New York – Mishpacha Magazine: “At-Risk” Youth — Children Who Are Fleeing The Fold


    New York – For years we have heard the term “kids at risk” to label children who are seemingly heading off the derech, turning their backs on their families, their institutions of higher learning and the mesorah that they were raised with.

    But an enlightening and timely must read article in this past week edition of Mishpacha Magazine discussing an insidious and pervasive problem that seems to plague many of today’s youth: boys and girls who outwardly conform to society’s standards of frumkeit, but inwardly are completely disconnected from Yiddishkeit.

    The article discusses the sudden surge of children who externally appear to be frum, yet in private have an apparent lack of emunah and yiras shomayim, picking and choosing their mitzvos, deciding to be michalel Shabbos, eat items of questionable kashrus or not to put on Tefillin.

    “These children haven’t been turned off from Yiddishkeit,” said R’ Chaim Aaron Weinberg. “They just haven’t been turned on.”

    What is the cause of this sudden decline in our precious children?

    Experts who were consulted for the article including R’ Moshe Hillel Drew (a chinuch consultant), Reb Chaim and Mrs. Shifra Glancz (founder and director of Our Place in Brooklyn), Mrs. Rivka Goldberger (a Brooklyn mechaneches), R’ Daniel Mechanic (director of Project Chazon), R’ Dovid Sapirman (founder of Ani Maamin Foundation) and R’ Chaim Aaron Weinberg (Menahel, Yeshiva Ateret Torah, Brooklyn) seem to agree that it is the invasion of today’s deteriorating secular values into our society. Indeed with today’s technology not only are there countless ways that dangerous influences can be brought into our children’s lives including internet, cell phones, iPods and even handheld video game systems, but inappropriate activities can be easily hidden from parents and other authority figures.

    Click below on link to read this full article. PDF

    Reprinted with permission by Mishpacha Magazine exclusively to VIN News

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    1. So, it’s all about “the invasion of secular values” and not about their frustration over not accomplishing a darn thing, day in and day out, within the yeshiva system?

      In other words, were it not for “the invasion of secular values,” these boys would be super learners and happy in school?

      Or, would it be that were it not for “the invasion of secular values,” they would just accept their fate and not make trouble?

      • Don’t any of u comment before you have read the ENTIRE article A-Z!!!
        They don’t blame any single item but bring various reasons and faults. So please go out and get a copy, read it, evrey word and then come back and comment.

        • I read the article. It does not head on address the issues many posters here raise. Additionally, I found the entire piece to be ludicrous in its ex cathedra presentation. If one wants to gloss his writing with the air of scholarly writing to give it more authority, one should attach footnotes or end notes to the article. He refers to various authorities, some by name, other not, but supplies to references. That makes his research suspect in my eyes.

        • I read the article. All it does is accept at face value the opinions of various “leaders” and “authorities” without asking the follow-up:

          “So, Rabbi, would you describe for us some of your successes? Could we meet some of the young people that you have been able to re-engage in Yahadus?”

    2. I know there are other (probably more important) causes for going off the derech but how about Mishpacha magazine help increase self confidence in girls by showing pictures of tzniyusdike girls and women in their family first edition. How do you thing girls feel about being erased from jewish history by never seeing role models of themselves in frum media?

      • Right on! We were given a subscription for a present by a well meaning relative but I could not bear to renew it because I found reading articles about amazing women and looking at pictures of flowers way too frustrating. Even women who R”L are no longer alive! Also, I wasn’t crazy about the fact that a frum “family” now consists of only men. A son -in-law is family but his wife is not. Girls AND boys dont see “reality” in the frum media – no wonder they turn to other, seemingly more “real” media….

      • You do not need to see pictures to learn from a role model. A photo of a female is not modest, no matter how modestly she is clad. There is a reason why there are entire magazines devoted to photos of females. All the clothing in the world won’t take that reason away.

    3. In a few weeks we will read about Yakov Ovinu’s fight with the maloch of Eisov/Soton/Yetzer Hora. After Yakov wins he asks this maloch, What’s your name? The maloch answers, lomoh zeh tishal leshmi, why do you ask for my name, and he leaves. Asks Harav Chaim Dov Keller shlita, the maloch asked Yakov for his name and Yakov answered his name. When Yakov asked the maloch for his name, the maloch gives him a fudged answer. That’s not right. Why the fudged answer? Answers Rav Keller, Yakov asked the Yetzer Hora, what’s your name, what’s your characteristic. The Yetzer Hora answered, what’s the difference what I am now, that you won at this point. My name, my characteristic, my Yetzer Hora, will constantly change according to what I perceive I can do to corrupt your children and lead them away from your derech hachaim.

      Each generation or several generations has had its own Yetzer Hora characteristic and temptations. Sometimes it results in the Yid throwing everrything off, sometimes its only the inside that goes. The Chidushey Harim says that if the Yetzer Hora really wants to get you, he’ll just erode your inside emunah and yiddishkeit and allow you to still wear the yiddishe levush.

    4. I think the authors of the article don’t get it. They’re eager to blame outside influences like iPods (seriously?!) or the internet and lack of respect for authority. They want to boast of how few people ever leave Yiddishkeit, and to fix their problem with “OTD” kids, they want to turn Yiddishkeit into a prison. I’ll bet the warden at a maximum security prison has very few people leave his “derech.” This doesn’t translate into proof that high walls, barbed wire and guys with guns make the inmates happy and content. The world is far past the stage where most people can raise their children in a shtetl (and, from what my zeida told me about his shtetl, we should be grateful). Yiddishkeit will survive and flourish not by outlawing iPods or instilling more sycophantic, idolatrous behavior towards “gedolim.” It will survive– or not– based on its ability to “turn on” young people. And you can’t turn on young people by convincing them that what you’re selling can’t compete on equal terms with an iPod.

      • Hey no. 4 I agree with you fully and I think that no. 27 has the correct answer to many of todays issues as discussed in this article.

        One other point which I think is important and that is that even if a child is not becoming a gadol (or even if the child is not mehader in mitzvas etc.) it is very important that they are instilled with a love of Yiddishkeit and to love his fellow Jew (whoever he is, and whichever minhag he follows) love eretz yisroel and love the Torah.

        Adam Harishon also sinned and guess what – he transgressed every aveira which was applicable to him at the time! Do we call him a bad guy and not allow him into our yeshiva system?

        Smarten up guys this is all proof once more that yiddishkeit is not measured by the amount of blatt of gmara which one studied (possibly shelo lishma). One who learns Torah just so he should be called a gadol is just as bad as one who eats treif. Even worse then one who eats treif. Because one who uses the Torah for his personal gain and personal satisfaction is desecrating the Torah. But one who eats treif is doing his own thing and not desecrating the Torah.

    5. When you tell every kid that they are the next Gadol Hador and, suddenly, they’re 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 – and they still break their teeth on a Gemara, and they have not been prepared with any useful skills – you have children that feel useless and Yiddishkeit is a burden. How about Chanoch L’naar Kfi Darcho? We had a whole generation of men growing to maturity in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s that were successful in learning and in the professions and in building mosdos. What is so bad about that model? Why is it so disdained today?

      • I was at Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway, at a father-son breakfast, and we were addressed by a gadol who said precisely these words. You each can become a gadol. I wanted to shout out – hello, I can’t match you in learning, but let’s be practical here. Realistically, each kid will not become a gadol – instead, and hopefully, they will become doctors, lawyers, and business owners, and should not be made to feel inferior. They should not feel, for the rest of their lives, that only the learners are at the top of the heap, and the party line should be swallowed hook, line and sinker.

        The comments here are far more intelligent than the Mishpacha article. Look who wrote it, rabbis only, no parent-baal ha’battim. They declare the outside world is shmutz. Its an old story, really, which was done in Europe. I’ve walked away from this nonsense. I consider myself a fully modern orthodox Jew.

        • Let’s remember that up until about 100 years ago, even gadolim generally also worked a secular occupation, and they did so without shame. Even as (relatively) recent a gadol as the Chofetz Chaim was a merchant for a time.

    6. If the issue is why kids are so frum externally but empty internally – then, among much of my unfortunate childhood memories, I cannot forget:
      (1) the embarrassment that my principal caused, when he shouted at me for god-forbid going across the street to a candy store without my hat and jacket; He did not seem to care as much about anything else.
      (2) my poor classmate, whose mother bought him sneakers with a speck of white on it (contrary to yeshiva’s policy of “no white sneakers”),who after weeks of trying to color the speck black, gave up and went back to wearing his old worn out shoes . . . We can all write a book on the disastrous chinuch of the yeshivas -circa 1980’s-90’s

      • Yes! A large amount of principals and rebbeim make the biggest deals out of the stupidest non-issue things. As a fourteen year old, I was once not allowed to daven with the Yeshiva minyan because I forgot my hat at home.
        Besides that, post highschool Yeshivas are almost a complete waste of time. Bochurim have no way of measuring their progress – i.e. there are no exams, no grades, no pressure to get anything done – they just hang around and chill in the coffee room.
        And to #4, you are so right. How could you try to attract young people to Yiddishkeit by convincing them that Ipods are too good and they have to drop it?! Frumkeit is far better than any iPod!

        Bottom line: There are too many morons in high places in the Frum world.

        • way too many morons and old ones too that need to step down and give their job over too younger rabbis those are too old can’t relate at all to the younger generation at all peroid but instead retain thier seat. year after year boys come and go, they got no clue to what’s going on and insist they do and respectfully after being a rabbi at a yeshiva for some many years nobody will force them out it’s time to go retire. and the ones that do fill in better get some education in education
          more love and devotion that’s what they need not knassim anybody that disagrees gota take a deeper look

    7. The real challenge, which Mishpacha fails to address is that a significant percentage of our kids who “drop out”, “go off the derech” or whatever you want to call it have found some degree of satisfaction and fulfillment in the secular world and secular values. In some cases, its a vocation or special talent that can only thrive in a secular world or in other cases, they want to live a more secular lifestyle, perhaps in a MO, conservative or unaffiliated jewish tradition. The normal response here on VIN is to consider them as goyim or worse, to brand them with all sorts of vile names and cut them off from the tizbur. Thats obviously a choice, but the real tragedy is that every study of the heimeshe community shows the numbers of these dropouts is growing and some will simply not come back into the fold if that means strict observance of torah and mitzvos. Do we abandon them or accept them at whatever level of observance they are willing to accept.

    8. I do agree to a point that the outside world like internet tv can influence our kids in the wrong way, Yet I do put most of the blame on kids going off the derech in our
      Yeshivah system that doesnt seem to understand the new generaition of children these days , They are still intsiling in our kids the same educaition from years ago and are not open minded to the chainges in our kids,
      Yes there are these kids who are great students and do what they are supposed to do , Some may be really smart and are good actors and they know just how to act in Yeshivah and do what they want away from Yeshivah, Yet some kids just feel emptyness inside and they are not getting what they really need from thier teachers and rebbies,
      The Yeshiva’s also make a horrible mistake of kicking out a student who may not be a typical Yeshivah bachur or Beis Yacov girl instead of Dealing with the child they find it easier to just kick out that child and it is shown that that is only the begining of a child going off the derech,.
      You will find that most of these kids who go off the derech are really lost and are looking for some kind of happiness that perhaps they do not get at home or in Yeshivah.

    9. It is always so much easier to blame outside influences that to take a good hard look at our OWN system and place blame where blame is due. Who are we kidding anyway? The baby boom generation who ARE the Roshei Yeshivas of today grew up playing stick ball with the goyim on the block, had TV’s in their home or watched TV next door at their neighbors. The candy store was filled with shmutz right out in the open for all to see and the magazines were not neatly placed in sealed plastics. It was common for every block to at least have a few basket ball hoops, and tag football or touch football included EVERYONE you could find, not just the JEWISH kids you went to school with. 13th Avenue was not the most popular street in BP, 14th Avenue was, well at least on Shabbos that is, if you don’t want to call all of these outside influences then I can get more specific like an X-rated movie house a hop, skip and jump away from the Mir in Flatbush.

      Every generation has their outside influences but in prior generations we also had an infusion of yiddish pride, we were brought up as second generation survivors and we understood who we are and why we are Jews. Can we say that today?

    10. Today, every Yeshiva is run like a business and it is only open to stroke the egos of those who run them. It has nothing to do with the students or what is beneficial to them or about CHINUCH BONIM. They system does not care about nor does it stress midos, mitzvos, or ahavas yisroel. The Role Models that stand in front of our children have nothing to do with the above they are just meant to enforce tznius, learning and following the rules. If students ask questions they are considered trouble makers. If they are in pain for whatever reason they are considered slackers. If they make mistakes they are thrown out and considered unworthy of their time and efforts. They will kiss up to yichus and money but look down upon emmeskeit and frumkeit.

      They will tell every bas yisroel to marry a kollel boy and they tell every boy to stay in Kollel but they won’t take their children into yeshiva if they can’t pay tuition. They would rather see the children raised by shikses than by their own parents but they complain when the kids don’t turn out perfect.

      There are more divorces in today’s Jewish families and kids suffer in dysfunctional homes. Kids are not allowed to be kids anymore.

    11. There may be another reason that no one wants to admit – with the increasing issues of the ecomony – parents more involved in the day to day living, the schools are left to be the parents and that may be overwhelming – the results off the derech.
      We have to open our hearts and minds and find ways to work with those disenfranchised souls – what the Charedi community appears to do is …off the derech – we have other children to think about.
      The community as a whole has to work to help – not just blame outside causes. As someone said there were distractions all thorugh time.
      With Hashem’s help we can help those who need our help.

    12. Get over it, technology is here to stay. And the “leaders” of today and tomorrow must learn to deal with it. Outside influences have given these kids an out. You are blaming the messenger and not the message. Living in one of the Talibanesque towns of NJ, I am surrounded by the idea that the only thing a boy should do is learn..learn..learn. But wait, what if the boy does not want to? What if, and it might sound like blasphemy, not enjoy learning? Then what?

      Our Gedolim are stuck in the 19th century. The obsession with wearing black and speaking and acting “haymish” don’t instill Judaism. These “chitzonios” instill the idea of dressing and acting to belong. Somewhere along the way, we forget about being observant Jews.

    13. “… is the invasion of today’s deteriorating secular values into our society. Indeed with today’s technology not only are there countless ways that dangerous influences can be brought into our children’s lives including internet, cell phones, iPods and even handheld video game systems, but inappropriate activities can be easily hidden from parents and other authority figures.

      This is only HALF the problem.

      The other half of the problem is that kids emulate what they see and hear at home. It’s easy to blame “outside influences” but it’s very difficult and embarrassing to blame yourself or what goes on in your own home for the problems and lack of emunah in your child.

      It’s always someone else’s fault. Right.

      Look in the mirror and say: “What can I correct in myself, in my home, in my busy life to help my children??? Then just do it.

    14. Every shaboss in shull I see countless good teenage boys who are happy in theyr Yeshiva midst.

      They daven and learn the way they should.

      What I would do is take a close look at which boys and theyr famillys are succeeding and work backwards from there.

      • “ Every shaboss in shull I see countless good teenage boys who are happy in theyr Yeshiva midst.

        They daven and learn the way they should.

        What I would do is take a close look at which boys and theyr famillys are succeeding and work backwards from there.”

        Outward signs of being happy are not necessarily true happiness. You have no idea what happens when they leave Shul. A smile can prevent questioning.

      • What about the families who do right by most of their children? No one can score perfect. We are given these neshamas to do our best and inspire them. Even our Avos had “off the derech” children.

    15. The problem is with the Heimishe Community itself, they want everything perfect. If someone is not perfect, they get thrown out with yesterday’s garbage. Why on earth should these kids stay as lepers in a community that doesn’t want them.

      • True and who is responsible for them turning out “not perfect”. I had a case where the Rosh himself chose three friends for a particular bochur. Three months down the line he called the mother and apologized that 2 of those bochurim were not good boys. Well that was three months too late after he was introduced to his first girlfriend and his first can of beer. Do you think the Rosh took responsibility for the boy? NO. Do you think he kept him in the Yeshiva? NO!!!

        How about the boy in a dorm yeshiva where the parents begged them not to treat him differently than any other bochur but THEY knew better. In the end, the boy was thrown out because THEY didn’t like the friends he made in town. But THEY were supposed to be supervising him weren’t THEY????? He, after all was supposed to be under their care and supervision. He was only in 10th grade. They threw him out with the garbage while B”H another Yeshiva picked him up like treasure.

        If kids are not turning out to the perfection and standard they are seeking who’s fault is it anyway?

    16. More and more emphasis is placed on fitting in with the frum look, and less and less is placed on the intrinsic beauty of our Torah and heritage. Clearly this will not work for the current generation.

      A pure focus on the removal of outside influence has clearly failed. You can find OTD kids in the most eirlich, attentive, careful, and frum families. But these kids aren’t given any reason for loving the mitzvot. They are taught to do them because, “it’s what we do,” and that’s not enough.

      Why not take a page from the kiruv programs and point some of their techniques and enthusiasm at our own children BEFORE they lose interest?

    17. To #4: how do you think we can compete and turn people on with such technology? Do you have an updated new invention which would actually excite a boy to learn a chumash/gemara more than playing with his ipod? Please don’t tell me that its the rebbes fault for not being excited enough. The same yetzer hara has been around for many years, only now its too easily accessible. In the old days there was an embarrassment to walk in the movie theater, today there’s no embarrassment cause you have a device which gives you the same thing on your phone without anyone knowing. The proof is in your face with more and more kids who have this access, living this double type of life.

      • Simple. An iPod is nice (I have one), and the internet is a fantastic tool (just like you, I have access to it). But neither the iPod nor the internet is going to give any meaning to anyone’s life. Either Yiddishkeit can deliver that meaning, or it can’t. And, if it isn’t delivering on the meaning and the spirituality, then no amount of rebbes with long beards and black suits and sour looks is going to convince people to ditch their iPods and go back to the beis medrash. And right now, 9 hours a day learning Gemara is just not that appealing– or spiritually meaningful– to many people.

      • There are plenty OTD who come from very Yeshivish homes and even homes of Roshei Yeshiva who were not influenced by TV, internet or IPODS. How do you account for them?

      • And why do they NEED these devices and these distractions? Because they are not given an opportunity to breathe nor develop their own G-d given talents so they look for ways to unwind and relax. They are just pushed to learn, learn, learn then spit out what they know. Are they ever given opportunities to apply what they learn? Does it mean anything to them or is it just words on a page? They have it coming out of their ears and pores whether they love it or not and whether they truly understand it or not. So if they can find something to do that is so totally different than what they are forced to do, the forbidden fruit so to speak, don’t you think they would go for it? Of course those who love to learn, who understand it, who apply it, who enjoy it and its connection to Yiddishkeit, who understands that by learning they are connecting more and more to Hashem, they are not reaching for these distractions.

        Maybe if they were taught to love learning, how to apply it to everyday life, how it connects them……

    18. I find this really incredible. This article itself is the greatest proof why children are going off in this manor. I point to the anecdote about the father who reacted non chalantly to a child turning on a light and berating the same child for knocking over a vase. This was pointed to as the cause for the incredible fact that this baal habus did not have any children who were long term learners. Is anyone able to see anything wrong with such a question? We are raising a generation of children that feel insecure about wanting to be productive in things other than sitting and learning all day. It is untenable, as well as without historical precedent that it should be a dovor pashut that a person should be sitting and learning lolam vaed.
      Children look at their future and don’t see the possiblity of becoming themselves. Why shouldn’t they pretend to be someone else?
      I also find it incredible that abuse was mentioned klacher yad. It has been pointed to over and over again.
      Finally, I am astounded at the “experts” consulted. Not one of them has professional credentials. One may say this is an issue of yiddishkeitr and not mental health. And as a Rav and a therapist, I say its both.

    19. I read it and it was a white wash of the real problems the problem is they interviewed the problem and they shifted the blame from their failures to everyone else our children running are for many reasons cheifly the yeshiva system of eclusion and intolerance rebbi’s that should be anywhere but there. they blamed it on children with emotional and learning problems from the kids i’ve met vast masjority are highly inteligent and stable and yes many come from chareide homes with parents that work in yeshivas on varying levels.

    20. Whats unsaid is that the small but growing number of yeshivot and beis yaakovs that have found creative ways to incorporate modern technology including the internet and web-based phones and PDAs, modern music, electronic teaching materials etc. into their instructional programs have shown a much lower rate of attrition than the traditional, rigid, dark-hat schools that shun modern technology. The really sad part is that tens of thousand of yiddeshe children will be lost because the rabbonim responsible for chinuch are blind to the real world and are desparately trying to keep these children in a dark, walled-off ghetto. B’yh they will be run over by the overwhelming tide of new innovations that the Ebeshters has provided to use to use with discretion and responsbility. As to their argument about the “yetzer horah” can lead to all sorts of prtizus, they can take their yetzer horahs and use them for clinical studies of why they lost a generation of our youth their mindless fears.

    21. You can’t knock the authors of this article for what they write and suggest or for their view identifying the issues and its causes. They are writing this le’shem shomayim. This is their view as respected and established mechanchim. Obviously the kids or post-kids will have a different view. Every one of us past the age of 30 had many nisyonos over the years. The best cases didn’t allow these temptations to push them off the derech. The worst cases fell apart and either went off or just became outer shells with no inner yiddishkeit r’l. We can all write horror stories from yeshiva. Our personal past life histories should not be used to knock highly qualified professionals from explaining the issues or positing solutions. Why don’t you read the article with an objective eye and afterwards see how you fit in and how the article may have helped you.

      • Sorry I disagree. As kids my generation learned to make choices. I personally had a TV in the home and as the shows became less kid friendly we learned to shut it off or turn the channel. That was OUR choice. If we took in a newspaper we learned to skip articles that were not appropriate or throw it out after reading the major stories. The radio could be tuned into an appropriate station or turned off. We did not have Jewish records at that time until the Rabbis Sons and their peers started making them, and even then we relied on the radio until we could afford to buy them. And look WE turned out just fine.

        I have an objective eye but this article is not objective it is what it always is and does what it always does. It blames everything but the “system” for failing and our systems fails our kids miserably from “labeling to molesting”. Kids are just not safe in school.

    22. I was one of those “at risk” teenagers. I went through the system, and brauch hashem i made it back.The only reason I was able to come back was because of people in the frum community that ACTUALLY cared! So instead of trying to find reasons for why kids are “at risk”, because there are so many! and each reasonn is probably true for different kids (not every kid goes off for the same reason), maybe everyone writing comments should actually get involved! Find a kid out there that needs help, and lend a caring shoulder! Make them feel like there important, most of the time a little love can and will go a long way!

    23. Blame the Mirror….Take a roll of towel paper and bottle of Windex and make your mirror sparkling shiny clean…LOOK inside and ask your self…Do i really want something better from my kids who just left for Yeshiveh on the bus.? Did my kids see me last night at a shier in beis hamedresh or home.? Did my kids see me read krishma from a sidder and prepare nagel vasser.? Did my kids see me shabbos in shul NOT talking during davening or krias hatorah.? Did my children see me motzel shabbos learning with my kids.? Did my kids hear a dvar torah from me friday night at the table.? Did my kids hear me discuss all gossip at the shabbos table including how corrupt my kids rebbes and teachers are.? Did my kids see at the shabbos table all those foods that came on the table with NO reliable hechsher.? If you are HAPPY what you see in the MIRROR then BLAME the yeshives for your kids failure and if you are upset what you SEE take a hammar and crack the mirror and BLAME yourself before the rebbes in classroom..

    24. I was 15 years when I was deported from Vienna to Lodz Ghetto and the locals[bnei yisroel] rejoiced on the death of the “yekkes”, liberated in Buchenwald needed care and AJDC sold items on the black market fortunately I received the medicine through relatives from N.Y.C . The American looked down on us like disposable merchandise. Luckily I had the finest of parents and returned with the help of a chasidish Rebbe to what I was in Vienna and my children are the finest. The problem when I had little money I bought one size fits everybody . That is fine in a robe and clothing but not in human nature. Yeshivas pounding how many blatt you learn is not for everybody either. Instead of taking separate vacation include you children. Instead of running to shiurim sit down with your son/daughter and talked to them. Friday sing zmiros and most be a baal chesed

      • “one size fits all.. fine in a robe but not in human nature”

        can people just chap this already?
        not everyone was destined for the cookie-cutter molds they had waiting for us in B.Y and yeshivos.

    25. The main reason that KIDS are going off the derech, is that ADULTS are already off the derech and just giving a facade of frumkeit with little yiddishkeit underneath. Once kids see through this, they just give up the facade.

      • OUCH! True .They give up because they dont have what to hang on to. I would like to hear from the parents “who” and “what”in their lives made the best impression on them when they were young.

    26. Look at the gap between the letters here and the article. The hardest thing is to look inward. We still glorify the shtetl – there were many dropout from the shtetl life too and there were few, if any, outside influences – no TV, radio or even many telephones. There is not only rigid black and white (pun intended) but other colors. Why mock the MO’s who are strict shomrei torah but also have professions? That should not be considered off the derech.

    27. Why is secular society always blamed? Let’s take a look at what happens behind closed doors and what is covered up. The secrets these kids must keep one wonders why they DON’T decline!

    28. I hate to be the one to point this out, but…..
      Its well known (I’ve heard it from the son of the source) that R Yaakov Kaminetzky said that in Europe before the war the children were the same way. He said that on shabbos they would approach you with treif sausages in their jackets offering them out.
      Now I don’t have an answer to this issue. But I’m pretty sure that they didnt have Ipods or internet back then. So if not, what was the excuse then?
      They were for the most part much more isolated than anyone today can possibly be, even in Bnei Brak.
      So what now?? Who or what is left to blame? Maybe we should be looking into ourselves and asking what WE can change. NOT what THEY can change?

      • In Europe, it was the Reform movement that was ensnaring the youth. Today, it’s a different nisayon. The article compares our current situation to that in America of 10-20 years ago. Why can’t you stick to the topic at hand?

        • Nonsense, The Reform movement was fairly evident in Germany, where it began, and in western Europe. In Poland and Lithuania, Reform hardly made a dent. The major cause of disaffection was the policies of the Lithuanian yeshivas which was mentioned by other commenters versus the lure of the Haskalah. If the yeshivas don’t care about any bachur who may not be “gadol material” why should any such bachur care about Yiddishkeit.

      • The main reasons the children /people left yiddishkeit before the war were poverty and rabid anti semitism! they were looking for different solutions to better their situation (communism, zionism, secularism…) They exchanged one ideal (torah life) for another one!
        Whats lacking today with most youth (and adults!) is IDEALISM! All they care about is money, fancy things, cars, houses, having a good time…
        In my humble opinion the parents are to blame… They say one thing (learn toire!!) but actually dont LIVE toire! Its all for show, for the people, for the “good name” and shiduchim!
        The children are not stupid, they are just following their parents example!

    29. I note that those interviewed for the article posted are frum educators. No one OTD was interviewed. No psychologists/psychiatrists/social workers are included. No parents. No one that was OTD and returned. All this presents is a single, unified view of the issue, that will, of course, condemn the secular world as being the cause of the problem.

      All of the secular opportunities are the way people go OTD, not the reasons.

      For those who are looking for a better analysis, I’d suggest “Off The Derech” by Faranak Margolese. No, it’s not perfect, but it’s far better than this article, and looks at multiple issues and perspectives.

      • Off the Derech is one the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s a wonderful guide on how to raise children. But more than that, it’s an amazing mussar bookl giving one great perspective on life. Margolese makes a huge contribution to Judaism with her book.

        • Yes, I also think that is a good idea. Let’s face it. Unless there is a major overhaul in the system and the leaders and rebbeim start talking about real life issues and not beat around the bush, we will get now where. I had so many questions about life that I did not have answered until I got a hold of Rabbi Fingerer’s book Search Judaism. My only critique is that sometimes he wasn’t explicit enough (I imagine the frum publishers would censor anyhow). The book opened my eyes to answers I never dreamt possible. If only my teachers in Yeshiva read this book and knew the answers…

    30. Some time ago a Rav in one of the most chushive leading mosdos stated that the difficulty in shiduchim is a “gezeira min hashomayim”No, it is man made gezeira. Learning a trade or going to college is treife . Thesechurim expect to sit an lean ad hoolam and of course well dressed as befitting a “talmid chochom” Ever heard of the taanim listed in Prike Avoth, i.e. Reb Yoshanan h’sandler. Somebody in my mishpocha married a fine erliche yunger man , plumber and her girlfriends told her how do you marry a plumber. What is true a general needs an Army and you must fill up Yeshivas. A melech ‘lo hamlucha does not work. So men begrub more and more young men. What is lacking is derech eretz and midos

    31. why should they mention handheld devices at the end of this?

      can there be a better way to demonstrate utter inadequacy, than to take away the ipod of a kid who is struggling with his jewish identity?
      but thats the belief today. by taking it away, these ‘geniuses’ think they are doing the right thing.
      R’ Shlomo Freifeld used to say to teachers who take things away – ‘give it back. it just teaches them that rebbeim steal. then – TEACH them why its wrong’
      so lacking. im not surprised at all

    32. trhe most telling tale is that they didnt interview any of the children and there are hundreds in lakewood they didnt interview two of the promenent names in working and understsnding these children onec who lives in lakewood and is very known to the magazine and the other a therapest and rebba in flatbush they blame the economy its up its down they blame the parent body our kids go to school 6 days a week from 7am till late they blame the internet they blame everyone but THEM SELVES we had the haitashburies and drugs candc free love as well as pot and lsd when i went to yeshiva but we were taught that there are two worlds we walk in but one we live in
      the problem is the yeshiva system it self the kollel mentality and our weak rabbis as parents today you either except it or your child is out of yeshiva no if ans or buts
      these are private institutions that control us we either confirm to their limited views or get out and they will follow you if you teek them off

    33. how about the fact of the rabbenim covering up and protecting the pediphiles.every talmid knows of this.who will stand and say even tho they don’t practice what they preach i will understand they stink and will take what they preach seriously.our children are jewish.there no fools.

    34. What is so wrong to get up learn everyday at 5 in the morning, go to work come home to school work with your kids and learn again at night? Is there anything wrong with getting a college education. There are many “kosher” ways to get it whether it be via touro or online. As mentioned not everyone enjoys learning or has the smarts for it. Allowing them to get and education gives them happiness they feel accomplished and the time they spend learning they cherish. How much wasted time goes on in a yeashivah schedule between the bein hasedarim and batalah during learning. In a working office environment breaks are accounted for bull sessions are accounted for. There is no one path for everyone. Chanoch lnar al pi darko and torah im derech eretz are not modern ideas and philosphies. There are guidlines for every person who call themselves an educator. And why are the educators in our kids schools people who have no real education in dealing with children in the ways they think and learn. Why are rabbeim and teachers not required to have degrees in psychology?

      Just ranting

    35. These children are not to be labeled “children at risk” but s/b “CHILDREN WITH HOPE”
      Also why did you take off Rabbi Aron Krausz’ drasha ? He’s talking about these children and is 1000% to the point. Please “pin” it back.

    36. The article states that we did not have this problem in previous generations. Simply false. We’ve had this problem before, all one needs to ask is how many people were actually frum in Europe from the mid 1800’s.

      We have seen the articles where the Gedolim of the 1800’s introduced the concept of acceptable losses into Yiddishkeit. They were willing to sacrifice whatever number of Yidden it took to ensure that there was a core of Gedolim that survived. One should read the defense of Rav Hirsch’s mehalech in combating the Maskilim that R’ Schwab wrote to fully understand what had happened.

      The Maskilim of today are completely automated. The content that we try and protect our children from has no less impact than the intellectual content esposed by the Maskillim.

      The problem we have is our approach has not changed. It is a sad comment in the article that the students could not articulate why they are frum.

      The definition of insanity as per Einstein is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different approach. None of the recommendations in this article articulated anything close to a different approach.

      Perhaps we need to view each Neshama as important.

      • The Idea that Jewish dropouts and kids OTD is a new phenomenon is laughable.
        In the 1500 odd years that Jews have been living in Europe, there have been, literally, millions of Jews who have dropped out. Otherwise, where did we all go? True, there were periodic massacres like Tach v’Tat, but natural increase would have made up the loss in one or, at most two generations. In one regard, the Haskalah was a good thing for Jews, it offered Jews a way to leave observance but still retain their Jewish Identity. I the earlier times to which I allude, the only way to drop out was to shmad, R’L, and millions did.

    37. There is no doubt that the attractions of the world at large are a big temptation and distraction to our children. And indeed it is now easier than ever to access the visual “fleshpots” of secular society. Technology is a double edged sword. But we take it as axiomatic that the Torah constitutes universal truth and is timeless. If that is true, than the Torah, G-d’s message to the world, must compete in the fair marketplace of ideas and win. Either our educators, parents, gedolim and all those who lay claim to being the conduits of our Mesorah to the next generation will figure out how to compete in that fair marketplace of ideas, or our system of religious observance will be consigned to the ash heaps of history. If our system is, in fact what G-d wants of us, that won’t happen. But perhaps the increasing numbers of those who drop out of our ranks, is an indicator that we don’t have things “just right” from His perspective? One way or the other, His will is always done.

    38. Blaming the internet, iPods, etc. as if simply erradicating those will magically solve every struggle any child faces is ludicrous. If someone becomes an alcoholic, do we say it’s because they accidentally stumbled upon a bottle of liquor? That’s how that story of the perfect boy who turned into a shabbos desecrator by accidentally seeing inappropriate images sounds. Even if that’s even a true story, the parents and educators are in denial. Something much deeper, psychologically, is plaguing that poor boy, and he needs more help than staying away from unrestricted wireless internet. Just as an alcoholic has deeper issues than simply drinking liquor– even if you protect an alcoholic from liquor his whole life, if he doesn’t solve the underlying problems, the pain will manifest itself somewhere, somehow else. Everything listed in this article is a symptom, not a cause.

    39. and how about the case of rav nadel z”tzl one of the two important talmidim of the chozon eish z”tzl.the other being rav greenerman.i know there were others.rav nadel brought a shforno which he made a perush that held a certain inference.this chidush was not part of the package which talmidim are expected to except without question.rav nadels sforim were thrown out of bookstores in bnie brak.i think our chinuch package needs a strong looking at.

        • i am not being specific on purpose of course.apparently you are of the opinion of those who agree with those who intimidated the bookstores and you know the inyon very well.on the other hand you don’t seem to comprehend what you read.i very clearly state.the chinuch PACKAGE needs a strong looking into.thats the point.all these replies and concern are showing something your selling has a very great problem being accepted.i contend this ilk has lost the capacity to say “i don’t know”.

    40. Rather than fret about which of our kids are “going off the derech”.. Why not exalt in the ones who RETURN TO JUDAISM? Make these people a topic of discussion. No one loses his or her Jewish Inheritance, but they surely can be absent without leave! A kid who goes off the derech to you is about 100 times ahead of some of the poor children who do not grow up in a religious community. Work on your own family structure and bring your kids to Torah.

      • Who says that Mishpacha doesn’t “get it”?

        I’m sure that they “get it” very well.

        Problem is that they would have gotten in trouble with the yeshivas had they had written the truth.

        Therefore, they blamed it all on “secular influences” and “technology” — anywhere but the real culprit: The rotten, outdated, irrelevant system.

    41. What if 10%, maybe 20% of youth just dont get it? So what? Why is this a new phenomenom? Dont tell me Europe didnt have this same problem. So they left town and went to the big city or to America and werent Frum. But they were still Family. Religion is not for everyone and it is arrogant and foolish of us to think it is. Just like not everyone can be a scientist, plumber, writer, etc. It just doesnt go into someone’s head. SO what?? Let him be a good, outstanding citizen in society to the extent he can, not a robber or drug addict or crazy person. Why is everyone so upset? Let them go and find themselves and meanwhile give them all the love and support you can. Otherwise, they turn to drugs, alcohol, etc.

    42. The reason why Jewish children wear Judaism on their sleeve but not in their hearts is because toady’s generation is exclusively focused on externalities. This is a real turn off to many, if not, most. To many, it is a religion of ritual without meaning. Unfortunately, we have very few mechanchim today that are true baalei machashava, who can impart and instill deeper meaning. For example, a typical 21 year old today, even an excellent student, has no better understanding of Avrohom Avinu than when he was 6 years old – and was never taught to deepen his knowledge. His understanding of Davening has not improved much either.At best, he’ll know a few more Midrashim or some clever Gematriyas.The learning is rote. There has to be deeper understanding of what it is that we do and study. Make Yiddishkeit meaningful – not “Mitzvas Anoshim V’limudov.”

      • Knowitall is 100% correct. Absolutely. Society’s leadership is focused on politics, politics, politics and Israel, Israel, Israel. How on earth should young people have a feeling for ruchnius under such circumstances? Can anyone tell me?!

    43. There is a way for college ed but it is not the American way. After yeshiva marriage
      and kollel and than night classes. I took night classes and the people there were serious; they were there to get a degree not waste 4 years clowning and drugging around. I had an option of day or night and I always prefer night classes. In Eretz Yisrael it is much harder because they are so against people not sitting and learning.
      If your father goes to kollel and does not learn a word his kids can still get into the best cheders but if the father workd 6 hours and learns 8 he can’t America is more balanced.

    44. Number 58 that is exactly what has destroy reform and conservative judaism because their level of understanding is at a 3 grade level and they are not offer a more indepth understanding. One of the problems the Rebbes don’t know sometime how to answer a question and they just cut the bochur short

    45. Is it time to have yeshivos dedicated to teaching a trade or profession, with daily, but limited, learning? I mean, mainstream yeshivos, not ones for “troubled” youth? Who needs to take the first step? Parents saying these would be good sons-in-law? Daughters saying they don’t want to work 3 jobs and raise kids? Hanhalos that can pick the cream of the crop for rabbonus training?

    46. Rav Dessler basically said “We need to throw 1000 people into the Beis HaMedrash to get one Gadol. What about the 999 students that do not become Gedolim? Could they not have done better with their lives doing something more suitable to their overall talents? Yes, but we need Gedolim. So even if 999 students ‘fall through the cracks’ it’s worth the price!” (from Harry Maryles blog).

      This is the fundamental basis for our system.

      I do not understand why anyone is surprised at the volume of children falling through the cracks. The system is designed that way.

      Perhaps we need to change the basis of our Chinuch system.

      Perhaps there is new reason to examine R’ Hirch’s approach to combating the Maskilim and apply it to the Maskilim of today.

      • Nice theory, but do the math – if there are hundreds of thousands of people gone through the system of the past few decades, there should now be a good few hundred gedolim now. I dont think anyone can count many (if at all) gedolim in our generation.
        Bottom line – the system does not produce gedolim, nor does it produce 999/1000 who fall through the cracks.
        Also, I do not think Rav Dessler ever said that, it was just another blogger.

    47. The article is wrong blaming the internet , there are 62 commenters before me who use the internet and i dont think they are addicted to inapropriate images (porn). And belive it or not most of the non jewish world who uses the internet doesnt use it for porn either. Just like you can teach the kids when they go into barnes and noble to get a book they dont need to go to the adult magazine section. The internet is no different if you stumle onto a website that you werent looking for , everyone knows how to click the box with the x and close it and move on. The problem the authors are having is that they have no ability to shelter kids. So if you cant shelter them what you need to do is teach them how to act in the worlds that they live in.

    48. Sorry folks, but I’m gonna say it as it painfully is. We have no gedolim today. We have an institution called BMG, which Reb Aaron Kotler founded for the elite of the elite. Not for EVERY LAZY BUM! 30 years ago, we never heard of this idiocy where every boy has to sit on his num in kollel and milk his parents and in-laws to the bone. Along with that, these so-called gedolim have instituted the rules that you see today. The uniform of white and black does not make one a jew, period. On top of everything else, we recently lost Bernard Lander, who created an institution that gave out children the opportunity to become doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants, etc. And the so-called Godol of BMG had the unmitigated chutzpah to put him down!! But he has no shame asking those same people for donations. I hold them responsible for the shidduch crisis, the rising divorce rate, and the complete dissolution of secular education in out yeshivos today. All I can hope is that the Ribbono Shel Olam pay them their just dues for the all the yiddishe neshamas they destroyed and that they continue to destroy.

    49. Just so you know the problem today is not just “Children at risk”, it has already turned into “Adults at risk”
      I’ve talked to several of these individuals, both children and adults, and they all have the same reason — they were turned off because they can’t stand the hypocrisy of the people that were supposed to be their role models, ( I won’t go into details as to what position these people hold because you all know who they are and how high in society they stand). How in the world do you expect people to be sincere when they see their role models, people of stature, acting the same or even worse — child molestors , theives, liars, etc.. And whats worse these mushchasim actually justify their shenanigans in the name of hashem, and think they are immune by hiding behind the veil of their torah. Like a chazir that sticks out his hooves and proclaims his kashrus.They learned their torah lo L’ishmah and then they used it to destroy (may they all be zochah to do complete t’shuvah).
      This, people, is enough to turn off anyone whose emunah isn’t strengthened.
      So I say if you want to solve this “people at risk” crisis a good way to start is to throw the bums out.

      • Lumich oop. The greatest hypocrisy is when people blame others for their own shortcomings and lack of self control. Hakol Bidei Hashamayim, chutz m’yiras Shamayim, and those who have no Yiras Shamayim are always looking for excuses–the rebbe, the Yeshiva, my parents…. blah, blah, blah.

    50. Did anyone ever think of professional counseling for children when they are in high school. Maybe, when they are 16 or 17, they need some guidance as to what they are cut out for and begin to form a plan of achieving it. Has any Rebbi in a Yeshiva ever counseled a teenager to consider a vocation or profession? Or is this just a treife zach? Why must young people go through such torment just to reach a realization that they could have attained so much earlier with a little counseling?

      • I’ve heard from the kids themselves about Yeshiva counselors. They have told me more than once that the counselors did not keep their confidence and therefor none of the kids trusted them or spoke to them. In essence it was a well known secret that if the counselors didn’t cooperate with the Rosh they would lose their jobs.

    51. I always enjoy divrei torah or parsha refereces that people make in a post.
      Anyway, this is my final analysis.
      This is a difficult parsha and at least 90 to 95% of how children turn out have to do with the home.
      The gemarah in sukah says “shusa deynuka oy deavuah oy deima” which means, the speech of a child was aquired either from the mother or father.
      Notice the Gemarah dosen’t say from school, shul, neighboorhood etc.
      Of course friends have an influence, but strong and focused parents have the ability to mold their children as do parents who are always busy, speak lashon hara, are negative and blame the world for their and their children’s failures.
      As a former Brooklynite living out of town (where the local day school has all types of kids in each class and shockingly, each child looks like a product of the home not the school!!) I appreciate the mesirus nefesh of our local rabbeim and moros. They are our stars and true gems.

    52. 68 is on the money. I dont know why there isn’t more incentive for our children to study activities that will make them integral to society as well as Torah. This means medicine, law, accounting, engineering and science. I did not attend a Yeshiva School, but of the childen I’ve met, they have no interst in any scientific or mathematical endeavors. I myself am a physician and I must tell you, Hashem is very happy to have our people healthy, well rounded and working in fields of science today. If a physician has offered a patient an alleiviation of his suffering or longer life, that gives God’s Creation a longer time to create, think, contribute and relate to Torah. We also lack the Torah leaders in our societies. I live in a moderate sized town and Torah is very absent in our region. We have reform and conservative Jewish sanctuaries of permanent standing. Those who are religious are detached from the non orthodox community. The Jews who are not orthodox resent the efforts of the Torah community to better themselves and our nation. There is alot of room for improvement.

    53. Maybe its the `Soid` of `Gilgulim`. these boys(teens) are ment the way they are. Hashem is emptying his very last [left over] Neshumois before Moshiach comes Lets try to make the best out of them!!! stop the Blame Game!

    54. Amazing! I have never ever seen such a uniformity of opinion in any article especially a pinned one at that on VIN. Someone has to print this and bring to the Agudah convention and show to everyone. Its amazing everyone seems to have the same belief that the rabbonim and the yeshivas are to blame. i remember about 15 years ago I was in 9th grade in Mirrer Yeshiva and the Jewish Observer came out with the first major article on the topic with all the same lies, errors and omissions. The individuals commenting on this site issue a major indictment of Orthodox Jewry in 2010 and they are so right. We have no gedolim with any spine. We live in a time when no organization can issue a statement on Rabbi Tropper or stand up to Torah Temima when they protect a child abuser for 40 years! What do you think kids see? they see very clearly and they know something is wrong. They know their parents don’t believe in “the system”. Even from a very young age you can’t fool kids.

    55. No one has ALL the answers, but:

      1) Historically, there have been “drop outs” from traditional Judaism for millennia.

      2) We are a tiny minority living in a primarily secular, hedonistic society with moral relativism and with readily accessible vices

      3) Our children have by and large not been ‘inoculated’ against the true dangers of the outside world, in a sophisticated manner, and often are frightenly naive, as are some adults who provide children and teens with license to self-destruct (including initiating troubled teens into alcohol binges on Purim and Simchas Torah)

      4) Some 20% of children have problems such as ADHD, learning disability, emotional disorders, and the like, and when such problems are not recognized and /or not properly addressed, the end result is often a sense of learned helplessness, frustration, and affiliation with other youth on the fringes

      5) Our community is more affluent, there are more cars, and virtually every teen has a cell phone, with many having unfiltered internet access either in their house or someone else’s house

      6) Many kids who leave the fold have been victims of childhood abuse–verbal, physical, sexual–which was untreated.

    56. When will the world wake up and use the Chabad approach in regards to how we approach a Jew in general – how we mentally see the Jew in our heads? How we see a child or an adult that’s not 100% Far frumt? how we look to find the positive element within a person not the flaws? how we speak and teach through a”little light dispels lots of darkenss” ? how every Jew is important? how to use technology which is part of Hashem’s world for the right things? look how the Rebbe used TV years ago to promote Torah etc – people were in shock at how can that be !! But through that we understood that in itself it was not good but could be used for right things etc.. Tv is not the problem Ipod etc its how u use it etc.. basically the Mussar system and appraoch does not work today and for years and that’s the hefty price we are witnessing around us..Yes, a little love goes a long way.. a positve approach where everyone is important and unique and has what to give to this world and is truthfully meant and taught by parents and teachers with true love is what brings the best out of our people ..- it’s proven just look at Chabad’s success worldwide- non-judgemental and lots of love – Perek 32 Tanya

      • It’s ludicrous to suggest that Chabad has no issues of Off the Derech youth or teens who are very lax in their kiyum hamitzvos like other chareidi communities have. By the way, I don’t see much “love” for the mehalech of other communities and their revered gedolim oozing from your comment. You’re a pretty sad excuse for a Chabadtzker!

    57. Whatever you think the causes are, do not fall into the trap of making more things ossur. That will only cause more children to go off the derech. By the way, one can be a religious Jew and be modern—don’t let it scare you.

    58. R Yehoshua Heller (disciple of R Yisroel Salant) z”l put it rather well: It is not the secular studies that lure children away from Judaism – it’s the shortcomings in the presentation of Judaism that drives them away. Faith and Yiras-shamayim are only in-built at a level that does not directly affect one. In order for them to have any direct effect on a person, they must be cultivated. Hasidism and Mussar both took this approach, but both have stagnated into worse than inertia. No one can expect an average child to just to suddenly light up when introduced to Torah. That will only happen when he given suitable instruction and role models of faith and Yiras shamayim.

      There will always be kids who realise that someone who is not cut out to be a life-long scholar is wasting his time aiming for it, and will turn elsewhere. With Jewish communities concentrated into a few centres, the problem with drop-outs will only exacerbate, as they stay within those centres. It’s time that the serious leaders get their heads out of the sand and devise a system that prepares religious kids for life as an orthodox baal habayis. It existed successfully in Hungary before the war and can be replicated.

    59. all this is nonsense a human being is not a robot , not a machine , a teenager needs space to grow and find himself i see here that people dont realized that all this regulation and trying to dominate another human being will not fly with youngsters anymore wake up all of you all that frimkait to a young man means domination he has to be trusted thats how we all grow up in this woirld

    60. When I look back at my childhood i had rough years when i questioed which direction to turn. I remember all the mitzvos that my parents did with such excitement. Both were poor, we had no money for an expensive lulav and esrog or fancy things but the excitement of building the sukkah and the excitement of the preparation of doing mitzvos. The passion they had for the regular mitzvos had a very big affect on me. They never forced it on us they just showed it to us with their deeds. It is easy to blame the society, the yeshivas and the parents and yes they are all to blame but in an effort to build up instead of knock down, we should consider our own actions. How do our children see us doing our mitzvos? When yom tov comes around are we complaining about money, missing work, how many outfits we need to have or are we excited and looking forward to spending the time with our families? When we get up to daven do we role over in bed or do our kids see the sacrifice we make when we get up early or leave in the middle of work to daven Mincha? When we buy a pair of tefilin for our sons do we say I got the best sofer for the most money or do we say I got the most beautiful pair of tefilin for you? So many little things can turn our children on and off. I send my children to the same Brooklyn yeshivas that you do. The key is to make the children see that the religion is a beautiful one. The days of do as I say not as I do are long gone and will no longer pass muster with our kids. Lets be as passionate about our mitzvos as we are about our shaitels, outfits, feregamo belts and Borsalino hats. I hope the RBS”O sees the tears of so many parents and wipes them away with the coming of moshiach in our time.

    61. i went to a regular Bais Yaakov school in Brooklyn. My halacha teacher, the “Rebbetzin”, embarrassed me in front of the entire class by announcing that I would never get married and my parents would have heartbreak from me and i would never go anywhere in life…etc.
      And for what?
      For talking in her class!

      If i was looking for an excuse to go off the derech, I was handed one on a silver platter. But i have amazing parents and I knew better.
      However, there are children who do not have amazing parents and can find an excuse for leaving the fold if they so wish. Our teachers and principals must be taught not to give these kids a reason!!!
      If they have no reason to leave, they will eventually come back.

      • I hear you loud and clear, my daughter’s genius teachers kept telling her she was going into the “mechina” class. Well when she got her Masters in Special Ed I told her to go to her High School and wave it in her under qualified former teachers faces. SHE certainly was trained how not to do what they did!

    62. it’s quite true that we all care,who knows the right approach for each yiddisha child. in truth #89 is closer to what need to be done,how vital the lubavitcher rebbe would scream at farbrengens about chinuch for the children,teens,adults all of us,for the community and to bring kal yisreal back to hashem,as you know chassidus has spread thoughout our frum communities,how vital the rebbe talks about learning chassidus and moshiach,many people have been by the rebbe during farbrengens,who have heard the rebbe speak about this again and again. once by a family,as we were discussing this,the rebbe has spoken that he’s speaking to a congregation of deaf people. some people hear and some not yet,g-d willing may this be a wake-up call to work together to help our children. lmmiment teshuvoh,lmmiment geula!

    63. The article killed me. We are so quick to judge kids who are “bummed out”, “modern”, may be acting out, or exposed to “elements” on the web..

      I went to the right schools, come from a great family b’h, and yet always felt like a black sheep in my family and even more in school. I always had questions and often recieved pigheaded answers, if any answers at all. I tried to seek out an understanding person but apparently they are not employmed by B.Y. schools. The more I asked questions, the more I teetered toward the edge.

      A kid is “at risk” because he was put there. I’m not gonna play the blame game now, but I do know this: A solid kid with a loving home & school environment doesn’t one day just fall off the ladder. Yes, it’s common that many kids ask and challenge just ‘lehaches’, and there are even some, believe it or not, whose questions stem from intellectional thirst. Many mechanchim freak out when approached with heavy hashkafic questions and bring a machine gun to fight off a mosquito. Educators should arm themselves with knowledge, with love, and most importantly, patience.

    64. The stigmatrized label of “at risk” only makes it worse for these kids. Just love them. Show them with all your might that true yiddishkeit revolves around simcha, ahava, and sincerity.

      That is why I became a teacher. To be the one I always wish I had.

    65. I am a frum person working in the field of corrections. We used to call “kids at risk” juvenile delinquents. Rather than moralizing perhaps we should go back to beginnings-and realize that is is “shalom bais” and the relationship between the parents which should be what we are concentrating on.

    66. the greatest mechanech in America was R’ Shrage Feivel Mendelowitz who was responsible along with his talmidim for starting some of the largest most respected yeshivas in America today.
      His mantra was, out of 100 talmidim to produce 5 gedolim and 95 shtarke baalei batim who are bnei torah. Today’s mechanchim think they know better and out of 100 talmidim they produce no gedolim, 90 leidigayers and the rest fall by the wayside. The Lakewood system has hijacked klal yisroel and unless we the people don’t do something about it we are all in trouble. We lack leaders who are willing to stand up and say enough is enough

    67. It’s the season for the blame the internet and movies for all internal problems. Every year there is a doom and gloom warning of “off the-derech” crisis. If you want to produce massive communities of programmed zombies then the best solution is to move outside major cities and settle remote towns where there is no city life, internet or cellphone services. There you can make life more miserable for youth by passing new chumras every month and not preparing them to survive in a modern world, while pretend everything is beautiful and secular world around us is evil.

      • With the cookie-cutter molds mentality we have to lose some who can’t or are unable to maintain the standards of scholastic achievements. Kids need outlets and everything is Assur. Maybe there should be assigned bowling Sundays for girls juxtaposed with swimming competitions for boys etc. Talents should be valued and included in the curriculum.

        just thinking…

    68. I don’t have any answers here, but I will say that I have personally observed kids going off the derech in every kind of Orthodox community. It is not limited to MO or Charedim.

    69. The Nahal Haredi battalion of the IDF has done a great job with frum boys in the army, giving them much needed self confidence and keeping them on the derech. IDF service should be something to be proud of, not avoided.

    70. I think it is a weak argument to blame this problem on the internet and secular influences. To do so is an easy out and overlooks the problems within our communities. If we offer our children a beautiful religion they will be happy to follow along.

    71. Everyone is so quick to defend the internet. Noone acknowledges that it definitely IS addictive. Someone addicted to the internet has an extremally hard time keeping a three day yom tov. At the age of 26 I was mechalel shabbos for the first time. The yetzer hora was just too strong, and I had to keep up with my emails. I am completely frum, and would never ever choose to do something like that, but in a weak moment I lost. I don’t blame my teachers or parents. I blame technology.

      • Oh, boo hoo! This is– by far– the most self-indulgent, foolish post written in response to this article. You’ve gone through a list of people who might be blamed for your inability to stay off the internet for three days running– you consider your teachers and your parents, and you (graciously!) exonorate them all. Finally, you settle on “technology” as the culprit! I note that one party you seem not to have considered blaming is yourself. May I suggest that you consider the possibility that you might be personally responsible for your own decisions in life? The internet is not responsible for your behavior. If Shabbos is important to you, then keep it. If it’s not, then do as you please, but how dare you have the shameless effrontery to blame some amorphous, inanimate concept like “technology” for your own decisions!!

      • I myself have an addiction to food and drink. Why should I fast on Yom Kippur? It’s the addiction of food that makes me hungry, I cannot help it!

        PLEASE stop whining about the internet being “addictive”, you just have no self-control.

        GOYIM who use the internet all the time have no problem leading productive, moral lives if they choose to. Why can’t a Yid? Oh, internet, movies and TV turn an otherwise normal person into a behaima that cannot control his/her urges.

        You want to be mechalel shabbos, go ahead, but don’t blame it on anyone or anything but yourself.

    72. I just posted before. Actually, I don’t blame technology, I blame my own weak nature in not being able to resist technology. And I do have other things going on in my life that contributed. The internet has become my escape, and that should never happen to anyone. We need a better way to destress then technology, and I guess you are all right. My teachers and parents should have instilled in me a stronger connection to Hashem so I should be able to turn to Him, and not technology.

      • Maybe you should be thankful for technology. Maybe without emails to get to you would have found an escape in drugs or developed an eating disorder either of which is a lot more difficult to overcome than an email addiction. (I know of what I speak and always wonder why this “at risk” girls’ problem is never mentioned up there with the boys who hang out in inappropriate places) Obviously, if there were new emails to read during a three day yom-tov, then you werent exactly hanging out with a shomer mitzvot crowd to begin with so the problem was definitely “deeper” than the lure of the technology.

        • who are you to judge me? I am not talking about personal emails I would get on shabbos. My situation is unique, and I’m part of an online support group, that is not composed solely of jews. I did not post anything, just wanted to keep up with the blogs. No, I do not have unapropriate friends, and as I mentioned before, I am completely frum with no questions in emunah, just lost a very hard nisoyon..

          • I thought it was clear I was being sarcastic. Believe me, I have no interest in judging others. I was pointing out that there are lots of addictions and technology is no worse, maybe better. On another point, since you were sort of defending those interviewed for the article despite the fact that most commenters were shocked at the ridiculousness of their argument – I’m wondering whether those interviewed for the article would say its OK to go to a non-frum therapist for problems, let alone an on-line support group filed with non-frum / non-jewish members. From what I can tell they would think that is assur too. Again, I’m not judging just pointing this out…

    73. This is hysterical
      Does anyone else here notice how 99.9% of the points (rants) that are posted are not related to the main issue addressed in teh article? They specifically werent talking about kids OTD – and said so right at the beginning. They’re talking about kids who may even be considered top of their shiur but have internal emuna issues etc.
      Yes, even if thats the case, they could have done a better job by not beating so around the bush, and pointing to some of the core factors in the system that lead to this phenomenon, but of cours eif they want to continue to exist they can do that.
      and yes, it would have ben more powerful to talk to some of the kids they refer to to hear what they say. thats my biggest problem.
      but, all said, you gotta admit taht with the limitations that exist in frum media, they did a top notch job. but the vast majority of VIN commenters – even anonymous – prefer to hide behind the veil of cynicism instead of giving a gracious compliment.

    74. What about being really good role models. Do you think the nod and wink to improper business behavior brings respect of our young people? It shows that not everyone really believes that some great Power is watching us. Let alone that the Power can provide for everyone appropriately! Our children hear and see everything. They drink it up – and sometimes find us wanting. And the internal fighting!!! OMG – that is not inspiring. We need to inspire our young the way you do when you try to embrace a ba’al teshuva.

    75. too much of anything is not good too much food too much learning everything in moderation too much religion is legalized insanity this is what it all amounts too

    76. Why not treasure OTD’s as our teachers?
      R’ Avika Eiger would never allow anyone to be
      called a “talmid” of his, as in his great humility he felt that he might
      well have learned more form the talmid than the talmid from him!
      Yiddishkeit, ehrlechkeit was never meant to be sequestered.
      Lech L’cha לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ
      Authentic deep felt Yirei Shomayim can only be passed on by
      genuine role models, the Gedolim of old, whose eidelkiet suffused
      the entire room with the radiance of the Shechina without one
      word being said. The only way to reach the medreiga of being
      a role model, is to work diligently on one’s middoth—no Ipod, Ipad
      or Iphone can compete with the example of the human heart and mind
      suffused with love for all Hashem’s creations.
      A genuine Yirei Shomayim realizes that even when some lost sheep
      wander of the path, they are simply seeking “more” not “less” attachment
      to Hashem’s world than what they see around themselves.
      It takes great courage to not simply accept the status quo. Maybe it is time for us to grow up and accept the mandate given to us, to be Ohr L’Goyim and saturate the airwaves with
      Torah & Truth to bring OTD’s home.

    77. OTD & Lech L’cha לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ
      We are all OTD’s in some way today, spiritual orphans with the last of the
      truly great Gedolim passing on. Maybe it is time for us to grow up and accept the mandate given to us, to be Ohr L’Goyim using modern technology for holy purposes, transform the Internet, Television etc. saturating it with Torah learning, because the Truth is more powerful than the tacky competition.
      Leaving the “Derech” or “Home” as in Bereshis is said to be the plot theme of the lives of each generation. Everything that happened to the Avoth keeps repeating itself in each generation. The story of creation must move forward
      and that means insulated and secluded lives will eventually be jolted by catastrophe eg. war, anti-Semitism, economic unsustainability, in order that Hashem’s children will be driven back into the limelight to teach the world by example the right way to live. Then the OTD individuals will also be redeemed. We are all OTD in some way today, spiritual orphans with the last of the truly great Gedolim passing on. Maybe it is time for us to grow up and accept the mandate and be Ohr L’Goyim once again.

    78. (1) One Sided Article – The Mishpacha article presents only one side of the story. Balanced and honest reporting calls for both sides to be heard. Mishpach must publish a follow-up article which presents the other side of the story and includes interviews with parents, talmidim, therapists, social workers, psychologists etc. (2) Admittedly, there have been cases of well adjusted, happy and successful children led astray due to an accidental encounter with an inappropriate web site. However, more often than not, it’s the unhappy and unsuccessful talmid who turns to the internet (or alcohol & drugs) to relive his/her own personal misery. The causes are many including abuse, domestic unrest, financial stress, and a chinuch system that’s highly competitive, rigidly structured, and geared to the above average student.

    79. Oh coarse every kid that goes “off” does it for a different reason… And the same goes to “coming back”!!!!!!! I have to say that I owe my whole life to my father… Because no matter how “far” I was, and no matter “what I did” he was always there for me… And always “held my hand” whenever I needed him! I know it must’ve been VERY hard for him… BUT HE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!
      Noone out there can make a general statement like “the invasion of secular values”… every kid is unique! And needs to be handled in a unique way!!!!!!!


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