Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jewish Leadership


From the pages of Kadima, the newsletter of Congregation Adas Emuno:

A Message From Our President

Dr. Lance Strate

Jewish Leadership

Whatever your political views and party affiliations may be, I think we can all agree that there is something significant about Bernie Sanders becoming the first Jewish-American to win a presidential primary. And it serves as a reminder that there is something special about Jewish leadership.

I hasten to add that there is nothing extraordinary about the fact of Jewish leadership. Not in a tradition that includes Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, followed by the likes of Joshua, Deborah, and Gideon. Our models of leadership include prophets and priests, and the kings of Israel and Judah, not to mention Judah Maccabee and Queen Esther. For most of the history of the Diaspora, rabbis served as leaders of their communities. And for the better part of seven decades, the State of Israel has given us uniquely Jewish presidents and prime ministers.

Jewish congregations, synagogues, and temples have also required members of local Jewish communities to step up and take on leadership positions, as trustees and officers. I'd like to call upon you now, taking a page from John F. Kennedy, to ask not what Adas Emuno can do for you, but to ask what you can do for Adas Emuno.

We have room on our Board of Trustees for a few more members, and there is always room for more on our committees. Virginia Gitter is the head of this year's Nominating Committee, so please contact her, or me, or any member of our board, or our clergy, if you are willing and able to serve.

Leadership is not some magical power you can only be born with, not some mystical skill acquired through arcane means. It's simply a matter of service, being willing to serve on behalf of others, to lend a helping hand. Won't you consider lending yours in the service of your community, and your fellow congregants?

Last year, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks published a book entitled, Lessons in Leadership: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible, and here are his 7 principles of Jewish leadership:

1. Leadership begins with taking responsibility.
2. No one can lead alone.
3. Leadership is about the future.
4. Leaders learn.
5. Leadership means believing in the people you lead.
6. Leadership involves a sense of timing and pace.
7. Leadership is stressful and emotionally demanding.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Are you willing to take responsibility for our congregation? Not sole responsibility, we all work together, but are you willing to join with others in taking on that responsibility? Are you willing to work together for the sake of the future of our congregation? Are you willing to join together in what is a continual learning process, as we meet the changing needs of our community, county, and country? Giving of your time and effort is not without its rewards, which includes personal growth—it is indisputably a learning experience for everyone involved.

Do you believe in our congregation, in our families, our children, our membership? Is this the right time? And if not now, when?

And let's be clear about it. It's not always easy. To give to others means also to give up something. And yes, leadership can be stressful, demanding and draining, but as Teddy Roosevelt put it, "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty." But I also hasten to add that, for the most part, things run pretty smoothly here at Adas Emuno, so there is not very much stress. And there is a great deal of satisfaction.

Jewish leadership is part of our heritage, something we share and can all take part in, as a duty, an obligation, a mitzvah. And you don't have to campaign to be President of the United States, after all. You just have to be willing to join together and lend a hand.

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