Shemot as a Model for Shared Leadership | Camp Ramah Northern California

Shemot as a Model for Shared Leadership

By Barrie Miller

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Shemot, we are introduced to Moshe. Moshe is eventually appointed to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to begin their journey towards the land of Canaan. While the book of Shemot and the rest of the Torah might be commonly viewed as the story of the broader journey of B’nai Yisrael’s triumphs and tribulations along the way, there are also many lessons to be learned about Moshe’s journey as a leader. Reading this Parsha has inspired me to reflect on how my tzevet (staff) experience has shaped me into the camp leader I am today. 

The book of Shemot is the beginning of a journey (or the “first day of camp”) of a leader who not only develops his own skills, but has the wisdom to gain insight from those around him.

One of the most valuable things I learned as a tzevet member is to not only have strong leadership skills as an individual but to lead as a team and collaborate with your fellow tzevet members.

For example, before Kayitz 2019, I had never been camping. Masaot (excursions) would not have been the same and would not have become a highlight of my tzevet experience without the spirit of mutual collaboration and shared leadership (and someone showing me how to use the camping equipment). Through the journeys of Masoat, I not only developed my camping skills, (because putting away an eight-person tent can be quite tricky), but also what it means to work together as a team. Whether figuring out how everyone is going to eat lunch without plates and utensils or who is going to lead the campers through an activity during some extra time, leading as a team through collaboration provides us invaluable perspective. 

Even in a time of being distanced from others, the collaborative leadership experience in camp continues. Through my time in virtual camp, the Nachshon Project Counselor Fellowship, and most recently the Ramah Weinstein Leadership Institute held earlier this week, I have drawn from the wisdom of not only my own camp community but from those of other Ramah camps, to enhance our Kehillah Kedoshah (holy community). 

Just as the Parsha tells us in Exodus 4:29 that Moshe and Aaron worked with the elders and the children, my hope is that by tzevet (the “elders” of camp) collaborating together on the masa of leadership in our present world, we can inspire our chanichim (the “children” of camp) to emulate the value of collaborative leadership and teamwork in our holy camp community and in the world beyond.