Masa Leadership Seminar Marla Topoil

Maase Olam

Masa Leadership Seminar Marla Topoil

Communication, togetherness, and learning filled the Masa Global Leadership Summit. Participants of this Summit came from all of Masa’s programs. Members were encouraged to work together not necessarily to solve problems, but to learn how to diagnostically evaluate problems through a method they called adaptive leadership. While a definition of adaptive leadership was not clearly defined for me, it was during our activities that I had come to an understanding. As I interpret it, adaptive leadership is leading and not just solving the issues for someone, but guiding them to come to their own solution or conclusion. It was during this Summit that I was directly challenged to think critically without using my past experiences and skill set. During the diagnostic work, we were placed in groups where one person approached the group with a problem they had. Using a set of guidelines, collectively we aided in the understanding, interpreting, and creating initiatives for the problem, yet never providing a solution.  For me, it was difficult to simply come up with different perspectives without solving a problem. This process forced me to self -reflect regarding how I approach solving my own problems, and how I will help others to do so to resolve theirs.  This activity made me realize that I was formerly focused on having a solution without fully understanding the details surrounding the problem.  It was a second nature to rush to a resolution without taking a step back and looking at the whole situation.  Following the Leadership Summit, and reflecting back on my experiences, I immediately thought of the saying, although cliché, “It’s not about the destination, but how you get there”. 

               Another important part of the Summit was the opportunities for participants to communicate and share information that they feel passionate about.  On the second night, there was an open forum where everyone had a 7-minute opportunity to present in small groups about whatever they wanted.  It was during this time that I learned how to Salsa dance, about the life of teachers in Australia, and about Jewish life in United Arab Emirates.  During this forum I talked about the historical context of Jewish comedy.  Another night, there was a session with 7 participants discussing a topic they want to share in a Ted Talk format. Topics presented included the problems with supplemental Hebrew school, global warming, and health care.

On the last night, there was open mic night where once again participants were able to perform, speak, or teach the rest of us something in a fun environment.  We were all able to enjoy wonderful performances while noshing on chocolate fondue, popcorn and other sweets. The summit provided multiple opportunities to learn from each other through these nights.

Not only did we learn from each other during the Summit, but there were also excursions that took us to engage with different topics throughout Israel.  I chose to go to Jerusalem, where we walked the path taken by the Black Panther Movement, met with a political leader, and a leader creating better spaces for families in Jerusalem.  This opportunity provided us with more inspiration on how to make a difference in our communities.

During this Summit, I was able to challenge myself, learn about obscure topics, and make new friends from throughout the Masa program. In conclusion, I would highly recommend any of those on the fence to apply to the Summit in the Spring.



Marla is a Fellow of Ma'ase Olam's Masa Israel Teaching Fellow program. For more information about her experience and the program email