Gayle Shimoff
Teacher, Educator, Savta and Blogger

Be an Example!

Educators must follow the law, for the sake of the next generation, even if they can get away with it.

I quit my job just after two weeks.

Actually I quit my job after two days, since I was teaching English only once a week on campus at a local Israeli college. 

A corona noncompliance policy 

During the two days I was there, I saw very few people wearing masks inside the buildings or in the classrooms. It would have been impossible for me to have enforced COVID-19 rules in my classroom since the faculty weren’t complying and the students weren’t being penalized.  

The college’s policy, unofficially of course, is that it is unnecessary for them to enforce corona rules among students, staff or faculty, since everyone on campus is required to have green pass (which wasn’t being checked). I was told the following by my supervisor: “No one is enforcing it anyway. Soon we will be moving to the purple badge system. So what’s the big deal?” 

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Is that even legal? Are they allowed to not care or not try to enforce the rules set forth by our Ministry of Health? Just last week the saleswoman at Golbary yelled at me for exiting the dressing room without my mask on, since the police were stalking the malls and ticketing offenders. 

Does anyone care about my health? 

You might think I am upset because my health was at risk since I suffer from three different autoimmune conditions. 

You might even think I am upset because of the potential risk to the students and other staff members; given my friend is currently hospitalized in serious condition, having contracted the virus from someone else who had been jabbed three times.  

Or, you might think I am upset at their complacency, in light of the recent arrival of Delta Plus variant AY.4.2 in Israel. 

Yes, these are all very good reasons to be upset. Our health and wellbeing are paramount, but complaining about the noncompliance of others is unfortunately, no longer newsworthy. 

Unfortunately, we have learned to live with it and make choices based on our internal compass and personal priorities. I, for one, have chosen not to attend indoor cultural events because the risks outweigh the benefits, but will attend the wedding of close friends or family members.

And for those of you wondering about the demographics of this particular college; nope, you don’t get to take potshots at any of the typically noncompliant communities this time. 

What is really bothering me?  

There are four generations of Bnei Akivaniks in my family, and the values of this Jewish religious zionist organization are important to us, with all four generations living in Israel today.  When I think about which value most influenced me from growing up in BA, as a chanicha, madricha and rakezet snif, it was not Torah V’Avoda, but rather being a “dugma ishit”, a personal example to others. 

What did that mean for a madrich/a in Bnei Akiva? It meant that even if you didn’t want to get up in the morning to go to tefilla, you went anyway. It meant you dressed with modesty, even if you were less careful in your own home. It also meant that you respected, accepted and abided by the rules and regulations of both the youth movement and of The United States of America, even if you didn’t agree with them.  

Madrichim had to be more careful and purposeful about their actions in front of the chanichim. You weren’t being hypocritical, you were pushing yourself to be a better orthodox Jew, a better person, because you knew that everything you did influenced the kids.  And you cared enough about them and their future to do the right thing.  If you chose to be a madrich, this was part of the job. 

Educators must be examples for their students

I am an educator and an idealist, and have not yet given up on people, in spite of all that I wrote previously. I truly believe that human beings are good at their core, and I am still shocked when I personally cross paths with selfish, mean and narcissistic people.

But I am not blind to the world around me, and know young adults who have good people, mentors and role models in their lives will be better able to confront adversity. I  hope my interactions with my students leave them just a little bit better off than they were before they met me. Because being a teacher has nothing to do with teaching English!

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I did not have many mentors growing up and it took a toll on me. That is why I know how necessary it is to be a “dugma ishit”. If you choose to be a teacher, an educator, or even a college instructor, it is your job to be a to be an example for your students. In my view that includes not breaking the law!

Your students are watching you, and what you do matters. So please, be the role model your students so desperately need you to be. 

Just like with parenting, the things we do as teachers, big and small, will shape how the next generation will be one day. I for one, do not want them to learn to ignore and break the law just because they can.

About the Author
Gayle is a specialist in the fields of dyslexia, reading development & learning disabilities, having worked with hundreds of students during the span of her 35 year career. She also initiated a community project which established a home for lone soldiers in Beit Shemesh and was operational for 7 years; taking care of scores of English speaking young men during their service in the IDF. Gayle Shimoff grew up in New York and moved to Israel with her family in 1994. She lives in Beit Shemesh with her husband Danny and their dog Krembo and loves being a savta! ​
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