Parashat Korah

Crises of Leadership

We need to learn from the examples of Korah and Moses and ask ourselves, "Are we more worried about our own egos than about the Jewish people as a whole?"

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Some say that we are in the midst of a crisis of leadership in the North American Jewish community. Affiliation and engagement rates are historically low. Intermarriage rates are unprecedented. We could even say, as did our forebears, that we are at the most critical time in our journeys, as well. Just as the ancient passage of the Israelites was a journey of freedom through the desert, this too is a journey of freedom.

We need to learn from the examples of Korah and Moses and ask ourselves, "Are we more worried about our own egos than about the Jewish people as a whole?" No one would admit to such egocentrism, but when we are bound perhaps inseparably to our programs and institutions, and then project such worry onto the integrity of Judaism, it is difficult to discern the difference. And that is what leads us to Korah-like failed leadership.

But when we are able to transcend the self, which is only possible through a connection with the Divine, then we are able to help guide us on a positive future course for the Jewish people, one that sees everyone as a vital part of it.

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Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky

Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky is executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute and the author of numerous books about Jewish spirituality.