HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal

Leadership Dispositions

Leadership Dispositions

Articles in this issue go beyond the skills and knowledge that a school leader requires, to explore the "dispositions," character traits, essential for this role. Half of the contributors currently occupy day school leadership roles; they reflect on the importance of a particular quality to their leadership style and experience. The other half are written by people engaged in training leaders, of Jewish education and beyond. Collectively, the pieces in the issue reflect part of the spectrum of personal qualities that inform the work of successful day school leadership.

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Prizmah’s Leadership Academy Addresses the Needs of the Day School Field

by Jane Taubenfeld Cohen and Ilisa Cappell Feb 12, 2018 Prizmah

Prizmah seeks to strengthen the ecosystem of day school leadership. We believe that schools with strong lay and professional leadership are in a better position to focus on critical strategic issues facing their communities. We believe that when trust is a governing force between lay and professional teams, schools are well equipped to deal with the challenges and opportunities that come their way. We believe that leadership doesn’t have to be lonely and that there are skills, capacities and dispositions that can be learned. And we believe we can help.


by Rabbi Avery Joel Feb 12, 2018 Fuchs Mizrachi Day School, Beachwood, Ohio

From a very young age, we are told parables that teach the importance of developing trust through honesty. The boy who cried wolf too many times lost the trust of the townspeople; he wasn’t believed when his cries were genuine.

Leadership Presence: The Look of Leadership

by Dr. Erica Brown Feb 12, 2018 Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership, George Washington University

Many years ago, a friend of mine was promoted to a position of senior leadership within a large organization. When I congratulated her, she tilted her head to the side and said, “Thank you.”  Her physical gesture communicated several things to me: humility, a tinge of being overwhelmed, and even a sense that she might feel undeserving of her new title. The “imposter syndrome”—the concept that some people are unable to internalize their accomplishments and persistently fear being exposed as a “fraud”—can hit hard at such moments. My friend’s body language was betraying her new position.


by Andrea Kasper Feb 12, 2018 Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford

I didn’t know that ambition could be a dirty word until well into adulthood. I was further shocked to learn that it was a downright insult if said about a woman. On one hand, I want to put gender issues aside; on the other hand, we can never put gender issues aside. I reflect on the negative words used to describe ambition: headstrong, stubborn, opinionated, selfish. Then there are the more positive words: hungry, motivated, smart, goal-oriented.

Leading Successfully in Education: Less Talk, More Conversation

by Chris Douglas Feb 12, 2018 Fierce

Change can only be successfully implemented when the people involved are on board, engaged and valued. The great differentiator going forward, the place where school leaders will find a new sustainable edge, resides in conversation—the way to human connectivity. What gets talked about from the boardroom to the classroom, how it gets talked about, and who is invited to join the conversation determines what will happen or won’t.

The Power of Conversation

by Rabbi Avi Bossewitch Feb 12, 2018 RASG Hebrew Academy, Miami Beach
RELATED TOPICS: Jewish StudiesLeadership

One of the striking ideas in Jewish thought is that the capacity for speech is the most God-like attribute with which humans are endowed. This idea is expressed vividly by Targum Onkelos at the beginning of Genesis. Onkelos translates the phrase וַיְהִי הָאָדָם לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה (Bereishit 2:7), usually translated as “and man became a living spirit,” as וַהֲוַת בְּאָדָם לְרוּחַ מְמַלְלָא, “and man became a speaking spirit.” Koach hadibbur, the power of speech, is what it means to be human.

Board Leadership: Dispositions for Success

by Susan Decker Feb 12, 2018 BoardSource

The most exceptional boards for Jewish day schools are composed of individuals who are committed to the mission of educating youth within a religious framework. They put principles and best practices into play to ensure that they are providing strong governance for the school. The collective will of the group is dedicated not only to holding the keys to the public trust of the institution but to advancing the reach and impact of the mission.


by Dr. Paul S. Oberman Feb 12, 2018 Robert M. Beren Academy, Houston
RELATED TOPICS: LeadershipStudents

This past November, I decided to shadow a student for an entire day, a short Friday, to see through his eyes what a typical day at our high school, Robert M. Beren Academy in Houston, looked like. As teachers and administrators, we make decisions all the time that we feel are in the best interests of students, but do we really know what it’s like to be a student in our own schools? I also wanted to show where our priorities lie. Teaching and learning are obviously at the heart of our schools, but we spend far more time as administrators in our offices than in the classrooms.

Strength in Vulnerability: Leaders Who Dare to Look Inside

by Gali Cooks Feb 12, 2018 Leading Edge

Who am I, how did I get here, and where am I headed? These existential questions provide the building blocks of our internal compass. They guide our way, ground us in what really matters, and propel us to live meaningful lives. And it is these types of questions that leaders in our community need to be asking of themselves as they navigate their teams and our institutions through the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. In leadership, self-awareness is a competitive advantage.


by Rabbi Adam Englander Feb 12, 2018 Katz Hillel Day School of Boca Raton