Posted on Dec. 26, 2001
Shul of Bal Harbour Launches Nationwide
Program for Teachers
BY HINDI DIAMOND
Because he feels that Jewish teachers
are being underpaid, Rabbi Shlomo Lipskar of The Shul
at Bal Harbour has launched a nationwide program call
Peace of Mind for Jewish Education, aimed at easing
some of their economic strain.
“It is our obligation to help these
educators in Jewish day schools through little crises
that may occur, which puts great stress on their living
expenses,” he said, “so we have set up this
program, which has already loaned out more than $100,000
to help teachers in 11 schools.”
Now, The Shul has prepared 4,000 Peace
of Mind kits explaining the success of their pilot program,
which they are distributing throughout the United States
to schools of Jewish education.
According to Rabbi Lipskar, more than
45 teachers have been helped by loans they have received
since the program started. They operate both in Dade
and Broward counties.
Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi
Inc., a foundation that helped initiate and fund the
Peace of Mind project back in 1998, says, “The
results have been extremely positive. To date, everyone
has repaid their loans. I also am gratified to sponsor
projects that are replicable in other communities.”
“Since the program started in 1998,
its impact on the community has been very positive,”
according to Rubin, a member of The Shul who has been
the guiding light of the program. “Those of you
who have been involved with Jewish education have known
for a long time that the most valuable resource of the
Jewish community, and of the Jewish nation are our teachers
and educators. We want to assure the continuity of our
people, and Jewish education is paramount. We strive
to help teachers and administrators to have an income
that affords a level of comfort and dignity without
the duress that often accompanies teachers’ salaries,”
he wrote in a cover letter targeted to the directors
of Jewish day schools nationwide.
Rabbi Lipskar commented: “In our Jewish tradition,
one of the noblest forms of tsedakah is giving interest-free
leans, known as gemilus chessed, ‘bestowing kindness.’
This concept inspired us to establish a wonderful program
for teachers in our community, which recognizes that
teaching is a most transcendent and godly task. A teacher
can inspire a child to become his or her best self and
make a difference in the world.”
One of the Peace of Mind recipients, Rabbi Dovid Shapiro,
a teacher at the Hebrew Academy, in a letter of thanks
to The Shul, wrote: “Situations can sometimes
become quite difficult on a teacher’s salary.
Such an occasion arose when I had the good fortune and
pleasure to marry off one of my daughters, two years
ago. It was then that I found out about your gracious
‘Gemach’ and was able to borrow money to
help us out tremendously with the wedding expenses.
“As a teacher, I often wonder why
more is not done for the plight of the teachers, but
your Gemach has definitely done more than its share
in showing your concern, and letting us know that our
work is appreciated, for which I, among others are eternally
grateful,” he added.
For further information,
e-mail Miriam@theshul.org or write to Peace of Mind, The
Shul, 9540 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour, FL 33154.
The Peace of Mind program extends to Dade and Broward
counties, Rubin explains, and its kits outline the requirements
for implementing the free-loan for teachers project.
There are three requirements, the kits point out:
• The applicant has to be a teacher in a Jewish
• The teacher has to have a guarantor, for loans
up to 4,000, and
• The teacher has three years to pay back the
interest-free loans at the rate of $100 a month.
“The program has apparently struck a chord with
educators across the country,” Rubin said. “Interest
and queries about the program have already come from
educators in Arizona, New York and New Jersey. The Lookstein
Center of Bar Ilan University has distributed information
on the Peace of Mind program to its entire list of Jewish
“I hope that this project prods the organized
Jewish community to appreciate the work of the teachers
of Jewish day schools throughout the nation, particularly
in Miami, to allow them to continue to educate our children
with dignity and peace of mind,” Rubin added.