Dr. David Leitner – How Ideas Become a Reality

Born and raised in the US, in the home of a conservative Rabbi, David and his sister were given the freedom to choose their own form of Judaism. As such, after graduating high school, David decided to come to Israel for a gap year Nativ program, to explore the kind of Jew he wanted to be. Quickly enamored with the Idea of the State of Israel, he went back to the States for a year, just as he promised his parents. Spending a year at Vasser college, David says he become more religious, realizing that Judaism gave him a sense of belonging. In 1997 he went back to Israel, studied in Ulpan and a preparatory program, during which he officially made Aliyah. He joined the IDF as a sniper of an elite unit, and during a drill exercise he got hurt and remained in a wheelchair.

A disabled IDF veteran, as part of his rehabilitation process David joined the extended Politics Program at BIU’s Political Science Department, specializing in Strategy and National security. Upon graduating he was offered to continue in the direct track to PhD, receiving the President’s Scholarship for Excelling Doctoral Students. In 2011, with his PhD at hand, David became assistant to the Head of the Political Science Department. In 2013, right around the time the International BA program at BIU was launched, he was offered a position at the International BA Communication study track, thus transferring to BIU’s Department of Communication, where he is currently an adjunct lecturer as well as Academic Coordinator of the International BA Programs.

A married father of two, David’s research field focuses on power processes and how leadership and strategy intertwine. “In laymen’s’ terms, I study how ideas become a reality. How one thought in a person’s mind becomes an action, a piece of art, a political movement, a war, or anything else that began as an idea.

“Reflections are the mechanism for the expression of power between two units,” he explains. “When you have a parasitic idea, it takes over all your resources in order to manifest itself in the world.“ Strangely enough, he uses Beyoncé’s halftime show at the 2016 super-bowl as an example:  “She used all the resources she had at her disposal – the stage given to her, her celebrity, the high viewership, even her outfit and music – to convey an idea:  the Black Lives Matter movement, and black power. “She knew,” says Leitner, “that this will get people, millions of people, talking, thinking, debating, and taking action. It’s a perfect example of using your resources to make an idea a reality.”

And this is also what he thinks BIU’s strength is all about. An idea of a beacon of light to the Jews around the world, that became a reality. “What I love about BIU is that Jews from anywhere around the world can study about Judaism and Jews, without being intimidated by anti-Zionism or antisemitism affecting their education.” Not that we don’t have anti-Zionist ideas and students, smiles Leitner, but here, as opposed to other places, they are free to explore their ideas. “Our basic policy is that any student may explore their Judaism here, with a spectrum of all perspectives. Be any kind of Jew you want to be, while garnering knowledge about what Judaism is.”

 For more on Dr. Leitner click here.