When Mrs. Altie Kasowitz moved on shlichus together with her husband to leafy West Orange, N.J., she was certain she would not be giving any adult education classes.
“It just wasn’t for me,” explains Kasowitz. “I never planned on teaching adults, and I was afraid of teaching them. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to answer their questions, and I just felt more comfortable dealing with children.”
While Kasowitz did have a successful women’s circle, her programming mostly steered clear of in-depth and text-based teaching, sticking more to challah-baking and cosmetics workshops. When she did choose to host a class, Kasowitz invited a speaker or lecturer whom she felt was more qualified than she was.
“My husband started to encourage me to give adult education classes, and then he got Shaindy Jacobson on my case,” recalls Kasowitz. Jacobson is the director of JLI’s Rosh Chodesh Society (RCS), and Kasowitz credits Jacobson with convincing her to give the Rosh Chodesh Society programming a try.
“Every year we have a women’s dinner, and we planned on announcing at the dinner that we’re launching this new program,” she says. “But a woman in my community who was helping me with the dinner told me, ‘we’re going to have sixty women at this event, so you need to teach the first class right there at the dinner.’ I was worried, but I ended up doing it and it was great!
“Once I taught that first lesson, I saw how much RCS does for each individual shluchah, and after I started, I knew I wouldn’t go back. Shaindy pushed me into it—in a good way—and she stayed with me every step of the way.”
Mrs. Chani Lipskar has been teaching women in south Florida since she went out on shlichus 45 years ago. An experienced and admired teacher, she says she enjoys using the Rosh Chodesh Society material for her own classes and encourages others to do so as well.
“I promote this class to everyone, especially to the younger shluchos who feel that they’re lacking the self-confidence to teach adults,” says Lipskar. “This program gives a young, shy, shluchah all of the tools to be able to teach confidently. At the same time, it is also a tremendous help for more experienced teachers.”
Lipskar explains that for her personally, Rosh Chodesh Society’s greatest benefit is the structure it provides for each class. “The outline you get at the outset helps you structure the class for yourself—it gives you a playbook. If you have a playbook, you can focus on how you will structure your time; so for me, the program helps me organize my thoughts and gain perspective on what I will be teaching. Then, if I would like to add something to the class, I have the freedom to do that.”
She also notes that the women who attend appreciate seeing the actual sources and the texts on which the concepts being discussed are based.
“When you have the sources,” she adds, “it solidifies the idea’s validity, and the women feel that they’re actually learning. We’re not discussing ambiguous ideas anymore; they’re actually seeing it inside.
“I wish I had such a program when I started out 45 years ago.”
The Rosh Chodesh Society was established in 2009 in memory of Shlucha Rivkah Holtzberg hy”d, and now has 160 chapters in 17 countries, and expanding rapidly.