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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 12/23/05

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Dear Rachel,

First, thanks for allowing your column to be a forum for SSA. You have done a great service to the frum men and women who are struggling with this issue.

In your reply to the divorcee in your recent column (Chronicles 11-25), I believe you stated that our educational institutions are not to be faulted for (at least some of) the problems we have, and that SSA is relatively rare.

It isn’t. And it is becoming an increasingly rampant problem. It was a problem when I was a bochur 35 years ago, and it is much worse now. Our Roshei Yeshiva need to be enlightened on how to deal with this issue appropriately and how to help young men and women deal with its devastation.

Second, the Jewish (read: frum) educational world is as slow as molasses in dealing with the issues facing our youth. I have been involved in special ed for years and feel the author of the letter makes a valid point – under the umbrella of Torah education we need to teach our children about budgeting, about relating to the opposite sex (and that’s more than just a “chossen’s schmooze”), and about raising children. Sure, a bulk of this education should come from home. But our Roshei Yeshiva often supplant the parents, and our kids end up leaving yeshiva with almost no appreciation of the struggles that are involved in raising a family.

To buttress my point, permit me to share with you that several of my boys (I have eleven, b’li ayin horah) are married. Two of the more “yeshivishe” ones had a “chossen’s schmooze” the week before they got married. One of them mentioned that the “schmoozer” generally charges a fee. I was floored.

“Shuey,” I asked my son, “what does this man know that I don’t? Why should I pay for something I can do myself? What am I . . . chopped liver? Did HE change your diapers, take you to school, help you with your homework, play ball with you and come to your school plays?”

“Well, Ta, it’s just not done that way!”

Why not? Because the yeshiva system usurps the parents. I’m okay with that, because the Torah teaches us that teaching your chaver’s son Torah is as if you have borne him. But if that’s the case, then go the whole nine yards. Teach my son the value of money. Teach my son that women are human beings and are to be treasured, cared for and loved. Teach my son how to act as a father. Teach my son that marriage is hard work and not a perpetual sheva brachos.

Sorry for being so long winded. But our Yeshivos and Batei Yaakov DO have a responsibility in these areas. When the mussar movement was introduced, it was a revolution…. after all, why couldn’t we just get mussar from a blatt Gemara? It simply doesn’t work that way. The same applies to learning how to relate to spouses and to be a responsible parent. Education is the key, and yeshivos have fallen flat.

Keep up your good work of educating the public.

Even educators need to be educated

Dear Educator,

How can I argue with one who’s out there and is a witness to the goings on, both as an educator and a dad? It’s just that I’d been under the impression that a parent who brings a child into the world takes upon him/herself the responsibility of sustaining that child and ensuring its survival in this world. Does such (awesome) function not encapsulate the teachings of the basics of human behavior?

Granted, the task of parenting has become most challenging in our day. Besides being exposed to decadence in all areas on all sides, we seem to be caught up in a whirlpool of activity, constantly on the run to accomplish and acquire … exactly what may need to be explored (but that’s another topic for another day). So where does all this leave our children? In schools and yeshivos, where we trust that they are continuing to learn from where we left off with them the night before. And you have elucidated the shortcomings of our educators’ role in our children’s lives – which clearly illustrates one thing for certain: We all are culpable.

Hopefully, educators AND parents are taking stock … and reappraising their priorities. The first lesson in all of this is to look within. We are all accountable, and this does not mean shifting the weight of responsibility to others. Parents relying on educators and teachers depending on parents can be likened to one person doing the praying for another. There is some merit therein, but not nearly enough. Each of us must do our own “praying” in order for every yiddishe neshama to reap maximum potential. Every one of our child’s future is at stake.

Despite your show of modesty, I am willing to bet that your sons have gleaned from you more than the “schmoozers” could ever instill. Thank you for your part in lighting the way.

Each wick lit, every tiny flame awakened, multiplied by eight, times billions all over the globe, creates a brilliance radiating from our midst – “a light unto the nations.” Hatzlacha and the brightest of Chanukahs to you and all!

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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