Recently I had the privilege of attending a celebration in honor of Dr. Barbara Davis, a member of the RAVSAK Board and the editor of this publication, in appreciation of her 25 years as head of the Syracuse Hebrew Day School. Given the topic of this issue of HaYidion, it seems most fitting to reflect on the portrait of leadership that emerged that night, both from those who spoke on Barbara’s behalf and from Barbara’s own reflections on headship.
Speaker after speaker referred to the qualities that distinguished Barbara’s leadership—qualities you will recognize as epitomizing so many of our school leaders:
In fact, Barbara is but one of the gifted leaders who have emerged from within the RAVSAK network of schools. All of the RAVSAK board members were recruited because of the leadership they demonstrated on behalf of one of our RAVSAK schools. With the increasing awareness of how important nurturing Jewish day school leadership is to the success of our schools, we are equally fortunate that many of the founding visionaries of RAVSAK, school professionals who have themselves demonstrated these qualities of leadership, have stepped forward, eager to help mentor current and emerging leaders.
As RAVSAK moves forward to address this field priority, it is already positioned as a front-runner in cultivating school leadership. Our annual day school leadership conference, just held in Atlanta, has drawn record attendance each year for more than a decade. The high quality of speakers and sessions, the value to our schools in inspiration and ideas, the relationships formed among colleagues and the opportunities for professional development for lay leaders render the conference invaluable not only to RAVSAK schools but to the entire field of day school leadership.
Dr. Marc Kramer has guided RAVSAK for over a decade, with the help of an extraordinary staff and the foresight of visionary funding partners, mindful that all our activities and programs be designed with the goal of supporting the development of leadership with a Jewish lens. Project SuLaM nurtures the growth of school leaders by immersing them in the vibrancy and richness of Judaism’s sacred traditions and traditions. HaYidion offers insights on issues crucial to day school management and innovation. Student programming such as the Moot Beit Din and Project ROPE cultivate the skills and dispositions of leadership in Jewish study and social activism. Projects such as Representing the Jewish Past raise the field of Jewish education by developing resources and investing in teachers, our schools’ most precious asset.
As I think back to the wonderful evening a few weeks ago in Syracuse, New York, the words of one of Dr. Davis’s student alumni stay with me: She created an environment at SHDS that fostered my education at a young age, but more than that, she taught me what it means to be a credit to my people. …I feel the influence in the way I approach new situations, in my understanding of morals, and in my relationships with others.
According to the Torah, the Jewish people have a special mission to be a ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש—a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). It is the mission of Jewish day schools to educate generations of Jewish leaders toward that end; it is a mission our school leaders are fulfilling every day, and it is the mission of RAVSAK to support and nurture their ongoing success.
Wishing you all a zissen Pesach,
Arnee Winshall is chair of RAVSAK’s Board of Directors and founding chair of JCDS, Boston's Jewish Community Day School. Arnee can be reached at email@example.com.
Each fall, the seventh grade students in my Jewish social studies class begin the year by participating in the Jewish Court of All Time online simulation. JCAT is an innovative learning adventure that is a joint venture between the University of Cincinnati’s...[More]
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