Monday, November 16, 2009


Should we just remain passive observers when that which we created, that which we contribute to, fails to serve the interests of its owners? This is, of course, a rhetorical question. The results of passive observation these past five years are crystal clear. The antidote is insistence by the owners -- be they the owners of federation or The Jewish Federations of North America -- on active engagement...NOW. There are, as always in Jewish life, precedents.

First and foremost, there was, before my time, the emergence, within the Council of Jewish Federations, of those who became known as the "Young Turks." These then young leaders, most of whom were graduates of the UJA Young Leadership Cabinet, demanded a seat at the leadership table. The establishment blanched in horror -- and gave them seats. Those young leaders became the leaders of their federations and the national organization. Today, we have no perceptible group of "Young Turks." We have men and women who have stood up for principle, but too few...too few. We have more of a "get along to go along" generations of passive observers. These are men and women, not only fully capable of demanding a seat at the table but those who have already earned those seats. But, unlike their predecessors, the potential "Young Turks" of 2010 believe in (a) a leadership gentility -- if we don't rock your boat today, you won't rock our boat tomorrow and (b) letting the few others do the heavy lifting.

I fear for any organization where those who aspire to leadership actually articulate that "this (and it makes no difference what "this" is) isn't worth fighting for" and when challenged as to "what would be worth fighting for" respond with a shrug. Trust me, a good fight over matters of principle is energizing and can actually bring an organization together; because when the argument is resolved, after healthy, respectful debate, the organization will coalesce behind the decision and move forward...yachad.

Try it; you may like it.


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