Engage Jewish Leadership

The Importance of Leadership

Tribalism is a human tendency.   It offers individuals a community that can support them in their life struggles and uncertainties, as well as provide protection from hostile tribes. Tribes compete and collaborate for protection and gain. Historically, human warfare has been about tribal conflict. In modern times, warfare has mostly been replaced by politics, tribal political competition for power and influence.

The most lethal Jew-hatred results from tribal politics. Today in America, tribal conflict is labeled “identity politics.” Christian pogroms, Islamic Jihad, and Nazi extermination camps all made the role of Jewish leadership a near-impossible task of mostly minimizing the casualties. Even so, despite their perennially beleaguered condition, the Jewish people have produced some amazingly strong leaders.

A successful leader demonstrates six major virtues: courage, intelligence, trustworthiness, moral clarity, discipline, empathy. In addition, a true leader will always sacrifice any personal interests for the sake of the group.

Today, effective Jewish leadership is especially critical as Jews have come under ideological and physical assault.  Sadly, Jewish leaders are failing to effectively protect their communities.  Many of them sense the current danger, and many even sense their failure; yet they are struggling to develop new strategies.  We must join together and work with our leaders to develop new and better strategies.

Action Items

You should first organize local teams to challenge ineffective local leadership.  The teams should be composed of people with a bias toward action and a can-do attitude.  Your team should come with an understanding that this is not an easy task.  It has few guarantees of success.  Persistence and experimentation are critical.  We can’t know in advance what will be effective.  Outlined below are some key elements of an initial plan by the team members with several modest objectives mostly focused on ascertaining the nature of your local leadership and selecting community issues to address

Step 1:  Identify the most influential Jewish organizations and individuals in your area.  These may include the local arm of the Federation, the JCRC, and the JCC.  In some communities it will include synagogue leadership consisting of rabbis and Boards of Directors that hire them.

Step 2:  Initiate a (new) dialogue with your local leaders by asking them to explain their plan to protect the Jewish community from demonization and physical assaults.  Our form letter is provided as a model, but use your own words as much as possible.  Inform us about the leaders’ response(s) so that we could advise you regarding the next steps.

Step 3:  Review organizational websites and newsletters for their priorities based on what initiatives or campaigns they are promoting.  For each major initiative not directly related to the protection of the Jewish people, ask your local Jewish leaders: (a) ​how does this initiative/program/policy benefit the Jewish community? and then, (b) what is the criteria for deciding which issues deserve precious Jewish resources?

Step 4:  Evaluate the quality of your leaders by completing our “Evaluate Your Jewish Leaders” rating form (you can do it online or download a Microsoft Word / PDF document and email it to us at info@jewishleadershipproject.org).

Step 5:  Identify what you consider three major failures of Jewish leadership that most concerns you as it relates to the protection of the Jewish community from demonization, dehumanization or physical assaults.

Step 6:  Identify three changes Jewish leadership needs to make in order to increase its effectiveness in protecting the Jewish community.

Step 7:  Based on the information you provide we will help you create a Demand Campaign to influence/pressure your local leadership to make the changes you seek.  This will involve explaining to the community and to the local leaders why the change is needed.  This may involve (with our help if needed) the use of local ads, petitions, social media and other actions.

Join us as we challenge the establishment Jewish leaders and the donors who have supported and enabled them but failed to hold them accountable.