The following open letter was received in the COLlive inbox:
Rumor has it that teachers in Crown Heights mosdos were or are about to be fired over their participation in either of The Call of the Shofar (COTS) retreats, weekly meeting and conference calls.
I therefore ask COLlive.com to post this op-ed as soon as possible, before further actions are taken that will have a lasting impact on many lives in our community.
As a past participant of the COTS workshop, I understand what the rabbonim and mashpi’I’m are referring to when they express concern of questionable sources. I support their psak in not going to COTS from this point and on and submit to the higher authority of Torah.
But consider this:
The mechanchim who attended COTS are individuals who share a passion for and are involved in professional development. They attend the many workshops and lectures made available to the community and engage in active and proactive work to better the Chinuch of our children.
No one will argue that is there much to be amended in our educational system. Instead of being satisfied with the status quo of the chinuch situation in the school, the principal/teacher/mashpia shelled out big money, took a weekend away from his family in order to improve his relationship with his talmidim/staff/family etc.
He took a step in the right direction. He wanted to improve the matzav. He thought this was an innocent, well-meaning venture to improve and do better.
Now it has come to light that the venue was questionable or wrong. Is this a reason to come out so hatefully and vehemently against their innocent endeavor? Does a mechanech need to be fired for the innocent mistake in getting involved in COTS?
Is this hakoras hatov for his effort and desire to become a better mechanech and sharing this with others? Why not judge them by their actions?
Granted, the means may be tainted and stem from questionable sources (a fact that has not yet been established by any independent party), but does the person become tainted as a result?
Surely, if after the psak, a mechanech went (and encouraged others to go despite the psak), they would need to be disciplined. But to fire someone who went innocently?
This is simply wrong.
It behooves us all to make an honest cheshbon hanefesh, erase any trace of sinash chinam from our hearts and take a good look at the facts:
Fact: All the mechanchim who went to COTS, went for the purpose of improving their ability to connect with their staff/talmidim. Aren’t these exactly the type of people we want in our mosdos? Don’t we want people who care to learn and do better in our classrooms?
Fact: At the time of enrollment, mechanchim reached out to the mashpi’im and rabbonim in our community. They admitted to not knowing (much) about it and relied on the experience of other frum people who have gone and promised glowing results.
Fact: I haven’t heard of a mechanech that has since challenged the psak nor made any referrals or encouraged others to attend COTS after the psak.
(And I’m not mentioning the question why the ones I heard were fired were not the ones with family connections? If you claim they are brainwashed, why do you pick and choose?)
Parents, ask yourselves this question: Do you want your school to fire the staff who took initiative to improve themselves in order to be a better mechanech?
If, however, you support the innocent desire to be a better mechanech, and understand the conditions under which these efforts were made, call your son’s school administrator and demand that his principal/mashpia/teacher be reinstated/kept on staff.
Please have understanding towards the teacher the same way he has patience with your son.