web analytics
October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



The Disposable Student

Front-Page-122713

We Jews wandered the four corners of the earth for so many centuries, never having a home where we could feel completely safe. Our experience from Egypt to the galut taught us to respect the dignity of the stranger and to reach out to the needy.

When we were vulnerable, the voices of our sages cried for the downtrodden and the lonely. When “not fitting in” was intrinsic to our experience, our teachers taught us to care about others who felt the same way.

But now? Now, when Jerusalem is ours? Now, when Orthodox Judaism has never been in a stronger position? Now, when in America there are communities where observant Jews can choose between three or four full-sized kosher supermarkets with thousands of kosher products; communities dotted with shtiebels and shuls and beautiful synagogues; communities with tens of day schools and yeshivas to educate our youngsters, where public school districts provide buses to take students to the day school and yeshiva of their parents’ choosing?

We are blessed to be living at such a time, a time when politicians are genuinely concerned with “Jewish issues.” At the local and national levels, policy makers are truly supportive of the needs of the Jewish community and of Israel.

Yes, we are indeed blessed.

And yet… and yet with all these blessings, so many of the leaders of our schools and our communities seemingly act cold and hard rather than with openness and understanding.

The irony is damning. No place has this been more apparent than in the way yeshivot treat and “manage” their so-called difficult students, those students whose needs and behaviors often cry out for attention.

The “riches” of having more students than they can fit in their classrooms has made educators and administrators greedy and more than willing to simply weed out any student who does not hew perfectly to strict and rigid rules.

After all, what could be easier than to simply remove a student who, for whatever reason, needs or demands more time or attention, and replace him or her with some other student who will be more compliant, better behaved?

Easier? Perhaps. But right?

* * * * *

Rav Ovadia Yosef, zt”l, leader of Sephardic Jewry, asked, “Whom are you throwing out? A rock? Some accumulated trash?” He was not blind to the challenge of teaching “difficult” students. But when he confronted a rowdy, disruptive, or uncooperative student in a class, he did not view the student as the enemy but rather as the unique being God intended him to be and embraced him as such. What an upside-down world we have created when Rav Ovadia’s approach strikes us as refreshing and encouraging instead of the norm.

In making this point, I do not mean to minimize the importance of rules and decorum. I do not mean to downplay the challenge of the “difficult” student nor do I mean to suggest it is never appropriate to remove a student from a particular learning situation.

There are always extenuating circumstances when an individual student cannot remain in a school, for his sake and the sake of his classmates. However, even when it is determined that a young person must be removed from a school, that decision should never be made lightly or judgmentally. It should be made in consultation with experts including gedolim, school psychologists, social workers and certainly the parents.

And then, if the consensus is that it would be best for the student not to remain in a particular school, only half the job is done. The other half is the crucial matter of where the student goes next. What is the alternative?

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Disposable Student”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) meets with Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon in Halifax, Canada on November 22, 2013.
Ya’alon Scraps Purchase of US Aircraft
Latest Indepth Stories
Which glass has the poison?

The White House wanted to defame Netanyahu, undermine his reputation, impugn him & his policies

Adolf Hitler and the representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, December, 1941.

Palestinian anti-Semitism in 2014 is more extreme and mainstream than German A/S in the 1930s.

Sheldon Silver

Woven deeply through it all is the Jewish obligation to fight injustice.

Cravatts-Richard--new

Only in the inverted world of academia would Jewish professors denounce the AMCHA Initiative report.

Many poskim were and are adamant about the responsibility of every individual to vote.

Individuals who may have been abused are the “clients” in need and receiving care and protection.

An accomplished Torah scholar and ardent adherent of Bobov chassidus, he was renowned for his self-effacing dedication and skills as an international lawyer and law professor

The fact that the United States government after World War II sought to take advantage of the expertise of German scientists, even those known to have contributed to the Nazi war effort, is well known and largely accepted as having been necessary for America’s national defense. (Wernher von Braun is perhaps the most famous and […]

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

The birth I speak about is to give birth to ourselves, to our full potential.

The extreme hypocrisy, contempt & vulgarity of the attacks indicate more than a policy disagreement

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Jonah and the Whale (2012) 23 x 23, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe.

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

Eisenstock-082914

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?

One who may leave his wife an agunah is not included in the general rule that we may not imprison on Shabbos.

“Fulfill my requests for good, grant my request, be mindful of us for deliverance and compassion…remember us for a good, long life…give us bread to eat, clothes to wear…”

Too often, as parents and teachers, we think it means talking at our children, delivering to them good and worthy content that they should simply hear and assimilate into their minds and hearts.

I was singing, dancing, jumping and, sweating. Just joy and happiness. One child on my shoulders after another. What happiness! And then, the little boy on my shoulders – he could not have been older than six – began to cry.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-disposable-student/2013/12/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: