Calling all leaders

The nation of Israel is experiencing a war on many fronts. This is a point in time that requires the Jewish people to be united, to actively lead the world towards light and peace, rather than sit back and watch history unfold. Whether fighting militarily or fighting for perception or the spiritual battle of goodness vs. evil, we must learn what it means to lead and be a force of goodness and clarity in the world.

With this in mind, it would be helpful to look back in Jewish history, way back, to the figure who is perhaps the original Jewish leader…. Moshe Rabbenu.

At Sinai, we were told to be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” to be a nation of leaders. We are told to be a light, to be a nation that connects people and heaven and earth.

Moshe provides us with a personal and national roadmap to figure out where to start.

At the onset, we see him observing the trouble and suffering in slavery of his people, sensitive and aware of the plight of others. He then takes this ability in a humble way to lead our nation on a journey to greatness, to Peoplehood. All along the way he reminds them of the greater goal, the mission, and the objective of the journey. Many obstacles along the way require Moshe to inspire the people.

At times he fiercely defends his people and sacrifices himself for the sake of the greater good. He needs to constantly believe in them, to believe in the divine spark, or the goodness that sometimes is not apparent. Ultimately, Moshe does not take them into the promised land as they are independent enough to achieve greatness with his successor and future leader, Yehoshua.

There are several leadership traits that are worth acknowledging and learning from Moshe:


To be successful in leadership, we need to be aware and sensitive to the feelings and needs of those we are leading. A person who leads must be emotionally aware, where he or she can focus on the other and not just fitting the other into their own context or self-interest.

A Sense of Mission

It is always important to understand the “why” of what we do and to keep people focused on that goal. Constantly reaffirming and reminding ourselves of the big picture will always energize us through the details and speed bumps.


It is key to always believe in the people we are leading. It is crucial to identify a person’s strengths and nurture their individual talents. Leaders who lead with positivity have followers who want and choose to follow them.

Leaders Create Leaders

Finally, the greatest testament to a leader is preparing his or her followers into leaders in their own right. The efficient leader doesn’t lead with fear and strength, but with honor and care. When the leader is a role model, people wish to learn from and emulate them, creating the next generation of leaders.

Since October 7, we’ve witnessed countless examples of people who have risen to the occasion and led the way with tremendous courage and self-sacrifice.

We are a people who love life. We instinctively jump at the opportunity to save a life or protect our future and see the need for leaders who are ready to do so. As a community, we need to create opportunities for young men and women to lead the world to a better place.

This is the reason Chai Lifeline recently launched the Lubeck Fellowship in Jewish Nonprofit and Communal Leadership, an exciting new program that is committed to developing the next generation of Jewish leaders through education and unique experiences. I am privileged to serve as director of this important initiative, which provided me with insight into the next generation’s dedication and sense of service to community.  If the 20 young men and women in the inaugural cohort are any indication, we are looking at a very bright Jewish future.

Rav Abraham Isaac Kook calls the month of Nissan and specifically Pesach ‘The Spring of the World’ – a time when the world shares and blossoms with blessings and light. With leadership from the Jewish people, the world can recognize light from darkness, and grow. Yesterday’s mistakes become today’s opportunities for growth. Now, more than ever, we need to utilize the lessons of Moshe Rabbenu and lead the world out of darkness, to a place of redemption and ultimate good in this world.

About the Author
Rabbi Ari Dembitzer is the co-director of Chai Lifeline’s Camp Simcha and rabbi of Beth Israel Synagogue in Omaha, Nebraska.
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