• Manny Shklar

Rav Will Reflects on His Years at Barrack

Manny Shklar

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After an amazing tenure at Barrack, Rav Will Keller, our Director of Jewish Life, is leaving for a new job. He will be Head of School at the Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor, Michigan, that serves pre-k through fifth grade. Rav Will has provided so much to our community in his time with us. He was the head of the Jewish Learning Initiative (JLI) and taught many Jewish Studies classes, always showing passion and emotion in his lessons and in the hallways. After announcing this change, he was interviewed by the Chronicle and talked about his experience at Barrack and what he’s looking forward to in the future. Everyone in the Barrack community will miss Rav Will, and we wish him the best of luck.


What programs would you like to bring from Barrack to your new school?


The Pre-Shabbat Schmooze is an experience that I want to replicate in my new school. I have loved watching students of different grades mix with staff as everyone has a nosh and L’Chaim in honor of Shabbat.

How have the people and your experiences at Barrack impacted you?

I have been blessed to work with many incredible people at Barrack who have lifted me up, supported me in my growth, collaborated with me, and inspired me to be my best self. Barrack has taught me the value of systems, communication, and how wonderful it can be to work in an institution where people like one another and value working together.


What words of advice would you give to the next head of Jewish life?


Be yourself while making sure to make space for others.


What has been your favorite part of your time at Barrack?


My favorite moment at Barrack came last year as I saw students stream back into the building after their MLK service trips. I was overcome with emotion seeing the proud faces of our students, many who had chosen to explore new areas of service learning and were eagerly sharing the experience with their friends and making plans for future volunteering. Seeing students take our school values and apply them in real-world scenarios is what it's all about! More than anything, I have enjoyed the energy of our students as they discover their passions, dislikes, challenges and goals, and set about finding like-minded souls to accompany them on their journey.


How long have you worked at Barrack?


Five glorious years!


What do you think will be the most exciting part of your new job?


I look forward to the new and dynamic challenges awaiting! In my new job I will be responsible for working with different teams to fundraise, support our teachers, oversee curriculum and engage families and the community. I am looking forward to all these exciting adventures and getting help from mentors, colleagues and friends (many of whom are at Barrack) as I go.


What advice, if any, would you like to leave with the students at Barrack?

Taking this job meant changing the trajectory that I imagined for my life. I was not planning to move; in fact, I was hoping to stay at Barrack. But what I have learned through this process is that plans change as new opportunities arise, and we should be open to the path that G-d provides for us. Ask lots of questions, and analyze each scenario from many different perspectives to make informed choices. Consider the ramifications of your choices, and how they will affect you, your loved ones, humankind, and the world before acting. Planning is good, spontaneity is also good -- both are expressions of the power G-d has given us to create and bring G-d’s will into the world.

As we remember Rav Will’s kind expressions and cheerful spirit, we hope to see him many times in the near future. As he departs for a new journey, we want our beloved Director of Jewish Life to know that he is always welcome at Barrack. Thank you, Rav Will, for giving us five outstanding years of love and hard work that will leave a lasting impact on the school.

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