Steer for the Deep Waters Only

Lee Bolman, author of Leading with Soul, visited Hartford this week and spoke at an event co-sponsored by the Federation's Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Leadership Academy. His theme is that the most effective, inspiring leaders are guided and motivated by a higher purpose. Bolman described four characteristics of great leadership, what he called "leadership gifts":

  • Authorship - helping others paint their own canvas
  • Power - enabling others to feel they make a difference
  • Love - caring and compassion
  • Significance - finding meaning in contribution

Quoting Walt Whitman in Passage to India - "Sail forth - steer for the deep waters only, Reckless O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me, For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all" - Bolman emphasized the value of leaning in to and learning from life's challenges and sharing one's leadership gifts.

There are few who embody Bolman's admonition to lead with soul better than Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Separated from her parents during the Holocaust and critically wounded serving in the Haganah during Israel's War of Independence, time and again she steered "for the deep waters only," taking risks and seizing upon opportunities. In the process, she rose to a position where she could bestow her own leadership gifts on millions across the globe.

This week's Torah portion provides a related insight. In Ki Teitzei, we are commanded "Do not see your kinsman's donkey or his ox fallen on the road and ignore it. Help him lift it up." Rabbi Jonathan Sacks comments that "On the face of it, this is one tiny detail in a parsha full of commands. But its real significance lies in telling us what a covenant society should look like. It is a place where people are good neighbors and are willing to help even a stranger in distress. Its citizens care about the welfare of others. When they see someone in need of help, they don't walk on by."

At Federation's HINENI event on September 24th, Dr. Ruth will share her leadership gifts with our community along with outstanding faith leaders and Federation partners from other communities who are leading with soul, inspiring others and making a difference in these challenging times. We look forward to seeing many of you there.

Shabbat Shalom!


David Waren
President & CEO


Carolyn Gitlin
Board Chair

Photo caption: The Star of India, built in 1863, is the oldest ship still sailing today.