Posted on May 6th, 2014

Update from the President: On Working Together

This week I had the great pleasure and good fortune of listening to Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks twice. The first was a large community gathering that was actually hosted by a local Catholic University. His message was about what it takes to heal a fractured world. He asked us to remember each of us has the power to bring healing, in some small way, to the world even if we can’t heal the entire world. It’s what he called, “An imperfect utopia.” Both times I heard him speak he quoted Victor Frankel as saying, “The door to happiness opens outward.” This quote framed both of his talks as a reminder that we need to look outward, beyond ourselves, and see what we can do to connect with others and in our own small way, make the world a better place.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

The next morning I had the opportunity to listen to him in a very small group, a gathering of educators where he shared his philosophy on education. He began by stating that our commitment to education has been the uniquely defining characteristic of the Jewish people. He spoke about education as a conversation between the generations and mentioned the importance of relationships. In answering a question about how we help our students and our own children think about Peoplehood and what it means to belong to something beyond themselves, he mentioned that only twice in the Torah does it ever say ,”Lo Tov.” The two times this expression is used are when God tells Adam it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18) and when Yitro tells Moses this thing that you are doing, leading on your own is not good (Exodus 18:17). As Jewish educational leaders, these are important teachings. Jewish education is meant to be experienced in relationship, we are not meant to learn alone, work alone or to lead alone.

As a professional organization NATE helps address these issues of what is lo tov. The professional development we offer enables us to learn together, to grow and to strengthen the organizations in which we work in a variety of ways. As a collegial organization NATE is here so that no Jewish Educator has to work alone or work in isolation. And, most importantly, NATE is a volunteer organization. While we are blessed to have one exceptional professional in Rabbi Stanley Schickler, our Executive Director, NATE changes in the world in big and small ways because of the thousands of hours NATE volunteers work together to bring to fruition the important work of our organization. As we continue to explore a new mission for NATE, our ability to work together will become even more important.

As this fiscal year begins to wind down, I hope we all are finding a few moments to catch our breath and reflect upon how we wish to be better in the new year. NATE is here to support each of us in that pursuit and I hope that one of the things you consider doing is to support NATE in our work. I’ve suggested it a few times before, but perhaps in the summer, if you haven’t yet done so, you will take a moment to fill out our Membership Involvement Profile and think about what your can do to help NATE be tov me’od!