Our Stories

Students Reflect on Leadership with a Jewish Lens

October 19, 2017 by Lisa Schopf (Faculty and Staff) Ronit Greenstein (Faculty and Staff)

Dr. Erica Brown – author, educator, and the Director of the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership at the George Washington University – was the guest lecturer at MILTON’s Scholars Forum recently. Erica led a discussion with the sixth graders about the themes of responsibility, accountability, and leadership by examining the story of Yonah. These are some of the themes the students are also exploring in their documentary about MILTON and our school’s 30-year history as the only Jewish day school in the nation’s capital. Students reflected on their text study of Yonah as a reluctant prophet, their responsibilities as members of MILTON’s first middle school class and approaching bnai mitzvot, and their ideas about leadership.

Examining Leadership with a Jewish Lens – Lessons of Yonah the Prophet:

“Yonah had to accept his role as a leader so people of Ninveh would listen to him. He was a reluctant leader.” – Eitan

“But Yonah took up the challenge – it’s [about taking on] something hard… The Scholars Forum documentary is a big challenge too. But we’re stepping up to it. Like Jonah, we have a mission and we have a choice to run away or complete it and take up the challenge. We are taking up the challenge. We’re making a documentary to share our pride and value in our school. We are embracing our responsibility.” – Gabri

On Responsibility and Leadership:

“Leadership can be difficult, but if you abandon your responsibilities it can harm other people. If you work in a group and you don’t do what you need to do, it can hold the group back. They might not succeed at all. And it’s because you didn’t step up.” – Adam

“We talked about our becoming Bar and Bat Mitvahed, and how once we become Jewish adults, we have to be responsible and accountable for all our actions.” – Eitan

On Leadership Styles:

“I admire patience and persistence in leadership.” – Adam

“I admire people who are kind and get involved.” – Jessica

“I admire people who don’t only care about themselves.” – Eitan

“I admire people who take up a challenge and stay strong… and powerful women!” – Gabri

On Inspiring Leaders:

“I am inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsberg – she persists in working for justice. She wants to do good and sticks to her beliefs.” – Gabri

On Being Role Models:

“It was a good idea to have Erica in Scholars Forum with us. She taught us a lot about responsibility and how we need to be good people that [those who follow] can look up to. With Jonah, he had a lot of people he was trying to guide – we will be guiding the school.” – Jessica

“We’re going to be role models for the school for the next three years. We get to be leaders, and it’s our responsibility to do our best to represent our community.” – Gabri

“We’re going to be shaping the middle school and how we do things.” – Eitan

“Everyone here has a role in making the documentary. If one just decides “I’m not going to do that,” and runs away, then the whole thing wouldn’t work out.” – Adam

“We should share the video with other schools and it can be an example of how students should never be underestimated because they can have a huge impact on their educational life and their school.” – Jessica