I want to open my letter this week by wishing the entire extended PHDS/NEAT family a happy Purim. I will once again be in Lakewood, NJ, over Purim on my annual fundraising mission on behalf of the school. Each year, this one day enables me to raise a substantial amount of money for the school. While we appreciate that many families would like to send us mishloach manos, we ask that you refrain from doing so, as we will not be in town to accept your gifts. My wife and I have made a contribution to the school in honor of the families of the school in lieu of mishloach manos. We hope that you and your children enjoy a very simchadik Purim, one whose inspiration lasts for a long time.
In this week’s parsha, the pasuk states, “Kasis lamaor leha’alos ner tamid.” One of the commentaries mentions that pure oil had to be used in the service of the Mishkan. He extrapolates from this verse that in chinuch - educating, parenting or teaching our children - the purer we are, the greater impact we will have on our children. Over the course of the past few weeks, I have personally witnessed chinuch at its best: students who were motivated to attend special learning programs and snow classes, and students who were well-prepared in their Torah learning. An area of constant concern is the preparation of our children for their entrance exams to the many yeshivos to which they apply. The competition that they face most often stems from boys who attend school on Sundays and perhaps have more time for learning Gemara in school than our students. It is therefore most gratifying to see that our students are not only accepted into the yeshivos of their choice, but that they are sought after as well. The roshei yeshiva who have tested our students have contacted me to praise the level of learning and the middos of our students. We treasure the partnership that exists between parents, teachers, shul rabbonim and the local yeshiva, who all work together to achieve this high level of chinuch.
A story is told that in the year , there was a gezeirah that all yeshiva rabbonim would need to be steeped in local culture, in addition to their high level of Torah scholarship. The rabbonim met to confer about how to get this rule abolished. In deciding who should represent the people, they discussed enlisting a local, cultured baal habos who could speak the language of the government officer in a manner that might sway him. Despite this, the Chofetz Chaim arranged a delegation of rabbonim who only spoke Yiddish. They approached the officer and made an impassioned plea in Yiddish which the officer certainly couldn’t understand. After a few minutes, he told them to stop speaking and that the law would be abolished; the sincerity of the pleas of the rabbonim had been truly felt, even though the officer did not understand their words. This story is an appropriate depiction of the purity and dedication of our staff, who work tirelessly on behalf of our children.
I want to close my letter this week by extending a heartfelt yasher koach to all of the NEAT actresses, singers, dancers, backstage hands, artists, and sound and lighting experts. Together, they coordinated an amazing production. Spirits were high and the celebration was great for a good reason. The feedback I received from many attendees was that the high level of professionalism and attention to detail were superb. I would like to thank the adult coordinators, Mrs. Schochet, Mrs. Raskin and Ms. Kaidan, as well as the production heads, Rochel Golden and Tzipporah Kapilevich, and all of the other community volunteers and students for making NEAT such a special school.
I would like to acknowledge the Rosh Yeshiva, Mashgiach and their Rebbetzins on the occasion of the annual New England Rabbinical College dinner this Sunday. Best wishes of mazel tov to PHDS parents, Rabbi and Mrs. Naftali and Rochel Karp, and the other honorees on their prestigious honors.
Please be reminded to place your Prize is Right orders at phdschool.org/auction.
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman