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Aug 14, 2018

After 37 years, and tens of thousands of hours of teaching, Dr. Yaakov Fuchs has retired from Boys Town Jerusalem. As the longtime head of the school’s English Department, Dr. Fuchs personally drew up a finely-crafted curriculum for BTJ English studies which has enabled generations of students to excel in vocabulary, grammar and fluency. Yet the legendary English teacher readily admits, “I’ve never looked upon myself as being an English teacher. I’m an educator whose job is to build lives.” Born and raised in New York, Yaakov Fuchs worked across the United States as a Jewish educator and principal. He and his wife were passionate Zionists who carefully prepared for their aliyah immigration to Israel: he completed his BA, MA and doctorate (the latter in Educational Administration from UCLA) and she gained her degree and license in dentistry. By 1979, they arrived in Israel with their three sons to become one of the first settlers in the city of Efrat.

In 1981, Dr. Fuchs joined the Boys Town Jerusalem faculty where he was to teach 7th through 12th grades for nearly four decades to come. “I run into former students all over the country,” he says with a smile. “I had them when they were young, and now they’re family men – lawyers, IDF officers, rabbis, scientists. It’s heartwarming to think that I had a part in creating the future of Am Yisrael, the Jewish nation.” Dr. Fuch’s credo is straightforward: If you build a student’s faith in himself, you’ve changed his life. “I took my students seriously and did all I could to teach them professionally.”

The distinctive curriculum which Dr. Fuchs created for BTJ’s English Department emphasizes rote learning, vocabulary, and grammar, with many exams to force students to study. “Most students come with a very weak grasp of English comprehension and need to drill in vocabulary and grammar,” he notes. Ultimately, the majority of his students graduated with an excellent command of the language, an improved thinking process, and high scores on the all-important English bagrut matriculation exam.

“Dr. Fuchs taught me English from scratch,” states Orel Ofner, a senior, in fluent English. “He relates to each student by giving him the exact skills he needs to succeed. But he gave us much more than just English lessons – he shared his immense knowledge of life, and spoke to us about how to be better Jews, caring husbands, and committed IDF soldiers. I enjoyed every single lesson, and I’ll really miss his classes.”

The dedicated staff (such as Dr. Fuchs) and professionals at Boys Town Jerusalem, the unique three part curriculum - academic, technological and Torah, the serene, welcoming dormitory environment, the many diverse extracurricular activities and the healthy and delicious meals have worked together for 70 years to enable BTJ to fulfill its mission to turn young boys from limited backgrounds into young men with limitless futures.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.