9 Sh’vat 5778
Dear AJA Community,
I have an innovative inclination. I love to imagine what could be, and (as you know) I am always asking “why?". On some level this is what brought me to AJA - the opportunity to innovate and build something new. I don’t mean the physical merging of two schools or the physical building of an upper school wing. I am referring to building a 21st Century independent Jewish Day School guided by modern orthodox values and principles. A place that infuses Jewish values into all aspects of our Jewish Community. A place with deep relationships in our Atlanta Jewish Community, regardless of affiliation, level of observance, background - a cholent of sorts. To serve as the leader of this fine institution is beyond an honor.
There are two types of leaders. One who imposes or leads with their vision, or one who emerges from within the culture, crystallizing what the people need into a vision. When Moshe was leading the people out of Israel, it was this top-down approach. You can see this throughout Chapter 2 - Shemot. However, this was not what the people needed to enter the land of Israel. They needed to be part of the process. Moshe actualized the four stages of redemption vi’hotzeiti ... vihitzalti... vi’ga’alti... vi’lakachti (and I will take out ... and I will save ... and I will redeem ... and I will take them to me as a people.) For the fifth and final stage of redemption— vi’heiveiti (and I will bring them into the Land), Moshe identified that he needed to step aside so a new leader could emerge - who understood the deepest religious, spiritual and intellectual needs of the people.
I am not telling you this to announce that I am stepping aside as Moshe did - I’m just stepping (actually flying) over 6,000 miles to head to Israel for an incredible trip with other leaders from the Jewish Community. The “Front Porch Community Israel Trip” is designed to bring all corners of the Jewish community onto the “Front Porch” to help map our future. I applaud the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta for setting up this trip - a gathering of 70 Atlanta Jewish Leaders, heading to Israel to be inspired as it approaches its 70th birthday.
Over this week-long trip, we are going to ask the big questions. How can we have a strong “living bridge” between Atlanta and Israel in these times? What is needed from us as leaders in Jewish Atlanta? How can we strengthen the partnerships among our various groups, shuls, and schools in the community? How can we innovate to grow and prosper in an American social marketplace that has seen declining rates of religious connections? I. Cannot. Wait.
Next week, there will be a break from myThoughts. When I return, I will share with you some specifics of what will surely be an incredible experience. I am excited to bring these insights and new perspectives back to AJA.
For the next week, my innovative inclination and need to ask “why?” will be constantly fueled and encouraged. I simply cannot wait. And, being able to do this work in Israel...that’s just the icing on the cake.
Ps. Have you registered yet for our 2nd Annual Family Shabbaton? Space is limited, and you won’t want to miss out!
Rabbi Ari Leubitz