Brooklyn, NY – Center For At-Risk Teens Itself At Risk


    Kids from OurPlaceBrooklyn, NY – Stale cigarette smoke hangi ng in the air behind him, the sounds of weights clanging and billiard balls crashing in the background, Motti sits on a frayed couch in the heart of Flatbush one recent night and talks about what it is like — or was — to be an at-risk Jewish teenager.

    Now 17, he came to Brooklyn seven months ago from the Midwest, where he was failing at school and fighting at home. Here, he says, he lived with a member of his family, but was still lost, “chilling on the streets, doing drugs.”

    That changed a few months ago, Motti (not his real name) says, when “a friend,” someone he’d hang out with wasting time, told him about Our Place, a drop-in center for teens, many from Orthodox backgrounds.

    He came one night, one of the more than 5,000 troubled teens helped by the center in the last dozen years. And he kept coming back.

    “Every night,” Motti says. Shooting a little pool, watching some TV, talking with the adult volunteers and teenage peers who hang around the center, down a flight of stairs, through an unmarked door on Avenue M, a business center of Brooklyn’s heavily Orthodox neighborhood.

    The teens, mostly from Modern Orthodox and black-hat backgrounds, have the classic street look — garish T-shirts, jeans or cargo pants, suspicious eyes that give every visitor the once-over. Some of the boys are bareheaded; some wear stocking caps.

    Were it not for Our Place, a 12-year-old independent institution under Orthodox auspices, “I’d be on the street,” Motti says.

    Continue reading at The Jewish Week

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    1. What is needed is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary program for these wayward, troubled teens. How is it that, as chronicled in the Wall Street Journal, well over 100,000 orthodox Jews head to hundreds of glatt kosher hotels for Pesach (to be entertained by rabbis, musicians, scholars in residence, etc), while programs like this flounder for lack of money?

      • you’re absolutely right! and don’t forget the 3000 dollar sheitals,lavish simchas, luxurious homes etc etc etc. we yidden need to get our priorities straightened out.

      • Nice try, Harvey. Let’s blame somebody else (in this case: the schools and the teachers they hire).
        How about we each look in the mirror and ask: “What exactly have I done to help these kids?”.

    2. This story stings my heart. These children are OUR responsibility in every way. We have a duty to help them. Every one that is lost is the fault of ALL of us. Period.

      My wife’s grandfather was homeless living in America in the ’20s. He came here with nothing and would take any bit of work he could find. He could not read or write in English. Over time, he went “off the derech” (to use a modern term). My wife’s OTHER grandfather met him on the street one day and they started talking. The story he told over to us was that he would see this homeless man sitting on a bench all day and would go talk to him. After months of their “park bench” chats, he told him about a job opening at the garment factory where he worked (somewhere near the Bialystocker shul). Not only did he take the job, but he found a life of Torah again by working alongside others and spending shabbos with friends. Needless to say, they both built beautiful families and their children were married… and so on.

      Don’t ever think for one second that a person cannot be brought back, or that someone is lost for good. When you look at someone and think those things, YOU have failed twice over.

    3. Harvey: you seem to know that it’s the teachers fault. I think it’s time for the schools to close up and have the parents do all the teaching. I’m sure we’ll see how much better of a job you’ll do. This way u also can’t complain about all that tuition money. Home school harvey!

    4. We can’t blame anyone. Not the parents, not the school, not anyone, because we aren’t allowed to judge. But whatever happened, this is very very sad and it makes me cry…

      • um,,,,,, i would have to agree and disagree with some stuff u said, true we cant judge, however alot stems from family issues, school issues etc…….. you cant generalize, it not all the time the school or parents or whatever, but yeh sometimes they are to blame!

    5. Most of these “children”?are adults and should be responsible for their deeds. I don’t think that our whole society shall get down on our knees and shep nachas whenever these men do a small token mitzvha .

      • i totaly disagree……… how can you judge someone like that? do u know where the person came from? dont judge a person when ure not in their shoes! yes it is our business to help a jewish person no matter where he came from…… if there is a will there is a way! we can try to help the person however he has to want to be helped!

    6. We always like to blame everybody for these kids problems and yes many of it is true. But when we go to shamayim we are not going to be asked why we didn’t solve more problems on these blogs, they are going to ask what you did to alleviate them.

    7. As a wife of a man who has been very dedicated and committed to Our Place and made sacrifices on many levels for the boys over many years, I can personally attest to the sincere commitment, concern, care, goodness and incredible lengths that those in Our Place have gone to in order to help the boys. I can also attest to the unbelievable successes they have been blessed to experience along with the inevitable pains for when it may not have been enough in certain cases. I agree that blaming is not worthwhile and too simplistic. There is no doubt in my mind, that if ever there was a place and cause worth rallying our collective resources to try to save, this would be it. I don’t know what will be, Hashem should help and support anyone’s efforts. Thay’s all I can say.

    8. #6 when our young men leave their homes at 6:30 in the morning to attend yeshiva and come home after 7:00 on an early day who else is to blame the yeshivas killed parental control and if you dont meet their image you are nothing more then waste

      the elitism of our yeshivas and the shrinking tolerance is to blame its interesting we hear from the cause of the problem but we never hear from the children themselves because no one really cares we give lip service until it hits home
      our lace is a blessing but at the same time good kids that go there could get messed up no your child talk to them not yell and if they change friends and attitudes good luck you are in for a ride.

    9. 2 things we have to do in regards to this issue.

      1) We Must support our place.
      2) We Must stop degrading other brothers (even not at risk) instead we must keep on giving everybody a good word. for who knows, he might just have had a really bad day in school at home, and the good word gives him the simchas hachayim, the will to go on in good ways!

      I do know Reb Chaim, I also know Reb Yankel, They are truly amazing people! Really give our troubled brothers some warmth really working on them feeling good about something!


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