Courageous Leadership for Our Time

By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
A strong Jewish community is built on strong relationships. Leadership is the critical ingredient for harnessing the energies of a strong community and guiding it to shared purposes grounded in Jewish values—especially important at a time of great challenge.

The Courageous Leadership Initiative 2021 (CLI) is under way and is off to a strong start. In partnership with the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has brought together over 150 rabbis, lay leaders, and communal professionals from across Jewish Puget Sound to participate in a transformative journey: to form and deepen relationships that will be seeds for enriching Jewish life and jump-starting initiatives for Jewish engagement.

Drawn from across the community, our participants are diverse in the backgrounds they possess, the experiences that shaped them, the strengths that drive their success, and the institutions with which they are involved. 

Thanks to our many generous donors, your Federation began the journey that led to CLI in November 2019. A leadership retreat with renowned Hartman educators was a rich experience that opened the door to the power of connecting more deeply and exploring new corners  of Jewish experience. Just a few months after the retreat, the pandemic struck and made this shared journey even more imperative. The current conditions have amplified the continued need to clarify our communal goals and aspirations for the future of Jewish life in the Puget Sound region. 

Meet the Courageous Leadership Initiative Participants!

Over the next few months of online gatherings, leaders participating in the CLI will seek  to address the most enduring adaptive challenges facing Seattle Jewish life. To imagine our community’s future in a post-pandemic world. Specifically and more tangibly, we hope that our learning together will:

  • Build stronger bridges between people and organizations and facilitate the deepening of mutually supportive, trusting and resilient relationships between community leaders.
  • Encourage more collaboration with each other, both on an interpersonal and organizational level. 
  • Give us greater visibility into the challenges and opportunity areas that organizations are facing across the community landscape, as we emerge into a post COVID-19 reality.
  • Allow us to set aside a “bias for action” and enter into an emergent process of discovery together, of purposeful idea sharing, exploration, and reflection. 
  • Catalyze the exchange of ideas and perspectives for working toward our shared goal of ensuring Jewish continuity and making our community a magnet for Jewish life.

I hold great hope that the leaders participating in the CLI, with all their diverse strengths, perspectives, and institutional backgrounds, will combine their creative energies in ways that, over time, will fulfill our collective wishes for a bright Jewish future. It will take shared leadership, because every leader brings unique qualities for turning a vision into reality and no one person can lead alone. 

As the world recovers from the pandemic, to borrow a phrase from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z’’lwe can use this rare moment to enhance the structures of our togetherness.