Yom Chamishi, 4 Av 5774
Thursday, 31 July 2014
Celebrating Leadership PDF Print E-mail

by Lucian J Hudson

DEPENDING on your perspective, leadership has come a long way since the days of the Torah, or not changed very much at all. As a die-hard believer in progress, I am an optimist about leadership. I see everyday examples of good and poor leadership. But I can testify to how strong, subtle and sophisticated it is becoming in the right hands. What truly excites me is how most people grow when they have an opportunity to exercise leadership.

When I became chairman of Liberal Judaism three years ago, I resolved to introduce two main changes on leadership matters, based on the very strong foundations laid by my predecessor Nigel Cole. First, I wanted to encourage a more collaborative form of leadership to complement Rabbi Danny Rich’s and mine. This included developing the role of the Board of National Officers, and the other main constituents of our movement - the Rabbinic Conference, our council and our group of vice presidents.

The investment of energy and thought that went into the Biennial Weekend 2012 was a source of great joy. The contribution of our vice chairs, Simon Benscher and Jackie Richards, has been exemplary, as was Amanda Grant’s when she was deputy chair. The dynamic leadership supporting our Rabbinic Conference, in the form of Rabbis Aaron Goldstein and Shulamit  Ambalu, could not be more important.

The second change is more gradual, and will take time. It is to make every one of our members feel that Liberal Judaism gives them a taste of leadership. I would like everybody to experience the joys and tribulations of taking a lead. I can find no better description of leadership than the ability to take people or inspire them to get to a place where they need to be, even though that’s not always what they want. Difficult, frustrating, often disappointing - but we know when it has to be done.

That’s why I created the Chairman’s Award. We now have two groups of winners, from this year’s Biennial and the one in 2010. Read their stories, told by them or those who nominated them here and you will recognise that good leadership resides in any one of us who hears the call and rises to the challenge. This is what I take to mean by a “kingdom of priests”.