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Issue 149- Rolling out the Welcome Mat
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
This article orignally appeared in Mishpacha Magazine

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3/6/07

“We are faced with a critical problem, one that we must address as a society. There is a spiritual underclass that exists in our community – dropout teens. … These are children that mechanchim (educators), parents – indeed society as a whole – has failed to reach. In the greater New York area there are hundreds of boys ages 16 and above who are in no yeshiva setting at all. We bump into them at the mall, and we catch sight of them through the plate glass window of the pool hall. And their numbers are growing. Rapidly.”

These lines are excerpted from the first article (click here for full text) that I published on the topic of at-risk teens "An Ounce of Prevention" which appeared in The Jewish Observer, May 1996. The overriding theme of that four-thousand-word essay was that the rapidly elevated bar-to-entry at high schools was inadvertently causing significant numbers of our beloved sons and daughters to feel alienated from – and often rejected by – our school system. Here are more excerpts:

“As we ratchet up the tension level and raise the bar to encourage them to hurdle to greater heights, many of these children crash into the bar time and time again. Broken-hearted and discouraged, they simply stop trying and seek fulfillment elsewhere.

The haunting story of Elisha Ben Avuyah –Acher comes to mind. After he had sinned, he heard a heavenly voice, which informed him that all were welcome to repent except for him. He replied, “Since the option of teshuva is not available to me, I will at least derive pleasure from this world,” and he r’l returned to his path of transgression.

These sensitive young men are misreading our well-intentioned messages to them. They are not hearing our calls to improve, they misconstrue the pleas of their parents to better their lives and enrich their futures. All that keeps reverberating in their ears is the never-ending shout of voices that pierce their hearts: “We don’t want you in our classroom, in our yeshiva, in our mesivta, in our home . . .”

Judging the placement of the proverbial bar to entry in mesivta high schools is an inexact science at best. However, I would estimate that it is currently twice as high as it was when I penned those lines and many multiples of what it was when I started teaching eighth grade twenty-five years ago. (Click here for links to earlier articles in this series #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5).

When I applied to high school in 1972, the welcome mat was out for virtually any talmid who wished to come. I know that to be a fact because I was accepted to the first and only school I applied to – and I was a very restless young man with a history of poor behavior. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really start learning until eleventh grade. But I was given a gift that many of today’s kids are denied. Time. Time to improve. Time to develop a love for learning. Time to work out whatever barriers there were to my success. Time to begin realizing my potential. Thirty-five years has a way softening the edges of difficult school experiences, but I honestly cannot recall any of my friends not getting into their high school of choice.

When you think about it, my generation, children of Holocaust-surviving parents, were given another gift – unequivocal acceptance from organized Judaism. We were all unconditionally welcomed in our schools and shuls. Our fathers and mothers didn’t go to parenting classes and the vast majority of our educators didn’t participate in professional development seminars. But there was a clear message that every Jewish soul was precious and treasured.

Everywhere I go, people ask me why the ‘at-risk teen’ crisis didn’t seem to exist thirty years ago. In the past, I’ve offered a number of diverse theories to explain this phenomenon. Then, a few weeks ago, as I was preparing these columns, a frightening thought struck me. Perhaps our beloved children are mirroring our community’s conditional acceptance of them with their own conditional kabbalas mitzvos. After all, many of our kids are increasingly getting the message that they are welcomed and valued so long as they do well in school and do not deviate too much from cultural norms. If we can engage in role reversal, how would we feel if our spouse told us that he/she would love us only if we landed a great job? Would we feel that special attachment to our spouses even if we got the position? Who knows what harmful seeds we are sowing by having our kids jump through hoops at such a young age to get into high schools and seminaries – even for those who get accepted?

There are no simple solutions for improving the application and vetting process for our high schools and seminaries[1]. Not every child is an appropriate fit for every school. Parents need to be pragmatic in assessing their children’s abilities (and value the advice of their child’s educators regarding placements) so as not to set their children up for repeated failure by applying to schools where their kids cannot succeed. But it is painfully clear that we educators need to put our heads together and do our very best to improve things so that all our children (and families) will feel cherished, valued – and wanted – in our schools and communities.

© 2007 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved



[1] The admissions process for grade schools can often be similarly stressful, and is in need of collective cheshbon hanefesh (reflection) as well.



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Related Articles:
Issue 139 - Proactively Addressing the Chinuch Challenges of Our Generation
Issue 141 - Exit Interviews
Issue 143- It Doesn’t Start in Tenth Grade
Issue 145 - Training Wheels
Issue 147 - Pulling in the Gangplank


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1. facts wanted     3/6/07 - 4:50 PM
M

Can you provide us with evidence to back your assertion?

If the bar is set that much higher, as you say, then one would expect the yeshivos to be filled with above average if not brilliant boys who are models of good behavior. Is this the case? I don't think so. I think the yeshivos are still a mix of very bright, bright, average, and even some under par boys, and they are certainly not all angels with exemplary derech eretz. They are the normal mix of kids.

It could very well be that unlike in the 70's, when a boy could enter any yeshiva he wanted to, this is not the way it is today. So? Who says that's a bad thing?

Nor is it clear why the boys you refer to are out of yeshiva. Is it because they are weak academically but are otherwise fine boys? Is it because they have been breaking the rules - both halachically and the school rules? Is it because their parents can't pay tuition? Is it because although bright, they seem uninterested in learning?

I'm not outright disagreeing with your thesis. Just expressing my skepticism and my desire for facts to back up your assertions as well as clarity as to why boys are out of yeshiva.


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2.     3/6/07 - 5:56 PM
yoni

I think that this is exactly the problem. I do not have anything to add, but Somehow I think that they are reacting to the conditional acceptance. My best friend told me the same thing.

she left for that reason (amoung others.) I miss her terribly, and often consider joining her on that other side, because in a very real way she's right. They don't accept you if your not just perfect. if you do not fit the exact mold that the community has, if your not a perfect little cookie cutter kid. The community doesn't, the schools dont, perspective matches dont, and it's our kids we're eating alive.


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3.     3/6/07 - 10:06 PM
Anonymous

If there was clarity as to why these teens are not in school, we can then discuss conditional and unconditional love. If it's something the child can do nothing about, like if he can't get into any yeshiva because he is a gimmel student and that's the best he can do, that is truly an understandable reason for him to reject the world the yeshivos represent. But if he's been acting out and earned a less than desirable reputation, and then yeshivos don't accept him, and he turns on yiddishkeit, well ... that's another story.


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4.     3/7/07 - 9:39 AM
Chaim

Rabbi Horowitz,

I was a student in the yeshivos back in the days when you were. You and I were actually high school classmates and you may figure out who I am. Gam Zu Letova.

In my opinion, two things changed from those days in the 60s and 70s. The first is the Bal Teshuva movement. We are currently victims of our own success. I remember that the elemetary school the I attended - the Williamsburgh branch of our High School - had a graduating class consisting of 8 boys in 1972. EIGHT! And ours was a major Brooklyn Yeshiva! We had no fewer than 3 seats in each classroom per kid. Today, in most yeshivas, we have 5 kids per seat, and others on the waiting list. So, whereas in our days, the yeshivas begged parents to send their boys to them (frum or not), today, no frum parent would even think to send their child to a non-yeshiva. Thus, the schools have alot more flexability to be 'picky'. A second, and perhaps related, problem can be summed up in one word, 'shiduchim'. Back in our day, a boy had a number of valid and accepted ways to meet a girl; neighborhood groups, singles weekends in the hotels during the summers, and, of course, the dreaded "C"-word, college. Of course, we had shidduchim, but it seemed to me, thinking back to our class, that most of us were involved in some of these other avenues - all of which were perfectly acceptable then. I myself met my wife on one of those summer singles weekends. Today, all that has changed, at least for most of our frum society. We've moved so much to the right - a good thing in many ways - that virtually the only avenue open to us now to meet our spouses is through a shidduch of one sort or another. And that has become the all-controlling, all motivating force in our lives.

A few years ago, a very chashuva rabbi in the Monsey area decided to open a special high school in Monsey just for the types of boys who would fit into that 'less than perfect' category. Within a year or two, the yeshiva had to change and 'raise the bar' because parents complained about 'what kind of shidduch will my son be able to get if it is known that he went to THAT yeshiva?' Another one bites the dust.

I don't really blame the yeshivos for turning away some kids. They are really (do a degree) a business and have to make money to pay their staff. But why must parents be so consumed with this shidduch issue, especially when most of the reasons they choose to turn down a shidduch is related to gashmius anyway? I don't have statistics to back this up, but I talk to people, and many of them are saying the same thing.

We I started yeshiva, people would tell me, "don't go there" or "don't do that" because "what would Hashem say?". Today I hear, "don't do that" or "don't go there" because "it will shter a shidduch". I think that many of our problems today, including (no pun intended) our shidduch crisis, can be traced back to this. And, unfortunately, it won't be easy to fix, because it is very difficult to change the attitudes of an entire community.


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5. WHO?     3/7/07 - 10:11 AM
M

What does the success of the BT movement have to do with this?

As for class size back then, sounds peculiar to me. My father went to Torah Vodaas in the 50's (married 1963) and he had a normal sized graduating elementary class. Ditto for my brother who graduated Stolin elementary school in 1980 (or was it 1979?).

a major Bklyn yeshiva with only 8 kids graduating? can you tell us the name of the yeshiva? what's the secret?

What does this mean: "We had no fewer than 3 seats in each classroom per kid."

As for, "whereas in our days, the yeshivas begged parents to send their boys to them (frum or not)" it sounds like you're talking about yeshivos in the 40's and 50's.

As for your description of how boys met girls in your day, I don't know what your background is but I can tell you that no way did my parents, married as I said in 1963, attend co-ed neighborhood groups or singles weekends! That was not done by the typical B.Y. girl and Torah Vodaas boy.

What are you calling "frum society" - yeshivish/chareidi society? There are still plenty of frum people, who are probably the majority of frum society, who do not identify as yeshivish and they mingle co-ed as you describe.

*** Can we clarify what and who we are talking about Rabbi Horowitz, please???? When you talk about raising the bar and problems getting into mesivta high schools WHO are you talking about? Do Modern Orthodox boys have this problem? Do Chassidishe boys have this problem? Is this a problem only in New York? Do boys living out of town in Baltimore, L.A., Chicago, Cleveland, etc. have a problem being accepted into mesivtos out of town?


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6. In Response To 'M'     3/7/07 - 11:12 AM
Chaim

"What does the success of the BT movement have to do with this?"

Very simple. In the 60s, many of the yeshivos, at least the one I attended, had a fairly small number of children going to it. Perhaps it was logistics or location. I went to Torah Vodaas in williamsburgh, Elementary School located on Wilson Street. I graduated Elementary school in 1972 (IIRC) and my class had 8 kids. Now, that might partially be because Williamsburgh was predominantly Chassidish and Torah Vodaas was not. But the fact still was that they were trying very hard, even back then, to get Jewish kids from public schools to come to the yeshiva.

"My father went to Torah Vodaas in the 50's (married 1963)"

Maybe it was my particular year. Maybe it was that the Williamsburgh branch was getting ready to move to Flatbush. But the fact still was that all during my years in the elementary school, our class was rather small.

"Ditto for my brother who graduated Stolin elementary school in 1980 (or was it 1979?)."

Was that the school on South 2nd or South 3rd, something like that?

What does this mean: "We had no fewer than 3 seats in each classroom per kid."

It meant that the classroom attendence was small and there was plenty of room to accept many more boys, if they were to come. Today, Yeshivas turn kids away because they (claim to be or) are full.

"As for, "whereas in our days, the yeshivas begged parents to send their boys to them (frum or not)" it sounds like you're talking about yeshivos in the 40's and 50's. "

Nope. 60s. And I personally knew some such boys.

"That was not done by the typical B.Y. girl and Torah Vodaas boy."

I beg do differ. I would say that I am a typical Torah Vodaas boy of the 70s (I graduated in the same class as Rabbi Horowitz - 1976) and I've lost count of the number of weekends in at the Homowak or Pine View weekends where I saw some of our students and/or girls from a variety of girl's yeshivos, lav davka BY. BY isn't the only frum girl's yeshiva out there, at least, it wasn't then.

"What are you calling "frum society" -

Shomer Torah U'Mitzvos.


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7. Forest, not trees     3/7/07 - 6:02 PM
tb

M, you have proven in this forum time and time again to be strong in your opinions and yet not all that knowledgable about frum/Shomer Torah U'Mitzvos life now or in years past. You know your Daled Amos which is unfortunately the plague of Chareidi society today. You do not know enough about what is really going on out there. Ignorance annoys me. Even though you masquerade with well-meaning questions, your "not a typical BY girl, not a Torah Vodaas Boy" comments are condescending and sometimes incorrect. Therefore you are part of the problem about which we are now speaking. I'll jump the gun for you and ask your next question: Why the personal attack? I'll tell you why. I have lost all patience with people in the Chareidi world who are not part of the solution. We have a major, major Shidduchim crisis out there, people. Kudos to Chaim for raising this issue. It is poisoning us. It is preventing Jewish children from being born and it is preventing Frum Jews from doing the right thing by their children. We also have a major identity crisis in Chareidi society. What is Frum, people? Our kids don't always fit the mold of what Chareidi society now considers frum and yet they still are--even if they are at the point of, as you put it, "acting out." Fear of Hashpaah Raah has all but obliterated Ahavas Yisroel. I should say paranoia, not fear. We have lost the forest for the trees. M, don't trouble yourself. You don't get the problem, so you won't be helpful in finding the solution. Yoni, keep the faith as they say. The Modern Orthodox world is a really sensible option for people like you. Oh and, M, those Modern Orthodox folk are Shomrei Torah U'Mitzvos too. Don't sneeze at Shmiras Shabbos, Nidah, Kashrus, Derech Eretz and Koveah Itim LTorah. We should be sending our kids the same message. That last list is what being Frum is really all about. The rest is icing on the cake. Really, M!!!!Icing!


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8. The Good Old Days     3/7/07 - 7:03 PM
tb

In the good old days, the ones Chaim refers to, the ones many think were a time in our history where we had not "grown" as much as we have now in the Frum world, in those good old days our boys valued learning, valued Midos Tovos, and valued the opinions and Derech of their parents. They did learn how to learn, but they also understood that most would have to earn and learn so their wives could stay home with their children. They learned to respect their Menahalim, but also their parents. They learned to respect different kinds of Jews and definately different kinds of Frum Jews. There were the Mizrachi types, the black-hatters, the Chasidim. Our boys knew that and they got that all of these Jews were Frum. They understood that the main thing was to be a Mentch and to be good to your spouse and children and to be honest in your business. They valued Torah learning and set aside time for it. They also had fun times with their families, making memories with their parents and siblings, eating dinner together and--gasp--spending time in the summers together. Most people lived in the same kind of house. Nobody's parents had a new kitchen. A good Shidduch meant a fine person (male or female) with Mentschlech parents. A success in school meant a boy who learned okay or better, respected his teachers, and respected his parents. Only some boys were sent away at the ripe old age of 14 and many actually continued to live at home under the love and guidance of their parents. Oh and by the way in these good old days, most 14 year old "Yeshiva" Bochurim did not get sent out in limos on Purim to "collect money" and get stinking drunk with their parents' and Menahalim's blessing. So I ask you, have we really grown as a Klal? We may have more kids in Yeshiva and more people learning more hours of Gemara, more Baalei Teshuva, true. But we have failed our children in so many ways. Our steps forward have led us to many steps backward in many areas. Those of us who get it, get it. When people talk about "growing" and "growth" I wonder what they mean by that. On the whole, I think we are now stunted as a Klal.


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9. I agree!     3/7/07 - 9:26 PM
Goldy - NJ

As I read the last comments, I am saying "Wow! This person sounds like me!" and then I notice that those words were written by tb! Well, tb, we are certainly on the same page again! I hope there are more people out there who agree with us!


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10.     3/9/07 - 9:19 AM
Anonymous

RH's issues don't come from problems with the yeshivas' acceptance policy as much as it comes from our community making itself subservient to it's main value; Social Status. There isn't any big change we have to make in how we do things, we just have to change what's important to us. I had a blog about the yeshivaworld a while ago (yeshivasociety.blogspot.com) I shut it down when I realized this.


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11. response to Chaim     3/9/07 - 10:33 AM
M

My husband was in Torah Vodaas in Williamsburg from 1967-1971 and he had a normal sized class, far more than 8. For some reason, your particular yr. had an usually small class. Torah Vodaas had moved to Flatbush in 1967 and had a flourishing elementary school there. By then Williamsburg was very largely Chasidic with very few who would have sent their kids to Torah Vodaas.

So I think that what you may be remembering is that Torah Vodaas in Williamsburgh may have been very interested in recruiting additional students since that branch had few local students. But otherwise, the E. 9th St. branch was doing fine.

The Stoliner school my brother attended was and still is in Boro Park, 54th and 18th Ave. It (and it's counterpart for girls at that time) attracted mostly non-Stoliner families, many not even Chasidic as it was a good yeshiva and pareve when it came to Chasidus back in the 70's.

Classroom attendance was not small in either Stolin for girls or for boys. The graduating class in the Stoliner girls' school in 1977 was 30 girls and the boys was comparable. Accepting more students meant opening a parallel class.

Today the frum Jewish community is much larger and there are many more yeshivos and girls schools. Is it that boys are not accepted to ANY yeshiva or that they are not accepted to the yeshiva they want to attend?

The phrase "frum society" as defined by you as "shomer Torah u'mitzvos" doesn't seem to be what Rabbi Horowitz is talking about. Are there any Bobover bachurim not in school because there is no room for them? How about Gerrer bachurim? As far as I know, if you are Bobov or Ger, you are automatically accepted into their yeshivos. Ditto for other Chasidic backgrounds.

So the problem R' Horowitz is writing about seems to be a problem affecting a subset of frum society since as far as I can tell, it does not affect those who belong to Chasidic groups (a huge segment of frum society) and it doesn't affect those who live out of town and attend the yeshivos there, and it doesn't affect those who identify as modern Orthodox - I haven't read a single article in M.O. literature about this being a problem.

So who is R' Horowitz talking about then? I wish he would answer this question.

As for co-ed mingling, you've written from your perspective. I'll write from mine. Mingling co-ed was considered "bummy" in the 70's if you were a B.Y. girl and a black hat yeshiva boy who identified as such (and didn't just wear it as school uniform).

You say lav davka B.Y. - okay then! Once again, if there is no clarity about who we are talking about, we end up like the "blind men and the elephant" - each talking about something else.

If you're talking about girls who did not attend and did not identify as Bais Yaakov girls, then yes, their families' standards or their own standards of what was acceptable differed from that of B.Y. Parents may very well have encouraged their children to mingle co-ed. But this was definitely not the case among the B.Y./black hat yeshiva crowd.

If the principal of B.Y. or YOB or Tomer Devorah (girls' schools in the 70's) would find out that a student of theirs was attending co-ed events, she would be expelled. This was probably not the case with girls who attended Central and perhaps Prospect Park. So again, a plea for clarity as to who we are talking about. Otherwise, we are wasting our time.


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12. To M     3/9/07 - 1:02 PM
Chaim

I was talking about Prospect Park. From my perspective, Prospect Park was (using today's terminology) more modern than B.Y. but less modern than Central. On the other hand, I know plenty of nice, very fine, frum, non-Chassidish wives today who went to Central.

Your husband may be right about the classroom size of YTV, I was a boy then and didn't really check out other non-Chasidish yeshivas. I can't say why because if I do, I may give away some of my annonymity. I'd rather not do that...yet.

After all, I have children in the Shidduch Parsha :-)

Good Shabbos


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13. M     3/9/07 - 1:16 PM
yoni

M, near as I can tell that idea, that way of looking at things was a fabrication that your generation made. Perhaps rabbi horowitz is just beyond that cut off.

However, near as I can gather from hearing about people, noone was nearly so intolerant of people who did any of a number of things as they are today. I have heard from good sources about people in the litvisher yeshivish world who littleraly spent their free time making out with people of the opposite sex and where not kicked out of school, and they went to these schools in this time. Maybe they did not officialy condone it, but from what I have been told it certainly was something that was going on and tacitly tollerated. Evidently many of your generation grew up with the assumption that they would be. I am not from that generation, so I cannot be sure, but it seems to me that the educators and parents where far more realistic regarding boys and girls interactions than they are now. Whether or not they approved I have not heard of ANYONE ever getting kicked out for light messing around back in that generation, and if the experiances that have been related to me are accurate, it was most certainly going on and I cannot help but come to the conclusion that the powers that be knew about it, and did very little to actively get rid of these students. the people I speak of are still frum, upstanding individuals. In a word, they were forgiving and understanding for what are, basicaly, normal difficulties for anyone of that age. Perhaps memories of this are what drive the current generation to their mania, I do not know.

One thing I do know, is that there were a whole lot more forgiving of faults than they are now. Are we not supposed to be a forgiving nation? one that prides its self on being merciful? is not the very jewishness of someone who is cruel and heartless called in to question? It seems poshut to me that in so unforgiving an atmosphere that it is perfectly logical that we should have so many dissafected youth. Youth make mistakes, it's a fact of life, and you CANNOT try and stop it, because likely you will make them even worse. You cannot approach youth of that age with anything other than love and forgiveness. You can make demands but they have to be tempered with reason.

But we cannot be kicking kids out of school and blacklisting them from the community for mistakes made in theit youth. The shulchan aruch harav mentions that (translation taken from the recent translated volumes) "what is ment by being worthy? He should be untainted by sin; his life story should be honorable, i.e., disparaging reports should not have circulated about him even in his youth..."(76:4) and further "... he should not be discharged because of disparaging reports circulated about him in his adolescence..." (ibid, 6). These paragraphs are talking about a shliach tzibbur, someone whom, in those times, basicaly had to have been fairly learned and gone to yeshiva. Even about such a person they not only take for granted that there where yeshiva graduates who had done "disreputable" things, but they also take it for granted that one should be forgiving about such things!

Teenagers make mistakes, big ones even, and it's normal, and something that the sages took a very pragmatic approach to.

Perhaps rabbi horowitz and chiam can shed light on this aspect of things, and I for one would be much appriciative, I have been rather curious about some of these disparities between the generation that came over from the war and the generation of their children for some time now.


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14. Yoni:     3/11/07 - 9:34 AM
M

Sounds to me like you are suggesting that yeshivos and schools (and parents) should be tolerant, and look away from their kids "making out." Let's try for clarity here, okay? What do you mean by "making out"? Holding hands? Hugging? Kissing? Does that qualify as "light making out"?

You think that frum people should look away from breaches in halacha? You think that engaging in activities that will definitely lead to hotzo'as zera l'vatala should be sanctioned? How about if it's not "l'vatala" and the couples are engaging in intercourse? Should we condone that too? Should we provide sex education classes and talk about "safe sex"? Provide birth control options? How do you suggest frum society deal with out-of-wedlock pregnancies? Have an arrangement with those frum people who want to adopt? I mean, we've got to be realistic you know ... and these activities ARE taking place!

You write, "Perhaps memories of this are what drive the current generation to their mania" -

the current teens have memories of things that you say happened in generations that preceded them?!


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15. M     3/11/07 - 3:11 PM
yoni

I should remind you M that the rabbis of the talmud clearly considered it shear foolishness to think that there was anything you could do to stop it short of marrying the child off young. That, incidently, is why it was considered mitzvah minhamuvchar to marry your child off at the age of 13, and barring that at 18 and certainly not later than 20.

The sages of the talmud where realists, and knew what you could stop and what you could not, and how you should stop it, and I think that we really have to stop fooling our selves in to thinking that we can stop this short of that the rabbanim of the talmud devised. For these kinds of reasons the rabbanim said that one should be forgiving of mistakes by adolescents, because those mistakes are virtualy inevitable. YOu cannot stop them completely.

Plenty of boys report that for all of the obsesive blaming girls and making them stay way from boys and keeping them dressed up like their in antartica in the summer, the boys continue to do their thing anyway, completely unabated. Actualy the way they do these things is actualy worse than the way the secular kids who are around girls do them. From what I have heard and observed personaly the boys in our yeshivas are already commiting the sin many times in a single week, while your average non-jewish kid in public school may be doing so 5 times a month. DOes this idiocy really help us at all? are we really helping our selves or are we fooling our selves M?

No of course I don't think that we should be encouraging them to misbeheve but I do not think that the right course of action is to throw them out of school in response, because all your doing then is telling them that "we don't care about yo uand we don't want you." the child will abondon frumkeit (and many will not have already) and the child will be lost to torah and our people for one simple mistake that children of that age make all the time.

ask your self honestly, for all of our attempts to stop it, has the problem gone away at all? The brutal answer to that is no. We have done nothing but make our children absolutely misserable and unhappy, and have not contributed one iota to saving their neshomos. They are left with no hobbies or intrestes, looking at the opposite sex as an object of gratification (R"L!) and are left with serious complexes regarding interaction with the opposite sex, even with their own wives. I see this more and more every day that I am around other frum from birth bochurim.

We are not helping, and by denying our children any actual different interests we are actualy hurting them.

You can be sure that chazzal would have roundly condemned in no uncertain terms what we practice today. I do not know what they would have suggested we do, But I do know that they would be ashamed and humiliated that their words where used to make this perversion of their teachings.


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16. Yoni:     3/12/07 - 9:37 AM
M

I seem to live in a different frum reality than you Yoni, so what may be true for you in your dimension of reality has nothing to do with me and my Yiddishkeit. Consequently, your solutions are not my solutions.

Perhaps the people you know have made their children miserable and have destroyed them and their Yiddishkeit. Fortunately, the people and mechanchim I know have not.

I am sorry to hear that the children you know about are worse than goyim since the goyim these days are in a pretty bad state with younger and younger children engaging in intercourse regularly, and that they grow up to become warped adults and husbands.

If you see this more and more, perhaps you should change your environment for one that is more positive, as the Rambam urges.


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17.     3/12/07 - 2:37 PM
yoni

M, that is not only my vote on the situation, but the vote and observation of countless people from accross the ultra orthodox spectrum.

Its doesn't work, that's simply fact, and its time for you and everyone else to get your heads out of the clouds and start thinking about a way to actualy solve the problem instead of pretending things are wonderful.


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18. look at the chassidic world     7/29/07 - 9:09 AM
M

Rabbi Horowitz - did you see the June 2007 issue of the Jewish Observer and read Dr. Marvin Schick's article?

In it, he castigates the yeshiva world's leaders and makes a clear distinction between them and the Chassidic world and its leaders. He says:

"The yeshiva world (I use this phrase to refer to the non-Chasidic Chareidi community) can no longer provide for the educational needs of many of its own, which sharply contrasts with how Chassidic sectors go about fulfilling their educational responsibilities. Within Chassidic groups, yeshivos and schools for girls are the highest priority, and this is evident in their facilities, scholarship approach, and admission policy.

"Because of the high fertility rate, there is constant pressure to add seats to meet additional enrollment. Children are not denied admission because of insufficient space or because they are insufficiently intelligent. They are all accommodated.

"This accepting approach is not found within the yeshiva world, and the situation is deteriorating...there is a culture of exclusion, of denying admission, or expelling those who were once admitted. When I sat down to write this article, there were dozens of 8th grade girls in Beth Jacob schools who had not found a high school that would admit them for next year ...

"In contrast to Chassidic groups, the yeshiva world has been operating far more than most of us realize with the alien notion that religious education is a consumer product or service, and not a communal obligation ..."


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19. follow-up comment     7/29/07 - 9:16 AM
M

I've mentioned this point before - who are you writing for, Rabbi Horowitz? Your article was printed in Mishpacha magazine whose readership consists of yeshivish and chasidish people. Yet your article addresses a problem that only pertains to yeshivishe-type yeshivos. No Bobover bachur or girl is out of school because they applied and weren't accepted/didn't make the grade. Ditto for Ger, Vien, Satmar, etc.

So rather than write about a seemingly generic problem, how about specifiying that your article pertains only to a subset within the chareidi world and how about an article, like Dr. Schick's, which highlights the differences within the yeshivish and chasidish communities and points out what each are doing right so we can learn from it and ameliorate, even eliminate, our problems?


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20. Deal with problems     7/30/07 - 3:47 AM
AK

Hi, The question is how would you like to be treated, how would you like your kid or any Jewish kid be treated. Also there are some problems which are considered ' lite' - cheating in exams gets a mild response , whereas inappropriate use of a cell phone gets thunder and lightening. When a person fall, and remember the pasuk , 7 times a Tzadik falls and will get up , the message should be that failure is in the not getting up. It is easier for schools to (not) deal with problems and throw kids out and say - le'ma'an yishme'u veyi'ra'u . If a kid misses doverning it was the policy of a charadei - yeshivah highschool here in Israel to suspend a kid for 2 days. Where is the kavod Talmidcha equally important as one's own - teachers kavod, where is the respect , does any body think that a kid can be spiritually empowered from negative experiences. IMHO they way to deal with problems is to be non-judgmental and unconditional , empathetic to a kid's struggle and challenges , help him find a way to deal with his problems , come up with a better plan , have a vision for the future and then at the end of the process he can really do Tesuvah and express remorse. Teachers have to ' work with ' and not ' do to' the kid. Alfie Kohn has said ' discipline is the problem , not the solution. How many teachers see themselves as being part of the problem and not just the kid. It is just easier to blame the kid and kick him out , as one parent asked a teacher , if my kid does not get up for doverning , I can't throw him out. The cheit is an onesh as well. I assume a lot of the writers here are women , you have got no idea how a kid suffers , the aftermath of the aveiro is far more devastating than the aveiro itself and the situation is very much one of A'nus . What messages are we to give kids Suspensions are negative: I can't communicate with you, and so I'll hurt you if you don't mind me. The positive counterpoint is: We all make mistakes, and you can trust me to help you do better in the future. I recall an incident Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro talks about - see his site- , a beis Ya'akov girl came to her dad and told him that she had had a boyfriend for 2 years, the father hit the roof etc Rabbi Shapiro explained to the father that his daughter confided in him and was in the need of being accepted and helped get back on track , not being stoned. How do we expect kids to come to parents or teachers to ask for help to deal with their problems , if the reaction will be far from empathetic and punitive.?


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21. Unconditional teaching     7/30/07 - 4:05 AM
AK

Hi, One of the major flaws in the system is that ' good learners' are valued , considered on a higher religious level and the those who don't make the grade have the title am ha'aretz. Our schools promote a competitive environment, rewarding the good pupils and of course having a negative impact on the weaker students. Every kid is unique and we have to help him find -his ' ten chelkeinu betoratechu ' and give expresion to his uniquenss in other areas as well. The question is not only accepting a kid into a school , but how acceptable is he in our eyes as a pupil . Alfie Kohn at the end of his article ' unconditional teaching www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/uncondtchg.htm asks teachers the following question

Imagine that your students are invited to respond to a questionnaire several years after leaving the school. They’re asked to indicate whether they agree or disagree – and how strongly – with statements such as: “Even when I wasn’t proud of how I acted, even when I didn’t do the homework, even when I got low test scores or didn’t seem interested in what was being taught, I knew that [insert your name here] still cared about me.”

How would you like your students to answer that sort of question? How do you think they will answer it?

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