside of these four seminars, additional activities, meetings and learning opportunities are defined by the local partner organization.

Kaplan Leadership Initiative fellows all live in one of three regions: the Former Soviet Union, Latin America or Europe. Applicants must apply to participate in the fellowship in the geographic region in which they live. If you live in Moscow, for example, please apply through the FSU page of this website.

Fellows who participate in all 4 seminars and complete all program tasks will be awarded the Spertus Certificate in Global Jewish Leadership, issued by the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.

Yes. But please note that most of the content provided during the seminars and training is  in English, and the international seminar in Chicago is conducted solely in English. You must be proficient enough in English to understand and absorb the content of the training, and to communicate with other peers. The Kaplan Leadership Initiative will provide English classes as part of the training.  

 #1 seminar – 10-14 March – Tbilisi, Georgia
 #2  seminar –  2-6 June – Jerusalem, Israel
 #3 seminar– Full-week in November at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership
 #4 seminar – 23 –  27 February 2020 – KazanRussia

Yes! If you meet all the criteria, we encourage you to re-apply.

Got a question not covered here? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to find out anything you need to know.

We do not accept new applications at the moment.  If you would like to receive notification, please leave a message via Contact Us form.