Jen Vegh has been recognized as an emerging leader in her field with strong experience and a “desire for growth” by the Ruskay Institute, a project of UJA-Federation of New York, which engages rising Jewish leaders inextensive professional development. Vegh, who serves as Director of Youth and Family Engagement (Religious School and Youth Community) at Beth El Synagogue Center in New Rochelle, was one of 24 professionals chosen for the honor. Over 70 professionals were invited to apply based on their interest in personal growth and achievements thus far in their careers. “I am so very honored to join together with this diverse and talented cohort of Ruskay Fellows, who come from every corner of Jewish professional life,” she said. “I really can’t wait to learn with the leaders, educators and professionals in what is surely an incredible and thoughtful curriculum.”
The Ruskay Institute was founded in 2014 in honor of Josh Ruskay, the former executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation of New York. Candidates are required to be passionate, committed and knowledgeable of Jewish communal life, and have between four to nine years of professional experience working in the Jewish nonprofit sector. Once selected, fellows are given, among other benefits, leadership assessments and development, professional coaching, and access to a network of leaders and colleagues from diverse organizations.
Penina Grossberg, the program manager for the Ruskay Institute for Jewish Professional Leadership, explained the cohort includes professionals from a range of organizations, including synagogues, Hillel, JCCs, established institutions and start-ups. “Fellows work in different areas of Jewish life (education, cultural arts, health and human services, philanthropy) and are located across New York City in Manhattan, Queens, Long Island and Westchester,” she said. “We are thrilled to convene a diverse group of passionate and talented professionals who offer great promise for our future.”
Vegh joined Beth El as its Religious School and Youth Activities Director in June 2011. In 2015, she became Director of Youth and Family Engagement. “Jen has been an integral member of our team from the moment she came here. We couldn’t be prouder,” said Erica Leventhal, Beth El’s Executive Director. “She’s very deserving of this honor - a proven leader who is passionate for Jewish life and learning, and the entire Beth El community.”
Vegh received a master’s degree in Jewish Education from the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). She also went to JTS for her undergraduate studies, as a student in List College, the joint program between JTS and Columbia University. She holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in Jewish music and one in sociology.
In 2016, Vegh was awarded the Jewish Education Project’s Young Pioneers Award. In addition to her work at Beth El, she serves as a mikvah guide for Immerse NYC and a mentor for new congregational educators. She lives in New Rochelle with her husband and two children.
Reiterating her excitement to get started at Ruskay, Vegh said, “Surrounding myself with colleagues who are driven by passion, mission, and a desire to continue learning and growing is a central value of my professional career.” She continued, “I look forward to bringing the enrichment I experience through the Ruskay Institute back to my Beth El community.”