The Making of a Leader

By: Elka Wiesenberg  |  August 19, 2019

By Elka Wiesenberg, Opinion Editor

All my life, I’ve been told by adults and peers alike how capable I was — I was smart. I was talented. I was a leader.

What do those things mean? Is “smart” an IQ number? A test score? Is “talented” my passion for theater? For writing? Perhaps. But most daunting is the term “leader.” How can a child, teenager, or young adult be a leader? 

I started to understand this term in high school. Being on student council in tenth grade, I had to come up with ideas for activities. I had to get people involved. I had to use my voice. In eleventh grade, I was a chessed (volunteering) head. I organized where people went to volunteer. I listened to them and made their ideas a reality. I gave other people a voice. In twelfth grade, I was tzedakah (charity) head, continuing to help other people by encouraging them to improve lives. I also started my own club to generate discussions of thankfulness, used my own ingenuity, and thereby created a new entity that exists to this very day.

That was the moment I realized that I am a leader. I have opinions; I express them. Other people have opinions; I make them a reality. I start a movement; other people continue it.

This is what being an editor for the Observer means to me, especially the Opinion section. Not only am I a leader, using my opinions and creating discussions, but I am also the person who helps sharpen other leaders. When you write and share an opinion, you are a leader. You stand up for what you believe in. 

Choosing to be an editor for a third year was not an easy decision. I have other responsibilities, like schoolwork, student council, mock trial, and, most importantly, myself. However, I know that I have a responsibility to the student body as well. I know that I can represent a large facet of Stern. I want to share my opinions and push others to share their own. I can cultivate leadership in myself and others, and therefore it is my duty to continue working on the Observer staff. 

When G-d commanded Moshe to lead the Jewish people, Moshe was reluctant. It would have been easy for G-d to find another person to lead them — one who wanted to step up. But G-d knew that Moshe had it in him to be there for the Jewish people, to care for each person, and to lead them. This is a lesson for all of us — if we have the capability to help others, it is G-d’s will for us to do so.

Being a leader takes hard work. It takes commitment. It takes passion. That is what writing for the Observer is about, and that is why I am on its staff.

Photo: Elka Wiesenberg