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Teacher at Heart

Rabbi Yerachmiel Alperowitz had two job offers, and wasn't sure which one to accept.

It was 1953. Rabbi Alperowitz, then a young man, had a strong love for the teaching profession. Four years earlier, he had received a blessing from the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Joseph I. Schneerson, to educate his students successfully in their studies and in fear of heaven. The blessing had proven itself and within a short time after entering the field, Rabbi Alperowitz had acquired a name as an outstanding educator.

Before the upcoming school year, Rabbi Alperowitz was approached by representatives of the Chinuch Atzamai school system, asking him to take a position in one of their schools in Bnei Brak. A second offer came from Rabbi Aharon Mordechai Zilberstrom, who directed a Chabad school in Kfar Saba and wanted Rabbi Alperowitz to join his staff.

Rabbi Alperowitz presented both offers to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who responded obliquely that in whichever place he finds himself, he should create a chassidic environment.

From this response Rabbi Alperowitz understood that the Rebbe wished for him to take a position in a non-Chabad institution. Therefore he accepted the offer from the Chinuch Atzmai school system.

The school year began and Rabbi Alperowitz had great success in his work. The school's principal was excellent, the parents were cooperative and involved, and the students loved their dedicated teacher. The principal of the Chinuch Atzmai school, Rabbi Grossbard of Jerusalem, used to affectionately call Rabbi Alperowitz's classroom "the Chabad Cheder." He was quite justified: the walls of the classroom were hung with pictures of the Chabad rebbes, and the classroom was permeated with a warm chassidic spirit, as the Rebbe had directed.

For twenty years Rabbi Alperowitz worked in the same school, with great acclaim and success. This idyllic period lasted until 1989, when a group of parents who were not fans of the Chabad movement gained control over the school. It became clear that they fully intended to dismiss Rabbi Alperowitz from his position.

Indeed, only a few days before the beginning of the following school year, several parents approached Rabbi Alperowitz and told him that he should expect his dismissal letter shortly. In truth, the principal highly valued Rabbi Alperowitz and refused the demands of the parents to dismiss him. However, these parents decided to take matters into their own hands and had the principal himself replaced!

The new principal, who had been hand-picked by this group of parents, promptly gave Rabbi Alperowitz a letter of dismissal. He tried to hide behind the excuse that he wanted to infuse some fresh new blood into the staff.

Rabbi Alperowitz was overwrought at his abrupt dismissal from the school to which he had dedicated the best years of his life. He sat down to write a letter to the Rebbe, explaining that there was a small group of parents who had decided to get rid of him. He included a copy of the letter of dismissal. A few days later, Rabbi Alperowitz received a call from the Rebbe's secretariat, informing him that the Rebbe had said that he should remain in his job and he would experience great success.

A week later, Rabbi Alperowitz met a fellow who told him, “My son is going to be in your class next year.”

“That's a slight problem,” Rabbi Alperowitz said with a smile, “because I have in my hands a letter of dismissal.” He brought his friend up to date on the events that had led to this drastic move. The man was appalled.

“Early tomorrow morning I am going to be in the Chinuch Atzmai office,” he declared. “I am going to make sure that they don't let such an outstanding teacher go.”

Rabbi Alperowitz was somewhat skeptical about how successful his friend would be. But a few days later, he met Rabbi Newman, the director of the school, who told him, “You should know that nobody has the authority to dismiss you from your position. You are staying with us!”

And so it was. Rabbi Alperowitz returned to school for the following year and taught his class devotedly and diligently, as always.

The parents in "opposition" made several more attempts to have him removed, only because they objected to the Chabad philosophy which he espoused. But time and again the objections of these parents were overruled and Rabbi Alperowitz remained in his place. As per the Rebbe's instructions, he succeeded in creating a chassidic environment around him and merited to educate a generation of scholarly and G-dfearing students.

   
 

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