The Burden of Leadership


Many of you have probably followed the controversy regarding the rabbis of a prominent NYC synagogue that sent out a letter supporting the Palestinian bid for statehood. Yesterday, the rabbis backed away, stating that the statement that was disseminated was not the final, acceptable draft and they blamed it on a clerical error.
Two admissions:

1. I know these rabbis. They are among the finest in the country. Period. Their devotion to the Jewish people and to Israel is beyond reproach.
2. I too have had statements made in my name that were not fully correct. This can be both painful, misleading, and infuriating.

While I personally did not agree with my colleagues as to the substance of their argument, I fully support their right to speak out on this issue. I understand that some of their temple members will be upset. However, it is the burden of leadership to lead from in front, not from behind. The last thing we need is fearful, reticent rabbinic leadership. Take a stand, and yes, take the consequences. The Boxing Rabbi knows that sometimes when you move forward, you have to be willing to take a punch. As one of my wonderful mentors, the late businessman Albert “Bud” Haas of Chicago once said to me- “if ten percent of the congregation does not disagree with you-are are not standing up for anything!”


2 thoughts on “The Burden of Leadership

  1. Yes. Being out front (leading) and ahead of the curve is a dangerous and courageous place for members of clergy to be. I also think that many congregants, staff members, and others, will in fact respond, “how high” to a leaders call to jump.

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