Cause For Teens At Risk?

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    Y.W. Editor

    Submitted to YWN via email:

    Dear Editor,

    I unfortunately do not have solutions. All I know is that too many people are being placed in a position of power and control that truly do not belong there. Too many of our precious neshomos are being lost, not necessarily outwardly but inwardly due to those selfish and controlling people.

    Signed as anonymous for obvious reasons.

    af al pi cain

    My heart breaks for the writer of this letter, and for all of the kids who have been broken. The silver lining here, though, is that your letter made it through the editing process and appears at all in a public forum. A few years back it would have simply been ignored and labeled “yeshiva bashing”. So not only did the families suffer the injustices, but there was nowhere to bring the problem to the public…If we will ever find solutions, at least we have to first discuss the problem in all of its dimensions, from 1)who are the mechanchim that are hired, and why are they hired? 2)accountability to parents and willingness to work in a partnership 3) changes in the arrogance that assumes so many precious neshamas are unworthy, etc….I do wonder, though, why the parents who have been victims have yet to get organized? This has been going on a long time.

    Feif Un

    I’ve mentioned before that I wasn’t frum for a while. I also come from a very yeshivish family – brothers in Brisk, Lakewood, etc.

    I had teachers (I refuse to call them Rabbeim) who berated me and humiliated me publicly. My mother, who’s been in chinuch for over 25 years, spoke to one of them. He told her that they have different ideas when it comes to chinuch, and she won’t convince him that she’s right and he’s wrong. He’s a respected person at a major yeshiva, who’s been in the system for over 40 years.

    I remember thinking that Rosh Hashana that when I davened, I specifically said to Hashem that I did not forgive him, and asked Hashem to punish him as he deserved. I realize now that wasn’t the right thing to do, but I still haven’t forgiven him, and it’s now many years later. He’s still teaching, and I wonder how many other boys he’s ruined.

    I didn’t go off the derech right then. I switched yeshivas the next year, and did well for a few years. The yeshiva I switched to was a more modern-Orthodox yeshiva, and I loved it. However, the yeshiva changed as its community changed, and became more yeshivish. Then, I had another bad experience there with a Rebbe they had recently hired. I began having lots of questions, and nobody was able to provide me with any answers. I decided in the end that the people we were supposed to be emulating and looking up to were all hypocrites, and religion wasn’t for me.

    It wasn’t until much later that I finally realized I didn’t have to emulate these people to be a good Jew. I could find the level where I was comfortable, and be a good Jew also. I became frum again, and slowly grew in my level of observance. I am still growing slowly today. However, I still never forgot what that “Rebbe” did to me. He probably doesn’t even realize what he did. If I told him, he’d probably refuse to accept any blame at all.

    af al pi cain

    FeifUn: Hope you will turn this around and try to help others going through it! Especially those who have not yet reached the point of return. Your message is more powerful than many kiruv professionals.


    I am glad I am not a teacher or rebbe or principal, for when they go up to olam ha emes, after 120 years, they will be held accountable for all the kids that they hurt and turned off to yiddishkiet. I have wasted years of my life reliving and being angry at the heartless principal my child had. They are not worth my time, Hashem will judge them when it is the right time. Unfortunately I had to go through this for some reason. Perhaps the anon. letter writer should ask Rabbi Horowitz what to do in this case. Hatzlocha rabba!





    just me

    Welcome back, Feif Un. You are probably right about that rebbe not thinking he did wrong. I’m told that in BY Sem in NY, they discuss answering children’s hasgafa questions other than calling a kid an apikores. That was not your issue, but it’s a good start. Now if rebbes would be required to take some classes in teaching.


    not 100% sure of this but i believe this story was told about the Chofetz Chaim concerning Trotsky. a man once came to the Chofetz Chaim for a bracha but the Chafetz Chaim refused to give him one. this happened time and again. one day the man asked the Chofetz Chaim why he couldn’t get a bracha and the Chafetz Chaim answered him that he was the rebbe of Trotsky and he said something that turned Trotsky away from yiddishkeit.

    Feif Un

    af al pi cain: I try. My wife and I host many baalei teshuva for Shabbos meals (we did until my wife recently gave birth, hopefully we’ll start again soon!) and I worked for NCSY on Shabbatons until I got married.


    The book “Off The Derech” by Faranak Margolese addresses the causes of “at risk” children. I am reading it right now and it is an eye-opener. A must read! Children NEED unconditional love from parents and the schools.


    I can relate to this as I am currently off the derech, while there are a coupld of other factors including abuse, one of the mains things was the menahel of my seminary I was kicked out for no good reason, well his reasons were I had asthma, I told people I was molested and I had a boyfriend, he told me that I was a abd onfluence on girls which was so not true, in the end he wrote my parents a letter that I was overdosing on drugs which was far from true and I was kicked out. Until than I had had my issues but was a good girl, t was only after i got kicked out and everyone assumed I was doing wrong things that I started really going crazy, drugs, alcohol, guys, you name it i did. I am still off the derech but am trying not with much succsess to cope, so I feel for the kids who are in my position and I just wish people would only use their power to do positive things

    Moderators Note:

    Quite strange…here is a quote from none other than yourself in the “Is The a Drug Problem In The Frum World”:

    “I am 18 and went off the derech for a little, and I used pot twice (marijuana) but I entered a world I never knew exsisted, I knew frum people used drugs but never realized how many people use it and in what large quantitied its used and how easily they can be obtained. i was offered other things but never used them”

    You have written some other conflicting comments……..

    Please stick your story.

    Pashuteh Yid

    Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm has a nice diyuk in a Rashi in his book Faith and Doubt, I believe. In gemara Shabbos 31a about the geirim who came to Hillel, Rashi D”H Gaiyreh says shelo haya kofer batorah shb’al peh, ella shelo haya maamin shehi mipi hagvurah. We see from this that having some doubts does not make one an apikores or kofer. If the Rebbe will patiently listen and try his best to explain, then maybe the child will eventually develop a strong emunah.


    my post was saying that before i got kicked out my menahel blamed me for using drugs, at that point in my life i never would have it was only after i felt blamed for doing nothing did i start going off and do drugs, i dont think im that confusing


    In fifth grade, I went up to my rebbe and privately said that I was able to make it thru half the davening with full kavanah. Instaed of offering chizuk, he publicly embarrassed me in front of the whole class for not davening the whole daven ing with kavanah. Guess how much kavanah I davened with the next day.

    In high school ( in the 1960’s )as freshmen, many boys had questions, which were asked in a respectful manner. Our rebbeim, who came from pre-war Litvish yeshivas, could not imagine that boys in high school would have such questions and assumed we were being chutzpanik and responded in kind. After 4 years of this, many of the boys were barely frum.

    Pashuteh Yid

    Teenager, the fact that you come here means that you still feel a strong connection to Judaism and the friendship of other Jews (even though everybody fights here all the time like brothers and sisters do). That is a positive thing. You must know that in the goyishe world, there is not this same feeling of closeness, and sometimes the taunting gets very cruel, much worse than here even where the worst that can happen is that people call each other an apikores.

    Therefore, there is still much hope for you to return. In addition, when you think about it, there can’t really be much of an attraction for drugs, because people who never used them don’t ever miss them, and don’t even know what the attraction is. When we are without food on the other hand, we all feel real hunger pains. All the drugs do is to fry your brain. It will make it much harder for you to function in the future, and will be a bad stain on your record for future jobs, etc. It is for your own good that people tell you to stay clean. It has nothing to do with yiddishkeit (except that yiddishkeit is really all about living the happiest and healthiest way). I think that deep down you really don’t feel so happy about your lifestyle, and even though yiddishkeit appears very difficult and a big drag, for some mysterious reason, it makes us happier, despite all the zillions of difficult rules. Why not just keep a few of the rules, and see how it goes.


    This is a VERY powerful thread for school administrators and boards to read. With yeshivas closed for at least four weeks during the summer, teacher training courses should be MANDATORY. If a rebbe, morah, teacher, or aide wants to continue employment into the next year, they MUST complete chinuch training. The main thing to focus on nowadays is the emotional health of their talmidim.

    Why should adults grow up with childhood emotional scars? Our children deserve better. Life is tough enough for children nowadays, why should school be one more problem to worry about. Schools should be a safe zone for children with no bullying from anyone. They can alter the course of people’s lives.


    The letter and the responding posts are very powerfully written, and so scary to read.

    I agree with artchill; all teachers and mechanchim should undergo some sort of training. The power they have to ruin a child’s life is frightening.

    In addition, teachers have to understand that it’s NORMAL for kids to question Judiasm -belief in Hshm, the Torah, the halachos, etc. If teachers blow off such questions with answers like “if you ask that you must be an apikores,” the kids never have the chance to truly learn about Yiddishkeit. Unfortunately, I think the majority of teachers do answer that way, and I think it could be because they don’t know the answers themselves.

    We are in this world to question and to learn so that we can grow. No one should ever be made to feel ‘stupid’ or ‘not frum’ because they are asking.


    While I have posted in many other posts, that there are many reasons why people go off the derech and I feel that one of the solutions is to have mental health professionals in every yeshiva and bais yaacov; I would like to relate a story that I’m dealing with now. In the hospital, I’m helping treat a drug addict suffering from a bone infection. Like most of my patients, I talk to them. This one noticed my yarmulka, beard and payos and told me she learned in frum schools in Flatbush, not necessary Bais Yaacovs, but within the frum spectrum. She didn’t come from a frum background, but she probably would be frum from the schools- being that’s all she went to till the end of high school.

    What turned her off was the fact that the other girls constantly made fun of her due to her lack of knowledge of frumkeit. So here we have another case due to the school(s). It might not be the direct fault of the Hanhalla, but they should have instilled the proper middos to the girls, not to make fun of others. I don’t think adminstrators can do a good enough job alone anymore, so I reiterate my call for mental health professionals in all schools.

    One lesson that can be learned for everyone is -when you do something you don’t know what your action can cause in the future. This patient might ch’vs die (only in her 20’s); all due to drugs- due to going off the derech – due to her experiences in her school!


    I have been preaching this forever, yeshivas must, must, must have a staff handbook as well as a student handbook. Staff must have training and rules THEY need to follow just as much as students do. Mechanchim need to know how the administration want the school run, what is acceptable and what isn’t. AND the administration needs to know how the BOARD and Parent body want the school run, what is acceptable and what isn’t. Is it any wonder that people are not interested in supporting yeshivas and donating to yeshivas anymore? Is it any wonder why fundraisers are having such a hard time?

    Mechanchim and Roshei Yeshivos have no training what so ever. For that matter, many of the “Rabbis” who claim to be experts in kids today have no training in the field either. They are all flying by the seat of their pants and have no clue what they are doing. Their need to “A” list their yeshivas and place their kids in head on competitions like running bulls or dog races puts “normal” every day kids out of the running with no where to go. They became mechanchim because they needed a parnasah and had no other way of making a living.

    These so called mechanchim forget the rules of the Torah when it comes to the younger generation who by the rules and guidelines are people and Jews too, and are included in “ALL PEOPLE” when it comes to “Respect, concern, consideration, etc”. ALL rules apply to every Jew older and younger. And what about being the best role model one can be? A mechanech does not only have to teach Gemarah and mishnayos they have to teach the utmost and best behavior that children should emulate and follow.

    Having said that, there are many abuses going on including verbal, physical, emotional and sexual. ALL of which is covered up and ignored by ALL the mainstream yeshivos and DAAS Torah organizations. Yes it is amazing that this letter was posted, and I will be very surprised if my post gets through, but these things must be discussed because they are destroying our children and it is what is pushing and shoving our children off the derech only to have our children further demeaned and criticized by the same Daas Torah for having “chosen” to go off the derech.

    One more thing I have said for a long time. Teachers and mechanchim should be rated and given report cards at least twice a year just like kids. The Board of Directors should get an up close and personal inside look at what the parents and students really think and feel about their mechanchim and not just the opinions of the administration. It is up to the Board and the person who signs the salary checks to know whether certain people should stay or go when their names come up for renewal or even before that, before kids are cut off by the knees and their self esteem and self confidence are ruined.


    Health, just because others don’t agree with you doesn’t mean that they feel they are superior.

    You should talk to average frum Bais Yaakov girls. Let’s see if the majority of their lives were smooth sailing without some pain and hurt caused by others, by other girls and mechanchim.

    Life is not about excuses. Life is about growing. I’m not saying once someone left the derech they can never return. Totaly not. Teshuva can be done as long as one is breathing. However, to look for excuses as to why someone went off the derech is just that – looking for excuses.

    There is no excuse for davka causing pain and hurt for others ESPECIALLY vunerable children. Those mechanchim or parents who do that will give din vechasben. However, sometimes a mechanich can make a mistake and as far as I know mechanchim are human and if one makes a mistake in judgement here or there, we must be them dan l’kaf zchus.

    Btw, Health, in a previous thread you were discussing that sin is caused by a ruach shtuss. Now I find it interesting that those who go OTD with excuses of mental illness you excuse with the fact that you feel that they have a ruach shtues. How about applying that to girls who, yes they acted mean (although we can’t really judge them from hearing one version of the story – there might be a different valid version here)but let’s say they were mean because they had a ruach shtuess, acted silly and immature, but are basically good girls (hopefully) and excusing them with the ruach stuesh stuff as well as those who went OTD. Chazal did not say that only those with mental illness can be attacked by a ruach shtuess. So let’s get them off the hook as well.


    In order for mechanchim and hanhala to undergo training, they would have to a) acknowledge that there is a problem and b)go to professional (meaning COLLEGE educated) sources, to get that training. There is a need for the willingness to do so. Many yeshivos do not want to cop to the problem existing in their mossad.


    I with teenager in this although not as bad. I come from a house with parents who can’t raise kids well nemore. My parents control me and my teachers are horrible. I’ve had my share of teachers which ruined my life, my relationship with fellow classmates, my relationship with siblings, and my relationship with my parents. Although I don’t think I’ll ever head toward drugs, there are too many questions about judaism that nobody has answered and that I can’t ask my parents. Another issue is that I come from a very yeshivish family where everyone will be shocked that I have these questions. My school is very frum and if they know what I do they’d kick me out. I think part of the problem is that people are close-minded and can’t believe that people have questions or are not on the same level of holiness as them. TEACHERS, PARENTS, AND OTHER TEENAGERS must be more opened to these things and there shouldn’t be an attitude of fear. Although on the outside I seem very frum, if people knew what I’ve been doing they might be shocked. This is because I can’t ask questions because I’ll be considered a damaged girl.



    “One more thing I have said for a long time. Teachers and mechanchim should be rated and given report cards at least twice a year just like kids. The Board of Directors should get an up close and personal inside look at what the parents and students really think and feel about their mechanchim and not just the opinions of the administration. It is up to the Board and the person who signs the salary checks to know whether certain people should stay or go when their names come up for renewal or even before that, before kids are cut off by the knees and their self esteem and self confidence are ruined”.


    In full agreement. Being a Board Member is a RESPONSIBILITY, not a priviledge or bragging rights. Nobody is holding a gun to a board member’s head forcing them to join. Therefore, if you join a board the responsibility for ALL that goes on and you do nothing about IS ALL ON YOUR HEAD.


    I’m a teen, and I am NOT at risk or going off the derech or anything, but I see that this is so true from my friends, and from the way teachers teach and answer our questions. The teachers never answer our questions. Maybe they don’t know the answers!!


    i’m very happy this is all being brought to the limelight.

    I just want to add from my own experience. I was a “normal” “regular” good kid who never had a thought about going OTD, i was respectful, studious, did well, yes had a few run ins with teachers or kids in class occasionally, all normal. But i had a few REALLY bad teachers who should have never stepped foot into ANY classroom. I suffered TERRIBLY but b”h i was always very close to my parents and tehy backed me all the way. (don’t worry i got “petch” too sometimes) It is a HUGE achrayis to be in chinuch. Funny enough when the time came for me to go to work a lot of people kept on saying i should go into chinuch. i wam SO reluctant about it. It’s sooo frightening.

    I also want to mention here (i’ve mentionned it in another post too) that there can be very “frum” kids who seem totally normal, part of the fold and everything but have HUGE major questions thta MUST be addressed. Many times they themselves are scared to ask there questions bacause they know it “shouldn’t be a question”, they’re scared of the response and their teacher and fellow classmates acceptance. Once a child already is showing outer signs of “bumming out” (boy -colored shirts, denim colored kappel…girls- gets more… untznius…)it has already gone VERY VERY far. They’ve already gone through LOTS of inner turmoil when they were very “yehsivish” and “frum”.

    i see that here again some are saying you can’t give excuses for going off and others that it’s because of x,y, and z. Its neither. You can’t say that it’s totally not their fault they were abused… whatever and they went off. Yes there is reasoning and great causing factor but they had bechira. It’s both.

    For ALL kids one huge “remedy” is UNCONDITIONAL LOVE . note i said ALL. kal vechomer for kids that are at risk and OTD.

    Yanky R.

    A man over 13 years of age (and a woman over 12 years of age) are responsible for their own actions.


    A man over 13 years of age (and a woman over 12 years of age) are responsible for their own actions.

    A breath of fesh air here. I was starting to fell pretty stuffy in a roomful of excuses.

    In order for mechanchim and hanhala to undergo training, they would have to a) acknowledge that there is a problem and b)go to professional (meaning COLLEGE educated) sources, to get that training.

    a)there are problems even if the mechanchim try there utmost to do there best because

    1. students can sometimes be unreasonable – unreasonably selfish or unreasonably sensitive

    2.mechanchim are human and therefore by definition liable to make mistakes

    3. yes there are “mechanchim” that are anything but that and should have any other job than a “mechanech”, but they are the minority.

    b) excuse me for coming off rude but this is a joke. Go look at all the public school students into drugs, immorality, girls have such low self-esteem the only area time they feel good is when they get boys attention, loud and rude behaviour, teen pregnancies…Yes,yes we need college educated mechanchim. Yes, of course more social workers, psycologists…Ahem.

    Now look at the majority of BY type and Chassidishe school and yeshiva students. Most are aidel, with good middos, they are light years ahead of those with secular upbringing.

    Are there issues in frum mosdos that need a tikkun? YES, definitely. There are issues that need to be corrected. But applying an infected bandaid will only make issues worse.


    cut me pie, I understand your issues. I’ve been there myself. I’d love to connect with you, if it’s okay with YWN, and maybe I can answer your questions and we can discuss family issues as well.


    philosopher – I never mentioned Ruach Shtuss in any of my posts -you’re confusing me with someone else. Also, if life is not about finding excuses, why do you always find excuses for all those that in your head are always right? Also, it’s not an anomaly for kids to make fun of everything and anything; it’s a common, everday occurance in Yeshivas and Bais Yaacovs!



    I used to be in the same boat as you and realized that my Rabbeim arent answering the questions. I am of the opinion that many dont know the answers or dont know it well enough to explain it. So what did I do?

    I started reading. There are hundreds of books and sefarim out there that deal with all the questions that people have on Judaism. Read Rabbi Aryeh Kaplans books. He will clear up a lot of the murkiness for you. You can also go to websites like which have hundreds of articles geared specifically for all the questions that people have on judaism. I guarantee that if you read up on the articles on and listen to some of the free audio they offer you will have a much better understanding of Judaism.

    Theres a great book that I think everyone should read. Its a life changing book and will alter the way you view Judaism and life.

    The book is called What The Angel Taught You seven keys to life fulfillment by Rabbi Noah Weinberg and Yakov Salomon. Give it a thorough read. Its well worth it.


    As my name suggests, I’ve been dealing with “at risk” teenagers for over 10 yrs now

    I’ve heard all the “reasons” why one would not want to be frum. {My rebbe embarrassed me, my parents got divorced, I have ADD ,a learning disability, and so on.} And I want you to know something:

    Firstly, If the parents don’t know anything about Judaism how can they give anything over to there children??

    Furthermore, those that DO know Judaism and reasons, don’t do the mitzvos with a smile or a geshmak. These kids either don’t understand why they do something, or they understand and see it as a burden.

    Now to the point.

    The kids use this as an excuse.

    Nobody says it’s easy to be a frum Jew, especially if they feel disgust, anger, and unfulfillment.

    The grass ALWAYS looks greener on the other side, and at some point, the kid has to take some responsibility for his own life.

    there is a ribono shel olam and everyone will get rewarded and punished for their actions. It’s nothing personal, that’s just the way of the world.

    Maybe, for example, he had a rebbe that hated him and picked on him. We all did. But what separates the men from the boys is dealing with every situation and not running away and “going off”. Some situations are tougher then others and need more assistance, but that’s the way life is.

    NOBODY in this world ever made it big by not going through hardships and challenges. Just look at the Shevatim, our ancestors, our gedolim. Many people don’t have it easy in life and that makes them stronger, not weaker.

    I would love to be out of a job, for there to be no need for my services, but something needs to change. Either parents need to learn to instill their children with a love and excitement for Yiddishkeit, and sometimes that means instilling it in themselves first. And our children need to learn a sense of responsibility. Yes, maybe you were a victim…but don’t use that as an excuse. Stop blaming cell phones. Stop blaming internet. The problem runs much deeper.


    While I’m sure Mechanchim are to blame in some cases, I think it’s more of a disenchantment felt by children due to issues at home.

    Please correct me if Im wrong, but from my observation, the ratio of OTD kids, defined by me as children choosing to be much less observant than their parents, is much higher among those to the right of the YU/Sterns Derech. I think it’s higher among Yeshivish/Litvish/Agudah/Heimish/Chassidish families and lower among those to the left religiously.

    In my opinion it’s due to the lifestyle of not focusing on anything but Torah until there arises a serious need for Parnassa, causing many difficult to deal with issues and a skewed value system, where parents are forced to follow the “you gotta do what you gotta do” lifestyle to survive financially, which children are witness to, and Rabbonim in those spheres turn a blind eye to.

    In the end, by and large, the homes where the Nachas Ruach is greater, are those homes where there was reality thinking, financial preparedness and responsibility on part of both partners, early on, which is contrary to the teachings of many of our right wing schools.


    cut me pie:

    I completely understand where you’re coming from. Most teachers and parents nowadays are not capable of answering questions on basics of Judiasm, and it is a really sad fact.

    However, I know Rabbis from Aish that are ready and willing to answer questions like those. Asking them “how do I know there is a G-d?” is a perfectly acceptable question to them. These Rabbis are amazing. If you want to contact me thru YWN, I can get you a few names and email addresses and I think it might be very helpful to you.

    Just remember: There is NO question that you are not allowed to ask. Every question is OK. You just need the right people to ask them to.

    1st timer

    I totally agree that the yeshiva system MUST be revamped, both boys & girls schools. 1-kids these days have a lot of hashkofa questions. There has to be someone to answer them correctly. Why don’t the schools have someone like Rabbi Daniel Mechanic or Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein come once a month (maybe Rosh Chodesh) to have question/answer bull sessions? 2-why aren’t are kids inspired to do chessed? why can’t boys pack Tomchei Shabbos packages Thursday afternoons, or go to the nursing homes every once in awhile? I heard that one of the principals in a boys yeshiva when asked by the parents why the boys (especially those that dont excel academically) cant have chessed projects, was told “chessed is for girls, not for yeshiva boys! 3-I think that we need a little change of curriculum especially in yeshivas- why cant they learn alot more practical halacha-teach every day meaningful things like shmiras haloshon, kashrus, etc. 4-We need to see that kids these days are constantly seeking- seeking for answers, gratification, attention, satisfaction. Yes they are needy but its a different world than 20-30 years ago and we must start dealing with the issues before we lose more children. Each issue CAN be dealt with. 5-I think its time for all schools to realize that each child was created uniquely and just because he/she is not academically inclined doesnt mean the schools cant find a way to challenge/motivate them. There are many programs to teach teachers/mechanchim how to teach these students using different tools (using visual aids or even mp3 players/ipods). we have to reach and find something in each child. Each one can/should feel like they can excel in something. Why dont the yeshivas teach a little of a trade-boys can learn carpentry, painting, plumbing, photography-trust me, these are better life skills than science and social studies. And also, why does there have to be a test attached to every subject- The information would stick much better if they werent so busy cramming for the test. The atmosphere at home would be much more relaxing, too.


    I never mentioned Ruach Shtuss in any of my posts -you’re confusing me with someone else

    Sorry about that Health. I used the wrong word , ruach shtuess. My point was that just as you apply the halachos of dan l’kaf zchus for those who have mental disease and go OTD, let’s also apply those halachas to the girls in your story and then nobody takes the blame for anything anymore.

    Also, if life is not about finding excuses, why do you always find excuses for all those that in your head are always right?

    I excuse myself for doing the wrong thing as in the situation above for example, but otherwise I’m not trying to find excuses nor make psak halachos.

    I’m just stating my opinions. I think that is the point of the CR.

    Also, it’s not an anomaly for kids to make fun of everything and anything; it’s a common, everday occurance in Yeshivas and Bais Yaacovs!

    You’re totaly right. Unfortunately that’s a common occurance. What I meant to say that the frum students are light years ahead when they’re older and maturer. Obviously the younger kids are, the less they can behave in the proper manner as they are not developed enough to make proper decisions. I’m not saying it never happens when the sudents are older either, but generally, frum students are better behaved than public school students.


    Read Rabbi Aryeh Kaplans books. He will clear up a lot of the murkiness for you.

    Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s books are fabulous! If you have questions about God or just want to learn about deep mystical topics that can really make you appreciate the beauty and depth of our Torah, read his books! They are great!

    Beyond a Reasonable Doubt by Rabbi Shmeul Waldman is also a great book for those who have questions regarding Yiddishkeit.


    kids at risk rabbi, I totaly agree with your post – from top to bottom.


    Also “Permission To Believe” by Rabbi Lawrence Kelleman


    I have to agree with many of these posts but let me ask a question: ARE WE MAKING A TEACHING CAREER ATTRACTIVE TO OUR FINEST AND MOST TALENTED? I know I would make a great teacher, but the salary and mostly the ATTITUDE we have towards our teachers makes me want to run the other way. Do we respect our hard-working moros and rabbeim, most of whom are sincere and great? Or do we put them down and disagree and try to get out of paying tuition? When we respect the people that take care of our children and make it the most honorable profession that there is, then maybe people who would be really good will be interested in going into it. We have to realize that these are the people that spend the most time transmitting the mesorah to our children and deal with this issue with the respect that it deserves….


    I’ve read Beyond a Reasonable Doubt by Rabbi Shmeul Waldman and found it weak.

    I was a very inquisitive child and I was always plagued with questions. I had a really tough 8th grade year where I had a teacher who made up halacha and denied things that were written in the gemara. It didn’t help that two of the girls in my class were the grandchildren of a prominent MO Rabbi that my teacher didn’t agree with (or rather, her husband didn’t agree with – she never had opinions of her own).

    It took 4 years in my great MO high school to really straighten out my thoughts. She did a lot of damage.

    I think people also neglect the group of people who just don’t believe. They look for logical proof of the Torah and don’t find it, even when questioning some of the right sources. There is an element of faith in Judaism (hence all the ani maamins) and you can’t logic away faith.


    I think that it’s both unfair & not true to say that there’s a higher rate of teens at risk in any specific group. There are teens at risk from all backgrounds.


    One reason I think it appears that more RW kids go OTD is that when they do wrong things, its harder to maintain a connection to the community. Wearing jeans is already considered an afront to RW society.

    In MO society, its easier to relax on halacha without going completely OTD as you will still be able to stay within society without being ostracized.

    It has its benefits and negatives on both sides. I prefer the latter.


    wellinformedyid, i don’t agree that all teachers who are asked questions on Emuna and don’t answer properly -they don’t know the answers themselves. Maybe a small minority but definitely not all. It’s because when asked such a question especially in front of a whole classroom of kids you are caught off guard. Aren’t there times when only after a situation, do you think of a good answer / response you could’ve given.

    a few yrs ago a teenager (very frum, yeshivish ) whom i was close to, asked me some very basic questions. I still remember how shocked, unprepared and caught off guard i was. I had very scary and insecure feeling, because everything that my whole life was built on was being questioned. Not that i didn’t know the answers/ that i was right. It’s just a shake up. I definitely had lots of answers. It really scared me that a kid from a very yeshivish, frum home and school would have such doubts. I can’t imagine what my reaction would’ve been if i was a teacher and one of my students were to ask me such a question in front of a whole classroom.

    Also many times people who have such questions, it’s really coming from a very deep source of deep intense pain/ anger. Deep inside we are all believers, “anachnu maaminim bnei maaminim” We have to believe that deep inside we really do believe even in times that we have questions. Deep inside these kids know the truth.


    cholentkugelkishke, allow me to go off on a tangent, but would you also say it’s u n f a i r to say that there’s a higher incidence of crime and obesity among African Americans, despite what studies show, because all ethnic groups have a percentage of obese and criminal individuals?


    GITGEZUGT – if anyone has studies that are done which prove that there’s a higher rate of teens at risk amongst a certain group – I would love to see that data. Untill then, it’s unfair to claim -as many of the above posters have – that there’s a higher rate amongst a specific group.


    I’ve read Beyond a Reasonable Doubt by Rabbi Shmeul Waldman and found it weak.

    How so?

    I think people also neglect the group of people who just don’t believe. They look for logical proof of the Torah and don’t find it, even when questioning some of the right sources.


    There is an element of faith in Judaism (hence all the ani maamins) and you can’t logic away faith.

    I think faith is more like on what doesn’t explicitly say in the Torah like Moshiach will come again. Certainly we need faith even when the Torah is proven to be true and even if miracles occur before our eyes, because people with faith and people without faith see different things differently.


    I always wonder how it could be.. that soo many kids go through school and many many have questions. many are hurt, and not everyone goes off the derech?


    cholentkugelkishke, conversations with Chinuch professionals in the YU/Sterns Torah U Mada group, can enlighten. There is a shift to the right, mostly.


    Not like I’m a professional or anything but I don’t think its right to blame the kids that go otd once they do. If they’re already there, just show them unconditional acceptance and love.


    show them unconditional acceptance and love

    As far as I know that is the best and possibly the only (in many cases) path to success

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