A difference maker doesn’t just impact people around him or her when the opportunity presents itself. A difference maker goes out of his or her way to search for chances to help the community and Jerry Isaak-Shapiro does exactly that.
Isaak-Shapiro, head of school at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School, always is looking for ways to improve the local Jewish community, as well as the global Jewish community.
He has worked to infuse the curriculum of the Mandel Jewish Day School with modern Israel. Isaak-Shapiro incorporates Israeli texts, songs and philosophies as one way to improve the Jewish connection between Americans and Israel.
The majority of the school’s staff has taken a trip to Israel and each eighth-grade class has visited Israel.
Isaak-Shapiro goes out of his way to teach other heads of school to spread similar messages. Through the Day School Leadership Training Institute, Isaak-Shapiro gives himself the opportunity to mentor other heads of school throughout the year, with a one-month intensive workshop during the summer.
His biggest challenge arises with the attempt to achieve genuine Jewish pluralism.
“The Jewish world needs to come to grips with internal tensions between each other,” said Isaak-Shapiro. “We’ve done best as a people when we’re united.”
As a member of RAVSAK, the Jewish Community Day School Network, as well as the head of a Jewish day school, Isaak-Shapiro works constantly to encourage the tolerance of different denominations within the Jewish community. The reduction of boundaries between the Jewish people will lead to a more powerful community as a whole, according to Isaak-Shapiro.
At a Glance
Name: Jerry Isaak-Shapiro
As a professional: Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School
In the community: Jewish Family Service Association, RAVSAK (Jewish Community Day School Network), Independent Schools Association of the Central States, American Diabetes, The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, Day School Leadership Training Institute
Noteworthy: Isaak-Shapiro is a member of four synagogues: Congregation Shaarey Tikvah, B’nai Jeshurun Congregation, Moreshet Avraham in Jerusalem, Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, Calif.