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July 01, 1994 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-07-01

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Editor's Notebook

Community Views

Rabbi Syme's Guide
To Defining Leadersh p

Pride And Comfort
Come With Sharing



Ever have that
experience where
you go into a
meeting with a
goal and agenda
and come out
with something
never expected?
Temple Israel
Rabbi M. Robert
Syme did this to me Tuesday. We
had set an appointment to
discuss a certain story. When
we were done doing the inter-
view, he said, "Now, let's talk
about something really impor-
He then looked at me in a "you
choose the topic" kind of way, and
with all the pressing issues
swirling around I didn't know
which to grab. But as many of us
who have been fortunate to work
with Rabbi Syme should know,
that sort of comment usually
means that he's got something on
his mind:
Synagogue leadership.
"I want to talk about syna-

said that for any board of any
Jewish organization to meet the
needs of its constituents, there
has to be requirements of lead-
ership, not necessarily econom-
"You've got people making de-
cisions on religious matters in
some institutions who are irre-
ligious," he said. "That's like a
person not knowing the first
thing about the automobile in-
dustry telling us how to build a
Here's what Rabbi Syme's re-
quirements would be for board
membership for a Jewish orga-
1. A board member needs two
years of attendance in Jewish
adult education courses.
2.A board member would have
a ready knowledge of the Hebrew
3. A board member would at-
tend religious services at least
once a week.
4. A board member must be
checked for ethical business prac-

N.J., meeting of Jewish editors
from all over the nation, speak-
ers told us that the "C" word
of the 1990s wasn't necessarily
continuity, but courage. It's
going to take courage to re-
main a strong Jewish people,
because a requirement of survi-
val is that we become more reli-
As Ms. Cardin and Rabbi
Syme and others are saying, we
need to realize that while it's im-
portant, it's not enough for our
children to see us only writing
Imagine the impression of a
young boy or girl upon seeing a
parent putting on tefillin for the
first time. That, according to
many, is the defining moment of
Imagine a wife pulling out the
candlesticks from a cabinet and
working through the prayers on
a Friday night. Again, a defining
moment of continuity.
This, according to Rabbi Syme,
is where the leadership needs to

Rabbi Syme: Redefining leadership.

gogue leadership or leadership in tices.
general," he said.
Rabbi Syme remembered that
Uh-huh. That was it, and not as a child growing up in Win-
specifically Temple Israel's lead- nipeg, "a board member was al-
ways a person of Jewish
"Why don't we have a guide for knowledge. Today, it's a matter
temple and synagogue leader- of money."
ship?" he asked. "You think that
Two years ago, one of the coun-
because someone gives money, try's most courageous Jewish
this automatically places him in leaders, Shoshana Cardin, scold-
a position of leadership? Please, ed members of the Council of
it can't work that way."
Jewish Federations General As-
I thought I could put my note- sembly. They were avoiding is-
book away, and instead there I sues of religiosity, simply defining
was looking for a blank page.
their Judaism in terms of dollars,
Rabbi Syme questioned across- she said.
the-board Jewish leadership. He
And at a recent Princeton,

come from.
"Let's consider another topic,"
the Temple Israel senior rabbi
then said.
OK, here it comes. What's
"Have you ever heard my son
David on the piano?"
I could really put the notebook
A Jewish communal leader
and I just sat quietly and listened
to his son's beautiful music.
The hour spent was about
what Rabbi Syme really want-
ed to talk about.
It was a guide to leadership. ❑

Recently I had thing we could to the commu-
one of the more nity, and is why, I presume,
memorable my parents were selected to be
experiences of the grand marshals of the pa-
my life. I was rade. It was one of the ways
asked to be the Hudson could say "thank you"
chauffeur in a for the myriad contributions
1963 red Ponti- my parents have made over
ac convertible the years.
'1-- with my par-
I hadn't expected to feel as
ents sitting on top of the proud as I did that night. I
canopy, waving to the citizens had the comforting feeling
lining the streets of Hudson, that all was well with the
Mich. My parents had been world, that people of different
chosen to be the grand mar- ethnic and religious back-
shals of the Hudson Grange grounds truly could respect
Fair Parade.
one another and become gen-
I tilted the rear-view mirror uine friends — that an entire
as far up as it could go in or- community could individual-
der to see the faces of my par- ly, collectively, and officially
ents as my father held his recognize the mutually en-
top hat in one hand and with riching opportunities that
the proudest face I've ever arise when people of diverse
seen, greeted the
crowds of people
he knew.
My mother,
while waving to
the crowds, filled
me in on the
names of all the
people I'd long for-
gotten. With the
band before us
and the sheriff's
posse on horse-
back behind us,
this was a scene I
will never forget.
As refugees
from Holland, my
father's family
settled in Hudson
in 1940, opened the only cloth- backgrounds share with one
ing store in town, and kept it another.
going for 52 years. My parents
If we in the Jewish commu-
found in Hudson a safe haven nity could follow the same wel-
of caring people far from coming, caring, respectful
war-torn Europe. My mother attitude toward non-Jews, our
was a hidden child in the people, too, can be immensely
home of righteous gentiles and enriched.
joined my father in Hudson in
1954. Two years ago they de-
cided to retire and sold the
"I had the
Though my sister Ester and
I knew no differently at the
time, growing up as part of the
feeling that all
only Jewish family in Hudson
was most certainly a unique
was well with
Hudson is a town of 2,500
the world."
people located near the Ohio
— Rabbi Arnie Sleutelberg
border, south of Jackson. It's
a farming community where
80 percent of the students in
the school system are bused in
from the countryside.
In an era where the typical
Anti-Semitism on any kind American heroes are tainted
of discernible level was non- by scandal and impropriety, I
existent. To the best of my feel blessed that the feelings I
knowledge, our family was had as a child, that my parents
completely accepted by the cit- were heroes, are reinforced
izens of Hudson in every pos- for me as an adult. The Jew-
sible way. This allowed us to ish people have been well
feel good about giving every- served with fine ambassadors
in Simon and Edith Sleutel-
Arnie Sleutelberg is rabbi of
Congregation Shir Tikvah.

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