Sherry and Alan Leventhal Center for Interfaith Families

Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans announces hiring of Leventhal Center Director

 

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans is thrilled to announce the hiring of Chelsea Hylton as Director of the innovative Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation Center for Interfaith Families. 
 
Launched in 2020, the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Center for Interfaith Families—an in-house initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans—is designed to foster a broader and more inclusive Jewish community through programs and community partnerships for families and households who identify as interfaith regardless of age, observances, and where they fall on the Jewish spectrum. In collaboration with area synagogues, Jewish organizations, and non-Jewish partners, the Leventhal Center creates opportunities to explore and connect to Jewish community, values, traditions, experiences, texts, and spirituality to support an individualized Jewish or Jewish adjacent journey. The Leventhal Center is made possible through a generous gift from the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation. In December, the Leventhal Center announced a partnership with 18Doors, a leading national organization which creates interfaith space and programming outreach.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Jewish Americans in 2020 report, the rate of interfaith marriage among non-Orthodox Jews is 72%. 46% of Jewish adults aged 18 to 29 are products of interfaith families, and according to Pew, are more likely to form their own interfaith households as well. 
 
"The Leventhal Center for Interfaith Families presents an incredible opportunity to build, cultivate, and nourish a foundation of support for generations of New Orleans interfaith families," said Hylton. "As a partner in an interfaith marriage and as a new parent raising our child in the Jewish community, I am eager to work toward fulfilling a need that I have sought to fill for my own family and can support many others. I look forward to getting started with outreach, building, and co-creating guiding resources and opportunities that reach across generations to deepen individual and family connection to Jewish life and in turn building a stronger community together."

The Center falls under the auspices of the Jewish Federation and is co-chaired by Teri Hunter and Alex Gershanik, who led a national search for a new director. 
  
Originally from Alexandria, Virginia, Chelsea also lived in Charleston, SC where she received her B.S. in Physical Education at the College of Charleston.  With almost a decade in New Orleans, she brings an extensive background in mon-profit management and education to her role with the Federation. She is excited to create resources and opportunities for connection, learning, and practice of Jewish values, that feel accessible and serve as an anchor point for interfaith families in the New Orleans community. 

Upon moving to New Orleans in 2014, Chelsea  served as both a K-12 enrichment and middle school English teacher. In 2016 she founded Project Peaceful Warriors, a non-profit which supports healing-centered learning spaces in New Orleans through trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness. As founding Director, she grew the organization to serve over 30 schools and community-based organizations, reaching over 15,000 young people and 5,000 educators in the Greater New Orleans area.  During this time, she collaborated with the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine to measure program impact and her work was published in the Journal of Psychology Research and  Behavior Management. She now serves as a very proud board member. 

Chelsea is a graduate of the Jewish Federation's Katz-Phillips Leadership Development class of 2019-2021, during which she built strong and lasting connections to the New Orleans Jewish community.  Her community involvement additionally includes facilitating postpartum support groups with The Fourth Trimester & Beyond, an initiative of Tulane’s Psychiatry Clinic. She is currently in the process of completing her Healthy Birth Ambassador training through Healthy Birth Louisiana, a lasting innovative, culturally-specific intervention to reduce poor birth outcomes in the state of Louisiana and beyond.

"Chelsea Hylton is such an exciting hire as the Director of the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Center for Interfaith Families—and we couldn't be happier," said Leventhal Center Co-Chairs Teri Hunter and Alex Gershanik. "She is an extraordinary human being and her work in starting and growing the non-profit Peaceful Warriors highlights her skill as an inspiring, visionary leader.  Added to her professional skill set is her personal warmth, good humor, intellect, creative and collaborative spirit, and the fact that she is a part of an interfaith family herself. She and her husband, Chandler, are graduates of the Federation's Katz-Philips Leadership Development Program—and they are both deeply ingrained in the fabric of our community. It feels like beshert. With ongoing gratitude to Sherry and Alan Leventhal for imagining and funding this Center, we welcome Chelsea Hylton as Director of the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Center for Interfaith Families."

"New Orleans is deeply pluralistic—and we see that in the number of interfaith relationships and families included in our own Jewish community," said Arnie D. Fielkow, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. It's important that we create a space which is ever evolving to serve the unique needs of a changing Jewish and interfaith community, and we're thrilled to see how Chelsea guides the Leventhal Center moving forward."

Chelsea Hylton will take the helm of the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Center for Interfaith Families next month.

The Sherry and Alan Leventhal Center for Interfaith Families is an in-house initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans working to create a broader and more inclusive Jewish community through programs and community partnerships for families and households who identify as interfaith regardless of age, observances, and where they fall on the Jewish spectrum. In collaboration with area synagogues, Jewish organizations, and non-Jewish partners, the Leventhal Interfaith Center aims to create nurturing and inclusive opportunities for people to explore and connect to Jewish community, values, traditions, experiences, texts, and spirituality to create their individualized Jewish or Jewish adjacent journey. 

 

The Leventhal Interfaith Center will provide a centralized resource and support system for interfaith partnerships and families in Greater New Orleans.

 

The four goals of the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation Center for Interfaith Families are:

 

  1. Connecting all members of interfaith households and their extended families to Jewish life

  2. Enriching and enhancing the Jewish community through non-judgmental acceptance

  3. Increasing the Federation’s visibility and connection to interfaith households in Jewish and non-Jewish communities

  4. Strengthening relationships with Jewish and non-Jewish community partners

 

The Leventhal Interfaith Center is led by an advisory council co-chaired by Teri Hunter and Alex Gershanik and made possible by a generous gift from the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation.

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