Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I would like to lodge a complaint with little or no expectation that you can do anything about this. My objective is to make parents and menahalim of yeshivas aware of a very real problem. I won’t tell you where I live, but I have a feeling you can find this behavior duplicated in many neighborhoods. For the most part this pertains to the yeshiva high school kids whom, when let loose on the avenue, behave in a manner most unbecoming to yeshiva bochurim.
I work in a retail store and have witnessed people being pushed and shoved as these rambunctious young men race to the pizza store or ice cream shop with little or no concern for young children or the elderly. It makes me wonder what and who, if anyone, is responsible for allowing such behavior and who to approach – I don’t know which yeshivas these kids attend.
Let me be clear that I am not an older person from another generation; I am in my late twenties and don’t recall witnessing or being a part of such a crowd. In fact, my yeshiva did not permit us to off school grounds until we were dismissed at the end of the days. If we went on a class outing there were teachers or rabbeim on hand to keep us in line.
I have seen some of these young kids in cluster groups in the stationary store skimming through unsavory magazines and making somewhat of a chillul Hashem with their snickering laughter. I have seen some of them even approaching young frum girls and trying to make conversation. I don’t think this is the image the yeshivas want or the middos they want their bochurim to cultivate. I certainly can’t accept that this would sit well with the parents of these kids.
So I’m writing to you in the hopes that this will shed some light on a small problem that may, or may not with time, grow into a bigger issue. That said, I hope your readership will speak to the powers that be at their children’s schools to either curtail the lunch and recess outings off school premises, or at the very least, to put some rules in place so that a sense of responsibility is enforced.
While yours is the first and only letter I have ever received on this issue, I must agree with you on many of the points you make. I do come from another planet, light years away from this generation in expected behavior, entitlement and respect. In my memory banks there is no recollection of going off school grounds during lunch break or recess, not even leaving the building, until school was out for the day – but there were different rules back then for girls than for boys.
Today things are different and may account for some of the problems that loom large with this generation. We were taught to stand for teachers and rabbeim when they entered a room, to say, “May I”, “Please” and “Thank you.” Giving up your seat or the bus or train for an older person was a given and responding to parents’ request without hesitation was the norm. Not so anymore.
Maybe schools should pay more attention to the “products” they are growing and less mind to the money they stand to make from said “products.” It’s not the bigger, better, state-of-the-arts buildings that are the future of Klal Yisroel, but rather the next generation of the klal. If we shirk our duties in teaching them respect and middos, then we have to bear the responsibility for what happens.
Our kids fall through the cracks when we’re not watching, they are enticed by every debauchery and dangerous element when we abuse our responsibility to protect them, they search for excitement and highs when we do not securely anchor their feet to the ground and watch over them.
We need to pay more attention to raising our young and checking in whose care they are when we are not on the job. A ben Torah is rarely if ever born, rather, he is shaped and nurtured, carefully cared for and encouraged and surrounded by parents and teacher, good friends and adults who do everything to prepare him for a life of service to Hashem and Klal Yisroel. I’m not even going to touch upon the damage those electronics – a major source of many future addictions that should banned from every Jewish school.
So, good friend, I’m on your side and hope that your letter and my response will serve to start a new trend in how our yeshivas care for our children’s bodies, minds and especially their souls.