An array of projects made by students from five Boro Park chadarim were on display at a gathering designed to encourage greater coordination and maximization of resources in yeshivos’ general studies programs.
Each of the mosdos involved had held fairs dedicated to specific subjects throughout the year. Sunday’s gathering brought together the winning projects from each school in an effort to showcase such events as effective learning tools for other New York-area mosdos.
The fair, which was held this past Sunday at P.S. 180 in Boro Park, was the first public event held under the auspices of a new organization, the Yeshiva Principals Association, a growing group of general studies principals. Its goal is to create a forum for principals to share and develop creative ideas aimed at raising the level of engagement among students and parents in the secular studies offered within the yeshivos’ curriculum. As a follow-up to the event, the association held a meeting in Williamsburg Monday night to discuss further initiatives that could be applied to a broad base of mosdos.
“The yeshivos always had good ideas, but they kept them amongst themselves. We are working on bringing a new wave of collaboration that will allow us all to upgrade the quality of the education that we offer,” said Rabbi Mendy Balkany, principal of Beis Hillel Krasna. “A lot of people in the community are expanding their horizons in the job market and going into more professional types of work such as therapy and accountancy. It’s important that we are giving students a strong enough base to be able to pursue these roads if they choose to do so down the line.”
Presenting students hailed from Mevakshei Hashem, Imrei Yosef Spinka, Beis Hillel Krasna, Ohr Moshe, and Yesodei HaTorah Vien. Menahalim and principals from many New York-area mosdos came to lend their support and assess how similar ideas could be applied to their respective institutions.
The event was addressed by the Kossover Rebbe as well as by Harav Yochanon Zehnwirth, menahel of Talmud Torah Sanz-Klausenberg. Both stressed the role that secular studies plays in the broad picture of chinuch that yeshivos offer their talmidim, drawing on Torah concepts such as appreciation of the wonders of creation, understanding hashgachah pratis through history, and the obligation to prepare children adequately to support their own families.
After educators, students, parents, and other visitors were given an opportunity to view the projects —which covered topics such as history, geography, and biology — prizes were awarded by Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn).
“I’m so proud of the hard work and dedication of the thousands of yeshivah students within our community,” he said. “Not only are these projects representative of what schools within our community are learning, but symbolic of what thousands of schools all over the country are doing, and I’m honored to celebrate the academic merit of students here in our community.”
In an endnote, one student from each of the five chadarim spoke about what they had gained from their schools, expressing deep appreciation to their parents, rebbeim, and teachers.
Rabbi Avi Greenstein, principal of Imrei Yosef Spinka, serves as the executive director of the new association. He said that he has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback and that many more mosdos plan to join over the summer.
“We are all working together to make sure that the time the yeshivos spend on English is used in the best possible way. We are all doing a lot, but there is always room for improvement, which is what we are out to do.”