On Tuesday, nearly 40 representatives from 16 cities across the country joined together at the Renaissance Schaumberg Hotel and Convention Center for Agudath Israel of Illinois’ annual Midwest Agudah Lay Leaders (M.A.L.L.) conference. Historically, the conference has proven to be a powerful catalyst for innovative initiatives and collaborative efforts that have strengthened Torah communities in the Midwest and beyond.
During the morning session, Rabbi A.D. Motzen, Agudath Israel of America’s national director of state relations, Rabbi Labish Becker, Agudath Israel of America’s executive director and Mrs. Rivkie Feiner, CEO of Universal Communications Network, discussed obtaining government funding and foundation grants. Rabbi Motzen discussed the various funding opportunities for private schools and security grants and offered to conduct a personalized review for each community if requested. Over the years, Agudath Israel has played a role in generating millions of dollars in federal and state funding for private school students. Rabbi Becker spoke about the importance of grant compliance and later shared additional advice culled from his more than thirty years of experience in the nonprofit world. Mrs. Rivkie Feiner focused on general advice for organizations considering grant funding. To view the pdf of her presentation click here.
Prior to lunch, Rabbi Avraham Chaim Levin, Rosh HaYeshiva of Telshe and a member of Agudath Israel of America’s Council of Sages, inspired the attendees with a message about their unique mission in their individual communities.
The afternoon keynote presentation was delivered by Rabbi Baruch Ber Bender, founder and president of Achiezer. Rabbi Bender shared his experiences in building a powerhouse institution that serves the needs of thousands, and gave practical guidance on how to balance idealism and pragmatism with a dose of ingenuity.
In addition, the attendees learned about the various activities of Agudath Israel of Illinois. Executive board member, Rabbi Yosef Knopf, shared the latest developments in youth programming while Rabbi Yaakov Robinson, executive director of Agudath Israel’s Midwest Council of Synagogue Rabbis, discussed the impact of the council. Lastly, Rabbi Yitzchok Ehrman, COO of Agudath Israel of Illinois, spoke about the 2017 Midwest Agudah convention and how each community can play a role in ensuring a successful event.
The most important aspect of the conference was the networking and sharing of ideas between communities. Rabbi Yossi Hartman, Agudath Israel of Illinois’ program coordinator who organized the conference commented that “the real work began the moment the conference was over. I look forward to the next M.A.L.L. conference where we will surely hear about the success stories that come about directly because of this meeting.”