Sunday, November 26, 2006

Drop Outs

I have been forwarded a wonderfully insightful article by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz. For those who may not recognize the name… they should. He is the founder and Menahel of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey. He is a founder and director of "Project Yes" for Agudath Israel. And he is a columnist in the Jewish Press.

Most recently he has been asked by The Chicago Community Kollel (Lakewood) to write weekly column on parenting. It is done in a question and answer style: A letter is sent by a parent, he publishes it, and then answers it in his column. This issue of “at risk teens” who “drop out” has been discussed here before. They leave their Yeshivos, their homes, the Frum community, and often drop all Torah observance sliding into drug use, sex, and God knows what else! To the credit of organizations like Agudah this issue has been addressed several times in their periodical The Jewish Observer. And actions have been taken. But we have a long way to go.

I believe Rabbi Horowitz is right on the money on this issue. The aricle (linked above) should be read by anyone who cares about the future of Klal Yisroel. Here is an excerpt:

“I would think that the wisest thing for community leaders to do would be to take the approach that a success oriented business owner would take in response to slipping market share. Commission a professional study, conduct exit interviews with customers who have taken their business elsewhere, and then sit down with the leadership team of the business and develop effective strategies to reverse the trend."

"Over the past twenty years, I conducted hundreds of terribly painful ‘exit interviews’ with children and adults who have abandoned Yiddishkeit. I can tell you in no uncertain terms what it is that they wanted – and why they took their business elsewhere. They were looking for respect and understanding. Acceptance. Safe and nurturing home lives. Hands-on parents who offer unconditional love along with their guidance. Caring educators who dealt with their admitted misdeeds gently and privately (firmly was OK). The ability to be a bit different without being labeled or judged. More time for hobbies and more recreational opportunities."

More time for recreational activities. Reduced pressure. This would go a long way to releiving the proiblem. But our rabbinic leadership does not seem to feel that this is in any way responsible for the dropouts. As such most schools are increasing the presure and the workload and decreasing recreational time and extra-curricular activities... disparaging them in the procces as at best, a watse of preciious time.

With all the violence being perpetrated by members of the Charedi world (as shown in my last post) and with many people commenting that at least part of the reason has to do with Charedi dropouts with "too much time on thir hands", it is well worth one's time to read the words of Rabbi Horowitz.