web analytics
March 31, 2015 / 11 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Sponsored Post

Home » Judaism » Torah »

Why Are We Losing Our Children? (Part I)


Photo Credit: Uri Lenzi/Flash90

Desperately wanting to belong and to understand the prayers, he eagerly looked up when he felt a tap on his shoulder, certain that it was a messenger from Above who was sent to welcome him home and show him the way. He looked into the eyes of a gentleman who politely said, “Excuse me, you are in my seat.” Not letting this temporary setback ruin his experience, he moved back a few rows and continued his silent prayer to Hashem to guide him in his journey. Before long he felt another tap on his shoulder. Looking up in anticipation of a warm smile, perhaps an invitation to Shabbos lunch, he heard another gentleman politely say, “Excuse me, you are in my seat.” His patience was waning, but his desire to be religious was still lukewarm, and he moved to the last row in the shul in order to be certain that he was not in anyone’s seat. He closed his eyes and prayed. A few minutes later, the man in charge of the services approached him. His heart was racing; perhaps he would be invited to a seat, or better yet, maybe he would get the aliyah to the Torah that he had not received when he turned 13. The gabbai told him, kindly, that it was inappropriate to come to shul in jeans and a t-shirt on Shabbos; next time he should please dress in a suit like all the others.

He took off his yarmulka, handed it to the gabbai, and left the shul and Yiddishkeit for FORTY years. He had a tear in his eye when he said to me, “Rebbe, can you imagine that I did not have Torah or Shabbos for forty years because no one extended himself to say good Shabbos to me?” He joined a Reform temple for his three-day-a-year version of Judaism until he decided to look for meaning in his life and went to Israel. When he arrived at the Kosel, someone tapped him on the shoulder, offered him a Shabbos meal, and the rest was history.

My student wanted to come close to Hashem, but he needed to feel that he belonged somewhere. The two go hand in hand. We are the emissaries of Hashem and we are supposed to emulate His love and chesed by extending love and chesed to our brothers. The warmth and brotherhood in a close knit Jewish home, shul or community is a ray of light to observers. Many returnees to a Torah life are motivated on their journey by the warmth of a family Shabbos table, the singing and divrei Torah sans technological interruptions. They are touched at the attention given to the children and the special family atmosphere created each week. Conversely, when members of the community grow up without warmth or love in their homes and/or from teachers, the chill that is generated causes them to feel as if they don’t belong.

Many who have left claim that they can clearly blame a teacher, parent or principal for a bad experience or comment that made them feel alienated and rejected. By withholding warmth and acceptance, we risk alienating our children and creating in them a yearning for an alternative lifestyle they hope or assume would be warm and accepting. If they can’t be accepted for who they are in our world, then they will find someplace else – anywhere that will make them feel at home.

Although my shul is an eclectic group of individuals from many backgrounds, nationalities and levels of observance, I am proud that its members are warm and welcoming to each other and to newcomers. I am proud that if you come to my shul, your hand will be squeezed in a Good Shabbos shake by almost everyone, and it is common that a guest or stranger will be offered a kibbud or aliyah during his visit. In contrast, for many years a close friend has davened Friday nights in a particular shul. He davens near the front and passes about one hundred people as he walks to his seat. He tries to catch people’s eyes and say Good Shabbos, but he is not one of the “chevra” and people don’t look his way or greet him. When he does say “Good Shabbos,” he often does not get a response. When he goes on vacation for the summer, no one seems to notice that he is gone or welcomes him back upon his return. Although the Rav kindly greets him, his sense of alienation from the other hundred people is very disheartening and generates a feeling of not belonging. This friend commented that he could understand why teens or young adults who do not feel part of Klal Yisroel would not feel that this is their home.

About the Author: Rabbi Gil Frieman is the pulpit Rabbi of Jewish Center Nachlat Zion, the home of Ohr Naava. He is certified as a shochet, sofer, and has given lectures in the United States, Canada, and throughout Eretz Yisroel. Rabbi Frieman is currently the American Director of seminaries Darchei Binah, Afikei Torah, and Chochmas Lev in Eretz Yisroel, and teaches in Nefesh High School, Camp Tubby during the summers, and lectures weekly at Ohr Naava. In addition, Rabbi Frieman teaches all tracks in Ateres Naava Seminary. He is a highly anticipated speaker on TorahAnytime.com where he speaks live most Wednesday nights at 9:00pm EST.

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.

One Response to “Why Are We Losing Our Children? (Part I)”

  1. As Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us." The Association of German National Jews. They were no different from the many leftist Jewish groups in America today. Max Naumann leader of the group supported Hitler in the early days pushing assimilation and integration. It is the same ideology, extant here. In 1934 they stated "we have always held the well-being of the German people and the fatherland, to which we feel inextricably linked, above our own well-being. Thus we greeted the results of January, 1933, even though it has brought hardship for us personally". The liberal today no longer practices Judaism, no longer even knows what we observant Jews believe in. They are ve'echad she'eino yodea lish'ol. Past the tam. They do not even connect. His religion is secular humanism. My own mother saw these people bring Hitler to power. She says the The Association of German National Jews was just one group. There were many like minded Jews. These people will be the capos when the fascists declare a dictatorship here to promote their modern fascism; a one world government and religion, blocked only by Orthodox Judiasm and like minded Christians. Once exploited, they will be next. Like Pol Pot in Cambodia, the intellectual liberals were used, then taken. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Talks between Iran and the P5+1 at Lausanne are likely to be extended beyond Obama's self-imposed deadline.
Iran Likely to Force Obama to Back Down on ‘Deadline Threat’
Latest Judaism Stories

Our ability to teach is only successful if done by example.


Outside of the High Holidays, Pesach is probably the most celebrated biblical holiday for the majority of Jews.


“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”


So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat

Rambam warns that a festival meal without taking care of the needy isn’t fulfilling simchat yom tov

More Articles from Rabbi Gil Frieman

While we wish the nations of the world success and prosperity, we realize that this feeling has not always been reciprocated.


I watch my children use blocks to build a large structure, observing the trepidation with which they add each block. As the structure becomes larger there is a greater risk of it collapsing, thus bringing an end to an hour of playful labor. I anticipate what will happen when one child adds a block to the top floor, compromising the integrity of the building and resulting in the collapse of the entire structure. The argument that ensues is predictable, as each child blames the other for “ruining” the fun. As an adult, I wonder about the need to attribute blame. Will assigning blame be instrumental in rebuilding the structure?

Kids today… that’s not the way we behaved when we were younger!! That is the mantra I hear repeated as parents bemoan the spoiled nature and lack of responsibility of today’s children. The problem is – it is not a fair comparison.

My family and I had recently enjoyed an outing to the bowling alley, courtesy of our friend, the owner. Children of all ages enjoy this weatherproof sport, and even preschoolers can easily score strike after strike as bumpers support the heavy ball as it creeps its way towards the pins at the end of the lane.

We all yearn to feel that we are part of something special. We all seek respect and acceptance for simply being who we are.

A congregant once told me that he was spending a large amount of time trying to explain Judaism to a coworker. His colleague thought that all Jewish holidays had the same theme, and he proudly summarized this theme at his family’s two-minute Seder: “They tried to kill us, Hashem saved us, we won, now let’s eat!!” He proudly bragged that this sentence was the family’s personal, abbreviated Haggadah.

Many trees upstate were damaged by the hurricane that swept through the East Coast at the end of last summer, and I was involved in finding the safest equipment to clean up the mess. I love trees and found the chore of cutting them down very difficult, especially knowing that the stately 60 year old trees would be impossible to replace. Even though we planted new trees, I don’t know whether I will be there to enjoy these new saplings when they are 60 years old.

I rarely take the extended warranty when purchasing new electronics. I figure that this warranty must not be worth much if they feel the need to pressure me into buying it. They must know what I have learned the hard way: there is no such thing as a real guarantee. In my more naive days, I purchased this “peace of mind,” as they call it, but never cashed in. Usually, by the time the item broke, I had forgotten about the extended warranty and purchased a replacement.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/losing-our-children-why-kids-go-off-the-derech-part-i/2013/01/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: