One of the most potentially rewarding relationships in life exists between a mentor and protégé. Such relationships might be fleeting and goal-directed (such as a fellow alumnus coaching a new grad through his first job search), while others can last for decades. Even when the relationship dissolves, a good mentor’s teachings, along with the memories of his or her actions, can inspire indefinitely.
At any time, any of us can be called upon to be a mentor. Parents, by definition, are mentors, as are teachers. In Gift of Soul, Gift of Wisdom, Rabbi Artson offers a mentoring road map studded with Jewish teachings and descriptions of attributes that make a great mentor, along with many examples, starting with Moses. A mentor must be patient, accessible, and willing to set his or her own agenda aside in order to focus on the needs of another person, Artson writes.
Some of the most poignant parts of the volume involve Artson’s son, who is autistic, and the doors that this disability has opened for the author. Artson, dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and vice president of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, weaves a strong spiritual component through all the chapters. Topics covered include Jewish communal leadership, communication skills, dealing with conflicts, and how to handle clashes between expectations and reality.
This is a valuable read for rabbis, cantors, parents, executives, educators, and Jewish community leaders. It’s not only for mentors, but also for mentors-to-be. Glossary, index, notes.