Julie Monkarsh Gadinsky is an alumna of the Los Angeles Wexner Heritage Program.  She is the proud mom of two sons, an advocate for Jewish Education, an involved Lion of Judah and political activist for AIPAC. She is passionate about Israel and engaging new friends in community work.  Julie can be reached at juliegadinsky@mac.com.

I must confess…. I have been known to obsess. As a psychologist, I can say with some accuracy that I do NOT have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I am, however, confident I have a unique syndrome not formally documented in any psychological journal.   This condition is called Invitational Involvement Passion (IIP).

Let me explain. Last week, I attended two Jewish community events. At both, I sat amongst leaders and activists who are the creative core of our city. I could not help but think about what all these individuals have in common.

How did we get involved? How did we become voices within our community? How did we become leaders?  For some, it is innate. For others, a life experience or passion leads the way. Some people participate to build connections and community. Yet, for most, a teacher, friend, rabbi, colleague or mentor “invited” us to get involved.

I am confident I would not be where I am today if it were not for “an invitation.”  I can name every individual along the way who has taken a risk to invest in me.  Best of all, each experience has led to personal growth, another meaningful opportunity and a greater sense of community.

How did YOU get your start in your community?  Who saw the spark worth igniting in you?  It is likely that at some point, someone “invited” you to learn more, do more, and lead more.

Rabbi Marc Gellman shares a modern midrash in his book, “Does God Have a Big Toe?” In the story “Watching the Burning Bush Burn,” God sets out to find a leader for the children of Israel.  After some contemplation, God decides that patience is the most important quality.  Needless to say, God observes some disappointing candidates. In an effort to find “the one,” God sets a bush on fire in the desert close to a group of shepherds. The shepherds walk by and do not notice that the bush is burning at all. In the end, it is Moses who notices the bush and stops to watch.  Moses, the hesitant leader who stutters, has the patience to wait long enough to really observe what is going on around him; he sees that the fire continues to burn and the branches never fall off. 

It is our turn to notice the burning bushes around us… the hidden potential. Are we being patient like Moses to notice the acquaintance, empty nester, person in transition, busy executive, neighbor, or even head of the bake sale? People’s lives change and people’s readiness to get involved varies with time. It is worth our time and energy to notice since we do not know what spark lies within each individual.

I feel most honored when someone “invites” me to get involved. Most people would agree that the personal touch of an “invite” makes a huge difference.  Are we “inviting” others in with sensitivity and kindness? Do we remember in our busy and complicated lives to tell the invited person how worthy of an addition they would be?  Do we remember to express the joy and fulfillment that we receive from working with our organization?

It is likely that by now, being active has become second nature to you; it’s just who you’ve become. Keep in mind that some people feel they are just not knowledgeable or worthy enough to take the plunge. Others fear they might not do a ‘good enough’ job.  Some worry they do not have significant financial resources. Encouragement, education and a personal invite might just do the trick.

Be patient as you go ahead and exercise your Invitational Involvement Passion (IIP). An invitation to be passionate and involved is hard to pass up!  Use your passion and seduce someone new into involvement today.