It is with both a heavy heart and an enthusiastic eye toward the future that I am writing to tell you that as of June 30, I will be leaving my position as director of school services at Torah Aura Productions. On the following day, I will begin a new position as director of congregational learning at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles.
I’ve worked at Torah Aura in a variety of positions for the past eight years. I am abundantly grateful to my bosses — Jane Golub, Alan Rowe, and Joel Lurie Grishaver — for providing me with innumerable and immeasurable opportunities for professional and personal growth. They have welcomed me into their family, and have allowed me to meaningfully contribute to the mission and vision of the company they founded almost thirty years ago. Their dedication to excellence has had a deep impact on me, and I am very proud of the work I’ve done for them, and for you, our cherished customers.
As they always have, the team at Torah Aura will continue to create innovative and imaginative curricular materials for Jewish schools. I am also confident that they will continue to provide excellent support for educators and teachers, and that our customers will feel no gap in the personal care they receive.
I’m excited to be taking this next step in my career and to again be working on the “front lines” of Jewish education. Please let me know if I can be of assistance before my tenure here is completed, after which you can feel free to be in touch with me via my Torah Aura email account, which will remain active for the foreseeable future.
Thank you for welcoming me into your schools and offices, and for the important work you do for the Jewish people.
Director of School Services
by Josh Mason-Barkin
(cross-posted to Josh’s blog)
For the past three years, a big part of my job at Torah Aura Productions has involved flying around the country to work with synagogue school educators and teachers. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time on planes. And since my natural predilection is to be geeky about these sorts of things, I’ve become something of an airplane nerd who now feels at home among communities of frequent travelers.
As part of my geekiness, last year I had the opportunity to meet a special pilot, Captain Denny Flanagan, who flies for United Airlines. Captain Denny, as he is affectionately called by the frequent flyers who adore him, has become a celebrity among road warriors for his amazing dedication to customer service. He’s an experienced airline pilot who goes out of his way to make the commercial air travel experience pleasant (gasp!) for customers.
I’ve read a lot of accounts of the big and small things that Captain Denny does to make air travel better. He’s an incredible ambassador for the entire industry and for his airline. (You can read some of these accounts here, here, and here.) If you’ve been on an airplane recently, you probably know that the airlines could use a lot more people like Captain Denny.
Recently, it occurred to me that Captain Denny isn’t just an example for people who work in air travel. In fact, it’s clear to me that — although he is not Jewish and not an educator — he actually has a lot to teach Jewish educators about how to carry ourselves, and about how to be leaders. This, I figure, is the perfect opportunity to find a nexus between two things I love: Jewish education and airplanes. So, with a tip of the hat to Carol Starin’s Let Me Count the Ways, here are six lessons in Jewish educational leadership that I’ve learned from Captain Denny: