Are We The Village?

As the chicken soup is served, the conversation around the table has gone from polite pleasantries to passionate discussions about what is wrong in our community. Top of the list? The Chinuch system. At Shabbos tables throughout the community, people are sharing their horror stories, their deep-rooted anger, or about how much they wish their children were finished with it.

I know, because I’ve been there.

Time, and time again. I’ve participated. I’ve been the one sharing, I’ve been the one listening, I’ve been the one saying yes! Enough is enough!

Every time I look at a child at the start of their educational experience, I feel my heart sink, knowing that most of them will face challenges that will destroy their love for education, rather than enhance it. I have yelled, I have gotten red-faced, I have stamped my feet.

I have sought out conversation, I have had meetings, I have talked, and talked, and talked.

And then I got tired.

Because I noticed something. People loved to talk. As someone who has put her name out there, loud and proud, as someone who believes that our education system falls far, far too short of it’s potential, I’ve been an address for so many people’s complaints and stories. I’ve been greeted with “let’s talk about how bad the education system is!”

In the beginning, I was excited about that. People knew that I was serious about correcting the system, and they wanted to be a part of it!

But slowly, I began to realize that wasn’t the case. People wanted me to correct the system. They didn’t want to be a part of the process, the work, and the struggles that would include.

This is the honest truth: the system is already being corrected.

Yes, there are lots of things wrong with our already existing system. I know really well how deep those issues are. I’ve been personally hurt by the system, by the lack of respect given to students. I’ve seen others hurt far more than I have. I’ve watched students fly through school, not even noticing how bad it is because of the band-aid of a wonderful social life and extra-curricular. But I’m not here to talk about all of these things, because we all know these things all too well.

I’m here to talk about something else.

Yes. There are lots of no good things going on in our Chinuch system. But…

There are also incredible things happening for Chinuch.

Namely, the Menachem Education Foundation, that tirelessly works to train teachers and principals is one. Their objective is to is take the word education and transform it into something truly magical. I’ve been involved in some of their incredible projects, and I know that there are other amazing things happening that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to explore, and I’m sure there are yet more that I don’t even know about.

But in my opinion, I believe they have one major struggle:

The lack of support from the community.

I’m not writing this to create an angry stampede of people feeling defensive and hurt.

I’m writing this because this is not a one-man job. It’s not a ten woman, fifteen man job. It’s our job. As a community, we must support those who are doing the work that we are not doing.

Enough complaining. Enough endless conversations that all end the same way. Let’s start the real conversation. Don’t stop talking, let’s keep talking – but while we talk, let’s keep our hands busy, let’s follow through with what we’re saying.

Today, the Menachem Education Foundation is running a Charidy campaign. Donate if you can. Spread the good word. Find out if they need something that perhaps you can provide. Find out if there’s any way that you can make a difference towards their tireless efforts.  When you say you can’t wait until your daughter graduates – think for a moment about what that means.

It takes a village to raise a child, but the village is slacking off, closing their eyes and wishing for it to go away. It’s not going to happen, my friends. It takes blood, sweat and tears to create change.

Shabbos table conversations are good, they’re great, and they’re the crucial first step.

But that’s all they are – a first step. And when the dishes are dried and put away, and the last of the leftovers are eaten, the issues are put to rest. And that – that is the precise moment the issue deepens.

We can’t afford to not support our change-makers. We can’t afford to keep allowing things to remain the same.

We can’t even afford to act on our own – we need to work together.

Let’s not just start another conversation about Chinuch.

Let’s start a different kind of conversation:

Somebody is already making the change. Now, how are we going to help?

Here’s how you can. Today. Trust me when I say this is a worthy cause:

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