Over 100 educators gathered in Crown Heights for renewed inspiration and camaraderie.
It’s become a yearly thing. Deep into the school year, mechanchim from far and near gather for a Yud Shvat farbrengen in Crown Heights organized by Igud Hamelamdim. They come together in a spirit of achdus to recharge and connect with fellow educators.
This year’s speaker was Rabbi Leima Wilhelm, mashpia in the yeshiva in Morristown, who dynamically addressed them with a blend of chassidic insight and practical chinuch. The foundation of chinuch, he said, are the regular days and interactions with our students. What may seem plain and bland will actually impact the child for years to come. As Chassidus teaches, “Asiya l’eila,” that simple actions connect to Hashem Himself. When a teacher appreciates the greatness of what he’s doing, he can rise above any challenge.
New Season Kick-Off at Teachers’ Kolel
In-depth Torah study invigorates teachers to energize their classrooms.
On Monday evening, the Crown Heights Kolel boomed with the sound of Torah study, as 70 teachers delved into in-depth study with a chavrusa.
The teachers’ kolel, under the auspices of Igud Hamelamdim, is back in session for the winter season, to the delight of many Crown Heights rebbis – not just a gift for themselves, but also for their students. “When I enter the classroom the morning after a satisfying chavrusa,” says one second-grade rebbi, “I am much better equipped to make the children excited about their learning.”
At the end of their study session, Rabbi Yossi Paltiel shared some inspirational words. “Melamdim were entitled by the Rebbe as ‘those whose work is the work of Heaven’ (melachtom meleches Shomayim), a title that even shluchim or community activists didn’t merit. Being a teacher isn’t easy, but it’s certainly worth it. We must practice what we preach and find the joy in pure learning.”
One new participant couldn’t resist sharing his impressions. “Many technologies and curriculums have been created to improve chinuch. Tools are certainly helpful, but ultimately, it’s the teacher who wields the tools. When an infused teacher is alive with Torah, he will bring that life to his classroom.”
Melamdim Empowered to Shine the Light
On Monday evening, 12 Adar II, 100 mechanchim of all schools and ages gathered together at Kollel Menachem to attend what was being advertised as a Pre-Purim address by Harav Yosef Heller for Mechanchim.
As usual, Harav Heller outlined in his unique way, what is the role of a Chasidisher Mechanech in our times. This time a big focus was the influence mechanchim have on the homes.
"In the introduction to Kuntres Umayan the Rebbe Rashab writes that Chassidishe Melamdim are the מאורי אור, those who bring light into the homes. In another source it says that they the ones who bring Elokus into the homes.
“Everyone recognizes the difference between a teacher and a “melamed.” A melamed is a mechanech. He doesn’t just teach information, he teaches a child how to live his life – not just in the Cheder, but also at home. The melamed teaches the child what a Yiddishe home is about, what is Yiddishe life and beyond. Sometimes, the child depends on hearing these things in Cheder, and if he doesn’t, he will be missing it for life.
“So when it is said that a melamed brings light to the homes, it means simply that without the Chassidishe melamed the houses would be dark. It is in the power of the melamdim to make them bright.”
“It was a very inspirational talk,” one Melamed told us. “It is talks like this that empower me to really make a difference!”
Igud Hamelamdim's Hei Teves
Igud Hamelamdim marked Hei Teves with a special evening event for educators that featured a 3-tiered program. The gathering began with an hour of the teachers learning the Seforim, followed by a talk with Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, A”H from Sichos in English related to Seforim and Chinuch. The event concluded with a sale of many Chinuch Seforim made available to the Melamdim at greatly reduced pricing.
In Rabbi Avtzon’s talk, he related a number of firsthand accounts of especially empowering vignettes and anecdotes of the Rebbe, stressing the Rebbe’s focus on Chinuch:
On one occasion, when the Rebbe spoke with (released time camp) children, he was subsequently contacted by the Rebbe’s Mazkir with the Rebbe’s request to have the talk translated into English and printed so that the children will be able to read it over after, and reflect upon it. Another time, when editing a translation of a talk he had given, The Rebbe corresponded with them 10 times over editing one specific word—a strong message of how meticulous we need to be when teaching!
An additional lesson, Rabbi Avtzon shared, was the time that, following a children’s rally, a group of the Rebbe’s editors worked on translating and typing up the Rebbe’s Sicha at the rally, and neglected to include that the rally had commenced with the children reciting the 12 Pesukim. The Rebbe sharply critiqued the editors, demanding, "How can you leave that out?“
The Melamdim left the evening with renewed energy and commitment to their classrooms and to the precious Neshamos entrusted in their care.