When I first encountered this quotation, by the author and social activist bell hooks, I was stopped in my tracks: “The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is—it’s to imagine what is possible.”
Many believe that, in hooks’ words, the purpose of education is to “tell it like it is,” to cram as much information as possible into the heads of learners, so that they understand the world. But I believe that if we are actually going to prepare learners for the world that is coming once they leave our care, we need to embrace the fact that education is an art, and that we do more than “tell it like it is.” Following hooks’ logic then, the purpose of education, especially Jewish education, is to “imagine what is possible”—to have a vision of the future, and to work each and every day to create that future together.
Just like Hashem infused Betzalel with רוּחַ אֱלֹקִים Ruach Elokim, the Spirit of God, to design and build the Mishkan, my hope is that this kind of creative spirit infuses the leadership of Jewish day schools and yeshivas gathered at the Prizmah Conference in Denver in just a few weeks. During three days of high-quality professional learning and relationship building, we will celebrate the spirit of creativity that we bring to our work every day and the ways that each and every one of us imagines what is possible.
Here’s a brief glimpse into some of the creative experiences that you’ll have at the Prizmah Conference.
- We come together as a whole community for Shared Experiences of learning and celebration. Envision your future with Lisa Kay Solomon, Louie Montoya, and Ariel Ran from the Stanford d. school’s K12 futures team; experience with intersections between creativity and Jewish tradition with thought-leaders, rabbis, educators, and creates from across the spectrum of Jewish life; and explore the science of happiness and how it can strengthen your school community with renowned psychologist and expert Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar.
- To welcome you into the conference’s dynamic and creative experience, we’ll be beginning on Sunday afternoon with Creative Workshops, facilitated by our Prizmah Conference Creatives-in-Residence and Featured Presenters. Get into the creative spirit through hands-on explorations of creative processes, art-making and facilitated conversations.
- Activate your imagination and collect inspiration in the Creative Hub. Network and share your passions with others, and imagine how you might bring your ideas to life.
- Throughout the conference, you will have the opportunity to choose from hundreds of sessions that are designed to develop your leadership capacities, share leading practices, foster belonging, build connections and meet your emergent needs as a Jewish day school leader. Expert facilitators and thought leaders will share Idas and resources that will help to advance you in your role, your school, and your community.
Whether this is your first Prizmah Conference or you’ve been participating for years, I hope that the Prizmah Conference is an opportunity for you to draw ideas and inspiration from the collective creative spirit of Jewish day schools and yeshivas. I am very much looking forward to imagining what is possible, together with you.