By COLlive reporter
Educational Institute Oholei Torah, which bills itself as the “standard bearer” Chabad school for boys, has admitted for the first time that it has been faltering on teaching the language it has become synonymous with.
In an open letter to parents on the opening of the new school year, Oholei Torah’s board has written that “the issue of language and literacy” was discussed at length with the principals and educators of the Yeshiva.
Yiddish, despite losing most of its speakers because of the Holocaust and assimilation, it commonly used in Chassidic Jewish communities around the world. Most of the Rebbe‘s talks were said and are written in Yiddish.
“Despite the fact that the principle of Chinuch Al Taharas Hakoidesh and the Primacy of Yiddish was always assumed to be part and parcel of Oholei Torah, the fact is that there was tremendous confusion regarding the actual language teachers should use when in the classroom,” the Board consented.
With an enrollment of 1,850 students in 7 divisions, the “confusion also led to a general lack of literacy so that the students were not necessarily fluent and able to read, write and communicate properly in any one language,” they said.
In an effort to remedy the situation, and part of a list of steps to restore the school’s administrative and financial standing, the Board said their faculty of 200 will be “formally re-installing Yiddish as the language of Oholei Torah.”
This is being done as additional changes were announced to the faculty:
The Beis Medrash, which opened the beginning of the week and is full to capacity, welcomed Rabbi Fishel Oster as Assistant Dean to Rabbi Elchanan Lesches. Rabbi Oster will continue his position as a maggid Shiur.
The Mesivta Division underwent major building renovations, making the building more comfortable and welcoming for its talmidim. Rabbi Zalman Laufer will now be the Assistant Principal to Rabbi Zushe Wilhelm.
In the Elementary Division, Oholei Torah welcomes two new principals, Rabbi Sender Wilschanski and Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Wilhelm, as reported on COLlive.com.
They all will be in on the new Yiddish policy that will start from bottom up “in order to ensure that this long-standing policy becomes fact rather than an unachievable ideal.”
The plan is for classes in kindergarten and Pre-1A to speak only in Yiddish. The following year, this class will move to first grade and will continue to learn in Yiddish. “Over the next 9 years, the entire institution will have been eased into a fully Yiddish language program,” the Board said.
In a statement on Tuesday, Oholei Torah’s long-time Executive Director Rabbi Joseph Rosenfeld welcomes the talmdim, faculty and staff. “As we enter Shnas Hakhel, we have implemented the increase in achdus, limud and Yiras Shomayim throughout our mossad,” he said.
Members of its Board of Directors are Mordechai Deitch, Laibel Motchkin, Boruch Brikman, Kalman Brikman Laizer Teielbaum, Yankel Pinson, Yosef Brikman, Shmuel Brook, Zalman Chein, Avremel Lokshin, Shalom Ber Rabkin, and Sholom Rosenfeld.