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“Mind your own business.” It’s one of the rules of public conduct that keep civilized society from imploding. Yes, even frum society.
Although we as Torah Jews are more given to concern about each other, that doesn’t mean we enjoy attempts by others to pry into our personal lives, critique our choices, or offer unsolicited advice. Especially when it comes to parenting skills. What parent does not resent a meddler’s reproach about the terrible mistakes she is making with her child?
But perhaps there is a time to speak up. A time when keeping silent protects only you, when a child is in danger right before your eyes.
I’ve been wrestling with this dilemma since last week. I was at a Toys “R” Us in Brooklyn along with my five-month-old son and my mother-in-law when I witnessed something so disturbing it was almost hard to believe it was happening.
As we trawled the cavernous store, I noticed a clearly Orthodox woman pushing a cart full of merchandise. Several yards behind her, an adorable little girl – who could not have been more than three years old – walked in aimless wonderment. Exactly what you would expect of a young child in a toy store.
When we got to the register, I saw the woman pushing her cart into the next checkout lane. The little girl was nowhere in sight. The woman unloaded her cart, one item at a time. After a few minutes, she turned her head and noticed her daughter’s absence. Languorously, she sidled back toward the middle of the store, calling her daughter’s name. Eventually, she returned to the checkout, her child once again following distantly behind. As the mother paid for her purchases, the little girl wandered over to our lane. Her mother didn’t flinch.
By this point, the child could, chas v’shalom, have been kidnapped five times over. And yet she was still in danger.
My mother-in-law and I stood waiting at the front of the store for an employee from the stockroom to bring out a large item we had already paid for, a wait that ended up taking almost half an hour. As we watched and waited, the delinquent mother paid for her purchases and began heading for the door with her cart.
The rides near the exit caught the little girl’s eye, and she climbed on one of the painted animals, frolicking happily without the motion even being activated. The mother stopped for a moment, mumbled something to the child, then headed outside. Through the windows at the front of the store, I saw her walk toward a minivan parked on the other side of the parking lot. She loaded her bags into the trunk, then began to walk back to the store.
On her way, the wind blew her hat off her head. With alacrity that she had apparently been storing up for just this sort of occasion, she ran after it. Mission accomplished, she came back into the store to claim her child.
There were a thousand things I wanted to say to this mother. I wanted to shout at her, warn her, make her understand what a blessing she has and how close she came to losing it. I wanted to call the police or Child Protective Services. A part of me even wanted to take the child for a few minutes in order to scare the mother into responsibility.
But I did none of those things. I was afraid of how the woman would react, of what other onlookers would think, of making a scene, of causing a chilul Hashem. Instead, I said a prayer of thanks that the child was still okay, and held my own son a little closer.
Should I have spoken up? Should I have “gotten involved”? I can’t stop thinking about that little girl – whether she is safe now, whether she will grow up in one piece. The sad fact is she is not alone. Just this summer, a four-year-old girl playing outside her Boro Park home was abducted and sexually assaulted. What was most tragic about that incident was that it was completely avoidable. As are the countless tragedies that by the grace of God don’t happen each day despite the scores of young Jewish children playing unsupervised outside their homes. These are the real “at risk” kids. Where are their parents?
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Desperate people take what they can, seizing opportunity to advance their main goal; the Arabs don’t
There was a glaring void in the President’s State of the Union speech: Israel.
Let’s focus not on becoming an ATM for that little bundle of joy, but on what you can save in taxes.
Israel has some wild places left; places to reflect and think, to get lost, to try to find ourselves
The British government assured Anglo-Jewry that it is attacking the rising levels of anti-Semitism.
Obama’s Syrian policy failures created the current situation in the Golan Heights.
Our journey begins by attempting to see things differently, only then can we be open to change.
Despite Western ‘Conventional Wisdom&PC,’ the Arab/Israeli conflict was never about the Palestinians
Confrontation & accountability, proven techniques, might also help dealing with religious terrorists
In fact, wherever you see soldiers in Paris today, you pretty much know you’re near Jewish site
Inspired by the Perek Shira pasuk for “small non-kosher animals” we named the bunny “Rebbetzin Tova”
The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps
Plainly, there is no guiding hand dictating choices across the board.
Numbers permeate our culture,not advanced mathematics but snapshot stats that provoke snap judgments
Even a foxhole Yid has to admit that antisemitism is on the upswing.
Geller, a mother of five who made aliyah from Monsey last year, offers a glimpse – with lots of photos – into her busy family life.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, then children’s eyes are the window to the Almighty Himself.
It is ten o’clock in the morning. I am at a local park with my daughter. A number of children are climbing and sliding, imbibing the fresh air. In their orbit are a smaller number of women, some milling around on foot, others sitting on the benches conversing and minding strollers. Trailing my own child, I play a silent game: Who is a Mommy? Which, if any, of these women (who range from lovingly attentive to disturbingly disengaged) are the children’s mothers, and which are babysitters?
We asked several experienced mechanchim for their insights on how to shepherd children from their first “Modeh Ani” to the understanding that Hashem alone holds the key to every aspect of their existence. Here are the key principles they shared.
When the disproportion of terrorist acts committed by Muslims – and the resulting hordes cheering the carnage on the Arab street – lead clear-minded observers to conclude that jihadism is the dominant strain in the Islamic world, we are accused of painting with an unfairly broad brush, discounting the silent (and invisible) majority of Muslims who oppose violence and crave peace.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-real-at-risk-kids/2007/11/14/
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