President’s Corner: On Leadership

By  Jeffrey Lavine, WJC President

This month, The Review focuses on the theme of leadership. In the secular world in which we live, we celebrate the birth of some of our country’s historical leaders and reflect on what it takes to be a great leader. But leadership doesn’t just take place on the grand national stage. Leadership at the local level is very important as well. It helps to create, foster, grow and sustain communities such as ours at WJC. Our leaders do not just run the synagogue, they act as role models (to our community and their own individual families) and help to shape our future.

I am often asked how one becomes a leader at WJC. There is no one roadmap, but let me offer a few suggestions. The first piece of advice is to get involved in any way you can. Many leaders began their involvement by attending events that interested them. From there, they were either asked to join a committee to plan an event or asked by me or some other leader to get involved. Sometimes I have been asked to keep someone in mind to help in the future – which I frequently do. One of my first forays into leadership involved co-chairing the Brotherhood Blood Drive, after having attended some events and serving on a committee for a Brotherhood educational event. As leadership looks to expand committees and bring in new faces, it won’t be long until you are asked to join a committee, if you are interested.

We have some successful programs to help our new leaders. We have the very innovative Sulam for Emerging Leaders, led by Larry Thaler. This program gives our young prospective leaders a chance to learn a bit of Torah and some leadership skills with peers and one of our rabbis. It helps prepare future Jewish leaders with the tools they need to be successful. A number of Trustees and Officers are Sulam graduates.

We don’t stop the education and nurturing of our leaders there. We now have mentor and orientation programs for new Trustees and Officers. The goal is to make our new Officers and Trustees more comfortable, effective advocates in their roles and better synagogue ambassadors as they take on additional leadership responsibilities. The expression about getting back more than you give when you immerse yourself in this type of leadership is very true. We just try to help you find a way to start. I encourage anyone who wants to become more involved in WJC to reach out to me through the office or by email at president@wjcenter.org.

Let me mention a few programs and happenings of note. As you already read, our young leaders traveled to Houston this month. Yasher koach to our teens for the great service work they did and thank you to Adam Bender and all those involved in making this happen. Thank you to Myra Glajchen and Karen Everett for a special Scholar-in-Residence with Rabbi Michael Paley. If you haven’t had the opportunity to study and learn with Rabbi Paley, you’ve missed a rare opportunity to feel uplifted and think on a higher plane. And if Game Night hasn’t already occurred by the time you read this, please join us for a fun-filled evening of some games you may remember and some new ones! Special thanks to David Miller, Robin Nichinsky and the committee who created such a fun-filled event for all.

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