This week, The Warrior Word sat down with Morah Weinberg, a hebrew teacher at the school. Get to know Morah Weinberg as she shares stories of success, her passion for reading, and tips to overcome a bad mood.
Tziyona Gheblikian: Where were you born and raised?
Morah Weinberg: I was actually born in Jaffa because my mother’s parents lived in Tel Aviv, and the nearest hospital was quite far, as it was in Jaffa. The name was Dajani and it doesn’t exist anymore. At the time, Jaffa was mainly occupied by Arabs, and I was born on Shabbat, so my mother had to walk for an hour to get to the hospital from her parent’s house. She was in labor as she walked to the hospital. I was the first child, the oldest. I was raised in Bnei Brak, a very Orthodox city, but my mother’s parents lived in Tel Aviv. Because she was expecting, she went to them every Shabbat just in case she needed to go to the hospital so that somebody could walk with her. So in the end, she walked there with her mother and they walked for an hour to the hospital in Jaffa.
TG: Wow! That’s crazy. So did you ever serve in the IDF?
MW: So frum (religious) girls don’t serve in the IDF. We have a special exemption. In order to get this exemption, you go through a test to prove that you have knowledge in Judaism. You also have to bring a letter from a rabbi at your shul that you observe the Shabbat and that you are a frum girl.
TG: Does that still happen nowadays?
MW: Yes. Frum girls from the Beit Yaakov seminary don’t serve in the army because the environment of the army is not suitable for the education of a Beit Yaakov girl. However, girls who aren’t going to Beit Yaakov, but to other schools, they do National Service. They are teachers, or they work in hospitals…they do this kind of work. They don’t go directly to the army, but they do different work for the community. But the girls from Beit Yaakov don’t work at the hospitals where it is a mixed crowd, and they’re still young, so they keep them in school.
TG: Did you always want to become a Hebrew teacher?
MW: When I finished high school, there were only two options for frum girls at the time from Beit Yaakov. Either you were a teacher, or a Kindergarten teacher. I wanted to be a high school teacher. So after high school, I took two years of seminary for teachers, and then I did a special course to become an elementary and middle school teacher. I then had to take a seperate course to become a high school teacher. Thank G-d, I was an excellent student and I immediately started to teach at the high school that I graduated from in Tel Aviv. A year later, the principal opened another branch of the high school in the north of Israel, so he sent me to be the principal there. I became the youngest high school principal in Israel. I was very successful. It was like overnight that I became a principal. But I didn’t want to just be a principal, I wanted to teach too because I love teaching. So I was the principal and I was teaching at the high school for a few good years.
TG: What did you teach?
MW: All subjects. In Israel, they have a formal teacher for the class. Here, they have different teachers for every subject. But in Israel, there is one teacher for each class and that teacher is responsible for every aspect of the class. I taught Jewish studies and Hebrew, especially grammar. I was a star at grammar. I actually scored a 99 on the very difficult language and grammar test from the Ministry of Education that was required to become a Hebrew teacher in Israel. I had one mistake that I will never forget, and this taught me to appreciate mistakes in life. I don’t remember everything that I studied in school, but I remember what I was wrong about forever. So when a person makes a mistake in life, he doesn’t have to be sorry and upset that he made the mistake because he will remember the lesson forever. So sometimes it’s good to make mistakes, and everyone makes them.
TG: What do you think is the best part about teaching Hebrew?
MW: My goal is that you will make progress, especially in talking, because this is the most important thing. Teaching Hebrew gives me the opportunity to add tips about life and Judaism into my lessons that are just as important as the Hebrew grammar.
TG: How long have you been teaching for?
MW: For over 25 years.
TG: If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
MW: That’s a difficult question… I am an honest person, I am ambitious, and I love people.
TG: Do you have any hobbies?
MW: I love reading a lot. My favorite books are about self-development. And ever since I was a child, I’ve always loved to read books about successful people and to learn from them. My library at home is full of autobiographies, you name it. From rabbis to prime ministers, to Steve Jobs and all kinds of successful people. I don’t have time for many hobbies, I think reading is the main thing. I wouldn’t say that it’s a hobby, but I am very passionate about helping people. So in my spare time, I try to help people. As a life coach, people ask me what the best tips are to get rid of a bad mood. I give two tips. One is to take a piece of paper and pen to make a list of at least three things that you are thankful for. To have gratitude is the best tip to change your mood because you have so many things to be thankful for, so why should you be in a bad mood? I used to go to sleep with a notebook next to my bed for years. I used to call it my “thank you diary,” and I never went to sleep without writing down two things I was grateful for that happened that day. I know that when I say “Modeh Ani” in the morning, I’m not just saying it, I’m dancing it inside of me because there’s so much to be thankful for. The other tip I give for changing a bad mood is that if you feel miserable, go help someone else who is miserable. It will make you very happy and satisfied very fast. It will change your mood to go and help somebody else.
By Tziyona Gheblikian (11th grade)