Kiruv Question

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    I am involved in a certain kiruv organization. I go once a week to learn with non-religious Jewish girls. I have been doing this for a number of years and I love it. This year however, I have been assigned to a very troubled girl (she is 13). She just refuses to acknowledge that there is a God and she has a very negative attitude to anything relating to Judaism. She viciously mocks everything about frum people. But she shows up week after week.I figured that she really does want to believe and learn about Hashem but she’s in some sort of denial. I have spoken to a number of people about this and everything they told me to say or do hasn’t worked.

    Then yesterday she told me something that really made me nervous. She told me she has a boyfriend who her parents do not approve of. He is trying to convince her to do a bunch of things she does not want to do (use your imagination). She then told me that she is adopted and her parents neglect her. On top of that she said she has a restraining order against her stepbrother because he is violent and dangerous. I don’t know what to do- She said I may not tell anyone but I feel I have to. I am scared that if she finds out I am trying to help her she will become more against me and Judaism. Anyone have any advice???


    If she is adopted, she was probably born as a gentile. Since she isn’t religious, she may not even be Jewish since she never had a religious conversion after age 12.


    I thought the same thing you did stuck, so I asked her and she said she knows for sure she is. Which is another problem in itself, do I believe her? But then again, why would she lie about that?


    If she hasn’t been religious since she is 12, it is impossible that she converted. You must accept being religious in order to have a proper geirus.


    This is something I definitely have to look into but for now lets say she is Jewish (which I am almost sure she is) what should I do?


    cinder; firstly, about HB”H, there are ways, it doesn’t take a few talks to convince someone, sometimes ppl are pushed away from believing in HB”H because they don’t see the G-dliness in ppl.

    Although in nature it it as clear as day. By restoring the persons faith in people (i don’t mean actual faith) letting your Tzelem Elkm shine thru. Over time one can come around to acknowlege what their heart knows to be true.

    Discussing stories of chassidim and tzaddikim, even if she doesn’t believe them, just to hear some strong concepts of Ahavas Hsm

    and Emunas Tzaddikim in Hsm, can plant seed of awakening.

    It might take time maybe years later, but if you let these

    seeds of light enter her consciousness you may be directly

    responsible for her being chozer bitshuvah many years later.

    Even if she laughs at the stories…..

    It WILL hit home!!!!!!!

    2) you must support her strongly, (aside from it being wrong)

    as you clearly state, He is trying to convince her to do a bunch of things “she does not want to do”

    So tell her she should absolutely not do anything she does not want to do, or let herself be influenced to change her mind.

    I don’t know how old you are but if you are old enough you can clearly convince her the pain and regret she will surely have not being able to undo things.

    1)giving herself away to someone unworthy,

    unworthy how? trying to persuade her to do things against her will. [Also pregnancy is an issue.] tell her to read stories

    of how young girls unsuspecting had their lives turned upside down

    and inside out ruining their youth etc…

    I’m not sure what your asking as far as the step brother,

    not knowing all the details, but if she is in real danger,

    i.e he comes around threatening her, you should give her

    the number of an abuse hotline.


    Disclaimer: I’m not a kiruv professional.

    Rabbi Wallerstein has a fantastic shiur where he discusses bf issues.

    Its more than a tznius thing, its about men and women in general. If you have time for it, then I highly recommend it. (And I saw it a few months ago, I don’t remember everything he said)

    As for the part about not believing, its my opinion that for someone who takes that attitude, its not that they don’t believe but that they don’t want to believe. If she sees restriction, she won’t like it. Show her that its fun, too. Aish came out with a video for Rosh Hashana done to the tune of a very catchy song. Show her ya’alili. Theres a bit of time until Chanuka, but maybe theres a Chanuka party she can go to. Are you in Brooklyn? Maybe you can go to Ohr Naava (or a similar type of place) with her for something more fun. (The schedule is on their website, but I think they have kickboxing, dancing etc). Don’t try to be mekarev her, just show her how happy you are.

    1. Sorry, I know the things I suggested involve a big commitment of time.

    2. Are you in contact with her parents, teacher etc? Maybe you can tell them to talk to her without going into detail (and not to mention that you were involved)?

    3. Can I contact you through the mods to find out a little about the organization?




    Does the organization look into things like that?



    stuck –

    She may be a Jew from birth. Or possibly more likely, she’s lying about being adopted.

    cinderella –

    I know my advice is a bit “different,” but hear me out.

    I sometimes wonder about doing “kiruv” with kids. Sure, kids are impressionable, and some are deep thinkers, but most are still growing up, and that means that they are making a lot of decisions in life based on feelings and they don’t really have much of an identity yet. You say that it must be she believes in something deep down or she wouldn’t some. Maybe you’re right. But it’s strange considering her attitude, right? Well maybe she doesn’t have any beliefs deep down. Maybe she comes because she has a place where she’s taken seriously, where someone listens to what she has to say and treats her like a person. Someone who cares about her enough to try to convince her of things – something she doesn’t get from her parents who neglect her. Maybe that’s why she says she’s adopted, but is so sure she’s Jewish. She knows she isn’t adopted, but she has issues with her parents, so she invents this fantasy. This is a girl, who, more than needing a kiruv mentor, needs a friend and some serious counseling. Personally, my advice to you – if you feel that what I say is an accurate summation of the facts – would be to say to her straight up: “You know what? Let’s forget about religion today. I’m your friend, let’s just talk about life.” Become her counselor, establish a rapport. Guide her away from doing things she’ll regret with her boyfriend – but don’t bring religion into it. Even if you never discuss religion, you are doing a wonderful thing. Because as a kid in her state, in my opinion to talk religion is worse than pointless. But to be her friend and counselor, that is something she’ll always have fond memories of, and when she’s 18 years old and actually trying to figure out life she’ll think back to the memories of her wonderful religious friend and maybe it’ll push her to start searching in that direction.


    First of all, my heart goes out to her about her family troubles but I have no advice. I don’t know what kind of resources you have to be able to help her or if it’s even possible, but I can advise you about the teaching aspect.

    In my experience (I’ve got quite a bit) if someone is actively trying to learn about Judaism, they want to learn about Judaism. Simply talk about anything that she isn’t mocking at the moment and work back around to that later. Someone can’t stand hearing about yet another halacha, talk about dveikus. She feels she can’t relate to the concept of moshiach, talk about the shabbos table. She doesn’t believe in God — this will be very shocking — nu? Lots of frum people don’t. Talk about something else. I repeat, if she’s there, she wants to be. Keep going until you find something she does want to learn about, and since all of torah is tightly connected you can work your way back when you feel she’ll be receptive.


    yit, I sort of was getting at the same idea, but you said it a lot better.



    Thanks kapusta.


    Okay, thanks everybody for your advice.

    1. Believe me, I have tried to establish any kind of connection with her. She is completely unreceptive. The only things she is interested in talking about are guys, movies, music… When doing kiruv one is not supposed to identify with those parts of the non-Jewish world that the Torah and Halacha are against. If the only way I can become her friend is by telling her that I might do things she does which are against halacha, should I? Is that not hypocritical?

    2. Kapusta- the org. is supposed to look into things like that but I don’t think they knew. I asked them and they said they will look into it.

    3. About her boyfriend- She knows the dangers of messing around. She just doesn’t trust herself not to. She is so emotionally dependent on this guy that she is liable to do what he asks. We spoke for an hour about the huge impact a negative relationship can have on someone’s life but she isn’t strong enough to break up with him.

    4.I know she is thirsting for friendship. Someone to listen, to care and to love. And I am totally up for that. But it just seems that everything I say or try is pointless. I know that maybe a few years down the line she might remember things I told her, but what if it’s too late??


    It sounds like she just wants a friend. Do you read at all? Cook? Maybe you can bring the “guys, movies, music” to kosher reading, recipes etc. If she is so emotionally dependent on her boy”friend”, its probably because she feels important and that someone cares.

    Maybe you can give a friendly reminder to whoever was looking into it.

    Did you see the 3rd point in my earlier post?

    One more thing, its never too late.



    cinderella –

    You aren’t being hypocritical. You are simply putting yourself in her position.

    It’s not a question of being too late. First of all, it’s never too late. Kids will always retain the memories of the people who cared for them and it will come back to her. Second of all, talking religion to her is not healthy at this point in her life, in my opinion. Because if she feels like you are just out there to proselytize her she may develop a negative impression and negative memories. She wants a friend, I say give her what she wants. It won’t be for naught. At the very least she’ll develop a respect for religious people that might make that when her own child is looking into his roots she won’t prevent him.

    I am putting a strong disclaimer on what I am about to say – check with a competent rabbi before accepting this halacha. I am only saying it so that you should know that it isn’t something to dismiss without even asking.

    Here is the halacha with some background: For a man to shave off his own peyos with a razor is two issurim d’oraisa – 1) He is doing the shaving, and 2) He is aiding in the process of having himself shaved. This is called ???? and ????. If a woman shaves off a man’s peyos and he does not aid in the process, neither are chayav. But both have an issur d’rabbanan. R’ Akiva Eiger* writes that if a woman knows that a certain man is going to shave off his own peyos, it is mutar l’chatchilah for her to do it for him, because even though she is helping him do an issur d’rabbanan, which is normally assur for her too, in this case she is saving him from doing worse – being chayav on two counts.

    Therefore there is reason to believe that it would be proper to give this girl advice which is against halacha, if it will prevent her from doing worse things. But again, you must check with a competent rav before taking such advice.

    *Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 181:6


    Thanks yitayngiwut, I will definitely ask a Rav


    yitayningwut -I agree somewhat.

    cinderella -Maybe you can suggest movies that aren’t bad, instead of what she watches. The same with music. Classical music is wonderful. It doesn’t have to be Fried, MBD, etc.

    Try to change her low life by finding alternatives that are acceptable to her and aren’t the worse thing in the world, like the things I’ve mentioned.


    cinderalla- ive worked extensively with kids who arent frum or think they are but dont care to put on tfillin ie theyre not. the first thing you have to establish here is: what role are you playing now? parent? or friend?at this point it doesnt matter too much but it will later. all you can do in this sitch is to keep listening, regardless of the topic, because right now its about building a positive, healthy relationship. DON’T push anything ie torah, stories about gedolim etc.; thats not what she needs. she needs someone who is gonna listen to her and love her. and in regard to the spiritual pitfalls she is in middle of now, i know this sounds nuts but in the big picture it doesnt matter. what matters is in 10 years if because of you she’ll be keeping mikva, and the dangers now are the small picture. just love, dont press, dont judge, be there for her. DON’T press. she didnt ask for a mashgiach.


    i was at my rav’s house last week and we were discussing hashkafah and kiruv and he told me that a lot of questions and rebellion against yahadus comes from trouble in a person’s life. id say that was spot on here. your priority, if you want her to eve become frum, should be to help her out of her current situation and find her a more stable living environment. someone who is under that much pressure and stress and has such a messed up life doesnt particularly care (at least on the surface…youre right about her wanting to be frum because she keeps coming back) about being frum because her priorities are different from yours. as far as shes concerned “self reservation” is all that matters. once you remove her from her current situation her priorities will shift back to what she really wants.

    as far as her being resentful that youre prying in her personal life and meddling about…if you manage to arrange something that is in her best interest then she wont mind. go for it. its your best shot


    cinderalla, I haven’t read many of the comments here but I’m just wondering something… don’t you think that the kiruv organization would have done their research and ‘background checks’ to vet out the ones that aren’t even Jewish? It could be I’m wrong but I feel like most organizations would do that because they are not allowed to be teaching non- Jews about becoming Jewish etc. Could be wrong about this though:)

    I wish you lots of luck with this issue though. It could get kind of sticky. You might want to contact Ohel anonymously and run the issue (neglect and stuff) by them and see what they say and how to go about it. I think they have an ad on the top of this site.


    “If the only way I can become her friend is by telling her that I might do things she does which are against halacha, should I? Is that not hypocritical?”

    Ask your LOR. Many Poskim say that when doing kiruv you are not to compromise on your morals and beliefs or say things that are not true. Lying to her about your opinion of movies is probably not the best idea.

    In regards to music and movies, you can say that the same way there are ratings on movies to indicate what they deem as the appropriate age for a particular movie, so too in Yiddishkeit there are certain things that are deemed inappropriate for certain age groups and at certain points in life (premarital)


    Cinderella, you are doing something awesome, and this particular person seems to be a big challenge. You may end up learning in the process as much as you are teaching. I have worked with difficult young people and I can only suggest not to get too emotionally affected by the problems in her life. The focus, IMHO, should be that she keeps showing up each week. Give her the truth and let the truth seep into her precious neshama which is now boiling in garbage because of where she is in life, at this time. She needs you, as is evident by her attendance and participation, regardless of all the junk that comes along with her life. This may be as much a test for you as for her. But, again, know she has issues, but dont fret them too much. Stick to the truth you are there to tell her. If she does not get it from you, who will she get it from? Also, everything is relative. You are making a person with a bad life a little less worse, even if it’s by degrees, measurable or not, and that means something.


    I agree with the posters above that you shouldn’t push religion or inspiration about Yiddishkeit in any way. Just be a positive role model.

    13 is very young to be in the situation she’s in, although I guess that’s the world today. You can try to discuss the idea that girls want much more from a relationship that her “boyfriend” is probably looking for. Closeness and true friendship, someone who generally cares about her. Not that she can even understand that so well at her age either. She doesn’t want to be used by someone and then dropped for the next pretty girl who will come along. Try to emphasize that.

    A non religious friend, or mother of such a friend might be able to be very helpful too. She is really very young.


    Thanks so much everybody. I really appreciate your advice. I guess i’ll play it by ear a little bit but I definitely wont press religion and force it down her throat.

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