Please enable JavaScript in your browser to experience all the custom features of our site.

Mr. Harry Skydell, Chairman
Mr. Mark Karasick, Vice Chairman
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director
Rabbi Avrohom M. Gluck, Director of Operations
The first 1000 members will have a chance to win a
16 GB
with Rabbi Horowitz audio

Membership Benefits:

  • Save articles to your favorites folder.
  • Save and print selected articles in a PDF journal.
  • Receive emails containing the latest comments on your favorite articles.
  • Mark articles as "READ".
  • More member features coming soon...

Raffle Rules:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete the signup form and join as a member. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries shall become the property of CJFL. CJFL is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries.

The contest is open to the general public. Members need to be at least 18 years old. Identification must be produced on request. Employees of CJFL, its raffle sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this raffle. ALL PREVIOUSLY REGISTERED MEMBERS WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED INTO THIS RAFFLE. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Decisions of the raffle judges are final - no substitutions will be available. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness (first initial and last name) and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the internet and picture date storage) which CJFL may deem appropriate. In accepting the prize, the winner, acknowledges that CJFL may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. CJFL retains the rights, in its absolute and sole discretion, to make substitutions of equivalent kind or approximate value in the event of the unavailability of any prize or component of the prize for any reason whatsoever. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. CJFL reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this raffle at any time without prior notice. One entry per person.

Issue 151 - Seven, Eight, Nine …
A Virtual Ocean Parkway
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
This article orignally appeared in Mishpacha Magazine

  Rated by 26 users   |   Viewed 26562 times since 3/21/07   |   51 Comments
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size    [ Change Font Size ] Email This Article to a Friend


One of the advantages of living in a metropolitan area with a large Orthodox Jewish population is the existence of a ‘Minyan Center’ – a synagogue where one can find a quorum for prayer at almost any hour of the day or night. If the hour is late and ten adult males are not present immediately, one individual usually waits outside the shul and cajoles passers-by to enter and form the requisite quorum. A minyan is a spiritual gathering, where individuals take time from their hectic days to join in prayer and bring meaning to their lives. In the course of human events, there are many other types of gatherings. People band together for comfort, for camaraderie, to share common interests and hobbies.

What motivated me to write my first article on at-risk teens in 1996 was my observation that the disenfranchised young men and women who were not achieving success in our school system were beginning to ‘make their own minyanim.’ Now, eleven years later, I am watching this happen on a much larger scale and I am shaken to the core in fear of what I see coming in the years ahead – unless we go backwards in time and recapture the ‘chinuch hayoshon’ in which my generation was raised. One where every child felt valued and appreciated, where there was a more balanced curriculum, where there was an allowance for diverse life/career paths among boys and girls, and perhaps most importantly, where there was a far greater tolerance level for diversity of thought and appearance. That, my dear readers, is what is driving me to write this series of columns. Allow me to explain.

For three decades or so, until the early 1990’s, kids who dropped out of our Yeshiva/Beis Yaakov system and became non-observant were doing so quietly and unobtrusively. A boy here. A girl there. Perhaps two or three at a time. In the aggregate, the children who left school may have been a significant number, but there were not enough to ‘form a minyan’.

About 1995 or so, a number of cultural changes occurred that transformed the at-risk phenomenon from isolated individuals to more of a trend. Our population grew exponentially, b’eh, swelling the number of adolescent children in our school system. At the same time, schools began responding to parental pressure by significantly raising their acceptance standards and lowering their tolerance level for non-conformance to societal norms. These two factors combined to create a huge increase in the number of ‘drop-out teenagers’ in our community. Once that happened, the kids began forming their own informal social support groups where they ‘hung out’ together and provided each other with the acceptance and solidarity that had heretofore eluded them.

Then, seemingly overnight, a sociological phenomenon occurred. A ‘tipping point’ was reached and the kids no longer felt intimidated by the social constraints of our frum society. Suddenly teenage boys and girls who were raised in observant homes – some whose parents were very distinguished members in our community – were openly flaunting their rejection of Torah values. Things hit rock bottom and were thrust into the public eye when dozens of frum teens – many of them clad in white shirts, dark slacks and wearing yarmulkes – began gathering each Friday night on Ocean Parkway (a main thoroughfare in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn) smoking cigarettes and ‘hanging out’ while frum couples strolled by after their Shabbos evening meal. What happened? The kids discovered that they had their own minyan, which changed the entire dynamics of their social status.

Our community responded magnificently by creating a host of diverse intervention and prevention programs to help these children – and their younger siblings. Special schools were created for at-risk kids, and support groups for their parents.

So why the worry, you ask? My fear is that there are far, far too many ‘outer ring’ children who are in danger of heading for the exits. As I pointed out in the previous column(s), over the past ten to fifteen years we have dramatically raised the bar for entry to our schools. That inadvertently results in disenfranchising a portion of our children.

One, Two…

The shift over these years from a balanced kodesh curriculum to an almost gemorah-only learning program, which is a virtual Gan-Eden for those who love learning gemorah, also excludes a portion of our boys from the ‘inner-ring’ of our community.

Three, four…

Finally, many mainstream schools are becoming – or being forced to become – far less tolerant of the misdeeds of children nowadays. This is causing an explosion in the number of our children drifting to the ‘outer rings’ of our society. Many of these kids may still be in our schools, but they do not really feel connected.

Five, six…

Most frightening of all, from my perspective, is the interactive nature of the Internet, cell phones and PDA’s. Kids who aren’t making it in our schools don’t need to go to Ocean Parkway to find comfort and friendship. They are already finding each other over the airwaves. The nature of the rapidly evolving technology will allow them to more efficiently and effectively communicate with each other – all around the world. Things have not reached the tipping point – yet. But all the warning signs are there. And when and if that happens, the snowball may roll completely out of our control.

I pray to Hashem that my fear is misplaced. But all I see from my vantage point is a rapidly growing group of children who are not finding success in our school system. They are searching for friendship and a sense of belonging. This basic need will be fulfilled somewhere. The question is only where that place will be.

Seven, eight, nine…

© 2007 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.

Reader's Comments:      Rating & Comments Policy      Rate & Write a Comment!
 Average Rating:              Rated by 26 users    (51 comments)
Subscribe to this Article
(by subscribing you will receive email notification
when new comments are posted)
There are no comments yet. Click above to write the first comment.
Dear Readers:

Please visit our Parenting Resource listing to learn about agencies and services that you can make use of. If you know of an agency that can be of assistance to others, kindly drop an email to our site administrator at and pass along the information to him.

I ask that you please consider supporting the work we are doing to improve the lives of our children. Click on these links to learn more about our teen and parent mentoring program that serves hundreds of teens and their families, or our KESHER program, now in 20 schools in 4 states. Your financial support can allow us to expand these services and help more children.

If you believe in the governing principles of this website – to help effect positive change through the candid discussions of the real issues we collectively face, please consider becoming a daily, weekly or monthly sponsor of this website and help defray the costs of it’s maintenance.

Working with Families and Educators on Behalf of our Children

This site is managed by The Center for Jewish Family Life, Inc., 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952
Project Y.E.S. was founded by Agudath Israel of America
The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES - 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952 (845) 352-7100 ext. 114 Fax: (845) 352-9593