web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rosh Yeshiva’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 9/24/10

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Dear Readers,

In last week’s column, a reader signed “Hope you understand me ” laments the lack of ahavas Yisrael and expresses disgruntlement with the yeshiva system that indiscriminately rejects children who don’t measure up to its standard of the “acceptable” student.

Due to this column’s space limitation and Yom Tov deadlines, our response was relatively brief, considering the magnitude of the problem the letter addresses. Many readers no doubt identify with the author of the letter, and we welcome feedback from those who have experienced similar dilemmas.

On a positive note: Back in May, this column featured a letter from “Money talks” – written by a distraught woman whose husband had lost his livelihood and was subsequently subjected to scathing criticism and humiliation by their son’s Rosh Yeshiva over an objectionable incident involving one of the yeshiva’s benefactors.

This column is gratified to update readers regarding that particular situation. The well-known educator who had caused this family so much emotional anguish initiated a sit-down with the man whom he had derided.

At the end of a civilized heart-to-heart, the Rosh Yeshiva humbled himself by declaring, “I may have the beard, wear the hat and carry the title, but that doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes.” He then expressed his regrets and sincerely apologized. Kol Hakavod!

At this propitious time of year, we take a cue from this individual and ask the reader’s pardon for any slights that may have made it into this column via letters and especially our responses.

Yes, we are aware that as you read this, the days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have passed us by, and we are in the process of readying ourselves for the beautiful and uplifting holiday of Sukkos. But on Hoshana Rabba, the seventh day of Sukkos, we are afforded another chance to clear the air and to ask for pardon for our wrongdoings – whether deliberate or inadvertent.

Some readers have bashed us for being too harsh; others have admonished us for not being harsh enough. Either way, please forgive us for when the column may not have met your expectations.

To those who occasionally write asking us to take a hard line when it comes to halachic guidelines, we reiterate that we leave that up to the rabbinic authorities. The role of this column is to lend an ear and shoulder and to guide the lost or broken soul along a healing path, to act as a forum for healthy debate and to bring to the fore delicate issues that need to be dealt with rather than ignored.

Our message would be incomplete if we failed to convey our gratitude to the readers who patiently take the time to communicate their thoughts and opinions to this column; whether we see eye-to-eye is irrelevant – we welcome your views, divergent or not. They foster healthy debate and serve to educate those we do not hear from but who pay close attention all the same.

We look forward to a better year and fervently pray that Hashem grant us all good health, good children, good sense and peace in our lifetime. May real achdus and ahavas Yisrael reign supreme in our midst and bring the reign of Moshiach in our day!

Dear Rachel,

I wonder if you might have any suggestions for me. I am a middle-aged single, never-married well-educated, professional, observant woman on my own. Unfortunately, this past year I had aggressive lymphoma, a cancer that is highly curable and seems to now be in remission. I shall still be continuing with chemotherapy treatments for a little while, but am much better and have a superb prognosis. I am completely self-sufficient, walk every day, am completely independent and take care of myself. No one would ever suspect that I had cancer recently.

In the past I had lived alone and worked for many years at prestigious organizations. However, at this time I would really like to live with a family for 6-8 months. This whole year I had been staying with wonderful friends and their family, but at this time they unfortunately no longer have room as their oldest daughter has come home.

I would much prefer to rent a room with a kind, warm family, ideally with children – rather than board with another single lady. Brooklyn, if possible, would be my choice location. I would describe myself as very responsible, quiet, mature, neat, pleasant and easy to get along with.

My hope is to get back to work in six months or so, but in the meantime I am certainly able to pay a moderate rent on time every month. It would really cheer me up to be with a family and to not be alone at this time.

I speak English and Ivrit, am out of the house most days and am often away for Shabbos, although I would like to be able to spend the occasional Shabbos with the family.

You are welcome to publish this letter. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please do let me know.

Many thanks!

Hopeful about things to come

Dear Hopeful,

Hopefully, with the help of Hashem, someone reading this will be moved to make you an offer that will sweeten your life and give you the physical and emotional boost that will accelerate your healing.

Wishing you a speedy and complete refuah shelaima. May we all merit to be sealed in the book of life!

* * * * *

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, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215. 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.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 5/14/10

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Dear Rachel,

 

I don’t really know where to begin but I must unburden my heart, and here I know I can do it safely and anonymously.

 

To all eyes, we would appear to be having it all. We live in a quite comfortable home with Baruch Hashem enough room to house our own family as well as guests comfortably.

 

             But what would the casual observer know of what really goes on behind our closed doors (or any closed doors, for that matter)?

 

The economic downturn, or meltdown, has affected many families, so maybe we won’t generate much sympathy on that front. Besides, we don’t look like we’re suffering too badly. Affluent neighborhood, beautiful home, delightful children what would anyone know about our inability to pay our mortgage; our mountain of debt; the weeks we literally have not a dollar in our pocket to buy food with; the numerous times we’ve had to face our teenaged children and tell them that they couldn’t join their friends for a pizza or that they’d have to endure wearing their tattered sneakers for now.

 

My husband is a hard worker, but when the real estate market tanked and banks mercilessly yanked the credit out from under their long-time trusting clients, those who had their funds (and others’) tied up in investments with the hope of garnering decent returns had their money and dreams wiped out virtually overnight.

 

Needless to say, the “investors” who were only too eager to part with their extra cash cry foul and stick their heads in the sand, failing (or refusing) to recognize that an investment is not a loan and that we may be hurting more than most of them – first, because we have been left bereft of a livelihood and with literally nothing to fall back on (while most had invested only some of their spare cash); second, because it is not a pleasant thing, to say the least, to be the object of disdain and, in some cases, outright hatred. (At the same time, it must be said that some “losers” have been very understanding of the unfortunate situation and have, to their credit, not resorted to lashon hara and motzi shem ra.)

 

What else is new, you might be asking. Plenty!

 

You see, Rachel, we – my husband and myself – have always had our doors open. Anyone passing through town has always been welcome in our home, for as long a time as needed. We have a longstanding motto of “mi casa, su casa” – our home is your home. Most of the wayfarers who enjoy our hospitality have no inkling of our dire circumstances; we share whatever we have and somehow get by.

 

A local family had been having serious shalom bayis problems (which entails more than can possibly be said in a letter). In brief, the woman, suffering years of emotional abuse by her spouse, found an ear and an open door with us whenever she had the need.

 

One particular day, this woman showed up at our door in an emotionally distraught state. She had finally had enough of her husband’s mental and verbal assault and had nowhere to go. We quieted her down and settled her in our basement guest quarters.

 

Little did we dream that the safe haven we were offering our needy guest would soon prove to be not so safe – when her husband forced a window open from the outside and barged into her room catching her unawares. We were alerted to the commotion and the poor woman’s screams as she came running up the stairs, her husband in hot pursuit threatening to kill her.

 

             My husband called 911 and we then set about trying to diffuse the situation. Police officers arrived within minutes and the wife made it clear to them that she was unwilling to go with her husband and that she feared for her safety.

 

We, on our part, refused to press charges for breaking and entering (he was a fellow Jew, after all, and we felt that he would have enough on his plate to deal with).

 

As expected, he was booked for threatening his wife. As for her, we summoned her close kin (who live a distance away) and they promptly came to be by her side and to see her through the difficult coming weeks.

 

Of-course there is much more to this story, but the details left unsaid are not relevant to the matter at hand. More to the point, when my husband contacted the Rosh Yeshiva of our boys’ school to relay a message on behalf of this woman regarding her children, he was bombarded with scathing criticism over this whole affair. My husband, a composed individual, was aghast at the personal insults hurled at him from a so-called educator and a highly respected community member.

 

If readers have not guessed it yet, this man (who threatened his wife and broke into our home) has been a generous donor to the yeshiva and so how dare we, my husband and I, cause him all this “trouble and aggravation.”

 

My husband tried to explain things but the Rosh Yeshiva would not let up his blistering attack. Shocked and shaken to the core, my husband finally gave up. Needless to say, our children would no longer attend this yeshiva.

 

The bottom line, Rachel, is that money talks. Whether a person is a mensch or not, whether a donor abuses his wife or not, it’s all about money.

 

Nothing surprises us anymore

* * * * *

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, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215. 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.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 10/16/09

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Dear Rachel,

Back in June of 2007, I wrote a letter which you printed, in which I described a “Visit to Hell” – which both my wife and I had the unfortunate luck of experiencing. The letter depicted a wonderful shelter for abused Chareidi women called Miklat. I expounded a bit on the horror we heard about, the deep scars we witnessed and the wonderful rejuvenation and freedom that these beaten and battered young women are experiencing. Unfortunately, there are so many more abused women who need help.

So why am I writing again? Because the evil continues and is perpetuated by so-called leaders and mechanchim who refuse to bend a finger to help. They are either selfish, vicious or both. Perhaps you have a better understanding and reasoning to the sickness known as “I-don’t-give-a-darn.”

I know that if I were to specify here the names of individuals, both you and I will be ostracized for spreading “lashon ha’ra.” The focal point of what the letter wants to convey would be immediately subverted and the pious do-gooders will instantaneously forget the victim involved. After all, it is so much easier to point a finger and accuse others of malcontent and hearsay and spreading lashon ha’ra than to concentrate on the gist of the letter, namely, an Agunah who is caught in the two-pronged pincers of an abusive husband and the egotistic, heartless leaders who give him encouragement.

(By advertising the names, I believe a dent can be made in the false veneer of self-importance these individuals have wrapped around themselves. Perhaps, we ought to! Let them see that there are those who are just as determined to free the young woman as they are in keeping her chained. I think that seeing their names in a widely read paper like the JP will make some rethink their positions.)

What am I going on about?

There is another ugly episode (just one of thousands in Israel!) taking place in the streets of Yerushalayim! A young woman, beaten and abused for years, was finally able to escape to safety. In the safe house she is in, she is given warmth, comfort and safety from her husband. And, yet, at this point her troubles truly begin!

Rachel, her husband refuses to give her a Get – so what else is new? Every trick in the book has been employed by this bloodthirsty goon in order to avoid coming to Beis Din. When he eventually did show up, the Beis Din was its usual spineless conglomerate of male-apologists who see the woman as subservient. Instead of ordering the husband to give a Get – as every piece of evidence and testimony warranted – the dayanim “recommended” that the husband should “think of being so-kind as to give the Get!”

Deliberations in the case were postponed to a date not yet determined, the Agunah told that her husband “will be asked to go for a psychiatric analysis, and if he goes and if the psychiatrist opines that a Getis warranted, the husband will be urged to give the Get.” Are you with me, Rachel, on the discombobulated and ugly way our Batei Din conduct the business of Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof??? This terrified and beaten woman must now rely on a killer’s good graces and choice of going to be examined!

Now, let us take a step back and bring in another very important person whose unwillingness to bend a finger is giving the husband all of the encouragement he needs to hold out until the Agunah turns white.

Many well-known rabbis are reluctant to use their influence to help free Agunot.Perhaps the father of the man is a contributor to the yeshiva or shul, or any number of other things, but the sad fact is that silence reigns and the chance to free an Agunah is lost, as is in this case. Every effort was made to contact a particular Rosh Yeshiva, to no avail. Letters were written to alumni, staff members of the kollel and fund-raising entities. One response (via e-mail) stated simply: “I don’t want to get involved so take my name off and don’t send me anything.” From the rest, Silence!

So the Rosh Yeshiva was approached; at one point the Agunah and her attorney met him on the street. With tears and cries, they asked that he help them in any way he can. Ein Kol V’ein Oneh. Letters sent to him were also never answered. And the Agunah sits and waits in hiding, as her legal counselors try everything they can.

So, what am I looking for from you?

Rachel, I had the good fortune and ecstatic feelings of accomplishment in having been instrumental in the release of two Agunot; one was shackled for five years, the other over seven years of captivity. G-d was good to me and my “input” released them within six months after getting involved.

But this is not intended to ring my chimes; rather, to release the seething emotions of disbelief, frustration and disgust I have for our so-called “leaders” who encourage and give comfort to wild animals otherwise mistaken as husbands. Where are those with the guts to do what is right, to shun and ostracize the evil they see and the heart to do whatever is necessary to release a Bas Yisroel from the clutches of the Devil?

How did the fake-and-frauds approach the Yom HaDin? These are people who are teachers, melamdim, and morei horoah? These are people we need to emulate, and to adhere to the lessons they convey?? These are the ugly individuals who are supposed to be our emissaries to Hashem? Whom are they kidding? Whom are we kidding?

Rachel, there are two ways a woman can become free. One is by receiving a Get. The other is by becoming a widow! At times I wonder which one the husbands prefer. And why don’t we, the caring public, give him a choice he cannot refuse? I wonder.

Isaac Kohn
kohnisaac@optonline.net

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 3/31/06

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

To all women, men or children who feel that they are at the end of their ropes, please consider joining a support group, or forming one.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help agunot, please send your tax deductible contribution to The Jewish Press Foundation.

Checks must be clearly specified to help agunot. Please make sure to include that information if that is the purpose of your contribution, because this is just one of the many worthwhile causes helped by this foundation.

**********

Dear Rachel,

This is in reference to the letter from “A Heartbroken Mom who refuses to give up on her children’s future” (Chronicles,1-27). I am a Life Coach, a Teen Mentor, and a Student Advocate, and I wholeheartedly agree and support her perspective and concerns.

The Yeshiva system today, in its race for perfection – which is a business concept and not a chinuch one – has gotten so out of control and so far removed from what is Torah’dik and proper. In its attempts at selection and dismissal, it has managed to destroy not only self-esteem, but the basic connections between good-natured and Torah-abiding kids and their association with Hashem, Torah and mitzvos, as well.

Yeshivos have had a major hand in chasing our children away from frumkeit, and they refuse to take accountability for it. What’s more, the public refuses to discuss it because chas v’sholom we don’t dare say anything against the Yeshiva world or the rebbeim. But without bringing it into the forum of discussion, how can we possibly slow the tide and stop this horrible phenomenon of Kids-at-risk, cause and effect? Yes, there are other causes, but this is a big one and we can’t ignore it anymore. We can’t sweep it under the rug and hide from it. Too many of our children and too many of our families have been destroyed. Whole families have taken severe nosedives as a direct result of these situations.

When a child is “dismissed” from a yeshiva and is not assisted in finding a new environment, it is literally like putting a label on that child that reads “garbage.” No other yeshiva wants them either – their philosophy being “if he is not good enough for them, he is not good enough for us.” Who said Hashem wants everyone to be perfect? Who said all the rebbeim and mechanchim are perfect? Who said all the yeshivos are perfect? Moreover, who said these children are not perfect in their own way? Has Hashem appointed any one of these rshei yeshivos as judges? Does Hashem allow any of us to judge each other in such a fashion?

In my generation there was always an Aleph, Bais, and Gimmel class, according to the child’s capability, and everyone was happy. Who said a yeshiva can only function with all Aleph students? And who coined the phrase “metzuyan?” Must everyone in the yeshiva be “metzuyanim?”

Should we then demand that every rebbe and/or Rosh Yeshiva be tested – and if they don’t measure up to the level of, let’s say Rav Moshe Feinstein, z”l or Rav Avraham Pam, z”l, then should they all be made to relinquish their positions? After all, if the kids are expected to be perfect, shouldn’t their mechanchim be perfect? Shouldn’t only the best and the most qualified be their role models? And even more so, shouldn’t we have a committee walking through the yeshivos to make sure our standards are upheld and no mistakes are made, ensuring that the mechanchim are above reproach – just like their talmidim?

Maybe the old world wasn’t so bad after all, because the Vaad Hachinuch had the right idea, and maybe we really need to put it back in place. Many yeshivos are privately owned, and we have no one to speak to – because the owner is the “Rosh” and basically it’s his baseball and if you don’t like the game, go home. In many cases, it’s a matter of “kovod,” and no one wants to mess with that. Or it’s just a matter of beating everyone out to the top, which is about money. If you can buy your way in, you’re in – if not, you’re out of luck. In any case, this has nothing to do with what’s best for the children or what the Torah teaches us – which makes us a bunch of hypocrites. And without a doubt, kids can spot a hypocrite a mile away.

You can’t teach Torah and Torah values on one hand, and be a hypocrite on the other. This doesn’t affect just the kids who are thrown out, it affects the other children, too – because the yeshiva threw out their friends, brothers and cousins – kids whom they have known all their lives – their chavrusos, their buddies, and their pals. How does that make them feel?

This practice is very far reaching. Our shidduch society looks down upon families whose sons have gone through this process. And, chas v’sholom, if there is a shidduch aged child in the family, that process becomes much more difficult. Consider the strain on the shalom bayis in the family – the parents blaming each other, “you could have done more you let him get away with you should have studied with him or paid more attention. you babied him etc.” Think of the increased financial burden due to new schools and therapy sessions. The selfish opinion of a Rosh Yeshiva can turn the entire workings of that family and household upside down – simply by refusing to work with that child.

The yeshiva has as much responsibility to a child as do his parents. And they moreover have more of an influence and more of an opportunity to observe the child. Many of the choices and decision-making opportunities are taken from the parents who must abide by the decisions of the yeshiva. The yeshiva is absolutely obligated to work with a child – their child – and they have no more right to abandon him than do his parents.

It is natural for a parent to love his child unconditionally. The child understands that love and accepts it as normal. When a yeshiva loves that child, it makes all the difference in the world to him. This is what gives him the impetus to keep learning and growing. Now . . . imagine the impact of having that love taken away.

Leadership without Responsibility is pointless

Stupidity

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004

While recently riding on a private local bus, I couldn’t help but overhear two elderly, balbatish ladies talking. What caught my undivided attention, however, was the pride in one woman’s tone as she announced that she and her husband would boycott their granddaughter’s wedding because they did not approve of the young man.

Apparently, the young bochur did not meet the grandmother’s stamp of approval even though, from what she described – he seemed like a rather acceptable fellow. He was in college, pursuing a graduate degree, working part-time and had attended a modern Yeshiva. His parents were first generation Americans and spoke with accents. These facts of his life – as far as she was concerned – placed him on the “wrong side of the tracks.” Simply put – he was not good enough for her granddaughter.

She insisted that she deserved at the very least a boy who was Rosh Yeshiva material, one who had graduated from a “yichusdik” yeshiva, and who would make learning his priority. Such a grandson-in-law she could be proud of – not some “modern” college boy whose parents were unknown outside their immigrant community.

“Bubbi” had given her grandchild the ultimatum – either break up with the boy ? or she would not attend the wedding.

It took all my self-restraint to avoid shaking this pitifully narrow minded lady who actually felt that she had her grandchild’s “best interests at heart.”

What she was truly looking for was in-laws who would impress her chevra.

I fervently prayed that the girl in question would have the gumption to stick to her convictions and remain loyal to the young man and go ahead with the wedding.

There are many stories that have crossed my path similar to this one, where close relatives put undeserved pressure on a young person to pick between them and their zivug. The excuses are superficial and often based on snobbery or a desire to maintain control over an adult child.

In the former scenario, a potential spouse is rejected because of pettiness and sinat chinam: the boy/girl is from a different culture (Sephardi or Ashkenazi, Chassidish or Litvish); wants to learn/or wants to earn; is too frum/not frum enough; comes from a ba’al teshuva family, or from the wrong community in Europe. The excuses are endless, and for the most part, without real merit. And worst of all – this pressure causes so much discord, aggravation, and anguish at a time that should be joyous and full of appreciation to the Ribono Shel Olam.

To the grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts and close family members who insist “him/her or us” – I say shame on you!

I personally have been to so many weddings, including two of my own, where the mothers and/or fathers of the chossen or kallah are newly minted adult orphans, having lost a beloved parent or both in recent years. Day to day life has become bearable, but Yomim Tovim and simchas are still challenging emotionally.

As we marched our children to the chuppah, most of us valiantly but unsuccessfully tried not to cry, but tears of supreme joy spilled down our cheeks, alternating with tears of supreme grief because our mothers/fathers could not physically share in this ultimate moment of nachas in our families.

To have been able to embrace and be embraced by our parents as the glass was broken and the young couple excitedly emerged for the first time to build a bayit ne’eman b’Yisrael would have been the crowning moment in our lives and theirs. This is especially true for elderly Holocaust survivors. Witnessing their grandchildren getting married, many named after their own murdered mothers and fathers and siblings – would be the superlative validation of their survival and the rebuilding of the fragile family tree.

I personally know of grandparents who have been blessed with the health and years to participate in the simcha of their oldest grandchild. They have declared their “principled” intention of not attending her wedding if she doesn’t break off the engagement because they “don’t approve” of the groom.

Instead of thanking the Creator for His benevolence in granting them life and allowing them to reach this tremendous milestone in their lives – of seeing bnei banim – children of children – getting married and establishing a new home – they willfully and self-righteously turn their backs on this merciful gift from Hashem.

It makes me wonder who to pity more: the grandmother, or her granddaughter. 

The Jewish Week And Allegations Of Abuse

Friday, June 13th, 2003

The Jewish Press’ continuing coverage, in our Family Matters section, of students’ claims of abuse at the hands of unidentified teachers in our yeshivos, attests to the significance we attach to the problem. Yet we are constrained to note our serious reservations about how the issue has been treated in The Jewish Week.

For the past two weeks, that publication has carried extraordinarily long stories, beginning on its front page, concerning allegations against a prominent Rosh Yeshiva which are being brought before a rabbinic panel that will determine whether a full-blown Beth Din should be convened. Although at this point there have been no findings, both stories treat the accusations as fact and contain the grossest of descriptive language and salacious imagery.

The stories are strikingly similar in content – along the lines of: this is what will transpire at the panel meeting/this is what did take place. They also contain, as a central theme, the idea that nobody is doing anything about the problem.

Given their repetitiveness and patently gratuitous graphic descriptions, one suspects that a conscious effort is being made to sensationalize and, yes, to bash, in addition to merely informing the public.

Moreover, fact that The Jewish Week was reporting on the convening of the investigative rabbinic panel concerning the assertions, surely belies the notion that nobody is interested in dealing with the issue of abuse.

It seems to us that there is reason enough to pursue possible abuse of our young by those in sensitive positions and able to do great harm without, at the same time, seeking to further a separate agenda. Indeed, as we have pointed out in the past, The Jewish Week regularly has given short shrift to even admitted adultery and proven murder when committed by non-Orthodox leaders, who were not even so identified.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-jewish-week-and-allegations-of-abuse/2003/06/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: