The Matzav Shmoooze: They Take Care Of Our Children. Shouldn’t We Take Care Of Theirs?


rebbi-classroomDear readers,

Now that the school year has come to an end, it might be time to reflect on this past school year.

We should take time to think about how our children grew and developed throughout the school year. Think about where our children were holding when they began the year and where they are holding now. It is truly remarkable!

However, we all know that this did not happen by itself. Of course we put a lot of kochos into our children. We spent a lot of time and effort working with them. And that is required of us as parents.

But what about all of those special mechanchim, the rabbeim and moros, who give their lives for our children? They put all of their efforts into their students. They spend their mornings, afternoons, and nights on our children. It takes a lot of time to prepare lessons which can be given over in an enjoyable way. They think about their students 24/7. Their family life is put on a back burner for the entire school year, while they completely dedicate themselves for their talmidim and talmidos.

Do we realize what it is like for a mother of a large family to prepare, teach, write and grade tests, mark progress sheets and report cards, and deal with principals, parents, and students, while at the same time taking care of her own family responsibilities? If you haven’t done it yourself, you cannot imagine what it is like. It is not just the mechanech/mechaneches who has to “give up” their own lives for their students. It is their entire family who has to “give up.” All this is besides giving up their homes for Friday night onegs, seudah shlishis, melava malkas, etc.

This is all done with very little recognition, and for a very small salary. The cost of living has gone up so much in the past few years, while chinuch salaries, for the most part, have remained the same.

And whatever the rabbeim make, the mechanchos make a whole lot less. A lady can work in an office for the same amount of time and make more than triple the salary – with a lot less stress, no parents to deal with, and no take-home work.

Now that the summer is here, many of these special people cannot afford to send their children to any camps, even day camps. Their bank accounts are empty, and they do not live fancy lives. They simply do not make enough to live on.

So why are their children suffering because they give their lives to yours? Why are their children sitting home all day while all their friends are enjoying their summers?

Have we ever even thought about thanking our children’s rabbeim and moros? Have we thought about helping them financially so that they can make it through the summer (and the rest of the year)? Don’t they deserve a peaceful summer vacation so they can recharge and take on the next year with full force? Don’t their children also deserve a decent vacation?

Signed by Someone Whose Children Are Home For The Summer


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to

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  1. While everything the poster says is true, let’s put a few items he neglected to mention.

    Most Rabbeim work less than a whole day.

    They have off two months in the summer as well as all Yom Tovim.

    They usually receive free tuition.

    None of this takes away from the importance of the wonderful work they do. Just trying to set the record straight.

  2. “The cost of living has gone up so much in the past few years, while chinuch salaries, for the most part, have remained the same.”

    So have the salaries of the people who send their children to the school.

    “A lady can work in an office for the same amount of time and make more than triple the salary – with a lot less stress, no parents to deal with, and no take-home work.”

    If that were so, the Mechanchos would (and should) vote with their feet. The abundant supply of applicants indicates that there is more to the equation. I sense a lack of understanding on the writer’s part of the realities of “office jobs”.

    “Now that the summer is here, many of these special people cannot afford to send their children to any camps, even day camps. Their bank accounts are empty, and they do not live fancy lives. They simply do not make enough to live on.”

    Same goes for most of the parents of the children who attend the school, once they are finished paying tuition.

    “Have we ever even thought about thanking our children’s rabbeim and moros?”

    It takes a detestable amount of chutzpah to indicate that we do not think about thanking our rabbeim and moros. How many times during the year do we tip them – at least 4 times a year; Chanuka, Purim, Pesach, end of year. Not to mention the appreciation that we have and show without expressing it financially. Does all that mean nothing to you?

    “Have we thought about helping them financially so that they can make it through the summer (and the rest of the year)?”

    Yes. Are we in a position to do so? No. Have you thought about that?

    “Don’t they deserve a peaceful summer vacation so they can recharge”

    What is a “summer vacation”? No one where I work gets one.

    Bottom line- I (and most people you are addressing) DO appreciate the teachers very much. Is giving money the only way you have to measure our appreciation? This seems a bit shallow. Try to look for the appreciation instead of demanding that it be extended to you in a certain form.

  3. I seriously don’t know why kids cannot stay home and go to a (much cheaper and affordable) day camp. I know there are wonderful day camps in Lakewood that are very cheap and the kids have a great time. The same goes for Brooklyn and the Five Towns. Rebbeim and Teachers do deserve our gratitude but harping about sending kids to camp is not the way to fish for it. Also please keep in mind that there are plenty of Baal Habatim that cannot afford to send their children to camps.

  4. Do you have any statistics to back this up? While many of us are working just has hard and long (I can’t remember the last time I was home for dinner with my kids other than shabbos, and rarely make it home to put any of my younger kids to bed). From the tone of your rant it sounds like you did not go into chinuch because it was your calling. Both of my parents were in chinuch along with many relatives, and I never heard a complaint about giving up their lives or homes. If you don’t like the salary (which I will admit is an issue) find something else to do. The salaries are partly market ecenomics of supply and demand. How come we don’t hear rants from other low paying professions (some of them that require a BA or even an MA) such as social workers, Hospitality/Tourism, high level admin assitants. You have approxiamtely 2 months off, get a job at a camp in lieu of tuition or get a different job for the summer. Most of us working stiff would be more than happy to have 2 weeks off a year besides the days we use for yom tov, and it is rare that we can get that. A week off maybe, if we’re lucky. So excuse me if I don’t feel for you but the majority of us are to tired and overworked just trying to pay what we can in tuition to worry about your kids not going to camp. But saying that, we are constantly being told by the yeshivas and bais yaakov’s that camp is not optional anymore but a requirement for the well being of our childrens yidishkeit. If that is the case, then they should be required to accept your kids even for a nominal fee.

  5. Chinuch does not end with the summer. Many Mechanchim take jobs in camps and barter by having the family be in camp.

  6. do YOU realize that plenty of mothers are working stressful jobs to cover tuition. they put in long hours (and have to work till the last minute before shabbos and yomtov!) and their families also get put on the back burner . its not just rabbeim/moros. there are no easy jobs like you describe that pay triple what they get paid. a laid back job like you decribe doesnt pay much.

  7. Why are their children sitting home all day while all their friends are enjoying their summers?

    Not to take anything away from the efforts the mechanchim put into their jobs, but I have to ask some questions as well.

    I, like the mechanchim, have not gotten a raise in quite a while. My cost of living has gone up as well.

    My kids, like theirs, are not going to camp either.

    I, like the mechanchim, work very hard at my job, often putting hours that aren’t “on the clock.”

    That being said, what makes their children more worthy than mine that I should pay for their kids’ camps before my own? Why should I pay for their kids’ camps when I haven’t even yet finished paying the tuition for the school year (as I suspect, is the case with many parents).

    Your case may hold water with those who have the spare cash, but I find it hard to justify providing for other people’s kids before my own.

    The Wolf

  8. I think this letter is way out of line. There is no doubt that mechanim and mechancos give tremendously of themselves and are by and large underpaid.

    However the description presented that being a teacher or a rebbi is a 24/7 all encompassing job that takes away from their family life more so than the myriad of other jobs both regular and klei kodesh is simply a guilt trip.

    As an aside there are many many people who are not Rebbeim or Moros both in the regular work force and in various forms of kodesh endevours, who struggle mightly for parnassah and yes whose children also are home for the summer.

    Guilty triping about the plight of Rebbeim and Moros does very little to bring them the recognition they richly deserve.

  9. I hear the issue but teaching is your choice and it comes with a lot of benefits. You are off all the days of the year that your children are off with ample time to prepare for yomim tovim especially before pesach. I work in an office job and not only have i not received a raise in years but my pay has been cut drastically because of the economy. I have to work all day every day with one week off in the summer and use up the rest of my vacation days for yom tov, tisha bav etc. I am not home on erev yom tov and i do not come home at 12 on friday. I also work 7 hours a day instead of 3.5 hours.

    All I am saying is that being a teacher is each person’s choice. If I work double the time with the double the effort of course i get paid more. If the teachers will get jobs in the summer (like most teachers) they will have money to pay for camp. I also wish i had 11 weeks a year to relax – yes, even with my kids home.

  10. having taught for many years and B”H raised a beautiful family- my kids went to daycamp in the summer not because we couldn’t afford sleep away camp 9Sometimes we could not) but more because those 2 months was my time to be with my children without the pressure of preparation and tests etc. They had me to themselves and we had fun! This is what was Mechaye all of us for the following year. Now that I no longer teach my youngest who is still in school can go to camp and is jealous of the older ones because they had me!!

  11. The poster is basically saying here that very soon we the parents will lose out bec. most teachers and melamdim will look for a new route. they can not survive on such a small salery. please note after paying a babysitter, etc. not much $$ is left!!!
    many teachers and melamdeim are not getting paid on a timely basis they have to wait long till they see there salary paid\. We are facing a disaster

  12. I’m not going to belittle what you say here. We’re in the chinuch “field” too. And pay is not only low and slow, it’s more like non-existent. But what are you suggesting? Assuming parents pay tuition, for a large family the numbers are astronomical, especially in the current economic conditions. (I’m not talking about those who are behind in tuition. They have no business sending their children to camp before their children’s teachers get paid.) Do you want these parents to now pay for your summer expenses too? For most parents, tuition money isn’t their spare change. Should they keep their childrent home for the summer so you can send yours to camp?
    I’m not against your idea in theory. I’m not sure how you practically suggest going about it.

  13. Chanie,
    As long as the current system is what it is, there will be an overabundance of teachers. As long as their is an overabundance, the market will dictate low salaries. And to be quite frank, someone without a degree in education who starts teaching after a year in seminary is not worth much. Some of them may be wonderful teachers or after many years will become wonderful teachers, but technically they are a high school graduate with not much more since most seminaries don’t teach you how to teach and are basically classified the same as every other burger flipping highschool graduate.

  14. All you office-working people just don’t get it!!

    A good mechanech/ mechaneches works much more than 7 hours a day. You have no idea how many hours go into a good mechanech/ mechaneches day!!

    They do get off for Yom Tov. But they do not have off Sundays and also many times are busy on Shabbos with parents and students. It is very hard not having even Sundays to catch up on things!!

    Summer jobs do not come as easy as you think and they pay a lot less than you can imagine!

    There is absolutely not an over abundance of women going into chinuch anymore. There used to be. But now, most post-seminary girls are going into other professions. They simply cannot handle all the work and pressure from parents, while trying to live on $12,000 to $15,000 a year!! If their check comes on time!

    There is very little showing of appreciation. Most parents do not tip four times a year. That would be nice though. They are lucky to get a “nice” shaloch manos on Purim. Nowadays there is almost never any “gelt” included.

    It is true many people are living tight. (Even though most people find the money for the latest blackberry, laptop, car etc..) But there are also many who do have extra cash.

    Most mechanchim/ mechanchos will tell you that more gifts come from those who have less. Not from those who have more.

    Nobody goes into chinuch for the money. It is, and must be, a labor of love. Anybody in it for any other reason does not perform well.

    It seems from the posts here that very few people understand the “behind the scenes” of chinuch. Maybe that is why the mechanchim/ mechanchos are not truly appreciated!!

  15. To A reality check:
    A reality check to “A reality check”
    How about some facts:
    In most non NY high schools (& up) and even elementary schools in Lakewood and abroad, Rabbaim work 11 months a year, including SUNDAYS and legal holidays. Off for yom tov? Unless one is a magid shiur in Bais Hamedrash, usually just a day or two before and a day or 2 after. As far as not working a full day, most rabbaim would disagree. Elementary school is a little less intense, but let’s look at high school and up. A rebbe must be in yeshiva at 7:30 or so until minimum of 1:30, and back again for some 1 and a half hours at night. That there is already almost your basic 8 hour work day. Then there are MANY hours of preparation, not only of the material but careful wording of presentation, catered to the specific needs of each child or talmid. This can include gemorah, chumash, halacha, navi, mussar\hashkofoh, etc.. All of which need preparing. Then there is the constant communication and consultations between staff members, very time consuming interaction with parents, research and consultation with professionals, creating and marking of tests, extra time for students that need it, extra curricular events, etc.. I am not sure that other fields are that intense. In what other field does one live with the constant pressure of a daily deadline? Imagine having to make a successful presentation every day in any other field. And that does not include 24/7 worry and preoccupation with the talmidim. And for this one gets paid a meager salary, when available, still having to find a way to juggle a budget, tutoring extra hours etc. just to provide their families with the basics. Few rabbaim would complain as they view it as a privilege, but I think that our job is to recognize their value. Halevay that rabbaim would be properly appreciated and remunerated. And lastly, let’s not forget, most rabbaim are highly qualified and spend many, many years in “college” training to be properly prepared of the level of academia necessary for the job!

  16. This is a bit off the mark as others have expressed much. This idea of mandatory summer camp (sleep-away) is absurd. Let’s the kids have fun around home and at local day-camps. Focus on paying tuition and keeping up with school. It’s okay if kids are a little bit bored sometimes … especially in the summer. Going back to school is a bit more fun when they are eager for the structure. Sleep away camp probably became “mandatory” (if it ever was) when there was not a proper yiddishe environment for the kids during the summer at home. I hope that isn’t the case for matzav readers.

  17. All of you in chinuch dont’t get it also.

    Most husbands and some wifes work a lot more than 8 hours a day and probably closer to 10. Add in commuting time it’s over 12. I leave the house a little after 6 for davening go straight to work and if I’m home before 8pm I am thrilled. jusgging by the people I see on the subway, I am not the exception.

    doctors, accountants, lawyers work sunday also and have no time to catch up on things either.

    If you want a summer job, I’m sure you cold find. It may not be what you want but burger flippers are always needed.

    If there was a shortage of teachers than salaries would go up. (it is simple market ecenomics) The fact that they haven’t indicates that there is not such a shortage and if there is, that must mean that’s all they are worth. Remember, they don’t have much more than a high school education.

    Other than waiters and counselors at camp people don’t get tips. I should not have to tip or in reality bribe my kids rebbi’s and morah’s. You are either a professional or not. Professionals don’t get tips.

    Do you know how the most people buying stuff are paying for it? A lot of people owe tremendous abount to their credit cards. Even if not, they are working hard and do deserve to spend some money not on tuition.

    The people you think have more get hit harder by all the collectors and ven the schools themselves, so it is easier to just write a check to the dinner and have the office stop bothering them, then to bother to think they should send somehting to the teachers. Like it or not, we think of the schools as one pot, we don’t care about the dinner, building fund, teacher appreciation, raffle. The money will go to the biggest nudge and that is not the teacher.

    Nobody goes into chinuch for the money BUT plenty go in because there is nothing else they are qulified to do. By the time they realize that they aren’t cutout to be in chinuch it is even harder for them to get out their situation than if they would have qualified themselves for somehting else earlier.

    I think many people understand what goes on behind the scenes (I grew up in a chinuch household) we just say you made a choice, if you don’t like it change careers, if you can’t that’s your fault or whichever Rebbi convinced you that this is the only way to live.

  18. last time i checked i pay full tuition and i give chaunkah and purim gelt
    i do thank my childrens teachers and rabayim when i see them throughout the year
    what else am i expected to do
    i have to pay for my own childres camp etc
    there is only so much one can expect from the parents we are not bottomless pits
    we also work full days and summers and do not have off a week before succos and pesach
    i also dont get parsonage for most of my salary i have to pay tax on it all
    lets not make todays rebbi into the cheder rebbi of the shtetl

  19. Rescue: Dedicated Rebbaim often work much more than 10 hours a day, and they are doing it for YOUR children on an inadequate salary, and that, when it comes. Your cynicism towards rebbaim is deplorable. He who chides that rebbaim should flip burgers I fear for his children, as I have no doubt that his feeling reverberate throughout his home, carrying over to his sons. One day when you need your childs rebbe to help you and you count on his dedication and expertise please remember your disrespectful and inappropriate comments. As far as rebbaim not being qualified for other jobs: Most rebbaim that I know are from the brightest and most talented people that I have met. Many could have been doctors, lawyers, psychologists as well as successful in many other fields. The only reason that they are not is because they chose to dedicate themselves to torah and chinuch. That is like saying that a doctor had to go into medicine because after training in medical school he was not qualified for anything else! As for “bribing” your child’s rebbe, I do not know one rebbe whose attitude towards a child because the parents don’t “bribe”, from a parents side though, basic hakaros hatov is an inherent character trait, if you don’t have it or feel it I would waste my time trying to teach you. By the way, the minhag is brought in seforim many years ago, but hey, I guess that they too were part of the conspiracy.

  20. Any one wanting to know why Mashiach has not come yet should read the comments…. and weep.
    No one seems to appreciate any one. Sad!
    We should work on seeing the good in each other and helping any one who needs it.
    That being said the fact is next to parents our teachers are the most important people in our children lives and do no get payed a living wage even if they hold down more than one job.

  21. Too much to write. Here are a few points
    1- No Rebbi I know works 3.5 hours a day. we are in at 7:45, finish class at 2:40, meet with bachurim, nightly tutoring to our talmidim , multiple preps. make ups worksheets, homeworks, quizzes, tests, available for parent conversations at home, cell phone (a few hours a week!) etc. I clock a 12-14 hour day just for Yeshiva.
    Six days and 2 nights a week. Bachurim for Shabbos at least 10 times a year, plus Chanukah, Purim end of year. (Thats where the gifts I receive are spent)
    Most Rabbaim MUST work in the summer to make ends meet. Most office people work 5 days a week.. not 6 and not Mishmarim or vast amounts of paperwork. I get my “Sundays” on erev Yom Tov and Chol Hamoed. A few anyways.
    Most Yeshivos are 2,3 6 months behind in pay.
    And I still would not exchange it for anything.

  22. As others have noted, since when is sleep-away camp mandatory? I grew up fine without it. Most people my age whose parents didn’t have money also spent the summer at home, doing radical things like reading, playing softball, hanging out with friends. If our kids had the opportunity to build up their own characters/personalities without being told every detail of their lives, maybe kids would have less trouble dealing with the “real world.”

  23. Our Mechanchim and Mechanechos give a tremendous amount. As do parents. We all give. We all wish there was more. If a working parent pays tuition, no more should be expected. We should be as appreciative to one another as possible.

    But the reality is that the money isn’t there. It’s not normal to expect parents to keep their kids home until the teachers or rebbes kids can go to camp.

    If someone wants to sponsor these kids, kol hakavod. Big kiddush hashem. But I know that my best rabbeim were givers. They didn’t expect more.

    We’re all in this together. Mutual respect has to be ground zero. We’re all in the chinuch business with these precious children. Pointing fingers won’t get us anywhere.

  24. One thing which is clear from all these comments:

    Mechanchim and Mechanchos are DEFINITELY NOT APPRECIATED!!

    And it is children of parents like yourselves who need them most!!

  25. This letter paints Mechanchos in a terrible light. I have much more to say, but I don’t want to. I am sure this letter writer is not representative of the larger group of mechanchos.

  26. When I read the article, I thought, hey, that’s a good idea. If every parent gave a hundred dollars extra, then the kids of rebbeim would have a better shot at going to a camp. Do camps give discounts? But then I realized that if the family is bli ayin hara large, it’s more like hundreds of dollars per parent. And I guess parents can’t do that.
    But don’t nit pick over how hard the parents work and how hard the rebbeim and mechanchos work.
    Everyone works hard. Appreciate each other.
    (And daven for the geulah, because that’s the only waywe are getting out of this mess.)

  27. to comment # 18
    Your disrespect to rabbeim and moros is so obvious that it hurts. To suggest that your sons Rebbe should be a burger flipper. Not that there is anything wrong with doing tjat for a living, but for a Rebbe to do that as.a means to make ends meet?
    And NO, don’t go teaching just to have a job. You’ll be a complete failure. It can only be done with love and compassion. And YES, we sometimes have to wait a long tome to get our paycheck on time and at the se time continue doing the se job.

  28. I would add one more comment.
    “Most” parents do show appreciation, tough not always with money. But not every one can afford it and it should be understood. I strongly belive that being that we look at chinuch as an “avodas hakosesh” we treat each talmid the same regardless of money received.

  29. #24 this letter was written by a woman – she works 3.5 hours a day.

    there have been some really great teachers that my children had and although I give money purim time to all of them regardless of what i think, the really good rebbeim – those that really care get more. and believe me I could really tell who is just tallking the talk. And who is really walking the walk.

  30. pointing out facts (as hurtfull as you think they are) does not indicate disrespect. Respect is something that is earned, sitting and kvetching does not earn you respect and yes, may make you drop down a notch or to in the respect ladder. I will agree fully that a Rebbi should not be flipping burgers, but if his family has nothing to eat then he needs to do something.
    When I see the administration of yeshivas start to show the Rabbeim the respect they deserve by paying them first before themselves and reducing their salaries to a similar hourly rate as the Rabbeim, I will start to think differently. But if the people who are yelling respect respect respect but not showing it by their actions I will remain cynical.

  31. It is sad that you seem to know a “lesser” level of rabbaim. I personally know many, and all of them are dedicated to an indescribable level, never complain, feal fortunate to have the zechus of teaching and are therefore willing to forgo on life’s luxuries. That said, I will quote Rabbi Shlomo Friefeld, in the name of his Rebbe Rav Hutner, a rebbe should not expect to be appreciated, because if he does he will be greatly disappointed. Thank you for proving true once again the words of great men!

  32. #32

    You have absolutely no idea how hard women work. Especially those of them who teach high school.

    Ask any lady high school teacher how much sleep they get each night!

    Do you realize how much preparation goes into a lesson? Rewriting your lessons almost yearly?

    Do you realize how time consuming it is dealing with student’s issues? Talking to students?Principals and parents?

    Do you realize what it is to give up your home and your Friday Nights for an oneg?

    Do you realize how much time is spent writing recommendation letters for seminaries? How much time is spent on the phone with seminaries and camps?

    Does anybody think a lady works only 3-5 hours?

    Rabbeim do get much more recognition than lady teachers. An elementary Rebbi makes at least triple what a High School Mechaneches makes. They get more Chanuka and Purim. And more bonuses and benefits

    And what is obvious from these comments, their hard work is not recognized at all.

    Nobody is in chinuch to become rich. And not everybody can afford to help them out. But with their embarrassing salaries and lack of recognition, how do you expect them to have the enthusiasm to continue their avodas hakodesh?

    (No, I am not a lady teacher. But I am aware first hand of what is going on!)

  33. My husband and I both teach. We do it because we love the kids and it is our honor to pass Torah on to the next generation. My kids don’t have every luxury (and that is what sleep away camp is) that the others do, but they have the zchus to be part of our avodas hakodesh.
    I sometimes wish that the community and our children’s parents would understand that we should be paid as the professionals we are. Try comparing our salaries with those of many other professions, and you can’t. But we get untold amounts of schar and huge amounts of nachas that we wouldn’t get working in an office.
    The woman who wrote the letter is forgetting that she and/or her husband signed a contract that did not include the amount of money necesary to send their kids to camp. This is not the tzibbur’s problem.
    A couple points to the above commenters:
    -Summer vacation is a perk of teaching, but if you tally the days worked, including sundays and legal holidays, you will see that it is not a whole lot extra.
    -We used to get gifts chanuka and end-of year. These are not tips, they are bonuses. Many other professionals get yearly bonuses, we count on these as our bonuses. With the decline in economy, one thing people have cut back on is gifts to teachers. At the end of this school year, I received a gift from only 1 student.

  34. This was a very left handed way of asking for a handout. If you want to make more money, demand a raise or find another job. Don’t ask me to send your kids to camp at my expense. Would you like a new car also?