Many of your Comments, both to this Blog and in e-mails to me, on my mention of Lester Rosenberg's return home after six months of rehab where he continues his therapy, have reflected on his generosity of spirit, his friendship, his leadership, his menschekeit. These Comments, in turn, have caused me to examine, once again, the singular quality of leadership that Lester has embodied throughout his life and that must be found within every person aspiring to a leadership role. I have examined this quality before -- you must love people and that love must be evident in everything you do. Lester has it.
I was reflecting on this singular criterion at a Board meeting of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago last week. In the years since I Chaired that Board a succession of great men and women have led our community: Maynard Wishner, Art Brown, z'l, Eddie Fox, Joel Stone, Barbara Hochberg, z'l, Bob Schrayer, z'l, Manny Steinfeld, Fred Bondy, Lester Rosenberg, Midge Perlman Shafton, Harvey Barnett and David Sherman. Each of them a terrific leader, experienced in all aspects of federation life, each unique but each sharing that quality of love for People and Community that has propelled our federation forward in partnership through 30 years and counting with the pre-eminent Steve Nasatir and the great, great professional staff he has created and who are our friends and partners. You want "heroes," you want "best practices," you want role models, you want vital, robust, vibrant communities? You start with lay and professional leaders like these.
I have observed, to my sorrow, so many who aspire to leadership because they "deserve it" but because their aspirations are sadly lacking the love for people that must be part and parcel of leadership, they soon find that while they can relate to some because of their drive, their ambition, their preparation, the "magic" that will motivate others just isn't there. What have these leaders done? They formed a claque that applauded their actions, they closed the door to others. They not only bowled alone; they ate alone. Lester's love of people, his love for life, his ability to extend his arms to embrace all those with whom he came into contact, exemplified that love. I can assure you that that love continues.
Ambition for its own sake, in the end is self-defeating. Without love for people, that ambition may produce titles but will ultimately be without satisfaction. Our new leaders understand this.