| The Moment |

The Moment: Issue 1016

A gift that doesn’t come wrapped in cellophane

Living Higher

After 30 years of teaching, Mrs. Chaia Frishman has amassed a fair share of end-of-the-year gifts. For most educators, mugs and stationery sets might be cliché, but who doesn’t like a little recognition?

However, during the last week of school this year, Mrs. Frishman’s English Language Arts students at Yeshiva Darchei Torah Middle School gave her something that doesn’t come wrapped in cellophane.

In February, Mrs. Frishman’s mother had passed away suddenly. When the students decided they wanted to do something in honor of their beloved teacher’s mother, they asked their rebbi, Rabbi Akiva Balsam, for ideas. After conferring with him and Rabbi Moshe Leff, the Secular Studies principal, two students, Zev Polakoff and Yisroel Skolnick took the reins and divided up Mishnayos Seder Moed between the students in classes 6G and 6H.

Using a booklet that Rabbi Balsam created, the boys signed up to learn a certain number Mishnayos by the end of the year. The boys stayed the course. It was particularly meaningful that the last student completed the Mishnayos he’d committed to learn over Shavuos.

At no point was Mrs. Frishman informed of their plan. “I walked into class and the boys were acting so strange,” she says. “But hey, I teach middle school so I didn’t pay much attention to it. Besides, I teach them third and fourth period, right after recess. And summer was in full swing. And in general, no teacher really pays attention to odd behavior in the last weeks of school.”

Finally, seeing that their teacher wasn’t catching on, one boy pointed to her desk. “I looked down. When I saw the booklet and read what it said, I was literally in shock. I’ve been teaching boys for so long. It’s hard to get things past me. I even once commented, ‘You guys will never surprise me, I’ve seen it all.’  My students knew that. The smile on their faces when they saw my reaction was amazing.”

The week prior, Mrs. Frishman had wrapped up a unit on poetry with her class, where the focus was on family heritage. The lessons were based on a poem titled, “Where I’m From,” originally penned by George Ella Lyon. The boys each wrote their own family’s version of where they’re from. By honoring the memory of Mrs. Frishman’s mother, Rochel bas Yeshaya Nosson HaLevi, they honored where their teacher was from, too.


Because It’s Our Life

The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia shook to its foundations last Sunday, as over 25,000 Torah learners and supporters danced up a storm in celebration of those who spend their days steeped in Torah learning. It was the third annual ma’amad of the Adirei HaTorah initiative, created by a team of generous and focused philanthropists to celebrate to those dedicated, idealistic yungeleit who have made Torah learning their occupation.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1016)

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