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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘CHILDREN’

Assemble Yourselves! Our Blessings, Our Children, Our Community

Friday, January 13th, 2017

The year 2017 dawns on an age in which anger, negativity, and personal animus is spiking across the nation and the world. Disturbingly, this same trend seems to be etching its way ever deeper into our own Orthodox community. For more and more Orthodox Jews, the sine qua non is “us versus them” with the “us” being a narrow “just like me” Jew and the “them” being other Jews who do not meet a pre-ordained criteria of how to look, how to act, where to pray, etc.

The extent of the vituperation visited by one Jew upon another is beyond disheartening; it saps the holiness and divine inspiration that should animate our Jewish community and world, leaving us vulnerable to the greatest dangers imaginable – from both within and without.

With so much hate and turmoil roiling our observant community, is it any wonder that so many flee? Is it any wonder that so many stay away? Who wouldn’t prefer an accepting, caring environment with people who express love and concern rather than a judgmental, angry grouping that is a “community” in name only?

The question is not what has become of us but what will become of us.

When Yaakov Avinu was getting ready to leave this world, he brought his children together to charge them not only with personal goals and aspirations but also with a national mission. “Assemble yourselves and I will tell you what will befall you in the End of Days.” (Bereishit 49:1)

In calling his children together, Yaakov was teaching them that to be together is in and of itself a blessing of Jewish existence, that to gather, to assemble – to avoid dissension – is a foundational necessity of Jewish existence. Assembled together, we can merit and achieve geulah. Apart, we are at the mercy of what is most evil in the world and ourselves.

Am Yisrael’s greatest blessing is unity; our greatest curse, machlokes. As Rabbi Soloveitchik taught, “If one tribe is eliminated, Knesses Yisrael would be stillborn.” The varied and individual gifts of each son contribute together to the fullness of our community. No two brothers are alike in temperament or ability. Our community is not sameness but unity and joy in our combined individual gifts.

Following the Midrash, Rashi comments that Yaakov wanted to tell his children when the long, bitter galus would end and when Mashiach would come, but the Divine Spirit “left him.” The Kotzker Rebbe suggests this occurred so that they would always live with the hope, always continue to anticipate, and always need to beseech and pray that they be worthy of the geulah and so learn that God does not want us to find comfort in deadlines but in deeds that merit the End. Redemption must be earned. Mashiach sits at Jerusalem’s gates, ready and waiting for us to genuinely want him.

In this context, understanding that God did not want to reveal the date of Redemption to Yaakov, the Radomsker Rebbe asks a difficult question: Why have the Divine Spirit leave him? Certainly God could have simply hidden this one data point without depriving him of the Divine Spirit. In wrestling with the question, the Radomsker reasoned that God did not actually remove the Divine Spirit directly. Rather, Yaakov foresaw Am Yisrael’s future of ordeals, trials, and tribulations and he grew so distressed and dejected that he lost his capacity for Divine inspiration.

But how could such a thing be? How does one simply “lose” his capacity for inspiration? Easier than we might imagine. As the Talmud teaches, the Shechinah rests only on someone who is in a state of simcha, joy. From this we learn that a basic qualification needed to attain Divine powers – Ruach haKodesh – is simcha. In seeing the harsh future of the Jewish people, Yaakov lost his joy, hope, and optimism, causing the Shechinah to separate from him, leaving him with a sense of desperation.

As a people, we have managed to not only survive but to thrive through our many travails and our seemingly endless galus because we never lost hope. We never succumbed to a national depression. We remained unified, and in our unity we found joy. Even in galus we have seen the glimmers of light and hope guiding our way.

But now? At a time when the Orthodox community is showing strengths that were once unimaginable, we risk the greatest gift of all. Rather than invite unity, rather than embrace unity, rather than cling desperately to the one thing upon which our connection to the Divine Spirit rests, we consciously create dissension.

There are all too many in our community who are on the outs. Their parents have turned their backs on them. Their rebbeim, yeshiva rosters bursting with more compliant students, cast them aside. No one wants them – not neighbors, not former friends, not former classmates. They have been stripped of their “membership” in the community.

Dumped by the very people who should want them most of all, who should love them most fiercely, who should celebrate them warts and all, these children have no place but the streets to find the acceptance they desperately want. They want community but when their own community will not have them they find community in a gathering of other hurt and broken souls. How they suffer. And not because God has removed His Divine Spirit from them, not because God does not want to inspire them and reveal to them when Mashiach will herald for them a better day, certainly not because God has abandoned them. But because we – their parents, their rebbeim, their teachers, their friends – have taken from them their joy and optimism. Our “off the derech” (OTD) children can see no light, no hope. Like Yaakov, they see the darkness of the days ahead and cannot imagine a personal geulah. They are weighted down by unrealistic demands, unreasonable expectations from home and school, no personal attention or sympathy, and they lose hope, they lose simcha. They see clearly the hypocrisy in those who have turned their backs.

How could they not be adrift?

We would be wise to understand that in his insightful lessons, the Radomsker spoke not only of Yaakov Avinu but of our own Yankeles Yes, he speaks not only of our patriarch but of our children, once so delightful and curious, now surly and cynical, angry and bitter.

Yes, we live in a harsh time, an angry time. That is sad and unfortunate. That the same harshness and anger has seeped into our own community is a scandal. That we live in a time of so many OTD young people is a judgment not on our children but on us.

We learn from the Ohr Hachayim Hakadosh that when Yaakov met Eisav, he hid Dina, his daughter. Why? So that Eisav would not abduct her. Our modern eyes can see no fault in Yaakov’s actions but the Midrash teaches that Yaakov was punished; had he given his daughter to his OTD brother perhaps she would have caused him to do teshuvah and return. So too Yitzchak Avinu had intended all his blessings for his “evil” son so that perhaps if he gave him the most he could give, that would make him a tzaddik.

Our tradition is filled with examples of small gestures of kindness turning the most recalcitrant sinner into a pious believer. Yet we do not behave as though those lessons are real or have power in our world.

We are wrong.

When Yaakov is informed that Yosef is alive and sees the wagons sent by Yosef for him, the Torah tells us the “spirit of Yaakov was revived.”

Rashi and Ramban comment that in the years of Yosef’s absence, Yaakov was in mourning. He was sad and dejected. The Divine Spirit had left him. But once Yaakov was again happy and joyful, the Divine spirit returned and he was revived spiritually.

Our OTD children can also be revived, if we only would give them uplifting experiences. If we overwhelm them with optimism and opportunities for growth and self-esteem, they too can have the Divine revisit them and our community can be whole. Our community can be one in more than just name.

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

How To Deal With Behaviorally Challenged Children

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Is a red bull
Charging through the mind’s fields
Inciting actions you may soon


The poem above, written by contemporary children’s poet John Foster, is a great metaphor for the way that anger can impact our lives and our children’s lives. Anger can propel us into actions that ultimately hurt us and those around us. To that end, I have asked Dr. Ross Greene, a pioneer of working with behaviorally challenged children to speak to our community next November.

You see it all the time – a child kicking and screaming in the grocery store, a toddler throwing his toy in the sandbox, or a kindergartener stomping up and down the stairs of his school.

Every child occasionally has a meltdown regardless of his or her age or natural disposition. While the roots of these tantrums might differ, they often affect the whole family. The way you respond to the meltdowns can influence their future recurrence and their long-lasting effects. Children throw fits in an attempt to gain control of their environment. If that fit works, they continue to have meltdowns because it is a method by which they can assert power over their parents. Below, I have outlined some ways to deal with “normal” meltdowns.



For children who are preschool age, meltdowns will generally occur around food, clothing, and toys. In the supermarket, children will want to buy certain foods, at home, they will want to wear certain socks or shirts, and in the park or at friends’ homes, they will want to play with only one toy. When your child’s decision is inconvenient and impossible, you will not be able to meet these wants. That’s where the problem arises. If your daughter starts throwing a fit in the supermarket, here are some suggestions to curb that behavior:

            Stick to your guns. If you originally said “no” to buying chocolate chip cookies and then threw them in your cart when your daughter started screaming, you are teaching her that if she screams she gets what she wants. Instead, if you say “no,” stick to it. Expect to feel embarrassed in the supermarket for a few trips, but eventually your daughter will learn that screaming gets her nowhere.

            Avoid triggers. If you know that your daughter always melts down when you go through the snack aisle, don’t go through the snack aisle. If you need something from that section, consider going to the supermarket when your daughter is not with you.

            Sleep and food. Children will often lose control over their emotions if they are tired or hungry. Perhaps, switch the time you take your daughter to the supermarket or be sure to feed her a snack before you leave the house. This can reduce the occurrences of tantrums.


School Age

Elementary school children may occasionally throw tantrums when sitting down to do their homework. This will often occur if your child is inundated by work or exhausted from lack of sleep. These fits can involve your child slamming textbooks closed or breaking pencils in frustration. On the other hand, your child could simply break down in tears because she feels she will never complete the assignment. Occasional fits involving homework are normal, but if they are occurring on a weekly basis, consider taking the following steps:

            Establish a routine. Set aside a regular time and place where your daughter can do her homework. This will ensure that she feels in control and will give her more confidence when approaching her homework tasks.

            Sleep, sleep, sleep. For preschoolers and elementary school children, sleep in an essential part of the puzzle. Children who are rested are better able to handle obstacles with poise.

            Testing. If you notice a discrepancy between your child’s potential and her performance, consider getting an academic evaluation. There might be something larger, such as a learning disability, at work.


More Than Meltdowns

There are many instances in which the meltdowns are not normal. In fact, I have devoted a lot of time to studying and treating Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), an increasingly common disorder today. Children with ODD stand out from other children who are occasionally cranky or argumentative and there may be more than regular temper tantrums going on.

Explosive children or those with ODD are easily frustrated, demanding, and inflexible. When things don’t go their way, they react with violence or rage. Their siblings are afraid of them. Their parents are constantly walking on eggshells, terrified of the next outburst. They have barely any friends. And they can erupt in temper tantrums, kicking, screaming, sudden outbursts, and verbal or physical aggression, usually in response to relatively benign situations.

How can you respond to oppositional behavior? Dr. Greene suggests Plan B. Plan B allows you to respond to the defiant behavior in a systematic way in order to stay calm and help calm your child. Below are the steps that I often teach parents in order to work with their own children with ODD:


Step 1: Empathy Step 2: Define Problem Step 3: Invite Solutions
Gather information about the problem so that you can better understand what your child is going through. Try to approach the problem from your child’s perspective. Verbalize the problem out loud so that your child hears your empathy and understanding. Begin with something such as, “Your concern is…” or “You are frustrated about…” Now that the problem has been empathized with and verbalized, brainstorm realistic and mutually satisfactory solutions with your child.


Another approach, proposed by the American Academy of Children and Adolescent Psychiatry, involves cognitive problem solving skills training. This approach is similar to Dr. Greene’s Plan B in that it reduces inappropriate behaviors by teaching the child positive ways of responding to stressful situations. The Academy argues that because children with ODD often only know of negative ways of interpreting and responding to real-life situations, they do not have the skills to respond positively. Therefore, cognitive problem-solving skills training teaches them how to see situations and respond appropriately.

In some situations in which cognitive problem solving skills training is not successful, the AACAP suggests medication to alleviate extreme symptoms of ODD.

Need some more suggestions? There are some great resources out there – books and workshops! And of course, Dr. Greene will be coming to Brooklyn next November. You can benefit from his expertise then!

Rifka Schonfeld

Hunting Down a Terrorist in Haifa, City of Unity

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

It’s not easy to hunt down a terrorist in a place that’s known for its inclusive nature, its mixed neighborhoods and for the diverse population that has transformed the port city into a unique cultural capital.

But on Wednesday morning,social media chat boards were busy with members posting pleas to a nameless murderer in their midst to “turn yourself in, you’re turning our lives into hell on earth.” By Thursday, the posts were exchanging funeral information.

Guy Kafri, 48, was one of two people shot on Tuesday in a murder that went largely unreported for two days due to a gag order by police. They were reportedly trying to figure out whether the crime was one of passion, nationalism or due to an underworld dispute.

It has now become clear that the victims were attacked by a terrorist.

The second man who was shot, a rabbi on the Haifa conversion court, was seriously wounded in the attack, but has survived.

Kafri was laid to rest Thursday in Moshav Ofer. “No one had a bad word to say about him,” his brother-in-law, Shachar Dror, told the Hebrew-language Ynet site. A driver who transported disabled children, this was a victim who seems to have had no enemies.

“All the evidence points to the fact that Guy was murdered because he was Jewish,” Dror said.

Haifa residents have called on security personnel to release the name and photo of the suspect for whom they are searching – and whose identifying information is still protected by a gag order.

Hana Levi Julian

Join the Crowd Funding Campaign to Strengthen Oz veGaon [video]

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

At the Oz veGaon nature preserve we are preparing for the challenges of winter and the strengthening of this strategic point overlooking the Gush Etzion Junction with a special fundraising campaign   These days, the Women in green movement is starting a broad-based fundraising campaign to finance preparations for the stormy winter days at Oz veGaon and to reinforce its security arrangements.

Women in Green Final from CauseMatch on Vimeo.   The heads of the movement, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar explain the matching campaign that will take place during a period of thirty hours, beginning this coming Tuesday December 20th 2016. It is a mass fundraising drive to finance the reinforcement and strengthening of the preserve that was established more than 2 years ago in memory of the three youths that were abducted and murdered (Gil-Ad , Eyal and Naftali, hy”d) on the night that it was discovered that they had been murdered.

The Three Boys   “With the help of thousands of youths and volunteers, the preserve has become an active educational-tourist site and a thriving and flourishing cultural center. On the night that the bodies of the youths were found, we went up to the place and found it abandoned and neglected, used for criminal activity and drugs by the youths from the Arab villages in the surrounding area, and a place where people from these villages had used as a trash heap”, say the two women. “Since then, thousands of volunteers have rolled up their sleeves for the work of preparing the place to become a nature preserve.

Children at Oz veGaon   Garbage was removed, paths were paved, tourist and recreational equipment were set up at the place, the Forester’s House in the center of the preserve was cleaned, improved and designated as a synagogue.  The volunteers and youths who came from all areas of Israel, and even from abroad, showed their love for the Land of Israel with their hands and feet, and the place became a center to visit and enjoy the accommodations for tourists, visitors and soldiers that serve in the Gush Etzion area”.

Children at Oz veGaon   Along with cultural events, a Torah study house for women, family events, large holiday events and lectures and speeches that have been held at the place, one can also find among those who have come to the preserve over the past two years, public figures and spiritual leaders, politicians and statesmen, among whom are Ministers Naftali Bennett, Yariv Levin, Miri Regev, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and many others.   Click Here to Explore this Campaign.   People who pass through Gush Etzion Junction on their way to the communities of the Gush and South Hevron Hills testify to the dramatic change that has taken place since the preserve was established. “The obvious Jewish presence at the place radiates security. The residents of the communities of the area go on foot to the place feeling safe, also because of the expanded Jewish area of contiguity”, say Katsover and Matar and note the involvement of Gush Etzion Council and its acting head in assisting Women in Green with the preparation and realization of the preserve.   With the approach of winter, Women in Green invites members of the general public to mobilize themselves for the project of strengthening the preserve and to join in funding the acquisition of essential means to defend the place and continue its activity.

Oz veGaon in the Snow   As we were making plans for the fundraising campaign, it was reported in the media that a gang of terrorists was captured from Beit Fajjar, the Arab village next to the preserve. As was ascertained in their investigation, both were involved in preparing Molotov cocktails and improvised weapons in preparation for carrying out terror attacks. This would have entailed throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Oz veGaon and the Migdal Oz community. “The security apparatus at Oz veGaon requires a serious upgrade; additional security lighting and security cameras are necessary to ensure the safety of the many visitors” state Katsover and Matar.   LINK to the Campaign: https://www.causematch.com/en/projects/wig/?ref=269   “We call on the public at large to come to our aid and to join in the project of strengthening the preserve. Winter conditions on the hills of Judea combine bitter cold with frequent power outages that make it difficult to keep the paths lit and to provide adequate heating at the preserve. Against all of this and the hostile Arab villages in the area, as well as the threat of terror arson, we will not weaken and we will not surrender. This is precisely the time when we need your help in maintaining and strengthening the place”, say Katsover and Matar.   The two women enumerate the objectives that they have set for the fundraising campaign:

  1. “Acquiring  a generator that will boost the lighting at the place and enable much stronger security and defense at the preserve,
  2. Acquiring security cameras at strategic points around the preserve,
  3. Renovating and strengthening the peripheral security lighting; organizing security arrangements at the preserve compound,
  4. Repaving the paths around the preserve in such a manner that will enable passage for security vehicles to arrive in case of need,
  5. Acquiring fire extinguishing equipment to cope with the threat of  arson”.

As noted, because of the offer of special matching that the movement has received – all money that is donated toward these objectives will be doubled by donors who wish to remain anonymous. However, the campaign is “all or nothing” – only if the target amount is reached by the end of the thirty hour period of the campaign will the donations be doubled, but if the amount is not reached then even that will not be donated, and we at Women in Green prefer not even to think about this possibility.   Children at Oz veGaon

Every donation will have a strengthening effect, and now, every effect will have double the influence. Don’t minimize the benefit of any donation – even some tens of shekels. Every shekel will be doubled and bring us another step closer to the goal of the campaign”, say Katsover and Matar and emphasize: “the fortification of the preserve and strengthening of the communities in general is the appropriate and Zionist response to the wave of terror that the Jewish People has been contending with in recent times. We call upon you to join us in this campaign for Oz veGaon”.

Click Here to Donate.

Jewish Press Staff

Netanyahu Says Israel Will Accept Wounded Syrians From Aleppo

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is willing to accept wounded Syrian civilians who are casualties from the horrific clashes in Aleppo.

The prime minister tweeted a series of statements on his Twitter account late Tuesday night in response to questions during a gaggle in Jerusalem at the annual winter holiday toast for the foreign media corps.

“I’ve asked the Foreign Ministry to expand our medical assistance to civilian casualties of the Syrian tragedy, specifically in Aleppo,” Netanyahu said. “We’re prepared to take in wounded women and children, and also non-combatant men.

“We’d like to bring them to Israel, to our hospitals, as we’ve treated thousands of Syrian civilians. We’re looking for ways to do this,” he added.

Israel opened a field hospital in the Golan Heights to provide medical treatment to wounded Syrians several years after the start of the Syrian civil war, which began in March 2011, as the so-called Arab Spring swept across the Middle East.

Some of the more seriously wounded Syrians — including children — who cannot be treated within the confines of that environment are transferred to hospitals within Israel until their health improves.

Hana Levi Julian

JAFCO Luncheon Raises $35,000 For Children

Monday, December 19th, 2016

The Weston/West Broward Chapter of Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options (JAFCO) hosted its Michelle Goldstein Spirit of Life Luncheon on Nov. 2 at the Weston Hills Country Club and raised $35,000 for abused and neglected children. The luncheon is named in honor of Michelle Goldstein, whose life ended tragically during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and celebrates her life and love for children.

The luncheon’s theme was “All That Jazz” and featured a live jazz band. The event was co-chaired by chapter president Beth Salmon and chapter vice president Lyssa Flayman. Honorees Carmen Reinhard and Rochelle Umschweis were presented with an engraved mezuzah for their commitment to the children of JAFCO.

The luncheon began with a boutique of more than 20 vendors and a Chinese auction with many exciting prizes. The event featured a candle lighting ceremony, an inspiring video presentation, and a “Godparent” pinning ceremony.

Proceeds from the event benefit JAFCO, which serves abused and neglected children and children with developmental disabilities in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties.

JAFCO has expanded its clinical services by opening an office in Philadelphia to bring the JAFCO model to the Northeast communities.

For more information about JAFCO, contact JAFCO Director of Development Operations Shelli Gold at 954-315-8671 or shelli@jafco.org.

Shelley Benveniste

Netanyahu Reminds Amona in Letter: Israel is a Nation That Lives by the Rule of Law

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the residents of Amona and protesters who are gathering to stand with them in solidarity against eviction from their homes, to avoid violence, in an open letter posted Friday.

The prime minister also reminded the residents in the letter that he had ordered the government this past week to speed up demolition of illegal construction in the Arab sector. In addition, he urged parents not to allow their children and teens to be present at what promises at the very least to be a painful and chaotic protest.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu / screen capture

“Dear Residents of Amona,

“My heart is with you.

“We are living in a difficult time – for you, your families and for the entire people of Israel.

“The government is committed to the settlements of Judea and Samaria. We are more committed to this than any other government in the history of the State. As such, the minister’s of the government are making every possible effort – every effort – to find a solution that would allow the settlers to remain in place.

“We have dedicated days and nights to this – dozens of discussions – we have come up creative solutions, but sadly, these suggestions have not been accepted.

“One thing must be made clear. The State of Israel is a state that abides by the rule of law. The Court’s ruling binds us all, including those of us in the Israeli government.

“However, the law must also be equal. The same law that necessitates the evacuation of Amona also necessitates the evacuation of illegal building in other areas of our country.

“For this reason I ordered the demolition of illegal building in the Negev, Wadi Ara, the Galilee, the Central region – all over the country, which we will do in the coming days.

“I will not tolerate discrimination in the enforcement of building regulations between Israeli Jewish citizens and Israeli Arab citizens, between one person and the next.

“I will fight so that Israel will have one law for everyone, and one path to enforce it for everyone; something that has not been the case for several decades.

“I also turn to the beloved parents in Amona: Your protest is understandable, but it is no place for the presence of young boys and girls, nor for teenagers.

“I call on all leaders to show national responsibility during this time. The unity of Israel is one of our highest principles and it is the source of our strength. We are one people. We are brothers.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-reminds-amona-in-letter-israel-is-a-nation-that-lives-by-the-rule-of-law/2016/12/17/

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