web analytics
May 30, 2015 / 12 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Let Us Convert Meanness To Kindness


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

The e-mails keep coming in response to my recent columns on compassion. Last week I shared one of them with you; here is another one. We once again see that the readership of The Jewish Press is comprised of many segments of our society with a wide range of opinions, values and traditions.

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

I write from a secular point of view, meaning no offense and having nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for you.

I was deeply touched by the letter from the mother whose daughter’s educational experience was so traumatic. This woman and her husband tried to do everything for the girl, addressing her problems and reaching out to the professionals one is supposed to turn to. While I don’t know if there were any other external influences affecting this young girl’s behavior, there is, nevertheless, no excuse for the callousness and meanness with which she was treated. The persons in authority at her school should have responded to her needs with alacrity.

I assume the parents were paying for this girl’s education, but regardless, the teachers and principal had no right to the countenance the torment this child was exposed to. How dare those professionals not take action and at least attempt some sort of mediation on her behalf? Sadly, I’ve heard too many stories of young people “falling through the cracks” as the result of such unconscionable neglect.

We like to hope that those who are trained to be educators and caretakers of the young take their mission seriously. Not only does this not hold true but we witness just the opposite. Any school founded on the inculcating tenets of its faith – whatever that faith may be – should practice what it preaches and teaches. First and foremost, the school’s administrative and teaching staffs should put the needs of students above all and be sensitive to their suffering.

Our culture has been polluted in all areas. The hypocrisy, the cruelty, the indifference, the lies, the corruption can be found everywhere – in politics, government, sports, Hollywood, and even our religious institutions, where people should know better. It seems that hardly anyone cares about the welfare of his or her neighbor/student/acquaintance. And this indifference, this selfishness, has penetrated our Jewish institutions.

What did the little girl to receive such abysmal treatment from ostensibly educated and committed adults charged with responsibility for her religious, secular and spiritual education? How can our educational leaders be guilty of such betrayal? How can they respond to the anguished parents who entrusted their precious little ones to their care? And, it must be asked, where was the family’s rabbi?

The little girl is now an adult, married with a child of her own, but the scars are there, affecting her and her future generations. Having said all that, I would remind her family of a simple but very powerful teaching – as long as there is life, there is hope. Damage cannot be erased but – if one truly desires – it can be overcome.

I understand that kids, no matter how loving and religious their homes and families, can still be damaged by the meanness and selfishness of others. It is easy to succumb to peer pressure. Such pressures are difficult if not impossible barriers to overcome. As you have said, we have to teach kindness and generosity to our children since they are not born with those character traits. But when children reach an age when they should know better and still exhibit cruelty and nastiness, it can only mean that somewhere along the line that message was not communicated to them.

Parents don’t like saying “no” to their children. They want their kids to like them. At a certain point, however, a parent or caregiver has to stand firm, and when a child demonstrates bad behavior that child must be told bluntly to “knock it off.” And if children are known to be mistreating a schoolmate or neighbor, those children need to be rebuked in no uncertain terms. “I’m the parent” [or “I’m the teacher” or “I’m the rabbi”]; “behave yourself or face the consequences.” While I realize you can’t make children like or hang out with each other, you can enforce decent, respectful conduct, whether in school, the home or a religious institutional setting.

Parents, teachers, and adults in general are authority figures, and I don’t mean that in the punitive sense but rather a corrective one. If our children lack respect for us it is because we have not shown them what respect constitutes. There was a time when parents and teachers were the moral mentors of children. Today our children get their values from television and the many high-tech gadgets that consume all their free time.

We need to be advocates for our sons and daughters (as well as for our elderly and adults in need of special care). If the professionals, religious or otherwise, don’t measure up to the task and dismiss our requests and their responsibility, we have to yell, loudly and clearly, “shame on you!” Yes, shame on them for dismissing the needs of our loved ones who in good faith we entrusted to their care. They will be held accountable. They destroyed innocent lives with far-reaching destructive consequences.

Let us all cry in protest. Eventually someone will hear us and that is how things begin to get done.

Let us convert meanness to kindness, indifference to caring, negligence to responsibility and brutality to gentleness. Let’s start with our families, our schools, our religious institutions and our communities. And if we do so, if we remain steadfast in our commitment, we might just make a change in our world.

Thank you, Rebbetzin.

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 “Let Us Convert Meanness To Kindness”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
What's happened to NYC's Celebrate Israel Parade?
Israel Rejects as ‘False’ UJA Federation’s Claims about Israel Parade ‘Inclusion’
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

What if someone would come to you and offer you everything that is desirable in this world, but with one condition: you have to give up your essence.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Torah learning is valueless unless it enhances personal morality, fostering closer connection to God

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

Why did so many of our great sages from the Rambam to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein live outside Israel?

Daf-Yomi-logo

Casting A Doubt
‘Shall We Say [They] Are Not Valid?’
(Nedarim 5a-7a)

I was about six years old at the time and recall that very special occasion so well.

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Why was Samson singled out as the only Shofet required to be a nazir from cradle to grave?

“What do you mean?” asked the secretary. “We already issued a ruling and closed the case.”

Tosafos suggests several answers as to how a minor can own an item, m’d’Oraisa.

This week’s video discusses the important connection between the Priestly Blessing and parenting.

Many of us simply don’t get the need for the Torah to list the exact same gift offering, 12 times!

There is a great debate as to whether this story actually took place or is simply a metaphor, a prophetic vision shown to Hoshea by Hashem.

Every person is presented with moments when he/she must make difficult decisions about how to proceed.

One does not necessarily share the opinions of one’s brother. One may disapprove of his actions, values, and/or beliefs. However, with brothers there is a bond of love and caring that transcends all differences.

This Shavuot let’s give G-d a gift too: Let’s make this year different by doing just 1 more mitzvah

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Jewish survival in a dysfunctional world requires women assuming the role Hashem gave them at Sinai

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

In every generation is the challenge to purge the culture of our exile from our minds and our hearts

His mother called “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, a moment earlier dark with pain, shone with joy and hope

Pesach bonds families and generations: “So that you may relate it to your son and your son’s son.

Amalek’s hate never dies; its descendants are eternal & omnipresent; Hashem is our only protection

I try to be observant, davening daily, but it hasn’t awakened my heart or my mind or changed my life

France allowed Islamists to flourish despite their loyalty to Islamic sharia law not French values

“Surely,” my family insisted, “there must be someone suitable for you. You can’t be so picky.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/let-us-convert-meanness-to-kindness/2013/01/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: