Jerusalem – Moved to tears after learning the details of the tragic life and death of Malky Klein, a renowned Israeli educator slammed those who rejected the teen in her formative years and called upon his former students to demand an overhaul of the current educational system.
Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Blumenfeld has been a key figure at Yeshiva Neveh Zion since 1978, serving as the school’s dean and spiritual advisor and forging long lasting connections with students. Known fondly by his students as “The Mash,” Rabbi Blumenfeld has helped steer thousands of young men through their formative years, including many who, like Malky, led difficult lives.
After hearing how Malky turned to drugs after being shunned by multiple schools, Rabbi Blumenfeld sent a letter to Neveh Zion’s friends and alumni, sharing his outrage and wondering if any of the responsible parties were ever held accountable for their actions.
“What I want to know is what was done with those ‘educators?’” wrote Rabbi Blumenfeld. “Was the principal that sent her away … dismissed? Was the school closed? Such educators are not educators, they are murderers.”
Rabbi Blumenfeld also castigated community leaders for not demanding change in the system on behalf of the many Malkys who are slipping through the cracks.
Having taught many students who, like Malky, faced educational challenges, Rabbi Blumenfeld noted that our schools must learn how to deal with students with learning disabilities, focusing more on instilling a love of yiddishkeit than on enforcing unrealistic expectations.
“I think the schools are too worried about their reputations and not enough about what a child needs,” Rabbi Blumenfeld told VIN News. “There is so much concern about finishing the curriculum, overly high standards and having better girls. It is a senseless competition that goes against the matara of Bais Yaakov.”
The goal of a girls school should be to transmit proper Jewish values and not to see how many Rambans students can learn in a year, observed Rabbi Blumenfeld.
“Down the road they are going to forget most of those Rambans but those middos will be with them for the rest of their lives,” said Rabbi Blumenfeld.
Boys’ yeshivos are plagued by the same failures as the girls’ schools and the situation will likely continue unless there is a public outcry demanding change, observed Rabbi Blumenfeld.
“There has to be a re-evaluation of the entire system,” said Rabbi Blumenfeld. “The world is changing so fast – today a generation is only two years – and our schools are not keeping up with that reality.”
Concluding his letter, Rabbi Blumenfeld challenged readers who live near the Kleins and the schools that rejected Malky to take a stand to prevent future heartbreak and tragedy.
“One word to our alumni who live in Boro Park,” wrote Rabbi Blumenfeld. “The ball is in your court.”
Read below the email sent out today by Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Blumenfeld the Rosh HaYeshiva at Yeshiva Neveh Zion in Israel.
Dear Alumni and Friends,
Once in a while something happens which so overwhelms me that I must share it with you, our alumni and friends. This time it was a story which occurred not long ago. At first I heard it from recent talmidim. I hesitated to write about it since I didn’t want to publicize something so negative about the system. It was a tragic story of a young girl who overdosed. But last week her father told her story and it was published in the Mishpacha, Issue 672, 17 Av – August 9, 2017. While I read the article, I was interrupted three times (yeshiva business) but each time I returned to it, I shed tears. I am sure others who read the article did so as well.
Malky was a young girl who suffered from severe learning disabilities. For her to concentrate was actually painful. We know what this is, as we observe in some of our talmidim. But she was a spirited girl and tried so hard. The first high school she was accepted to notified her the evening before the year was to begin that her acceptance was nullified. How do you do that? The second school dismissed her because she wasn’t intellectually mastering her studies. I don’t understand. What is the purpose of Bais Yaakov and educating girls? Is it to master Rambans on Chumash? Or is it to use Ramban’s on Chumash to help a young lady become a ba’alas middos and have the hashkafa, the Torah outlook of a bas Yisroel? Only if the purpose of your Bais Yaakov is to gain a reputation so that parents who can afford it will want to flock to your school, only such a motive can blind “educators” to think that mastering the curriculum is most important.
But the third school was the most absurd. She was asked to leave because she committed a hideous crime of giving another student a gift that was worth $20 and considered too much by the administration. Her father explained, “She was a new student and wanted to be friendly, she wanted to make friends. ‘No’, said the wise educator, ‘she wanted to buy off other students.” Is that giving the benefit of the doubt? Not only that but she actually brought a second, a new briefcase to school. Her father explained that to compensate for her having to switch schools again he got her a new briefcase which didn’t come until then. For this, you throw a girl out of your school and into the streets? Her father begged them not to ask her to leave until he finds a new school. But when he returned home she was lying on the floor and crying, with her books sprawled out – they didn’t wait.
Malky found acceptance on the streets, she got into the wrong crowd and eventually overdosed. She had not found acceptance, love, empathy, understanding or encouragement from those schools that contradict the values of the Torah and mitzvos they are meant to teach.
What I want to know is what was done with those “educators”? Was the principal that sent her away because of the gift and briefcase dismissed? Was the school closed? Such educators are not educators, they are murderers. Have the leaders of that community stood up and demanded changes in the ‘system’? Or are we just to sit back and perhaps shed a few tears and allow the system to cripple our children?
One word to our alumni who live in Boro Park, the ball is in your court.
Hatzlacha and kol tuv,