Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Guiding Light

Bassi Gruen

What’s the secret formula tapped by Bais Yaakov of Passaic to create students with a strong inner compass? Veteran menaheles Rebbetzin Baila Stern – armed with the values of her parents and esteemed husband, rosh yeshivah Rav Meir Stern —explains how she’s fused European influence, classic Bais Yaakov education, and her precious years in Eretz Yisrael to create a chinuch pathway that illuminates hundreds of lives.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

In a small city in New Jersey, there’s a community of ovdei Hashem, a kehillah with frum Jews of every stripe living and striving together. The high school they’ve built, the Bais Yaakov of Passaic, produces thoughtful, solid students, girls proud of their Yiddishkeit and connected to their Creator. It’s the result of the dream of the menaheles and the efforts of the entire staff. “Rebbetzin Stern has a vision of what a bas Yisrael is, and she has the inner strength to see the vision through even if others don’t yet share the vision. Many of them return to thank her for having stood firm,” says Mrs. Amy Rothenberg, general studies principal of BY of Passaic. “It’s something she transmits to her staff. It’s so easy to get swayed by emotions or by pop psychology, but we’re expected to stay strong and always speaks the emes.” Convictions don’t grow overnight. Decades ago, in a different city, a different school, they were already being put to the test. Rebbetzin Stern was the new teacher at an established school when an older teacher approached her in the teachers’ room, brandishing a piece of paper. “We’re making a petition asking that they cancel school on December 25,” she told her, explaining how hard it was to work with the lack of buses, the children at home, the logistics. The new teacher paused. It was important to give the students the message that this was not our holiday. Inconvenience or no, it was important to have school on December 25. But she was the newbie. She wanted the other teachers to like and accept her. A brief inner battle, then she gave the other teacher a smile and quietly stated her beliefs and why she couldn’t sign the petition. A moment of silence. “I respect that,” the veteran teacher finally responded. A discussion with the Rebbetzin about the chinuch principles that are the foundation of Bais Yaakov Passaic invariably leads us to the source of her convictions: She deflects any credit, pointing to her parents’ staunch convictions and the vibrant Yiddishkeit in their home.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you