The following is a letter from a "frustrated mother" to Dr. Respler in this week's column in the Jewish Press! I will not print Dr. Respler's response because the letter speaks for itself and there really isn't a satisfactory answer until the Menahlim and the Roshei Yeshivas take immediate action to stop this. They are the direct cause of children going off the derech, not the parents. The "Mechanchim" would like to blame the parents, the children, TV, Cable, Wireless Phones, Computers,etc... everyone and everything but their own actions. The Yeshivas have to face the fact that there is a new world now, and learn to deal with it, otherwise they should close up and hand the yeshiva buildings over to people that have know how and the motivation to deal with all types of children...
In an interview with the Editor of Ami Magazine (September 7, 2011 edition) Rebbetzin Malke Feinstein, the esteemed wife of the noted posek and Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Dovid Feinstein, said the following in reference to the attitude of today's Chinuch Institutions. "Years ago, doors were open for any child who wanted to learn. No one was afraid that a child would spoil those around them. If a child wanted to come to a yeshiva, then he belonged there. We are so busy protecting our children today, yet more and more children are going off the derech. Why? Because they are made to feel like second-class citizens."
When Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter the Editor of Ami asked her, "How, then, should a school develop its policies? Where should they draw the line in terms of whom they accept?" Her succinct response was: "There shouldn't be a line." She added ..."Reputation, that's what they're concerned about. There's too much of an emphasis on chitzonius (outward appearance) today. "
Dear Dr. Respler
What motivates menahalim to discard students who don't "walk the line?" Is there a place in chinuch for kiruv? Must things always be "black and white?"
I am a mother of an 18-year-old son who had a roller coaster ride for his high-school journey.
He attended a mainstream elementary yeshiva, coming in with an eagerness to learn and to grow. He was not all knowing and perfect - he wanted to gain knowledge.
When my son came to school with a Harry Potter book, it was snatched from his little hand as if it were a weapon of mass destruction (although I am certain that in the heimshe velt, it was a well read book).
The school lost the opportunity to have a warm discussion about appropriate reading material, in a loving manner, in which the student would be embraced and treated with respect
But even this pales in comparison to what ensued after he was accepted into a yeshiva high school. It was before school even began when we received a phone call saying that the yeshiva had changed their mind about accepting him and we should look elsewhere.
The reason: someone had seen him talking to girls on Shabbos. We explained that it was his sister and some cousins visiting from out of town - but to no avail.
We began to look for other options. However, no yeshiva would accept him, because the Schools talk to each other. I worried for my son and how he was really taking things. He was cooperative through the process, but it was hard. In the end our original choice of school accepted him - on probation. Baruch Hashem he excelled - he was learning all day and when he came home he went to learn with his chavrusa.
Then in the beginning of 10th grade he was caught with his cell phone in school - which was against the rules - and he was immediately expelled. I reached out to a known Rosh Yeshiva during this fiasco and when I got him on the phone, he actually said that he picked up the phone by mistake and hung up on me.There were those who offered to help, but they were not effective.
Is it any wonder so many of our youth go off the derech?
I had little choice but to enroll him in a school in Manhattan that was quite modern. He didn't do well with his newfound freedom and all that was available to him in that arena. I poured as much understanding and love as I could to keep him in the mainstream. As difficult as it may have been to accept, I knew that I had a son at risk.
Baruch Hashem, my son came though it and is going to Israel to learn. He said he is seriously considering becoming a rebbe - I bet it has something to do with righting so many of the wrongs he encountered in the yeshiva world.
Please explain why so many of our cherished children are thrust to the side, when they should be treated like the treasures they are?