Letter: In-Service Day – When Will it End?


I, like many others in Lakewood, learned for several years in Kollel before entering the workforce in order to support my growing family. During my years in Kollel, my wife worked hard to support me in learning, and I understood that in order for that to happen, certain sacrifices to my Sidrei Limmud were inevitable. My wife couldn’t take off from work for every child’s doctor’s visit, so I happily filled that role. I often had to come late to Seder and leave early to do dropoffs and pickups, but I understood that there wasn’t much of a choice. I had to leave early on fast days, and stay home on vacation days, but I had no better option. I couldn’t change the schedule, and knew our devoted Mechanchim and Mechanchos deserve breaks as well, not to mention the chance for our children to recharge their batteries. The school year didn’t begin until a while after camp, and as frustrating as it was, especially when the beginning of Elul Zman coincided with the children’s extended summer vacation and my learning would inevitably suffer as a result, I knew I had no choice. Sacrifices were inevitable in order to remain among the ranks of our cherished Adirei Hatorah.

And then, after several years of learning and a growing family and its additional expenses, I joined the workforce. With two working parents, the dynamics changed. The doctor’s visits and other responsibilities would mostly need to be filled by my wife, with my attempting to help whenever possible, but considering the fact we would be thrown off of many programs which helped me remain in Kollel in the first place, we couldn’t afford to take off so much time from work. Hours would need to be made up at nights and weekends, often at the expense of the family, in order to make ends meet. But we understood that certain situations, such as our children’s health and wellbeing, called for it.

That said, the amount of vacation the children had throughout the year and summer, was very high, and caused us much distress in terms of lost hours, arrangements to be made, and added expenses, whether in terms of activities for the children to be kept busy while we attempted to balance work, or the need to find a “camp after camp” and other venues. I always had the highest regard for our dedicated Mechanchim and Mechanchos, and understood their need to recharge their batteries, even if I personally felt the amount given was a bit over the top, since I knew I wasn’t in their position and could only extrapolate from my own situation, which didn’t necessitate late night phone calls and worksheets and all the other work our teachers do outside “working hours”.

There was another angle which bothered me as well, and that was the babysitting and playgroup schedules. For the most part, they were centered around “school schedules”, which frustrating as it was at times, made sense since the babysitters and morahs had their own children to care for on vacation days, and couldn’t be expected to balance caring for their own children as well as their group. Once again, it’s hard for working parents like us to understand the dynamics, since we would be expected to work and care at the same time, but that is the career we (and they) chose, and if it was a choice between our children receiving less attention at babysitting/playgroup or receiving whatever we could offer at home, the latter would prevail. What I couldn’t understand was morahs and babysitters who had no children in school, either because they were too young or old, or because they didn’t have children at all, taking off on all those vacation and in-between school and camp days. There was no reason they couldn’t give our children the full attention they deserved (and we were paying quite nicely for) on those days. I understand the need for a schedule, and the need for those morahs too to recharge, but that many days off? Something didn’t seem right, but that was the situation and there wasn’t much to be done about it.

But what I can’t understand, no matter how much I try, is this invention (I say invention since I don’t think it existed when I was a child) called “in-service day”. Yes, there are businesses that have meetings where employees are expected to attend meetings aimed at strengthening the strategic apparatus of the company, even at the expense of their daily work. Yes, Mosdos need to have meetings with their employees aimed at strengthening the modus operandi of the Chinich system in the school as we evolve into an ever-changing world with ever-increasing changes to the status quo. I get that, and in fact, support it. I think everyone gains from them. But why does it have to be during school hours? Why does it have to be at the expense of Adirei Hatorah who wish to learn uninterrupted, or Kollel wives who make the ultimate sacrifice for their husbands’ learning? Why does it have to be at the expense of parents who are trying so hard to make ends meet and pay their bills (including tuition to those same institutions!)? There’s a ripple effect as well. Babysitters and playgroup morahs will take off that day as well, including those who have no children at home they need to watch, causing parents much distress once again. This year, there are many schools which have an “in-service day” on Thanksgiving. In other words, working parents who have the day off from work will spend it watching their children instead of spending the day learning, spending quality time with their spouses, or just taking a much-needed rest. Forgive me, but when will this insanity end? When will our schools, and by extension, babysitters and morahs, have a schedule which at least attempts to take parents’ schedules into account?


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  1. I don’t know of a single playgroup that gives off on in service day.
    A 8th grader is perfectly capable of watching kids primary age and above. Find a 8th grader in your school willing to baby-sit.
    I do understand and agree that in service days are annoying to parents!

  2. While I feel for you and understand, I am happy at least that in service day for my daughter is when there won’t be bussing and therefore I don’t have to spend hours in traffic, thereby still having to take off from work.

  3. Congratulations on succeeding in your learning, and for hanging in there, but it sounds like the biggest challenge you and your family are facing is not the in-service day. It is the reality that all working families face, and we feel for you. The solution is really to go back to the traditional in a way that many kolel families have B’H not experienced. A home in which the father earns the salary and the mother manages the home. This is the only way that it works and the only lens through which it makes sense. You will need to dedicate even more of time (which you don’t have, none of us did) to qualify for a career in which one salary is enough for your wife to be your partner. Early in my own marriage, after kolel, we decided that my wife would work in the home. I spent often 90 hours in the office each week, and even more time studying and I can tell you this – you parnassa is decided at Rosh Hashanah. That same parnassa will come to you whether you are working, your wife is working, or both of you are working. Hashem should bentch you that you can support your family on your salary immediately, and that your wife should happily return to the place the K”BH intended – in your home, raising your family.

  4. Was waiting for someone to say something. Thank you!! In the out of town community we live in they have in service day twice a year and also only have half day on PTA days. They do not combine it with any holiday off day which I think should at least be better than having a random day and half off TWICE a year! And of course the babysitter who doesn’t have any children at home also takes off that day and a half.

  5. Pro-tip: America is a capitalist country. Create a playgroup/Daycare/etc that works with parents needs, provides a service parents are happy with at a price parents can afford & you as well can turn a profit & you’ll prosper.

    • I run a babysitting group and only take off 1 week in the summer and 2 Fridays during the school year. When schools are off for Chanukah and mid winter break I am open. Many times depending when Yom Tov falls out I will be open a half a day of erev Yom Tov. I am in business to accommodate the parents who send to me.

  6. I’m in my 30s and we had in service day when I was in elementary school, 2 decades ago. So I wouldn’t say it’s a new invention.

    I think it’s incredible that the schools do it on Thanksgiving, a day when there is no bussing anyway. If not for in service day our roads would be gridlocked and parents would be ferrying the kids to and from school all day. I find it easier to get work done while the kids are home rather than sitting in Lakewood traffic.

    • Except 20 years ago, you were not considered poor if you are only making $150,000 grand a year . If unfortunately these days most parents work full time. It’s very difficult. Have compassion.
      Signed, a employee who doesn’t get off on thanksgiving or any other legal holiday, who works on erecting yom tov and chol homoade.

  7. And how about the playgroup morah/ babysitter “wanting to spend quality time with their spouse or just a well needed rest”? Are morahs not human too?Why in heavens name do you deserve this day off more than them? It’s one thing if you both don’t have off- valid complaint. But to say that you want vacation that day but she can’t have vacation that day? That’s just selfish. The same way you want to enjoy the day off (not to mention not wanting to watch your own kids…) the morahs want a day off as well. Simple as that.

    • Because we pay for her services that day (most babysitters charge a monthly fee and dont lessen it when they take off half the month for Y”T etc.), so unless there is a good reason to take off, she should not be taking off.

      • Because your boss is paying you too for this day off. Most employers pay monthly salaries as well and you still get the day off. Right? Everything an employee gets can be reflected to a morah too.

      • Ummm Hi! do you complain when your school charges the same amount for tuition for all 10 months? Or when they charged full tuition during Covid when they got all their payrolls covered? The amount charged is divided between 10 months. If you rather pay double on full months and half in Oct/April I don’t think the morahs would mind if you put in that request. Just do me a favor and think it over….

      • This is what I wish people would understand. The price of playgroup is a set price for the year. To make it easier and more workable for parents morahs split it up into 10 parts. No you don’t get a discount for chodesh Nissan and you signed a contract that hopefully had a calendar attached to it so they are not springing anything on you. While I get that it’s super annoying I dont think anyone is doing anything wrong here.

  8. Most schools that do have an in-service day on Thanksgiving actually do it strategically. They are very poorly situated for the flow of traffic that would result from the lack of mandated bussing. The backlog of cars from parents picking up their children can take upward of 2 hours to clear. I say this as a parent of children in schools that are better situated, with large parking lots and I have gotten stuck for close to 2 hours at times when there is a mass dismissal. Unfortunately, since bussing is not mandated on Thanksgiving afternoon, the drivers actually don’t have to work and the companies are not physically capable of transporting all private school students. The resulting traffic mess- which has gotten exponentially worse over the past several years- is a large part of the reasoning behind this in-service day. To clarify, I am not a school employee. Simply someone who has spoken with school administrators to inquire why they do plan it this way.

  9. Your letter screams entitlement – I will bear it with frustration that people don’t work everything around me. It is for parents like you that mechanchim must have in-service days, because the lack of parenting requires much more expertise than it did in the days when parents understood that they were responsible for their kids and not that the schools are there to babysit them.

    • Wow. He is CLEARLY just a person struggling to make ends meet.

      He wrote very eloquently, calmy and respectfully.

      Based off of that i would assume that he is – at a minimum – a typical parent.

      You however, sound like entirely different.

      • Frankly, I found it quite disrespectful and shocking that someone could go on a public forum like that and air his entitlement. I deal with EXACTLY the same issues as he does, yet don’t expect everyone else to dance around me. I have tremendous respect for the schools that my children attend and there are many things that they do that inconvenience me. Yes, he wrote calmly, but letters like that are damaging. (Although you are right, I probably could have written my letter more diplomatically.)

  10. There is no transportation on Thanksgiving. This is why they do in service day on Thanksgiving. The traffic wasn’t possible so they do it then instead of a regular day. The days off you should be working on is the summer. Do something to help that. As far as playgroup and babysitter if we all started sending t9 legal daycare this would end. We need to stop sending to private Morahs.

  11. Thanksgiving is one of the legal holidays where there is no public transportation. I don’t know if you went through the years of driving carpool to all the schools (boys and girls elementary; the Cheder used to have multiple locations, Bais Faiga still does, high schools, yeshivos…). You sat in the car for ages. The streets were backed up from all the cars lining up to do pick ups. It wasn’t sustainable. The schools are using these days, when there is no public transportation, as in service days. At least the kids are not off Thanksgiving and again for in service. I think the schools are making the best of a situation that is difficult. Trust those of us who had to do multiple pick ups and drop off ice the years for each legal holiday, it wasn’t easy.

    • While it’s a legit issue, the traffic, at least some parents are off from work. When you do it on other days, parents have to take off from work, lose pay. Do the schools deduct from tuition when parents lose work due to schools having dumb days.

  12. I am sorry. These are your children. They belong to you. You chose to have whatever number of children. You can’t expect others to care for them.

  13. I understand your concerns and agree with most of what you say, I just wanted to say that I have k”ah 6 children, have sent to 3 schools and many different playgroups and have never once had an “in service day.” I don’t think this is a wide spread thing.

  14. It’s been a number of years since I was in school. But I remember that we would start late and end early (like 10-2) on legal holidays because of the lack of bussing. So parents would spend 2 hours dropping off their kids in the morning because of all the traffic, get to work at 11 and have to leave by 1:30 to spend another 2 hours in the car. I think in-service day is a great way to take advantage of Thanksgiving, when parents will anyway only be working a couple of hours. (not to mention the parents who have off on legal holidays)

  15. One small step that will make a big difference. Find a boss who really cares and will help u not lose the programs,,most of your lachatz is coming from being tight

    • I seriously find these letters such a chilul Hashem. Many of you seem to complain about schools/tuitions/schedules/budgets etc….im not sure why you (and not just you but many frum ppl) feel so entitled to publicly complain about your kids being off for a national holiday regardless of finances. Im also really not sure if you’re complaining you’re going to be losing work because your kids are off and need to stay home or complaning that your kids are off and losing your personal day of rest and spending quality time with your wife and a sefer. Yes we are all financially struggling and juggling multiple kids and schedules etc. But You never hear non jews complain about it though. People just deal with it. Regardless of which way your coming from take advantage of spending time with your kids and remember the parents in Israel who cant.

  16. Bais Faiga did not put in service day on the calendar as they didn’t want all playgroups copying them and taking the freebie day off! Which in service meetings are playgroup/babysitting Morahs attending anyway? In whatever job we do it’s a lot easier to make arrangements for a 5-year-old kid than a toddler or baby. What irks me the most is when playgroups take advantage, and milk out every vacation day possible, such as orientation day, while charging top dollar. They will be off in 2 weeks for Chanukah vacation, do they also have to take off for an in-service day that wasn’t on the calendar and has nothing to do with them? I have sent to some babysitters/playgroup teachers that were extra dedicated and had said they may take off an extra day before Pesach and didn’t. In my job I try to be devoted and go the extra mile, but it seems like I might be in the minority.

    • You seem to not realize that morahs have a private life as well. If they have their 6 children home with them do you really think they’re able to preform the way they would like to? Are they not entitled to be a mommy for their children on the days their own children have off? If a school schedule doesn’t work for you, then go find yourself a daycare and pay those prices. Enough of this complaining against playgroup morahs that have the most physical draining job and the most harassment!

  17. Just like we in offices all figure it out, they can also.
    If they have a 5-year-old kid home with them, it will be hard, but I think they can manage for a day. What do they do when their child is sick?
    What about Morah’s that don’t have any kids at home?

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