Rabbi Elchonon Chaikin – Cheder Chabad

What made you choose a career in community service?

I am the youngest in a Chabad family with 12 siblings. All of us serve, in some capacity or another, in public life. I grew up in a home where my parents serve as leaders of their community and dedicate their lives to inspiring all those around them. They are inspired daily by the vision of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to be a Torah Torch that not only gives off the light of Yiddishkeit but lights up others who will then, in turn, continue to pass on the light of Yiddishkeit even further. Growing up in that environment, how could I not choose this life?

You work alongside educators. How do you see your role?

Chazal tell us that “Greater is the one who helps others do, than the one who does himself.”  I may not be the educator, but I find it very rewarding to know that my work helps not only parents send their kids to our school, but also helps our Rebbis and Moros do their jobs with dedication. My job is to help give our students pride in their attendance at our school. This has an everlasting impact.

What makes Cheder Chabad unique?

Baltimore is a city which is a beacon of Torah and Yiddishkeit. It boasts multiple schools, shuls, and chesed organizations. Each one stands out in its own way. Cheder Chabad is unique in a very special way. It’s not just a Torah institution with a unique Chinuch method. Cheder Chabad is raising students with the attitude that whatever the future holds for them, they will be soldiers on the front lines of Yiddishkeit. They will look around and share, teach, and inspire their fellow Jews.

When I was a child in Cleveland, OH, there was an interesting fellow from the Telsher Yeshiva who would sing a song he wrote to the tune of “Hashem is here, Hashem is there etc.” but his words were “Lubavitch is here, Lubavitch is there.”
One stanza went:
“Every single Jewish child is a diamond,
you got to just dig them up and find them,
shine them, grind them, and design them,
and teach them to be a Torah Jew.”

This is a motto that so many people associate with Chabad Lubavitch. But that is an error. It’s the motto for every Jew.  We want every one of our students, regardless of their background or future to have that responsibility that the Rebbe placed upon every single person.   

From where do your students come?

Our student body is made up of many types of backgrounds. Some are children of nearby and not-so-nearby Shluchim. Some have Chabad parents in the workforce. Some are parents that are not Chabad at all but come to our school because they feel the circle of warmth that brings people in. Some of our students are first generation frum, and the first in their families to receive a Torah and Chassidic education in their primary years.

Tell us about your upcoming fundraiser.

Seventy-five percent of our students are on adjusted tuition scholarships. This places a great burden on the school to provide the services that we do. Whether it is providing salaries to our teaching staff or special education providers, extra-curricular activities or our newly opened ABA classroom through Blue Ribbon, the success of our campaign is vital. When you donate, you are helping provide the greatest influence on the future front-line soldiers of Yiddishkeit.

Last Shabbos was the annual Kinus HaShluchim which so many people tuned into. Many are in awe of the work of the Shluchim, even those who don’t call themselves Chabad. Cheder Chabad is the breeding ground for this message.

When is your campaign and how can someone donate?

Our campaign will be Tuesday and Wednesday 11/29-11/30 and you can donate at www.causematch.com/cheder5783

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