“In my opinion, the root challenge in this day and age is the lack of Kabolas Ol,” writes the Rebbe. Not only of Ol Malchus Shomayim, but even general submission to authority the Rebbe felt was lacking, to parents at home, teachers in school, and law and order on the street.
“I thought long and hard about finding a way of getting an American child used to the idea of subordination to a higher authority,” the Rebbe continues. “I came to the conclusion that there was no other way but through a system of discipline that would be readily accepted.” The Rebbe came up with a perfect model that kids would be excited to join: an army.
“During the last shnas hakhel seven years ago, we started to design this system,” says Rabbi Shimmy Weinbaum. With the partnership of Rabbi Yerachmiel Benjaminson, executive director of Tzivos Hashem, and Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, the Rebbe’s vision for Tzivos Hashem would start becoming a reality: a brigade of Tzivos Hashem was created to train children of anash and yaldei hashluchim around the world as dedicated soldiers in Hashem’s army.
It would be based on the Rebbe’s words: a system of discipline that kids would readily accept. “We knew we would need to divide up the the different parts of a soldier’s avodas Hashem,” explains Weinbaum. Like a report card is divided by subject, the missions are divided so that kids can see where they shine and where they need improvement. “That’s where the idea of campaigns comes in.” There are 12 different campaigns ranging from Chitas and Hiskashrus to Briyas Haguf and Avos U’bonim. Each campaign comes with its own set of daily or weekly missions to accomplish. For example, to succeed in the Shabbos Mevorchim Tehillim campaign, a quota of Tehilim needs to be reached on every Shabbos Mevorchim over nine years.
To keep chayolim motivated, milestones were created along the way that would recognize the children’s success. “We took a page out of Aleph Champ’s book,” Weinbaum says, “And Chanie Marcus generously allowed us to use her brilliant medal system.” Each campaign has its own set of ten medals, giving chayolim the ability of earning 120 medals over their military career.
Video: New mobile site for Chayolei Tzivos Hashem
The foundation of Tzivos Hashem is the ranks. Every child starts off as private, and after earning 3 medals is promoted. They keep doing missions and earning medals to advance in rank. “Ranks were the Rebbe’s brainchild,” says Weinbaum. “And we find that the chayolim are more motivated to advance in rank than they are by anything else.”
Alongside the medal and rank system, a point system was built, where kids could earn miles for doing their missions. The chayolim get to use these points to buy prizes in their schools’ stores and buy tickets in a grand end-of-the-year auction.
“With each year, Chayolei Tzivos Hashem grew increasingly successful,” says Mushka Greene, director of development. “But we did have one major challenge: most kids—and especially their parents—found the whole system too complicated.” Parents wanted their kids to join the army, “but the work involved was overwhelming,” says Rivkie Pink, a mother in Leicester, England.
In schools, mission sheets were printed at the beginning of the week and collected at the end (that is, if kids hadn’t lost them). Data entry had to be done for each student, entering completed missions into Tzivos Hashem’s mashpia.com platform. “We have a team of wonderful parent volunteers who spend hours every week entering in all the soldiers’ completed missions in the system,” says Blumi Mishulovin, Base Commander at Bnos Menachem.
Earlier this year Tzivos Hashem unveiled a brilliant solution: an easy-to-use mobile site. Kids can mark their missions every night, check on their progress, and even personalize their goals.
“Tzivos Hashem has transformed our house,” says parent Libby Chein. “Every night my kids use my phone to enter missions, and they won’t go to sleep until completing as much as they can.”
Results are in; and they are good: so far Tzivos Hashem has seen a jump in participation. “We’ve already sent out over 30,000 medals this year,” Rabbi Weinbaum says with pride.
Want to create an account? Check out the new mobile site here: www.mashpia.com/mobile