An open Rosh Hashonah letter


How heartbreaking it was on Friday to watch the neighborhood children coming off the bus excitedly displaying their Rosh Hashonah projects while knowing other children are hiding behind the curtains crying because they have no project to show and no knowledge of what Rosh Hashonah is all about.

Year after year we, unfortunately, go thru this same cycle of weeks into the school year and girls are still out of a school. Enough has been written and enough fingers have been pointed and I am wont get into the debate of right or wrong but all can agree something needs to be done. Recently we lost two Gedolim, Reb Dovid Trenk and Reb Slomo Gissinger zt”l both where known never to give up on any talmid and always fought to make sure every neshoma had a chance to get an education so they can succeed. Chazal teach us that when a generation is not acting properly Hashem takes away their leaders.

Seemingly the message is clear we are not acting properly in regards to ensuring that every yiddisha neshoma gets their proper yiddisha education so Hashem took away the two pillars that fought tooth and nail to advocate for every child. It was only last year that Reb Shlomo Gissinger went to a menahel’s house on erev yom kippur before kol nidrei dressed in his kittel and tallis and told the menahel that he told his kehilla not to wait for him to come tonight to davening as he is not leaving the menahel’s house till he calls a parent to tell them that their son was accept to his school. So let us wake up and hear the message that we need to take heed and advocate that no child should be left behind.

At the same time I am not saying that we should force children into schools that for whatever reason they don’t fit into. That might look like chesed in the short-term but likely will backfire in the long-term. But there is a lot we can all do. We firstly should feel for their pain and offer any possible help and support we can give these children and families.

We need to support those askonim that work quietly around the clock to figure out a unique solution for every unique situation. We can advocate and help support and build all different types of mosdos that can accommodate those that need them. The more we think and feel about other people struggles the more we can come up collectively with ideas how to help and we should use these opportunities as a chance to spring forth growth and unity and not chas vshalom otherwise.

Let us not waste this crisis by pointing fingers and blame rather use it to grow and build mosdos to accommodate the many growing needs of our community. Look around and realize that many great things only became a reality because someone saw a crisis and said we got to do something to change the status quo. Reb Aaron Kotler zt”l saw a country losing their Yiddishe identity and built Lakewood. Other great organizations that started from someone witnessing a crisis are Hatzola, Bonei Olam, Bikur Cholim to name a few. So let us make a commitment today to change and do something great to end this crisis once and for all. Wishing everyone a k’siva v’chasima tova.

Chaim Cohen

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of GreaterLakewood.


  1. “Chazal teach us that when a generation is not acting properly Hashem takes away their leaders”
    Who gave you the inspiration to know why these 2 tzaddikim were taken away from us? Are you a Novi?
    Is the entire community responsible for the actions of a few menahalim? Are you sure the Menahalim are all wrong & the parents are all in the right? Hundreds of people are moving to Lakewood each year many of them before finding a suitable school for their children, are we responsible to build new schools for them?
    I’m tired of these letters & comments lambasting the fine Yidden of Lakewood. The shortage of schools is a problem that can be solved without blaming & criticizing. 99% of Lakewood has nothing to do with the admission process & is simply struggling to pay each months tuition. The Menahalim I Know are extremely devoted people doing a heroic job & not a bunch of evil people.
    You’ll accomplish much more by actually doing something than writing letters of criticism.


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