Kiruv advice needed!

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    someone posted this on another thread and i didnt think it would get the attention it deserves on that thread so here it is:

    “Two of my five are off the derech; it is a 24/7 nightmare. Both of these kids were oppositional from the start, so the fact that they reject halacha, with all its rules, is understandable … kinda. But some of the people who should have been able to avert the problem only made it worse: Rabbis who didn’t take their questions seriously. Principals who lied. Teachers who told the one with LD (that was especially pronounced in Hebrew) that he was stupid.

    In case we aren’t suffering enough and guilting ourselves enough, we are subjected to the pervasive mindset that if the kid is OTD, it’s the parents’ fault. Period.

    They’re 19 and 25 now, and not very open to finding a way back in. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.”


    Contact Rabbi Mechanic

    oot for life

    Love and Strength. It’s all we can do sometimes. Show them as much love as you show your other kids. Be happy and secure in your own yiddishkiet. And you have to be strong when people attack you, or when you read things that say it’s your fault. Or worse when your kids are flagrantly dismissive in front of you.

    There is no quick fix, anything built quick, will come down quick. Be patient. I hope who ever this original poster is has much hatzlocha and strength.


    A frum therapist would be a start. The older they are and the long they have been OTD the harder it is to get them back.

    As a parent all you can do is love them unconditionally and always leave the door open for them to come back. On the other hand make sure that they don’t bring down the other kids in the family. Don’t sacrifice the other kids who are on track for the sake of not alienating the OTD kids.


    Too many details that I don’t know, and which the parents might not even know. So this is me not commenting.


    ” Rabbis who didn’t take their questions seriously. Principals who lied. Teachers who told the one with LD (that was especially pronounced in Hebrew) that he was stupid.”

    It’s no mystery why they went OTD….

    Unfortunately teachers and Rabbis need to go through training on how to deal with these issues if they are going to teach our children…more often than not they have no training what so ever….

    When asked a question that they do not have an answer to the best response is to be honest and say simply “We do not know Sometime there is no clear answer”….

    Kids could see right through lies and it can often give them negative feelings towards Yidishkite….

    At this point the only thing you can do is include your children and treat them no different than your others. Show them how Yidishkite has made a positive impact on your life…

    Judaism is not all or nothing, maybe over time there a certain aspects that they will begin to reincorporate into their lives.


    To any parent that goes through this nisayon, the one most important thing to tell your children is this “I love you no matter what”. It is so very important to show them unconditional love.

    Even though our yiddishkeit and our frumkeit is our whole life and it is who we are, we must show our children that THEY even come before that. “I love you no matter what”. They need to know that you love them and respect them for being your child. You don’t have to agree with them, you don’t have to respect their choices or even like them, but you have to separate them from what they are currently going through. If they feel that their family “hates them”, which they do quite often, it only pushes them further away. If they feel they are a disappointment to the family they feel there is no means of return.

    Children are a gift from Hashem. They don’t come with warranties, guarantees, nor instructions. Hashem does not c”v tell you that if the child does not follow your way then you can return the gift or throw it away if you are not satisfied with it. That child is going through their own nisayon and you are going through yours. It is a huge challenge for both of you. What that child does and what happens with that child is between him and Hashem. How you treat that child, that gift from Hashem, how you love that child is between you and Hashem. That is your challenge.

    When you realize that you should not care what others think. When you realize that you should not care what others say. When you realize that you should only care about what that child thinks about you and your relationship, then it will be easier for you to say “I love you no matter what.”


    Hi soliek.

    This is a big and pervasive problem. The people who have the know-how to help are the exact

    ones turning them off. These people have a BIG mechila to ask for having stunted and prohibited the spiritual development of those you are talking about in your post. Maybe they are not totally responsible, but they had an obligation to do a better job to tip the scales favorably rather than in the other direction.

    I have run into this kind of thing and learned that sometimes the religion and the people are two different things.

    I want to say clearly, that there are people in our community who are worth more than their weight in gold, more so than any other people in the world. They are unbelievably thoughtful, kind, helpful, and knowledgeable. But sadly, a very few are messed up and mess others up.

    In my opinion, there is no exact solution that can be laid out like a list of things to do, as you know.

    I often tell people who share their disappointments in their religious experience that they cannot let any individual block their efforts in coming closer to the Creator. If a person turns them off, then pick up a sefer, a good book on hashkafa and read; listen to a CD shiur on any topic, and they will connect with the spiritual jewels that belong to them, always.

    Most of all, they need concerned, easy going people keeping a Jewish rapport with them and encouraging them.

    Since Purim is coming up iyH, asking them to participate in all the activities would be a nice plan to begin the rebuilding process.

    By letting them take from the “spiritual buffet” what they like, and have a positive experience, eventually they will want more and more, beH.

    I totally believe the statement that those who grab onto a branch of the tree of Torah, will grow beyond what they ever expected. This process is happening everyday to more and more people.

    Hatzlacha to them!!!


    just to clarify…this wasnt my problem…”njsavta” posted it in a dead thread so i moved it here


    I have said many times to the at-risk kids I have been privileged to work with “If a goy would hurt you like that would you say all goyim are bad and run away from them? Why do you judge all frum jews and yiddishkeit by those who give in to their yetzer horah and do bad things? Don’t keep score, Hashem will hold them accountable for every child they hurt and for every hurt they caused. Everything is written down and they will have to account for it after 120 when they meet their maker.”

    I see a light bulb go off when I point this out. It gives them food for thought.


    Family trip to Israel?

    The birthright trip helps a lot of people connect to their heritage.

    I would like to know, if they are acting respectful when they are in the home or in their neighborhood, do they wear a Yarmulka there or not there either. Are they still in touch with friends who are still frum.

    Positive role models is very important.

    Sometimes people come back after many years. It could be that they miss the warmth of a communuity so the parents should see where the children are holding, are they without any alternative community, if so, they will be lonely, so eventually they might find their way back. One positive thing is that they do know that they can come back to something.


    I don’t have practical advice for you. However, a general attitude that can help is not to classify them as another type of person. There is no Chiyuv to be Frum. There is a Mitzva to don Teffilin, to keep Shabbos, Kashrus, Succah, Tzeddaka, Krias Shema and so on.

    You don’t have to try to make them ‘Frum’. They already are full fledged Yidden. You can convey to them this outlook that they never ‘left’, they merely slowed, or even stopped doing several details. In this vein, they can make Brachos when eating at your table, or Daven, make Kiddush, shake Lulav, and anything else. They don’t need to feel threatened, since they aren’t making a statement of becoming Frum.



    I so admire what you wrote. It makes so much sense.

    I find it hard to convey the beauty of yiddishkeit. A lot of it comes out dry…. “say your brachos, bensch, wash negelvasser, wash netilas yadayim,…etc”. It comes out like have to’s and in the absence of bad educators, I wonder how to excite a child about yiddishkeit.

    Menachem Melamed

    I am involved in kiruv work, and I work with OTD kids. Sadly at times there is some truth to accusations they throw at rabbis, teachers, parents, etc. But very often the “stories” they tell of their “horrible” experiences at the hands of the frum world are greatly exagerated, and sometimes completely untrue.

    Rabbis, teachers, and parents have to do their best. People who pontificate all kinds of “brilliant” ideas of why kids go OTD are making the mistake of simplifying a very complex problem. So let’s do what we can to help, learn from our mistakes, and stop throwing around blame.


    one of the best ways to do kiruv is to be a good example. Sometimes, we don’t need to do much, just be a good friend, invite someone for shabbos, have good middos, share some info. on something. With kiruv, we accomplish both bringing Jews close to Torah and also unity BH


    Melamed, I hear what you are saying, but just as often and more sad is the fact that the stories they tell are not exaggerated and are true. The pain that they carry is quite real and quite painful to hear because it is the truth and we know it. We know that parents and mechanchim do make these mistakes and do act the way the kids describe not thinking and not realizing that their words and actions will hit the target so soundly and so strongly that they change their lives.


    First, soliek, thank you for moving my post.

    Second, who is Rabbi Mechanic, and how do I find him?


    njsavta, Hang in there, don’t lose hope and don’t lose your emunah and bitachon. Your job is to love them and daven for them, the rest is up to Hashem.


    Rabbi Daniel Mechanic 718-648-4555 X16 or [email protected]


    I just listened to a 2-hr talk he gave in Aug. 2007 for Chazaq. Logically, very compelling, but I don’t think my kids would listen long enough, and seriously enough, to hear what he’s saying. Perhaps, I will call. Thanks.

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