Why be a Jewish student leader?2018-08-30T13:41:29+00:00

Why be a Jewish student leader?

Manhigut (leadership) is a difficult business to be in! There can be no easy way out, no cutting corners, and there is no room for lack of enthusiasm. You must be able to motivate yourself and then motivate others. At WUJS, we make no pretensions to being psychologists; we only write from certain leadership experiences we and others have had.

First and foremost, a leader needs confidence in him/herself and decisiveness, but what else? A primary personal characteristic is the ability to persuade and influence, to convince others, encourage others and inspire others. Also vital is your own enthusiasm and dynamism – you need to be seen to be confident, happy and knowledgeable and make your enthusiasm about every activity rub off on the whole group.

Fifteen good reasons for running groups

Why do it? Why get involved with running a Jewish student association? Who needs the hassle? As well as the key principles of strengthening Jewish identity, there are very good social reasons for running activities. Let’s get a little deeper and have a look.

  1. Expressing a point of view: Modern family life coupled with the system of universal education have failed to equip lots of people with the confidence and skill to contribute to discussion and debate. A relaxed informal group provides an opportunity for making good these deficits.
  2. Conversational Skills: An extension of self-expression is having to respond to the views of others – group discussion provides a forum for the development and exercise of these skills.
  3. Exchanging information: Groups act as informal forms of education by promoting the sharing of information between those who take part in it; information about themselves, their identity and more.
  4. Sharing experiences: Swapping of experiences can be useful in problem-solving and idea development.
  5. Grasping concepts: Group Discussion allows effective learning about concepts and abstractions often not facilitated through other methods.
  6. Giving and getting feedback: One of the most powerful learning mechanisms at work in groups is that of feedback; the responses which members make to each other’s contributions.
  7. Learning about self: One of the consequences of feedback is, of hearing how others respond to the content and manner of what you say, is that of heightened self-awareness, a deeper and richer knowledge of oneself.
  8. Learning about others: The opposite is also true; listening to what others say about a topic, responding to what they say, and taking some account of their views, is also a considerable learning experience.
  9. Changing attitudes: Exposure to others’ views, and their comments on one’s own positions can hardly fail to have some effect on personal attitudes; excellent in moving people away from say racial or sexual stereotypes.
  10. Learning new behaviour: A relaxed group is a suitable environment in which to try out new behaviour for the first time, and to practice a variety of ways of responding to situations.
  11. Increasing self-confidence: Often a welcome by-product of group activities.
  12. Problem solving and decision making: Two heads are better than one and thus, a well-motivated group can help individuals, and the group itself, to resolve dilemmas.
  13. Discussing feelings: Individuals often feel alone in their feelings and views. Group discussion usually reveals that this is not the case.
  14. Working with others: An education tradition which emphasises individual excellence has masked the need to learn how to work with other people. Groups illustrate the pleasure and the profit that accrue from collaboration and co-operation.
  15. Mutual respect and support: A sense of belonging is created by a group situation, leading to respect for each individuals characteristics.