web analytics
March 28, 2015 / 8 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Sponsored Post

Home » Judaism » Torah »

Why Are We Losing Our Children? (Part I)


Photo Credit: Uri Lenzi/Flash90

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

More than twenty years ago, I was invited to give shiurim on the small Caribbean island of Curacao. Located in a virtually unknown part of the globe, the Mikve Israel synagogue in Willemstad was built in 1732 and is the oldest synagogue still in use in the Western Hemisphere. My friend and I went to speak at the newer, Orthodox shul, which was founded within the past century. After circling the island numerous times in search of the shul, I finally pulled over to ask for directions. Not being fluent in the local language of Papiamentu, I handed the slip of paper with the address to the kind man who stopped to assist me. He spent the next 15 minutes guiding me to the other side of the tiny country, not leaving me until I pulled up to the front door of the shul. When I thanked him, he said that this is their way; to make sure a stranger gets to his destination. I experienced this chesed many times over the next week, and more than two decades later, I still cherish the warm and welcoming way I was treated.

We all seek to be surrounded by people who care, to be part of something special and larger than ourselves. The special feeling of being part of a warm, respectful family is the feeling that should be generated by simply being a member of the large Jewish nation. Just as the Torah commands us to help the stranger – even when he is our enemy – whose mode of transportation has become disabled on the road, so too it is incumbent upon all of us to extend ourselves, with warmth, to those around us. I firmly believe that one who feels loved and respected in his home and in his community will yearn to stay in that positive atmosphere. Why would a person have the need to go somewhere else, if where he is now is a place of comfort, happiness and growth? Making children feel warm and comfortable in our homes, schools and shuls is the most important way we can help them continue on the path we have chartered for them in our homes, schools, and shuls. A person who feels special at home is likely to want to replicate that environment in the future.

Why do kids go off the derech? The question itself generates further questions. There is clearly no single explanation that covers all of those who choose to stray from the path of Torah. Some may wonder what the point there is then in asking the question – let’s just focus on helping them return. My intent in writing this series is not to point the finger of blame or to trivialize what may be a painful interaction of multiple factors that contribute to many of our children leaving the path of our heritage. My goal is to share insights from my more than twenty years of experience and to suggest some important issues that we, as a community, can work on to help strengthen our children’s bonds to the eternal values of Torah and our Creator.

Many summers ago, I gave a series of shiurim in Ohr Someach Jerusalem on living a spiritual life in the 20th century. A sixty-year-old man sat in every class and diligently took notes on everything I said. Many decades his junior, his interest in learning was very motivating to me as a rebbe, and his enthusiasm was infectious to the rest of the students. When he missed a day, he explained that he had gone to Europe for a business meeting. He was a successful businessman, but Torah was his new passion. He had lived a life without Torah for four decades, and was now enthusiastically embracing his newfound heritage.

Then he told us his story. As a young man, he decided to leave the secular world of his parents and embrace the religious life that his grandfather so fervently adhered to. One Shabbos morning he awoke with tremendous excitement and went to the local shul to begin his new lifestyle. He found an empty seat in the front and picked up a prayer book with no English translation, and, while exhilarated that he was in the house of Hashem, was also nervous because he did not know how to daven.

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
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu to Release Frozen Palestinian Authority Tax Revenue
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: