Mentoring as a Commitment to the Future
This past week, I traveled to Seattle, Washington for a site visit to Hertzl-Ner Tamid Congregation where Rabbi Jill Levy serves as Director of Congregational Learning. Rabbi Levy, ordained three years ago, and I have been having monthly mentoring sessions this
year by phone as part of a commitment by the Wexner Foundation to sustained and purposeful mentoring. As most of you know, Rabbi Scheff and I have consistently mentored JTS Rabbinical School students and Davidson School of Education students for the past six years. (I myself am a product of being mentored by Rabbi Scheff when I was a fourth-year student.) The art of mentoring demands time, thoughtful processing of experience and a willingness to look at our own practice on a daily basis. Why do we do it? Beyond the gifts of future rabbis and educators bringing their enthusiasm and energy to our community as they learn, there is also the gift of your two rabbis' putting a stamp on the future. We feel strongly that what we are doing in our Conservative synagogue here in Rockland County is inspiring and also portable. Something very right is happening at the Orangetown Jewish Center in Orangeburg, New York. In John Gardner's well-known book On Leadership, mentors are compared to farmers. "Mentors are growers... good farmers rather than
inventors or mechanics. Growers have to accept that the main ingredients and processes with which they work are not under their own control.
They are in a patient partnership with nature, with an eye to the weather and a feeling for cultivation."
As mentors, we hope to help identify upon what those successes are based and help our students figure outhow to re-create these successes in their own way. Serving as a mentor to one student at a time means that we are establishing positive energy for the future of Conservative Judaism.
This mentoring business is truly holy work! Our many congregants who take the time to get to know our interns each year, to teach them, to learn from them and with them, are a part of this incredible process of committing to the future!
Rabbi Paula Mack Drill