Friday, February 2, 2007

Appreciating Rabbeim

Rabbeim are overworked, underpaid, and most of all underappreciated.

So much time and effort goes into teaching our children. There is time spent preparing, time spent in class, & time spent with children and parents after school.

Being a Rebbe is not just a nine to three job; it most often takes over his day, his week, and sometimes even his life.

Do we have anything more precious then our children? Our children encompass our future, our past, and our present. We all love our children and would do anything for them, and we are entrusting these precious souls to Rabbeim in schools.

These Rabbeim often spend as much time with our children as we do ourselves. They strive to impart knowledge, love of Hashem and His Torah, joy in being a Yid, and proper values of Derech Eretz and Middos.

Much ado is made of the occasional Rebbe who has no exuberance left in him, not to mention the absolutely small minority who actually take advantage of our children for actions left better unmentioned. However, very little ado is made of the majority of Rabbeim who are working so hard and faithfully to inculcate in our children everything that we hold so precious.

Due to the dynamics of our community and its financial situation, tuition usually does not allow for us to pay our Rabbeim the salaries they so truly deserve. Just to put things in perspective, what is more important to us in the long run, our children’s Chinuch or treating their occasional ear infection? Yet we would pay a doctor one hundred dollars an hour or more, while the average Rebbe receives approximately twenty five dollars an hour for his holy work. Please keep in mind that Rabbeim are not working with one “patient” at a time, rather usually with twenty five and without their parents there to help out.

The possible solutions to the unfortunate fact that our devoted Rabbeim are underpaid are complex and difficult to implement. However, we can definitely make them feel more appreciated; a phone call on Friday wishing a good Shabbos, sending in a thank-you note to school or to their homes, or whatever else allows us to express our gratitude & appreciation.

Let us all take a moment to think about this and realize that these Rabbeim deserve a lot more credit than they are receiving. And let us all do our parts in making them feel as respected and appreciated as they really should be.


steve said...

Thanks for another great post. It helps to be reminded once in a while that all is not broken in our yeshiva system and that we have a lot to be proud of. Unfortunately, it's the evil minority that gets most of our attention because of the need to eradicate them from our midst. I agree that our rebbeim are underpaid and underappreciated. Those worthy rebbeim are doing it purely l'shem shamayim and their great sachar is reserved for them in olam haba. They do not expect wealth and honor from their jobs. I do think they deserve more kavod than the congregation rabbi, who gets paid three times their salary for making a ten minute drasha once a week.

Loan for 70 years please, excellent co-signers said...

Excellent Post. The reason we forget about the Rabbeim -and our children for that matter- is because we are too preoccupied running on the financial treadmill. The faster we run the faster the machine rolls. Like the hamster on the wheel.

Our financial obligations are bloated beyond reach. Due to peer pressure to be "normal", most people ass-u-me they have no choice.

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Steve -
Great comment!
The majority are doing their work L'Shem Shamaim, and will get their just reward in the World to Come. And let us all do our little part in giving them the proper respect and recognition.

Loan for 70 years etc. –
If what you’re saying is true, it is very sad. Our children’s future is way more important than our finances.

Loan for 70 years please, excellent co-signers said...

It's the unaffordable "spending" that is unfortunate. The "financial" struggle that follows is unavoidable, due to the need to keep up the life style while juggling accumulating debt. Yes it is very sad.

steve said...

You can extend the "bloated financial obligations" theory to our yeshivos today. That's why the rebbeim are underpaid and underappreciated by their employers. I've heard horror stories how some yeshivos delay payments to their rebbeim and teachers by up to four months!! I don't know halachically what right they have to be "oshek schar sachir". Where's the heter?

shmaya gestetner said...

a worthy topic and a great post!
just wanted to add two comments that i want your feed-back on;
1. unfortunately, it is easier to raise money to make a building then to raise the rabbeim salary. i don't know if people are just obssessed with big buildings or the whole idea of being part of the future of klal yisroel. whatever the case, it would be nice if a portion of all money raised through raffles, dinners etc. be given to the rabbeim.
2. i find that the more learned parents amongst us, particularly in lakewood, have much less respect for the rabbeim then the old-fashioned unlearned parents. i don't mean to generalize, but i think you know what i'm talking about.
hugs and love,

hasid_letz said...

This isn't rocket science. The salaries of Rebeiim are exactly what the market dictates. Supply and demand.

Rafi Goldmeier said...

I agree, they are underpaid, but only by our standards of working in other fields. Teachers throughout history were never paid much. Even in the times of the gemara it seems they were underpaid and only eked out a living. It could be the zechus they get for what they are doing makes it woerthwhile to them. But go tell that to the mortgage bank.

Anonymous said...

When my children have "off" from school/yeshiva, that's when I realize just how important it is (for my mental health) that they are out of the house for most of the day. If this would be yoisherdigeh velt, the rebbes and teachers would be making lawyers' salaries, and the cleaning help would be making doctors' fees (after all, they are vital to our health).
But tachlis geredt, I very much like the idea posted by another commenter, that a portion of the funds raised by dinners should be given directly to the mechanchim/mechanchos, and not in the form of catching up on their outstanding salaries.
Hasid/Letz, your comment reminds me of the movie "A Day Without A Mexican".

FrumWithQuestions said...

I agree with you with some of this. What i disagree is that you have to be smart enough to be able to filter out who the Rabbis are who deserve the respect that they need.

Anonymous said...

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davidonthelake said...

oh I agree with you...
I don't know how some of these rebbeim do it..

and English teachers as well

I remember sitting in 7th grade one day while the class was harrasing this poor fellow..teacher..throwing things at him..sticking things on his chair..wondering
How much could this guy possibly be getting paid to withstand such abuse??

Anonymous said...

Lets not limt this only to rebbeim.Teachers in Bais Yakoov also deserve major credit.

Shpitzle Shtrimpkind said...

Once again, great post. Your attitude is inspiring.

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Loan –
I agree. It may be the unfortunate reality of the world we live in, and it is a real shame. We should each try our best to get off the “financial treadmill” once in a while, to better be able to appreciate our lives, families, and all the other wonderful things Hashem has given us.

Steve –
I don’t know of any Heter. I would guess that they would consider themselves an Oneis, unable to pay. Obviously, if they could pay and don’t, it is terrible.

Shmaya –
1 – I agree with you wholeheartedly, and that may be the subject of a future post.
2 – Honestly, I’m not sure. I guess the more simple-minded the parents are, the more likely for them to show more respect. However, if that is the case, it’s just plain wrong. Just because a parent is learned shouldn’t detract one iota from his respect of the child’s Rebbe. The Rebbe is teaching and training the child in our beautiful heritage. How can we dare not respect him?

Hasid_letz –
You may be right. But we should have more respect and appreciation to go above and beyond what the market dictates.

Rafi G –
Very possibly. But at least we can show our appreciation in other ways.

Well, we just developed a new theory for mid-winter vacation. To allow their parents to realize how much effort goes into teaching their children.
As for Shmaya’s comment on changing priorities in raising funds; I think that will be the subject of a future post.

Frumwithquestions –
Absolutely. But the actions of a few shouldn’t ruin our perception of the many who are wonderful and more.

Anonymous Feb 5, 2:52 –
Thank you, but I need to see quite alot more to agree with your assessment.

Davidonthelake –
I agree with you totally. I only chose Rabbeim, and not English teachers, since they are devoted to teaching AND spiritual development. However, English teachers too deserve a lot more credit and appreciation than they are currently receiving, and that is even without them dealing with “abuse” from the children.

Anonymous Feb 5, 11:40 –
Please see my comment to Davidonthelake.

Shpitzle –
Thank you!

megapixel said...

a good rebbe/teacher is worth his weight in gold.
they deserve good pay.

chaverah said...

you say:"Rabbeim are overworked, underpaid, and most of all underappreciated"
very good first line that grabbed my attention immediatly! never really look at it so bluntly. I completely agree with you.
good post!

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Megapixel -
I would venture to say "is worth MORE than his weight in gold"!!

Chaverah -
Thank you.
Obviously, packing a good punch into the first line grabs people's attention.

hasid_letz said...

Like other material goods, appreciation for others (Rebeiim included) is also not available in unlimited quantities.

Doling out additional emotional capital in one area will cost one in other areas, which is referred to as the 'cost of opportunity.'

megapixel said...


Lakewood Venter said...


shmaya gestetner said...

hasid_letz; you are applying your economics knowledge and opinion to a discussion regarding ethics, and what is proper for jews to do.
only out of love,

Jessica said...

very well-put; I totally agree - can't believe the millions we throw at some individuals while our educators are soooooooooo underappreciated!

Anonymous said...

I am writing here as a Melamed in Brooklyn.

It is heartening to hear that so many people "feel our pain".

There is no heter for not paying on time if the mossad has the money. If they don't have the money, then they can't pay on time. So then they can they take loans which starts a whole slippery slide. There is a lomdus at work also: If Reuven hires Shimon to work for him then Reuven has the chiyuv of "b'yomo titen s'charo". However if Reuven hires Shimon to work for Levi, then Levi does not have an outright chiyuv of paying bo bayom because the workers were hired through a shaliach. Yeshivos are sh'lichim and we, the melamdim are doing the Ribbono Shel Olam's work

Where I work salaries are about 2 1/2 months late and it is extremely frustrating. It would be intolerable if the cash was in the bank or if the money was being wasted. But b'derech Klall that is not true. The money is simply not there. Our stress level is extremely high and there is nothing we can do, it is ossur to go on strike or take any other work action. So ain lanu lismoch elah al avinu shebashomayim.

The only solution for this problem is for pressure to come from the parents to the mosdos demanding a living wage for melamdim. Parents have the right to demand the very best from their melamdim and the talmidim deserve it. If the melamdim are facing so many pressures it is much more difficult to be focused as much on talmidim as we should be.

Melamdim work from 9 until 2 or 3. What should they be doing after 3? They should be learning themselves, developing into even greater talmidei chachomim. The reality is that most melamdim after their first job have to run to a second job, whether it be teaching limudei chol or selling insurance. It is a shocking indictment of our kehillah that we can't pay them enough to do let them grow in their own ruchniyus (for our chilren's benefit). Melamdim are certainly deserving of a kollel check for an afternoon seder. There are some communities where there Kollelim for mechanchim. Such an idea is certainly deserving of support.

Once again - it is up to the parent body to demand better for their children's Rabbbayim.

Some thought on showing Hakaros Hatov.
1) An erev Shabbos phone call is a nice idea but very impractical. We all know what a Yiddishe house is like erev Shabbos. Who has time to deal with 20 phone calls. The thought might be appreciated but it is impractical.

2)Showing appropriate hakaras hatov on Channukah and Purim. Sure cash is nice but we understand that not everyone can afford to tip all of their children's Rabbeyim with $50 or $100. Whatever you can do with a well written note is wonderful. For example, one year I received on Channukah a cheap flashligh with the words "HAPPY HANNUKAH" from one family. If that's all they could afford then fine but a nice short note expressing some Hakaras Hatov would have been more appreciated. OTOH a kollel family gave $20 and I know that they didn't have more but their hakaras hatov came through with their small gift. S'fardim don't have a mesorah of tipping on Chanuukah and Purim so we don't expect it. So when it does come it is especially appreciated.

3)Channukah and Purim is nice but please remember Pesach is right after Purim. A case of wine or grape juice or a voucher for a local grocery is sure to be muchly appreciated.

I have a lot more to say but I won't.

Have a Gebentche' Shabbos

Anonymous said...

There is a discussion here about the Lakewood Jewish community and anti semitism (from other Jews as well) Please provide your own input.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
yanky said...

There is a discussion here about the Lakewood Jewish community and anti semitism (from other Jews as well) Please provide your own input.


Independent Frum Thinker said...

Hasid_letz –
In my opinion appreciating Rabbeim (and Teachers) is a very worthy outlet for this emotional capital. Hence, it is worth the “cost of opportunity”.

Megapixel –
I’m sure you meant that all along. I was just emphasizing my point.

Lakewood Ventor –
Thank you.

Shmaya –
Good point, but please read my comment to hasid_letz where I write how it is acceptable even in economic terms.

Jessica –
Thank you. My point exactly.

Anonymous (Melamed in Brooklyn) –
Yes, most of here do feel your pain and are learning to appreciate Melamdim even more.
Thank you for expressing your various pointers, suggestions and feelings. I agree with everything wholeheartedly!
In general, I think it was very important to read a Melamed’s perspective. We could all benefit from hearing it from someone “in the field”. (I guess my Erev Shabbos phone call idea wasn’t to practical, and thanks for pointing that out.)
Please feel free to continue sharing, as you write that you have more to say.

Yanky –
Thank you for the reference.

Jacob Da Jew said...

I've been reading your blog for some time, very well written.

Thanks for all the comments on mine.

When I was in high school(not a yeshiva), I did not have money to pay tuition. But I always kept a cheshbon in my head that I owe them money and more than that, a Hakaras HaTov.

So now I am a bit more financially stable, I send them tidy sums every so often and also show my love and appreciation to the school for being there for me.

With regards to Rabbonim, you are very right.

Jacob Da Jew said...

I gave you a hat-tip on my most recent post.

Jacob Da Jew said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Independent Frum Thinker said...

Jacob Da Jew -
What a breath of fresh air! If everyone out there was so sensitive to monetary issues like you, the world would be a far better place.
Thanks for the hat-tip.

Independent Frum Thinker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BubbyT said...

I am both a morah for the last 30+ years and own a gift store. It is very interesting, when selling mishloach manos that many people come in, order a nice big one for the rebbe and then a really cheap one for the morah. Moros work pretty hard also, investing lots of time, energy, in many cases their own money to "impart knowledge, love of Hashem and His Torah, joy in being a Yid, and proper values of Derech Eretz and Middos." all for low salaries. Please treat them well also!!
At the end of the year...write notes of thanks to your rebbe, morah, even the principal. And it would be a good idea to have your child write a thank you. Much appreciated is if you specify things taught or things done during the year so the morah/rebbe/teacher realizes that this is just not a "form letter."
one final's never too late to write a thank you note. I teach 3rd grade and once got a letter from a 12th grader right before graduation, thanking me for giving her a good foundation in learning chumash!!

Independent Frum Thinker said...

BubbyT –
Absolutely! Morohs deserve our utmost respect and appreciation.
Thank you for sharing with us your personal perspective and advice.

SephardiLady said...

More needs to be written about the situation of the Limudei Chol staff. The behavior in some of our schools is deplorable and these teachers get virtually no input or appreciation, not from the students and even worst not from the administration. You couldn't pay me enough to ever try teaching any general studies class again in a Yeshiva type school, although I would be willing to try again at a more modern school since my experiences subbing there were not negative.

Independent Frum Thinker said...

SephardiLady –
It’s definitely a problem. Much more respect and appreciation has to be shown.
Frankly, if it won’t be taken seriously I think it’s better off not being taught at all.

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