The Odyssey of an American Jewish Leader

by Irwin Hochberg
with Joshua M. Sklare

One evening in the fall of 1979, Irwin Hochberg was sitting in his office. New York City had undergone several tough and trying years but as he looked out his window at its impressive skyline, the city seemed to be beaming with pride. He had just returned from an overseas trip to Israel, a UJA mission, which consisted of a group of active lay leaders touring some of the poorer sections of the country.

As I grew older, I found I had a tremendous desire to immerse myself in a new kind of endeavor in the Jewish and Zionist world, one that emphasized issues and advocacy rather than philanthropy. As this chapter will indicate, I satisfied this need through my involvement in several different types of organizations. I held leadership positions in several think tanks and policy-oriented entities focused on Israel on the Middle East. I also became more involved in education, originally through lay leadership at the American Friends of the Open University. Later, I also became interested in outreach to groups I had previously had only limited contact with: one was a group of young, unaffiliated Jews; the other, a group of highly committed Evangelical Christians.

Many of these issues-oriented groups are fairly small and new to the scene; whereas I’d earlier been involved with large national organizations with established histories. As I advance in years, I find I want to share my experiences in organizational leadership with others and see if I can leverage my experience and knowledge to help some worthy groups advance and expand. Jewish leadership is, at its core, service for the greater good. Once one establishes for oneself, as I believe I have, what that greater good is, one is able to actively participate in moving deserving enterprises forward.


Montefiore Press