ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A group of students—and their rabbi—from Torah Prep School of St. Louis are quite passionate about returning to the classroom.
“I teach fifth-grade Hebrew studies and this is when they start to learn the Talmud. The Talmud is a very, very deep philosophical subject,” said Rabbi Moshe Glazer, Torah Prep School. “Even the greatest Jewish scholars are still learning it in their 80s and their 90s and they’re still not getting everything perfect, there’s always more to learn. Fifth grade is where I teach and that’s where it all starts.
Rabbi Glazer says it’s impossible to start study on The Talmud on Zoom.
“You need to have that one-on-one because you need to look at the child in the face and say, ‘Do you understand what I’m saying?’ You can’t do that on Zoom. It just doesn’t work,” he said. “First of all, there’s also a second delay and when you’re teaching a class and you’re trying to move and the class needs to be fluid, it needs to move.”
Eighth graders Eliyahu Kula and Shalom Kowalsky agree that’s easier discussing The Talmud and learning in person.
“It’s much harder to learn it on Zoom because when you’re in the Talmud, it’s a lot of talking, of talking back and forth,” Kula said. “It’s not just reading a book. So, it’s very hard to learn it on Zoom; it’s always easier to learn it in person.”
Rabbi Glazer says teachers need to establish a rapport with their students. That’s easier to achieve with in-person learning.
“If you don’t have a relationship with (students), they’re not going to retain anything; they’re not interested in hearing you,” he said. “How do you make the relationship? It’s on the ballfield, then you come into the class and you start saying things. You’re not best friends, you’re a student-teacher relationship, but you come together and when you come together, you can also teach properly because the student retains more of what you’re saying. If there’s no relationship, it’s very difficult to teach.”