Klal Perspectives – New Issue: Communal Leadership Infrastructure

Klal Perspectives, the online journal of Orthodox communal responsibility, is proud to release its latest issue, on communal leadership infrastructure.

Working with the editorial board of Klal Perspectives is time-intensive, but exhilarating. The five of us are so entirely different – and yet work exceptionally well with each other, and have kept it up now for a few years. When we achieve a meeting of the minds, we tend to relax, thinking that we must be right, if we can agree despite our diversity.

Boy, have we been wrong.

We were sure, at times, that a particular topic would be a breeze to execute, or would be received without controversy, only to learn that the opposite was true. We thought that the issue on the future of the teshuva movement would be a sleeper. Instead, it engendered more controversy than any previous issue. The dust didn’t settle for months.

We believed that this issue would be an easy one to produce, with lots of potential contributors all ready to share their visions for the future. It didn’t quite happen. We found many people very uneasy about not having all that much to say about vision or the future. The more courageous, whose essays you will read, should be commended for their honesty and responsibility.

We sense a community of people so stressed out with the good work they are doing, that there is not much time or energy left for putting together a Master Plan for the future. Our contributors did not do what some of us had hoped for, probably naively: describe new, sweeping, effective models for streamlining services and coordinating activities. They did, however, shed much light on why such models were not in the making – and that demonstrated that it is not because of lack of will. A good number of contributors gingerly offered first steps in moving away from older organizational structures to newer ones, and in motivating more people to be part of the process. (My personal picks for the essays that gave me the most to think about are the contributions of Moshe Bane, Rabbi Hauer , and Dr. Fried. I guess that is suspect, since two of the three are fellow members of mine on the editorial board!)

One thing seems certain. Given the lack of any centralized authority for what is now, b’ezras Hashem Yisborach, a huge community, none of the suggestions will get off the ground unless people consider them, talk about them, debate them. (Within the first hours of the issue’s release, we already have seen meaningful networking take place between people interested in the same questions that came about through the essays.) It is in the collection of those suggestions and placing them before an intelligent, motivated readership that KP achieves some of its stated mission.

My favorite quote (from a footnote in Rabbi Moshe Hauer’s essay):

When I was installed as rabbi of our shul, my Rebbe, HaRav Yaakov Weinberg, zt”l, came to the celebratory banquet. As was the custom, the banquet began with the American and Israeli national anthems. Rav Weinberg was a profound lover of Eretz Yisrael but he was not a Zionist, and would not of his own accord sing the secular anthem of Medinat Yisrael. Nevertheless, he stood next to me and sang along in full voice, recognizing that, for many in the assembled group, Medinat Yisrael was a focal point of Jewish identity and activity and that it was appropriate for him to recognize and uphold this value for their sake. He was confident that his students would not misunderstand his singing of Hatikvah as a philosophical shift, but would see it instead as an expression of his respect for Klal Yisrael.

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5 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    The Klal Perspectives was a nice lunchtime read – the general impression I’m left with is that the American focus on rights vs. obligations has equally impacted all elements of orthodoxy. Moshe Bain’s observation that individuals are motivated by a sense of accomplishment, kavod and entertainment sounded like it came straight from a Bizzaro pirkei avot.

    But as an actuary I smiled when I saw that Dr. Fried took up the cudgels to have decision making based on actual data rather than the last individual story one heard. Maybe we can get the NSA to jump start our efforts?

    She-nir’eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu,

  2. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Joel, basing decisions on data, what a revolutionary idea. Does that make you some kind of neo-con?

  3. yosef a. berg says:

    In respnonse to the qoute from Rabbi Hauer’s essay,I feel its important to note that nobody would misunderstand the Rosh Yeshivas singing of hatikva as an endorsement of zionism because on other ocaasions he never held back when it came to forcefuly bashing the State(.He would often say that ommision of G-d’s name from the israeli declarartion of independence was the greatest chillul hashem in the history of klak yisroel !!!!,think about that for a moment).So if one is going to ask for and preach tolerence and respect from a leader when it comes to a view they agree with,then they must allow and respect that leader’s expression of his counter view without disdainfuly disregarding what one does not want to hear.

  4. SA says:

    I’ve only started reading the essays, and I’m trying to figure out how the religious community is ever going to make headway on resolving any of our challenges, current and future, as long as our publications are filled with ads for yamim tovim and vacations in expensive, often exotic locations and various other luxuries. Someone is taking those trips and buying those things. How are we to argue for prioritizing and “triage” when so much money in our community is being wasted on frivolities?

    I also had a look at the link to Moishe Bane’s article regarding retirement plans for mechanchim. It was written nearly *eight* years ago. I’m curious if any progress has been made on even that one issue since then.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    Is there some previous case or model of “bringing Jewish community order out of macro-chaos” that we should be studying closely? In the past, we sometimes had leaders with enough individual or collective clout, but do we now? Our non-system has as much inertia as any system.

    [YA – Perhaps not. That doesn’t necessarily make the task any harder!]

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