As an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1990s, Michael Tauer spent a lot of time at the campus Hillel.
It was there that he began to understand there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model for Judaism. Michael learned that Hillel is a place where — as a Jew — he could simply “do Jewish with other Jews.”
Nearly 25 years later, those words still resonate. Now a married father of three and an attorney, Michael is passionate about “doing Jewish” by volunteering with Jewish organizations that serve the broader community and help repair the world.
Through CJP%u2019s Hineni Volunteer Network — a program that matches community members with Jewish communal organizations that need governance and advisory support — Michael was connected to three opportunities to “do Jewish” in his own meaningful way. He’s now on the Board of Directors of Jewish Community Relations Council; a member of CJP’s Campaign Cabinet; and an adviser to the Hillel Council of New England.
“Being Jewish is and has always been central to my identity,” he says. “For me, being Jewish means that I’m committed to serving others through the lens of Jewish learning and Jewish philosophy. When we, as Jews, see suffering in other communities — and mobilize to try to relieve that suffering — we are doing our highest and best work.”
“Exactly what I was looking for”
Growing up in Memphis, Michael “was trained that if you’re Jewish, you support federation.” So, when Michael, his wife Sarah, and their three children moved to Boston in 2017, he discovered CJP and began making an annual gift without any connection to the organization.
After a few years in Boston, he craved deeper connection to the local Jewish community. Michael joined CJP’s Leadership Learning Circles, where he and other volunteers got a behind-the-curtain look at CJP's key strategic areas and together, considered leadership questions. From there, he was introduced to Hineni, which Michael says, “was exactly what I was looking for.”
“I knew I wanted to do Jewish community service, but I didn’t really know what that meant and where to start,” he says. “I really appreciated that through Hineni, CJP professionals talked to me and asked me about my interests, background, and skillsets. They connected me with organizations that matched up nicely and as a result, I’ve been able to form meaningful relationships with those organizations.”
Raising a hand to help
Michael joined the Hineni Volunteer Network in 2021 and then began serving on the Board of Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), an organization that advocates on behalf of the Jewish community in the broader civic space.
“I am so inspired by the work of JCRC,” he says. “I’ve just been blown away by how the staff partners with allies throughout the community to represent and advance Jewish values and priorities on difficult issues such as reproductive rights, mental health, and antisemitism. Day to day, they are showing up, working on problems, and building long-term relationships. Our safety as a Jewish people is linked to our relationship with everyone else in the world. It can’t be transactional — it must be based on mutual respect and mut