I haven’t had a “coach” since high school. And I don’t remember him fondly. He didn’t believe in anything he couldn’t see – so my “shin splints” did not really count for much in his eyes. He was invested in winning – but he did not seem to care about the cost.
As a member of this year's Weinberg ACCELERATE cohort, I was blessed to experience a completely different kind of “coaching.” Beth Gansky and Rae Ringel, Hillel’s consultants and coaches of the Weinberg ACCELERATE cohort, didn’t care how many laps I ran (though apparently I should still exercise…) – but they cared deeply about my professional and spiritual growth. And they listened (somewhat) sympathetically when I complained about ailments invisible to the physical eye.
Through this coaching/mentorship process, I learned to appreciate the importance of a physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy family, self, and professional staff. I learned that supervision requires a full-person-checkup, not just a check-in about logistics and planning. Most importantly, I saw how a healthy staff, family and self can increase the productivity of my Hillel.
Not only did my coaches offer support and expert advice, they also brought accountability and helped make connections to people I never would have met on my own. Our bi-weekly calls kept me focused on the goals I established before things got “crazy” (i.e., before students arrived for the Quarter!) – and reminded me of the importance of ongoing professional and personal development even when the calendar is loaded.
I’m grateful to my coaches, and to Hillel International and the Weinberg ACCELERATE program for this opportunity. For all Hillel professionals, I recommend reaching out to the Schusterman International Center or your Director to see what coaching opportunities might be available to you. Even if there isn’t an ‘official’ program for you to participate in this year, I encourage you to ask about informal opportunities to connect with or be mentored by the awesome and talented cadre of colleagues we have at Hillel!
Rabbi Aaron Lerner is the Simha & Sara Lainer Senior Jewish Educator at Hillel at UCLA. Five years ago, he left investment banking because he believes Judaism and Hillel transform lives, and consequently, the world.