Yom Shabbat, 8 Heshvan 5775
Saturday, 1 November 2014
Building on the Strategy Day

by Lucian J. Hudson, Chairman of Liberal Judaism

The collective leadership of Liberal Judaism started 2013 with a Strategy Day, an important start in bringing together members of the Board of National Officers, representatives of Rabbinic Conference and local communities and some of our vice presidents. This is the model of collaborative leadership that best fits the character of our movement – independent-minded yet co-operating on shared values and objectives.

The timing could not be better. Liberal Judaism is on a roll with 39 communities, a thriving youth movement, a balanced budget and the national organisation legally incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. The inspiring outreach programme of Rabbi Anna Gerrard and her team is a strong example of delivering results on the ground.

Last year’s Biennial Weekend was a resounding success. Yet many of us feel that we could do better still, particularly in three areas: developing our vision and voice; making an even more distinctive contribution to Judaism and wider society; and supporting our communities and individual Liberal Jews in their journey. The three areas are, of course, intimately connected.

The Board of National Officers is now working through specific ideas that Strategy Day discussed, by stepping up the pace in developing a strategic plan and improving the functioning of its main leadership bodies, especially communication between them.

The Torah is a source of eternal wisdom, especially when read in connection with contemporary and historical references. It invites a dialogue, not least in what it does not say. As Jews we tap into a particular tradition where every generation produces leadership of its time, and for its time – and sometimes ahead of its time.

The Torah has a telling ‘strategy and management’ moment when Moses is challenged by his father-in-law, Jethro, to ease the burden of his leadership and delegate. This encounter carries at least three lessons: Moses could not lead or manage alone; it took an outsider to tell him; and Moses was wise and shrewd enough to realise he had to change.

Moses was humble and imperfect in his leadership, yet a credible and trusted leader who demonstrated courage and tenacity. He was shown the Promised Land, and told that he would never reach it. This is one of the most precious insights that Judaism has bestowed on Western civilisation: that sometimes enough is plenty, because the work is not just ours to do. Others in this generation, and future generations, will build on today’s achievements.

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