Joining the Cadre of Leaders: 71 Fellows Graduate from MLI Programs
More than 250 people attended a moving ceremony at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem in which the Mandel Leadership Institute 71 fellows graduated.
“This past year reminded us anew just how vital is the work of the Mandel Foundation in general and the Mandel Leadership Institute in particular,” Dr. Daniel Gordis, the outgoing director of the Mandel Leadership Institute, said as he opened the graduation ceremony. The graduates of the Mandel Leadership Institute (MLI) programs honored at the ceremony included graduates of the Mandel Jerusalem Fellows program, the Mandel School for Educational Leadership, the Senior Civil Service Program (Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Affairs) and the IDF Educational Leadership Development program.
The ceremony was attended by more than 250 people, including Mandel Foundation chairman Morton L. Mandel; Minister of Social Affairs Yitzchak Herzog; Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister, who heads the IDF’s education corps; Annette Hochstein, president of the Mandel Foundation-Israel; MLI director Dr. Daniel Gordis; faculty members; Mandel fellows; friends of MLI; family members; and of course—the excited graduates themselves.
A vision emerging from memory
Mandel Foundation chairman Morton L. Mandel congratulated the graduates and faculty members, emphasizing the close ties between MLI and its alumni: “I’d like to think we’re making a difference to your lives and that you’re making a difference to this country.” According to Mr. Mandel, this special connection “is linked to the future of the Jewish people.” On a personal level, Mr. Mandel stressed that he and his family are proud that their name is associated with the activities of these graduates, fellows, and faculty members, and said he hoped this would be “the beginning of a life-long relationship.”
Amidst the joy that filled the evening, the participants honored two of the leaders of MLI who passed away during the previous year: Prof. Seymour Fox, whose scholarship and vision, in partnership with Mr. Mandel created the Mandel Foundation-Israel, and Michael Gal, the first director of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership. After a minute of silence in their memory, Annette Hochstein, president of the Mandel Foundation-Israel, moved on from the personal memory of Mandel Institute members to the collective memory of the State of Israel. She noted that on that evening we were also marking 40 years since the Six-Day War, “a matter that evokes in us a reexamination of the past and thoughts about the future.” In this spirit, Ms. Hochstein congratulated the new graduates just before they set out to go to work, “…in an effort to build a better future, to make an impact on reality, so that the day-to-day and history will be better for us—and this is the essence of the Mandel Foundation’s mission.”
Leadership and excellence
“Israel is contending today with the issue of mediocrity versus excellence,” said Minister of Labor and Social Affairs MK Yitzchak Herzog. “Everyone should know that excellence is obtained at the Mandel Leadership Institute.” Minister Herzog expressed his appreciation of the Senior Civil Service Program, calling it the most significant training program for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services. Herzog, who has known Mr. Mandel, since childhood, congratulated the graduates, saying, “These graduates of the Mandel Leadership Institute will be the leaders of the Israeli civil service!” In conclusion, he expressed his desire to invest in additional training programs and joint research projects with the Mandel Leadership Institute.
Brig. Gen. Eli Shermeister, the Chief Education and Youth Officer, thanked MLI for the new IDF Educational Leadership Development program, claiming that the program will substantially improve the quality of the educational leadership that the IDF can provide for the country.
Just before setting out to work
After a musical interlude, Saul Kaiserman, a representative of the Mandel Jerusalem Fellows, compared his experience on the program to certain dimensions of the traditional view of the Sabbath; going to the roots of the educational approach is reminiscent of the act of Creation, the freedom to inquire and explore is reminiscent of the Exodus from Egypt, and the fruits of the activity and implementation of the vision are a taste of the world to come.
Chief Superintendent Zohar, representing the graduates of the IDF Educational Leadership Development program, thanked MLI for influencing “another generation of commanders and education officers, shaping our educational leadership, and implanting a social and national mission in our hearts.”
On behalf of the graduates of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership, Granit Almog-Bareket thanked all the faculty members and stated that she and her colleagues are graduating feeling “confident in our abilities, in the tools that we have created so we can work on the implementation of our vision.” She then promised that the investment in them and the knowledge and generosity that had been showered on them would motivate them to assist Israeli society.
Mohammed al-Athmin, representing the graduates of the Senior Civil Service Program for the Ministry of Education, noted the multifaceted nature of the program and its relevance to professional practice: “The program offered us practical observation tools that will help us promote the Ministry’s objectives and goals.”
Shortly before the diplomas were handed out, Sefi (Yosefa) Golan from the Senior Civil Service Program of the Ministry of Social Affairs, concluded the round of speeches by the graduates. Golan spoke about the great responsibility the graduates bear on their shoulders: they must take initiative, have professional courage, and strive for results and constant improvement. “The ability to live up to that responsibility is made possible by the human spirit that motivates the entire process, the human spirit that is present at the Mandel Leadership Institute.”