“Since you are also an Orthodox Jew, I would be overjoyed to work with you as well”
he Sarah Schenirer Institute partners with colleges across the United States to offer accredited degree programs. Rabbi Elazar Meisels, the dean of Sarah Schenirer, often delivers seminars to educators to familiarize them with nuances of the frum community’s halachos and habits.
During one such seminar, he noticed that a particular professor was nodding his head vigorously, seemingly very receptive to his message. During a break in the seminar, the man introduced himself to Rabbi Meisels.
“I have to tell you,” he said, “that I have a close friend who is an Orthodox Jew. He was my professor in college, and I later became a faculty member in the department where he served as dean. We used to have a faculty meeting every Friday, and he would leave early. Now this could have caused resentment, but it didn’t. And do you know why not?” the man continued animatedly. “He always bought us donuts. Every Friday he’d treat us to donuts! How can you get angry at a man like that?”
Then the fellow continued, sharing with Rabbi Meisels what else distinguished his Orthodox boss.
“In all my years in academia,” he said, “I have never found a work environment that was as pleasant as his department. This was because of his standing rule: Employees were allowed to discuss problems or issues, but they were never permitted to malign other people. Gossip and backstabbing simply didn’t exist there — he refused to allow it. It was the best place I have ever worked.”
Then he concluded. “Since you are also an Orthodox Jew, I would be overjoyed to work with you as well.”
On the tightrope of engaging the secular world without embracing its values, one frum dean had mastered the walk.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 930)
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