Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Sivan 5761 - June 6, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Community Rabbonim Describe Unique Challenges Facing English- Speaking Families In Israel
by Y. Hall

For the first time in an ongoing public forum, talmudei chachomim and leading mechanchim are speaking out about the unique challenges which English-speaking parents and their children face in Israel.

The trail blazing series of community lectures -- which continues with the June 12 appearance of Rav Noach Orlowek, and Rav Dovid Orlofsky, in Har Nof -- is the brainchild of Project Tvunot, a new resource center serving religious, English-speaking families. The center's clinical services, school intervention, new-immigrant support services, and public lectures all send the reassuring message to English- speaking parents: "You're not alone."

That message set the tone for two recent evenings, featuring Rav Zeev Leff, and Rav Leib Kelemen in Har Nof, and Rav Mendel Weinbach and Rav Kelemen in Neve Yaakov. Each speaker addressed a different aspect of the challenge of raising children in today's world, and in an unfamiliar system as well.

The special nature of Eretz Yisroel demands a different mind set to the one parents had in chutz la'aretz, said Rav Leff, in a fascinating shiur which explored how every country influences the thinking of its Jewish residents.

To many Western-born parents, the school system they left behind seemed "more open, tolerant, and less picayune" than the one they find in Eretz Yisroel, Rav Leff observed. He shed light on this discrepancy by comparing how each system evolved. In America, the "status quo" used to be public school; day schools had to compete for Jewish children. In Eretz Yisroel, the "status quo" was chadorim; Zionists founded their more "open" schools to battle the chareidi influence.

"There's a difference between fighting a defensive war versus an offensive war," Rav Leff explained. "That's why Israeli schools are more overprotective."

He urged parents to consult with a rav who knows them personally, to advise them as to "what it is important (for which you have to change your mindset), and what is not important (for which you can keep your own mindset)." He also lauded the opening of Project Tvunot, which, as part of its services, helps create mutual understanding between parents and schools.

In his address in Neve Yaakov, Rav Weinbach discussed four types of chinuch challenges prevalent in today's community: the bright but unmotivated child, the child with a learning disability, the child with violent or rebellious tendencies, and the child whose problem cannot be easily diagnosed. For each type of child, he related an appropriate story from the gemara to show how the Sages handled each case.

"There is no such thing as an uneducable child," Rav Weinbach insisted. "There are methods for solving the problems of every learning difficulty that exists. If a child has a tendency towards violence or rebellion, those tendencies too can be channeled in a positive way. The gemara even teaches us how to deal with children when we don't know the reason for their behavior."

Rav Weinbach emphasized that hishtadlus and tefillah are an "unbeatable combination" for success in chinuch. "Hishtadlus for a parent means creating the right atmosphere in the home, finding the right school, and turning to those who have the expertise to analyze and diagnose his children's tendencies. And the magic ingredient is tefillah, tefillah, tefillah."

At the Neve Yaakov evening, Rav Kelemen urged parents to invest time in developing a warm relationship with each child. Attention and affection, he stressed, give a child both Jewish and psychological stability, reducing the chances that the child might slip into crisis.

Defining "kedusha" as closeness and relationship, Rav Kelemen alerted parents to modern-day distractions that can interfere with their connection to their children. "No generation has ever been so bombarded by distractions," he said, citing the omnipresent cell phone, beeper, and on-line technology. "So much potential interference has been placed between us and the ones we want to love. Technology's real purpose is to connect us to those we want to have a relationship with, but it takes gevurah to use it properly."

He encouraged parents to turn off their cell phones while spending time with their family, davening, or learning.

Tapes of each lecture are available by calling (02) 537- 7697.

Rav Noach Orlowek, and Rav Dovid Orlofsky, will speak on June 12 at Beis HaMedrash Givat Pinchas d'Boston, Rechov Ruzhin 15, Har Nof, at 8:30 p.m. Their topic: "Learning to Access Our Strengths as Parents." There will be separate seating for men and women.


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