“I want you to know how much you did for Dina,” the choked-up mother continued. “Even in her last hours on her deathbed, Dina spoke with a sparkle of happiness in her eyes, about the girls that befriended her and the year spent in your school – even though it’s been over 10 years!”
Moreover, I can’t reconcile myself with the months and months of anxiety inflicted on our children (and parents) to get into the “perfect” high school or seminary, which supposedly is a prerequisite to the next step of making the “perfect” shidduch. I also take issue with the use of “connections” that parents are forced to use, and that seminary directors succumb to, and how this affects acceptances, irrespective of personal merit. Our children are blissfully too naïve to confront such prejudice from the mechanchim that they respect at this stage of their lives.
The whole process would be more enriched and less painful if as a community, we took responsibility for all of our students, to encourage many respectable schools rather than a hierarchy of desirable ones.
But most of all, even after being accepted into the “perfect” institution of one’s choice, I wonder how many of our children are losing out on the valuable life skills and lessons, of reaching out with sensitivity to another. Not as a classroom lesson. Not as a community chesed or ahavas Yisrael project, but as a real-life scenario.
As mechanchim, we may not take pride in having students like Dina. But perhaps it is these students, more than the “dream” ones, who actualize our potential as real mechanchim, while providing our students with opportunities for real chinuch. Just ask Dina’s mother. She’ll give you a whole new perspective on chinuch when she tells you about those special girls who about a decade ago, reached beyond their egos to befriend her daughter.
*Names and identifying qualities have been changed.
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