Moses spoke to Adonai, saying, "Let Adonai, Source of the breath of all flesh, appoint someone over the community who shall go out before them and come in before them and who shall take them out and bring them in, so that Adonai's community may not be like sheep that have no shepherd." (Numbers 27:1517)
If only succession planning were so easy! Without relying on divine authority to select our next leaders, this awesome responsibility falls to each organization, community, and nation. Leaders don't simply appear; they must be nurtured, trained, and prepared to bear great responsibility, bring a guiding vision, and direct the fulfillment of the organization's mission.
The message in this week's Torah portion, Pinchas, reinforces what several of us learned on our Campaigner's Mission to Israel over the past week. Last Sunday, seven members of our Federation community - five professional staff and two lay leaders - joined more than 50 of our peers from across North America for an intensive professional development experience in our spiritual homeland. The mission provided a potent combination of inspiration, skill building and experiential learning, and a greater appreciation for the American Jewish contribution to life in Israel.
Our group ran the gamut from those just beginning their work with Federation to those who have been involved for decades. One of our staff members had never been to Israel before - and it was an amazing blessing to see the miracle of our homeland through her eyes. We returned home with a clearer sense of the values that bind us as a people, the holiness of our work, and the importance of providing opportunities for our local communities to perform deeds of kindness.
But sharpening our own mission and vision is not enough. As Pinchas reminds us, we must identify and nurture the next generation of leaders who will embrace our core values, recognize the many challenges ahead, and forge imaginative new approaches.
The Campaigner's Mission was a small step toward building that pipeline for the future. The Federation is developing a bold new program that will create a more comprehensive approach to leadership development. We are taking the lead in leadership development to foster hope and optimism for the future of our strong, caring, and growing community.
We all can be leaders in our own way. As Anne Frank said, we need not wait to start improving the world. Leaders have confidence and vision, and they commit themselves to intentional acts that inspire and motivate others. We all have the ability to lead, whether within our families, in our social circles, or in local institutions or organizations - and there's no need to wait for a divine assignment.
As our flock grows, so does our need for new shepherds who will lead with compassion, clarity, and competence. Together, we can create a pipeline of extraordinary new leaders who will shape the future of our community.
President & CEO