Dec 25, 2012
Council Heads at Montessori School
Photos: Levi Percia/COLlive

CHJCC President Zaki Tamir and Executive Director Eli Cohen paid a visit to Lamplighters Yeshivah in Crown Heights Monday.

By COLlive staff

CHJCC President Zaki Tamir and Executive Director Eli Cohen paid a visit to Lamplighters Yeshivah in Crown Heights Monday.

The two were invited to see firsthand the activities of the Yeshivah, and thereby introduce the first and only Montessori school in Crown Heights to the community.

The school, started three years ago by a small group of local residents, has since grown into an established school with over 35 families, a beautiful building, a preschool and lower elementary division and two highly regarded, experienced school heads, Reb Moshe and Rivkah Schack.

Tamir, after viewing the children learning and at play in the state of the art facilities, was impressed.

"There are so many involved parents that regularly express concern about providing their children with the very best education possible without compromising chassidish-Chabad values," he said. "Lamplighters is the perfect example of the Rebbe’s style being applied effectively. I observed an organization that is equipped to take the chinuch of our children to the next level," he said.

The school, whose mission statement says it is based on the famous adage "Educate a child according to his way" - makes that slogan into a reality, says director Yocheved Sidoff.

On concluding the tour, Tamir said, "I am very proud of these leaders, they are action people - and it appears to me that they have planted seeds of a very firm establishment right here in the Rebbe’s home town.”

For more information about Lamplighters Yeshivah or to schedule a tour, please visit or call 718-355-9138.

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
at its best. look at their ksiva worksheets.
(12/25/2012 7:18:56 PM)
Go Chana Gorin
Jacksonville is proud of you!
(12/25/2012 7:31:56 PM)
Montessori warning
The Montesorri philosophy is really fantastic in developing the whole child. However, as chassidim there is one major nichshol that MUST be defused. In the efforts to encourage and promote self (self expression, self understanding, self esteem, etc), the Montessori concepts drastically UNDER-teach the idea of bittul. This is a major obstacle for the students later in life!!!

I hope the mechanchim at this school will read this idea and make sure to protect these Yiddishe kinderlach by emphasising bittul and kabalas ole so these kids can flourish and grow but al pi Torah and Chassidus.
(12/25/2012 8:06:36 PM)
Ima and Abba
B Chana
Great to see you in action!
The kids look happy and the classroom looks great.
(12/25/2012 8:26:54 PM)
So happy to have Our Gabi in this school! Great work YLL
(12/25/2012 8:55:29 PM)
Go Tzirl
You're an awesome teacher. Your students love you .
(12/25/2012 9:01:06 PM)
so proud!!!!!
so proud of this school and all their amazing staff and accomplishement!! go lamplighters
(12/25/2012 9:25:43 PM)
RSL great job!!
(12/25/2012 9:37:08 PM)
Reb Alter rocks!
Good job Alter! Keep doing the amazing chinuch you're doing for your students.
(12/25/2012 9:53:41 PM)
Montessori Kudos
If Montessori is really fantastic at developing the whole child, wouldn't that necessitate the inclusion of bittul? Further, if one agrees that the method is fantastic then also one must know that such a method would teach such, education for life, as bittul and kabbalos ole impressionistically rather than lecturing about it. Truth be told children in Montessori classrooms learn such concepts, without naming them, by participating in them. To say that by developing self-expression, self-understanding, self-esteem Montessori under teaches humility is the same as saying that no one should have any self-confidence, should have no ability to express Torah and Chassidus in their own words or summarize what they have learned, and never understand themselves and their actions through hisbonenus; but isn't that the complete opposite that Chassidus teaches us? The truth of the matter is that Montessori as a method of education, not a philosophy, when applied correctly lightens up the eyes of the child, brings them close to Torah, teaches ahavas yisroel, and all of the "concepts" that you speak of but even more importantly (if that is possible) teaches children to do it on their own because they want to, be because they love to. In this way children are closer to being on their way to yirah iliyah and ahava iliyah, simply because they are already tapped into the “how to” love and stand in awe of the Abeshter. A recent study that showed that children who left Montessori Schools for High School had no trouble adjusting in away except one. These children could not understand why other children were so mean, why they did not respect themselves, their environment, and they just could not understand why the children did not have the introspective package of behaviors that could make them productive and amiable members of society. I hope that the Mechanchim at OTHER schools are reading this and make sure to protect Yiddishe kinderlach by emphasizing bittul and kabalas ole so that kids will flourish and grow al pi Torah and Chassidus, regardless of what method they employ. Certainly the children in this school are well on their way. Way to go Lamplighter’s Yeshivah!
(12/25/2012 9:55:08 PM)
Parent At Lamplighters
In regards to what #3 said. Thank you for the warning but it is important for you to know that The Yeshivah does not dwell on the Philosphy which is in fact in some hefech Torah, it dwells on the methodoligy, actuality, practicality and vitality of the activites. n fact they also bring Torah into every activity of learning, whether it be math, science or English. We bring out the G-dliness in every part of life. Last year when a well known woman in Lubavitch who had spoken to the Rebbe countless amounts of times on Montessori come and educate the parents on what Montessori is to the Chossid and how we apply it to our lives. It is really the epitomy of "Chanoch Lena'ar Al Pi Darko" - to train a child according to his way "In order that he SHOULD NOT stray from it" The directives of the school is to do exactly the opposite of what you have mentioned. I am so proud of this school and believe with my whole heart we are raising the next generations of Chassidim and leaders! Thank you Yocheved, Moshe and Rivka!
(12/25/2012 10:04:08 PM)
go yeka!
love that good deitch action.
(12/25/2012 10:22:31 PM)
As a trained certified Montessorian, I can say that #3 has a valid point
(12/25/2012 10:26:35 PM)
great idea
for the children who need this kind of school, then it's a good idea
(12/25/2012 11:15:57 PM)
Response to #3
There is no contradiction between knowing maalos atzmo and bitul. If I'm not mistaken both are important parts of a chasid according to the chassidus I have been learning all my years in Oholei Torah vchulu. Learning is not meant to be bkabalos ol. That is the derech of some other religions. Our Torah is meant to be studied with "self understanding" (btw ... this is an area that is lacking in the larger yeshivos in CH etc., baduk umenusa).
(12/25/2012 11:35:57 PM)
i love the activities these kids are doing!!
(12/25/2012 11:41:49 PM)
You are my hero!!
(12/25/2012 11:44:17 PM)
Dear 10 and 11
This is # 3 responding.

I genuinely appreciate the good methods that Montesorri has to offer. I am not chas v'shalom trying to trash the school!! Ad rabba - the more holy chinuch in the world the better.

#10 - you actually highlighted what I was warning about in two examples. I'll explain, but pls understand that I am NOT trashing the school, but just saying watch out for the ego area. I'll explain:

1. you said "teaches children to do it on their own because they want to, be because they love to" -- this is terrific AND it has it's flip side that must be watched for. Namely, that it links accomplishment to the yesh of the kid and some kids feel this more deeply than others. I know an adult who had a Montesorri not frum education, who was so so selfish and couldn't even see it as selfishness since it was entrenched in her whole way of being. As she was becoming frum, it took a lot for her to get her ego out of the way to genuinely open up to others.

I am not saying this is the way it always is, but we had long discussions and she described the way she was taught very vividly. As a FRUM Montesorri school, I'm just saying it is essential to keep an eye out for this factor. The kids should flourish and develop, but never lose sight of others and of bittul and kabalas ole. Focussing on accomplishment for the sake of serving the Aibesther.

2. you say "These children could not understand why other children were so mean, why they did not respect themselves, their environment, and they just could not understand why the children did not have the introspective package of behaviors that could make them productive and amiable members of society."

This sounds fantastic, that the kids are whole and true to themselves and have learned that the normal way to be is nice. But here too, there is a warning light. That extra level of Chassidishe havana about what is going on with another - what their pain is, what their issues might be... this needs to be watched for and incorporated into the chinuch of a Chossid - having Ahavas Yisroel to accept and help others, especially if you are stable.

My friend from the Montessori non-frum school also had a hard time understanding, accepting and in some cases even tolerating people who were not solid inside. It was hard to retrain herself later.

Any frum version has to take notice of these obstacles. That's all I was saying.

The proof of the pudding about this school is the happy parent in #11. Thank you also for commenting.

And I wish the school continued hatzlocha!
(12/26/2012 1:38:18 AM)
I miss you lamplighters
Yocheved u rock!!!!!!!
- thinking of u in LA
(12/26/2012 1:40:55 AM)
Methods of teaching
As a teacher who has studied Montessori and given it
much thought and observing their schools suggest
Please be aware
Who is the person her philosophy
.This is based on deep catholic religion and devotion. as she explains in her writings/

t The Rebbe has braugh
this to our attention

When we wanted to introduce it in our Nursery

I understand we can learn from people who have found
good ways and methods to teach our children, but to give
the impression that this is going to be a typical Montessori
Nursery is quite false. No Jewish never mind Chassidishe
person would be able to work in a real Montessori Nursery
Have you ever spent a year in Montessori place?
Have you really studied observed the schools that you can pass a honest informed opinion. You are shown excellent behavior have you observed over a month how this is reached/ a spot of cruelty here or there
a lack of warmth perhaps?

Please be careful not to give Montessori the credit for a
Chassidishe chinuch that you will give the children.
The danger is that other people who have not had the great
Zechus of having chassidus in their blood will tale it
they can be the educator of our children because they are
Montessori and your Nursery has shown how good it is

(12/26/2012 4:28:12 AM)
Go Leli!
Great to see you in action...

Keep it up,
(12/26/2012 9:20:19 AM)
(12/26/2012 9:34:13 AM)
To 14
How lame! This type of school is for everyone. That is the beauty of individualized education which is the exact opposite of our typical chinuch. It isn't about a child that needs something different. It is about bringing out the best in every child. Of course that helps children with learning issues but even more so, do you have any idea how far a typically developing child can go with such a chinuch? It is amazing when you see classrooms geared to individual needs regardless of what they are. An individual need may be for one to work far ahead of the level of others in the class while others may need to work below a typical level. In this type of environment they can both do that without anyone being disrespected or feeling below others. Incredible!
(12/26/2012 10:15:56 AM)
General observation
All schools of thought that can enhance our Torah lifestyle... Total Mothering, Attachment Parenting, , Montessori, Active Listening, are well and good, tools for our benefit. The important thing is, if ever those ideas conflict in any way with our Chassidishe values, that we know what comes first. It's so easy to become passionate and invested in these very excellent things, so we always have to be vigilant.
(12/26/2012 12:19:05 PM)
wassup rivka shira
(12/26/2012 2:10:35 PM)
this school is amazing
My nephew goes there and the teachers are so personally involved in his growth and development. Hes a tough kid to dicipline, but at lamplighters where he is given room to make choices on his own and is positively encouraged, he is thriving.
(12/26/2012 2:58:13 PM)
this is a year of so many new beginnings and props to all those that actually take matters into their own hands for the benefit of others. hatzlochah.
(12/26/2012 3:48:45 PM)
Response to #3 and #20
As someone who is close to the founders and educational leaders of the school, I know that they have been in touch with, guided by, and received overwhelming blessings and support from, leading mashpiyim and educators in the Crown Heights community.

In particular, I know they share the same approach as veteran Shlucha, Mrs. Reba Sharfstein, as explained by her in the Living Torah clip below, regarding the guidance she herself received from the Rebbe about the validity, benefits, and limits, of incorporating the Montessori method into authentic chinuch.

The Rebbe himself distinguished for Mrs. Sharfstein between the educational approach, methods and materials of Montessori, versus the theological-philosophical beliefs it espouses. The educational leaders of Lamplighters respect this distinction, which is why they are also in the process of developing a proper Jewish Montessori training for mechanchim and mechanchos (What they call "CAPD" - "Chinuch Al Pi Darko") which will avoid the theological-philosophical angles of the Montessori method, while retaining all the benefits of its educational approach, methods and materials.

To see Mrs. Sharfstein’s testimony, see here, beginning at time code 3:26:

(12/26/2012 4:44:12 PM)
we spot tzirl!!!!!!! best teacher ever!!!!!!!
sara and chana
(12/26/2012 6:20:09 PM)
MRS Sharfstein
Mrs, Sharfstein has given us the clear answer to the
question Do we use the name Montessori
(12/26/2012 6:31:36 PM)
Lamplighters staff member
We rarely to never use the word Montessori. We call our method CAPD--"Chinuch al pi darko." When I saw Lamplighters labeled Montessori in this article it felt foreign.
(12/26/2012 7:44:06 PM)
To #30
Mrs Sharfstein continued to use the name "Montessori" in her marketing and educational tools, as she says clearly at the end.

What she stopped doing was describing her school as a "blind follower" of Montessori.

Lamplighters has the same approach.
(12/26/2012 10:07:24 PM)
to # 31.
The article says -"Lamplighters is the perfect example of the Rebbe’s style being applied effectively..." isn't it that the Rebbe stood for Chinuch al taharas hakodesh, which means, no secular subjects, only pure Tora learning for young children at least till age 9 or 12. If thats not practiced in your school, why call it Rebbe;s Style? What;s Rebbe's there?
(12/27/2012 1:13:14 PM)
A method
The concern one should have with all those who criticize the Montessori method is that no real alternative is being presented by them. What is the name of the method being employed in other schools? Is it even a method or is it simply the default behavior that teachers and schools have accustomed themselves to over the years. For what reason should these default "methods" be treated with holiness?

The real beauty of Lamplighters is that they actually have a method they subscribe to. Those in the administration clearly were not satisfied with the status quo and instead of criticizing like so many do, they set out to look at education in Crown Heights in a new light. No method is perfect but always taking the easiest decision or attributing a level of holiness to default methodology that was not thought through, is not established and is not student-centric, clearly is not a good method or any method at all.

Critics be warned. It is your knee jerk reaction to everything and everyone different that threatens Crown Heights more than any other negativity. Open your hearts and open your minds to change and difference. We need not all resemble each other. A melody is constructed by the difference between the first note played and each one thereafter. Playing the same note over and over again does not make beautiful music. That which is holy must stay holy. By attributing any level of sanctity to something which is not, is as bad as or worse than desecrating that which is holy.

To 31, be proud of your school. Lamplighters is based on the Montessori method and it is beautiful because of it. Shame on those who mock the first school in Crown Heights to really challenge the status quo and work towards building a school based on a student first emphasis. Not saying the words but actually subscribing to and marketing themselves with a method that is known to do this. One that they can be held accountable to. Finding faults that are completely without merit is foolish and unholy.

In conclusion, let us clearly define holy, unholy and neutral.
Holy - these are the teachings being taught in the school and the children themselves.
Neutral - the methods used to teach these teachings. We should constantly work to improve on these methods.
Unholy - Attributing any level of holiness to that which is neutral.
(12/27/2012 1:34:23 PM)
to #34
by the way, if I am not mistaken, a year before Lamplighters opened up, another school, something with yosef yitzchak, opened, that offers very different approach to Chinuch. So Lamplighters are not the only and not the first to realize the problems in CH chinuch. . My friend's son goes there and they are very successful. They don't advertised as much as Lamplighters, but I believe they have over 40 children enrolled.
(12/27/2012 5:08:52 PM)
Good job Zaki
Kol hakavod Zaki Tamir!!!!
(12/27/2012 9:00:52 PM)
Everything shown looks great from a professional educator's viewpoint - involved children & attentive, caring adults. I note the constant presence of religious objects - pictures on the wall, books to read, letters to copy and learn - sure that there are more. How fortunate that Crown Heights parents/children have this marvelous educational opportunity available.
May I, however, please ask that the lovely canary in its cage be given some items to play with? to eat & drink at will from a variety of food items? to have a cuttlebone to scrape beak and claws on? To have something bushy to conceal itself?
Excellent to have living things in classroom - but really must improve environment for the bird as much as for the children.
(1/8/2013 8:30:04 PM)
Response to #20
Have I ever spent a year in a Montessori Place? Yes I have. As both a preschool student and as a teacher. The school I went to was secular, and because of the typical secular American "religion" and the lack of kashrut, I would not recommend it for frum children, but with the proper teacher and a frum focus, I absolutely think Montessori is compatible with Judaism and not contradictory at all. Anyone who claims that Montessori is a Catholic form of education has not experienced it nor have they read Dr. Montessori's writings in depth. Yes, she was a Catholic, but her ideas aren't. She talks at times about applying her method to Catholic education, but even much of that can be looked at through a Jewish lens. She talks about having children grow grapes and make their own grape juice (think Kiddush), and having their own little sanctuary for prayer and devotion (think a miniature synagogue setup for the children to practice rituals). The majority of Dr. Montessori's method AND philosophy are not dependent on Catholicism as a specific religion and are not based on preconceived notions, rather her direct observations of children in multiple cultures. Toward the end of her life she was working with Hindu and Muslim children in India! She describes how each views the world through the lens of his own culture, using the example of a Hindu child who dug a little path for an ant to help it on its way and the Muslim child who squashed the ant. I don't think Catholicism was every part of her Philosophy, rather, she created her philosophy based on scientific observation and as a Catholic wanted the method applied to ecclesiastical education and happened to publish some instructions for Catholic schools using her method. I can understand if you want to avoid the subject of evolution, but, that's not a really Catholic thing either is it now?

No Jewish person would ever be able to work in a real Montessory Nursery? I do. Believe me, I'd rather be teaching in a Jewish one because I believe every Jewish child deserves this education and I happen to be uniquely trained in both Montessori and Jewish education, but there are no Jewish Montessori schools in my area. I do however have at least 3 Jewish students in my classroom who would not have an example of a frum person in their life otherwise.

I have seen good Montessori Schools and bad Montessori schools. I have observed teachers who are able to impart spirituality on the students without religion. I think a lot of the education is dependent on the teachers themselves. I do think that all a lot of schools lack to be excellent Jewish schools are trained frum staff and a shift in the focus of the curriculum.

The basis of Montessori Philosophy in my opinion is about how you treat a child with respect, model proper behavior for the child, teach the child how to treat others, help the child to be an independent as possible. Being independent doesn't mean doing whatever you want. It means being able to take care of one's self, being able to solve one's own problems and problems with others without outside help, it means having the knowledge of what morality is so that one can be a moral person. It means being able to think creatively and make connections that are not obvious.

The "excellent behavior" you see in the classrooms is not reached by a "spot of cruelty here and there" with a proper teacher. There are teachers who are cruel in every discipline and that is unfortunate, but the behavior is reached in a proper classroom by an emphasis on grace and courtesy (derech eretz) and setting realistic boundaries for the children, a carefully controlled environment scaled down to the child's size, engaging the children in meaningful activity, sharing a love for and a joy of learning, etc. If you have ever observed a lack of warmth in a Montessori classroom, you were watching the wrong teacher. My experience has been the exact opposite. My Montessori teachers were warm, loving, encouraging, engaging etc.

I think it is embarrassing to see the difference in what I was taught from a Montessori perspective and the teachers I have seen and compare them to the teachers I experienced in CH. A prominent teacher there education told my class that her maid accidentally treifed one of her plates, so she said she very calmly took the plate and shattered it in front of her so that she would know what a horrible thing she did and never do it again and no one would ever use that plate again. I was actually lead to believe this was the proper thing to do, and believe me, it did not go well when my mother accidentally treifed one of my dishes and I "had to break it". I was appalled at the conditions in the educational buildings in CH. It's a breath of fresh air to see beauty in a classroom. I figured people who lived there must not value education because they had gorgeous homes with stone countertops and carved wood bookcases and stunning details, the women were dressed to the nines with the most fabulous sheitels imaginable, but the schools and libraries and shuls were falling apart. What does that tell you about their values? What did it tell me? It didn't inspire me to be a Chassid, I'll tell you that much.

I respect the Rebbe, but I don't think he had an accurate and full picture of what Montessori Philosophy was and is, because the Montessori Materials are intricately connected with what I would consider to be Montessori Philosophy. Religion is a garment that Montessori Education can wear, but the basis of it is in my opinion, pretty universal to humanity.

A Jewish Montessori program should be run by knowledgeable, frum, trained Montessorians in an ideal situation. It is a very specific niche, but it would be the best education available for Jewish children, especially if it were universal.
(5/12/2013 5:33:43 AM)
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