The Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh hosted the second Menahelei Moisdos Chinuch training retreat of this school year, bringing together principals and directors for two days of discussions on Chassidishe values and mental and emotional wellness.

What is the key ingredient of a successful Chabad Chinuch? The Menachem Education Foundation (MEF) recognizes that so many factors go into giving an all-encompassing Chinuch to last a lifetime. Therefore they have created the Menahelei Moisdos Chinuch Training Retreats, a set of training retreats for leaders of Chabad schools and yeshivos, each focused on targeting another key component to making Chabad Chinuch a success.

The second Menahelei Moisdos Chinuch training retreat of the 5782 (2022) school year took place last week at the Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh. Menahelim from across the U.S. gathered for two days to learn how to make social, mental and emotional wellness an integral part of every Talmid’s success.

Rabbi Yossi Rosenblum, veteran educator and CEO of the award-winning Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, opened the program with an address to the participants on assessing and improving school culture, and how it serves as the foundation for overall student wellbeing. Rabbi Rosenblum spoke about the innovative student wellbeing program at the Yeshiva Schools.

Participants then heard talks on pertinent topics in today’s Chinuch by Pittsburgh’s top educators.

Drs. Yisroel King LCSW and Madeline Nessida PsyD taught the Menahelim how to “Create a Multi-Layered System of Student Support,” to better handle trauma at school. After their talk, they opened the floor to a panel discussion, to ensure the Menahelim fully understood the sensitive and relevant information, so they could effectively implement it in their respective moisdos.

Leading therapist, Rabbi Shimon Russell LCSW, addressed some mental health scenarios that can occur at school, to equip every Menahel to responsibly handle mental health crises c”v. The Menahelim also received instructions on how to use the Menachem Education Foundation’s newly developed Crisis Protocol, which serves as a guide for educators to navigate crises that may arise at schools r”l.

Other Chinuch topics presented at the retreat were: “Exploring Curricula on Inyanei Kedusha” by Rabbi Mannis Frankel, Principal of the Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, “Creating Student-Centered Schools” by Rabbi Zalman Raskin, Teacher and Director of Professional Development at the Yeshiva Schools, as well as “Five Hiring Mistakes Principals Make,” by Merkos Mentor, Rabbi Aron Herman.

The Menahelim were treated to a lavish barbeque dinner at the home of Rabbi Rosenblum, where they had the chance to farbreng about what they took away from the full day of presentations. Rabbi Yosef Itkin, Mashpia of the Chabad community in Pittsburgh, led a spirited farbrengen following the dinner.

On the second day in Pittsburgh, the Menahelim toured the Yeshiva Schools, grades one through eight, where they got to see best Chinuch practices in action, and glean ideas to bring back to their own moisdos. They also toured the Yeshiva School’s new 60,000-square-foot campus that will soon be completed.

After the retreat, Rabbi Shneur Wilhelm of Las Vegas Torah Academy shared: “The program was phenomenal! I really appreciated the focus on the students’ mental wellbeing, touring the Yeshiva Schools, as well as the talk by Rabbi Shimon Russell.”

Rabbi Zalman Shneur, Founder and Executive Director of the Menachem Education Foundation, reflected on the success of the retreat held before the yomtov of Shavuos.

“When we currently stand on the crossroads between receiving the Torah and our children being the guarantors of our Torah, while the New York City Board of Regents debates regulations on our Yeshivos, threatening our children’s Torah learning, it was really inspiring how Menahelim from all over the United States and Canada gathered to see what a true Torah education can accomplish. This is something we must all be proud of,” he said.