by Mordecai Holtz
As an aspiring Jewish communal professional with 6 years of professional experience, a Masters in Social Work and a Jewish Communal Certificate, I feel aptly qualified to join the discussion about the future of Jewish Communal Leadership.
Do I want to be a Jewish Communal Leader? Absolutely!
Why? Because this is the best way for me to channel my love for Jewish values, my passion and commitment to Israel and Zionism, and my ongoing desire to impact the Jewish community at large.
I realize, however, that leadership is not something that can be quantified with a piece of paper. Schools can’t teach leadership. Schools can teach engagement, they can equip us with the necessary tools to build a thriving community, and they can even offer methods of strategic growth and development. A school can identify and educate the potential leaders but actual leadership is something that each individual must develop by themselves over time.
What defines a Jewish leader? Jewish leaders are people with a passion, vision, relentless dedication to the Jewish people, creativity, superior interpersonal skills, and a dynamic willingness to change direction mid-course. Beyond all of these attributes, Jewish leaders are, and should be, active teachers.
A proactive teacher/leader is proficient in identifying the needs of a community, understands its mission and core values but is willing to explore and invest in unique, innovative initiatives to serve as the foundation for engagement. It’s a much more of bottom up model. The role of the professional is to manage these initiatives rather than introduce new ones.
As young Jewish professionals, we’ve entered the profession at a unique moment of transition. We’ve been offered the opportunity of a lifetime! The Jewish community at large is searching for ways to engage our generation. Finally, after many years of being accused of being disinterested or disengaged, we’re being invited into the board rooms. CEO’s and Executive Directors want to include us, now, because they realize we have the will power, skills and desire to ensure the continuity of the Jewish future. Let’s leverage this opportunity and help conceive a Jewish space that makes sense to us, on our terms. We can define new modes of acceptable commitment, prescribe the values that are important to us, but let’s not ignore the basic precepts and foundations of the Jewish people. Together, we can and will guide our profession towards a future of Judaism that responds to the needs of our peers, but at its core is true to the values that have allowed Judaism to thrive.
Mordecai Holtz is an experienced nonprofit professional in community organization and development, nonprofit administration and management for almost 8 years. During this time, his areas of focus have been program development, driving constituent awareness, engaging and facilitating communication, and actualizing programmatic vision with a keen eye for detail. Mordecai is well versed in social media and enjoys helping small businesses and nonprofit organizations reach their fullest online potential. Follow Mordecai on twitter @mordecaiholtz Email Mordecai.holtz @ gmail.com