This summer, on July 15-16 / י”ב – י”ג תמוז , the Menachem Education Foundation (MEF) is hosting its 4th Annual Chabad Chinuch Convention and Retreat at the Crowne Plaza, Stamford. With schools and teachers around the globe buzzing with convention plans, here are 5 questions and answers with everything a teacher might want to know about this one of a kind event.
1. Who is this Kinus for? I’m not sure if I qualify.
The Kinus Mechanchos is for every Chabad woman involved in Chinuch – literally. Chinuch is a huge Shlichus, and every piece of the puzzle is vital. There are sessions for teachers of every age group, from playgroups Morahs teaching 2 year olds to high school teachers and principals, both Limudei Kodesh and Limudei Chol.
“There are sessions covering every aspect of Chinuch, from the chassidishe core to social-emotional concerns, and everything in between,” says Mrs. Chanah Rose, MEF’s Educational Director. “Besides for the main sessions, we will also have networking groups to give each role in Chinuch the opportunity to connect and collaborate – whether teachers, resource room providers, day school educators, or others.”
Teachers from throughout the spectrum of Chinuch have been signing up. In addition to educators from throughout the U.S. and Canada, a delegation from South Africa has registered to attend all the way from South Africa, illustrating how very vital this Kinus really is.
2. I worked so hard teaching and finally have some downtime… why should I push myself to go to this Kinus now, on my summer vacation?
Mrs. Alyson Feldman, the Kinus event manager, is excited to join the team, with an eye toward all the details that make this Kinus a truly remarkable retreat in addition to its educational value. Having organized the FFH Pesach programs for 4 years running, as well as many other events, Mrs. Feldman knows what it takes to deliver a truly professional program.
“I am impressed with just how much effort the Kinus committee has devoted in ensuring the content is applicable and inspiring,” says Mrs. Feldman. “It is my pleasure to focus on the program details and rejuvenating moments. Each guest should feel the full experience of the educational impact and the recharge and reset of their personal strength.”
In the past, teachers attested to this Kinus countering burnout and giving them new Chizuk for the coming year. “The Kinus addressed my issues, questions, and concerns head on,” reflected Nechama Hordiner of Pittsburgh, PA. Another teacher from Brooklyn, NY, shared, “It made me feel refreshed and energized to start the next year on the right foot. When I feel discouraged, I sometimes think about what I learned in the summer.” Says Rivka T. from New Jersey, “It’s the reason I’m teaching.”
“I can say we understand how well deserved and needed this retreat is for the devoted women of our chinuch system,” continues Mrs. Feldman. “We are enhancing the program to include those valuable moments of relaxation in between the immense array of stimulating programming. The program will include one and one mentorship opportunities. There will also be updated swimming hours, professional babysitting, complete resource fair, a lively gala banquet and more. Just that right amount of lavish touches to complete the feel of a true get-a-way.”
3. I’ve been to the Kinus before, and I loved it, but I feel like I’ve been there, done that. Why come again?
Since the first Kinus four years ago, when 100 Mechanchos came back asking for more, the Kinus has grown by leaps and bounds each summer. Last year, it went from being a daytime program in Crown Heights to an immersive retreat with a hotel stay. This year, there is even more being offered, in the spirit of maalin bakodesh.
“The improvements are in both quantity and quality,” says Mrs. Rose. “There are five concurrent sessions for every workshop slot, totalling over 45 workshops and general sessions! Moreover, participant feedback from last year was incorporated to make this year serve your needs even better. We are Baruch Hashem working with a really strong committee of Mechanchos, who ensure that every moment is planned to the highest quality.”
The committee is chaired by Mrs. Batsheva Deren of Pittsburgh, PA, with workshops chair Mrs. Henny Bartfield (Margate, FL), leadership chair Mrs. Nami Friedman (Pittsburgh, PA), early childhood chair Mrs. Chaya Light (Monsey, NY) and banquet chair Mrs. Devora Krasniansky (CECE Network, New York). More than a dozen other committee members brainstorm ideas and review every detail of the program.
4. Hmmm… now I’m interested. What are some of the highlights of this year’s Kinus?
This year’s theme, related to the Kinus dates of י”ב-י”ג תמוז, is “נוטר כרמו – Tending the Garden.” This means that the two days provide an incredible opportunity to unpack what it means to tend to the Rebbe’s garden specifically, and identify what it means to be a Chabad educator.
Rabbi and Rebbetzin Shimon Raichik will be presiding over the convention, and speaking about Chinuch al pi Torah and Chassidus. In a similar vein, the theme will be underscored in different ways by such diverse and powerful educators and thinkers as Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Mrs. Malka Touger, Mrs. Chana Ginsburg and Rabbi Yisroel and Vivi Deren.
In addition, this year’s Kinus has a special emphasis on the issues facing children and classrooms today. Dr. Akiva Perlman, a psychotherapist with extensive experience in our community, will speak on “Substance Abuse and Addiction”, emphasizing the preventative role that teachers play, followed by a panel discussion on how to better reach our students at risk. Mrs. Dena Gorkin will present a session on connecting to students, as well as working with principals on a protocol for crisis management and response.
Master educators Dr. Sara Rosenfeld, Rabbi Zelig Silber, Rabbi Levi Feldman, Mrs. Chani Feldman and many more will give participants the practical tools that they need to achieve their goals in the classroom. Exclusive tracks for Early Childhood educators and School Leadership are additional highlights of the program, building on last year’s success.
5. But can I afford to attend?
While the cost per person to attend such a packed retreat should cost many hundreds of dollars, MEF has assumed the goal of supporting and treating Mechanchos, subsidizing the program cost by more than half. In addition to that, several scholarships are available – an Early Childhood subsidy, group rates, a returning educator discount and other limited opportunities on a needs basis. Many schools have generously offered to contribute towards their teachers’ registration, and others have tapped into government funding or other sources to enable their staff to attend.
“This Kinus is intended to be by the teachers, for the teachers,” says Mrs. Rose, “and it is so humbling and inspirational to see it turn out to be just that, year after year.” Most importantly, it is an opportunity to fulfill the Rebbe’s hora’ah for teachers to get together and grow their skills. In one letter, the Rebbe writes:
“The suggestion to arrange accelerated teacher training classes during summer vacation is very correct… and it is certainly important to do this with great vigor…” (Igros Kodesh, vol. 8, p. 168)
Teachers can sign up and view the full schedule at www.chinuchconvention.org. With over 220 already registered and limited rooms available, anyone interested in joining is encouraged to sign up well before registration closes on July 3rd / ל’ סיון. Inquiries can be directed to [email protected] or 718-663-7215. Limited slots for babysitting and transportation are also available. Plans continue to be updated on a daily basis for this to be the most empowering convention yet, so by connecting with MEF through phone, email or social media, teachers can make sure not to miss a thing!