Seeing Beyond Your Own Leadership
Rabbi David Rosen is a Wexner Graduate Fellowship Alumnus and the founding Executive Director of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps – www.avodah.net. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ever since I began to work in the field of Jewish service programs, I’ve been encouraging the establishment of my own competition. I’ve spent countless hours advising people who are thinking of starting new service ventures. I’ve asked my staff to turn over our operational handbooks and educational materials to whoever is interested. And I’ve been part of a group of leaders within the field of Jewish service who have met regularly to think about how our field could become more than the sum of its parts.
Several years ago, with the help of a short-lived venture fund based at UJC, a handful of colleagues and I launched an organization we hoped would help the Jewish service field capture the attention of the North American Jewish community. We knew that a central Jewish service platform could easily become more attractive to funders than our own programs, but we also knew that we could not advance the cause we all believed in so passionately without a vehicle dedicated to that purpose.
Last year, the Coalition was given dramatic new life and a new name: Repair the World. Repair has a budget more than 10 times larger than the original Coalition, and it is likely to become the main conduit through which funding for Jewish service is now directed. Am I still enthusiastic about helping to create my own competition? Absolutely. While I’m not sure how the emergence of Repair will affect every existing Jewish service program (including the one I run), I am convinced that a vehicle this powerful and ambitious is the only way that service will become an enduring feature of American Jewish life. Sometimes leadership requires being out in the lead, and sometimes it requires seeing that the lead needs to be farther out than you can go by yourself.