When the Bloom is off the Rose: Joining a Community

When the Bloom is Off the Rose

One of my students, a BT couple, has an adopted girl who was recently asked to leave the “frum” Jewish day school in town. The girl has issues with yiddishkeit, learning difficulties, and some behavioral problems. The father is very disillusioned with the “frum” community because of the way the whole situation was handled. I personally don’t agree with the way the school handled the issue, but that is not the main aspect of the entire event.

In counseling the father, I tried to make a few points that I felt were most important. Firstly, his anger is a sign that he’s a good father. He should be upset that his daughter has been rejected. But lets put things in perspective. Secondly, we always need to judge others favorably. Even if the school administration handled things poorly, they mean well, they have everyone’s best interest in mind, and they have constant difficult decisions to make that affect numerous neshamos. Thirdly, as a fellow Jew, you have the right and probably the obligation to go to the person most responsible for the way the decision was carried out and speak to them one on one and say, “I’m angry with you for treating my daughter and us this way.”

The fourth point, though, is what I think is the most important.

Don’t be Passive. Be an Active Member of the Community

Some BT’s become enamored with the frum community to the point where they ignore any obvious problems. Frum people are not perfect. We have many flaws. That’s why moshiach isn’t here yet. It’s important to keep your eyes wide open regarding the frum community and if you see anything that you disagree with to voice your opinion, talk to Rabbis, respectfully about the problems, and address the situation.

Many BT’s leave communal problems alone and assume, “Who am I, a mere BT, unlearned, an am ha’aretz, to suggest to a Rabbi that he and some prominent members of his shul are bigoted?” You might be someone that can change the Jewish people for the better. Nothing is an accident. You grew up the way you did for a reason. The Al-mighty is bringing many people back to the fold these days. Of course, returnees need to learn and absorb many things from the frum community. But they also need to teach the frum community about the things the mainstream is falling down on.

Don’t just send you child to a frum school. Get involved. Go to board meetings. Voice your opinion to the administration on issues you feel passionate about.

A baal teshuva often has a sensitivity or an attitude that is sorely missing in mainstream Judaism. Don’t sell yourself short. After all, that may be the main reason HaShem helped you come back to Torah and Mitzvot.

Rabbi Max Weiman

3 comments on “When the Bloom is off the Rose: Joining a Community

  1. Please feel free to write to me about the early origins of Max Weiman’s “Kaballah Made Easy” I went to School with Max Before he “Incorperated” (TYLER School of Art in Philadelphia 1979-1983), I Would Be happy to share the Rabbi’s Early discussions on Organized Religon, and our Early Film on an orgaized Religous Orginization we hoped to Found
    -Thank-you for your intrest

  2. I was in on the founding of ‘YESS!” (Yeshiva Education for Special Studenta) and I think that the following note would be of some assistance on this issue:

    I am not sure of the school or the community involved but parents have to realize that the lack of inclusion of students with learning disabilities or adequate facilities is an issue that parents can best deal with via a number of approaches. First of all, it is important that all parents with kids with even various types of disabilities identify themselves, meet, unify and determine their strategy. Draft a mission statement and goal and form a locally based organization.

    I would reccomend speaking with a local rav of stature who is familiar with the issue and the school. If the community lacks a Ptach or is unwilling to fund it or a similar school, then I would suggest creating a local base of similarly affected parents and children and make yourselves visible with a plan for fundraising and having self-contained classrooms and teachers with the appropriate specialties, etc within a mainstream yeshiva without depending on that yeshiva for funding. I can’t imagine that a mainstream yeshiva of any orientation would not want to shep nachas about a program for including learning disabled kids, especially if it does not have to lay out a nickel for the program.

    Another key is rabbinical approval. A local rabbinical board is not just a kashrus certification issuing agency. Appeal to their sense of chesed as the eyes and ears of the community and they might be interested in issuing an endorsement and assigning a rabbinic liason to your group.

    I would addd that unique fund-raising will be a lot more helpful than a parlor meeting, etc. Think of an event that would draw a renowned speaker or a type of product or service that your group could furnish to your community. It is a long haul and a lot of work, but once your program is inside a mainstream program, you have to fund-raise to keep the program educationally and financially viable, especially in light of special teacher-student ratios. Think also about using litigation to get tuition reductions or a necesssity that your child not attend public school.. If I recall correctly, the application is for a “Nickerson letter” , who was the judge involved in similar litigation in NY .

    I don’t think that giving a principal or a school board’s head Mussar on their responsibilities would be productive. In my opinion, that is the job of a rav of rabbanim with stature and there are many such statements from Gdolim on the issue. I do think that having a major speaker from outside the community lecture on this issue would be benefical just as a wake-up call.

    All of the above suggestions can be implemented by a group of parents who are in the same boat, regardless of their backgrounds as BTs or FFBs. The key is a fire and desire to enable all frum kids to have a yeshiva education. That requires local activists working together with an educational establishment, as opposed to just issuing militant broadsides against it by an otherwise

  3. The family in question is probably going through what is called “shoot the messenger” tactic. I have been through this myself and seen it many times over in the community. Now they are confronted with a harsh reality-the medical community calls it “loss of the perfect child” whatever that means. It’s very hard to take and accept even without rejection from an administration and now they have that to deal with. They probably need alot of support from family, friends, and most importantly experts on all the issues involved from within the Rabbinic community and the medical community. They do exist, but must be searched out. After all that maybe they or anyone can reach the point of helping to make changes in the community where needed and many do. I certainly have always tried to do so. I have been called “on a mission” by many school boards and having “dogged determination to help my child succeed” on a Board of Education evaluation report. That one always makes me smile to this day. And I believe I have made a difference. Hopefully with proper encouragement and support and H”‘s good kindness that family will find their way to help their child, the community and the Klal.

Comments are closed.