A Shabbat Drash – October 28, 2016
By Samara Leader, Senior Regional Director of NFTY Central West and Senior Assistant Director at URJ Camp Newman

In this week’s Torah portion, Bereshit, we read about God’s creation of the earth, sea, sky, plants, animals, and of course, Adam and Eve. The portion begs the question: if the universe existed in its infinite and God embodied the universe as a whole, how did God truly create the world and the space it encompasses? Lurianic Kabbalah poses one answer by introducing the concept of tzimtzim, the idea that God constricted, or pulled back, in order to create space for the world to exist.

staff3To exhibit tzimtzum takes self-awareness, the recognition of a bigger picture, and the ability to find joy in the successes of others. A leader who asks someone to own a project or who coaches an individual to assert their own voice honors that person’s unique abilities and strengths. Leaders who pause and hold their opinions give others the space to voice their views, and send the message that all ideas are valued. Of course, situations will arise when a team leader must make a conclusive decision or share information to the group. When the nuanced leader balances these moments with facilitating the growth of others, the group advances as a whole.

staff2Camp Newman and NFTY Central West strive to recognize and celebrate all types of leadership styles by viewing everyday moments as opportunities to grow. By allowing a counselor who strives to feel more comfortable with public speaking to MC a talent show, or quietly encouraging a camper to contribute a deep reflection on a Jewish teaching, we celebrate individuality. Those that “lead from within” the community, who positively influence others without title or specified role, are valued and appreciated. These small moments of elevating others contribute to the feeling that so many in our community verbalize, the idea that one can be their “best self” at camp.

Shabbat Shalom!

Samara Leader spends the bulk of her professional time and energy focused on mentoring teens and developing teen programming. During the summer, she directs our Counselor-In-Training (CIT) program, in which 50+ rising seniors learn counseling and leadership skills. Samara is senior regional director of NFTY Central West and senior assistant director at URJ Camp Newman.