This past Father’s Day I was reminded of one of my late father’s favorite Judaic sayings, “From generation to generation” or in Hebrew, “L’dor V’dor” (לְדוֹר וָדוֹר). I wrote these words as I sat in a hip New Orleans coffee bar, French Truck, with my older daughter who is working on a graduate school project. While this may seem like an unorthodox way to celebrate Father’s Day, I can’t think of a better way than to spend it with my next generation.
L’dor V’dor, which is both a saying and a prayer, is interpreted to mean that we have a responsibility to pass on teachings to future generations. It is a concept that emphasizes the continuity and transmission of Jewish traditions, values, and heritage from one generation to the next.
As a school leader, you are often called upon to offer words of inspiration to your faculty, staff, students, alumni and lay leaders. While you might not think this is the most important thing that you do running a school, I would argue that it really is.
Your faculty look to you for inspiration. They don’t want you to lead from behind, they want you to inspire, motivate and share your vision for moving your school forward. They will follow you if you inspire them.
Your students need your insights, perspective and guidance. You set the tempo and vision for the academic year.
Your alumni look to you for stewardship and leadership. They want to make sure that you will be the “sturdy hand” that will guide their alma mater for the next generation of alumni.
Your board expects you to be the visionary leader that they hired to fairly lead your educational institution through both good and challenging times.
My dad, Rabbi Arthur Oleisky (z”l), was a long serving pulpit Rabbi in Tucson, AZ and before that in Erie, PA. He was passionate in the way in which he lived his life and his Judaism. He believed that life was all about doing good, helping others and working to make the world a better place. These are not just Jewish values but universal values that all of us can live by.
Dad was all about making generational connections within a larger family (L’dor V’dor). When I look in the mirror each morning, I see some of him in me. It’s an extraordinary gift, one that I will treasure forever.
What will your legacy as a leader be? How will you inspire and lead the next generation of your school? What I love about L’dor V’dor is that it challenges us as leaders to think about future generations.
With the end of the academic year, I want to wish you and your family a restful, rejuvenating and relaxing summer. Just as you hopefully will do, our newsletter will take July off and we look forward to reconnecting with you in August.