Friday, June 02, 2023

As an educator for many years I daily thanked HKBH for the zechus of working with our beautiful Jewish children and hoped to help promote their love of Yiddishkeit while caring for their emotional well-being. Isn’t that what chinuch should be all about?

Having now heard from some parents in our community, it is very concerning that once our children reach eighth grade in our yeshivot they enter a time of turmoil, anxiety and in some cases depression. All this is caused by the ordeal of applying to yeshiva high schools.

One would think that the Jewish high schools would empathize with our children. One would think that the high schools would be understanding and treat each child and their parents with kindness. But that seems not to be the case in some high schools in our area.

Students are rejected in our community schools in a flippant and almost cruel manner; the school and its admission personnel seem not to care at all. Parents are afraid to question and complain because “it may make the situation worse.” Parents whose children are enrolled do not seem concerned about those who are hurting. It is as if they say “as long as my child is accepted I am afraid of saying anything.”

Siblings may be attending a certain school, yet their well-behaved sibling is rejected for no apparent reason and there seems to be no recourse. How do we think the rejected sibling feels? Should we not care about their yiddishe neshomos? Rabbis plead for their congregants’ children and are ignored. Responses from schools are almost monosyllabic and unsympathetic.

Are certain high schools all-powerful? Have mechanchim and school boards forgotten why we are in chinuch? Don’t we have a responsibility to make our local children feel welcome in our schools before looking to recruit from out of our area? How dare we tamper with a 14-years-old’s mental health and well-being? This is simply not the Torah way. We need to show all Jewish children that we care about them, and that seems not to be the case here. Leaders of the community must work together in a sensitive, caring way to safeguard our future and truly be mechanech the students, the parents and the community.

S. Dworken Koss
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