Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community was hit particularly hard by the coronavirus crisis and Bais Rivkah teacher Alte Raskin was in the thick of it all — while caring for her newborn son.
Raskin, 27, a member of the Hasidic sect of Chabad, was expecting a lengthy maternity leave in an empty house with her three girls in school. But when she gave birth on March 18, just as the coronavirus crisis was beginning to sweep New York, she knew that wouldn’t be possible.
She took six short weeks off while another teacher taught her seventh-grade students and at first, she was nervous to get back to work.
“It’s a whole new thing, I just had a baby, I don’t have so much energy to put into trying to figure out a whole new module of learning and teaching,” Raskin said of the work.
“The first few days were totally overwhelming. I was like, ‘What am I doing? I maybe should just not go back this year. Maybe this is just not a good idea.’ I have kids, my kids are [doing] online school. They need people all day to troubleshoot them and run around. Plus, I’m postpartum, right, I’m exhausted I could barely move.”
Still, she wanted to be there for her students, and wanted to give it a real shot, and within a few days, she found herself welcoming online learning and the different ways it allowed her to connect with her students.
“I know that everything has a learning curve so like, I sort of knew I was short changing myself if I quit too early, like let me give it a real thorough try before I see,” Raskin said.
As a bible studies teacher, Raskin knew she had important lessons to teach, especially as many of her students lost parents or grandparents or struggled with family members in the hospital.
“If you don’t have faith during something like a pandemic, it’s absolutely frightening because the world’s turning on you, there’s no rhyme or reason,” Raskin said.
“You feel hopeless, and you feel confused.”
She implored her students to remember “that God has a plan” and they were all put on this earth to make it a “better place.”
One of Raskin’s students, 13-year-old Rosa Majerczyk — who’s family was also struck by the crisis — nominated her for The Post’s column.
“Under these difficult circumstances, she has to cook and take care of her three kids under the age of eight, plus a newborn,” the teen wrote to The Post.
“But the crazy thing is, only a few weeks later, she somehow found a quiet space and is teaching us on Zoom.”