by Rachel Lefkowitz, Synagogue Administrator
A rabbi I know recently wrote a piece on leadership. He noticed that some of the Medieval rabbis argue for a person who can lead with a strong sense of duty while others argue for someone who leads with joy. The rabbi then suggested that the leader who will “guide us to the better world we seek” is one who “inspires discipline and delight.”
This is an interesting twist: The job of leaders is not to be disciplined or joyful (or some combination of both) in themselves, but to inspire discipline and joy in those they lead. As Bet Ha’am has moved more fully into this pandemic, making choices and considering decisions that will sustain us over time, I have seen both discipline and joy in our community. It takes hard work to reimagine services or fundraising or education—to figure out how to do them when we can’t be in the building, and then, when they are done, to reflect on how to do them better next time. It takes joy—or if you prefer, hope—to want to offer programs in the first place. Whatever we may feel about the pandemic, we are not letting it shut us down.
The High Holy Days are coming and, as we have since March, we are preparing for them with hard work and hope. We will bring to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur our best efforts for meaningful prayer and reflection. We will combine tradition with new ideas and use technology to support both. Many of us could get caught in the grief of what we will not have—most particularly, worship in our building with our Bet Ha’am family. I will also try to remember what we still have: a community that is strong enough to foster hope even in the middle of such times as these.