♦ Barbara Davis
The Latin verb “ducare,” root of the word “educate,” means “to lead.” Leadership is thus at the heart of the educational process. The present issue of HaYidion addresses the topic of leadership from many different perspectives.
♦ Susan Weintrob
We see leadership every day. As Head of School at Wornick Jewish Day School, I see it in Tamra who is a 3rd grade buddy in Tefillah for Reed, a kindergartner, as she runs her finger along the lines in her siddur for Reed to follow along. I see it when Ben helps his classmate into the office for an ice pack for his knee after his friend fell in recess. I see leadership in the mother who asks us to publicize the request for bone marrow of another mother, who doesn’t even belong to our school community. I see leadership in our young second grade teacher who stays late each night, preparing lessons for the next day. Leadership is responsibility and hard work, which bring tremendous satisfaction and from time to time, when we are lucky, results.
♦ Erica Brown
The leadership guru Warren Bennis believes that leadership is not taught but learned. In his article “No Limits to Learning: Bridging the Human Gap,” Bennis mentions two conventional modes of study, maintenance learning and shock learning, and advocates for a third: innovative learning.
♦ Brigitte Dayan
Aaron’s role in the building of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32) has long been the subject of heated debate: was he complicit in this act of idol worship? Or was he merely pacifying the people, who were anxious at Moshe’s delay in returning with the tablets?
♦ Rebecca W. Sirbu
With all the glory come all the headaches. At times, being a leader can be extremely challenging. We are in one of those times. The economic downturn has caused the Jewish community, and day schools in particular, to be especially concerned with raising the funds we need to make our schools run. At the same time, some parents are thinking about taking their children out of our schools in order to reduce their household expenses. How can lay leaders and administrators break though the panic and anxiety they may be feeling to continue to lead their schools in the right direction?
♦ Zvi Grumet
Sitting here one week before Pesach I am struck by an uncomfortable truth: Moses was not a great leader. He was afraid of Pharaoh, afraid of his own people, and he made practically no decisions in the entire Exodus story without direct instruction from G-d. No wonder his name is absent from the Haggadah.
♦ Joshua Elkin
Anyone who knows anything about Jewish day schools (and for that matter, anyone who knows anything about schools in general) acknowledges how critically important a talented and inspiring leader is to the success of each school.
♦ Judy Groner and David Altman
Joseph Telushkin recounts that when President Dwight Eisenhower met with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, the American president said: “It is very hard to be the president of 170 million people.” Ben-Gurion responded: “It’s harder to be the prime minister of 2 million prime ministers.”
♦ Steven Lorch
When a head of school is an effective leader, in harmony with the strategic direction set by the board, everyone—a head of school, board, and school community—wins. The one key strategy that most strongly promotes a virtuous cycle of leadership growth for the head and strategic thinking for the board is a well functioning Head Support and Evaluation Committee.
♦ Ray Levi
Ray Levi and David Truslow were initially brought together through a PEJE School Improvement Journey Grant and have been conversing regularly for four years. This attempt to speak in writing reflects an effort to replicate the reflective dialogue that is at the heart of a coaching relationship.
♦ Suzanne M. Bean
Some say that leadership is difficult to define but easy to recognize in people. Others say that America is suffering from a leadership crisis and that our nation has little confidence in the honesty, integrity, and ethics of leaders in all segments of society. Although the concept of leadership is often studied, researched, and discussed, the art of leadership is still misunderstood, debated, and often neglected. It is resolved, however, that leadership skills can be developed and more intentional endeavors must be made to cultivate bright, young leaders for the future.
♦ Wayne L. Firestone
Over the past several years I have had the good fortune of working for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, combining the two perspectives of the Shema (“You shall teach your children diligently”) and of the Talmud by engaging our young people in experiential education under the assumption that they are truly the builders of our people and of the world. In Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of our Fathers, our organization’s namesake Hillel the Elder stated, “A shy person cannot learn” (Mishnah Avot 2:6). Today, our organization encourages Jewish students to leave their comfort zones, to push their personal boundaries and to take an active part in enriching the Jewish people and the world.
♦ Joshua Avedon and Shawn Landres
A generation consisting of what are arguably the most well educated Jews in American history is flooding the marketplace of ideas with new strategies for building Jewish community in the 21st century. The broad and sustained investment in Jewish education over the past several decades is reaping high-yield benefits for the Jewish community in the form of a cadre of Jewishly literate, socially-minded, creative entrepreneurs—both lay and professional. They are some of the key leaders of the Jewish “Innovation Ecosystem,” a growing sector of dynamic new organizations that is changing the face of American Judaism.
♦ Steven Burg
Interacting with teens is an indescribably rewarding experience. Teens are at that unique time in their lives when they are on the verge of independence. They are as intelligent as adults, often quite mature, and usually extremely enthusiastic. One of the greatest opportunities we can offer teens is that of empowering themselves. When providing teens with leadership roles, it is imperative to give them room to be creative, to make mistakes, and even to give them the “freedom to fail.” Given the chance, teens can reach unparalleled heights; if nothing else, their mistakes help build character.
♦ Rachel Meytin
Q: What do all the following topics have in common: Darfur, energy independence, gay marriage, poverty, Israel, healthcare?
A: They are all issues on which pluralistic day school students attending recent Panim el Panim seminars chose to lobby.
♦ Jules Gutin
When I entered high school in 1963 I decided to follow in my sister’s footsteps and joined our local chapter of United Synagogue Youth (USY). I’m not sure what I expected. From a distance, I had observed USYers at some of their activities. They appeared to enjoy the experience. I was particularly impressed with all the ruach.
♦ Frances M. Urman
The headship can be a very challenging and highly rewarding position. In recent years, schools as well as other non-profit and commercial organizations have found it increasingly difficult to recruit senior leaders. The headship is in a state of crisis, largely precipitated by a number of seminal factors:
♦ Roger Fuller
There are several theories of leadership and change found in the popular and scholarly literature. Milken Community High School in Los Angeles faces the dilemma of trips and experiential learning just like any other day school in America. What trips are justified? What trips serve to extend the mission of the school? What happens to those who remain behind? How are such trips scheduled and what is the impact of that scheduling? This year, we have made a real attempt to answer these questions through advanced planning, creative problem solving, and changes in leadership paradigms.
♦ Abby Sosland
Writing an article entitled “Nurturing Women’s Leadership in Day Schools” is a bit more complicated than it might seem. While many of the top leaders in Jewish education today are happy to discuss the issue, a number of women declined to have their names included in this piece and only spoke “off the record.” Even in 2009, when gender issues seem like a thing of the past, talking about women’s issues—in any area of Jewish professional life—still doesn’t feel safe to some people. Women fear complaining aloud; nobody wants to be labeled a “troublemaker.”
♦ Sue Einhorn
I had been a Jewish educator for over twenty five years, thrilled and satisfied to be in the classroom as a middle school teacher. Journeying along an incredible path in Jewish education, my life was transformed five short years ago, when the principal of my school (Greenfield Day School in Miami) offered me the opportunity to participate in Project SuLaM, a program presented by RAVSAK and sponsored by AVI CHAI. It was a professional development program that was specifically directed to general studies school leadership looking for a rich and meaningful Jewish experience. I took that opportunity and nothing since has been the same in my life. It takes insightful leadership to recognize the potential of those working closely with you. As a result of this, I quickly learned that when the road to learning is shared, an inspired and committed community can develop.
♦ Cheryl R. Finkel
At Jewish weddings and happy occasions, watch the group psychology of the circle dance. There are some people who need to be at the center…Some shuffle about in the middle, happy to be part of the fun with no need to attract attention. Others hover at the margins and will not join. They just want to watch. And on every dance floor there is a person in the circle who looks around the room identifying those on the margins, outstretches his or her arm, and invites person after person to be part of the circle. That’s the leader. (Erica Brown,Inspired Jewish Leadership)
♦ Eva E. Aldrich
For nearly two decades, my life has revolved around educational institutions. I’ve been an educator, a consultant working with independent schools and private colleges and universities, and a member of the boards of several nonprofit educational programs. Currently, I teach board members how to help grow philanthropic sustainability through our course “Purposeful Boards, Powerful Fundraising” at The Fund Raising School at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.
♦ RAVSAK Staff
This column features books, articles, and websites, recommended by our authors and people from the RAVSAK network, pertaining to the theme of the current issue of HaYidion for readers who want to investigate the topic in greater depth.
Student Leadership Programs in RAVSAK Schools
RAVSAK’s motto is, “Our client is the Jewish future.” Our schools cultivate the Jewish future by imparting Jewish learning and instilling leadership skills in our students. But what does a leadership program look like? Is it a separate program, or an element of something already existing at the school? Does it take the form of a retreat that separates leaders from their peers, or does it plunge leaders into the fray and test their mettle? Have a look at five schools that take vastly different approaches to the task of nurturing student leadership.
One usually associates “Color War” with sports competition. A few students are captains and as a leadership opportunity, it is quite limited. However, at Herzl/RMHA in Denver, Color War has evolved into a multifaceted leadership opportunity, a cross-grade group bonding experience, and a program that draws alumni, former students who did not stay on through 12th grade, and the community in general to the final event.
♦ Heritage Academy
Who will go out before them and who will come in before them, and who will bring them back so that the congregation of God will not be like sheep who have no shepherd? (Numbers 27:17)
♦ Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union
At Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union, the overall goal behind our Student-Leadership Shabbaton is to create a community of learners dedicated to improving themselves and their school.
♦ The David Posnack Hebrew Day School
The David Posnack Hebrew Day School developed a unique student leadership program last year called Jewish Life-Pathing. The program identifies the spark of light within each student and assists in cultivating that spark to ensure future success as a leader. The program allows us to recognize the individual strengths of our students and assists us in directing them to the right college, leadership and community affiliations. Below is a letter from Ryan, one of our students.
♦ Austin Jewish Academy
Austin Jewish Academy’s Knesset has designated the week of Purim as “Pay It Forward for Purim” week at AJA. The Knesset was motivated by the inspiring Pay It Forward movement, which is has swept the nation since 2000, following the release of the book by that title written by author Catherine Ryan Hyde.