A couple of years ago The Jewish Press published a letter I wrote about how people treat “kids/teens off the derech.” I wrote about my daughter who had totally left religion and how I felt people could make a difference in these children’s lives; they either inspire them or turn them off. The response to my letter was overwhelming. People contacted me wanting to help and others wrote about their children in similar situations.
I want to follow up and let you know that Hashem has been good to my family. Today, my daughter is extremely frum, married to a guy who also had his “journey” and they are leading a pure Torah life. On her journey home, she worked with girls going through their own struggles and was able to inspire them because she had been one of them – and this gave them hope.
So yes, Baruch Hashem my daughter has changed, but unfortunately not everything has. Why are there still so many people who look down on these kids if they are not dressed the same way they are? Is it really better to be dressed in a tzniut fashion but to speak loshon hara about others and be mean? Does having your legs and arms covered really make you a better Jew and a better person? Does it give you the green light to judge someone and act like you are above him or her? This is not what real tzniut and a true Torah life is about.
If you want to help bring these kids back to yiddishkeit and inspire them to love our way of life, then you need to act towards them with love and compassion and be a good role model. Being judgmental and snobby isn’t going to do it; it will just turn them off more.
People need to wake up because everyday there are more kids turning away – and so many of them are acting in self-destructive ways. My daughter’s journey was seven years long – and things are worse today in our community than when it began. We need ahavat chinam for these kids too in order to bring Moshiach.