Blessing our teachers

The prolonged Covid virus crisis, the need for day schools to adjust to the dread effect of the virus and the successful manner in which many schools did adjust – especially in the GTA – has led some educators to reimagine day schools of the future. With lessons from the pandemic pivot fresh in their minds and the ever-present concerns of affordability and sustainability always part of the structural architecture, many educators are establishing new day schools – at least in their minds.

Jonah Hassenfeld, Director of Learning and Teaching at Schechter Boston and Ziva R. Hassenfeld, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Assistant Professor of Jewish Education at Brandeis University responded to some of the “blue-sky” suggestions for future schools. Piqued, and with a traceable sense of worry, they reminded the well-meaning re-imaginers of day schools that economies of scale and creative staffing models should not be sacrosanct over-arching principles of redesign and restructure.

In an essay entitled The Silver Bullet of Jewish Education is Teachers, the authors remind us that the inestimably most important feature of any day school is the quality of its teachers- their substantive excellence and goodness.

The Hassenfelds write: “One place that we should never compromise is in the development and support of educators. No, they won’t be able to wear every hat, or teach every subject, in every language, but with the right leadership, culture, and opportunities for development, they will help develop kind, curious, and knowledgeable young Jews.”

The authors have written a truth we should never forget. Teachers – and the lay and professional infrastructure that support them – are the true and key shapers of our collective Jewish future. Families, parents, grandparents reinforce through example and love what our teachers impart in the classroom.

God bless our teachers not only during Covid, but always.

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The full article by the Hassenfelds is available at:

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Be safe. Be well.

Shabbat shalom. 

GAJE, April 30, 2021

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