Deborah Fishman, 28
Deborah Fishman has no loom, warp, weft or shuttle. Instead the tools of this self-described “network weaver” — who seeks to bring together like-minded Jewish activists and professionals into a strong, vibrant fabric — are the Internet, phone, conferences, face-to-face meetings and endless rounds of Jewish Geography.
Through her blog, where she interviews and profiles other professionals whom she considers Jewish network weavers, Fishman is an advocate for the whole networked approach, urging professionals, activists and institutions to be more strategic and proactive about fostering connections and communication among different people.
“The Jewish world has a lot of people in these positions, whether they know it or not,” she says. “My thinking is that if these people were conscious that what they’re really doing is network weaving and were better trained how to go about doing this, this would make everyone better able to do their job at the end of the day and be more effective.”
Fishman’s day job, as communications director at the Avi Chai Foundation, incorporates network weaving, particularly as the foundation — which is spending down its assets and over the next few years — is actively seeking partners and collaborators for its various projects. Fishman developed her passion for network weaving while serving as editor and publisher of the now-defunct PresenTense Magazine (PresenTense itself is still active, providing fellowships and support for Jewish entrepreneurs all over the world and working to integrate them into established Jewish institutions).
Fishman, who grew up in Wilton, Conn., a town with a very small Jewish population, developed much of her passion for Judaism while an undergrad at Princeton, where she was news editor of The Daily Princetonian, president of the campus Israel advocacy group, a regular at Hillel and the Chabad House — and where she met her husband, Tal.
The couple recently moved from Elizabeth, N.J., to Riverdale with their 2-year-old daughter.
So long to physics: Fishman originally planned on being a physics major and even participated in an elite summer program at the Weizman Institute, but “realized early on that physics was not what I was meant to do with my life.” She is an ardent home cook, and though Ashkenazi, she specializes in Sephardic cuisine (her Israeli-born husband is Sephardic.)