Editor’s Note
Tue, 11/29/2011

There’s leadership training and young leadership councils, political party leadership and rabbinic leadership; there are professional leaders and lay leaders and so many books that promise to teach strategic leadership skills. The other day, I noticed a truck parked opposite my office with a bold headline, “The undisputed leader in event drapes.”

We look for leaders everywhere, seeking individuals who have vision as well as pragmatism, who can inspire confidence.  In our many conferences and conversations about leadership in the Jewish community, we might do well to recall Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise’s warning in a 1905 sermon: “We have leaders, but we have not yet learned to follow.”

This month, as we follow the pursuit of leadership, we are pleased to welcome several new contributors to these pages. Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski writes about the biblical Moses, and how views of his leadership skills have evolved over different eras.  And we’re thrilled to feature an excerpt from the new book by Shimon Peres with David Landau, “Ben Gurion: A Political Life” (Nextbook/Schocken), highlighting his masterful leadership. Edward Luttwak’s complementary piece contrasts Ben-Gurion’s style with that of recent  American presidents.

Ted Merwin looks to the role of Jews in the American military, and Joanne Palmer reflects on the nature of charisma. In their essays, Rabbi Jill Jacobs and Jonathan Mark offer provocative takes on the role of rabbis. Michelle Goldberg adds a timely view, with her piece on the leaderless quality of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Archie Rand is recognized as a pioneer among contemporary American Jewish artists, and his work has been exhibited widely all over the world. We've selected work from two of his acclaimed series (pages 4,6,9,10) that tell stories of the Bible, combining vivid color, imagery and text. Over his distinguished career, he has created his own narrative iconography, as he explains, "out of necessity."

The striking image on the cover, Yitro (the father-in-law of Moses), reproduced in full, below, is one of 54 "Chapter Paintings" Rand made in 1989, each inspired by a weekly section of the Torah. Every work in that series includes an architectural frame, resembling a gate or door, perhaps to the ark, opening to deeper meanings and interpretation.

An exhibition featuring those two series and another, “Archie Rand: Three Major Works,” is on view at the Hyams Judaica Museum at Temple Beth Sholom, 401 Roslyn Road, Roslyn Heights on Long Island, through Dec. 11.

Enjoy the holiday that celebrates leadership and, of course, light. Happy Chanukah to you and your families.

Please keep sending your cards and letters to editor.textcontext@gmail.com.