Letter: Teacher Chanukah Gifts

Good morning everyone,

I appreciate this forum to put forth ideas or concerns that affect the general public.

My question is about the wisdom behind the “class-chip-in chanuka gift for the teacher/morah”.

I taught for many years in an out-of-town community. When Chanuka came, us teachers got a gift from approximately 30% of the parents. The gifts were either a nick-nack or a check. The checks varied in size from $10-$50 (class size were <20 students).

But it wasn’t the money or mug that was important, it was the hand-written note that accompanied it that was. The acknowledgment from the parent that I had an impact on their child, or that they noticed the times I re-taught the material to them during lunch. Or the way I graded a test with a huge curve or called them when they were sick. I still have every one of those cards, they give me chizuk when I get my teeny-weeny paycheck.

An added benefit was that I always got a kick out of seeing which parents were givers and which weren’t.

BUT now here in Lakewood when we get a call from the class mother to send in $15 to be pooled together and shared with the assistant teacher, the morah really doesn’t get that much (possibly less than she would have gotten from a handful of generous individuals).

More importantly she loses all those priceless letters of appreciation!

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There are 18 Comments to "Letter: Teacher Chanukah Gifts"

  • mayo says:

    totally agree!! we send in the class collection which strips all the personalization from the gift, and we just send a card along with the 4$ bowl from the dollar store. as a teacher myself the cards are beautiful!! please parents take two minutes to write a few words of thanks to your teachers of your children.

  • justme says:

    I am a playgroup Morah. I usually look forward to Chanuka to get those cards that mean so much, and greatly appreciate the gifts and tips, and what they mean.
    One year a well-meaning parent asked all parents to chip in $10 each. I ended up with a total of $120 in cash, with a cute poem, instead of the usual $150-$250 I usually get along with a number of gifts and really nice cards.
    I know she meant well, but I was really greatly dissappointed.
    I always put so much love and energy into the children, and Chanuka gifts and tips really shows such appreciation from the parents!

  • Grammar, grammar says:

    “When Chanuka came, us teachers got a gift….”

    I find it inexcusable when anyone, especially a teacher, writes without proper grammar. The correct usage is “we, teachers”, since “teachers” are the subject (we), and not the object (us).

  • Anon says:

    Like you said, you get to see who is a giver and who isn’t. And it might, even subconsciously, affect your teaching. You don’t know why some aren’t giving, if they don’t have, or even if they have too much on their plate right now and can’t even write a note. We can’t judge. But in the name of fairness to all kids, this is the best way to do it.

  • This is getting ridiculous says:

    Each year I read letters like this, from teachers and rebbeim, and wives and I wonder, why is it okay for this to be discussed each year?

    When my kids get a gift, I tell them, ‘you say thank you because no one owes you anything, whether you like it or not and move on’. It is socially off and frankly, terrible middos, if they started saying how they wanted something else, or maybe it should have been wrapped differently etc.

    This is whether they are such a good grandchild and helped their grandparents all the time or babysat a sibling a lot (similar to people who think we owe money to rebbeim bec despite thousands of dollars of tuition, they go above and beyond).

    A generous parent (like myself) will give to those they want to to give to whether there is a collection or not. And some wont give anyway. The ones who write letters, still will, some still, will not.

    Same with Purim. No one owes you a fancy MM, no one owes you a check v. no check. Many people cant afford to give more or dont want to and it isn’t your RIGHT to get anything. I also dont think the many varying opinions we get from those who like this v. that, end up changing anyone’s mind.

    All it does, is makes someone like me, who spend almost $1000 on Chanukah gifts this year, think, why am I doing this? Do these teachers think that I OWE this to them? Do they not realize that its an extra, a gift, and that they should appreciate it regardless of the size or the note that comes with it?

    Why is this ok?

  • shorty says:

    I agree with letter writer that the hand written notes that the parents put a lot of thought into are greatly appreciated. With that being said many people can not afford to send more than $ 5-10 dollars per teacher especially since many people have multiple children. Maybe an idea would be to ask each parent to write a card that could be sent in together with class gift.

  • Me says:

    My daughters school only asks for $4 for each teacher so we send in a separate gift and card too.

  • Esther says:

    No one is stopping you from sending in a note either way. I participated in the class collection last year and wrote in the note that although my chanukah gift was part of the class collection I wanted to personally thank the teacher for…

  • Mobile says:

    i couldn’t agree more. However, unfortunately, if this was not done, many people would not send at all, either because they can’t afford too much (a mistake, as you pointed out, as the letters are so important) or because they just don’t care enough/are too overwhelmed (the latter generally being an excuse for the former). I, personally chip in, so as not too be a standout and send a small gift, with a letter.

  • Nuts!! says:

    Can we stop all these silly articles

    Every parent will decide weather to give as a group or on their own

    I live out of town and every year A letter is sent home – that we should not give as a group As if we are obligated to give a gift in the first place.

    Hakoras Hatov – YEs – but how can u demand it!!

  • Grow up says:

    I agree 100% with the person that wrote ‘this is ridiculous’.
    Morah’s should NOT expect gifts!! No one should expect gifts and when you get one just be grateful with what you get and even if your not grateful which is ok then don’t publicize it, grow up!
    Yes I am a Morah and it’s fun and nice getting gifts! But no I don’t look at the parents who didn’t give me a gift differently and get annoyed when I get my 5th registry gift card that never ends up getting used…
    I agree it’s nice to send a personal note to morah’s like I do along with a small gift even though I chipped in with the class…
    But why do people feel it’s okay to vent your issues and what’s bothering you to the public?! Be dignified like a true bas melech!!!

    • mayo says:

      wow, rough day?? the letter writer is not expecting anything or asking for anything. the letter writer has no attitude of “you owe me”. all she is asking is why the system went to the class collections when there was a beautiful system in place. she doesnt care about the amount of the checks or the dollars, she specifically said she misses the personalization and the kind words. i dont want to attack you but your words are so full of attitude. just read the letter again and lets go back to the pre quickpay chanukah giving. and relax….

  • Hakaros hatov says:

    I write a letter chanuka, to the teachers who don’t get a gift from the class, so I give my own. Then purim comes around, and my thoughts are usually the same about this teacher purim time as it was chanuka time. So I write a note expressing my thanks for a, b, and c. Each purim, as I write my note, I think that it is probably quite similar to chanukas note. The teachers can wait till purim to get it. And ps, I give more purim time if I chipped in with class chanuka time, as the teacher then got less money from me chanuka time. So at least from me, personally, the teachers aren’t losing out chanuka time, with either the amount of money, or with the letter of gratitude.

  • Not understanding the comments says:

    She’s just writing on how she’s missing all those cute notes she used to get, thats all! Why are you guys storming the place up about gifts? She’s just missing the notes. It bothers you that she misses all the notes, move on!

  • Bye Bye Dubai says:

    Interesting letter.
    Interesting posts and comments.
    Basically, everyone is right. The fact is, rightly or not, the vast majority of parents give a gift Chanukah &/or Purim time, so, over the years, it BECAME expected. But I’ve from Rebbes and Morris alike, they save those letters and cards forever.
    This should also shine a light on another line of the article, “my teeny-weeny paycheck”. I’ve spoken about this at several Torah U’Mesorah conventions. We are not providing our K’lei Kodesh with a living wage – and that is a travesty.
    Give gifts, guys !! Give and give until it HURTS !!

  • M. says:

    I’m a teacher myself plus a mother of a few children and I know both sides and I can say I prefer a nice a little note or what not then a gift. Once in a while I read them, it really gives me the kuach to keep doing what I love. It’s the appreciation aka words that counts in my eyes not the persay the gift like people said no one owes anyone anything. I don’t mind if a parent collected in a group or not what I do like doing is always buying a nice Judaica gift for myself to always remember them and daven for them. But I don’t look at any parent differently if they don’t give or write anything, people have all different reason why they don’t give or don’t write a note. for example…it might be hard for them financially specially when they have a few children, their not good at writing etc. But I do understand the person who wrote this article that she misses the letter. A lot of morahs and rabbes give their heart and soul to their students, a nice thank you goes a long way . Hatzlach to everyone and have a frailachem Chanukah and safe Chanukah 🙂

  • M says:

    I work in a non-Jewish school, and love getting the few gifts and cards I get each year. Even though I cannot use 95% of them because they’re not kosher or holiday-themed…its always nice to feel recognized and appreciated! Regardless of whether you actually benefit from the expression of thanks.

  • Anonymous says:

    “An added benefit was that I always got a kick out of seeing which parents were givers and which parents weren’t.”

    Seriously? That’s the WHOLE POINT of the class gift, that some kids shouldn’t be favored over others due to their parents’ financial situation. I’m thankful that my kids’ school has the class gift system in place and that I don’t have to worry about the teachers “getting a kick” over whether or not I can afford top dollar.