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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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The Disposable Student

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Not long ago I received an e-mail from a mother who was in anguish over her son, who had been “kicked out before Pesach.” She agreed the yeshiva was not meeting his needs, that it was not the right place for him. “But now I have a son in jeans with an unfiltered smartphone, still shomer Shabbos, B”H, but not doing everything properly.”

She and I continued to e-mail for several days. Throughout, I found her to be thoughtful and reasonable. At one point she wrote, “I have strongly felt [it] would have made a huge difference…had he not been kicked out but transferred. If they would have said, ‘This is not the right place for you but let’s find the place that will meet your needs.’ ”

She wondered whether it would be possible for yeshivas to work together with parents to find the right place for the student who “doesn’t fit in.”

She was pleading not just for her own son but for “all the sons and daughters expelled and rejected.” She didn’t want her son, or anyone else in a similar situation, to feel hated or unwanted by the frum community. With an appropriate placement, her son could be in yeshiva and “hold his head high” in the community.

Does anything else need to be said?

I offered her a number of suggestions and supportive comments, and at one point she said what was deepest in her heart and in the hearts of countless parents and their “punished” children. With exasperation, hurt, and bewilderment she said to me, “Articles are nice but with all due respect we need bigger. The more children who get kicked out, the more children we will have on the street suffering – and the path back is so much longer and ever so much more difficult.”

And then she asked, “How can we take this to the gedolim and make a change ASAP?”

I share her fear and bewilderment and sense of urgency.

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


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