Top 100 Teachers

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Rabbi Elimelech Yaakov of Boys Town Jerusalem has been named one of the “Best 100 Teachers” by Israel’s Ministry of Education’s division for religious high schools, citing his “groundbreaking initiatives in education.” For the thousands of students whose lives Rabbi Elimelech has transformed, the prize is a well‐deserved testimony to the remarkable care and trust that their beloved teacher has invested in each and every young man.

“Rabbi Elimelech demanded excellence on every level—in our studies, our interpersonal relationships, in our love for Judaism and Israel,” said Gadi Shlevin, today a leading educator. “He also saw where we hurt, and was there to help us grow.”

Over the 35 years since Rabbi Elimelech joined Boys Town, he has personally visited nearly every student’s home, and almost never given up on a student, even when the young man has strayed far from the proper path. In countless cases, the rabbi has stood beside his students and given them the guidance and confidence to overcome very complex problems. To this day, many students remain in contact with Rabbi Elimelech for counsel.

This prize‐winning educator, the son of Holocaust survivors who rebuilt their lives, first pursued a career in the Israel Defense Forces. Rabbi Elimelech rose to the rank of major in the Paratroop Brigade, and continued to serve in the IDF Central Command until being discharged after the birth of his twelfth child. He then served in the IDF Reserves for a total of 28 years.

Several years after his discharge, Rabbi Elimelech entered the world of education. In 1980, he started teaching one hour per week at Boys Town Jerusalem, and quickly began initiating new activities and directions for his students. In 1986, when assigned to teach the most difficult classes with the weakest students, he created a far‐ranging program of studies. “They were like my children. It was a privilege to be able to help them stand on their own feet.” The rabbi was subsequently appointed to high administrative positions at the school, and today serves as Principal for Jewish Studies.

“I look upon my students as gems in the rough,” he explained. “My job is to polish, sharpen and transform them into 200 karat jewels.”

According to BTJ Administrative Director Natan Tal, Rabbi Elimelech’s strengths lie in his charisma, his ability to envision and initiate change, his outstanding relationships with students, staff and parents, and his tremendous concern for students and graduates. “He has set the tone for Boys Town and made an extraordinary contribution to our success.”

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