HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal


A Word from the Editor

by Dr. Barbara Davis Issue: Board Leadership

R AVSAK’s executive director, Marc Kramer, recently noted how frequently people who are asked to prepare a d’var Torah will comment with amazement that the text “speaks to them,” regardless of the timing or subject matter of that text. While we do not claim such miraculous qualities for HaYidion, you will undoubtedly find that this issue also “speaks” to you, striking chords that resonate with your own experiences as day school leaders, both professional and volunteer.

As editor of the journal, I am astonished at how frequently a problem with which I am wrestling is, mirabile dictu, addressed in HaYidion. As my school plans its first Board retreat, an article appears telling how to make it effective. As we think about recruiting new Board members and changing the “climate” of our school, those topics are likewise addressed in RAVSAK’s quarterly publication.

The subject of organizational governance and leadership is a far-reaching one, which has great currency. As Nathan Garber points out in an article published elsewhere, the examination of the non-profit Board’s role “has been driven partly by the experience of the private sector, but more importantly by the changing environment in which non-profits operate. This environment is characterized by: increased competition for Board members; and, increased need for self-generated income; increased expectations for accountability; increased competition from for-profit services; increased professionalization of non-profit managers.”

The topic of Jewish communal leadership reveals even more challenges. As Hal Lewis, author of From Sanctuary to Boardroom: A Jewish Approach to Leadership, writes “Mirroring trends that reach across America, today’s Jews are far more comfortable with episodic and intermittent linkages than with traditional forms of affiliation…Today, Judaism has become a leisure time activity, one of the many things American Jews do if they have the time and are so inclined. And even then, only on occasions that suit their needs, temperaments and value systems.”

While this issue of HaYidion cannot address all of the multiple facets of the governance discussion, it clearly touches on many of the hot-button topics which are relevant to Jewish education today. We hope you will find this a welcome addition to the tools you use as you forge the future of American Jewry in our community day schools. ♦

Dr. Barbara Davis is the Secretary of RAVSAK, Editor of HaYidion and Head of School at the Syracuse Hebrew Day School in Dewitt, NY. Barbara can be reached at shds@twcny.rr.com

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Board Leadership

The role of a board is to lead—to formulate and clarify mission and policies, raise, oversee and manage funds, hire, supervise, support and collaborate with the head, all through the lens of Jewish wisdom. This issue provides guidance for day schools to find the right leaders to serve on the board, and to strengthen their leadership while they are serving.

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