Leadership Matters: Is it just me, or is my board president rude for always starting late?


Dear Erica:

I am a frustrated board member because the president of my JCC always starts meetings late and ends them late. He jokes about it as if we all expect Jewish time is the norm everywhere. If I behaved this way regularly in my law firm, I’d probably be fired (I’m not a partner yet). This man is a successful businessman. I just don’t get it.


Dear Punctual,

Let me guess. Is your president self-employed?

I am always bewildered by the notion of Jewish time. Just look at Genesis. God seems to create the whole world in six days, and we can’t manage to end a meeting on time?  This problem is deeper than time management. It gets at the heart of respect. When we’re chronically late, we are showing disrespect to others. We are telling them implicitly that our own watches are more important than theirs. Busy adults who volunteer after a long work day and could be home with family, at the gym, reading the great American novel or writing one resent when meetings are delayed, prolonged or content-free. People don’t need reports that they can read in a long e-mail. If you are asking for someone else’s time then make it worth their time and start and end on time. Volunteers should take their commitments as professionally as possible. It is a job. Just not one you get paid for.

Dr. Erica Brown is the scholar in residence at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Her new book is “Return: Daily Inspiration for the Days of Awe” (OU/Koren). Are you a Jewish organizational or synagogue leader wrestling with a tough issue? Send your question to LeadershipMatters@jta.org.

Recommended from JTA