To be a leader means seeking the truth and speaking the truth. It means letting go of old pieties and embracing new realities. To be a leader means dialing down the voices that say “no, we can’t” and building a consensus to move ahead fearlessly.
In the process of leading Atlanta to become a thriving and connected 21st century Jewish community, I am guilty of all of these behaviors. I know that in my enthusiasm to build a Jewish future that will undoubtedly look and feel very different from what we know, I have upset some people. And for that I seek forgiveness.
S’lach-li, forgive me, but Jewish America is in the midst of a massive generational shift in identity and practice. Pride in Jewish identity and Jewish spirituality is growing, but young Jews are increasingly likely to say that they have “no religion,” and that they feel little connection to the organized community.
I want everyone, across the entire lifespan, to be thrilled by Jewish life and to say that their identity gives meaning to life and shapes their actions. So, I feel driven to create new pathways to engagement that launch Jewish journeys and spark Jewish possibilities. It feels urgent to me to broaden the ways we engage with Jews and their loved ones.
As this community tries out new ideas and innovations, I am aware that some people will experience a deep sense of loss. But we cannot let our collective anxiety paralyze or demoralize us.
Great things are happening in Jewish Atlanta.Already we are becoming a community where agencies and individuals are collaborating and partnering to actualize bold ideas that benefit everyone. We are gathering in new ways and in new places. We are building a culture of innovation that invests in the creativity of change-makers and makes room to learn from failure. We are developing a relationship with Israel that is centered on its people, not its politics.
If I haven’t listened enough, if I haven’t been empathetic enough, forgive me. If I haven’t been fearless enough, I’ll admit, sometimes it’s easier to avoid delicate issues because of their divisiveness. Yes, I have big dreams. Yes, I am impatient. But in my soul, I am a servant of this wonderful Jewish community that opened its arms to me more than 45 years ago. And everything I do comes from a place of love.