LSI in Israel
On the sixth floor balcony of the Jerusalem Municipality Building in Safra Square, adjacent to the walls of the Old City, Palm Beach County Leadership Succession Mission (LSI) participants recited the shehecheyanu. The words that Jews have recited for thousands of years to signify a special occasion drifted over the homes and streets that fill the hilly landscape, guiding their gazes in wonderment.
It was the third busy day of a long but rewarding week of experiences unique to Israel. Earlier, the small group of Jewish Palm Beach leaders boarded jeeps to climb Hermon Mountain and received a security briefing from the IDF. Straddling the border between Syria and Lebanon at the highest elevation of Israel-controlled territory, the view offered both beauty and a vague sense of foreboding.
The purpose of the trip was to educate leaders on what Federation does—and to reflect on who they are as leaders and how that can be tied into Federation’s local and global work. The challenge would be in discerning the best path and developing their own potential as community leaders.
Discussions with Israeli leaders in the military, government, medical and education realms helped LSI participants reflect on their leadership styles and determine what it truly means to lead. They shared dinner with Knesset members, spoke with a successful Israeli businessman, and chatted with young Americans spending an extended stay in Israel to take part in community projects.
With each experience came more and more reinforcement of one recurring theme: no matter the arena, leaders will always be faced with challenges.
Visiting IDF soldiers, LSI participants got a glimpse into the lives of people who sacrifice so much to take on leadership roles at a young age – young people putting the safety of their home before their own lives and leading in ways that few people in the United States rarely get to know.
In Rosh Pinna, participants visited Ziv Hospital, where they met a wounded Syrian who was being rehabilitated. The hospital’s humanitarian effort to ignore borders and politics, to simply care for their fellow man, deeply moved all those present. The message – that despite differences, human beings can bring about harmony and great accomplishments when working together – resounded throughout the entire trip.
At the site of Theodor Herzl’s grave, every day the dream of Zionism comes full circle. It’s visited again and again by people with their own passions for making a true difference as leaders of the Jewish people. The participants joined the long list of visitors who look to Herzl’s tomb as an inspiring reflection of his vision for the Jewish people.
In Tzfat, LSI participants met with a different kind of future leaders: students at the Menachem Begin School. The kids spoke about their bringing food to and cleaning for the elderly during a surge of bad weather in Israel. The school’s principal, Ofer Safrani, spoke about the kids motivating themselves to take on this honorable task – how they devoted themselves to a cause they believed in.
“What we try to teach kids is to try to be as good a person as you can,” the principal told them. “Use your values. Know where you come from and turn it into action. Become a better person and build a better world.”
Returning home after a week of profound learning experiences in Israel, LSI participants are more than ready to take on the task of leading Palm Beach’s Jewish community, to improve the bond between American and Israeli Jews and cultivate a stronger unity with all people – to truly build a better world.