As the summer comes to a close, and a new school year begins, people’s minds turn to matters of education, and to the pressing issues of lack of Tznius in Crown Heights, especially among young mothers who have no shame in the way they walk around town and even come to school, dressed in a manner unbecoming of a self-respecting human being, and especially a Jew.
We present a translation of a letter from the Rebbe, dated the 28th of Av 5717, and addressed to the governing body of Kfar Chabad, the Rebbe details a list of instructions about running the village, among them is a reference to a shocking story, which occurred during the summer of 5717 (1957) in which a Lubavitcher teacher left her post in the Chabad school and accepted a job in a Non-Chabad school outside Kfar Chabad.
The letter was printed in Igros Kodesh Vol. 15, but the relevant part was omitted.
In his letter, the Rebbe details what he sees as the reason for this, and implores with the people of Kfar Chabad to mend their ways, and ensure that the teacher returns to her post.
An excerpt from the letter translated into English (emphasis added):
5) It is obvious, that the development of Kfar Chabad should not be limited to the physical aspects, but also to the spiritual aspects, obviously focusing on Chinuch, which requires that proper teachers be found, without sparing effort in finding them, especially with the current situation in Israel and the lack of competent quality teachers. This is especially important with regards to Chabad, which has specific standards for Chinuch.
It is therefore that I do not understand the following:
I have recently heard a rumor, that Mrs. […] is accepting a position in a school outside Kfar Chabad, despite the fact that she has lots of experience, and she succeeded in educating her students both in matters of knowledge, and more importantly with regards to Judaism and Chassidishkeit… I was surprised, and doubted this rumor.
The reason for this rumor may be, that since she behaves like a student of Beis Yaakov, i.e. she wears a Shaitel, long sleeves, etc., and some of the Kfar Chabad women have not yet adopted this dress code (for they are accustomed to a [Non-Tznius] dress code which was common in our previous country [Russia], though I am sure that deep down they are interested in adopting it, and I hope that at some point they will realize that it is mandatory, and that it’s for their benefit to do so), therefore they are uncomfortable around her, and have a hard time accepting a woman who is dressed differently than them.
This attitude is in line with the regular thought process of a human being, however it is important that they change their attitude in this regard, for:
a) This matter [of the mothers being Non-Tznius] will hopefully be temporary, but the education of the girls is for their whole life, and for eternity, and with a small change of heart, the mothers can do all they can to fix their appearance for the sake of their children’s education.
b) This feeling of discomfort [from the teacher’s dress code] might prompt them to change their custom and adopt a higher standard, of wearing a Shaitel, long sleeves, etc., and ultimately they will be thankful to all those who pushed them towards a higher level.
My request is to whomever has any influence on these mothers, that they should explain to them all of the above, with words that come from the heart, for this matter [Tznius] is of cardinal importance to a Jewish home, like our sages state that the mother has the power to bring about the good in her children.
May it be soon that I will be notified the good news that those people have succeeded in their mission… For in merit of righteous women our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt.