Ckids, which coordinates programming for many of Chabad’s Hebrew Schools, announced this year’s “Educator of the Year” award. The annual award recognizes one educator who sees his position as more than a job but as a life mission and has impacted Hebrew Schools beyond the reach of their own institution.
The past year has been a difficult one for many. Covid has affected people’s businesses, their recreational hobbies, and their life at large. But one area that it really challenged was education. The challenge was two-fold. How would schools and colleges manage to educate their students with schools forced to be closed? Would they succeed in swiftly and smoothly setting up virtual classrooms? Furthermore, even if they managed to transfer their school infrastructure online, would children who once thrived in a school, benefiting from the shared excitement of their friends and energy of their teachers, find themselves sitting endless hours in front of a screen, bored, unmotivated, and not succeeding in their studies.
As schools and colleges worldwide came to a halt with their committees and boards trying to assess how to move forward, Chabad Hebrew schools worldwide were up and running without any interruption. The 40,000 Jewish children who attended their Hebrew schools seamlessly transitioned to online classes without delay.
Rob Seesengood, associate dean and professor of religious studies at Albright University, summed it up in one line: “As a dean and professor trying to manage a similar transition in higher Ed, Chabad has just blown the doors off two-thirds of college and university programs in the US.”
Although It took a whole squadron of devoted teachers working overtime pulling all-nighters to have the platform up and ready, One educator from Dix Hills, NY, stood at the helm, coordinating the project and seeing it through till the end; Rabbi Dovid Weinbaum, Director of the Chai Center Noskin Hebrew School of Dix Hills, selflessly led the team racing against the clock to ensure Jewish children around the world wouldn’t go even one week without studying Torah.
Rabbi Weinbaum directed and produced the engaging classes and curriculums that Chabad Hebrew schools in America used throughout the Covid lockdown of the 2020 school year.
Then, as the new school year began and the in-person regulations were lifted, Rabbi Weinbaum pioneered the current innovative method. The schools could teach in-person students while simultaneously catering to those students who preferred to remain virtual.
His resourcefulness led to the unexpected blossoming of Chabad Hebrew schools throughout the pandemic and the 40,000 students who attend those schools are in debt to Rabbi Weinbaum and his team for the seamless transition to online learning. Their creativity was so helpful that over 30 Chabad centers across America opened new Hebrew schools during the past year due to this available resource.
“Rabbi Weinbaum didn’t raise his hands in despair, nor was he satisfied with making sure his own school was up and running,” said Rabbi Zalmy Lowenthal, Director of Ckids international. “He took the initiative and went beyond his job description; his leadership helped enable every Chabad Hebrew School to keep its (virtual) doors open throughout the Covid pandemic.”