By Mendel Schwartz – Los Angeles, CA
Our schools have a problem. These days attracting top-tier talent requires –at minimum– paying salaries that are capable of providing these young families with a respectable quality-of-life. Our most talented young men and women, driven as they are to join the ranks of our moisdos, are often times simply left with no choice other than using their talents elsewhere, in an attempt to support their families with dignity.
Even those who do initially take jobs as teachers in our schools, are slowly being recruited away. Especially those who excel the most at their jobs. These top-tier mechanchim are simply not being treated with the respect they deserve, and as a result our children are often times left to a more mediocre education.
One Cheder and community that seems to get this is Cheder Menachem in Los Angeles. As a direct response to this phenomenon the Cheder Young Leadership Committee was established. These men and women work tirelessly to both get the message out to the broader community, and raise funds specifically geared toward showing the Cheder’s staff that the community has their back. Not only with words, but with actual no-strings-attached cash gifts to the Cheder faculty.
Recently, on Thursday, Zayin Adar (Feb, 26) the committee held an inaugural event at a private home in the area. Headlined by Top Chef contestant and Chopped Champion, Katsuji Tanabe, a portion of the event was subsidized by local individuals and businesses, and tickets went on sale at an affordable rate, so as to deliver a clear message to all those who attended: We want your involvement as much as your money.
The event was a huge hit, both because of the diverse crowd, and the top-notch fashion in which it was staged and executed. Attendees included parents, teachers, Shluchim, locals, and a representation from all levels of the economic spectrum.
The event was masterfully planned and coordinated by Rabbi Yossi Burston, and perfectly captured by one of Los Angeles’s premiere photographers Yossi Percia.
To this writer it is clear that this committee understands that to truly succeed, broad community involvement is as key to its success as are actual cash donations. By raising funds to subsidize the entrance fee, they allowed those who would otherwise be left out, to participate, and to bask in its success.
I believe that in the end, far from feeling shut out from the Cheder’s day-to-day concerns, these families, no matter their social status, because they were able to make a difference, will continue doing so even after, G-dwilling, their fortunes take a turn for the even-better.
If more of our schools take this approach: To care not only for multi-million dollar buildings, but also for the heart and soul of the education itself, and genuinely solicit the involvement even of those who cannot write big checks or pay full tuition, we can begin turning the tide toward once again making our children’s education, and those who do the best job at educating them, a celebrity cause in our communities, and culture.
If it’s okay, I’d like to take one more moment of your time to recognize these individuals by name, and take the opportunity to personally thank them for investing in my own children’s future at the Cheder, and G-d willing, through leading by example, at any other moisad my child may eventually study at:
The CMYLC was formed by Levi and Malkie Lieberman, Mendel and Esther Schwartz, Yossi and Chayale Segelman, Tzvi and Rivkele Ferszt, Chaim and Chanie Abenaim, Yechezkel and Nechami Raeburn, Dovid and Shaina Hoch, Simcha and Chaya Esther Kagan in conjunction with Rabbi Greenbaum, Dean of Cheder Menachem, and in cooperation with the Cheder’s dedicated Board of Directors.
If you would like to participate in this noble endeavor, please feel free to contribute any amount to the the school at chedermenachem.com/2886468