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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776
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The Closing of Afikei Torah


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Consider Emily Pearl Kingsley, who in 1987 wrote an article about raising her Down Syndrome son:

There’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland [instead of Italy] and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…If you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

We have been here before, we have wanted our generation to go one place and they end up in another. We have had a generation of parents who dreamed about “my son, the doctor,” and mourned as their children defied them and joined the ranks of kollel yungeleit. We have seen a generation who campaigned for every child to be “my son, the Rosh Yeshiva,” the pressure of which burnt out hundreds of our boys and sent them to the streets.

When Emily Kingsley saw that her child wasn’t what she dreamed, she changed her dream. And in doing so, she saved both herself and her son.

These girls, these daughters of these growing shuls, are ready to get on a plane that is not quite headed where we thought it was going; these communities and families are bringing up a generation of girls that are going to find that they don’t fit into the institutions already here. Italy will not suffice; the mizrachi, the modern Orthodox, and the Bais Yakov solutions are equally unsuitable. These girls aren’t headed for Italy. They are headed directly for Holland.

Where they will find Yehuda running around, padlocking the doors of institutions.

It should be sobering to us all.

Rachel Burk

About the Author: Rachel Burk is an alumnus of Afikei Torah


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