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100 Kids Kicked off a Plane Because No One Taught Them Midos


Yeshiva of Flatbush

“What’s the Matter with Kids Today”. That is the title of a song sung by actor Paul Lynde from the 1960s musical Bye Bye Birdie.  Whenever I see a story like the following one, it makes me think of that song.  But not in good way. In fact it kind of makes my blood boil. I don’t think it is a problem with all teenagers. But it is a problem with more than a few. Once again a great Chilul HaShem was made. And it isn’t just about those kids. It’s about the parents and schools too.  More about that later.

As reported in both the JTA and Ha’aretz – a few members of a group of about 100 seniors at Yeshiva of Flatbush who had a bad case of ‘senior-itis’ acted like a bunch of Behaimos (animals) aboard and aircraft about to takeoff. Instructions by the flight attendants to sit down, put away their cell phones, and pay attention were ignored. That was followed by the pilot who gave them the same instructions. This too was ignored.  This not only caused a disruption, it ended up with the entire group being ejected from the aircraft.

Then came the predictable defense of these students from a school administrator:

“adults on the trip… said the students weren’t behaving that badly”

and

“Preliminarily, it does not appear that the action taken by the flight crew was justified”

That’s nice. Not only is this a bad response, it almost sounds as if he was justifying the behavior.  It is kind of like saying… Come on… Give me a break! These are just kids having a good time. 100 kids on board a flight to Six Flags? What do you expect? Choir boys?

This attitude is indicative of the problem. Instead of reprimanding these young people for causing a Chilul HaShem, he points to the airline as over-reacting.

You know what? It doesn’ t matter if they over-reacted. This kind of behavior is never justified and should never be defended. Airlines are not in the habit of throwing people off of airplanes – unless the behavior is so disruptive that they feel it might endanger the flight. Maybe they over-reacted. Maybe not. But a group of obnoxious Orthodox teenagers  being thrown off of a flight was certainly not a Kiddush HaShem no matter how you slice it.

I am disappointed in those kids for acting as they did and then compounding the problem by crying ‘anti-Semitism’ or saying  ‘They treated us like we were terrorists’. They should have instead apologized for their behavior. Certainly the school should have. And then reprimanded those students for their behavior – perhaps even canceling their trip!

This problem is not restricted to Modern Orthodoxy. But Modern Orthodox Jews do pride themselves on public behavior. If there is any Mitzvah that is focused upon – it is how Orthodox Jews are perceived by the public.

Are we acting according to our mandate to be a light unto the nations? That should be on the mind of every single Jew every single moment of the day. I know that we can’t always live up to those noble goals. Orthodox Jews are human and make mistakes just like everyone else. But there is little more important than preventing a Chilul HaShem. When a Jew wears a Kipa – or anything else that indicates his religiosity – he is a representative of his people – God’s chosen people – the Jewish people.

One of the things most lacking in all of Jewish education is Midos (character) development. Somewhere in a child’s Jewish education this seems to get lost. A Jewish education means more than studying Gemarah and Halacha. It means more than great academics. It means developing a refined sense of who we are and Who we represent. We have to teach our children that acting like Behaimos on an airplane is not the kind of light we want to be unto the nations.

I am a believer in personal responsibility and therefore the teens who behaved so badly deserve to be called out for what they did. True they probably did not deliberately set out to misbehave. They probably didn’t even think they were doing anything wrong. They were so in to themselves that they were oblivious to everything else… to the point of not paying attention to several warnings directed specifically at them, by the cabin crew and the flight captain. It is understandable that they were all excited about this trip. That should be taken into consideration. But once they were addressed by the cabin crew, they should have had the sensitivity to immediately stop what they were doing,  pay attention, and follow instructions. There is no defense for not doing that.

But the problem is much more complex than that just assigning blame to these teenagers. The lack of Midos development is a societal problem that is not being properly addressed. This  means that more Mussar needs to be taught and emphasized in the schools. More importantly it needs to be role modeled to them by faculty and administration alike. They need to behave the way they want their students to behave.

However, Chinuch begins in the home. If one’s parents don’t live these Midos, their teenage children will hardly live it themselves – no matter what the school teaches.

It therefore important for us to never act up in the public square, even if we feel we have the right to do so – unless there is something very serious that needs addressing. Like a violation of religious rights for no special reason. That demands an appropriate response. But I can’t tell you how many times I have been embarrassed by a fellow Kipa wearing Jew on an airplane making a complete nuisance of himself by making numerous and constant demands on the cabin crew as though they were their personal slaves.  Their young children see that and end up behaving the same way as adults. That kind of behavior needs to change.

These young teenagers need to learn this lesson now – if they haven’t yet. I would hope that the principal of their school spends the rest of the school year (if there is any left) educating these seniors on the importance of making a Kiddush HaShem instead of a Chilul HaShem. I would hate to see anything like this ever again.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


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11 Responses to “100 Kids Kicked off a Plane Because No One Taught Them Midos

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hmm. Sounds kind of like Mr. Yanover's article on a child molestation case. What's the difference?

  2. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    They were kicked off because they were orthodox Jews. What is this push by JP, especially under Yanover, to constantly demonize Jews? This is not the first time students from that school went en masse on trips. The school – and all other Jews – should begin an introspective review and see just how routine Jew hatred in the US has become. And demand an explanation why the JP run by Yanover is apologizing for it by blaming Jews.

  3. Stuart Wragg says:

    Guys, the problem with soiety today is not being honest and refleting truthfully on what happens. Kicking 100 kids off a plane just beccause they are Jewish? Please. That is rediculous. More and more people particualrly parents are refusing to acknowledge bad behaviour and deal with it and are instead justifying it. The article covers a topic that seems to be universal with hte youth of today and if we adults do not accept that fact and deal with it, then be afraid when you become to old to defend yourself or rely on the same to take care of you.

  4. Ray Ramcem says:

    I DO NOT BELIEVE ALL KIDS WERE BAD LETS SAY A HANDFUL DIDn't LISTEN WHY THROW OFF EVERYONE.. THAT's DISCRIMINATING AND YES ANTI SEMITISM… 109 PEOPLE THROWN OFF OBSURD. IF THEY WERE INDEED BAD WHY DID AIRLINE PUT THEM ON ANOTHER FLIGHT?
    FURTHERMORE WHY DID THEY GET REWARDED WITH FREE FUTURE TRAVEL VOUCHERS? AIRLINE KNEW IT WAS UNJUSTIFIED OR THEY WOULD HAVE NEVER LET THEM BOARD ANOTHER FLIGHT AND LET ALONE OFFER COMPENSATION.

  5. Ray Ramcem says:

    Whoever you are who wrote article. Never judge people if you do not know them. This school travels with the children to Europe and Israel they never had a problem. My guess flight attendant wasn't in the mood to serve drinks to bunch of kids let alone Jewish kids and rabbis so early in the morning. She rather throw everyone off and fly with no one aboard. That way she could nap with no disruptions.

  6. Aaron Remer says:

    Behaimos=Behaimot
    Chilul=Hilul
    Midos=Midot
    Behaimos=Behaimot

    Perhaps before you criticize the educators you should take your own course in proper Hebrew transliteration. Don't be a hypocrite!
    If you cannot set your own example then don't expect more from others.

    עברית היא השפה שלנו.

  7. Pearl Ezekiel says:

    Here we go now we start calling each other names. good work the Third Temple can wait.

  8. Brian Kent says:

    Mussar should be studied in schools not Tzionut.

  9. Brian Kent says:

    LOL.What a Tzioni.

  10. We live in a society with Rules & Regulations! These kids were most likely told what the air lines expected of them! I do not think they were put off that airplane because they are Jews! It is because today there is a constant disregard for what they are expected to do when it comes to rules & regulations! Total disregard of a air line rules is not the way to be polite & abide by any means.Maybe the next time they will obey & massive rejection of flight rules is crass! They got a good lesson!

  11. First of all I would have instructed my child with how to be a well behaved child! It is not because the children are Jews! Bad behavior & disregard for air line rules is not the way to go. Where are the parents that the kids of today can do anything they want The parents just over look everything when the belt should be applied when needed! 1

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