Monsey, NY – Rabbi Yacov Horowitz: a Realist, Not a Pessimist

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    VIN News Editorial
    With the astonishingly clueless last week’s attack in a letter to the editor of Mishpacha Magazine against the intrepid Rabbi Yacov Horowitz, whose regular contributions to that magazine and whose enlightened leadership will only be truly appreciated in decades to come, an old wisecrack about another trailblazing leader, Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D., comes to mind: “None of these problems existed in the frum community before—why did Twerski have to come along and create them?”

    Rabbi Horowitz stands head and shoulders above the ‘hamon am.’ It is he who consistently calls for rigorous honesty. It is he who reports the cold, hard facts. And it is he who repeatedly but respectfully demands uncompromising accommodation of the truth.

    Rabbi Horowitz, a leader and self-taught expert on the at-risk teen phenomenon and a host of other problems that have crept up in our day, is denial’s worst nightmare. And VIN News is fairly outraged at those who insist on keeping their heads snugly, smugly buried in the sand.

    Contrary to said attacks’ characterizations, Rabbi Yacov Horowitz is no harbinger of gloom and doom. Rather, he is the standard-bearer of something too many of our own dread to face: reality.

    The fact is, we as a frum community as a whole we do tremendous amount of ‘chesed’ as we see in the recent years of the countless ‘tezdokah’ organizations, in the other hand we have very serious issues on the inside. And for Rabbi Horowitz to have the breathtaking temerity to discuss at-risk teens, abuse of all sorts, family and marital dysfunction, drug use, addiction, illicit behavior and, yes, suicide (which has been ominously rising in our community of late), does not make him a villain. As the good rabbi himself so kindly responded to his detractors, he does not see a frum world in which everything is bad—rather, he merely reports what he knows to be happening from his personal experience in the trenches.

    VIN News finds utterly ludicrous the words of this arrow-slinger who opined that since so many thousands of fine Yidden attended the funerals of recently-departed gedolim, therefore all issues seems fine and well after all by ‘Klal Yisroel’. Perhaps all physicians should be banned from our communities too? After all, see all the healthy people surrounding us. Does the writer believe that the abused teens from a good family, who has veered off the derech, tattoos and all, to escape their pain, ought to be told, hey Thousands of people attended a rosh yeshiva’s levaya so what’s your problem, do you think to the broken parents of such a teen would take that for an answer to cure what ails them?

    May we suggest to the critics of Rabbi Horowitz and his peers, they should spend a few hours with the ‘askonim’ who work hard and they should witness by themselves whats going on.

    And furthermore, those very same exemplary chesed organizations that said detractor praises were created when men like Rabbi Horowitz stood up and created solutions for unadressed problems.

    VIN News shouts out its full-throated acclaim of Rabbi Yacov Horowitz, and extends its unequivocal support to this bold ‘Baal Mechanich’, a man who has what it takes to do what it takes.

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    33 COMMENTS

    1. the selfless devotion ,time and caring from people such as rabbi Horowitz is what’s going to make the difference in clall yisroel and keep our children on the proper derech.

    2. Unbelievable. The person writing that letter is exactly what is wrong with our communities. “There are thousands of good kids, so R. Horowitz is wrong”.

      R. Horowitz is worried about the thousands of “other” kids, the one’s not in Yeshiva.

      Thank you VIN for pointing out this letter which is a perfect example of exactly what is wrong in the first place.

      Having been a talmud of R. Horowitz, I only wish there were more like him.

    3. Rabbi Horowitz is not at all creating issues and problems. But let us grant the people who are putting their heads into the sand that these problems did not exist until now. BUT NOW THEY EXIST, and let’s do something about them. Listen to Rabbis Horowitz and Twerski. They are at the front line of the fight against these issues and they know.

    4. Here’s my challenge to you VIN editor:

      Don’t edit this!

      1) I agree with the tochain of your editorial: Rabbi Horowitz is a voice of sobriety and health for K’lal Yisroel. Note that this is #1 on my list. I agree. I do not hold that there is veracity to the letter that was critical of him.

      2) Anyone who read the letter in Mishpacha would have very likely read R’ Horowitz’s response which was classy and clear. He defended himself without any attack on the writer.

      3) You brought this down a far lower level than the writer of the letter. “Astonishingly clueless,” “utterly ludicrous,” “arrow-slinger” are the terms you use to humiliate the letter writer – who though may be wrong is not deserving according to the Torah of your public debasement.

      4) You were wrong to have singled out the letter writer with harsh words. You are correct that Rabbi Horowitz is a man of wisdom and class as evidenced by his response. Credit should go to the letter writer, who unlike you and me, had the courage to post his name on his article. You punished him with his name attached to that letter. You have now lowered this to a new level. I challenge you to do the correct action and to retract the personal attacks of your editorial and politely and lovingly disagree without the ugliness that you include. Make the point that you make respectfully. It’s part of what makes Rabbi Horowitz a worthy leader in this fight. It’s what will help, B’ezras Hashem, all of us to be matzliach in the fight.

    5. I’m very proud of the fact that the Mishpachah printed the letter, and gave Rabbi H a chance to respond. Only through the airing and exchanging of views will change come about. And to the writer of the anti Rabbi H. letter, I say this: You write that there are thousands of kids who are in yeshiva and therefor all is right? You remind me of the criminal who defended himself by saying, “Look at how many people I DIDN’T murder. Out of the thousands and thousands, I only killed 1”

    6. Rabbi Horowitz has worked in many yiddisha environments and he is really someone who should be trusted, because he knows the ins and outs of so many Yiddisha communities.

    7. VIN – Right on the money!

      Interestingly enough, Mishpacha didnt print the critics letter in it’s entirety! In fact, he doesn’t refer to Rabbi Horowits as “Rabbi” but merely Yakov Horowitz! Have a look at Rabbi Horowitz’s website to see it all!

      Keep up the great work!

    8. I THINK RABBI HOROWITZ DID AN EXCELLENT JOB IN ANSWERING THE LETTER ADDRESSED TO HIM AND DOESNT NEED VIN TO COME TO HIS DEFENCE

      I PERSONALLY THINK THAT BOTH THE ONE WHO WROTE THE LETTER AND R HOROWITZ ARE RIGHT IT BOILS DOWN TO IS THE CUP HALF FULL OR HALF EMPTY A.T. FEELS WE SHOULD ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE INSTEAD OF BEMOANING THE NEGATIVE WHERE R HOROWITZ FEELS WE MUST FACE UP TO THE FACT THAT THE SYSTEM HAS ITS FAULS AND WE MUST BE VIGILANT TO FIX THESE ISSUES THAT CAUSE KIDS TO GO OFF

    9. everyone involved in chinuch, even the office secretaries, have to mekabel that MAKING SOMEONE FEEL LIKE A SHMATTA IS MAKOR COL HA TZORIS. this applies to both children and adults.

    10. 11:19, you are right, but don’t let the parents off of the hook either.

      1) The parents can’t treat their children like shmattas.

      2) The parents have to actively teach their children not to treat others like shmattas.

      3) The parents need to build such a warm and supportive relationship with their children so that they will likely to a) not feel like a shmatta when treated like one and b) feel like they can speak to their parents if/when they are treated badly.

    11. The picture painted of R’ Horowitz by you and others, is simply a fantasy. He’s repeatedly exaggerated the at-risk issue, unjustly pointed the finger way too often at parents & mechanchim, and is unwilling to “get his hands dirty” when asked for help. I’ve had the misfortune of witnessing this myself.

    12. The issue with the letter writer is simple. He is attempting to “blame the messenger”. Do we shoot the bearer of bad tidings? Even Dovid Hamelech did not do that until he determined that this messenger participated in the murder of Shaul Hemelech and Yonasan.

      Perhaps there has never been as much Torah as there is in the present time. Perhaps there have never been such gigantic levayos for gedolei Yisroel. Perhaps there have never been as many chumros that we became aware of as the present times. Perhaps the proliferation of Torah literature and education, kiruv, and exploration has never reached the heights we witness today. But not all is well. Those in the trenches, the Horowitzes, the Twerskis, and many like them see the other side of the spectrum. The Chazon Ish ZT”L said that the goal of chinuch is no longer to provide education to the masses, but to the “yochid”, the individual. And the number of individuals who are leaving the derech is growing, and there are more individuals and families than ever going through interminable suffering. Have we neglected the tzaar of the Shechina that is pained deeply when these suffering souls leave the derech in useless pursuit of gashmiyus based anesthesia?

      No. Not all is well. And someone needs to say it so that we can address ourselves to fixing the problems. At times, it means getting an individual help. At other times, we must be realistic and recognize that our approaches must change. Our gedolim are not blind to that. Ask them. I did. We are not looking at a rabble rouser. We are looking at a realist who is not afraid to examine an issue, identify possible areas that might be changed, and then work to implement changes.

      No. Don’t kill the messenger. Thank him. Yasher Koach, Reb Yaakov. Keep up the good work. May HKB”H bless you with the hatzlocho to see your insights grow into implementation of constructive ideas to lead to kevod Shomayim.

    13. I respectfully disagree that the issue is a fantasy. At-risk, or whatever term you feel comfortable with, Jews surely exist and they exist more visibly then they have ever in the past. In the past you tossed the non-compliant in the street and washed your hands of him/her. Now, you try to build a kesher and that’s why they are in view.

      Rabbi Horowitz cannot fix the problems by himself. The issue wasn’t created by Rabbi Horowitz or Dr. Pelcovitz or Rabbi Twerski or by any other individual or group willing to stick their neck out for families who find it difficult to cope with children who march differently. They don’t all become tattooed or drunks or addicts, but there are one too many that give up on the vapid and vacuous who accuse them of being just plain difficult for the sake of being difficult. So they pick themselves up and they leave. You would too if you were constantly berated, belittled and treated like leftovers.

      Parenting is an art not a science. No one gets it completely and there are a lot of compromises and balancing that needs to get done. Their are children out there who don’t get to be children because of the distorted beliefs of their parents, parents’ friends, rabbis, and teachers.

      I guess when Rabbi Horowitz organizes a trip to Shea Stadium he’ll be a hero in your eyes. That’s if he isn’t widely denounced for encouraging pritzus and bitul Torah.

      There’s a talk this Wed. Go ask Rabbi Horowitz what world he and others envision that we should be preparing our kids for. What does the new world look like? I’ve been through the old one and there wasn’t any Rabbi Horowitz to lead my parents or even point them in a direction.

      So, Rabbi Horowitz, tell these people what the new world will look like so that they can prepare their kids. Tell them about the world.

      Good luck too.

    14. The more insular your existance, the likelihood of being clueless and totally unaware of what is happening to klal yisroel as a whole. A reminder, klal yisroel includes all halachic JEWS, a huge tzibbur of Tzadikim, Baynonim and Reshaim. To report a problem does not take away from the beauty of the Jewish nation.

    15. Yes there are problems out there. However, my experience finds that the issues are exasperated by the experts, and some of them self proclaimed, who remove the parents from the position of ultimate authority and by giving too much credence to the “issues” of 12,13,14,15 year olds? Many of these kids by shear neccesity would tow the line if they weren’t given alternatives.

    16. the issue is that yanky horowitz is not activley involved with kids at risk he will write talk create awarness but will never get his hands dirty I know this first hand.he takes credit for the work being done by selfless individuals not looking to promotr themselvs and advancing their carrers by being involved with at risk teens.such as rabbi’s wallerstein ,Abadi and Reb Shammai blobstein they are the ones in the trenches with theeses kids instead of talking and doing nothing they actualy are doing something about it.

      last year there was a story in the catskills and yanky horowitz wrote all about it after it happened saying see I told you so but it was the people who get their hands dirty that actually got involved and created programs to deal with the issues.

    17. Does the fact that 11:54 couldn’t reach Rabbi Horowitz negate the fact that there is a problem? Don’t let your own insulted ego blind you to the truth: every day there are more & more “at risk” kids out there. What are YOU doing to redress the situation?

      It’s easy to say Rabbi Horowitz “ignored” me & my friends. Could it be because he was already up to his neck in these problems & he couldn’t get to yours? And how, if at all, did you help your child? I hope you had other resources, but you can’t blame Rabbi Horowitz for not being able to single-handedly achieve the impossible & juggle thousands of cases at once.

      He’s pretty much a one man band. To say he’s lining his pockets diminishes you, not him. Think about it.

    18. Some of the anti-Horowitz comments above are nothing but anti-Horowitz comments. They do not reflect fact, they are not based on any direct knowledge about specific individuals, and they are contrary to what others know first-hand. I say, if you have a problem with Rav Horowitz that is personal, take it to him. The issue in the Mishpacha letter was an accusation, not so much at Yanky, but at his mission of writing his articles that are staples in that magazine. It was a challenge to his approach, and was not intended to assassinate his character. If I read that letter incorrectly, I would accept the correction. But the comments here move into another realm completely, and it worse than wrong.

      While we spend our time reading these articles and blogs, and we sit there writing comments, more and more children get drawn away from Yiddishkeit into the worlds of immorality, gambling, drugs, etc., and there are too few like Rabbi Horowitz who call out to the public to recognize that all is not well. The message is painful to hear. We need to bend our ears and listen, not shoot blank, virulent accusations. And, by the way, Rabbi Horowitz is very much in the trenches. There are many types of askanim who deal with this multifaceted problem. Some run yeshivos that cater to these kids. Others circulate the streets and connect with them. Others work as mental health professionals that evaluate and treat the kids and their families. What any one individual does not do is not any reflection whatsoever of their involvement in the subject matter. They are simply working in another aspect of the issue. Instead of complaining about him, we should be seeking his guidance where the gaps in our systems lie and how we should give of ourselves to help.

    19. I do not understand the reason for VIN to defend

      R Horowitz And all the good work he did. The letter did not attack him personally just his broad critique of such large

      segments of Klal yisroel and many roshei yeshivas and rebbeim. No denying there are problems but BH the majority is something to be proud of. lets focus on that what is positve once in a while, so the child at risk has whom to look up to. If R.Horowitz cannot take a little POSITVE criticism like HE gives to all of us,and to many GEDOLIM he should not be in this business.

    20. I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO THANK THE WONDERFULL RABBI HOROWITZ FOR ALL THE GREAT WORK HE’S DOING MAY HE HAVE THE STREANTH AND CONTINUE FOR MANY YEARS TO COME

    21. Thanks To Rabbi Horowitz for dedicating his life to the Klal.If somebody could not reach him perhaps he is simply overloaded with the “non problems” that have existed for years and have been swept under the rug. Wake up people!

    22. What is so sad is that until my own kid went OTD (Off The Derech), I could have written the same thing as Avraham Tikotzky. Now that it’s my own flesh and blood, I am very grateful to anyone that is trying to help address this painful issue. My family has been helped tremendously by Project Yes, and I am always interested to read about kids at risk. Thank you again and again, Rabbi Horowitz.

    23. In my eyes 10:31 seems to hit it on the button. Also, the main challenge to R’ H. was for exposing this material in such a way that might cause good kids to discover it. There can be a much better “secure” way in opening the eyes of parents. Not thru a public forum with stories and topics that attract youngsters. No I don’t know R”H personally I dont know if he does what he says or not, but I also believe that isn’t the case, at least now over here. Kudos to Avrohom for expressing your opinion in a dignified manner and with all due respect to R”H I happen to agree with him not to publish it in children magazines.

    24. to annon 10:31

      I dont know if you were actualy by ohr Yitzchok they are doing great work with these teens etc.. now they may not be able to turn evreyone around but they are out there in the field not just talking but helping out these troubled youth.

    25. There are quite a few people in the trenches that are busy doing, not talking. For those who might want to believe differently – Rabbi Horowitz is one of them. There are several forms of being active in this parsha. Some of these askanim speak directly to the kids themselves. They find them on the street, hanging out, etc. Others work with parents, guiding them, helping them navigate the chaos that has overtaken their lives and families. They access services and provide support. This group includes MASK, its volunteers and staff, and many, many others. These are people who cry for the children and families, make phone calls, check in on them, provide services and referrals, and are there to help the kids and families with much more than publicized complaining. Rabbi Horowitz and others like him do that and more. Respect for him is not enough. Join him, help him in his overwhelming burden, and carry his message everywhere. I vote for Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz.

    26. The problem is that yanky horowitz acts and thinks that he is a gadol hador that he is smarter than the gedolim knows better and is an expert in every other field. let him stick to the issue of teens at risk and put all his efforts there.maybe then we will see some positive change. by constantly bashing the rabbonim the chinuch system etc.. nothing good will come out of that did Darchei noam realy revulutionize the chinuch sytem today is it considered a succsesful school over all the other ones?

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