One person can make a difference

This past week I was privileged to experience a full circle moment in Greensboro, North Carolina. Earlier this year, Leading Edge selected me into a cohort of Jewish Non-Profit Leaders for an executive development program. Leading Edge helps Jewish organizations improve their workplace culture and leadership so that they can better achieve their missions. The Centre for Creative Leadership, a renowned centre with a worldwide presence, hosted our cohort. During my undergraduate degree, I had taken a leadership course with a professor who also taught at this centre and used many of its materials, and I had always hoped that one day I could visit.  

Walking around the centre’s campus had me reflect how university campuses are increasingly becoming more hostile to Jews, especially for those who are Zionist and profess any support or allegiance to Israel. While we persist in bringing this to the attention of the University of Alberta administration in support of Jewish students and staff, we also proudly operate Hillel and are here for Jewish students on campus. While Hillel is a student run club, we hire a director and fund their programming through the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) campaign. If you want to discuss how you can further support Hillel, let’s discuss. A special acknowledgment to Jacob Oshry, who has been the director this past year, and to the Hillel board for stepping up at a difficult time.  

While there were many take aways from a thorough analysis into my leadership style and how to continue to grow more effective in my role, one take away is how much an individual can make a difference. Whether it is someone who inspires another to volunteer, or to start a leadership journey of their own, or to take a courageous stand about an issue, that one person can be the flame that burns bright and ignites the spark.  

I was fortunate to learn, grow and consult with seven new-ish Jewish Federation CEOs, sharing ideas and best practices in our ‘off time’, as well as with leadership from other Jewish community centres, Jewish queer youth, synagogue, and Holocaust Museum executives as well. The generosity of spirit—and offers to share resources and be sounding boards—was truly remarkable. This is something that genuinely sets the Jewish professional world apart.  

We also visited the International Civil Rights Museum where the Woolworth Counter sit-in occurred, sparking a movement to desegregate the South. We related this experience to how we show up as agents of change and efforts and actions to mobilize a community to a goal.  

How people show up was demonstrated last week when my family experienced a loss, with the passing of my mother-in-law Vicky Wright z”l. I want to thank the many of you who messaged us and offered support. I also want to thank my staff team who stepped up so I could be with my family. They ensured a smooth SuperNova film screening, a partnership brought to us by Meital Siva-Jain of Jewish Family Services. Shout out to Steve Shafir, who kindly assumed the role of moderating the conversation between Yaron Deckel, who came from Toronto, and Meital. We had many positive comments from participants outside of the community who appreciated this opportunity to bear witness and for the evening program.  

Purim is coming up, and my column in the March edition of the Alberta Jewish News will explain why we need to take part in the celebrations, despite the situation in Israel and for the hostages who have yet to be released. You can find out what is happening for Purim in Jewish Edmonton.  

This weekend I will speak with the teens at the BBYO convention about my recent trip to Israel—insights and lessons learned—and hope to enhance their conversations on their theme of resilience.  

Shabbat shalom,