Developing Leaders Through Travel

September 19, 2023


JDC Entwine’s global immersive experiences have helped to catalyze the leadership potential of thousands of young Jews.

When Dr. Analucía Lopezrevoredo and Kimberly Ariella Dueñas met at a JDC Entwine leadership retreat in 2017, they quickly realized they had two important things in common: They were each Latina Jews proud of their unique heritage and identity, and their sense of global Jewish mutual responsibility had been sparked by international travel with JDC.

From that initial connection grew Jewtina y Co., their organization focused on nurturing Latin-Jewish community and identity, along with celebrating Latin-Jewish heritage and multiculturalism. Since its 2019 launch, it’s grown to encompass an oral history storytelling initiative, a podcast, travel and events, and the Puentes Leadership and Resiliency Fellowship, which has trained more than three dozen Latin-Jewish leaders across the U.S.

“We like to say that we have an Entwine love story, because it really did start that way,” said Dueñas, a former Global Jewish Service Corps (JSC) Fellow in Mumbai who went on to serve as an Entwine Community Representative. “It was this spark of, ‘Oh my gosh, there are people just like me, and I want to dedicate my skill set and my strength to helping other people not feel alone.’”

Jewtina y Co. — launched by two Entwine alumnae — nurtures Latin-Jewish community and identity.

Entwine’s global immersive experiences — Insider Trips, fellowships, and other opportunities in which more than 6,000 people have participated since 2008 — are often the first step in transformative leadership journeys for young Jews that often lead to stepping up at synagogues, Federations, or other Jewish community institutions.

Some, like Lopezrevoredo and Dueñas, even choose to pioneer their own initiatives.

“By democratizing leadership, Entwine is really reshaping how we think about it,” said Lopezrevoredo, also a former Entwine Community Representative. “To me, even trip participants are already engaging in a leadership experience because they’re signing up for something with intention, choosing to use their time to learn. When the time came to build our organization, I realized JDC had already given me what I needed, and I was ready to launch.”

For the JDC Entwine team, alumni-led initiatives like Jewtina y Co. speak to the success of their model — one that tracks alumni engagement over years and through a wide variety of metrics.

Entwine has a strong Net Promoter Score of +76, a benchmark that shows participants’ loyalty to Entwine through enthusiastic promotion of its programs. Alumni noted that they appreciated the opportunity to explore a new culture, connect with other Jews around the world, and grow personally and professionally. Entwine attracts a wide range of religious and racial/ethnic identities, with more than a quarter of Insider Trip participants self-identifying as JOCISM+ (Jews of Color, Indigenous, Sephardi, and Mizrahi).


“We are invested in the long game here. A sense of global responsibility for other Jews just can’t be taken for granted anymore,” said Rabbi Josh Mikutis, JDC Entwine’s Jewish learning designer and the rabbinic director of its Weitzman-JDC Fellowship, which exposes Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion rabbinical, cantorial, and Jewish education students to Jewish communities and causes worldwide. “The more leaders we’re able to give a transformational experience that makes global Jewish responsibility central to their identity, the stronger our Jewish communities will be in the future.”

West Coast Community Manager Tova Ricardo, who’s worked for Entwine for a year, said she’s been proud to see how JDC’s global work has translated into alumni returning home empowered to make a local impact.

“It’s not one size fits all,” she said. “Not everyone, when they return from a trip, is going to engage with us in the same way, but we want to provide them with the resources to connect in the way they want to.”

A strategic family philanthropy consultant in New York City, Daniel Jeydel serves as a trustee at the city’s Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side and traveled to the United Arab Emirates with JDC Entwine and REALITY in 2022.

JDC Entwine participants volunteer at a humanitarian aid warehouse in Chișinău, Moldova.

He said many say their “best college semester is the one where you studied abroad,” and Entwine travel opportunities offer that same depth and breadth — just “condensed and for an older population who can truly appreciate travel.”

“The way these trips are designed, with travel rooted in Jewish values and experiences, it’s like you’re there for a month,” he said. “In terms of having a deeper bench and building intergenerational support for Jewish communities around the world, I can’t think of a better way in.”

And for Ricardo, the catalyst Entwine provides goes far beyond JDC.

“At some point, a lot of folks who are involved with us may grow their Jewish involvement in new directions, with other organizations, communities or causes,” she said. “That’s OK — we want them to develop so they can go out and become leaders inspired by JDC Entwine to help the world.”

Learn more about Jewtina y Co., the exciting Latin-Jewish organization pioneered by two JDC Entwine alumnae.

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