lead or be lead.

I spent the last five days at the 2013 Masa Leadership Summit.

The Masa Leadership Summit is a free seminar outside of our Masa required programming that has a certain amount of bearing in the community. It is an online application process.

I feel like I wouldn’t have applied to the summit if I wasn’t swayed by the Shalom Hartman Institute iEngage Fellows program  during the best Shabbaton of my life, at the beginning of the month.

I’m so glad that I was compelled enough to apply to attend the Leadership Summit this week because I had a really amazing and somewhat game-changing experience.

I found myself tearing through a ropes course with surprising grace and calmness and hitting close to bulls eye in an archery target in Neot Kedumim. I found myself pitching a seven minute programming idea before a camera with barely a hesitation and no script or rehearsal. I found myself getting questions I was nervous to ask answered. I found myself rubbing elbows with very inspiring and interesting figures from the worldwide Jewish community that were only too happy to give me business cards, connections, and great advice in one fell swoop.

I found myself. That’s the key to my whole summation of this past week. I feel like the sort of career I want that would allow me to go from America to Israel frequently enough to satiate my need for Israel is absolutely within my grasp when my program ends. If it’s not? There are so many great paths I could take that would lead me back to this country I first fell so hard for in February of 2012.

In Hebrew, there is a lot of emphasis of roots of words. Each letter having value and meaning. I can’t promise the same intricate beauty or intensity in the English language and I can’t pretend to.

I will say this however: after simply rolling the word leadership around in my head for the past few hours I cut it down to the word ‘lead.’

I couldn’t help but think tonight, it makes sense, so much sense, in English. We can lead, prove to be role models, inspirations, and creative forces that know when to take control and to step back. Those who lead have a lightness, a sense of balance, a passion that fuels them ahead.

Or we can be lead. Lead is heavy, Lead is a chemical component that isn’t really made of anything [source].  It just sits there. It is a useless sort of existence that can even cause a poisoning effect.

Lead and lead are spelled the same, they look the same when just viewed as two-dimensional, space and letters shaped upon a page. It is with a simple emphasize of the ‘e’ sound that a negative sort of mineral in the ground can become a verb that can move and influence a town, a society, and a generation.

To lead is to let go of that heaviness, to let go of that poison that doubt tries to grow in our bellies. To lead is to believe in something enough to step away from the Twitter, the Facebook, the iPhone, for long enough to say, “Hey, world? I have an idea. You should probably discuss this.” Or if you’re an even better leader, you will find a way to use your social medium not as a distraction but as a tool to spread your influence.

About the Author
Melissa Beiser has a bachelor's degree from SUNY New Paltz in English and creative writing. She hails from New York originally and recently relocated to Arizona with her family. Teaching English in Beersheba is her first experience living abroad.