HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal


On My Nightstand

Issue: Leadership Dispositions Prizmah

The Seventh Most Important Thing

by Shelley Pearsall

It was a bitterly cold day when Arthur T. Owens grabbed a brick and hurled it at the trash picker. Arthur had his reasons, and the brick hit the Junk Man in the arm, not the head. But none of that matters to the judge…

As a middle school teacher and then administrator, I made it a point to read the same literature as my students, and in particular, to keep up with the books nominated for the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award. Now that my oldest child is in fifth grade, I was thrilled that we could begin reading the Caudill books together.

This book raises big questions for those of us who work with children. How do we manage our inherent biases? How do we make sure children have a voice? How do we find value in discarded objects? What about discarded people? Where is the line between junk and art? Pearsall issues a challenge to any of us who have ever made a snap judgement without looking deeper. If you have a child in this age range, this is a great book to read together. If not, pick it up anyway!

Daniel Weinberg

 

If All the Seas Were Ink

by Ilana Kurshan

In this memoir, Kurshan shares a slice of her life as an American expat in Israel over the seven and a half years it took her to read Daf Yomi, a page a day of the Talmud. After her short marriage ends in divorce, Kurshan finds herself alone and living in Jerusalem, an ocean away from her family. It’s at that time that she commits to “the Daf,” and the rabbis of the Talmud become her constant companions, traveling with her as she goes about her daily life.

Kurshan, an editor, translator and scholar as well as an egalitarian Jewish woman, weaves a tapestry of personal insights and stories from her unique perspective around the lessons of the Talmud. What made this memoir memorable was the overlapping of Kurshan’s warmth and dreaminess with her brilliant academic mind. Her passion for text study shines through the pages, and her book can inspire many of us to rededicate ourselves to serious Jewish learning.

Andrea Hernandez

 

Home Fire

by Kamila Shamsie

Where do the obligations of family and leadership coincide or diverge? At what length would a son go to please his father (or indeed the memory of his father)? And should exceptions be made where vulnerability and loyalty corrupt?

In this gripping novel, Kamila Shamsie weaves an emotional tale of two socio-economically disparate British families of Muslim descent whose fates depend upon the compassion and understanding of the other. Shamsie pulls no punches in creating flawed protagonists and reprehensible antagonists who carry swollen hearts, conflicting emotions and treacherous passions, all of which are heartrendingly set against a background of British nationalism and Middle East jihadism. As Home Fire demonstrates so sadly and forcefully, leadership is hollow in instances where self-interest and selfishness tragically reign supreme.

Jeffrey Savit

 

The Celebrity Experience

by Donna Cutting

Customer service, whether good or bad, is experienced in almost everything we do and everywhere we go. Some people may think that creating a positive customer experience is simply a matter of smiling or responding to emails in a timely manner, but to go from good to great can and should mean so much more than that.

Through real-life stories from companies and individuals, Cutting shares why elevating your business’s customer experience will have a significant impact on your success. She also presents many ways to stand out from the rest of the market. As schools think about current and prospective families, donors, alumni, and the community, what is the feeling that your school is providing? How do you want people to react when they leave your building? Are you rolling out the red carpet for everyone who enters your school?

Elana Alfred

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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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