By Sara Feigelson
There are numerous Maonot on the north side of Rehovot- Naamat runs one on Shai St., (near the Rabbanut), Eizorai Weizmann has its own, Wizo runs one on Pinsker St. (near the side gate of the Weizmann Inst.), Weizmann runs a Wizo-sponsored one for its employees’ kids, and Emunah runs a religious one between Meltzer and Miller Sts. (right near the Berman’s shul).
Some Maonot have a mimum age of 18 months, while others take children from 3 months. I am most familiar with Emunah, which was the “home-away-from-home, ” for 8 hrs. a day, for 2 former and one present child. First impressions aren’t great. There are over 15 (!) infants in the youngest class, and on average 35-38 kids (!) in the other 3 classes, at any given hour you can smell a few soiled diapers that haven’t been changed yet, and inevitably in the early morning you can hear a handful of cries, and see a dozen runny noses. That’s all true, and unfortunate. But let me tell you why, having tried out the metapelet and mishpachton route, even all financial factors aside, I choose to send my present child and would likely send any potential future children to Maon Emunah. In short, because the system works, the staff are excellent, and my children all love(d) it there. Yes, the staff are overworked and underpaid- but the amazing thing is that they are extremely HARDWORKING and extremely DEVOTED to the children. No doubt that I would tear all of my hair out after 1 hour on the job. But Maon Emunah has succeeded to find 3-4 staff members per class who are GREAT at what they do. They teach, they sing, they dance, they play and make art projects, they get even the youngest kids to sit quietly in a circle and participate in a variety of activities, they get through their “lesson plans” which include great shabbat and chagim enrichment, and the kids have well supervised indoor and outdoor play.
My children all (eventually) jump(ed) out of my arms in the morning, eager to see their friends and metaplot and join the fun. And here are some of the best hidden advantages- the cook cooks, someone else answers the phone, there is no tv, there are no “other household chores” to do and there is NO room for any caretaker to sit top and relax and neglect the children. Can’t happen and never will- simply because there are 2-3 other adults in the room and many more in eye-sight inside and outside in the yard. You can’t sleep on the job because everyone else is watching you! So lucky for the caretakers, there are other adults to talk to and lucky for us, there is a built-in quality check. And in my mind, not matter how excellent the metapelet or how excellent the mishpachton caregiver, and for that matter, no matter how excellent and devoted the PARENT,- there is no other setting for your child in which there are 3-4 caregivers who have NOTHING else to do except take care of him/her!
Cost for all of the above “public” Maonot is set by the govt. (approx. 1,800 shekels for infants under a year old, 1,500 shekels for children 1-4) plus Emunah (and I believe all Maonot) offers 2 additional weekly chugim (music and nature) for an additional approx. 50 shekels/month/chug.