Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, the namesake of my school (Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge, California), said, “What we need more than anything else is not textbooks, but textpeople.” When I discuss this beautiful quote with our community, I ask, What did Heschel mean? Time and time again, what comes out of our discussions is that the desired outcome of learning, through textbooks or other means, is to establish positive relationships with others. Heschel emphasizes the relevance of personal connection.
I am blessed to have had many roles at my school for four decades. I am a proud alumnus, and right out of college I started working at Heschel as a Judaic studies and physical education teacher and coach. Knowing that I hoped to become an administrator, I asked our school rabbi and middle school director what advice they had for me if I wanted to serve as a leader of the school in the future. From the numerous anecdotes they shared with me, one theme stood out: relationship-building.