Thursday, September 20, 2012

Off the Derech:Importance of Parents

Guest post by Shlomo Silber
See also Dr. Sorotzkin's article of Role of Parents in Off the Derech kids  Link to this document on Scribd


  1. Wow. What does the Rov, Rav Shternbuch Shlit'a say about this?

  2. I found the conclusion of the article disturbing. The Off The Derech issue is thrown around the media with the spectrum of responsibility and utter stupidity. The factor is the blame being leveled at a single source or cause for the problem. In reality,it is multifaceted. And the efforts to point to a single one, leading one to deduce that the other factors do not exist are gravely in error. Shlomo points to the role of the home/family being absent from supporting him while he was being abused in yeshiva. Let no one be deluded into believing that the yeshiva is innocent. NO. Any rebbe doing these forms of evil to a child is a MURDERER. Yes, I have easily (and during Aseres Yemai Teshuvah) pronounced these abusive rebbes to be rotzchim. I would have hoped that Shlomo would have handled the conclusion a bit more accurately.

    We have a serious problem on our community. We label the kids as Off The Derech, suggesting that they chose this. At earlier conferences of professionals in chinuch and mental health, they were first labeled as "drop outs". Until some of the wise, elderly statesmen noted that these kids were truly "throw outs". We discard talmidim and talmidos from our schools and yeshivos with the ease in which we throw away a used tissue. Rarely a consultation, rarely with an effort to maintain the kid in the misgeres of the yeshiva, rarely with the referrals to the countless options of askonus (therapists, mentors, tutors, etc.), and rarely with the long process of sorting out the issues. The knee jerks to make sure that the kid goes home to be the parents' problem and perhaps another yeshiva, are all that passes the mind of the average menahel. And this, my friends, is murder. These kids are pushed to the street, into the waiting arms of the most decadent of influences and temptations. Right where the American dream of "freedom", the option to reject heritage and morality in favor of the momentary pleasures, resides. Our kids rebel because we force them to do so. Yes, our finest yeshivos and schools have such blood on their hands.

    The stupidity of the "Metzuyanim Yeshiva" is only surpassed by the speed at which kids are rejected. And the prime reason for rebellion among youth is "REJECTION".

    I know I just sentenced chinuch, but to read this article that described the perverted methods of chinuch that have zero connectino to Torah value, then dismissed as less important a factor of the OTD problem, I could not just let this issue rest.

    1. The author of this letter is absolutely correct. Parents bear much greater responsibility for their failings in the upbringing of their children, than does the school.

    2. Dovid:

      I am not vindicating anyone. I am protesting the characteristic line, usually coming from yeshivos, that all OTD kids are the product only of dysfunctional families. Working with this issue daily, I proclaim this to be untrue. The OTD problem has many sources, and family is certainly one of them. We know that, and we do not disagree. But giving chinuch a free pass is tantamount to passively allowing murder to be committed, and we are all bound by the mitzvah of "Lo Saamod Al Dam Rayacho". Letting a rebbe say such nasty things to talmidim, letting them physically abuse them is no better than allowing a pedophile to continue tutoring a child in private. NO! All this is flagrantly against all Torah values. HKB"H will exact consequences for committing such evil while labeling it with the hechsher of "chinuch". Call a spade a spade. These rebbes, and all those who allow this, are guilty of murder.

      I vote to pronounce as guilty all those who contribute to the ruining of a neshomoh of a Yid.

    3. 1) I don't think you should consider OTD a "problem". It is part of a person's free will and human right to choose his religious denomination and practice.

      2) However, I think the way this boy was treated is a huge problem.

      3) however, this problem does not only occur in frum schools, it occurs everywhere, also in public schools: the bad students are perhaps not hit any more, but they are often made to feel worthless, ignored, thrown out, etc.

    4. "Letting a Rebbe say such nasty things to talmidim, letting them physically abuse them is no better than allowing a pedophile to continue tutoring a child in private."

      I agree, and I would venture to say that this is exactly the author's point: Parents have been enabling school abuse by not stepping in, supporting their children, and making enough noise so that it stops. I think he's saying that of all the things done to him, he was most disappointed and hurt by his parents' lack of support, protection, involvement (and actual abuse) b/c they are his PARENTS, and if a kid's own parents let him down who else is there for him in the world? I don't think he is letting the school off the hook; I think he's trying to put the responsibility for taking care of children back where it belongs: on their parents. Of course abusive teachers are terrible and responsible for their own actions. But as long as parents--ALL parents--stay out of it for fear of making waves, abuses will continue.

    5. XYZ:

      You are correct. The abusiveness that continues in our yeshivos and schools occurs without the impact from parents to stop it. However, we have two scenarios, and you must admit that both are true. One - the yeshivos who get complaints from parents either deny them or justify the behavior. I have had such experience directly when my child was smacked many times in a single episode, when the rebbe did so from behind, then went in front to see if the child was crying, and since he wasn't repeated the abuse. I complained to the menahel emphatically. The response - "This rebbe has his talmidim loving him by the end of the year. He needs to do this once or twice at the beginning of the year to get the class attention." This menahel went on to hint that if I tried to move to another yeshiva, he would insure that I could not succeed. Two - Without denying or justifying, the hanhala acknowledges the improper behavior but takes no action at all, allowing the abuse to continue.

      I suggest that every rebbe contact his current and former talmidim every year, and ask their mechila before Yom Kippur. This behavior would be more educational than teaching them all of Shas.

      There is some degree to which parents can intervene with the abusive rebbes. But that degree is limited. The bulk of the responsibility for that rests on the rebbes and the menahalim.

    6. Yes, your scenarios are absolutely true, and again, I certainly do hold schools and rebbeim responsible for their part. But in both those situations, parents can and should be rallying the entire parent body--who presumably should be equally opposed to students being hit, no?--to protest en masse. Either they don't try to or no one else will agree to join the crusade. And here is where I hold parents--ALL parents-- responsible. The bottom line is that schools and rebbeim would never be able to get away with this if parents wouldn't allow them to, and so I consider them equally culpable.

      Personally, if I had evidence that a teacher was hitting a student, whether my child or anyone else's, I would go straight to the police. I can say this b/c when we found out that our son was being molested by his assistant principal we went straight to the police. There were dozens of other victims in the school. We were the only ones to file a police report, and our son's videotaped testimony and that of only 1 other boy (which was dismissed by the judge b/c the parents didn't file an official complaint) were the only victim testimonies at trial. The molester was acquitted due to insufficient evidence. This man is walking free today, possibly still teaching elsewhere, b/c the other parents chose not to get involved to stop him. Of course he is responsible for his own despicable actions. But I hold all the other parents culpable for their inaction.

  3. I see another remarkable point in this article: The author mentions several times that HE COULD NOT READ.

    Why did both the Yeshiva and his parents (who lashed out saying that his sister could read better than him) fail to get him the proper help?

    I know from first hand knowledge that there are excellent Kria remediation programs available, why was such a straightforward solution neglected, especially in his younger, formative years?

  4. Kriah remediation and Reading literacy are the "in thing" the last 5-10 years max, it was not even dealt with over twenty years ago.

  5. Is this pure LASHON HARAH? Mr. Daas Torah
    or is there a toeless involved?
    Have the Rebbeim & principal and individuals stated been ever spoken to, reminded or given tochachah?

    1. Let's have some leadershipSeptember 21, 2012 at 5:47 PM

      Good question. Inasmuch as the victim has not been approached with a bakoshas mechila, the fact that they have been spoken to, reminded, or given tochachah would be moot. For me, the toeles is that the individuals named are now suspects, and I will not willingly accord them the honors and dignity befitting someone in their positions. I would be more than ready to have their case heard in front of impartial dayanim, and i would like to see the community leadership in which such abusers are forbidden to ever work in positions od chinuch again. If no such action is taken, the public is properly warned that the yeshivos that are implicated in supporting abuse are undeserving of community support. I am fully aware that our yeshivos are imperfect and also struggling financially. But certain ones that willfully allow and support abuse are better off closing their doors. I say this with a clear conscience, as the welfare of our children is always my preference to the kavod of the abusive rebbe or menahel.

  6. IN aseres yemay teshuvahSeptember 21, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    It is well know that Rabbi Kaminecki - the father - R. Yakov - NEVER forgave one of his elementary rebbis for accusing him of lying ( never mentioned his name). Somehow, though a great great miracle he did not go off the derech as should have been the normal reaction. Or maybe maybe, just MAYBE, there were or are other issues here.
    Just speculating. Nothing to jump at.
    But then you may owe a big Kaparah/ Mechilah from all those names you mentioned including the name of the yeshiva. The bad part of this speculation is that if you were wrong, then according to halacha, they do not have to be mochel ever.
    A pretty big gamble you took to publish this letter as is.

    1. Why? names should be named!

      The writer is not colporting hearsay, he is reporting what he saw with his eyes...

    2. names should be mentioned since we need to stop the abuse

  7. Accusing a student of lying is quite different than getting physical assaulted and beat up by principal and rebbaim.

    Wonder if the author ever confronted his school, teachers or even parents with his anquish & paing?

  8. Bais Mikroh is a real school? the names here are real? are these people still alive?

    (I am not a New Yorker and have never stepped foot in Monsey)


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