web analytics
September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



A Vacuum To Be Filled (Part Two)


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

In last week’s column I published a letter from a young woman who was raised in an assimilated, Reform home, but something in her soul always yearned to make a connection with Hashem and her Jewish roots. Unfortunately however, despite the fact that she grew up in a predominantly Orthodox community in New York, no one reached out to her. None of her neighbors ever thought of inviting her for a Shabbos meal, to shul, or their sukkah, and the yearning in her heart remained unfulfilled. And so it was that she became easy prey for an evangelical missionary who enticed her into being baptized and joining a Messianic Christian sect.

For 13 long years she was a member of this group. However, she could find no peace and yearned for “Emes.” Then, one day, while visiting her parents [back in the Orthodox community where she grew up], she stopped in at the local public library where she discovered my first book, Jewish Soul On Fire. The book pierced her neshamah and her tears just flowed. At the same time, she bought an ArtScroll Chumash and read Parshas Ha’azinu. Thus, her journey home began. Today, Baruch Hashem, she is married, has two little children, and is blessed with a true Torah home.

She wrote to me to express her appreciation, and although I already responded to her privately, I felt it was important to share her experiences with you, my dear readers, so that we might learn from them and rectify the painful vacuum in our community. Her letter compelled us to ask “How?” Yes, how could it happen that a child, growing up in an Orthodox neighborhood in which Torah values prevail, could fall victim to missionaries?

How could it have happened that no one invited her for Shabbos? Where was Ahavas Yisroel (love of one’s fellow Jew)? Where was areivus – mutual responsibility? Where were these pillars of Jewish life? Why could they not protect her from those tragic 13 years?

Our Torah teaches that if a dead body is found abandoned, then the sages, the leaders of the nearest town, must make atonement and declare, “Our hands did not spill this blood” (Deut. 21: 6-7).

Could anyone in his right mind imagine that the sages would be guilty of such a heinous crime? Of course not. Nevertheless, if a man’s body is found on the road, forsaken, then the leaders of the nearest community must assume responsibility for this terrible neglect. Now if this holds true in regard to a forsaken body, we must ask ourselves how the Torah would view the abandonment of Yiddishe neshamos? The young woman’s question, “Why didn’t anyone reach out to me? Why didn’t any of my Orthodox neighbors invite me to their shul, Shabbos lunch, or their sukkah?” These are the questions that cut to the heart of the problem.

And if I may, I would like to add my own question. “How is it that no one even thought of giving this girl a book that would connect her to her Jewish faith – to Torah? Why did she have to discover my book by chance in the public library after 13 years of groping in darkness?” Who knows how many more innocent Yiddishe neshamos are being lost daily before our very eyes in our own neighborhoods?

It is for this reason that I decided to publish her letter, so that all of us might re-think and re-examine our relationship with our more secular, assimilated Jewish brethren, be they neighbors, fellow students or co-workers. The very least we can do (even if for some personal reason we cannot invite them for a Shabbos) is to offer them the gift of friendship, a book, or invitation to a Torah class.

Nowadays, Baruch Hashem, there are numerous such classes in every Jewish community. My own Torah classes take place every Tuesday evening at Kehilath Jeshurun at 125 East 85 Street at 7:30 p.m. and on Thursday evenings at the Hineni Center at 232 West End Avenue at 8:30 p.m. And if you e-mail me (rebbetzin@hineni.org) to alert me that you are bringing others I will be happy to welcome and speak to them privately.

At this point, I would like to make a disclaimer in defense of the beautiful Torah communities in New York and all over the United States. In all fairness, I believe that we can be justifiably proud of the incredible chesed in the Torah world nowadays. I know for a fact that every Shabbos, there are families hosting people who come from varied backgrounds in their homes. But, and here is the big but, this does not mean that there may not be someone who is totally disconnected to Torah residing on the very same block as an Orthodox person, without the two ever meeting.

Our 21st-century culture has conditioned us to believe that if we want to maintain peace, we have to “mind our own business” and not “meddle” in other people’s lives. So, while we may be very receptive to saying “yes” to hosting a group visiting our homes for Shabbos, we are hesitant to approach a neighbor lest we be accused of invading his or her privacy.

Thus it can happen that secular Jews living in religious neighborhoods may never experience the majesty of Shabbos, although its radiance can be glimpsed right next door. Similarly, the neighbors of this young woman may have been hesitant to approach her lest they be accused of “missionizing” or invading her privacy. Sadly, I have seen a number of examples of such incidents. Shamefully, the tensions between the religious and the irreligious living side-by-side can at times be very fierce and even ugly.

Secular Jews may feel that the Orthodox look askance at their life styles and have a holier-than-thou attitude. While in some cases, this may be valid, more often than not, these feelings are misread. Just the same, many sincere people are reluctant to reach out lest their gestures be misinterpreted.

To be sure, there are other difficulties as well. There are those in the Orthodox community who fear that the secular influence of the non-observant will negatively impact on their own families and therefore are hesitant to invite people into their homes. Then there are still others who simply feel inadequate: “What if they ask me questions and I don’t know how to respond?” they worry.

Bottom line, however, I believe that most Orthodox Jews would be happy to reach out to their brethren if they knew how to go about it. Lacking the tools, they live insulated lives, which is misinterpreted as “judgmental” by the non-observant. I encountered this very problem many moons ago, when I was privileged to launch kiruv – outreach, and while great strides have been made since those pioneering years, much still remains to be done.

The time has come to rectify the blatant neglect. Having lost six million holy neshamos, we can’t afford to lose millions more to a spiritual Holocaust. Every Jew who believes, every Jew who loves his people, must become pro-active and reach out. One day soon, G-d will ask us to give an accounting for the lost Yiddishe neshamos that were left abandoned on the highways of life – even at our own doorsteps.

Will we parrot the infamous words of Kayin, “HaShomer Achi anochi? – Am I my brother’s keeper?” or will we respond like the Patriarch Abraham who said, “Hineni – Here I am” and kindled the light of G-d in the hearts of all those with whom he came in contact.

(To Be Continued)

About the Author:


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 “A Vacuum To Be Filled (Part Two)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS executioner holding British aid worker Alan Henning as a hostage.
Muslims Plead with ISIS for Life of UK Aid Worker Alan Henning
Latest Judaism Stories
Hertzberg-092614

Perhaps the most important leadership lesson Elkana taught us is to never underestimate the difference a single person can make.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

The Torah notes that even when we are dispersed God will return us to Him.

Rabbi Sacks

Simply, for Rambam the number 14 (2×7) was his favored organizing principle.

One of the cornerstones of our Jewish life is chesed, kindness. Chesed can only be taught by example

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

This young, innocent child gave me a powerful, warm surge of energy and strength.

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

A Role Reversal
‘Return, O Wayward Sons…’
(Chagigah 15a)

When the Kleins returned, however, they were dismayed to see that the renters did a poor job cleaning up after themselves.

In Parshas Re’eh the Torah tells us about the bechira to adhere to the commandments of Hashem and refrain from sin. In Parshas Nitzavim, the Torah tells us that we have the choice to repent after we have sinned.

As Moshe is about to die, why does God tell him about how the Israelites will ruin everything?

Jonah objected to God accepting repentance based on ulterior motives and likely for short duration.

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

One of the cornerstones of our Jewish life is chesed, kindness. Chesed can only be taught by example

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

“There is nothing new under the sun” is as valid today as it was yesterday.

The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.

If we regard pain and suffering as mere coincidence, we will feel no motivation to examine our lives

What does Hashem want of us? That we should protect each other and the awesome heritage He gave us.

Gratitude=Great Attitude. Appreciation is always appropriate.

The two words “thank you” have no time expiration; even if spoken after many years they’re as potent as ever.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/a-vacuum-to-be-filled-part-two/2009/10/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: