By A Shlucha
Every day hundreds of Jewish children join millions of other Jewish children around the world in packing their backpacks and getting ready for school. Most of the children in Group A, however, are not getting on a bus or into a car to travel to a school building to learn with other children in a “normal setting.” They are either walking down the hall, down the stairs, or around the corner to their Chabad House. Their classroom is a computer and their teacher and classmates are small icons on the screen. These are the lucky children of the Shluchim Online School run by the Shluchim Office.
Sounds pretty sad… doesn’t it? Sounds pretty second rate… right? Poor kids!! I thought so until a few months ago when I reluctantly signed my daughter into the online school. I had no choice and planned to just make the best of it. I am happy to admit that I was 100% wrong.
Since my daughter started online school a few months ago my appreciation for this program – its professionalism, its creativity and care has not waned. If anything, I only continue to discover more and more how positive this experience can and has been for our daughter.
On the rare occasion when I have a few minutes to watch from a distance, I see a full functioning classroom where 8 girls – from different countries – are working on a scrapbook together, where girls are rehearsing for a play in full costume for a final recording to take place in a few minutes, where girls are told to put on their uniform and throw out their gum, where girls are studying for a test during “recess” and are responsible to make up missing work by contacting a friend. Not too far from the reality of a “real” school. It’s truly incredible!
The first issue that people raise is the lack of real socializing. While I can’t say that it is not an issue, being a shlucha in a local day school is not exactly a normal social experience either. When a young child is left out on a daily basis (because “you don’t watch movies”) and feels like an outcast whenever she is with her “friends”(because she doesn’t know the songs that they are singing) we are putting our children under HUGE social pressure. For us, we’ve seen our daughter become much more relaxed, confident and blossom as she no longer needs to hide how different she is and is in a comfortable environment. All of a sudden she is davening with a chayus, she no longer has tzinus pressures and she is proud to deliver a Dvar Torah that she has learned in school. What a mechayeh!! …. And BTW the level of learning online is really first class.
The Shluchim Online School has been nicknamed SOS – not a coincidence for sure – as SOS is often used for Save Our Souls. While the people involved in the Shluchim office are aware of the magnitude of this project, there is no way that they can truly appreciate what they are doing for us. You are literally saving our children. Not until someone lives far away in a town without frum chinuch can you appreciate how important this program is.
I am sure that hundreds of other shluchim join me in thanking, from the bottom of our hearts, the staff of the Online School –inspired by Rabbi Mendel Shemtov, a”h and very capably managed by Rabbis Gedalia and Moishie Shemtov and Mrs. Gitty Rosenfeld – for your forward vision, for your hard work (literally 24/7) and your dedication to Shluchim, in general, and to our children, specifically.
Thank you Rebbe for the fruition of your promise that “the children of the Shluchim are on your shoulders.”
P.S. If any of the readers of this article is in the “zevulun camp” and are in position to help fund this project, this would be one good project to have a good look at.