Israeli Rav Reunites Chareidi Parents With Their Secular Children: ”You Never Throw A Child Out Of The House”

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Rabbi Motti Kornfeld and his son, Daniel (Photo: Yitzhak Tessler)

“You never throw a child out of the house, it’s strictly forbidden,” Rabbi Motti Kornfeld told Ynet in a recent report.

Rabbi Kornfeld, an American-born Chareidi Rav in Israel who has dedicated himself to assist Chareidi families whose children have chosen another path in life, isn’t simply mouthing these words – he’s lived them. Rabbi Kornfeld is a father of 11 children, and one of them, his beloved son 26-year-old son Daniel, left the Chareidi world a decade ago.

Rabbi Kornfeld used his personal experience to forge a special mission for himself, to assist Chareidi families struggling with the growing phenomenon known in Israel as “neshira” – “dropping out.” His goal is to reconnect Chareidi parents with their secular children.

Unfortunately, many Chareidi families are completely alienated from their children who are now secular. “There are very, very, very well-known rabbis in the Chareidi community who live the passuk, ‘There is no home without a dead person’ and that simply sums up the phenomenon,” Rabbi Kornfeld says. “Unfortunately, parents are throwing their children out of the house for various reasons, mainly because of their influence on their other children. “Rabbi Kornfeld’s son Daniel talks about his experience as someone who left the Chareidi world: “I grew up as a Chareidi boy, I went to a Chareidi school and I was in a Chareidi yeshivah. When I was around 16, I realized that [being Chareidi] didn’t suit me so I left on my own journey. My parents accepted it and were understanding and supportive throughout my journey. We didn’t always agree but they were always understanding.”

Rabbi Kornfeld adds: “We responded to the path he chose with understanding, love, support and a little fear. On the one hand, we’re very very happy that he chose to seek his truth, which is very important. On the other hand, because it was different from what we wanted at first, it wasn’t easy going at first. Nevertheless, despite this, we showed him love and support the entire time. For us, there’s no other option.”

Rabbi Kornfeld is firmly entrenched in Israeli Chareidi society but he’s clearly open-minded to the Israeli world outside the black and white lines of Chareidi communities. He’s been working for the Shachar project, which helps integrate Chareidim in the IDF, for about five years. He gives shiurim to new IDF recruits in the new Chareidi battalions in the Givati and Paratroopers Brigades and he’s also the activity coordinator for English-speaking lone soldiers and new olim who join the IDF.

“As part of my work at the Shachar organization, [I see cases], especially when a Chareidi bochur decides to enlist [in the IDF], that often his parents totally banish him and throw him out of the house. One of the things we’re trying to do is reconnect Chareidi soldiers with their parents. I’m happy to say that we’ve been quite successful. It’s a long process but eventually, they welcome back their children with open arms.”

“Don’t leave me alone because you and I are one.”

The Kornfelds are a musical family. In 2001, they released a disc called “Fathers and Sons,” featuring ten Chassidic songs that Rabbi Motti and his sons, Yehudah, Shmuel, Shlomo, and Daniel, sang and accompanied. For the past two years, Daniel himself has been writing and composing songs.

Recently, Daniel and his father released a moving song called “One” that they wrote and composed together about the yearning a father and son have for each other despite their differences.

“When I visit my parents, I go out and sit on the porch with my guitar,” Daniel says. “One day my father came on the porch and said, ‘I have a certain tune in my head. Let’s try to compose it on the guitar and maybe intertwine the English and Hebrew together.’ It was born right there on my parent’s porch, at night, with a guitar, quietly.”

“It’s me, your lost son. I’m looking for you. In my heart, I want to feel you. Reach out your hand – don’t leave me alone – because you and I are one.”

“We don’t have a son who dropped out”

Rabbi Kornfeld admits that not everyone he encounters in the Chareidi world responds to the path Daniel has chosen with as much acceptance as he has. “I went into shul one day and a very kind smiling Jew came over to me and said, ‘How is it that you have a son who went off the derech?’ I looked at him and said, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.'”

“He said, ‘Well, really, I and you, we know each other, we eat cholent together.’ I told him with the utmost seriousness: ‘Listen, I want to tell you a message, you should understand – we don’t have a son who went off the derech – there’s no such thing.’

“The fact that your friends or your neighbors don’t understand – that’s their problem. It’s really their problem,” Rabbi Kornfeld firmly concludes.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)




12 COMMENTS

  1. there are drop outs and kicked outs. Those kicked out have a very rough life; those who drop out but have the love of their families often turn out OK and some even return to the fold.

  2. Daniel Kornfeld may be freii, but he is very respectful towards his parents and their community,

    unlike those mentally ill Footsteps members who badmouth their yeshivos on Late-Night TV shows in front of millions of Leftists.

  3. On Pesach we have “Arba Bonim”, on Sukkos we have “Arba Minim”. What happened to the “banim”, how did they become “minim” (apikorsim)?
    The answer is, on Pesach we took the Chacham & put him in the yeshiva. The Tam and Sheino yodea lishol we educate “chanoch lenaar al pi darko”. However the Rosho, is thrown out, and from the outside, he spoils the other three, and they ALL become MINIM! What is the refuah for the Arba Minim? “Vehayu leachadim beyodi”! You CAN NOT throw anyone away.

  4. Now having that son/daughter in Israel makes a huge difference. When different “lifestyle” is chosen……where does the child end up in the USA? Eats treif and tries to emulate the non Jews…..in close proximity……lethal climate indeed…..as compared to a secular Jew in Israel…..often serving in the IDF and full of mitzvos like a Rimon…….yet the common spectre of aliyah is bad Chinuch…..when exile turns out to be the worst lesson of all

  5. i think it is a fantasy to say you “never” kick a kid out–it is not hard to imagine a kid being so disruptive to the rest of the family, and having a tremendously negative influence on the rest of the children, that you have to resort to getting him/her out of the house if you hope to save the other children–if he refuses to follow any rules, and he smokes dope in the house on saturday while cooking bacon in his george forman while listening to rap music, then you better damned get him out of the house!

  6. There’s a big difference between showing love and supporting his lifestyle. I hope every frum jew understands that it’s very wrong to agree with something that’s against the torah. From the article it sounds like the father supports his son “we’re very very happy that he chose to seek his truth” but from the song it sounds like he wants his son to return

  7. To continue to love a child is one thing and that is what a parent is supposed to do. But to accept that he/she is living a life of sin, desecrating Shabbos, not eating kosher, and not keeping family purity, rebelling against the King of Kings, is not so simple. It’s not a matter of “my” way and “his” way. What “truth” did this boy discover? There is no truth in not observing the Torah. Even so, it is beautiful that the father has a close relationship with him, with all the heartache. But don’t think that the path of not following the Torah is as valid as yes following it.
    May all Yiddisha kinderlach come back.

  8. ”You Never Throw A Child Out Of The House”
    I blatantly false there is no Gadol that would say thus
    we could debate red lines where they are to be placed
    that they have to exist is basic

  9. to go public like this and say I’m okay I’m okay you’re okay is virtual heresy
    Although it maybe the best Modus operandi under the table how to deal with a wayward youth