Since the spring of 2021, I’ve been incredibly privileged to be a fellow in the Day School Leadership Training Institute, a program which trains and provides support to Heads of Jewish day schools. Our winter conference, titled “The Leader in Me”, took place this week and was a wonderful opportunity to meet and learn with and from over 30 leaders from schools across the U.S. and Canada. The conference focused on our journeys toward leadership and how to institute change and vision in our schools and communities. Our learning experience culminated with each participant sharing a reflection on their growth as a leader and presenting something that we are working on implementing in our schools. My presentation was about developing a framework for a set of core beliefs or aspirations that will guide our curricula, social emotional learning, and the work we do together as a community.
Another highlight of the conference was getting to spend significant time finding lessons for leadership in our daily text studies with a learning partner. The sources that we studied focused on self-reflection and personal leadership, especially through challenges. This week’s parasha, Vayishlach, engages with this theme, especially through the themes of struggle and transformation. In the text, Jacob is dealing with a very real fear of the approaching armies of his brother, Esau, and it is during these moments of fear and doubt that he is visited by a mysterious messenger who wrestles with him and who gives him a prophecy about his future. As we’ve seen before, there is something really powerful in characters receiving names that have to do with their origin stories. The name that Jacob receives, Yisrael, one who struggles with God, is such an important lesson for us.
Not only are challenges a part of life, but it is such an important part of a community to be able to support one another through times of struggle or challenge. I find it beautiful that in this parasha, even though this story is about Jacob, it is also part of the origin story of the Jewish People. B’nei Yisrael, the children of Israel, are the original descendants of Jacob through his children and the twelve tribes, and I love that the very name of our people carries the theme of struggle. As we continue to build an inclusive community which supports each other, I am grateful for opportunities for our faculty and staff, students, families and community members to work together to solve challenges both near and far and who do so through love and understanding.
We’re also just a week and a half away from our Chanukah Production! We’re so excited to welcome you all to join in song and fun on the evening of Monday, December 19th. Our students are working hard on their songs, lines, and artwork and we’re very much looking forward to celebrating together!
Wishing you, your families, and loved ones a Shabbat Shalom and a restful weekend,