When To Say Yes, When to Respectfully Decline
Lev is an alumnus of The Wexner Graduate Fellowship (Class VII). A day school professional, rabbi and educator, Lev is enjoying a year filled with learning, volunteering, and abundant time for family and friends. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
In the spring of 2011 our local synagogue planned a Torah-writing project. In addition to commissioning a new scroll, the yearlong undertaking sought to cultivate community, expand congregational learning, and establish a reserve for future needs. Dan, our president, asked me to serve as Project Chair. Dan knew that, after twenty years in the day school arena, I was soon to leave the field. As a Head of School I had educated, solicited contributions, conducted outreach, championed endeavors and, I was imminently available. Notwithstanding my availability, I chose to respectfully decline. After much deliberation in September 2010, my wife and I had decided that the long days and work-related stress associated with leading our K-12 day school were too great to bear, and that work came at the expense of our family. Taking care not to jeopardize my aspiration to spend more time with family, I explained to Dan that I would be willing to chair the project’s fundraising team, a discrete segment of the overall project and territory familiar to me.
After years of saying “yes” to opportunities, I’ve now twice said “no” to big positions these last two years—one professional, the other voluntary, and good came of it. My year off has offered time for family, exploration and volunteering. This past Shavuot our synagogue dedicated our new Torah scroll and, over the course of the year, we engaged hundreds of people in study, cultivated a new generation of leaders and donors, and raised over $1M for our community.