Incorporating Morim Shlichim Into Day Schools: A Framework for Success

Baked into the DNA of Jewish day schools is an unwavering commitment to Eretz Yisrael. Through education, advocacy and action, we educators strive to foster in our students a lifelong connection to, and passion for, the State of Israel. An essential component of actualizing Zionism is the presence of Israeli teachers who infuse the classrooms, landscape and soundscape of a school with Hebrew language, Israeli history and current events, and Israeli culture. In a post–October 7 world in which Israel’s mere right to exist and defend herself is questioned by many across the globe, promoting this strong connection to Israel in our schools has never been more important.

Like most day schools, Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit has employed Israeli teachers and staff throughout our 66-year history. These talented and committed individuals have enriched our school in beautiful and countless ways. With the current, and likely ongoing, dearth of individuals who wish to teach in Jewish day schools, finding Hebrew and Judaic studies teachers has become a significant challenge. One solution to this problem is hiring morim shlichim—selected, authentic Israeli teachers who teach in Jewish day schools around the world to foster a rich educational environment that aligns with a school’s mission and values. 

As we began preparing for the 2023–24 year over one year ago, we investigated hiring morim shlichim—the first time for us personally—to fill two Hebrew/Judaic studies vacancies in our elementary division. After months of interviews, Zoom meetings and paperwork, we happily hired a lovely married couple, who have committed to teach at Hillel for three years. While successful in the end, our process of hiring and enculturating our morim shlichim was far from smooth and fraught with challenges. We constantly found ourselves saying, “I wish we had known to (fill in the blank).” 

Here, we offer a roadmap of key strategies for success in various facets of the morim shlichim experience, including preparation, hiring, transition, early integration into the community and long-term success. By implementing a comprehensive and more systematized approach, Jewish day schools can maximize the potential of morim shlichim, ensuring a positive impact on both students and the broader school community.


Preparation: Carefully Consider Finances

Perhaps our greatest lesson learned lies in careful financial preparation that we wished we had done prior to starting the process. From our experience, in addition to salary, a school must consider the following financial aspects in advance to determine if hiring morim shlichim is possible within a school’s budget.

Housing. We recommend securing housing in advance, whether a house or an apartment. Consider that a school likely will also need to furnish the house. 

Transportation. It is probable that morim shlichim who are new to the United States will need a local driver’s license. The school will also likely need to help find, and perhaps finance, a car in addition to car insurance. Schools should be prepared that acquiring a driver’s license and approval for financing a car takes time. It is important to plan how to support them in both the application process and in providing for transportation in the interim. 

Tuition assistance at other Jewish day schools. If morim shlichim have children that fall outside the range of your school, consider whether you have funds to provide tuition assistance for those children to attend other schools in your local area.

We found that a clear articulation in the hiring contract of the financial support a school will provide, and not provide, to morim shlichim will ensure a smooth interview and hiring process.





Selecting the right morim shlichim is foundational to their success in any Jewish day school. The hiring process should prioritize individuals with a strong educational background and a deep understanding and commitment to Jewish values that align with your school’s mission, philosophy and practice. 

To ensure a seamless fit, schools may consider incorporating multiple rounds of interviews, including those with current Israeli staff and administrators. At Hillel, we found it indispensable to connect potential candidates with some of our current Israeli teachers to provide the shlichim an opportunity to understand Hillel’s culture and the differences between teaching in Israel and the United States.


The First Few Weeks: The Details Matter

We found it critical to carefully plan the first few weeks to ensure that basic necessities are taken care of.  For example, a school should be prepared to:

  • Assign a staff member to meet the morim shlichim at the airport upon arrival and transport them to their house/apartment.
  • Stock the pantry and fridge in the house/apartment ahead of time or assist with grocery shopping.
  • Accompany the morim shlichim to the bank, Department of Motor Vehicles and other local government offices in the first few days.
  • Arrange for family or staff to provide a tour of the local area to highlight local businesses and attractions to help them get settled.
  • Arrange a host person or family to connect with the shlichim and assist in acclimation (host for Shabbat and holiday meals, and connect with them for weekend activities). The High Holidays come quickly at the beginning of the school year, and it is important that they have synagogue membership as well as holiday hospitality. 
  • Have an administrator connect with the shlichim to tour the school and settle in well in advance of the start of the school year.

From our experience, these details took more time than originally anticipated but were highly important to minimize the stress and impact of an international relocation. 



Once the school year begins, the successful integration of morim shlichim begins with a thoughtful transition plan. Students and parents in American Jewish day schools require a greater level of attention, communication and awareness of individual student needs than in Israeli schools. 

A day school must provide a comprehensive orientation and ongoing training that familiarize morim shlichim with the school’s mission, values and educational philosophy. If the morim shlichim are teaching Hebrew, training in best practices in second language acquisition is essential. It is also important to communicate discipline policies clearly. Lastly, detailed overviews of the local community, its Jewish institutions, and cultural nuances should be included to facilitate a smoother transition.

Pairing morim shlichim with mentors or veteran teachers can further ease their entry into the school community. These mentors can guide them through the school’s curriculum, policies and daily operations, fostering a sense of belonging and support.


Early Integration into the Community

Early integration into the local Jewish and Israeli communities is crucial for morim shlichim to feel connected and for students to benefit from their shlichut. Jewish day schools should actively engage morim shlichim in community events, Shabbat celebrations and other cultural activities. 

Plan to connect your new morim shlichim with other Israelis in your community right from the start—before they arrive in the United States. This not only helps them build relationships with students, parents and colleagues but also contributes to a vibrant Jewish atmosphere within the school. 

Establishing partnerships with local synagogues, community centers and other Jewish organizations can provide morim shlichim with additional opportunities to engage in the broader Jewish community. These partnerships can be mutually beneficial, fostering collaboration and support for shared educational goals.




Long-term Success

Although the first few months require the largest investment of time and resources when introducing a shaliach/shlichah into a day school, long-term success necessitates ongoing mentoring and support. It is critical that the shlichim have regular weekly meetings with both a mentor and supervisor to help them with acclimation to general school culture and specific day-to-day policies. 

There are cultural differences when dealing with colleagues, parents and students, and providing them with ample opportunities to ask questions and receive nonjudgmental support is key to their long-term success. During weekly meetings, it was helpful to continually review upcoming school and community events to set expectations. One critical area to support the shlichim is with communication with parents for parent-teacher conferences and report cards. 

In addition to supporting the shlichim in the daily school activities, it is equally as critical to use the weekly meetings to support the shlichim with the emotional challenges of adjusting to a new country and culture. The emotional toll of having family back in Israel in a post–October 7 world was almost too much for our shlichim to bear. Our entire school community rallied around our new shlichim immediately after October 7 with unconditional support and love. 

While we pray that such a tragedy never befalls Israel and the Jewish people again, our advice is to prepare for the unexpected. Weekly communication with the shlichim even during weeks when it may feel like there is less to discuss keeps these lines of communication open, strengthens the connection between the shlichim and community, and is vital to their success in the school. 

Finally, attention to the small details helps the shlichim feel appreciated and acknowledged as members of the community. Celebrating birthdays, sending flowers for Shabbat or having local clergy or other members of the community call to check in on them go a long way in helping the shlichim to feel at home in the community.  

Although the strategic deployment of morim shlichim in a Jewish day school requires a tremendous amount of work, never once did we question if it was all worth it. We could not be more thrilled with our two morim shlichim, who have quickly added a richness to our school’s classrooms and culture unlike any other approach. 

As embodiments and representatives of contemporary Israel, our morim shlichim play a pivotal part in fostering a personal connection between students and the Jewish State, thereby helping to actualize the value of Zionism. By following a comprehensive and thoughtful approach, morim shlichim will provide one solution to the teacher pipeline problem while simultaneously deepening our schools’ connection to Israel.

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