A Note from Our New Jewish Education Program Director, Rabbi Yehudah Potok

New Jewish Education Program Director, Rabbi Yehudah Potok, introduces himself to the Facing History and Ourselves community, with his hopes of deepening relationships with, and providing timely professional development opportunities for our teachers and educators.

Dear Educators in Jewish Settings,

I am thrilled to join the Facing History and Ourselves family and more specifically our Jewish education team! For over two decades, I have worked in Jewish education settings -- camps, Hebrew High School, and Jewish Day Schools. Most recently, for the past twelve years, I have served as a Head of School. Now, I am looking forward to taking my experience from the field of education and applying it to my work at Facing History. In this next stage of my journey, I am very excited to be able to work with all of you, our educators in the field, as we teach our next generation to become informed members of our world who use the lessons of history to stand up to bigotry and hate.

It is said that Rabbi Simcha Bunim, the Peshischa Rebbe, always walked around with two notes in his pockets. In one pocket, he had a note that read “The world was created for me.” In the other pocket, the note read “I am but a speck of dust.” This duality is something that I believe all people struggle with. How can I be humble, realizing how insignificant I am in the grand scheme of the universe, while at the same time knowing that I matter and that I can make a difference?

It is not a simple task, but when we are able to hold these two truths side by side, we are able to live fuller, more selfless, and more productive lives. We can humble ourselves by admitting that we don’t have all the answers and that our perspective is just that, our own, without having to demand superimposing our views on others. And yet, we can know that our actions and choices really do matter as we work to affirm dignity and build a world free from racism, religious intolerance, and prejudice. As we say at Facing History and Ourselves, “People make choices. Choices make history.”

As we begin a new year, we hope to deepen our relationships and ties with our school communities after this difficult and traumatic period. At this time we find it especially meaningful to offer Facing History educators a relevant, practical and inspiring menu of professional development offerings suited to this moment. It is our goal to offer you an experience of personal learning and growth, community, and support as you continue to make unique and valuable contributions to the experiences of your students and school communities that only you can offer.

As we enter this High Holiday season, may we use this new year to push forward together in our work to build a world free from racism, religious intolerance, and prejudice.

Shannah tova!

Rabbi Yehudah Potok Director,
Jewish Education Program
Facing History and Ourselves