Margaret Jelinek Lewis is a Houston 06 member of the Wexner Heritage Program. She is a psychology professor at Tomball College who recently welcomed her new community to her home to celebrate the bris of her son, Ahron. Margaret can be reached at email@example.com.
All of my adult life, I have lived in do-it-yourself Jewish communities: small congregations that depend on lay leadership to build the community. Recently, though, we moved into the heart of the Jewish community in Houston. As we were hanging our mezzuzot, one my fellow Wexner-members came by with babka and lox (his delightful version of the tradition of bringing bread and salt to a new home).
In the middle-of-nowhere, my challah-baking was revered and there was no babka to be found; here there is babka at the corner store. Here, I could slip anonymously into any one of several congregations, sit in the back, not sing too loudly, but I’ve realized… I can’t. For me, taking on a Jewish leadership role isn’t a question — it is ingrained in me. So I’m pushing myself to examine what I have to offer, what is important to me as a Jew, and how I will be a leader in this new land I have crossed into.
We have just finished a session in our Wexner curriculum on situational leadership; different situations and people call for different types of leadership from the same person. In this new community, I am no longer depended upon to be part of a minyan. What is my call in this situation?
Babka and Lox… Is it as dramatic as finding a land flowing with milk and honey? I’m not sure, but I am energized by the challenge this new situation poses to my definition of leadership.