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December 26, 2014 / 4 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Dear Rachel’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

A Reader’s Compelling Argument:
Is Dor Yeshorim obligated to release one’s lost ID number?

Dear Rachel,

My name is Sholom and I’d like to share with you my ongoing experience with Dor Yeshorim. I believe strongly in my position but I would appreciate a reasoned response from a dissenting point of view.

I took the Dor Yeshorim test last year together with my friend. I lost my ID number. As you probably know, Dor Yeshorim is a genetic testing program to determine genetic compatibility between potential shidduchim. Test results are not disclosed but rather a unique ID number is attached to the file and given to the tested.

In addition to this number, the file contains some bits of personal information, such as home phone number (from which you must call to check compatibility), date of birth, gender and time and place of testing.

If the ID number is lost, Dor Yeshorim’s policy mandates a new test be taken; there is no way they will disclose any information without the ID number present. If I provide my phone number (and call from that number), as well as my date of birth, gender and date and location the test was administered, and all these pieces of information collectively only match one file, then what doubt could exist that this file is mine?

Certainly no reasonable doubt, and I believe none at all, but still Dor Yeshorim insists this is too risky and they are not comfortable going by this, which brings me to my next point: I have autonomy. If DY is not comfortable skydiving, I may skydive. If DY is not comfortable with this “risk,” which in my opinion is non-existent, why should they be allowed to impose upon me? If all my information matches only one file and I am prepared to shoulder the responsibility from here on in, so why then should DY make such a decision for me? This decision should be mine to make.

Lastly, and I would like to hear a rabbinic response to this, I believe that DY is obligated to return my number which has the status of a lost object after I provide two identifying signs. Any ideas on how I could convince Dor Yeshorim legally or rabbinically to release my ID number would be very appreciated.

Thanks for reading and looking forward to hearing any response.

Fairness in numbers

Dear Fairness,

The way we understand it, Dor Yeshorim runs a tight ship and has upheld its rules since the day of its inception in the 1980s. One rule put in place specifies that a person who loses his or her identification number will need to be retested. The entire system is based on anonymity and DY can therefore not connect one with his or her test result file without that vital ID number.

Even if, as you say, you can provide your phone number, date of birth, etc., technically an individual other than you can be in possession of all of this personal information and pose as you. Remote as this may actually be, it seems that the rules instituted by this organization are ironclad and not meant to be broken.

Still and all, your argument is a most persuasive one. Since this column submits to being neither a speaking head for Dor Yeshorim nor a rabbinical authority in any sense of the term, readers are welcome to contribute their views on this young man’s delicate quandary.

Refraining from Vaccinating our Children against Chickenpox: Prudent or ill advised?

Dear Rachel,

My 10-month old recently came down with a full-blown case of chickenpox, and while I was trying to be vigilant in not having it spread to other children, I was floored by how many moms commented that they wished their children would catch it. This is one of those infectious diseases children receive immunizations for (my older children have been vaccinated), yet these moms do not allow their tots to receive this protection. (The vaccine is not administered to babies in their first year of life.)

I questioned one mother about her attitude and her take was that she felt safer with her children contracting chickenpox rather than being injected with lab-induced chemicals. She argues that we’ve all had the chickenpox as kids and survived it.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Life’s petty annoyances…

Dear Rachel,

What can I do about a sister-in-law who dresses like a slob? When she comes to visit us for Shabbos, it is embarrassing for me to be seen with her or to have other company over. I’ve even offered to take her shopping, but she finds excuses not to take me up on it and doesn’t really seem to care. Truth is she lives in Brooklyn and we are in Long Island, and so we don’t get to see one another much on weekdays.

I should say that her husband (my brother) isn’t too bothered by his dowdy-dressing wife so soliciting his help wouldn’t do a thing. My husband says live and let live and doesn’t understand my obsession with this or why it gets to me at all.

Do you see any way for me to knock some style sense into her?

Chic she’s not

Dear Chic,

You’re trying too hard. Designer labels are not for everyone and the fashion police won’t issue her a summons for failing to be fashion conscious. The reality is that some people simply can’t be bothered fussing with a wardrobe and are perfectly content and comfortable wearing loose-fitting and casual clothes that may strike another as colorless and boring. As the saying goes, to each his own.

Instead of focusing on your sister-in-law’s exterior, try concentrating on her inner qualities and talents. For her birthday you can make the effort of presenting her with a nice sweater or top that was “on sale” and that you thought would go well with the color of her eyes or that skirt she seems to favor. Other than that, give it a rest; surely your energy can be put to better use.

Dear Rachel,

There is a couple in my neighborhood whose marriage is on the rocks and from what I’ve been led to believe, her relentless nudging may be a contributing factor. They’ve only been married a few months but it seems that the wife is constantly berating her husband for not going to shul on time on Shabbos mornings.

How would I know? Her husband confided in mine, and I would just like to put the message out there for wives to stop berating their husbands and treating them like babies.

The worst thing a wife can do is to make her man feel inadequate or worthless. Chances are he’s been getting up early all his life and was nudged by his mother in his single years about getting to shul on time. Now is his chance to be independent, to do his own thing, and his wife should let him.

In time, especially with kids in the picture, he is bound to come around and get up on time on his own. Right now, the wife should mind her own responsibilities and keep mum about his. He is a grown boy and knows what he has to do.

Marriage is not about nagging

Dear Nagging,

Right you are. The last thing a husband wants is a mother figure in a wife. If nothing else, voicing her displeasure is not likely to motivate him to get to shul on time.

She can try getting up early herself to fix him his favorite morning beverage and then prepare to join him enthusiastically on his walk to shul. He may even start looking forward to making it on time. What is certain is that you can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.

Dear Rachel,

How do I stop a yenta from minding everyone else’s business? I work in a large office with many other girls and this one woman is always questioning me about my personal life. At first I thought this was just her way of being friendly, but before I knew what was happening I was bombarded by twenty questions, from my age and where I live, to how many kids I have, when I got married, where my husband’s from and what my sandwich consists of (no kidding; we were in the lunch room).

Am I being too sensitive? I am sort of a private person and old school; details of my personal life are no one’s affair unless I volunteer to share them. How do I handle this type of situation and what should be my comeback to Ms. Busybody when she next intrudes on my lunch break?

The nerve!

Dear Nerve,

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communites

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Dear Readers,

Last week we read a powerful letter written by an anonymous young man who suffered hell as a result of being sexually abused in his youth. Tragically, his story is not unique. Unfortunately, the general population of Yidden still cannot bear to face reality – that this sickness exists in our midst – and by choosing to close their eyes they become deaf and blind to the contortions of pain and the cries of innocent victims.

It stands to reason that the abuser was most likely subjected to abuse when he was younger, but that doesn’t give him license to inflict that horror on another child. Unless he is mentally challenged and thereby unable to grasp the gravity of his actions, there is absolutely no excuse for perpetrating this evil on anyone.

A thinking and discerning adult recognizes that he has an addiction and needs help, and is perfectly aware of the damage he inflicts on another human being whom he sets up for a lifetime of pain and shame. Victim or not, the abuser who allows his base instincts to overrule his common sense deserves our wrath and should be made to pay dearly for his unspeakable crime against humanity.

Whether the abuser will eventually be apprehended or not, he will not get away unscathed — for his neshama will bear the weight of his transgressions as well as of those whom he has caused to sin.

Kudos to “Anonymous” – the author of the letter of last week’s column – for pulling himself out of the dark abyss he had sunk into and for discovering that life can be beautiful and has lots to offer the person who reaches out for that lifeline that will give him a new lease on life.

A rash rush to judgment…

Dear Rachel,

I would like to bring to your attention a certain problem that I noticed. I work with a guy who married a girl from a not frum house – meaning chilul Shabbos and the like. She herself was not frum till high school, and her parents are divorced. The girl was sent to prominent yeshivas and seminaries.

Her husband was always frum and though she became observant way before they married, she knocks many of our laws that are important to him. Her non-observant family also has an impact on this couple’s relationship; the religious aspect of their children’s upbringing is always challenged when this girl’s family is involved, setting the stage for husband-wife confrontation.

Thereby I suggest to the public frum community not to marry someone who is not frumfrom birth or has divorced parents.

Worried

Dear Worried,

You can’t be serious. Please allow me to straighten you out on some of your faulty thinking. Number one, whereas your co-worker may be having a rough time of it, I can assure you that you don’t have the full picture of the goings-on in his life, even if he may be sharing some tidbits with you.

Secondly, meddling in-laws come in all denominations. Some are frum, some are secular, and some may happen to be divorced.

Your insinuation that only the “frum from birth” can make the ideal mate is preposterous, as is your suggestion to stay clear of those who come from divorced homes. We all know wonderful young people who are products of divorced homes and who are happily married and raising beautiful families.

Moreover, has it occurred to you that there are married people who lead miserable lives, whose home environment is more toxic than the atmosphere in a divorced man’s or woman’s home? For that matter, have you an inkling of how many marriages between FFBs and BTs are healthy and thriving?

Each situation is unique. It is also up to each individual looking to tie the knot to do his or her homework and assess the viability of a long-term relationship with that certain someone. And even then there will be no guarantee; a person can find that he or she erred in judgment after the fact.

While your co-worker’s problems may be very real and he may indeed be suffering in-law problems, which may in actuality be exacerbated by their non-observant status, your hypothesis is flawed. Before offering your opinions and suggestions, you’d be best advised to get in touch with the real world.

More comments regarding A Sympathetic Bubby
(Chronicles 6-8)

Dear Rachel,

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Abuse and Addiction:
A personal reflection

Just a castaway
An island lost at sea
Another lonely day
With no one here but me
More loneliness
Than any man could bear
Rescue me before I fall into despair

I’ll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle…

Walked out this morning
Don’t believe what I saw
A hundred billion bottles
Washed up on the shore
Seems I’m not alone at being alone
A hundred billion castaways Looking for a home…

Message in a Bottle
By: The Police (1979)

Dear Rachel,

I would like to share with your readers a message of hope for those in the Jewish Community who may be struggling with similar issues. I am an Orthodox Jewish male in my mid-thirties. When I was a child, I went to a sleep away camp where one of the counselors sexually abused me. The abuse went on for six years. When I went away to high school, I continued to be molested by a number of my classmates.

When high school ended, so did all the abuse. I began to struggle with depression, anxiety, anger, and self-hatred. I had concluded that the abuse was my fault, that I was a bad person, and that I was undeserving of anyone’s love. I told no one about the abuse and kept it secret. I began to feel utterly alone and hopeless about life.

When I began to talk about my abuse for the first time, my anger and pain reached its peak. I was suicidal and needed to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Upon being discharged, I still lacked the coping skills or therapeutic tools I would need to deal with my painful emotions.

This led to an increase in my acting out. My compulsion turned into watching pornography and then to visiting strip clubs. I had now developed a full-blown sex addiction. I spent thousands of dollars and hours engaging in my newfound pornography addiction. I was completely powerless and my life was unmanageable.

I began to reach out to rabbis and friends about my problem. One of their suggestions was to increase my Torah study and prayer… that didn’t work. Therapists and mentors encouraged me to begin dating; marriage with the right girl would help me. But meeting women and trying to force myself to marry only amplified my problem.

One day a friend told me about S.A. (Sexaholics Anonymous) — a group where I would be able to meet others who were struggling with sex addiction who have found a common solution to their problem. It took a lot of courage for me to walk into those rooms for the first time, but once I did I felt a sense of relief.

Although the meetings were helpful, I was still unable to get sober. I felt hopeless and alone, and death seemed to be the only way out. I had now been going to therapy for over seven years and was part of S.A. for more than five years, and I just wasn’t getting it. I continued to act out and was stuck in an endless cycle of pain, anger, shame, abuse and addiction.

Finally, when I was desperate enough and my life reached rock bottom, I left my community and went to a sex-addictions rehab facility. I spent many months as an inpatient and many more months in a transitional living program. The work and internal self-reflection was challenging and difficult. Being away from everything that I knew was terrifying, but I knew I had no other option…

I am writing you this letter because today (June 8th, 2012) I am celebrating one year of sexual sobriety!!! A miracle has occurred for me. There is hope. Recovery from sexual abuse and sexual addiction is possible. I am beginning to feel hope, happiness, self-worth, and a connection to others.

I am currently part of a 12-step community which teaches the part of the recovery process that includes carrying the message of hope and recovery to other addicts and survivors of sexual abuse who are still sick and suffering, and who continue to struggle with hopelessness, isolation, and despair. In my recovery, I have learned that I am not terminally unique. If others can recover and heal, then so could I, and so could you.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Sympathetic to A Sympathetic Bubby
(Chronicles June 8 )

Dear Rachel,

I just finished reading your response to the worried bubby and was very disappointed with your answer. This bubby is right on. We are seeing an alarming increase in childhood anxiety. We also have kids being diagnosed with ADHD and all kinds of learning disabilities. Medication is given out like candy, without any thought of the immediate side effects and long-term effects it can have.

Today, in addition to the tremendous financial demands of sending a child (or numerous children) to yeshiva, most families are spending money on tutors and therapists as well. And yet with all of this, we are at a loss as to why our kids are having so many behavioral issues (kids off the derech, mood disorders, bullying, OCD, etc.).

It’s time to take our heads out of the sand. Our children are being deprived of normal childhood activities because of the demands of the yeshiva system. Our children should be coming home from school and taking their bikes out for a ride or playing ball, but there’s almost no time for anything, not even sleep.

We all grew up in a different era where the demands were not as great. Kids at risk or many of the issues we are seeing today, such as bullying, etc., were almost unheard of. We are making unrealistic demands of young children, and much of the time they aren’t given a constructive outlet for their stress. These demands transmit to the parents as well; we are unable to have positive communication with our children, since we are frantically trying to help them complete all their homework instead of spending quality time with them after their long day at school.

Recently a friend told me that half of her son’s high school class – he is now in college – was on medication. We are asking our kids to sit for 10-hour days with almost no movement, and then to come home for hours more of studying and homework. That’s a ridiculous expectation. Where do they turn? Social media, computers and phones are being used as a means of distraction from the day-to-day pressures.

In some cases, kids are displaying real at-risk behaviors in trying to cope with the pressures that face them. My girls are having bekius tests as early as third grade. This is stressing kids out and for what? They don’t need to be rebbetzins; they need to develop into happy, well-adjusted adults. There are girls in my daughter’s class who are exhibiting real behavioral issues, such as bullying, and are displaying a real lack of middos.

Why is our focus so off? We need to make school fun and give our children constructive positive ways to enjoy themselves minus the Internet, cell phones and TV. We would not need an asifa to fix the problem if we start using some basic common sense. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Midwest because some of my kids compete on a professional level in certain sports. I have been so impressed with these non-Jewish kids. They have tremendous focus, discipline and respect. They are seriously involved in wholesome sports that they love. I speak to their coaches and I see that they have almost no drug issues and very little behavioral issues. They have found a way to give their kids positive outlets for their energy and stress.

Why can’t we learn from them? If we are able to reduce the demands made on our kids and make more time to communicate with them positively, teaching them basic derech eretz, kavod habriosand positive forms of enjoyment, we will see happy well-adjusted adults who will not have to resort to deviant distorted behaviors to find themselves.

We can do better!

Dear Can Do,

Your points are well taken, however your letter addresses multiple issues that are not necessarily linked. For instance, can we really pin the blame for children’s learning disabilities on the burden of homework overload? Does a demanding itinerary inevitably result in a sedentary lifestyle? Do kids act out in unhealthy ways because of a lack of physical recreation that some of our schools fail to provide for their student body?

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Daughters-in-Law: the Whining, Maligning and Outshining…

Dear Rachel,

A few weeks ago a doting grandmother wrote about her spoilsport daughter-in-law who rejected her mother-in-law’s thoughtful gifts for her grandchildren (Chronicles 5-18).

I couldn’t help but be reminded of a friend’s non-stop whining over her in-laws’ neglect to outfit their grandchildren with new clothing for Yom Tov (as they’d apparently done in the past).

Rachel, my friend is far from needy. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t dawn on her that her in-laws may have experienced a financial crunch and just couldn’t come through the way they have on previous occasions.

Whatever their reason, who says in-laws – or parents – are obligated to “wardrobe” their grandchildren? She has the gall to complain about their “slacking” devotion. This goes to prove that it doesn’t pay to spoil children — whether they’re little or grown.

Seems like a “thank you, but you didn’t really have to” is quickly becoming a thing of the past, with thoughtlessness and greed replacing good old fashioned hakaras hatovand heartfelt appreciation.

Her whining is disgraceful

Dear Rachel,

In regards to the mother-in-law who was so eager to please her granddaughters for their birthday only to have her daughter-in-law stop her cold, this just corroborates my long-held view that mothers-in-law are, for the most part, unfairly maligned and that too many daughters-in-law need to take a step back and do a self-evaluation of their own attitudes towards their in-laws.

My husband and I were once over by some friends when the paternal grandparents were visiting with their grandchildren. At one point, when Grandpa – a jovial fellow with a slight build – was bouncing his 4-year old grandson on his knee, the kid’s mother took a double take and abruptly left the room.

I followed her to see what was up and couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. She was reaching for a phone, while insisting (to her husband) that she was going to call the police because her poor baby was going sustain a brain injury with the way his father (her father-in-law) was carrying on. Hello? This was a 4-year old, not an infant, having a grand old time with his grandfather. Was this woman out of her mind?

We’ve since learned that there is no love lost between this daughter-in-law and her in-laws, whom she treats like lepers. My husband and I have known her in-laws forever, and they happen to be the sweetest couple and wouldn’t so much as hurt a fly. In fact, they have other married children whom they get along with just fine.

Respect begets respect

Dear Rachel,

For years now I’ve been meaning to write to your column but wasn’t sure that it would be appropriate for me to do so. Let’s be honest: it’s people’s tzoros and complaints that make for an interesting read. And I have only words of praise, not criticism. Reading about the disillusioned mother-in-law, however, has prompted me to speak my thoughts.

I am a mother-in-law who baruch Hashem gets on well with all of our children (where daughters-in-law outnumber daughters). Some of them call me daily, some weekly, and some whenever they can manage to carve time out of their hectic schedules to touch base. Be that as it may, I don’t wait for kavod; if I don’t hear from a daughter-in-law for several days, I pick up the phone and call.

I can just hear the gasps – call?? Why not just text? For a recipe ingredient, maybe, but texting won’t do for a meaningful two-way conversation. Besides, I’m not adept at text abbreviations, nor am I into heavy cell use. For that matter, my weekend plan doesn’t offer me much leeway – and that’s the way I like it.

None of our children live close by, but all of them know that they are welcome to invite themselves over for a Shabbos or Yom Tov, or just to drop in for a visit. All they need to do is call to let us know of their plans and make sure we will be here. None has ever said simply, “we’re coming.” It’s always a “we’d like to come…are you okay with it? If you’re not up for it, we can make it another time.”

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

From the Hearts of (Grand) Mothers…

Dear Rachel,

You recently printed a letter from a mother whose 10-year old daughter experienced difficulty falling asleep (Chronicles 5-4). In your reply you suggested some likely causes for the young girl’s insomnia, among them the pressure of keeping her school grades up.

Within a mere couple of days of reading that column, I got a call from my 15-year old granddaughter who sounded like she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. When I asked her why she was so down in the dumps, she replied, “I’m studying for a biology test and it’s so hard, and I need to go study Navi now because we’re having a Navi test as well… and we have 12 exams coming up and so much studying to do…”

Rachel, she sounded so sad and so tired at the same time, like she hardly had the strength to speak. This is a girl who is usually lighthearted and happy, and I felt terrible for her. By the time we concluded our chat, it was close to 11 pm. Her parents and siblings were already asleep, yet she was planning on studying until the wee hours of the morning. She conceded that she was woefully short on sleep but had no choice.

So yes, I can see where the burdens placed on our young children can create sleeplessness — not only on account of time allotted for studying and cramming for exams, but also in worrying about making the grade. Might our schools be overdoing it a bit? Seems a bit unfair, if you ask me. There was no biology class offered back in my high school days, and frankly I don’t see that I’ve been deprived an iota.

A Sympathetic Bubby

Dear Sympathetic,

The reality is that our children have quite a load on their minds, what with a demanding curriculum that incorporates both English and Limudei Kodesh studies.

Now, wouldn’t it be nice if schools could adapt a system whereby students could leave all of their school work behind when they come home, instead of being burdened by it for practically the better part of their waking hours? Wishful thinking, I know. There aren’t enough hours in the day as is. As our Sages say, hayom katzar ve’hamelacha merubah – the day is short and the task is great.

In case you missed them, several columns in the past half a year or so were devoted to the positive and negative effects and fallout of a girl’s Bais Yaakov high school education. (See Chronicles of 12-23-11, 1-13-12, 2-17-12, and 3-2-12 for readers’ various takes.)

In the meantime, Bubby, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over your granddaughter’s moody blues; she will overcome, as we all do, and will in all likelihood benefit in the long run. Moreover, if I were in your shoes I’d go to sleep with a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart knowing that my granddaughter thought to turn to me for some respite.

Confidential to Crying for my little one:

Your heart-rending letter took me back some years to a more innocent time (or so it seems), to when my gentle-natured firstborn learned, firsthand, of the existence of cruelty in our world. Mind you, he was not yet three years old. It was on a sweltering summer day when a neighbor and I decided to pack lunch and head with our toddlers to Coney Island by train, to enjoy some sun and sand in the ocean breeze.

Her little girl was about four then, and, as I’d soon discover, not as mild-mannered as her younger playmate. After some playtime, she decided for some reason to toss a handful of sand in my little boy’s face. I was almost as shocked as he was, and my heart ached for him — not only for the physical irritation he suffered from the gritty grains of sand trapped in his eyes, but for having his cocoon of innocence so callously peeled away.

As it turned out, her mother’s insipid “we don’t do such things” was wasted on the bully who wasn’t at all apprehensive about a repeat performance the second she thought she could get away with it. And she had that right: this time around her mom didn’t even bother with voicing her disapproval.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-143/2012/06/07/

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