Dini Freundlich’s daughter has been admonished for not wearing her uniform to class.
Fortunately the girl, who lives in Beijing, didn’t have to go home to change into her uniform: she was already there.
Freundlich’s daughter is one of 505 students enrolled in the Shluchim Online School, the first and only fully online Jewish day school in the world.
Students, ranging from pre-K through ninth grade, log in for as many as five hours of live Judaic studies each weekday, interacting via videoconference, text chat and by “writing” on the electronic classroom’s whiteboard. At any one time, participants can see five classmates and the teacher on their screens.
While they live in 36 different countries, Shluchim Online (the boys’ division is called the Lilian & Meyer Nigri School for Boys) students share a common background: all are the children of “shluchim,” the Jewish outreach emissaries that the Chabad-Lubavitch movement dispatches to virtually every corner of the globe.
Operated out of the movement’s Shluchim Office in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, but staffed by teachers all over the world, the school offers a Jewish education and social environment for the children of emissaries, many of them in remote locations that lack any Jewish day school, let alone a Chabad one.
“It’s really changed the ability of shluchim to do their jobs,” says Freundlich, a mother of six who runs a kosher restaurant and trilingual Montessori school, while also hosting Shabbat dinners for hundreds. “Before, a lot of home-schooling was going on, and it divided the couples’ time.”
The online school also has enabled shluchim kids to have a regular connection with Chabad peers.
“Ninety percent of our students are very isolated where they live,” explains Gitty Rosenfeld, Shluchim Online’s principal. “This is a huge social outlet for them: they get to see another Chani, another Sora, someone who lives like them.” continue...