Educating children and young adults requires great teachers and strong support from administration. Modeling behaviors are important, too. At the Talmudic University consortium of schools, headquartered in Miami Beach, Rabbi Yitzhak Zweig and his team are sending a strong message to our students.
Traditional classroom education is important. However, we must go beyond the four walls and contribute positively and with impact to the broader community.
For example, Talmudic University’s Helping Hands Food Ko-Op feeds 600 families a year. The Ko-Op started in 2009 (during the last recession) when people were having a difficult time putting food on the table. In the Jewish community, instead of eating meat and chicken on the Sabbath, some people were eating canned tuna.
The Food Ko-Op provides a low-cost option where families in need can buy food at the lowest possible price. High-quality foods are available, and families can make purchases while keeping their self-respect and dignity. This program has also inspired hundreds of volunteers, so families that buy food are not the only ones who experience positive outcomes; many others are given a platform to help those in need. It is amazing to see hundreds of families use a program that basically says, “We have your back.” To see Yeshiva schools and students helping in the community is uplifting.
Notably, the Ko-Op’s impact will be especially significant in the community with Passover approaching. In the weeks leading up to this holiday, the Ko-Op will service between 100 and 150 families daily. Passover is typically a time for larger family gatherings — the Food Ko-Op allows hosts to welcome extended family members and overcome the costs of having more guests.
Talmudic University also provides many other programs that extend beyond the four walls of the traditional classroom. For example, Bikur Cholim Suites provides hospitality to families visiting hospitalized loved ones at Mount Sinai Hospital. The university also runs Mesoras Avraham Shiva Gemach, which helps families by setting up homes, according to proper custom, in ways that accommodate mourners and those paying their respects.
Finally, Lending Gemach provides interest-free loans to those who require financial assistance.
These initiatives are examples of how educational institutions must demonstrate that teaching and learning extends beyond the traditional classroom. Positive and impactful contributions to broader communities are essential to the mission of our schools and the lifelong success of our students.
Martin Karp, Ed.D., is dean of academic affairs and community engagement at Talmudic University and its consortium of schools. He was a member of the Miami-Dade School Board for 16 years and worked in the field of education for more than 30 years.
This story was originally published March 31, 2022 6:47 PM.