Two Contrarian Thoughts about Growth in Challenging Times

June 2, 2010
In a post from the eJewish Philanthropy's Growing Jewish Education in Challenging Times series, Eli Gottleib, Vice-President, Mandel Foundation-Israel and Director of the Mandel Leadership Institute, kicks in about growing Jewish education in challenging times, disagreeing with some of the premises of the ongoing debate.
He writes:
"What we need more than anything are inspiring visions of the Jewish life well lived, of what a vital Jewish community ought to feel like from the inside. We need to think deeply and broadly about what it is we are educating for. Collectively and individually, we don’t do nearly enough thinking of this kind. We are far more articulate about means than we are about ends. When pushed to say something about our intentions beyond this or that specific programmatic goal, we stutter.
The kind of growth I’d most like to see in Jewish education is growth in the power and depth of the ideas that animate our work. Growth of this kind is not only possible in challenging times; it is precisely what challenging times demand.
And how can we grow ideas? By combining three key ingredients: minds, time and fertile learning environments. Bring together our best minds, give them time to think and idea-friendly places to think in, and the depth and reach of the ideas they’ll produce will far exceed anything we could ever hope to produce individually, piecemeal and on the fly. Instead of reducing investments in professional development and becoming so outcome-oriented that our most promising educational leaders are even more overworked than before the current economic crisis, we should be doing all we can to give them tools, the time, and the space to think."
Updated: Jun. 20, 2010