Michelle has been an active leader in the Boston Jewish community for over 20 years. She currently serves on the boards of Gann Academy and The Rashi School, where she serves as a community builder, strategic advisor and champion for expanding the reach and impact of our local Jewish Day Schools.
Michelle is a past recipient of CJP’s Young Leadership award and was recently presented with the Circle of Excellence Award for her commitment and passion to Jewish communal Service. She has previously served on the board of CJP, is a past participant of the Acharai Leadership Development program and alumni of JFNA’s National Young Leadership Cabinet.
Originally from San Francisco, Michelle moved to Boston to earn her MBA from the Harvard Business School. Professionally, she worked as an organization and change management consultant, with a focus on leadership development, change management, corporate strategy and organizational design. She now applies her business skills and experience to strengthen and support the local Jewish, non-profit community.
Michelle lives in Waban with her husband, Darren, and their 4 children, Evan (age 17), Scott and Emily (age 14), and Alex (age 12).
Why TRIBE TALK?
As a family we have prioritized the importance and value of a Jewish education for our children. We have appreciated the strong Jewish foundation they have received as students at Rashi and Gann and have reinforced these Jewish values within our home. Each child has a strong Jewish identity and a set of guiding values that will help guide them through the world. At the same time, it is clear that as my son is not adequately prepared to defend Israel, especially when confronted with antisemitism and anti-Israel bias. This is not the fault of our Jewish Day schools system. Rather, it is a broader communal responsibility to ensure that our kids know the full story and learn to love Israel with all of her challenges. A nuanced understanding of the current situation both in Israel and on the college campus requires a targeted educational approach along with a tool-kit to respond.Michelle Black
Robin is an attorney and Jewish community leader. As a dedicated community volunteer, Robin works with national and local Jewish communal organizations. She volunteers with Stand With Us, Jewish Family and Children’s Services and Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. She is a former Board member of the Donna Klein Jewish Academy, as well as a past PTO co-President. She has co-chaired the Spirit and Spice series for the Federation of South Palm Beach County, served as co-chair of the Lawyer’s Team for Combined Jewish Philanthropies, and is a past participant of the Acharai Leadership Development Program.
Robin concentrated her legal practice in employment law, dealing with issues involving sexual harassment and discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, and national origin. She currently engages solely in pro bono work, most recently representing victims of domestic violence seeking restraining orders. She is a recipient of the Volunteer Lawyers Project Award. She has been published by the Boston Business Journal and quoted by the Boston Globe, and has lectured on the Americans with Disabilities Act, discrimination laws, and sexual harassment.
The idea for Tribe Talk began for me when a Jewish college student, of whom I think very highly, admitted that she was hiding her Jewish identity. This is a woman who had attended Jewish day school, and I wondered how this could be possible. I began educating myself about what was really happening on college campuses, and I learned that, while some students never experience discrimination, others are deeply affected by both antisemitism from the right and anti-Zionism from the left. Jewish college students today have to contend with everything from mezuzot being torn down from door frames and swastikas sprayed on buildings to finding that denouncing Zionism is a litmus test for student government or participating in any social justice cause. Thesestudents are asking why they hadn’t been prepared for the campus environment.Perhaps even more importantly, many do not know of all of the worthwhile organizations that are available to them to help create a more meaningful college experience, and that can assist them if they do experience a problem. We created Tribe Talk to address these issues and help our students feel empowered when they arrive on campus.Robin Friedman
A Boston native, Judith (Jude) has been involved with the Boston Jewish community for over 30 years. Jude spent much of her professional career working in real estate development and management and had the privilege of working with her father and sister as they managed the family real estate. At the birth of their second child, Jude decided to leave the family business and dedicate her time to raising her two children and overseeing the care for her aging parents. This also afforded her the opportunity to engage in myriad of organizations, non-profits, both of her son’s Jewish day schools, The Rashi School and Gann Academy and Temple Israel of Boston the family synagogue.
Jude currently serves on the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA) National Women’s Philanthropy Board and on the JFNA Advocacy Corps. She most recently served on the Executive Board of Combined Jewish Philanthropy (CJP) as President of Women’s Philanthropy and as immediate past President, and served on the Women’s Philanthropy Executive Board. She currently serves on the CJP Presidents Advisory Council. Jude served for 15 years on the Executive Board of Jewish National Fund. She is an alum of the Jewish Federation of North American (JFNA) National Young Leadership Cabinet. Jude chaired JFNA/Washington Conference in 2004, the single largest gathering of young Jewish people convening to repair the world and was instrumental in working in May 2022 in reestablishing the return of the Washington Conference to JFNA in its leadership conference offerings from its over a decade hiatus. Jude is also an alum of the Leon and Cynthia Shulman Acharai Leadership Program founded in Boston and a Young Leadership and CJP award winner. Jude is a community connector, dedicated volunteer and fundraiser.
Jude lives in Newton, MA with her wife Aviva and family.
I had the privilege of growing up in a modern orthodox home and along with my 4 siblings attended Maimonides Jewish day school. I learned from my parents the importance of having a strong Jewish identity rooted in Jewish values and in reinvesting in the community. To that end, my wife and I have worked hard to instill the importance of these same values with our children and have sent them to Jewish day schools and Jewish summer camps. We have taken and sent them on trips to Israel and educated them on the importance of what it means to have a strong Jewish identity that they can be proud of as they grow up and lead their adult lives. Even with all these educational and learning opportunities our kids have been afforded the world has become even more complex and challenging to navigate for Jews today. During our fact finding before launching TribeTalk, we discovered that many students with similar educational backgrounds as our kids shared they too wanted to understand the more nuanced perspective on what it means to be Jewish in the ever growing complex world that has become more toxic toward Jews. Our goal is to provide the resources in which to help our students gain the knowledge, insight and understanding that they seek to lead a more fulfilling and enriched life as proud Jewish students on campus and beyond.Judith T. Sydney