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Running Out of Time
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

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Dear Readers,

This week’s website is being dedicated by my wife Udi in loving memory of Dr. Jerome L. Finkelstein of blessed memory.

Three weeks ago, she got to know Dr. Finkelstein when she suffered a burn on her face while preparing for our daughter’s Bas Mitzvah. Her brother, Avrohom Berger, who is a Hatzolah member, sent us to the Staten Island Burn Center, which is under the leadership of Dr. Finkelstein a’h.

He treated her with supreme caring and dignity, calmed her fears – and refused any remuneration for his time and effort. He was everything a doctor should be; professional, competent and caring. During the time we were in the hospital, we noticed the dozens of plaques on his walls from grateful patients and organizations that benefited from his loving care. More telling, perhaps, was the reverence and love that Dr. Finkelstein was afforded by the entire staff and the patients at the hospital. He was a walking, talking Kiddush Hashem.

Dr. Finkelstein died suddenly this week at the age of 57. Though we hardly knew him, we feel a deep sense of loss that such an exceptional human being was taken from us.

May his memory be blessed forever.

With gratitude and sorrow.

Yakov and Udi Horowitz

I’m sorry to put a damper on things, but I just don’t know how to phrase this any other way. We are running out of time.

The challenges and issues that prompted me to write my first Mishpacha column are not going away. In fact, from my vantage point, the phenomenon that I wrote about in Seven, Eight, Nine, ... seems to be escalating at a frightening pace – like the proverbial snowball rolling down the hill; faster and faster, and growing larger by the minute.

I am getting a new wave of parents begging me to speak to their children. The profile is chillingly similar: 13-14 years old boys and girls. High achieving in school. No emotional problems; great, respectful kids from great homes. Well adjusted. They just don’t want to be frum. Period. They are eating on Yom Kippur, not keeping Shabbos, not keeping kosher; et al.

No anger, no drugs, no promiscuous activity. They are just not buying what we are selling. Some have decided to ‘go public’, while others are still ‘in the closet’. In some of the cases, their educators have no idea of what is really going on.

I personally got about 10 of these calls in the past 3-4 months – and our Project YES office got an additional 5 calls of this nature. Just do the math and try to figure out how many kids like that are in our school system. I can only tell you that in more than twenty-five years of dealing with at-risk kids, this is a brand new experience for me. I have some very strong thoughts on why this is happening, and plan to write about it. But this is very, very scary stuff.

The events of this past summer (Click here and here for the columns I wrote on that subject) were not isolated incidents. They are an indicator that we have many hundreds of our children who are disenfranchised and in serious trouble. Do you really think that these issues were addressed at all since then? Or is it just out-of-sight-out-of-mind?

My friends, I have no other way to say this other than “we are running out of time.” The kids are finding each other via cell phones, chat groups, Facebook and My Space. They are “making their own minyan.” Many minyanim in fact.

This phenomenon is also playing itself out in a similar manner among frum adults. Just look at the response on my website to Rabbi Becher’s excellent column, Adults at Risk.

May Hashem give us the wisdom and courage to make the changes that are necessary to reverse these frightening trends.

Yakov Horowitz


In response to the emails I received and comments on this thread asked for practical suggestions, I will offer some links to columns that I’ve written on these subjects.

I will try, time permitting, to address these matters in a more comprehensive manner in the weeks ahead.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Not Yet (Mishpacha) contains profound guidance from a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah as to how a parent should respond when a child has ‘faith-based’ questions.
  • Kiruv for OUR Children (Mishpacha) discusses some broader themes of how we need to approach parenting and chinuch nowadays.

For the past year, I’ve been writing a Q&A parenting column on a range of subjects. (Click here for a full list of the 40+ columns.)

  • The first place I would tell parents to start with are their Shabbos tables. Make them enjoyable events, not classrooms. (here are 3 columns on this subject Shabbos #1,
  • Shabbos #2 and Shabbos #3
  • If your child is not connected to davening, here are some suggestions davening (there are 3 columns, the first links to the next 2)
  • Here are 2 columns on how to talk to your kids about evolution

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