Joey Small has almost two decades of experience in Jewish education and philanthropy. He currently serves as the Director of Institutional Advancement at Frisch overseeing and managing the Future of Frisch $18M capital campaign alongside the school’s other development efforts. Prior to FRISCH, he served in leadership and development positions at Yeshiva University, Azrieli Graduate School and YULA High School. Joey is passionate about community involvement, serving on his shul board and teaching tefilla and has served as a as a teacher and facilitator at City College of New York, NYU Hillel, BJE, and the Manhattan Jewish Experience. Joey and his wife Dana live in Teaneck with their four adorable boys.
How did you get started with your Jewish community work?
I approached YU President Richard Joel about an idea that I thought would greatly benefit Jewish day schools across the country as well as recent YU graduates. He liked the idea and said that if you want to see it happen then you need to come work at YU and make it happen. And, I did.
If you had a year off and an extra million dollars to tackle a big problem facing the Jewish community - what would it be and why?
I have become passionate about helping students find meaningful ways to connect to their Judaism through Tefilla. I would bring educators and students together for retreats and conferences to discuss ways to make Tefilla more engaging for teenagers and young adults.
Tell us about an epic failure or setback you’ve experienced in your work. What did you learn from that experience?
I am not sure I have a single epic failure that I can point to, but I do believe that one should try to make each day of life about learning and making yourself better as an individual and as a professional. If you learn from your mistakes then I don’t believe that failures and setbacks are a bad thing, but rather they are opportunities to learn from. An opportunity I learned from was launching an alumni club for a high school that sounded great on paper and had the buy in of a select number of alumni, but did not end up gaining more than 25% of our target audience involved. I learned that it is really hard to find things that speak to everyone (even with diverse programming) and that while big audacious goals are wonderful, it is also important to be realistic about what success looks like for any new program from the outset.
What person (or people) has had a particularly big influence on your Jewish communal work?
I have often been deeply inspired and influenced by colleagues that have also chosen to work in Jewish communal work/Jewish education. They are usually the ones who provide the inspiration, whether intentionally or just as a byproduct of their regular behavior, to persevere through any work-related challenges.
What advice would you give to other young people who want to make more of an impact on the Jewish community?
I think it was Ghandi who said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. Or just put on some Nike gear that says, Just do it!
If you had a MyTzedakah portfolio, what would be very important for you to include in it and why?
My portfolio is most heavily based on the institutions that support my family’s religious and educational growth. This includes our school, shul and local organizations as well as a number of organizations that connect us to our brethren in Israel and around the world.
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