It's easy to bash "the leadership". An all too prevalent refrain of communal life involves blaming the nameless, faceless "communal leadership". However, as WIZO UK President Michele Vogel points out below these are increasingly large numbers of people working tirelessly, often behind the scenes for the collective benefit of our community. Most of them do not seek acknowledgement, recognition or praise.
The launch of LEAD last month was partly designed to ensure that a future generation of communal activists, rooted in the same values of serving the community will be properly nurtured, supported and developed. Recent months have demonstrated that far from a dearth of new leadership, levels of commitment are increasing. Advocacy based initiatives such as "We Believe in Israel" and Manchester's planned "Big Tent for Israel" all highlight unprecedented levels of engagement. The work of our Schools Strategy Group consistently brings us into contact with busy young people who are nevertheless prepared to devote time and energy to serve as school governors or even to build new schools. Dan Grabiner's Campus Update highlights how UJS are at the vanguard of cultivating a new cadre of proud and confident Jewish leaders. Recently, one of the newer UJIA lay leaders pointed out to me that the way our community is constructed, taking opportunities to lead really does provide benefits to those who get involved. He felt that his business life had benefitted immeasurably from new networks of contacts and other facets of his communal engagement. A win-win scenario.
So next time you hear somebody moaning about the state of leadership in our community, or questioning where the future leaders will come from, ask them to take a step back and consider how much of the basic infrastructure of UK Jewish life would not exist today were it not for the incredible commitment and devotion of the people who undertake leadership roles. Our own commitment at the JLC is that through initiatives such as LEAD, the Commission on Women in Leadership, our Communal Vitality Initiative and our support for the New Leadership Network, we will do all that we can to ensure that new leaders are supported, developed and helped to take on senior roles in our community.