We’ve Got an Elephant in Our Classrooms

From the Anash.org Inbox: We have an “elephant in the room,” and we need to recognize it. It’s not big news, but it is a real issue and we need to do something about it.

By Rochie Cohen

There’s an interesting story behind the well-known idiom “the elephant in the room.” A famous writer and poet wrote a story called “the Inquisitive Man.”  Apparently, this inquisitive man, was super, hyper inquisitive. So inquisitive was he, that he walked into a museum and was so enamored by every tiny trinket he saw there, he failed to notice the greatest attraction of all, the giant white elephant standing in the room.

I’ve gotta say, I have a hard time with Op-eds as I’m personally inclined to communicate my most deeply held beliefs with those closest to me. I prefer to stay nice and polite, not ruffle any feathers and whenever possible, ignore the elephant. But sometimes, enough is enough. I am not, say, as “inquisitive” as the above fictional character. When you have a real-life elephant making real life elephant noises, right there in your room, I can’t help but notice.

Sometimes I even point it out to everyone else “Hey, there’s an elephant in this room.”

So this elephant’s name is: we’re having a really hard time finding good, solid young people to educate our children. 

You’ve heard this one before. It’s not news. Op-eds generally aren’t about news. They’re about the giant mammals that have become well acquainted with human-folk, yet which humans are choosing to conveniently ignore. Or become continently inquisitive about other important things.

Amongst the myriad challenges facing chinuch today, is the stark reality that teacher recruitment has fallen to an all-time low.

And the issue is that 2022 is a highly inconvenient time to have an educator shortage. In today’s spiritual climate, we cannot afford to not have those people who our children look up to, adore, feel seen by, heard by, are inspired by.

We need more. If anything, we need to be so bursting at the seams with an avalanche of energetic people who are committed to giving our children all they’ve got.

Everyone has that one teacher that will forever be embedded in their heart of hearts. That teacher who cared, who noticed them, who comforted them. That teacher that gave us an appreciation for the intricacies of Torah, Chassidus, of life.

So alas, my friends, we need you! Our children need their warm, passionate youthful vibrant role models. We need you to be the voice of Torah, of Yiras Shamayim, of wisdom, of courage.

I implore the young, idealistic men and women among us: Do you have a passion for Chinuch? Our children need your magic!

Our children are our superstars, our wealth, our greatest treasures and tending to their growth, cultivating their individual successes, is the call of the hour. If we want to give our children a fighting chance at developing real Ahavas Hashem, Ahavas Ha’Torah, real life skills that will carry them through a confusing teenagehood and an even more confusing adulthood, we need those brave and passionate souls to step up to the plate and say “Yes, I’m here.”

During the saga of Hey Teves, the opponents claimed that “Chabad is not active.” The Rebbe viewed this as an indication from above and implored the Chassidim to focus more intently on strengthening Chabad activities.

I can’t help but wonder, in light of the recent government attack on Jewish education, if this is some sort of a Divine sign that we need to strengthen Chinuch from within.

Gimmel Tammuz is here. What greater gift could we give the Rebbe than to care for our people back at home? To fortify our children on the frontlines and strengthen the state of Chinuch in our communities.

Rest assured, you will have great peers in the Chinuch field, and we will be here to stand by you, support you and cheer you on. Unlike years past, where virtually nothing existed in the way of tools and support for Mechanchim, today schools and community organizations like Igud Hamelamdim, provide support, encouragement and practical tools for our youth’s educators.

In his work the Ben Yehoyada, the Ben Ish Chai quotes these words from the Gemara:

Umatzdikei Harabim— (Who are) the ones that bestow merit upon the entire community? Kikochavim— they are like stars… Eilu Milamdei Tinokos— these are the educators of our children.

What’s the comparison between stars and teachers?

The Ben Ish Chai explains:

Relative to their distance from Planet Earth, to the naked eye, stars appear to be much smaller than the sun. But in truth, they are in fact much larger.

True, to society at large and perhaps (to my great pain) even amongst some fellow Lubavitchers, teachers may not seem like they’ve climbed the corporate ladder of success. But that is so far from the truth.

Only someone whose view of the world is so small, who looks at life so literally, could look up at a star-speckled sky and feel as if each of those tiny specks are indeed tiny up close, in real life.

Someone who knows that “what you see is very much not what you get,” knows that stars are indeed magnificently huge, larger than life.

“They’re just a tiny star, they said.” In truth, their greatness isimmeasurable.

We need you to be our rising stars. We promise to see you for who you are. To support you, respect you and cheer you on. To sing your praises when our children are within earshot. To encourage our children to respect you, emulate you and learn from you.

That’s all fine and dandy, you say. But what about the…

Now onto some technical factors. Regarding the salary issue which many deem as a deterrent, there are many factors to consider:  Parnassah is an entire picture, it’s not one word. It’s not merely how much money you have in the bank. It’s about having a happy, fulfilled life. Joining the field of Chinuch affords you just that.  As a side note, it’s also true that Yeshivos and others are now working on increasing teacher salaries and offering better financial packages and perks.

As for the question of: Why Chinuch? Isn’t shlichus the priority? We need to take a good look at what the Rebbe actually said about the importance of Chinuch. It’s clear that chinuch is shlichus and a very important one at that. (See some powerful quotes here and here.)

Let’s not miss an opportunity to quote one of the greatest Mechanchim of all time, Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Aizik Hodakov:

“Let all the young men committed to the cause of education have no doubts of the fact that the melamed is perhaps more important than the Shliach. How so? The better part of a Shliach’s time is devoted to fundraising, whereas the sole concern of the melamed is to disseminate Torah among his students! And what could better crown his labors than the fact that in his spare time the melamed is also engaged in mivtzoim (outreach activities). This graces his existence with a touch of true perfection, far beyond what the shliach can achieve!”

So yes! It’s the call of the hour, a time to make a clarion call to all the idealistic men and women among us.

We need you to further the golden chain and to ensure future Yiddishe Chassidishe generations!

***

Igud Hamelamdim is currently looking to fill various Mechanchim roles in Chabad Yeshivos across the globe, all grades. There are numerous open positions, and we look forward to matching you with your Chinuch Shlichus.

Click here to contact us today to find your position in Chinuch!

If you are a school and are looking to hire, click here for help in finding the perfect staff.

Congratulations to our recent hires! Here’s what schools are saying:

“A great Yasher Koach to Rabbi Avrohom Bluming of Igud Hamelamdim who recently had a pivotal part in the hiring of two additional melamdim to our Cheder in Florida.”

Rabbi Ahron Matusof – Boca Raton, FL

“A huge thank you to Rabbi Avrohom Bluming from Igud Hamelamdim for initiating the process of hiring a new Melamed at our Cheder Lubavitch in Morristown and being instrumental in bringing down a new couple to our community, and for our boys and girls cheder.”

Rabbi Ari Wilschanski – Morristown, NJ

Discussion
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  1. I completely agree. One small thing I would like to point out – Iggud Hamelamdim is an incredible organization but it’s not for the Mechanchos. I do find it upsetting that when the woman is teaching all day for our children, the family can’t benefit from the Chasdei Lev discounts unless the husband is in Chinuch as well…

    1. They do have an organization for mechanchos as well called “Igud Hamechanchos.” While they can’t arrange the Chasdei Lev discounts (that is in the jurisdiction of Chasdei Lev organization), they have arranged other gifts for Crown Heights mechanchos.

  2. Great article! Let me also mention the many, many letters in which the Rebbe reminded mechanchim and mechanchos about the bountiful brachos that will come to them through their working in the Mosdos of the Rebbeim. (This was especially emphasized to people who wanted to leave the Chinuch field.)

  3. Being in chinuch, is without a doubt an absolute zechus and privilege. There is no higher calling.

    No one underestimates the zechus and obligation. Nor the Nachas the Rebbe, receives from the holy Avodah with Tzon Kodshim .

    That being said Ain kemach Ain Torah. If you can’t afford to pay Melamdim or Teachers – properly, they are going to be forced to look or go elsewhere . It’s simple mathematics.

    I unfortunately know more than one person , who has left the Shucuna , for this very reason. How many times have I heard , I can’t live on this salary, or afford to pay the bills. We are talking the basics , food on the table etc

    (This is despite , working an entire summer, tutoring and any extra jobs to be found )

    Big shout out and. Yasher koach to the Igud Melamdim and Chasdei Lev, many of us couldn’t do it without them.

  4. Chinuch definitely brings down brachos, having been in chinuch for 8 years now both in and out of crown heights, ive seen this clearly! However we also need to make a keli, teacher’s salary no where near meets the costs of life and thats all around not just in crown heights. With chinuch being a great passion of mine, my spouse and I realised the best way to do it was that I am doing chinuch while he is working a good paying profession. Like this, I can stay in chinuch without the stress of low income and help the system by being able to pay tuition which in turn helps pay teachers, a catch 22 situation ;). I highly recommend schools to help couples in this way – help one find a good job while one works by you. No couple today wants to choose a life of struggle, we need to start looking at it from their perspective.

  5. When they don’t pay enough and treat you like garbage, who would wanna be a teacher?

    Who can be certain that once they are a little older they will have enough energy to chase after all these kids. If they dont they are called a bad teacher.

    Its a great zchus, dont get me wrong. But you take many hits. This includes the kids, the parents, the school etc. Its not like they’re paying you enough to live. Why in the world would anybody want to be a teacher under those conditions.

    You dont get any kavod for it. You are basically a shlichus janitor.

    Worst of all, If one kid desides to make up an abuse story about you. Then you lose it all.

    If there was any respect and good pay for a teacher, things would he different. Sorry to say it the hard way.

  6. First you have to have a passion for this, many have been turned off by wannabe teachers. Second yea it’s not top pay, but it’s an international problem not just Jewish, public school teachers get paid peanuts too. But yes if you’re OK with a basic salary and want to teach in Desert Torah Academy in Las Vegas, call Rabbi Blasberg 917-449-5562

  7. I have a strong passion for chinuch
    I applied to teach in many places and have been rejected
    My husband had the same story
    I didn’t feel they were looking for a passionate mechanech
    They were looking for a worker that could follow the rules and fit in enough to “control a class”
    I felt that my passionate personality was rejected and eventually my family had to leave crown heights just because we couldn’t find jobs not only that we were rejected as people for being passionate
    If people have hate towards “kevutza bochrim”
    How do you expect to find just the right balance of not too passionate but passionate enough to fit your bill of what you feel comfortable?
    If someone is rejected the only ones left are people that are good workers and good at getting good jobs…
    My dream is to teach and I hope that can come true
    It was just shocking that I was rejected for being passionate and then they wonder where are the passionate mechanchim?
    If passion is rejected by the mechanchim hiring they can’t expect to find passionate teachers…

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