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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘teachers’

Why IS Ploni Taking Such an Interest In my Child?

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

If you reminisce back to your school/student days, you can probably think of a specific adult who had a profound influence on you and helped you overcome your growing-up challenges.

There are some particularly gifted and wonderful people who are able to bridge an age gap, and thereby positively engage with someone who is even many years their junior.

Such people can apply this talent to working with kids and youth in a professional context, and can become the most positively influential forces upon the minds and souls of their young charges.

The world is undoubtedly a more amazing and caring place for these special people who can bring the wisdom of age to those youngsters who can most benefit by this.

HOWEVER…

There are also other individuals, who target children & young adults for the ultimate purpose of satisfying themselves.

Some sexual abusers will devote enormous efforts to preparing a child for abuse, in such a way that the child will least resist, and the perpetrator will be most protected.

The process is called “grooming”; the grooming process can be incredibly complex, involving selection of the victim, establishment of decoys, and neutralising the possibility that the child will incriminate the perpetrator – or if he/she does, then making sure that they will not be believed by the child’s adult guardians.

Some pedophiles will target certain professions and status in society which can give them privileged access to children.

Teachers, tutors, youth club leaders, babysitters, youth-workers, the shul candy man, even rabbonim/clergy…Because the holders of many of these positions are seen as above reproach, so very few victims are willing to face the shame and scorn of openly accusing the perpetrator.

In many cases, literally dozens of kids can be abused, until the first one is willing to speak out, their parents listen and take resolute action, and begin the process of exposing the abuser.

SO….

If your kid is getting more-than-average attention from an older person (we’ll call him “Ploni”), it is appropriate to ask “Why IS Ploni Taking Such An Interest In My Child??

Some tell-tale signs of grooming are that one child, or a small group, are selected by Ploni for special attentions; these special attentions go beyond the normal boundaries of Ploni’s job description.

Ploni gives the child presents; private visits to Ploni’s home; outings; building up a special relationship with the child’s parents; physical games, such as tickling, or physical affection such as hugging; building trust with the child by sharing ‘secrets’; groomers can also be extremely manipulative, sowing doubts in the child’s mind against the integrity of other adults – potential rescuers – in the child’s life.

Adults who see this behaviour pattern often come to terms with it, by taking the position that Ploni is “wonderful with kids – and my kid in particular, B’H”; Ploni is so charismatic to the kids, that his behavior can be excused as “only” eccentric, odd, even off-the-wall, but not dangerous. Adults rationalise any doubts, by falling into the trap that regular boundaries do not apply to Ploni.

Your child, on the other hand, may be giving you signals that something is very wrong about the relationship – but a child will very rarely say outright “Ploni is abusing me”. They simply know something’s very wrong and they cannot put that in the words that an adult will grasp.

So, perhaps your child’s grades have suddenly dropped; his self-confidence has gone; regressive behaviour, such as bedwetting; references to sexuality or genitals which are not in character or age appropriate. Maybe he says he doesn’t like going places with Ploni, but won’t explain why. Or is often “ill”, and so cannot be around Ploni – but with no measurable symptoms of illness.

If you read this, and think “Heh! You’ve got me worried…what does Ploni want from my child?!”, then you might want to speak with an expert. Very few people have received training about how to handle such concerns, and what to say or not to say to your child, or to Ploni. It’s not something you can just wing-it – or, worse, ignore it.

Child sex abuse thrives on silence, and on the natural inclination we all have of avoiding turning over a stone, lest we find what lies beneath it.Most kids who are being abused say nothing, and most adults who suspect abuse, do nothing.

And that’s why, particularly in close and trusting communities, so many of our kids are at risk.If you would like to consult, even anonymously, and even if the events which concern you now happened a long time ago, then you are welcome to call Magen, the Child Protection Organization.

Magen, Beit Shemesh, Israel.
Tel: +972-2-9999.678
After office hours: +972 50 8489001
Email: hotline@magenprotects.org
MagenProtects.org
Note: This article is an updated version of an article published in 2010 – and which is today more relevant than ever.

Visit Tzedek-Tzedek.

France: “Secularism Charter” in Every School

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

“Nothing could be worse than posting a secularism charter on the wall and then the students see around them that what actually happens in school life is the exact opposite of what we tell them.” — Philippe Tournier, Secretary General, French Teachers Union.

The French government has announced a plan to post a “secularism charter” in all public schools in France by the end of September.

The document — which is to appear in a prominent location in all of the 55,000 public schools in France — would serve to remind students and teachers of a list of secular principles underpinning the separation of mosque and state.

Although the initiative has enjoyed a generally positive reception, many observers are saying they doubt the Socialist government of French President François Hollande will have the political willpower actually to enforce secular principles in French schools — with or without a charter.

This skepticism stems from the fact that Muslim children constitute an increasingly large proportion of the 10 million students in the French public school system — and because Muslim parents make up an increasingly important voting bloc in French politics. Muslims, in fact, cast the deciding vote that thrust Hollande into the Elysée Palace in May 2012.

French Education Minister Vincent Peillon, who announced the plan in an interview with the French daily newspaper L’Est Républicain on August 26, said, “Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not to dispute lessons or to skip classes [for religious reasons]. The charter will be a reminder of [secular] principles. It will be posted in all schools in late September. The law provides for a moral and civic education that promotes freedom from judgment, the capacity to emancipate, and rights and duties. I want to see the return of those values of the [French] Republic in schools in 2013.”

Although the final content of the charter will not be made public until the middle of September, a draft of the list which contains a total of 17 paragraphs has been circulating since July 11.

The first section of the draft list is entitled “The Republic is Secular,” and consists of six rather straightforward paragraphs that mostly echo the French Constitution. Paragraph 2 of the draft, for example, states that, “France is a republic that is indivisible, secular, democratic and social. It ensures equality before the law, on the whole of its territory, for all citizens. It respects all creeds.”

According to Paragraph 3, “The secular Republic is based upon the separation of religion and state. The state is neutral with regard to religious or spiritual beliefs. There is no state religion.” Paragraph 4 states that “Secularism guarantees freedom of conscience for all. Everyone is free to believe or not to believe. It allows the free expression of his beliefs, respecting those of others within the limits of public order.” And so on.

The second section of the list, entitled “The School is Secular,” changes tack by directly confronting Muslim students who take to disrupting classes whenever they do not agree with their teachers on certain subjects.

Paragraph 14 states: “Lessons are secular. To ensure that students are as objectively open as possible to the diversity of worldviews as well as to the extent and accuracy of knowledge, no subject is a priori excluded from scientific and educational inquiry.”

According to Paragraph 15, “No student may invoke religious or political convictions to challenge and/or to prevent a teacher from teaching certain parts of the curriculum.” Paragraph 16 states that “the wearing of conspicuous symbols or dress by pupils as relates to their religious affiliation is prohibited in public schools.”

The draft charter also states that “the secular school offers students the conditions to forge their own personality, exercise their free will and learn about citizenship. It protects them from proselytizing and from any pressure that prevents them from making their own choices.”

Reactions to the announcement have been mixed, with some questioning if or how the measure will be enforced.

The Secretary General of the French Teachers Union, Philippe Tournier, told Radio Europe 1 that while he welcomed the secularism charter in principle, he worried about its implementation. “The intentions are quite positive, but the essential thing still remains: putting into force what [the charter] affirms,” he said. “Nothing could be worse than posting a secularism charter on the wall, and then the students see around them that what actually happens in school life is the exact opposite of what we tell them.”

School Starts in Israel

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Millions of adults in Israel are unusually happy today as 2,129,562 children return to school for the start of the school year.

1,700,535 children will be going to grade school, and another 429,177 will be going to nurseries and kindergartens.

A whopping 148,774 children will be starting first grade.

The breakdown of students in each of the major, recognized school system streams is as follows:

Public School:   678,161

Religous Public School:  217,137

Private School:  248,364

Talmud Torah:  50,470

Non-Jewish Schools:  437,503

There are 4,561 schools with  62,962 classrooms, and approximately 15,000 kindergartens/nursery schools in Israel.

For many Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox), the school year started 3 weeks ago, on Rosh Chodesh Elul. It’s estimated that Haredi students make up approximately 30% of the students in Israel.

More statistics can be found on the Ministry of Education’s website.

As one parent told this reporter this morning, “We’re meeting in the park at 10 to throw a party”.

I’ll be there.

‘Islamic Militants’ Gun Down 56 in Nigerian Mosque

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Islamic militants wearing army fatigues murdered 44 people who were praying at a mosque in northeast Nigeria. Another 12 civilians were killed in a simultaneous attack, security agents said Monday.

Sunday’s attacks were the latest in a wave of violence by religious extremists in West Africa, where the Boko Haram group, wishing to oust the government and impose Islamic law, has been posing the greatest security threat in years.

Security agents are still trying to figure out the Islamic Boko Haram would kill worshipping Muslims. The group has been known to attack mosques whose clerics have spoken out against religious extremism. Boko Haram also has attacked Christians outside churches and teachers and schoolchildren, as well as government and military targets.

According to the AP, since 2010, the Boko Haram have been blamed for the murders of more than 1,700 people.

The mosque murders took place Sunday morning in Konduga, 22 miles outside Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno state.

The Importance of Day Schools

Monday, August 12th, 2013

I never thought I would have to make this argument in 2013.

Jordana Horn, the former New York bureau chief of The Jerusalem Post,  has written an article in the Forward defending the premise that one can be raised as a proud and productive Jew without ever attending a day school. She proceeds to document her own attendance in public school and that of her siblings to prove her point. Which is that one can be fully Jewish, relatively knowledgeable about one’s Judaism and fully proud and participatory in it at many levels. She then presents a list of suggestions instructing us how to go about doing so successfully. It is a list of very practical suggestions with which I agree. But it falls woefully short in my view.

I have to ask, is her definition of being a Jew the correct definition? Is Judaism only about marrying Jewish? Or reading Hebrew? Or the ability to read the Torah? As laudable as these things are, they fall far short of what being a Jew is all about. The entire concept of following Halacha is missing from her definition. And in my view being an observant  ‘Halakhic Man’ is the essence of being a Jew. Everything we do as a Jew should be viewed through the lens of Halacha. That is what God desires of the Jewish people… and no less. That many of us fail in that regard one way or another does not make it any less so.

That said, I must concede that it is possible to raise a child to be Halachic Jew without sending him to day school. I am sure that there are some cases where that has happened even in our day. But I would not recommend it.

I understand the incentive for a parent too try and do something like that. The tuition crisis in America is real. There is no two ways about it. Any parent with children in a day school will verify that. But there is a reason that is so

Day schools today are not what they used to be in their early days (…fifties and early sixties) – a school with teachers so underpaid that they could barely survive even with second jobs. No enrichment programs. No school psychologists. No real curriculum development. No special classes for learning disabled children.  Nothing except the bare bones of studying Limudei Kodesh  (religious studies) in the morning and Limudei Chol (secular studies) in the afternoons.

Funding Jewish education in those days was a joke. Tuitions were tiny back then because day schools were struggling just to get parents to send them their children – even for free. Generous philanthropists didn’t exist yet. As a result, religious teachers sometimes went unpaid their meager earnings for months at a time. I don’t know how they existed.

And yet, somehow the day schools of that time managed.

Today, things are much better. Teachers make livable wages. Fundraising is much better. Teachers are paid mostly on time. Schools are therefore much better now. It is easier to recruit good teachers for a school if you pay them a livable wage. And as a school grows – so do programs they offer their students. All this costs money. Hence the increased tuitions today.

Meanwhile parents who themselves have gone through the day school system recognize their value and no longer need convincing to send their children.  All of this translates to the impossibly high tuition that are demanded of parents today. Even though scholarships are given to those who need them – every spare dime a parent may have is asked for by the schools that have no choice but to demand it in order to fund their exploding budgets. Budgets that are for the most part necessary in order to serve the demands made by parents who expect the best and most enriching education possible. (Although trimming what is in some cases bloated school budgets is a subject for legitimate discussion – it is beyond the scope of this post.)

For parents with four, five, six or more children who feel they are squeezed to the max for every dime, the thought of sending a child to a free public school while teaching them about Judaism at home must be very tempting. But it is a losing proposition in most cases. It would take a most unusual family and an unusual child to overcome the influences in a public school.

U.S. Sending 20 More F-16s to Egypt – Just What An Islamic Republic Needs

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Despite it’s Muslim Brotherhood government, the US has decided to send 20 more F-16 fighter planes to Egypt,  FoxNews reports.

Egypt already has 200 planes, and these 20 are part of an order placed by the U.S., for former president Hosni Mubarak 2 years ago, as part of a $1 billion dollar foreign package to Egypt.

With Islamic Egypt cozying up to Iran, and the Israel-Egypt peace treaty on the rocks, is sending them the most advanced F-16s that Lockheed Martin makes the best of ideas right now? You would think with problems that Egypt faces, sending food and teachers might be a far more wiser use of that money.

Confessions of a Brain Surgeon

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

I don’t know how many of you noticed this quite unusual story in the news. A new Ethiopian immigrant to Israel, just off the plane, went to visit a sick relative in one of Tel Aviv’s major hospitals. Not knowing Hebrew, he got lost in the big hospital and wandered into the surgery theater. Thinking he was an orderly, no one paid any attention as he walked into one of the operating rooms where a patient was undergoing brain surgery. The Ethiopian watched in horror as one of the surgeo’s raised a small electric saw and proceeded to slice open the patient’s cranium. With a scream, the new Ethiopian immigrant charged at the doctors to stop them. He thought they were killing the patient when, in fact, they were trying to save his life.

Of course, this incident didn’t really happen, but I’m using it to make a point. Some readers have accused me of “Sinat Chinam,” gratuitously hating my fellow Jews because I highlight the shortcomings of Jewish life in the Diaspora. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love all Jews: religious and not religious, Israelis and Diasporians, rightists and leftists.

People who know me can testify that I am not the cruel monster that some readers accuse me of being. On the contrary, just like the surgeon in the story, I am trying to save people’s lives. Out of my passionate love for all Jews, especially my brothers and sisters lost in the darkness of galut, where I was once lost like them, I am doing my best, with the skills that the Almighty has given me, to help them see the light.

Unfortunately, sugar-coated aspirin and a moist compress won’t help someone who has spent his life in an alien gentile land and doesn’t know that there is something better. A band-aid and sweet tasting syrup won’t help a Diaspora Jew who has been taught a truncated, distorted, watered-down version of Torah. In cases like this, immediate and massive intervention is needed. Sometimes an entire brain transplant may be called for.

I am not only speaking about the average Diaspora Jew who doesn’t know better, because he was never taught that a Jew’s real place is in Israel, and because the darkness and spiritual pollution of the exile prevents him from grasping this clear message from a simple, straightforward reading of the Torah. He isn’t to blame. No one ever told him the truth. I am also speaking about the Diaspora Jew who studied in yeshiva, considers himself Orthodox, even Haredi, yet still thinks that the goal of Judaism is to build magnificent Jewish communities in foreign gentile lands.

There are even those who are so mentally confused that they try to discourage others from coming to live in Israel. It isn’t enough to speak nicely to them, and show them pretty pictures of Israel, and to point out the endless Torah verses commanding the Jewish People to live in Eretz Yisrael. These extreme cases have so internalized their gentile surroundings, cultures, and upbringing, they think like the goyim. They may speak Yiddish, but instead of a “Yiddisha kup,” they have a “goyisha kup.” Instead of following the Torah, they follow themselves. To save them, an electric saw is needed.

The saddest thing is, because of the terrible darkness of galut, and years of yeshiva study which removed the Land of Israel from the curriculum, they don’t even recognize that they have a problem. In their minds, all of the Jews who are dedicating their lives to the rebuilding of the Jewish People in Israel are wrong, and they, in their glass glatt kosher castles are right. To their distorted way of thinking, even God was wrong in establishing the State of Israel the way He did – they would have done it differently.

So they get angry at me when I point out the error in what they’ve been taught – or when I stress things that they never learned. Just as a patient with severe schizophrenia sees his psychiatrist as an enemy, they misinterpret my attempts to help them for hate.

But just as a psychiatrist doesn’t give up when his patient lashes out at him, because the physician knows better, I won’t give up trying to help these confused but beautiful souls. I know better because I was once severely brain damaged myself, when I was in New York and Los Angeles, a stranger in a strange land, with the head of a goy, believing I was an American like everyone else. Then, with the grace of the Almighty, I underwent a successful brain transplant, so I know what it’s like to live in darkness, and that’s why I want to help.

So, while my writing may be blunt and painful to some, I don’t blame the Jews in the Diaspora for their misunderstanding of what the Torah is really all about. Like I said, by and large, they simply don’t know that they should come on aliyah. No one teaches them. Not their Rabbis, not their high-school yeshiva teachers, not their shul presidents, not the sisterhood, nor the Federation, not their parents, no one. So, they simply don’t know that the true goal of Judaism is to establish the Kingdom of God in the world via the Jewish People leading a Torah life in Israel, not in the United States of America.

Even in the books they read about Judaism, Eretz Yisrael has been deleted. Take a look at a few indexes of the most popular “frum” books in English on Jewish Philosophy. You won’t find a word about Eretz Yisrael.

True, an Internet surfer might be carried by a wave one day to the Internet edition of The Jewish Press or Arutz 7, where he may be confronted with the importance of aliyah, but not having heard about this great foundation of Judaism from his teachers and parents, he is likely not to take it to heart at all.

For this reason, the Jews of the Diaspora are like “children who were kidnapped and raised amongst the gentiles.” This category usually applies to Jews who were never taught about Judaism. Not having been exposed to the tenets of the religion, unfortunate Jews like these can’t be expected to keep the Torah’s laws, because they have never heard of them. The secular Zionists pioneers in Israel fall into this category, as do the secular Russian Jews in Israel today. Even though they have all heard of the Torah, they never had anyone sit down and teach them, so it is something foreign to them, like Chinese. This is exactly the same when it comes to Diaspora Jews and aliyah. Yes, Israelis yell at them for not coming, but they don’t hear it from their own teachers and Rabbis. So they are like children who have been kidnapped and raised amongst the gentiles.

A metaphor for this is the story of Tarzan, who was lost at sea as a child and raised in the jungle by apes. When he grew up, he thought he was a monkey, too. There was no one around to tell him that he was a man. So he identified with the apes. Just as they felt perfectly at home, living in the jungle and swinging from tree to tree, he felt perfectly at home too, aping their habits. Not having been raised in civilized surroundings, he didn’t know the difference.

But, of course, a human isn’t an ape, even if he grows up in the jungle. And a Jew isn’t a gentile, even if he grows up in a gentile land. A Jew isn’t an American, or a Frenchmen, or a South African, even if he grows up there. A Jew has a homeland of his own, with his own code of life, the Torah, which is meant to be lived in Israel.

The Jews of the Diaspora don’t know this, because no one ever taught them. They are not to blame for thinking they are at home in strange, gentile lands, no more than Tarzan was to blame for believing that he was at home in the jungle. It’s as simple as that. I don’t blame them. But, bezrat Hashem, I’ll keep trying to show them the difference – precisely because I love them so much.

Yeshiva Toras Chaim/Dr. Abe Chames H.S. Open House

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The Dr. Abe Chames High School of Yeshiva Toras Chaim Toras Emes will hold its annual Open House for prospective ninth grade talmidim and their parents on 19 Teves, Sunday evening, December 2 at 7 p.m. The Open House provides an opportunity to meet the roshei hayeshiva, principals, administrators, teachers, rabbeim and current students, as well as a chance to tour the facility and learn about the yeshiva’s Judaic and secular programs.

Prospective talmidim and their parents will hear from the yeshiva’s rabbeim and teachers regarding curricular and co-curricular goals. They will also meet with current students, who will convey what it’s like to be a talmid at YTC.

Located at 1025 NE Miami Gardens Drive in the vibrant Jewish community of North Miami Beach, Yeshiva Toras Chaim is proud to be celebrating its 28th year of excellence in Jewish education.

For further information about the Open House or any of the yeshiva’s programs, visit www.ytcteam.org or call the high school office at 305-944-5344, ext. 200. Inquiries may also be directed to ytc@ytcteam.org.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/south-florida/yeshiva-toras-chaimdr-abe-chames-h-s-open-house/2012/11/21/

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