You are here

Letter from the President—Winter 2015

Letter from the President—Winter 2015

Turning the Corner — Education and Rededication

Readers who have followed recent news about Spertus may have heard about a change in our financial position. In this column, I would like to speak to this issue with candor and transparency.

Shortly after we moved into our magnificent building, Spertus fell victim to the economic recession that challenged businesses and organizations locally and across the country. While much of our financial trouble was the result of external factors, some was undeniably of our own making.

Since then, we have taken steps to right our ship, restoring economic stability and long-term viability. We reduced personnel costs, adjusted our programmatic footprint, balanced our budget, and raised an additional $24,000,000.

Committed as we have been to this financial turnaround, we never made fiscal stability an end in itself. Throughout, we have remained unapologetically focused on the advancement of our core programming — adult Jewish learning and the training and development of communal leaders.

In September, we completed a refinancing of our facility, removing the existential threat hovering over our building. This would not have happened without the combined efforts of our Board of Trustees, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, a tenacious team of professionals, generous donors, dedicated attorneys, and the many contributors, patrons, and students who support us.

To be sure, challenges are not over. The new normal facing nonprofit organizations means that fiscal concerns are never far away. The need for annual support — for increased scholarship dollars, for endowment funds to guarantee the efficacy of our arts and cultural offerings, and for resources to expand our leadership programming — has not diminished. On the contrary, needs have grown, commensurate with our expanding reputation across North America and around the world.

But Spertus Institute’s future is no longer in doubt. We have turned the corner and are extremely grateful. Hanukkah, which literally means “rededication,” shares the same Hebrew root — hnkh — with the word for “education.” At this season of the year, and at this time in our history, Spertus, a premier Jewish educational institution, is proud to rededicate itself to fiscal integrity and the critical work of adult Jewish learning and leadership.

Dr. Hal M. Lewis

Dr. Hal M. Lewis
President and CEO
Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership

Read The Leading Edge, Dr. Hal M. Lewis’ blog about Jewish leadership.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Dr. Hal M. Lewis

Dr. Hal M. Lewis is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. A recognized expert on Jewish leadership, he has published widely in the scholarly and popular press. His books include Models and Meanings in the History of Jewish Leadership and From Sanctuary to Boardroom: A Jewish Approach to Leadership. He can be reached at