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Introducing Elana G. Kahn, Associate Dean for Outreach

Introducing Elana G. Kahn, Associate Dean for Outreach

Introducing Elana G. Kahn, Spertus Institute’s New Associate Dean for Outreach

By Jessica Leving

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership is thrilled to announce the appointment of Elana G. Kahn to the new position of Associate Dean for Outreach.

Working with thought leaders, organizational heads, community leaders, alumni, and prospective students, Kahn will track community and market needs, advance strategic branding and outreach, and help Spertus grow and develop new programs.

“Elana brings with her a great deal of professional experience and expertise, remarkable Jewish knowledge and sensibilities, and outstanding community-building skills,” said Dr. Keren E. Fraiman, Spertus Dean and Chief Academic Officer. “All of her talents will be put to use as Spertus Institute puts its exciting new Strategic Plan into practice, building increased opportunities for Jewish learners and leaders around the world. This Strategic Plan calls for innovation and creativity as we grow program scope, expand geographic reach, and extend the ways that Spertus, as a leading center of applied Jewish learning, leverages Jewish thought, history, and experiences to address the pressing issues and emerging needs that our communities face.”

A veteran Jewish communal professional, Kahn has been a leader in the Jewish community for the past 18 years. Before joining the Spertus team, Kahn served as the Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, where she developed and maintained relationships to protect the Jewish community, individually and collectively. Previously, as editor of the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, she worked to build community through shining a light on the community’s stories and building connection through storytelling.

When I spoke with Kahn from my shelter-in-place to hers, she said lockdown notwithstanding, she is thrilled to start this new chapter.

“What most excites me is the clarity that I’ve developed through those ‘chai’ years—to try to strengthen the ties between us, to resist partisanship while holding fast to values and ideals, to embrace klal Yisrael (the sense that we are part of one unified people), and to try always to be kind,” Kahn said.

In particular, as a Spertus alumna, she is thrilled to bring her expertise to our work cultivating Jewish leadership, expanding Jewish knowledge, and increasing engagement with Jewish knowledge and texts. “I can’t think of another Jewish educational institution that does all that from outside the denominational movements. I had been looking for a few years for the next step in my professional path, and this position ticked all the boxes — building on my skills and expertise, oriented around relationship-building, and focused on strengthening Jewish life,” she added.

A Milwaukee native who has also spent time in Salt Lake City, Boston, San Francisco, and Israel, Kahn says she is excited to enjoy the benefits of big city life in Chicago—sidewalks, weekends without cars, tons of culture, great food—all while staying close to our beloved Great Lake. In spite of the shelter-in-place order, she adds that she is currently looking for an apartment through FaceTime, e-mail, and virtual tours.

A certified massage therapist and birth educator, she also loves knitting, and has kept busy during the days inside by making head warmers and is now finishing a hat.

Kahn has two daughters, one who is living in a kibbutz in the Negev, and one who is a sophomore at Goucher College. She is moving to Chicago with her partner and is thrilled to also be closer to her two brothers who live in the area.

To reach out, email Elana Kahn at

Photo courtesy of Elana Kahn.

Friday, April 17, 2020