Rabbi Moshe Frohlich
As we are just past midway through the school year, we thought it an opportune time to connect with Rabbi Moshe Frohlich, the new principal of Bais Yaakov Rabbi Binyomin Steinberg Middle School. After greeting us with his signature warmth, Rabbi Frohlich treated us to an inside look at what motivates him, his vision and his insight into Bais Yaakov.
What inspired you to go into chinuch?
A wise professor once said, “Know your story.” When a person understands the impetus behind what he is doing, it helps fuel his work. Relationships were much of the driving force that led me to chinuch. Growing up, I had less than a stellar academic experience and undoubtedly gave some of my teachers a run for their money. But throughout my experience, I was fortunate to have exceptional Rabbeim who worked hard to notice me. These were singular individuals who helped shape my formative years by showing genuine interest in my development and building strong relationships with me. Their care for me was so sincere that even when they had to reprimand me, I was able to recognize that it came from a place of love. Because of these connections, I developed a desire to give back and simulate my experiences for others. Rav Avrohom Pam zt”l used to say, “I don’t teach Gemara; I teach students.” That resonated deeply with me. As I got older, I spent my summers as a counselor at camp which allowed me to really reach children and understand their struggles. I saw that I could draw on my own experiences and use my strengths to help Klal Yisroel.
What stands out about your experience in Bais Yaakov so far?
My wife, Bracha, grew up in Baltimore and is an alumna of Bais Yaakov. Throughout our marriage, she has always spoken about Bais Yaakov with such fondness. She radiates as she recounts her time at Bais Yaakov; her memories, her connection to her teachers and principals and the opportunities Bais Yaakov afforded her both academically and in extracurricular activities, especially with her involvement in gemach. While I enjoyed hearing her stories, I had trouble relating to her feelings. A sense of such tremendous pride in your alma mater was foreign to me. And then I became part of the Bais Yaakov family. What goes on inside these walls is incredible. Bais Yaakov is truly unique in its inclusivity, warmth and the attention and resources it directs towards developing the whole child. We strike a beautiful balance between strong academics and extracurricular programming creating a very healthy and wholesome environment for the girls. Each girl is given an array of opportunities in which to be involved and to shine. And yet, with all of its innovative programming, Bais Yaakov remains a venerable institution, true to its founding principles. Influences from educational giants including Rabbi Hirsch Diskind z”l, Rabbi Binyomin Steinberg z”l, and yibadel l’chayim, Rabbi Naftoli Hexter, permeate the school.
What challenges do you think our young women face and how is Bais Yaakov meeting these challenges?
We live in an unprecedented time. Anxiety is skyrocketing. Self-image is low. We are constantly bombarded with false messaging about what makes people happy. Now, more than ever, in addition to the home, it is important for school to be a safe haven for our children.
Bais Yaakov does an exceptional job supporting our girls and helping them develop healthy self-esteem. Our social workers give fantastic workshops focusing on many of the issues facing our girls, arming them with the tools to succeed. We teach our girls how to navigate difficult friendships and circumstances and how to be appropriate and effective communicators. Our programming builds resiliency, flexibility and self-awareness; cultivating the whole child and encouraging personal growth.
What is an example of a program that you brought to Bais Yaakov?
Recently, I was able to bring a meaningful shmitta initiative to our students, complementing our already robust programming repertoire. This beautiful curriculum, developed by Rav Yosef Efrati, is designed to create a feeling of connection to Eretz Yisroel through lessons about the special mitzvos that only apply there. Girls are treated to engaging classes and discussions over Zoom with Rabbonim in Eretz Yisroel who teach them about the halachos of shmitta, its practical applications and transcendental lessons. Students see the beauty of this unique mitzvah and come to an appreciation for the sacrifice of the exceptional individuals who uphold its laws. This imbues the girls with a deeper love for Eretz Yisroel.
New programs aside, my vision for Bais Yaakov Middle School is that it continues to be a place where every girl is able to contribute and each student feels valued and loved. We will steadfastly uphold our rich mesorah, inculcating within our students a deep sense of yiras shamayim and an awareness of their purpose as exalted members of klal yisroel. With siyata dishmaya, Bais Yaakov Middle School will remain a “small school of hundreds of students,” maintaining personal connections and ensuring that each girl is primed for success.