The Chabad community of Baltimore, Maryland, known for a strong chassidishe atmosphere and the many opportunities it offers, is growing in leaps and bounds, and with it, the community mosdos are experiencing major growth as well.
By Anash.org reporter
If you live in a big city, you’ve probably heard about the so-called ‘urban exodus’. City dwellers are fleeing to the suburbs in droves, and while people like to joke about all the ‘New York Jews moving south’, many are choosing communities closer to home. Among anash, the kehillah of Baltimore, Maryland holds wide appeal.
Community schools are often the first to feel the strain of rapid growth, and Cheder Chabad of Baltimore is no exception. But while tremendous growth has its challenges, it often brings with it tremendous opportunity, too.
“Baruch Hashem, we are seeing an average of 40 to 50 babies born in our community each year,” said Rabbi Avrohom Wolowik, who serves as the cheder’s chief operating officer. “There are currently 360 children between preschool and cheder; next year, we’re expecting over 400.
“We’ve outgrown the space we’re in now, and it’s a race to keep up, but we’re taking measures to expand the school so that no child will be turned away for lack of space.”
As part of these efforts to expand, the cheder is looking to bring on more staff, and has begun the search for quality teachers to join the community. With positions to fill in the boys’ and girls’ chadarim, as well as the preschool, there are opportunities for mechanchim with various backgrounds and experience.
“Ideally, we’d love to bring couples down as shluchim,” Rabbi Wolowik told Anash.org, “but our priority is finding high caliber educators, both men and women, who are dedicated to the chinuch of our children. We support our teachers in many ways and invest in training so they can advance their expertise.”
Of course, a kehillah’s growth affects life outside of school, too. With the influx of Chabad families, shuls are expanding, infrastructure is growing, and there’s even a new mesivta opening up. You’re more likely to end up with lubavitch neighbors, and locals say there’s a warm and supportive atmosphere that makes it easy and pleasant to settle in.
Thanks to the presence of a sizable frum community, Baltimore boasts many perks such as multiple daily minyanim, large kosher supermarkets, chesed organizations, and even a gym with separate swimming hours for men and women!
Baltimore has a long and rich chassidishe history dating back to 1889, including the Frierdiker Rebbe’s famous visit in 1929. In 1974, Rabbi Shmuel and Mrs. Rochel Kaplan established Chabad Lubavitch of Maryland; under their leadership, 35 Chabad centers have been opened in the area. Today there is an anash kehilla in Baltimore itself, with several lubavitch shuls and a thriving chinuch scene, including a Zal which is considered to be one of the best in America. Families are heavily involved in hafatzas hamayanos, and farbrengens and shiurim are a regular part of the community calendar.
Excellent chinuch is one of the community’s most cherished features, a feature that Rabbi Wolowik is determined to hold on to. The staff puts time and thought into achieving a difficult balance – providing a wholesome, chassidishe education in a warm environment, without compromising on the quality of learning and professionalism.
“We’ve grown quickly, but we haven’t lost the heimishe feel of the school,” Rabbi Wolowik said. “I recently had a master educator tour the school, and she noticed that the students feel comfortable and safe with their teachers. We look out for our students’ mental well-being, and we work with agencies to help students who are struggling with academics and behavior. At the same time, we have high professional standards.”
There is a lot of emphasis on extracurricular programming, from Tzivos Hashem and Chidon, to creative outlets and physical education. The children are provided with chassidishe programming and opportunities to learn new skills, and the teachers utilize every chance to help integrate students who are struggling socially.
Recently, the cheder made a bold move with its lemudai chol curriculum by training the lemudei kodesh teachers to teach those subjects. As a result, the boys are learning the material in a way that is better aligned with Torah values. Because of their respect for their beloved rebbis, they are learning and behaving better during these classes, too.
The proof is in the pudding, and as Rabbi Wolowik pointed out, “Our graduates are going to yeshivos with excellent reputations – Westchester, Chicago, Monsey – we have a great track record of getting our boys into these mesivtas.”
There are various programs that make the costs of chinuch far more manageable, such as childcare vouchers from the state. Income-eligible families can cut down their preschool tuition by half, or even more, and elementary age students can receive significant vouchers as well. All students attending cheder are also included in a meal program, and receive breakfast and a hot lunch every day, free of charge.
A flourishing community must have a flourishing school, and Cheder Chabad of Baltimore is up to the challenge. As a parent, you can be happy knowing that your child is receiving a quality education in a safe, wholesome and chassidishe environment. As a teacher, you can be part of creating it!
For inquiries about available jobs at the Cheder, email [email protected].
For general information or a conversation about cheder, reach out to the office of Rabbi Avrohom Wolowik at 4105851498 x6.