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Lenny Silberman gives kids tools for living by integrating Judaism into their favorite activities. 
 
He also happens to build great teams, strong organizations, and enthusiastic support networks. 
 
It's a winning combination.

(Scroll down to learn how he does it.)

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Reinventing Jewish teen engagement

Lenny Silberman is the visionary founder and CEO of Lost Tribe, a groundbreaking initiative that is reversing the decades-long trend towards disaffiliation from Jewish life among Jewish teens in North America.

Lost Tribe is a durable and dynamic Jewish social network for teens that increases their participation in Jewish life and strengthens their Jewish identity.

Leveraging new media and communications channels to meet teens on their terms, Lost Tribe uses the platforms and topics teens love to embed them in a proudly Jewish space, surrounded by Jewish peers from throughout North America, Israel, and the world. 

NEWS
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Lost Tribe named to prestigious 10 to Watch list

Lost Tribe Esports earned a spot in the Slingshot 10 to Watch list for 2021. The annual list highlights Jewish organizations in North America that offer fresh ideas to address important community needs. 

“This year’s list highlights projects that are responding to unmet needs that have only intensified during the pandemic,” said Stefanie Rhodes, CEO of Slingshot, which helps young Jewish philanthropists identify and support innovative Jewish programs. “We are featuring initiatives that are mobilizing Jewish leaders and community members to address a wide range of issues.”

“This is a true validation from Slingshot,” Lost Tribe Esports Founder and CEO Lenny Silberman said. “We’re honored to be included in the ranks of the most innovative Jewish engagement organizations in the country.” 

Previous Slingshot designees include Birthright Israel, Foundation for Jewish Camp, Moishe House, One Table, and PJ Library. 

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Silberman names Michal Nodel Lost Tribe's first director of Israel operations

Lost Tribe is committed to building friendships between Jewish teens in North America and Israel, and to making Israel travel appealing and accessible to everyone in its community. In June 2021, Lost Tribe announced that Michal Nodel, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, has joined its team as director of Israel operations. Michal will help Lost Tribe build connections with Israeli teens through partnerships with other Jewish and Israeli organizations.

“For Lost Tribe, all roads lead to Israel,” says Lenny Silberman, Lost Tribe Founder & CEO. “Michal’s skillset and wealth of experience will help us grow partnerships with communal institutions and industry advisors in Israel, and significantly increase in-person and virtual engagement between North American teens and their Israeli peers.” 

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New partnership to highlight female competitors and improve inclusivity

Lost Tribe has partnered with Generation Esports to help promote diversity in esports and highlight some excellent female competitors. Generation Esports will be sponsoring Lost Tribe’s all-girls GamePigeon 8-Ball Tournament to celebrate this new partnership.

 

“Gaming is about bringing people together in the name of fun and in these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to promote respect, positivity, and fair play among today’s youth,” said Mason Mullenioux, co-founder of Generation Esports and HSEL. “That’s why we’re proud to collaborate with Lost Tribe Esports, which shares our mission to build supportive communities.”

 

“We are creating a contemporary esports environment that is, both simultaneously and distinctly, Jewish,” said Lenny Silberman, founder and CEO of Lost Tribe Esports. “Our gaming rules are guided by Jewish values, encouraging teens to reach a higher level of ethical behavior, greater sportsmanship, and a deeper sense of compassion toward one another. Creating a safe and inclusive gaming space is paramount to everything we do, ensuring that all teenagers feel welcome to participate. The Generation Esports team has been a critical partner of ours along this remarkable journey.”

Marcus Foundation recognizes Lost Tribe's potential; awards major seed grant

Lost Tribe was awarded a significant grant from the Marcus Foundation to expand services to a range of Jewish organizations. Founded in 2018 to translate the esports phenomenon into a driver of teen Jewish engagement, Lost Tribe has been providing free, safe, online tournaments and a 24/7 global gaming and social hub during the COVID shutdown, to keep Jewish organizations connected to the teens they serve.

 

Lost Tribe Esports has attracted funding as well from David Blitzer, Seth Merrin (Executive Chairman of Liquidnet Holdings); Jeff Solomon (Chairman & CEO, Cowen Inc.); and Brian Levine (former Partner, Goldman Sachs).

 

With the Marcus Foundation’s generous grant Lost Tribe Esports will expand its free services to more Jewish communal organizations throughout North America, including BBYO chapters, NCSY teen groups, JCCs, camps, day schools and synagogues, as well as pioneer direct-to-consumer, virtual events and communications channels designed to find and engage disaffiliated and affiliated Jews youth from across North America, Israel, and the world. 

Silberman honored by International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Israel

Basketball legend and Israeli Goodwill Ambassador, Tal Brody (left) and four-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Lenny Krayzelburg (right), celebrate with Lenny at Israel's Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports, in July 2017.

The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame honored Lenny Silberman with its Chairman's Award for Excellence in recognition of his decades of devoted service to young Jewish athletes and campers.   

See AWARDS, below. 

 
REDEFINING
"COACH"

If you ask Lenny Silberman what he does, he’d simply answer, “I’m just a coach.”

During the span of his professional career, his actions have had a positive effect on the lives of more than 275,000 Jewish youth, many of whom have grown up to be leaders in the Jewish community and beyond. 

While his job title and description have changed throughout the years, from Director of Sports and Recreation at the Pittsburgh JCC, to Director of the Emma Kaufmann Camp in Pittsburgh, to Continental Director of the JCC Maccabi Games and Vice President of Program Services of JCC Association of North America, to CEO of Henry Kaufmann Camps in New York, to Founder & CEO of Lost Tribe Esports, Lenny’s mission and mantra has stayed the same: “They’re all our kids.”  

 

Lenny’s career is defined by his devotion to young people and his belief in the power of sports, camping, and online community experiences to transmit values. It’s why he sits on the board and has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Israel Sports Center for the Disabled in Ramat Gan (Israel), and single-handedly raised the funds to build them a fitness room. And why he and was selected to represent the JCCs of North America as a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee. 

 

He served on the USOC for 14 years, espousing, along the way, ideas he was incorporating into the JCC Maccabi Games. Ideas like the “Rachmones Rule” (encouraging compassion and sportsmanship) and “Days of Caring and Sharing” (a break in the competition for athletes to perform community service). Ideas that may have raised some eyebrows among other committee members, but privately had them confessing they wished they could implement similar programs in their youth leagues. 

 

His actions have not gone unnoticed. Lenny has received recognition from the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Israel, the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the Western Pennsylvania Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and the National Council of Youth Sports.

 

Lenny has left every organization he encountered stronger than when he arrived. From guiding Pittsburgh JCC basketball teams to a dozen championships, to invigorating the JCC Maccabi Games, to strengthening the Henry Kaufmann Camps, and creating the powerful youth engagement engine Lost Tribe Esports, he sees the potential in an organization and knows how to get it there.

TOOLS
FOR LIVING

To Lenny, the values of sportsmanship and the values of Judaism go hand in hand. He has a gift for synthesizing the two, each informing and magnifying the other. The result invests sports, esports, and online engagement experiences with richer meaning, and makes the lessons of Judaism more accessible. It’s a message that resonates, especially with young people. 

At JCCs, at summer camps, and through the JCC Maccabi Games, Lenny’s unique approach has helped tens of thousands of kids develop tools for living, for being a good person, and for understanding the importance of community.

 

Lenny knows that nothing connects with teens like sports, gaming, music, culture, and travel. And that living, learning, competing, and performing with other Jewish teens from all over the world offers a powerful identity-building experience at a critical moment in young lives. 

 

Under his direction, the JCC Maccabi Games grew dramatically in size and reach, and expanded to offer intensive arts and Israel travel experiences along with sports. These programs give teens an overwhelmingly positive experience of what it means to be a Jew, just when they are beginning to make the choices that will determine what kind of adult they will become. 

 

Lenny’s passion translates just as easily to colleagues and peers as it does to kids and teens. His enthusiasm is infectious, and his highly collaborative approach to management generates energy, eliciting and fostering ideas from everyone on his team. In the process, he creates the kind of buy-in that makes big things happen. 

 

As an executive, Lenny is all about building bridges. Friendships come naturally to him, and just as naturally become partnerships that build community and benefit everyone involved. He’s the kind of visionary who inspires others to think big as well, and who knows how to connect the dots and turn dreams into reality.

ABOUT LENNY
LESSONS
 
Coaches do more than just win games.
Coaches teach lessons to help change lives.

There’s a time to learn and a time to teach. Through coaching, Lenny realized early on that those moments often come at the same time. And that the lessons we learn — and the ones we share — have a much bigger impact on our lives and our communities than do points on the board or who’s on top in the standings. 

Here are some examples, in Lenny’s own words:

REMEMBERING
THE MUNICH 11

In 1972, 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were murdered in Munich while participating in the Olympics. Before I became continental director of the JCC Maccabi Games, a tribute to the Munich 11 was observed at some sites but not at others, and not even every year... READ MORE

THE IMPORTANCE OF
COMMUNITY DAYS
THE STORY OF THE
RACHMONES RULE
A FITNESS CENTER
OF THEIR OWN
THE STORY OF
THE HOME RUN TORAH

One of the most important traditions I’m proud to have introduced to the JCC Maccabi Games is Day of Caring & Sharing. I knew we had an opportunity to teach our athletes that no matter how important winning or losing may feel in the heat of the moment, what’s far more meaningful in the long run... READ MORE

It was a game in 1984, and a team of older, taller boys from Baltimore was truly shellacking our younger, smaller, Pittsburgh team. They quickly led by more than 30 points, thanks to their superior size and talent — but also because they pressed their advantage in every possible way, keeping their starting players on the floor the whole time. At half-time, I turned to the other coach and said... READ MORE

One of the highlights of my career was being able to help bring a fully functional fitness center to the Israel Sport Center for the Disabled. Here is the story about how it happened... READ MORE

I’m always looking for “win-win” situations, but when I can find a “win-win-win” it’s even better. Like the one involving a game bat used by one of my heroes, Roberto Clemente; a 150-year-old Torah scroll from Iraq; and Roberto Clemente Jr... READ MORE

LENNYISMS

Lenny is a life-long learner, always willing to evolve in pursuit of being a better leader, coach, colleague, and person. He learns from his own experience, as well as from people (of all ages!) that he works with, socializes with, or mentors.

Over the years, he developed the habit of crafting these life-lessons into informal aphorisms, often appropriated from existing sayings and invested with his own meaning. These maxims guide him in his life and career, and he is never shy to repeat them whenever applicable. 

His use of these “Lennyisms” is infectious. They get picked up by colleagues and repeated, the ideas behind them becoming part of the culture of any organization or team Lenny leads.

 

Here are a few examples:

 

Little things

make big things

happen.

I cannot tell you how many times at camp I would notice a teenager spending an extra twenty minutes a day hitting a tennis ball against a wall, and then see the improvement in her game over the course of the summer.

It’s the little things that help you win.

At the end

of the day...

Some things may seem very big in the moment, but at the end of the day, they are just a blip on the radar.

They're all

our kids.

At the JCC Maccabi Games, I encouraged coaches to focus on all kids, not just the ones on their team. Our job is to make sure everyone is safe, happy, and having a positive experience.

I'm just

a coach.

Since my first days at the Pittsburgh JCC when I coached basketball, the goal was always to build a winning team, showing youth how to be good people, work hard, be a good sport, etc. Throughout my career I’ve been building winning teams… and by winning I don’t mean the final score, but rather winning in life.

Dreaming

in color

A lot of dreamers are in the clouds, but when I dream I dream in color. Never black and white -- it’s clear and vibrant, and I can see how to build it, how to make it come true. When I think about a program or activity I think about what’s going to make it snap, crackle and pop, and bring it to life.

Do the

right

thing.

We always have choices. We could do the easy thing, the thing that will benefit us the most, and often to the detriment of others. Or we could do the right thing.

Do the right thing.

It's all

good.

It is easy to panic and think that the world is going to come to an end because you made a little mistake.

You know what? It’s all good

Stay on the 

high road.

Gossip, friction, and pettiness are almost inevitable in any situation, even among “grownups.” Try to remain above it, stay focused on the big picture, and keep working toward the greater good.

How can I

be helpful?

I think my DNA has always been to be helpful to others in whatever way possible. Something I could do personally, connecting people, or just trying to help people in need. I always find you get more out of it than you put in.

Game-

changer

You don't win by following the same old strategy.

When we are retooling an offense or defense, it's not good enough to just score a few points — we want to change the landscape of the game. This is true in everything I have done. From the JCC to Emma Kauffman Camp to JCC Association and the Continental Maccabi Games to Henry Kauffman Camps, we changed the game we were playing.

Since my first days at the Pittsburgh JCC when I coached basketball, the goal was always to build a winning team, showing youth how to be good people, work hard, be a good sport, etc. Throughout my career I’ve been building winning teams… and by winning I don’t mean the final score, but rather winning in life.

I'm just

a coach.

I think my DNA has always been to be helpful to others in whatever way possible. Something I could do personally, connecting people, or just trying to help people in need. I always find you get more out of it than you put in.

 
AWARDS

International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Chairman's Award of Excellence

July 4, 2017: Ceremony at Wingate Institute, Netanya; reception at Kfar Maccabiah, Ramat Gan, Israel

On July 4, 2017, in Israel, Lenny was honored with the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame’s Chairman’s Award of Excellence, an award that has only been given out to six other people, in recognition for his “dedicated service to integrate sports and summer camp and Judaism as part of worldwide efforts on behalf the youth of today.”

Lenny is the first JCC professional to be honored by the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

The Dick Steinberg "Good Guy" Award

April 2012

Western Pennsylvania 
Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Hershey Strive Award

April 2007

Israel Sport Center for the Disabled

Special Recognition

July 2005

National Council of Youth Sports

National Youth Sports
Administrator of the Year

2005

Western Pennsylvania 
Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Ziggy Kann Award

November 1999

Western Pennsylvania 
Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Special Achievement Award

November 1994

PROFESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS
 
LOST TRIBE
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  • recognized early on the potential to build Jewish community and reach disengaged Jewish teens through online media and competitive video gaming

  • created Lost Tribe Esports, a global, year-round engagement initiative, that connects the next generation to Jewish life and identity through digital media and the community of gaming

  • launched in January 2019, Lost Tribe engaged 25,000 unique Jewish teen participants in its first two years

  • expanded far beyond gaming to connect the next generation through their interests in sports, music, art, tech, comedy, culture, and more

  • established a robust and groundbreaking social media presence that garnered 13 million views in the first half of 2021 alone

  • created online Minecraft camps for 8-12 year-olds with immersive curricula centered around Jewish holidays and "travel" to a virtual Israel

  • with over 500 Jewish teens from around the world active at any given moment on its social hub, Lost Tribe effectively created the first 24/7 year-round mifgash (encounter) experience, building bonds between Israeli and Diaspora Jewish youth

  • recognized by Slingshot as a "10 to Watch" Jewish organization in 2021

HENRY KAUFMANN CAMPGROUNDS
  • turned a sleepy, outdated organization into a vibrant and important Jewish day camp organization, welcoming over 5,000 campers and staff per day in the New York City area 

  • developed a strong, passionate, and committed board of directors

  • crafted a business relationship with a for-profit entity, providing HKC a stream of income that has become a financial game-changer for the organization

  • created a development department and a culture of giving, a first in the 60-year history of the organization

  • enhanced the partnerships, transparency, and communications between the 16 user agencies (JCC’s and Y’s) and HKC

  • built a solid team of year-round professionals and summer staff, ready, willing and able to carry out the mission and vision of the board

JCC MACCABI GAMES
AND JCC ASSOCIATION
  • developed and maintained a sponsor partnership with The Coca-Cola Company that brought a half-million dollars of annual support to the Games

  • established JCC Association’s preferred vendor program, building relationships with suppliers to bring JCCs preferred rates, superior service, professinal training, and educational programs

  • embedded compassion and sportsmanship into the culture of the Games by instituting the Rachmones Rule

  • incorporated the Munich 11 Remembrance into JCC Maccabi opening ceremonies

  • implemented Day of Caring and Sharing, a half-day of community service woven into the Games to teach tikkun olam (repairing the world) 

  • expanded from a biennial event to running Games every summer

  • grew the Games from 1,500 to over 5,000 athletes at up to six host cities every summer

  • going global: increased participation by international delegations

  • developed the Games’ lay and professional leadership

  • raised thousands of dollars for Israel not-for-profits via auctions of donated items

  • developed resident camp director leadership team to provide support for JCC camps throughout North America

EMMA KAUFMANN CAMP
  • helped save underperforming camp from being sold off by the Board 

  • grew attendance from 80 campers to over 800 in just six years

  • expanded numbers of out-of-state campers

  • developed the “EKC = Every Kid Counts” philosophy, building the camp’s reputation as a

  • child-centered environment 

  • began rebuilding the facilities, to leave a healthy camp for the next generation

  • changed camp culture via Jewish programming, and by bringing in young shlichim( emissaries) from Israel

PITTSBURGH JCC
  • expanded from a very small program to nearly 1,000 participants

  • engaged boys and girls of all ages

  • on-the-court successes: multiple all-star travel teams, and over a dozen championships, including six championships in one two-year stretch

  • only Jewish team to play in the Inner City Summer Basketball League

  • created role-model program where top older players coached younger kids

  • created programs to address important issues like substance abuse 

  • only JCC to have a parent support group, PASS (Parents are Super Supporters)

  • only JCC at the time to take a team to Israel, December 1987