I have been working with a set of parents whose child has been rejected from Yeshiva in his final year and has now unfortunately moved to a non-Jewish school. I discussed this trend of rejection with a friend who has been an Asken in our community for 50 years. I told him about the feedback I had received from the published article “Accept the with Love” and consequent calls from parents who have reached out to me, looking for mosdos for their children without success, and asking for my help. We lamented that so many boys and girls are being rejected or expelled, and parents having sleepless nights about their child’s future, ultimately scared their child will leave the fold.
My friend shared a personal story about his granddaughter. The headmistress told the parents their daughter would have no problem getting into any seminary she wanted to enroll in with the exemplary marks she had achieved. She applied to her seminary of choice and appeared for an interview with her parents. They were surprised the interview only lasted for two minutes and devastated that she wasn’t accepted, even though her classmates who had applied had been accepted with lower grades. Rabbonim was sought for support and approval letters were obtained but to no avail. The Seminary officials refused to budge. For 50 years, my friend had put his heart and soul into helping his Klal. He had always found a solution, but in his own case, he was at a loss for what to do. Once we spoke, he understood that this is a global issue, not just a singled-out case.
It is worth repeating a quote from a previous article, of HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman’s זצ״ל advice to a Yeshiva who had rejected orphans on the premise that they were not their “type”, HaRav Shteinman answered that this is only because of, and I quote “גאווה, גאווה,100%גאווה”. They were thus accepted.
Over the past 30 years, I have dealt with all levels of mainstream students, girls and boys who have been expelled, rejected, or misunderstood by their rebbe/morah or menahel. In many cases, even though the rebbe or morah has been teaching for many years, they were not trained professionals and did not prioritize having a personal connection with each student, instead, focusing on teaching academia. In a recent presentation given by Rabbi Shimon Russel, a respected educator, and psychologist specializing in struggling students, he told over the story of when he asked a bochur who had struggled but had remained on the derech, if he had had any rebbeim he could single out as being his best rebbe. After the bochur answered in the affirmative, Rabbi Russel asked him what had he taught him, and the bochur answered he couldn’t remember anything specific, but it was the love and respect the rebbe had given him while he had struggled, which had made him stand out as the best rebbe he had ever had.
I, therefore, humbly call upon all Gedolim, Rabbonim, Askanim, and board members of mosdos throughout the Jewish world to make a new Asifa regarding the pandemic of rejection and expulsion of students that force them to stay at home or go to non-Jewish institutions, inevitably leaving Yiddishkeit. As with the previous Asifa focusing on the crisis of the internet, which drew global achdus from our Gedolim and lay leaders in the Torah world resulting in tekanas for the Khal, rejection and expulsion should take priority in saving our precious children from leaving the fold.
I would like to recommend drafting an official document at this Asifa declaring that students cannot be rejected when applying, based on lack of room, ( a polite euphemism for not wanting the child, since other students have been observed slipping in after), favoring some families over others ( all upstanding Yirei Shomayim ) or due to family financial struggles. Who gives the Hanhala the right to accept one student over the other? Listen to what the gemara says in Nedarim (81a) שלחו מתם – “They sent a message from Eretz Yisroel: הזהרו בבני עניים – Be careful with the children of the poor, כי מהם תצא תורה – because from them Torah will come.” Torah comes from poor children. The Ran asks: Why from poor children? Why is it that especially from poor families will develop talmidei chachamim? The Ran answers that it is because poor children have nothing else but Torah. Torah is for everyone.
And expelling students where the rebbe did not have the skills or training to reach out to the child, but instead insist the child leaves the school for “ a more appropriate place”? Moshe Rabbeinu gave the Torah to ALL Klal Yisroel at Har Sinai, he accepted everyone with no distinction, no rejection, and without preconditions.
We lost 2 million children in the Holocaust, we can not afford to lose anymore.
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