News & Events

Dr. Raya Yoeli (1962–2022)

The Mandel community mourns the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Dr. Raya Yoeli, faculty member of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership

​Dr. Raya Yoeli joined the faculty of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership in 2008. She was responsible for the field of individual tutoring for fellows, and for supporting fellows during their transition from the School’s study program back to the world of practice. Raya also lectured, tutored fellows, and developed content and pedagogies in the fields of group wellbeing, leadership, and management, and was an instructor in the Mandel Program for Academic Leadership in Teacher Education. Beyond her work at Mandel, she also served as a consultant and facilitator in a variety of management and leadership development programs, including the Civil Service Cadet program.

Raya completed her doctorate in social work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Alongside her studies in family therapy and research into the life stories of couples who used divorce mediation, she worked as a mediator with families dealing with the hardships of divorce and the changes it brings. Over the course of her theoretical and practical research, Raya came to adopt the narrative approach, which she applied in both her professional and personal life.

For many years, Raya guided managers, entrepreneurs, and professionals through processes of change, formulating their professional identities, and developing an organizational vision based on their own personal vision. Alongside her practice at her clinic, Raya also developed a master’s degree course at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that examines the connection between organizational and personal vision, and studies the stories of visionary leaders.

Raya worked with the IDF on developing and supporting officers as part of the "Raful Boys" project. She was also a member of the academic faculty of the David Yellin College of Education, where she lectured in the adult education department, directed the institute for guiding parents’ groups, and served as head of the training program for school principals. Over the last decade, based on her years of experience in consulting and leadership development, Raya developed and led programs for developing managerial and leadership skills.

In her book Own Your Story, published in 2017, Raya presents the unique method she developed for coping with challenges relating to mid-life career change by examining one’s personal narrative. Following the book’s considerable impact, Raya developed various training courses based on the Own Your Story approach, to spread the word and develop this field of practice.

The Mandel School and the Mandel Foundation–Israel extend our sincere condolences to Raya’s husband Zvi and their four children, Roni, Chen, Adi, and Doron.

Following is the eulogy for Raya delivered by Danny Bar Giora, director of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership:

Our dear and beloved Raya,

Although you prepared me in advance, when we met for the last time about ten days ago, and you asked me to give a eulogy, I couldn’t begin to think about it until I received the bitter news on Friday.

At that last meeting of ours, you told me – with an inner strength that I have not often encountered in my life – about your process of leave-taking, and how you would like us to take our leave of you, and the role you wanted me to play in that process. After we had gone over that, we spoke about the complex processes affecting the Mandel Foundation and some of the fellows and faculty members. You were concerned about them, you asked how they were doing, and you were concerned about me. Without saying so explicitly, you gave me another lesson in reading people, and of course, you sent me off with a list of assignments.

”Warning! Addictive substance!” That was how I often thought of you, and that was the sign I thought should be hung on your door, so that anyone coming in would know that they would find it hard to kick the habit.

Much has been said and written about the magic of meeting with you. I myself had the privilege of experiencing that magic as someone who followed your work as tutor at the Mandel School for Educational Leadership. Over the years, I have also witnessed the impact of that magic on many fellows and graduates.

You always packaged everything in narrative concepts, Raya, but I would like to say something about the wisdom of simplicity – even the genius of simplicity – that I saw in you: the simplicity of seeing people.

You weren’t full of yourself, and as a result, you could make room for whoever you were meeting with.

You weren’t prejudiced or judgmental, and as a result, you could see whoever was with you as they really are.

You didn’t see what you know; you wanted to know what you saw.

You weren’t concerned with yourself; you genuinely cared about the people you met with, and you always sought to ensure that their needs were met. You never tried to fulfill your own needs via the people you met with.

You stayed true to yourself, and weren’t swayed by trends or by pretty but empty words.

Above all, you had a love of your fellow human beings, and a rare ability to read their hearts and minds.

And all this simplicity… If only more people would have it, the world would be a better place. But even if it was, the world would be a worse place now that you’re not in it.

I want to share with you some of the challenges of working with Raya:

Because so many fellows wanted Raya to be their individual tutor, we had to invent the concept of “short-term tutoring” and take Raya out of the roster of year-long tutors. This allowed many more fellows to have time with her. That, of course, didn’t stop a considerable number of fellows from asking for short-term tutoring with Raya all the time….

Raya also met with graduates and was part of the team that decided when graduates should receive consulting and what type of consulting they should get. We had all kinds of categories of consulting (professional crossroads, identity clarification, leading change, etc.). And then there was a special consulting category:  Raya consulting. You have no idea how many graduates said that what they wanted was Raya: “You can call it whatever you like,” they said, “as long as the end result is meetings with Raya, because she is the only one who can help us understand what we really need.”

Together with Daniel Marom, Raya developed the entire field of individual tutoring at the Mandel School and ran it until recently. She also facilitated fellows’ workshops and was involved in developing study units, including management stories, management workshops, supporting fellows in the transition back into the world of work, and more. She also led all the dynamic work in fellows’ work groups. Raya taught in other Mandel programs, and tutored and mentored many faculty members and fellows.

With that same wisdom of simplicity that I spoke about earlier, Raya was my confidant, a vital and close partner during the challenging moments and junctures of directing the Mandel School for Educational Leadership. We often spoke about the fact that it was a unique experience to be able to contain two narratives simultaneously – the narrative of my being Raya’s manager while she was a faculty member, while she was my mentor and advisor at the same time.

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love
You make

Dear Raya, the amount of love that the world is giving back to you is inconceivable. As I stand here, I am giving back ‘only’ the love of many fellows and graduates, and of course, of many faculty and staff members. This love alone would be enough to support an entire village.

We all carry a little piece of you inside us, Raya, and in that way will continue your influence on the world.

I am here today as a representative of the entire Mandel Foundation, and take my leave from you in the name of the Foundation’s management, employees, faculty members, fellows, and graduates. 

Much love and thanks on behalf of us all.
And my own personal love and thanks.
Go in peace, dearest Raya.