May 26, 2024
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May 26, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I would like to commend Rabbi Rothwachs and The Jewish Link for bringing the issue of high school admissions to the public’s attention. Personally, it did not need to be brought to my attention because I was already quite aware. Two years ago my son was not accepted to any local yeshiva. Even though he had spent his entire life in this community and had a pretty uneventful elementary school experience, he didn’t make the cut. He never had any incidents with drugs or alcohol, never failed any class, never got into a fight with anyone and we applied to two schools. There were many people who advocated for him, but the basic response everyone gave us is that “we are not the only yeshiva.” I remember saying at the time, “That may be so, but you are my only community.” After months of waiting and hoping, we chose to enroll him in another yeshiva outside of Bergen County. He was forced to make all new friends and his commute to school became considerably longer. (When I say considerable I don’t mean another 10 minutes, but I will leave it at that.) Many would say that making new friends and having a longer commute are not such terrible tragedies, and if that were the only impact I would agree.

But here is the really upsetting part of our story. My son was deeply hurt by being rejected. The shock, confusion, shame, sadness, guilt (for nothing) and hopelessness is very real and quite painful. There is no way to describe what it is like for a parent to have to convince their child that there is nothing wrong with them when all of their friends have been accepted to school and they have not. This experience has had a terrible impact on his self-esteem. Over the past couple of years he has become more withdrawn and less committed in many other ways. I wish I could tell you that there will be a happy end to this story. Who knows? Maybe one day there will be. For now, though, I can say that the impact of being one of the few who are rejected in a community our size is terribly demoralizing and can have permanent effects. Rabbi Rothwachs emphasized how “complex” this situation is. To be honest, however, when it is your child who has been rejected it does not really seem all that complex. I see it as plain unjust. I would like to sign my name to this letter and wish I could. If I could be sure it were to have no continued impact upon my child I would proudly sign my name. Maybe one day I will, but for now I will have to simply sign as “a pained parent who could be any one of us.”

Name Withheld on Request
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