The Yeshiva of Central Queens announced that Rabbi Joshua Rohr will join the YCQ Administration as Assistant Principal of Judaic Studies for the Elementary School, effective July 1. The Search Committee, Board of Education, and Board of Trustees commended his 14 years of dedication, energy, and passion for maintaining high standards of academic excellence at YCQ, and his warm relationships with the entire school community.
QJL: Please tell us about your career trajectory.
Rabbi Rohr: My career trajectory has been steady. I entered the field of Jewish education 15 years ago with hopes of being able to influence and inspire as many students as possible. Baruch Hashem, I think I’ve been successful. As the years went on, I was able to teach more students per day, and handle more responsibilities. Administration has always been a goal, because it presents the biggest opportunity for influence. As an administrator, you’re not only dealing with students, but with teachers, families, and co-workers.
Who are your mentors, people you’d like to thank, and why?
I thank Hashem. I know that He has been guiding me on this path from the beginning, and all my success has been because of Him. Baruch Hashem, I have also been fortunate to have many mentors and people who helped me along the way. Since I was a student of Rabbi Landsman from his teaching days at HAFTR, he has taken a keen interest in my professional growth – encouraging me from my first day on the job until today. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from the Assistant Principals I have worked for: Rabbi Sadigh, Rabbi Eisenberg, and Rabbi Ribalt. I have also been blessed to have wonderful relationships with the two General Studies Assistant Principals who have been at YCQ during my time: Mr. Larry Cohen a”h, and Mrs. Melissa Cohen (not related). My colleagues have been very supportive, and I have learned so much from each of them. I thank the hundreds of students I have had the z’chus of teaching throughout the years. If not for them, I wouldn’t be here. I would not have been successful without the unwavering encouragement of my wife, Jessica. She has lifted me up during moments when I was down and kept me grounded when I’ve started to float. I have been able to dedicate time, energy, and passion to my work, due to her ability to handle so many of the responsibilities at home. My children – Adina, Akiva, Ahron, Tani, and Nahva – are my biggest fans. My parents and in-laws have been significantly enthusiastic. I am grateful to them all.
What is your favorite part of creating Judaic curriculum?
My favorite part is considering the impact it is going to have on the students. I approach curriculum development with the mindset that, while we are focusing on educating students and providing them with the skills, values, and knowledge to live Torah lives, we are also planting seeds that will carry on through future generations. It is Hashem’s Torah that we are trying to teach, and curriculum needs to be developed so that students not only learn what they need to learn, but also “buy into the system.” The challenge and creativity of developing curriculum is also fun and motivating.
When and why did you decide to become a Judaic educator?
It was some time during my first year in Israel after high school. I don’t remember any seminal moment, but I do remember thinking that I am going into chinuch, and there was nothing that was going to change my mind. I think my motivation was based on a realization I had around that time, that my high school experiences could have been so different had I been taught differently. My rebbeim and teachers were great, but I never felt inspired. I decided that I wanted to go back and inspire the students in a way that I was not.
Where have you found inspiration throughout your own education?
I find inspiration everywhere. Whether it’s in my own personal Torah learning, reading about inspiring rabbis and teachers, or talking with other people, I believe that someone looking for inspiration can find it in anything. I have also learned from, and been motivated by, the works of Brene Brown and Adam Grant.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
I’m looking forward to developing new relationships, helping people grow into better versions of themselves, and moving YCQ into an even better place. I am also excited for my own growth. New challenges bring new opportunities, and I hope that this new opportunity will help me grow and become a better person.
Knicks, Nets, or YU Maccabees?
That’s a tough one! I grew up a disappointed Knicks fan in the ’90s, my sons are now Nets fans, we all got on the Macs bandwagon this past winter, but my heart is now with the YCQ Wildcats.
Which parshah speaks to you as an educational administrator?
I believe that the Torah speaks to every human experience, and one can find guidance, inspiration, and motivation in any parshah with the proper analysis. The story of Yosef has always resonated with me. His innate sense of leadership, resilience, and unwavering hope are characteristics that are necessary for any leader. He had the vision and foresight to intuit the needs of others and save the world, coupled with the humility to acknowledge that all his successes were due to Hashem’s help. Vision, foresight, intuition, and humility are all traits that good leaders have, and that I hope to cultivate in myself.