Gift of Soul, Gift of Wis­dom: A Spir­i­tu­al Resource for Men­tor­ing and Leadership

Bradley Shav­it Artson
  • Review
By – December 16, 2011

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. 

Robin K. Levin­son is an award-win­ning jour­nal­ist and author of a dozen books, includ­ing the Gali Girls series of Jew­ish his­tor­i­cal fic­tion for chil­dren. She cur­rent­ly works as an assess­ment spe­cial­ist for a glob­al edu­ca­tion­al test­ing orga­ni­za­tion. She lives in Hamil­ton, NJ.

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