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On Jewish Leadership

On Jewish Leadership

Gary Rosenblatt’s column “Exploring the Generation Gap Among Jewish Leaders” (Oct. 29) brings out both a sense of exhilaration and exasperation. Because no new Jewish startup group is alike, we cannot generalize whether they are revitalizers or temporary fads passing in a “boutique” sort of way. Innovation and creativity are welcome at the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (; we thrive on it and it helps us improve the lives of thousands of needy people. Our own younger leaders, both professional and lay, work well together on an almost limitless agenda to help the increasing number of needy in New York.

The Wertheimer report raises very important questions about the Jewish agenda and how relevant portions of it may be to the younger people in our community. In fairness, some have substantive concerns that are legitimate, and others just believe their voices should be heard above others in the “certainty” of their 20s. It is also an age where “meaning,” culture and personal expression are, for some, the most pressing concern but it is, to be sure, more of an issue of “self” than of the “k’lal [the collective].” Those who want to be impactful in a deliberate and non-ego driven way will be able to by showing they are serious and consistent.

It takes time for one to be a genuine “Jewish leader.” Creating a blog, “funky” group or website does not make someone a leader. Neither does age or even experience make someone a leader.  The American Jewish community has far fewer leaders than we imagine and certainly fewer real leaders than most believe. Being part of that community and making a constructive impact on the Jewish agenda is only the beginning. Aspiring to Jewish leadership is a great ambition, but we should not imagine that it is instantly achieved.

Executive Director
Metropolitan Council on
Jewish Poverty

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