Habits of Kindness: “Sharpen the Saw”

paper-chain-in-the-dark-1215912-mWe introduced the LAST of our 7 Habits of Kindness this week at our monthly spirit day assembly!

When our school introduces a new Habit of Kindness, I take it upon myself to blog about the new Habit.  (Last month was “Synergize“.)  Beginning with the fifth Habit, we have been enlisting our Middle School to prepare and present the new Habit at a monthly spirit day assembly.  (You can stay on top of all our Community of Kindness activities by checking out its blog.)  They have been very creative!  Each month’s introduction has typically come with a song or dance that tries to explain the Habit in a catchy way that will stick.  Here’s what they came up with for “Sharpen the Saw”:

Sharpen the Saw

Here’s what it says from the “Leader in Me: 7 Habits for Kids” page:

Habit 7 — Sharpen The Saw

Balance Feels Best

I take care of my body by eating right, exercising and getting sleep. I spend time with family and friends. I learn in lots of ways and lots of places, not just at school. I find meaningful ways to help others.

You can see that our students reinterpreted the ways to “sharpen the saw” into being “Spiritually Fit”, “Mentally Fit”, and “Physically Fit”.

And we hopefully do our best to encourage all of those kinds of fitnesses in our school. Certainly being a Jewish day school provides plenty of opportunity for spiritual fitness, which is one of its many benefits.  And unlike many or most public schools, we have managed to hold on to three-days-a-week PE, critical for fitness as childhood obesity continues to plague our youth.  We do our best to offer healthy options with our hot lunch program, but do struggle with the amount of sugar and snacks that the many birthdays and holidays bring with them.  This is something we plan to revisit next year.

Of course mental fitness goes along with schooling, but one advantage to being a leader in 21st century learning is that it provides tons of opportunity for kids to “learn in lots of easy and lots of places, not just at school”.  We agree!


Part of my goal of blogging about the habits is not just to demonstrate how the school attempts to foster them, but to model my own attempts to foster them.  So how am I doing?

Unfortunately, being a mourner has definitely enhanced and strengthened my spiritual fitness.  This is something I blogged about recently with regard to my daily minyan attendance.

Mental fitness?  If I reinterpret the language for children into workaday life, mental fitness here would mean that I find opportunities to learn outside what I am required to learn or think about to perform my job.  For years (many years), my graduate work and my dissertation-writing were more than sufficient to ensure mental fitness.  For the last couple of years?  Outside of many robust games of Words with Friends, my mental fitness may be lacking!  I love the opportunity Shabbat affords me to be with family and friends…they are also my only hours to read…would hate to have to choose between those two!  And by the time my kids fall asleep on Friday nights..so have I.  So I definitely need to “Be Proactive” and do some goal-setting for future mental fitness.

That leaves physical fitness…

So I recently had a birthday and with it, a physical.  Now my wife and I share the same general practitioner and by the time my blood work had come back, my doctor decided to share it with her before sharing it with me.  Which explains why I came home from work one day last week to find a variety of items awaiting me from a recent grocery trip:

Oatmeal.  Tunafish.  Whole grain bread.  Fish Oil.  Almonds.

So, apparently my meal plan from now until eternity is set!  I will be eating oatmeal for breakfast, dry tunafish sandwiches for lunch, almonds for snacks and fish oil for supplements.  I am two weeks in and hopefully soon I will adjust to the idea of never enjoying eating again…

In all seriousness, as someone who just lost a parent who waited (perhaps) too late to take diet and exercise seriously, I definitely am willing to sacrifice potato chips to live a long and healthy life.  So, bring on the almonds!

Exercise.  I do remember it.  And I will absolutely “Put First Things First” and prioritize getting my tuchus out of my office chair at work and couch at home and in motion on a more regular basis.


That’s how plan on sharpening my saw…how about you?

Author: Jon Mitzmacher

Dr. Jon Mitzmacher is the Head of the Ottawa Jewish Community School. Jon has recently begun his rabbinical school journey at the Academy for Jewish Religion and is thrilled to have joined the faculty of the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) as a mentor for Cohort 12. He was most recently the VP of Innovation for Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools.  He is the former Executive Director of the Schechter Day School Network.  He is also the former head of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, a K-8 Solomon Schechter, located in Jacksonville, FL, and part of the Jacksonville Jewish Center.  He was the founding head of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Las Vegas.  Jon has worked in all aspects of Jewish Education from camping to congregations and everything in between.

One thought on “Habits of Kindness: “Sharpen the Saw””

  1. Appreciated your thoughtful post, dear Jon and your renewed attention on health as it pertains to longevity. I make a mean oatmeal, or “porridge” as my Scottish husband prefers to call it, as our family eats it most mornings for breakfast. Happy to host you for a healthy meal anytime! Shabbat Shalom!

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