So the United Jewish Communities “Jewish Hero Awards Contest” has announced its 20 semifinalists. Conspicuously, nearly half of the names are Chabad shlichim (emissaries).
Granted that this is a popularity contest and therefore of no empirical value, it’s still worth asking the question: What does this suggest? There are a lot of possible ways to read these tea leaves:
From a game theory (sort of) angle:
– Chabad shlichim disproportionately inspire a deep connection with their communities, resulting in greater motivation on the part of those communities to nominate them for something like this.
– Chabad shlichim inspire deeper connections with a small number of people who themselves feel inspired to make a significant effort to get the shlichim nominated.
From a PR angle:
– Chabad as an organization was smarter about leveraging this PR opportunity than other organizations (Hillel did nothing to my knowledge, for instance, while Uri l’Tzedek did a great job, and therefore got Shmuly Yanklowitz on the list).
Do we want to go further? There’s lots to be said, but I feel like most of it has said before, and frankly these results don’t surprise many of us. I guess the real question–as usual–is what might the rest of us learn from these events?