By Rob Goldberg
I’ve always been drawn to the Jewish way of leadership, one that blends behavior and action. The Hebrew word for leadership is מַנְהִיגוּת (manhigut). The root is לִנְהֹג (linhog) and stands for “treating people” and “being consistent with your actions.” So for Jews, leading is linked to doing and in my understanding, also begins with kindness, generosity, and love.
Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of participating in the 27th edition of the Ride for Roswell. Among the highlights was the Ride opening outside of Roswell’s Comprehensive Care Center on Elm Street. At around 5:30 pm of Friday, June 24, I lined up with 200 other riders, all of whom had raised at least $2,500. We were part of a peloton that cascaded from the hospital to UB’s North Campus to officially begin Ride weekend. There is a moment before we launch that always takes my breath away, when we lift up cards with the names of patients up to the windows on the upper floors of the hospital. We can never see those who are behind the windows but we know that they are looking down upon us.
Last year, the Ride was modified due to Covid, but our dear friend Leslie Shuman Kramer was given the honor to light the torch to begin the peloton. Leslie was at the time a patient at Roswell, and it was a touching moment when she ignited the lamp affixed to the bike of Ride for Roswell founder Mitch Flynn. Tragically, Leslie succumbed to cancer in late February and many of us rode this year in her memory.
Before we lined up for the peloton this year, as we have for years pre-Covid, many of us gathered in Kaminski Park for a brief Shabbat experience. Led by Susan Schwartz and coordinated by Ellen Goldstein, we sang niggunim, recited a prayer for healing, and remembered both Leslie and our dear friend Gretchen Gross who also died tragically last fall. *
Both Leslie and Gretchen were quintessential Jewish leaders: laser-focused to act whatever the need, cause or issue. And they always led with a full heart – with kindness and generosity – for both women loved this community and were relentless in their pursuit that it would flourish now and in the future.
Today, I am privileged to be among those who are helping to lead Jewish Buffalo. I do so always with the appreciation that I’m standing on the shoulders of those like Leslie and Gretchen who led with the essence of manhigut – action guided by love.
Let us together continue to build a flourishing Jewish Buffalo through our collective leadership; leading as did Leslie and Gretchen, with kindness and generosity, love and action.
Rob Goldberg is CEO of Buffalo Jewish Federation and this year, as part of the Donor Center Team, raised over $10,500 as part of the 27th Ride for Roswell.
*The Jewish Community Center will be hosting an event to remember Gretchen on August 2. A day of special fun at Camp Centerland is planned for the staff and campers with an adult program honoring Gretchen at 6 pm at the Shuman Camp Grounds.