It is my great honor to introduce this issue of the MLI newsletter at a time of new beginnings: we are about to enter a new year, new fellows are starting their programs of study at MLI, and I, too, am taking on a new position as director of MLI.
It has been a great privilege to work closely with Dan Gordis these last three years. Thanks in no small part to Dan's efforts, I am inheriting an institution in excellent health, poised to do very great things. I thank Dan for his creative and committed leadership during his nine years at MLI and wish him every success in the next phase of his career.
Several of the topics covered in this issue are the results of work done by Dan together with other colleagues at MLI. The short articles that you will read touch on just a few of the events and stories from the past year: a faculty member who is having great success as principal of a school under almost impossible circumstances; a highly successful conference of Mandel School for Educational Leadership (MSEL) alumni that addressed key challenges facing education in Israel; an impressive graduation ceremony where public figures expressed their appreciation for the work of MLI alumni and fellows; and technological links between practitioners and policymakers.
Over the past year much thought was devoted to the missions of the MLI programs - at the levels of strategic planning, curricular development, and a broadening of target populations. This thinking and planning included re-design of the Jerusalem Fellows program, initiatives within the Graduates Unit promoting new forms of collaboration between alumni and fellows, the development of new projects within the Senior Civil Service programs, and expansion of the target population of the IDF Educational Leadership Development program.
A common thread running through all these developments is a commitment to connecting the study in which participants engage at MLI with the real problems and challenges of practice. This year, the Mandel School for Educational Leadership will begin the academic year, not at the MLI campus in Jerusalem, but with three days of field study in the city of Netivot (in the Negev). Fellows and faculty will work together over these three days to formulate questions and research agendas that we will translate into detailed courses of study on our return to Jerusalem.
Distance often helps sharpen one's focus. I spent this summer at Stanford as a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Foundation. Upon returning to Israel and getting up to date with news of our fellows and graduates, I have been struck by the impact that alumni are having on education and society in Israel and in the Jewish world. Not a day has gone by since I returned without one or other of our fellows or graduates being cited in the media as an exemplary leader of social change and educational innovation. As the new director of the Mandel Leadership Institute, I will do everything I can to ensure that MLI continues to be a vibrant, pluralistic institution that links vision with action- an institution that effects positive change in society.
To conclude, I would like to thank my colleagues at the Mandel Leadership Institute for the commitment, creativity and hard work that made the successes of the last year possible, and to wish us all fulfilling and productive new year.
Dr. Eli Gottlieb
Director, Mandel Leadership Institute