Thanking our Torah Teachers

I just spent 4 days at the Torah U’Mesorah convention selling, InfoGrasp, my companies School and Non Profit Management Software. It was a great experience, especially on Shabbos when 1,500 Jews shared an amazingly uplifting G-d and Torah connecting experience powered by non-stop talks and lectures by some of the greatest Rebbeim in America. With that background information, I’d like to share an insight I gained over the weekend.

Over 15 years ago at a parlor meeting, a seasoned and well respected teacher related a talk he gave at Torah U’Mesorah in which he pointed out some classroom obstacles which often caused Rebbeim to stumble. He ended his talk at the parlor meeting saying that the people at the convention didn’t exactly appreciate his criticisms as evidenced by the fact that he was never invited back. For many years I accepted his story at face value, and I’ve seen first hand the obstacles of which he spoke.

This year, I asked a few attendees why they were at the convention and all of them included the need for chizuk (strengthing) among their answers. As I listened to the speeches I became more sensitive to the plight of our Torah teachers. They’re paid very low wages. They often have to move to a different city. They have to teach to a wide ability-range of students in the classroom. And many or most of our schools don’t have the financial resources to provide them with the support that almost all other teachers, public and private, receive.

The speeches focused on the wonderful task the teachers were performing, despite the above mentioned obstacles with many techniques of how to become better. There were sessions on a wide range of topics and the teachers listened attentively and questioned in their attempts to become better transmitters of our Mesorah. They were encouraged not to be discouraged and one of the last Shabbos speakers sounded these echoing words, “Please don’t go into the business sector, Klal Yisroel needs you”.

The whole event turned around my view of the parlor meeting. Yes there’s room for improvement, yes mistakes are made, but at their core, our generation of teachers have dedicated their heart and soul to teaching our children Torah and we must stand up, recognize and applaud them. The teachers at the convention didn’t applaud themselves for their efforts, but they really do need our support and we should try to make is vocal. At least once a year at the convention, there needs to be no constructive criticism and the talk is about the good and the trying to be better.

So next time you see a teacher, perhaps you can muster up the strength to thank them. Surprise them and thank them with no follow up request or constructive criticism. It’s a very tough job they’ve chosen and they’re truly are built up by our appreciation. The more we stengthen them, the more they can endeavor in the Jewish people’s most important mission, teaching Hashem’s Torah to every Jew.

46 comments on “Thanking our Torah Teachers

  1. Yosh wrote in part:

    “in some communities, the only group more scorned and criticized than the rebbeim are balei batim”

    That IMO stems in no small part from a conflated understanding of who is obligated to learn Torah.The Talmud and Rishonim, and especiallly Rambam, posit that every male Jew is obligated to set time to learn Torah, regardless of his economic stature, based on the models of Hillel HaZaken and Rabbeinu HaKadosh. The Yissocher -Zvulun model refers only to who funds the same. However, it is unfortunate that far too many young men who are now out of the yeshiva world view themselves as inferior to someone who is supposed to be learning on a full time basis. FWIW, my RY always emphasized that no matter what path we chose in life, we were expected to be Kovea Itim LaTorah and we were never made to feel or think that we were second class citizens in any manner because of our decisions.

  2. Like it or not, most conventions, regardless of their nature ( i.e . professional, trade, political, religious) are exercises in preaching to the converted and loyal membership, who can afford or have been sent to the same, with a few presentations as to the problems faced by the membership. Torah UMesorah is no different in this regard.

  3. FWIW, The Talmud in Chagigah notes that HaShenm cries over people who are in learning and should be working and vice versa. There is no virtue in being in any job for which he or she is unsuited for, despite one’s trasining for the same.

  4. I think that Dr Schick has documented quite well both in his blog and JW self paid columns how Torah UMesorah has gravitated from being the clearinghouse and source of Achdus for yeshivos and day schools of all Hashkafos into a Charedi run and oriented institution. I would suggest that this change warrants at least a doctoral level dissertation in some graduate school.

    I would be curious to know how many mosdos from the MO world were invited and present, if any of their rabbinic and lay leaders spoke, etc. Unfortunately, Torah UMesorah is now viewed as an aide in starting kollelim, a wonderful goal for any community, but it seems to have moved from its earlier and historical goal of helping day schools with their needs.

    If one reads the curricula of the convention that is posted in the Yated, there is little, if any, evidence of MO involvement, which have different Hashkafic needs and orientations , especially in smaller out of town communities than the average Charedi schools that comprise the bulk of Torah UMesorah’s membership. I can see where a typical MO institution would be as uncomfortable at a conferene which has no positive hashkafic views of the establishment of the State of Israel in the same manner that a Charedi girls’s school would be as equally out of place at a conference of MO educators discussing the promotion of Torah UMada values and Religious Zionism. However, on issues such as Tefilah, technology in the clasroom, and tuition costs seem to be issues IMO which cut across hashkafic boundaries.

    Let me describe an example in case. In fact, when a local school which is mixed until the end of the Fifth grade opened its new building, an official of Torah UMesorah graced our presence, but spoke as if he was speaking to an audience that was a barely observant out of town audience in a community type school. I was sitting to a prominent local rabbinic leader and we were equally taken back and almost appalled by his presentation which bordered on “Baruch HaShem, there is a day school in this community”, as if the school was located in Yenemsville, USA despite the fact that many Bnei Torah, Bnos Torah and Talmidie Chachamim have graduated from the school in its decades of existence.

    Yosh posted this observation:

    “what percentage of rebbeim are qualified to teach? How many chose teaching l’chatchila as a profession”

    It is unfotunately well known that outside of RIETS Talmidim/Musmachim and other talmidim who obtain a degree in Jewish education from Azrieli ( YU’s graduate school in Jewish education), or Bank Street, Columbia or any top rank graduate school in education that all too many Mchanchim have no professional training in clasroom management,currriculum development , differentiated instruction, recognizing issues such as learning disorders, and are there because they are not the future stars of their yeshiva in their yeshiva’s beis medrash, or journal. I would also question whether Israelis without any training belong in more modern schools because they further a school’s goal of Ivrit BIvrit.

    R Asher Weiss and R Wolbe ZL, say, among other Gdolim, that one must have a love of childen to be sucessful in Chinuch. There is no reason why Chinuch should be seen as a fallback, as opposed to a proud and timely paid profession that plays a huge role in making or breaking a student’s religious and academic success.

    All too often, parents who review their children’s homework assignments and test results see indicia of teachers writing in a manner that shows a lack of familiarity and/or worse ease in proper grammar and usage in the English language. While Torah UMesorah offers professional improvement courses in the summer, the same are by no means mandatory in nature.

  5. “what percentage of rebbeim are qualified to teach? How many chose teaching l’chatchila as a profession?”

    I’m not a principal who hires, so I don’t see the resumes. (I myself have a BA in Psych and a Masters in Ed.) However, since I’m in special ed, I tend to view the regular rebbes through that lens…how much extra are they willing to put out for kids who have trouble in the regular class. Sometimes this isn’t fair, as the rebbeim just don’t have the time or resources to deal effectively with kids who have issues. But there are simple things they can do, like have a student sit closer to the board, or having a student answer an oral test instead of writing, etc etc. I see an experienced rebbe as someone who picks up these cues, and addresses the individual student.

    As for the regular experience of how to teach grade-level material effectively or classroom management, as it gets closer to the end of the year, one can tell if a class is ready for the next grade’s curriculum. But as I said, I don’t see their resumes in the beginning of the year, so they’re all the same to me.

    It is true that some men go into chinuch because they have no other option, or it’s the frum thing to do. But I don’t think this is the rule, and many times they are weeded out after giving a sample lesson to the school…either by the principal rejecting them, or themselves deciding, “Oy vay,What was I thinking?”

  6. Yosh, I would agree with you totally on the need for more transparency about school finances. A great deal of money flows through our educational institutions, both income from tuition and government funding, and the outgo to contractors, vendors and employees. Tight control over this flow of money is essential to prevent abuses, but that gives a lot of power to the person(s) in charge of spending (and the potential for extorting pay-to-play kickbacks).

    With regard to special-needs children, there is unfortunately great potential for voodoo economics. Thanks to No Child Left Behind, the government pays X dollars per hour for the SEITs, shadows, special ed teachers and other personnel to assist special needs children, but the yeshiva pays out Y dollars per hour to those actually doing the work (laboring in the trenches, like Ross). The difference between the X paid in by the government and the Y paid out by the yeshiva can amount to quite a bit of money.

    OK, so if the problem is now that our rebbes are making too much, rather than too little, what exactly can we baale-batim do about it? Lower the rebbe salaries and your school’s best teachers will quit and go elsewhere. Insist on a longer school year, or on a longer school day, or fewer days off? Set certain benchmarks and demand greater productivity, however that is measured in the realm of chinuch? I’m not sure what any one parent, no matter how determined, can do about this situation. Basically parents are told to vote with their feet: “You don’t like how our school is run, send your kids someplace else.”

  7. ross, perhaps being in the field of special needs is the cause for your perception that you are looked upon with disdain. I myself have struggled with the idea of spending huge resources on Torah-based special ed for those on the extreme special end of the special needs spectrum.

    But if you are also speaking about regular ed rebbeim – then I would be surprised to hear that the usual attitude is one of disdain.

    Let me take that back. The schools have fostered such a brick wall between themselves and the parent body — maybe it’s not so surprising. In many schools, there is no parental involvement. No PTA, the “board” and any other volunteers are unpaid fund-raisers. No transparency with regard to finances. Etc. – it’s all been blogged about before.

    ross, since you’re on the inside – what percentage of rebbeim are qualified to teach? How many chose teaching l’chatchila as a profession? Ron – if you want to, you can mafkir your kids to any yungerman desperate for employment; but I demand that my kids are taught by a rebbe with more than “good intentions”. Not every college degree / education degree is a joke.

    Ron – I agree that communities, not parent-consumers, ought to pay for yeshiva education. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

    I’ll be happy to “do the math” for everyone, including the list Ron gave except for the Shabbatons – no rebbe needs to host a Shabbaton, that is totally optional. Everyone agree that $60,000 is a good estimate for a starting salary for a Rebbe? And around $80,000 for 3-5 years of experience? If so, I’ll start crunching the numbers. For reference, the average salary for NJ teachers is $63,000. http://www.state.nj.us/governor/news/news/552011/pdf/20110407b_education.pdf

    The reasons why I’d remove BP and Lakewood from this discussion are numerous and I’d rather not go into it now.

  8. I’m on the rebbe side, ’cause I am one. I just said that there are quite a number of people out there who feel like Yosh does. The field of chinuch, in which I am a card carrying member (who has paid all his dues:), is looked upon with disdain by so many who claim what Yosh does. I’m also in the world of special needs, and during some years I did get paid hourly. (Or as the joke goes, weekly…very weakly.)

  9. To Yosh #35: I thank you for your thoughtful and intelligent response.

    It might be worthwhile to actually “do the math” and divide an “average” rebbe’s real take home pay by his actual number of teaching hours. Can we agree that time spent at home preparing and marking exams is added, just as break time is subtracted? We would need some cooperation from an “average” rebbe here. I suppose I might be able to get real numbers from a local Yeshiva Darchei Torah rebbe, but most people really hate discussing their personal financial lives.

    Then we have to put some kind of a dollar value on employee benefits sometimes given to rebbes such as “parsonage” (those rebbes who are getting help with housing costs), health insurance when available, tuition breaks for rebbe children, the Torah Umesorah convention, etc.

    I’m more irate about the government being billed X dollars per hour by certain yeshivos for professionals who assist with special needs children (SEITs, “shadows,” therapists, etc.) and then those actually doing the work get far less than that X dollars per hour. For example, I was told was that Mrs. Plony (not her real name) was paid $15 per hour to work with developmentally delayed children while the government paid $75 per hour to that unnamed yeshiva for her services.

    In terms of dollars per hour, I think you will find that public school teachers in certain school districts get very well paid per teaching hour. In the town of Lawrence in Nassau County, New York, homeowners were angered by a teachers’ contract approved by a lame-duck school board that granted salary increases seemingly guaranteed to saddle them with higher property taxes (already sky high).

    College professors seem to do the best at pay per teaching hour. Actual teaching at the top rated (and highest charging) universities is more and more being done by teaching assistants and doctoral candidates rather than by the professors themselves.

    I cannot say how many out of those 700 candidates were actually qualified for the job of teaching third grade in a yeshiva. The point being made was that the yeshivos have no trouble finding people who want rebbe jobs, so there is no incentive to raise salaries.

    The cost of education, whether it is yeshiva education or college education or charter school education or bilingual education or special needs services, has become a bitterly contested political issue across the country. School boards have faced off against teachers unions, taxpayers have voted down school budgets, school districts have closed down or consolidated school facilities.

    If Yosh and Ross and others out there feel strongly about this issue, that the parents’ hard-earned chinuch dollars are not buying enough rebbe and morah teaching time, then get active with the Board of Directors of your kids’ yeshivos and let your voices be heard.

  10. Yosh, no one has “said a thing about it” because your position is so preposterous that no one else on earth agrees with it, and no one but a couple of us kamikazes wants to get in the ring with you over it. But here goes.

    “700 yungeleit applied for a third-grade rebbe job”

    How many of the applicants were qualified for the job? How many had degrees? Degrees in education? Teaching experience? Experience at any job … ?

    Your first question is entirely subjective, but it is quite reasonable to believe that the vast majority were qualified. Those with more experience may have been more qualified; what’s your point? None of them have degrees; they are not applying for a job for which a degree is required or even appropriate — if it is for anyone.

    Don’t even get started with “education degrees” — you’ve got to be kidding. You can get one of those off the Internet for about fifty dollars, and that’s probably too much anyway.

    I have heard stories of late pay

    Late pay is the rule, not the exception. Do you think these are just “stories” or that they are limited to “Boro Park and Lakewood”? They aren’t.

    Let’s leave Boro Park and especially Lakewood out of the discussion because

    — huh? These are two of the biggest orthodox communities in the world. How can you “leave them out of the discussion”?

    But I still maintain – do the math and figure out what the rebbeim are actually making per hour. . . . Look at the hourly wage plus tax benefits (parsonage…)”

    Well, you are the one making this argument. Obviously you’ve done the math. What is the “hourly wage plus tax benefits”?

    “…most of the rebbes I know spend their summers doing rebbe jobs at bungalow colonies or sleepaway camps”
    … for which they get more perks, including greatly discounted / free attendance for their families

    What is the actual economic value of these “perks”? What’s your source?

    You also list the religious holidays and other occasions on which rebbeim do not teach class. This seems incomplete. I am sure when you “did the math” you also included the time rebbeim spend preparing lessons and handouts and doing grading and speaking to parents and administrators in person or on the phone about students in the afternoons and evenings, as well as hosting their students for Shabbatons, Oneg Shabboses and other extra-curricular activities, however, so I understand you did not see the need to balance out your list with this work time.

    Please, do show us your math.

    Meanwhile, consider the views of one person who has done the math and knows more about the economics of yeshiva education than you and I will ever forget, Dr. Marvin Schick. From this passage, I believe he would tend to agree with you about two things: Tuitions are a nightmare, and he is not a fan of the Torah Umesorah convention. But that’s just about where the agreement would end. I have highlighted the most pertinent point where his views and his would, I believe, depart:

    Orthodox wealth has literally exploded, a development that is not even remotely reflected in the support being provided to basic Torah education. Rebbis’ salaries at most yeshivas have been stagnant for years, this despite constant increases in the cost of living, especially for religious families, and constant increases in tuition. There is the poisonous attitude that I have decried for years, albeit with scant success, that relegates yeshiva education to the status of a consumer product that must be paid for by parents who are the consumers. It matters not that this attitude is a sharp rejection of our heritage, a rejection of the two-thousand year consensus in religious Jewish life that the community must share responsibility for the maintenance of schools that provide basic Torah education. This rupture is the primary reason for the tuition crisis that is convenient fodder for articles in our publications and speeches at our conventions. . . .

    So the tuition crisis worsens, taking a heavy toll in shalom bayis and in how yeshivas operate. Still, the talk goes on. So does Torah Umesorah, although it is badly crippled, a condition that has hurt the day school movement. This truth will be masked after Pesach when day school and yeshiva principals have their annual convention, with hard-pressed Torah institutions footing the bill….

    Now, Yosh, you don’t have to agree with Dr. Schick — I’ve parted ways with him myself from time to time — but your attitude of entitlement and resentment sure seem to reflect the one he refers to as “poisonous” in this passage. There’s no better proof of that than the words you chose to set off in sarcasm-quotes in this passage from your comment (#35):

    I don’t know any rebbeim, at least in the US, who are actually sacrificing anything, _anything_, in goshmius or in ruchnius in order to do this “holy work”.

    “Holy work”? In quotes?

    And you wonder why no one wants to engage with you in debate?

  11. Sadly, I think the majority of people agree with Yosh. THAT’S why we need a convention.

  12. Judy, I appreciate your reply, which adds to the discussion. Not sure I agree that I have engaged in ad hominem attacks, but you should also be aware that passive aggressive attacks can be even more insidious – there are those who consistently “reply” by posting concise and contrite tautologies, which come off to me as thoughtless at best and downright insulting at worst, and either way they do nothing to further the conversation.

    “700 yungeleit applied for a third-grade rebbe job”

    How many of the applicants were qualified for the job? How many had degrees? Degrees in education? Teaching experience? Experience at any job … ?

    I have heard the stories of late pay, and I know that yeshivas sometimes close. Let’s leave Boro Park and especially Lakewood out of the discussion because anyway the classroom and financial situations there are completely untenable.

    But I still maintain – do the math and figure out what the rebbeim are actually making per hour.

    “I don’t know any rebbeim who are rich.”
    Irrelevant. Look at the hourly wage plus tax benefits (parsonage…) plus quality of life. There may not be any “rich” rebbeim, but I don’t know any rebbeim, at least in the US, who are actually sacrificing anything, _anything_, in goshmius or in ruchnius in order to do this “holy work”.

    “…most of the rebbes I know spend their summers doing rebbe jobs at bungalow colonies or sleepaway camps”
    … for which they get more perks, including greatly discounted/free attendance for their families — together with their families — in a heimishe atmosphere all summer long.

    “…so their only “down time” winds up being Sukkos and Pesach.”
    … and at least a week of bein hazemanim between summer camp and elul, handful of “professional development days”, pesach sheini early dismissal, 2-3 days before pesach, erev yom kippur, day or two before sukkos, and isru chag, and even isru chag shavuous for some?!, and shushan purim, and in many communities, half days on every legal holiday, 5 days or so for “winter vacation” right at the end of January, early dismissal every day of chanukah (some schools have a day or two off as well), very early friday dismissal all year, early dismissal on fast days …

    But I guess I’m the only one bothered by this because no one else has said a thing about it but me.

  13. To Yosh #28: Yosh, drop the ad hominem personal attacks. Everyone’s free to disagree. No problem. Just lay off the insults, OK? Your arguments go down a lot better without them. You make cogent and worthwhile points in your comments that deserve civil discussion, not flameouts.

    I don’t know why you think I “obviously have no idea what the going salary is for rebbeim.” I sent seven kids through yeshiva and I now have two sons (and two daughters-in-law) involved in chinuch, not to mention that six of my thirteen grandchildren (so far) are in yeshiva. The stark reality is that there are plenty of applicants for every rebbe job, even if the yeshiva backdates its checks out to 2013, so there’s no incentive to raise the salaries. (My middle son informed me that he has personal knowledge from the menahel of a well-known yeshiva that 700 yungeleit applied for a third-grade rebbe job).

    Certainly parnasa is tight for everyone, Yosh. All of us Baalei-Batim, including Ron Coleman the lawyer (most of us lawyers are not as rich as you think, by the way), are struggling to pay our bills, including Yeshiva tuition. Other than those who married into or came from wealthy families, I don’t know any rebbeim who are rich. As far as getting summers off, most of the rebbes I know spend their summers doing rebbe jobs at bungalow colonies or sleepaway camps, so their only “down time” winds up being Sukkos and Pesach.

  14. “…maybe the convention should be an entire week? Two weeks? Maybe we should double tuition? After all, our holy rebbeim deserve it. Maybe there should be a 3-month summer break instead of 2 months? No school all of Chanukah? Isru Isru chag?”

    This could stand alone as a separate post! Is it copyrighted?

  15. I see, but Ron derisively labeling my comment as “enlightening” and then comparing it to a [mindless] April Fool’s joke — that’s okay? No, I find the double-standard disturbing and I find Bob’s “problematic” problematic. And Bob – I don’t understand your comment about Shabbos. The rebbeim ALSO get Shabbos off?!? That’s 1/7 of their life as well?!? So I repeat the question, and I call upon the blog’s readership as well — Why do we need a torah uMesora convention during the school year, wasting at least two school days, costing a million dollars — maybe the convention should be an entire week? Two weeks? Maybe we should double tuition? After all, our holy rebbeim deserve it. Maybe there should be a 3-month summer break instead of 2 months? No school all of Chanukah? Isru Isru chag?

  16. Ron Esq., you can afford to pay the whole tuition and then some, so why don’t you shut up? This isn’t a joke for many of us. Or did you forget that Financial Realities in the Frum World is the #1 most commented-on post here? Judy, no one is saying that being a Rebbe isn’t “holy work”. But you obviously have no idea what the going salary is for rebbeim — try prorating that out by the hour, accounting for all the time off, even with lesson plan prep time, at least for those who take their jobs seriously. Bob, I’m not “whining” about all the perks topped off with a big annual Shabbaton/Convention/Whatever — I’m roaring, and I hope it wakes a few people up.

  17. Not only that, but “Yosh” has Shabbos every week to squeeze in large amounts of chizuk. By my reckoning, Shabbos is 1/7 of his time. Even proper Shabbos eating (including zemiros and Divrei Torah) and sleeping are part of the chizuk package. Chagim offer their own own chizuk opportunities.

  18. The original enlightening comment —

    … while my own kids were suffering through wasted days with substitute teachers as their so-called “under paid” rebbeim (with summers off!!) were enjoying chizuk and divrei torah at a shabbaton ?!? It’s actually an outrage. When I have to squeeze in my own chizuk during my commute to work — I work year round, no shabbatons or workshop days or summers off — all in order to pay the exorbitantly high tuition that pays these rebbeim their very high salaries?!? And the schools then turn around and cry about not having enough money — what!?!

    –is so over the top that I am beginning to think that “Yosh” is an April Fool’s Day joke-bot that the Administrators forgot to turn off.

    I mean, seriously.

  19. I object to setting up baalei batim as the new, whiny, oppressed victim class, in opposition to other, supposedly better off classes. Where this ends is in further fragmentation of our already fragmented communities. Good teachers are worth much more than their not-so-lavish salaries and perks.

  20. Yosh #18: Chinuch is holy work. The education of the next generation of Jews is vitally important. If we can’t pay them higher wages, at least we should give our Rebbes and Morahs some encouragement.

  21. “…in some communities, the only group more scorned and criticized than the rebbeim are balei batim.”

    Hard to believe. I thought we would at least be number one in something. However, you’re right…everyone needs a convention for chizuk.

    Is part of the criticism that balei batim need to spend more time with their kids?

  22. Chana, at the time Rabbi Milstein was speaking, Friday from 11:00am to 12:15pm there were a total of 12 concurrent sessions going on. Rabbi Milstein was speaking in the main Ballroom which had a capacity of over 1,200 people so it’s not surprising it looked empty.

    As I mentioned I had an exhibitors booth, and during the sessions the traffic was very light, so I feel confident in saying that most of the attendees were at one of the sessions.

    Also, many people came up for Shabbos after Rabbi Milstein’s session.

  23. just curious about the assertion that the Rebbeim need this convention so desperately—during the broadcast of R. Milstein the camera scanned the audience and the room was quite empty–the Rabbi even commented on it;

  24. Yosh, you’re right, baalei batim have issues and need chizuk too. Perhaps the Agudah and OU Conventions fill that need for those that can afford it. Unfortunately events cost money and are usually funded by the attendees, which excludes those who can’t afford it.

  25. re: ross #14. ok, so the rebbeim with large houses are struggling as much as some balei batim with large houses are struggling. where is the convention and the chizuk for the balei batim? can the balei batim also get every single jewish holiday and isru chag and summers off? i don’t think so. in some communities, the only group more scorned and criticized than the rebbeim are balei batim.

    Bob, when will you take a side on an issue? When will you address an actual issue? All I ever see you do is try to rise above the issue with your pat pithy little comments. You admonish us to “get past” the issue? I challenge you _face_ the issue. In case you want a reminder, the issue is this, from the original post:
    As I listened to the speeches I became more sensitive to the plight of our Torah teachers. They’re paid very low wages. They often have to move to a different city. They have to teach to a wide ability-range of students in the classroom. And many or most of our schools don’t have the financial resources to provide them with the support that almost all other teachers, public and private, receive.

    And my point is that balei batim also have workplace resource issues, support issues, and salary issues. and even given all of that, the system is completely, totally out of whack, the quality of life for rebbeim vs balei batim is many orders of magnitude greater — and yet the rebbeim need ‘chizuk’ from a ‘convention’ ?! give me a freaking break.

  26. Get past these general pros and cons and assumptions. You will encounter some really good teachers—yours, those of your children, and others, teachers who are good in every way and are certainly not gaming the system. When you meet them, show your appreciation.

  27. MP, there were a lot of sessions on how to be a better teacher, but the perspective was from “good and trying to be better” as opposed to “needs improvement”.

  28. Dear Mark (re 17May@1901):

    Understood that such is the current situation, but I’m trying to say I cannot comprehend it — wouldn’t rebbeim _want_ to hear constructive criticism from “their own”? Surely, at that over-15-years-ago meeting and at others like it, constructive criticism wasn’t the only order of the day; surely there’s a happy medium between chizuq and cheshbon….

  29. The rebbi who has a larger family needs a larger type home. Now that he signed the mortgage, you have no idea how much he’s struggling with those payments, and how much his parents or in-laws are struggling to help them. We can’t judge by looks. Just as much as we can’t judge a parent who requests a scholarship every year yet has a nice home and takes a vacation…perhaps his finances also took a nose dive and he’s struggling, and the vacation was from his in-laws.

    We have no idea based on what we see. And, I might add, not all rabbeim get free tuition…I get a slight reduction even though I have multiple kids here, that’s it. And I paid full price for using one of their rooms for a simcha.

    We drown in negativity and criticism, even if some of it might be warranted. We NEED a convention like oxygen, or some rabbeim would be giving up. For those of us who can’t attend, we read the synopsis in the frum papers, which obviously doesn’t compare.

  30. MP, originally I thought just like you and that the convention organizers where rejecting the criticism.

    What I tried to convey in the post is that sometimes chizuk (strengthening) is the call of the day, and criticizing, even constructively, has a reducing effect on the much needed chizuk.

    I’m pretty sure that when the teachers return home they’ll get plenty of criticism, constructive and otherwise from the various school constituents.

  31. I’m sorry, but I can’t bend my mind around what Mark writes, much as I empathize with his thoughts.  Perhaps the difference here can be associated with the difference between striving for d’veiqus (closeness to H’) and striving for shleimus (perfecting oneself), with not only a tolerance for but a desire for constructive criticism associated with the latter hashqafah?

  32. Chinuch.org broadcasted some of the panel discussions from the convention. I especially found the debate about internet usage intriguing. The panel of gedolim were coming out strongly against internet usage in general, and concluded that at the very least it is assur to use internet without a filter. They minced no words about the damage to textual learning that internet usage causes to I’m making a guess that in this they are largely ignored (the irony that this was being broadcast over internet not unnoticed). Am I wrong in that assumption?

  33. Yosh and Michoel remind me of a Jackie Mason routine in which he describes how Jews look at other people’s businesses and say “He’s making a fortune, he’s got no overhead”.

    Rebbeim are usually near the bottom of the salary pay scale.

    I don’t know how the Rebbeim got to the convention or who paid for it.

    People have spouses who work or parents who might give them money or side jobs to help pay expenses.

    I know it’s difficult when we’re struggling financially to not judge Rebbeim favorable, but we can at least try.

  34. Some shiurim and a tea room?

    If teaching is your life, than the shiurim and speeches are GOLD. And the tea room, well, that’s just a perk.

  35. I agree with Mark but I agree a bit with Yosh also, at least the sentiment if not the particulars. Perhaps there is way to honorably convey to certain rebbeyim the importance of modesty when living on the tzibbur’s money. I live in a pretty small-semidetached home with one vehicle. It is not so pleasing to my wife. When she sees a rebbi’s family in a larger type home (the exception and not the rule), and she know’s that he get’s free tuition for all his boys while we struggle mightily, and without chol hamoed, summers off, there is normal potential there for bad feelings. Yes, we are deeply indebted to them for doing a job I couldn’t do. But they also need to be sensitive to the parent body.

  36. Yosh, as you may have noticed, there’s a lot of negativity in the world and I think giving 1,900 people the strength to battle it day to day , is well worth it.

  37. Well, we’re just living it up. It’s really supposed to be a secret, but someone must have leaked. Excuse me now, my chauffeur is waiting to take me back to school…this was a splendid brunch break.

  38. It’s been years since I went to the convention, because it’s too expensive, and I can’t leave or bring my family. A few rebbeim from our school went, and had that “convention glow” afterwards.

    … while my own kids were suffering through wasted days with substitute teachers as their so-called “under paid” rebbeim (with summers off!!) were enjoying chizuk and divrei torah at a shabbaton ?!? It’s actually an outrage. When I have to squeeze in my own chizuk during my commute to work — I work year round, no shabbatons or workshop days or summers off — all in order to pay the exorbitantly high tuition that pays these rebbeim their very high salaries?!? And the schools then turn around and cry about not having enough money — what!?!

  39. Mark,
    yashar koyach. that was very beautiful. They have an extremely hard task. There is a common custom to give rebbeyim chanukah gelt. It’s something, that as a BT, I was unaware of, or at least unaware of how common it is. A close fried, who is a real ffb and not a person of means, told be that he pushes himself to give what for him is a matana g’dolah to each of his kids’rebbeyim.

    Just something to be aware of.

  40. It’s been years since I went to the convention, because it’s too expensive, and I can’t leave or bring my family. A few rebbeim from our school went, and had that “convention glow” afterwards.

    Sigh. It’s always nice to hear chizuk in this profession.

  41. Amen. I agree I really don’t think teachers r appreciated enough. My mother always tells me to get teachers who I don’t really like a gift at the end of the year.

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