On Manhigut

By Erika Schon
Former Director
Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University

The Hebrew word for leadership, manhigut, reminds us that we expect a certain conduct, or minhag, from our professional and lay leaders. This behavior includes the careful consideration of succession. Dr. Hal M. Lewis, the noted author on Jewish leadership, writes “the essence of an authentic leader in Jewish tradition is the individual who is always in search of his or her replacement…the true test of success is the long-term continuity of an idea or movement.”  

And so, with humility and gratitude for a challenging and rewarding tenure both at Baltimore Hebrew University and, for the last three years, at Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University, I have taken this notion to heart. 

I am proud to announce that on July 1, Jill Max assumed the position of Director of BHI. Jill is already well-positioned to take on the helm of BHI, having spent the past year as Assistant Director of BHI, focusing on Adult Education initiatives. I know you will join me in wishing Jill ongoing success in her new and expanded responsibilities.

It has truly been a privilege and an honor to play a role in the establishment of Baltimore Hebrew Institute. The integration of BHU’s programs into Towson University was a landmark achievement that was possible through the close collaboration and support of the ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. The transition required not only bridge funding, but also creativity and bold thinking to develop a new educational model. 

As you know, I have tremendous respect and excitement for the programs and students that we are supporting here at TU. In just three years, Towson has become a recognized address for Jewish Education, Jewish Communal Service and Jewish Studies, with outstanding academic offerings for both undergraduate and graduate students. With an exceptional Judaic library collection, dedicated Towson faculty and staff, enthusiastic and talented students and strong University-wide support, I am certain that we have found a wonderful new home for our programs. Each year, I couldn’t be more proud of the BHI-affiliated graduates and I know they are also proud to be members of our BHI family.

As I write this, I am also participating in another first at Towson University that was made possible through the ASSOCIATED’s support: the Instructional Leadership Institute for Jewish Educators runs from July 9 – 13th. Today is day three of the stimulating, well-organized and enlightening week-long course. The 45 educators enrolled in the course span the broadest spectrum of Jewish affiliation and each brings unique experiences and perspectives to the class exercises and conversations. The Institute is being taught by four expert faculty members from Towson University’s Center for Leadership in Education. Following the five days of intense classroom study, the course will continue with online forums throughout the year.  

The success of this innovative professional development initiative has already generated tremendous enthusiasm from all the students and I am personally thrilled to participate as I prepare to launch new music education projects next year. 

To the ASSOCIATED, as well as all of our stakeholders and friends, thank you for your trust and support during our journey together. May we go m’chayil l’chayil, from strength to strength!


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Filed under Jewish Learning, Leadership Development

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