Friends, while I am away on our 2017 Men's Mission to Israel, I have asked Heather Fiedler, our Federation's Associate Vice President of Jewish Education and Leadership, to share her thoughts on this week's Torah portion, which is rich in leadership lessons. Shabbat Shalom. - Howard
"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." This quote from the philosopher Martin Buber resonates profoundly when reading this week's Torah portion, Shemot. In this first portion of the book of Exodus, we are introduced to Moses, his family, and our people's enslavement in Egypt.
Arguably one of the greatest leaders in our history, Moses had an interesting start to his journey - and he probably would never have guessed his ultimate destination. In Chapter 2 of Exodus, we read of Moses' birth. In verses 10 and 11, we are told twice that Moses grew. Why would the Torah, which is so concise with its words, repeat a concept in such a short period of time? Many commentators believe the repetition indicates different types of growth. In this view, the first time, Moses grew physically. The second time, he matured or understood his responsibilities toward his people - the first step on his journey to becoming a leader.
Are great leaders born? Is there something innate that makes them become leaders? Or is good leadership a result of nurturing or circumstance? There is likely no clear answer to that. However, we do know that the best leaders observe the world around them. They watch, read and think about the issues about which they are passionate. They put the people or organizations they care about in the center as they effectively communicate their core beliefs, so that others are inspired to join them on the journey. They seek out others who can help inform them. And, most of all, they continue to learn and grow.
At Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, we believe leadership development is a process. Through programs, seminars and individualized consultations, we help leaders and emerging leaders develop the skills they need to become part of a healthy and effective leadership team. Like Moses, each participant will grow in more than one way. And just as Moses probably never envisioned leading the Israelites to freedom, each developing leader will discover his or her own "secret destinations" along the way. But collectively, all of our developing leaders emerge ready to guide, inspire and motivate the people and institutions they serve, creating a community that is reflective of its members and rich with the wisdom of Judaism.
Associate Vice President, Jewish Education and Leadership
Photo credit: Julian Bender