‘Leadership” is the mantra of our times. Countless books, articles and lectures have been devoted to the theme of developing leaders in the world of business, politics, communal life and virtually every other endeavor. And surely the dramatic election of Barack Obama has only spiked interest in the notion of leadership as the key to success, a message that resonates particularly in a Jewish community buffeted by reports in recent years that it is shrinking, in numbers and commitment, as well as growing older and rudderless.
Bernard Madoff is not the only trustee of Yeshiva University who resigned in shame last week.
While international attention continues to focus on Madoff, who faces charges for his alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, some leaders in the Jewish community, particularly within Modern Orthodox institutions, are expressing shock and anger at the role played by J. Ezra Merkin, a prominent investment guru and philanthropist, who appears to have misled at least some investors.
As I read the Torah portion last Shabbat, I couldn’t help but smile at the contrast in style between Moses, in his first appearance as the future (and greatest) leader of the Jewish people, and Barack Obama, as he becomes president of the United States and Leader of the Free World.
Could two men be more different in accepting the mantle of responsibility?
While the tragic violence in Mumbai was still unfolding on Nov. 27, a Washington Post report noted: “It is not known how the attackers seized on the low-key Chabad House.”
It was one of several press reports at the time that professed surprise when the best-known Jewish site in the city became a target for the gunmen, later identified as Pakistan-based Islamic terrorists.