Community work is frequently difficult, as we find that the requests are overwhelming and the hours are long. However, there is one even more difficult characteristic of community work. That is because the public does not necessarily know who “the community” exactly is. As a result, many worthy organizations suffer, and their programs are limited, because the community doesn’t join together and partner with them.
This was the topic of a Rabbinic meeting held last week, hosted in the home of Rabbi Leibesh Rottenberg, a prominent Monsey Rav, and attended by over 40 Rabbonim and their representatives. The meeting had been called at the request of Reb Shmuel Kaminetzky, Rosh Hayeshiva of Philadelphia and Harav Yaakov Perlow, the Noviminsker Rebbe.
The meeting’s goal was to increase the assistance offered to the Monsey community’s teens at risk and in crisis. From the beginning, even before the opening remarks, the Achdus between the Rabbonim was evident. Each Rav was in agreement that there is a need for a broad alliance of Rabbonim to be able to increase the help and services available to our teenagers. Many more Rabbonim, despite being unable to attend, voiced their support to the gathering and its mission.
At the forefront of this issue is an organization known as Areivim, directed by Rabbi Shmuel Gluck. Areivim is the only Monsey-based organization offering a wide range of services geared towards helping teenagers at risk and in crisis. Among its broad spectrum of services and programs, Areivim offers placement assistance, community education, outreach programs, and crisis intervention, as well as ongoing mentoring and counseling services. Additionally, Areivim offers a therapeutic traveling camp, tri-annual Eretz Yisroel mentoring excursions, Shabbatonim, a recently added full time yeshiva program, and more.
Reb Shmuel Kaminetzky clearly declared that Areivim is a community organization serving a community need. Accordingly, even those fortunate families who have never required Areivim’s services are responsible to support its work. “There is no difference,” the Rosh Hayeshiva pointed out, “between supporting Areivim and supporting Tomchei Shabbos and Hatzoloh”. “Saving our teens at risk,” he continued, “is to be recognized and given the same privileges and support as other organizations that involve themselves with Hatzolas Nefoshos, that of saving a person’s life.” While one can hope to not have to call upon such organizations for assistance, these community organizations still require the universal support of the communities they serve.
The Noviminsker Rebbe continued this theme. He highlighted that “just as with previous generations the emergence of the Yeshiva system created a new community responsibility, to support our Mosdos Hatorah, so does the emergence of teens at risk create our responsibility to support the work of those who seek to help them. No one can say it doesn’t exist in my shul, or it’s not in my community, it’s your Achrayus as it’s your need.” Even if you can’t accomplish Veshinantom Levonechah (rising to the level of passing on such a fluency in Torah), you are still Mechuyiv for Velimadetom Es Bneichem (to make the effort to teach Torah, on whatever level, to our children).
Rabbi Shmuel Gluck pointed out how, because of the stigma of “teens at risk”, worthy organizations aren’t receiving their fair share of exposure, and therefore the assistance they deserve and require. Unfortunately, because of the embarrassment to have found one’s family in such a situation, there is frequently a reluctance to share personal stories and solutions, which leaves many success stories untold. Despite years of work with thousands of families and teenagers, Areivim still suffers because of those who stick their heads in the sand and declare that “our community doesn’t have a teen at risk problem”. This misperception must stop, and we must all recognize both the issue at hand, as well as the steps to the solution that lies before us. With our support, Areivim is the organization that stands ready to continue to address it.
The underlying theme was that when there are those that undertake the difficult communal task of addressing teens at risk they deserve the support necessary to allow them to do the best job that they can. This requires the community’s acknowledgment of Areivim’s role, and the corresponding necessary financial support.
Two specific solutions emerged from yesterday’s meeting. Every Rav agreed to hold a “Shabbos Areivim”. They will make an appeal in their Shul to benefit Areivim, preferably during Parshas Netzovim Va’Yyeilech. In addition, a committee, comprised of Rabbonim and community minded Ba’al habatim, will be formed to continue addressing this important issue.
Any Monsey Rabbonim that have not yet contacted the Areivim office are requested to do so as soon as possible.
For more information about Areivim please contact them by phone at 845-371-2760 or by e-mail at Areivim@juno.com
Click HERE for photos taken at the meeting.
(YWN Desk – NYC)