Encouraging Leadership with Both Hands
By Celia Tedde and Jeremy Cronig
“Da lifnei mi atah omeid–know before whom you stand.” This quote from Talmud B’rachot 28b has been the central focus of our experience in the Leadership Academy at the URJ Kutz Camp.
This summer, we spent four weeks in Warwick, NY learning and developing our leadership skills. The URJ Kutz Camp gives teens the opportunity to study by choosing from a variety of majors and minors, including some that focus on growing as Jewish leaders within the community.
As NFTY regional leaders in the Leadership Academy major, we spent a lot of time engaging with the idea of generational leadership. The Talmud quote above was used throughout the session to remind us of the importance of those who came before us and those who will follow in our footsteps. We reflected on the idea that to be in the present we must have one foot in the past and one in the future.
Judaism’s existence relies on the idea of generational leadership. Even the best Jewish leaders have had to step aside for the future of the people Israel.
One portion of the Torah discusses God commanding Moses to pass the torch on to his successor, Joshua.
And the Eternal One answered Moses, ‘single out Joshua…and lay your hand upon him. Invest him with some of your authority.’ (Numbers 27:18-20)
God instructs Moses to transfer his authority to Joshua. When Moses blesses Joshua in front of the whole Israelite community, the parashah states, “he laid his hands upon him.” (Numbers 27:23) It is interesting to note that Moses used two hands when God had only commanded him to use one. One hand represented the commandment of God to invest power in a successor, while the other represents Moses’ support and faith in Joshua to take his place as the head of the community.
This idea can be seen within NFTY as well. As leaders, there will come a time when we must eventually leave our positions and invest our authority in our successors. As regional board leaders, our terms will end and authority will be passed on to new leaders. The end of this term is similar to God’s commandment to Moses. But how do we as leaders follow Moses’ example?
One concept discussed during our major was “working yourself out of a job.” The basis of this idea is to perform your job so well that by the time your term has ended you are no longer needed in the position. This is because you have trained and delegated in a way that elevates new leaders who are able to continue without you.
Working himself out of a job is essentially what Moses does in this parashah. It is our number-one priority to instill leadership within our regions throughout our entire terms. By doing this, we will both leave our legacies and encourage the future leadership to bring our movement to new heights.
Although our time at Kutz has come to a close, we take the lessons and values instilled in us, and as we leave 46 Bowen Road, we are confident that we — along with 200 of our peers — are better equipped to shape the Jewish future, our Jewish future.
Jeremy Cronig (NFTY NEL) and Celia Tedde (NFTY SoCal) are both active members of their NFTY regions and serve as leaders on the NFTY Southern California and NFTY Northeast Lakes Regional Boards. They both spent their summer at the URJ Kutz Camp in the Leadership Academy. Celia and Jeremy are alumni of NFTY Convention, URJ Biennial, and are active in their local Jewish communities.