The Elephant In The Room, The Difficulty In Finding Good Educators
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 is immeasurable.
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 Aron 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 Aron Wilschanski – Morristown, NJ