Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
Overwhelmingly, though, teachers are dedicated individuals who come to class with a determination to do a good job – and most do a good job despite the challenges they face.
Another point about the quality and capabilities of those who go into teaching: It’s been noted that one of the consequences of the Great Depression eighty years ago is that people of considerable learning and other skills who could not find other work or did not have business opportunities turned toward teaching careers and this had a beneficial impact on the quality of teaching in public education for more than a generation.
This was especially evident in math and science instruction, as well as English language skills, and it was true not only of public schools but of many private schools, including yeshivas. With the long postwar economic improvement, the incentive of such persons to go into basic education evaporated and there was an inevitable decline in quality, as it became increasingly difficult to attract top-notch persons to basic education.
It is unclear whether the severe recession and the poor job market we have experienced in recent years have resulted in basic education serving once more as a magnet to attract such persons. My hunch is that it has had a modest impact, but no more.
Whatever the quality of instruction, the root of the intense focus on teachers lies in other factors. Education is rightly viewed as not merely one more important service provided by government. Education goes to the heart of what societies seek to achieve. When a child fails, there are reverberations that likely intensify as the years go by. The stakes are therefore higher than for any other major public activity, medical care included.
This is at the mega or societal level. At the parental level, what counts is how one’s child is doing at a particular moment in a particular classroom, not necessarily how good the teacher may be overall or how other students in the same classroom are doing. The focus is narrow and parochial, entangled in both self-interest and emotions, yet it is also understandable why parents view what is occurring in the classroom through the prism of their own children.
Unavoidable as this is, it also results in unfairness toward teachers, especially as parents are themselves nowadays more emotionally involved in how their children are doing at school, becoming in a way big brothers and big sisters who feel they must protect their younger siblings. It is good in one sense that parents care, but the advantage of parental involvement can be offset by too narrow or insensitive scrutiny of what happens in a classroom.
I am confident that teachers at yeshivas and day schools are extraordinary in their devotion, spending much time outside the classroom in preparation and also seeking ways to better connect with their students. Nearly all of them are also social workers. They deserve our gratitude and respect, even if at times we may think they fall short of what we may want of them.
My admiration is without bounds, especially toward the women who teach in our schools. Many have significant family and home responsibilities. Invariably, they are exceedingly low paid and, invariably, they are exceedingly dedicated. They are among the jewels of religious Jewish life in the contemporary period.
Marvin Schick is president of the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. This is his sixtieth year working on behalf of Torah education.
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France 2 and Enderlin must have their press accreditation revoked and be thrown out of Israel.
Slaughter is a routine, widespread practice among many Moslem families.
parently an affront to J Street’s worldview, the focus of which appears to be the creation of a Palestinian State, whether or not that will bring peace.
My mother, the eldest daughter of Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l, was niftar last month at the age of 92. She took her last breath in her home in Efrat, Israel, next door to the shul that was my father’s for 24 years before his passing in 2007.
It comes down to his being famous.
Following the Boston Marathon bombing, one crucial point will likely remain overlooked. The most loathsome aspect of this or any other terror bombing attack on civilians will always lie in the inexpressibility of physical pain. While all decent people will abhor the idea of bombs expressly directed at the innocent, whether here or in other countries, none will ever be able to process the very deepest horrors of what has been inflicted.
It’s only natural to see increasing evidence of Jerusalem’s glorious Jewish past being unearthed, quite literally, under modern Israeli sovereignty. The new archaeological finds are also very timely – as the Arab onslaught attempting to detach Jerusalem from its Jewish roots gains steam, the facts on the ground, or “under” the ground, show quite otherwise.
The Talmud (Berachot 26b) says, “tefillot avot tiknum” – “prayer was established by the avot.” The Talmud then uses the following verse (Bereshit 19:27) to prove how Avraham established prayer: “Vayaskem Avraham baboker el hamakom asher amad sham et pnei Hashem” – “And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before God.”
Nearly 13 years ago, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak journeyed to Camp David to end the conflict with the Palestinians. With the approval of President Clinton, he offered Yasir Arafat an independent Palestinian state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza and in part of Jerusalem. Arafat said no.
The news that the Internal Revenue Service unfairly targeted conservative groups has brought renewed spotlight on a 2010 lawsuit filed by the pro-Israel group Z Street, which alleges it was also singled out by the IRS when applying for tax-exempt status.
In an editorial last week (“Circling the Wagons”) we noted the efforts by the administration and its supporters to dismiss allegations that the government’s spin on the Benghazi attack was designed to shield the president and that the IRS was improperly used to stifle opposition to Mr. Obama’s reelection.
As the controversies besetting the Obama administration continue to grow in number and intensity, the prospect that President Obama would seriously consider military action against Iran, should that country continue its drive to become a nuclear power, becomes more and more remote. So we welcome the current enhancement of sanctions against Iran on the federal and New York State levels.
To his parents’ friends, he was “Mrs. Greenberg’s disgrace,” but to sports fans he is one of the greatest – if not the greatest – Jewish baseball players of all time. Long before Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg excited Jewish sports fans with his prowess on the baseball diamond.
As we commemorate the fiftieth yahrzeit this Friday, the second day of Kislev, of Rav Aaron Kotler – the greatest Jew, in the opinion of even many of his fellow Torah luminaries, ever to set foot on North American soil – we are obligated to reflect on his achievements and the lessons he taught.
A major sociological characteristic and consequence of modernity is the tendency for people to join together in associations that express a common goal or interest or a shared experience. The United States has been a nation of joiners from day one and perhaps even before independence was declared. Alexis de Tocqueville described this tendency in Democracy in America, the epic prophetic work published a century and three-quarters ago.
There is constant talk of a tuition crisis, of the growing number of yeshiva and day school parents – and potential parents – who say that full tuition or anything close to it is beyond their financial reach.
It often seems that it’s always open season on teachers, that they are available for target practice in the form of harsh criticism or verbal and written abuse from current parents, former parents, current students, former students, administrators, lay leaders and, in the case of public education, public officials and the media.
My first visit to Israel in the summer of 1959 coincided to an extent with the trip by Rabbi Aharon Kotler, the great rosh yeshiva of Lakewood, who came to give shiurim at Yeshiva Eitz Chaim in Jerusalem and to campaign for Agudath Israel in the Knesset elections, as he had done previously in the decade.
All is well in our home, in our community. Isn’t it? A new school year is about to open and enrollment will grow by about 5,000 students over last year. There are a third more students in yeshiva-world schools than there were a decade ago, while in chassidic schools the increase during this period is an astounding sixty percent.
Larry Franklin, the third man in the sordid AIPAC affair, is not an entirely sympathetic figure. Although a person of sincerity and religious devotion, he agreed to testify against former AIPAC officials Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman in the trumped-up case forged by the FBI.
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