Sunday, January 31, 2016

Rich Roberts addresses the speech

From Only Simchas The Following was written by by Richard H. Roberts, M.D., Ph.D.
I have never spoken with Reb Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz, nor heard him speak, until a video of his speech last week regarding the Lakewood community vis-a-vis its school system. It is clear that Reb Shlomo is a tsaddik who cares about the suffering and welfare of Lakewood children and families and who uses his time, energy, thought, and money to try to rectify some of our challenges. The following information should enable him to more precisely identify the challenges to more effectively target his solutions.



The rejection of some children by Lakewood schools, beyond capacity limitations, is not due to arrogance, a lack of caring, or elitism. It is due to a desire to insulate pure souls, during their developmental years, from secular values and the pervasive electronic media which pushes those secular values in tempting and seductive packaging to children who do not yet understand the world around them.

Intel makes computer chips, and pharmaceutical companies make injectable drugs, in absolutely pure environments since introduction of contaminants during the formation process can ruin the resultant product. The more contaminants there are the greater the risk of a faulty product that is supposed to perform correctly when launched into the world.

Many people in Lakewood accept a life of severe economic hardship to live and raise their families in a pure Torah environment. In my experience, when a group of these people will leave a school if a certain student attends it is not due to some elitist, arrogant, or callous attitude but it is to protect the success of their most important product, their children.

During adolescence, children are developing their own identities separate from their parents and within the context of the group that surrounds them (which is a child’s society). The degree that secular values are permitted to enter that child’s society is an increased level of risk that the child’s development will be distracted or derailed from Torah values.

Not every Orthodox Jew agrees that the level of dress, exposure to electronic media, or extracurricular activities must meet the standards of the “greasy yeshivish” community (disclaimer – I love and respect “greasy yeshivish” and I financially support such people.). But the response should not be to try to force the “more-with-it” children into greasy-yeshivish schools. The correct target for Reb Shlomo should be to sponsor a range of more-with-it schools in Lakewood so that the entire range of frum children can be accommodated.

For example, one such boy’s school might be for those with video in the home but who want mostly Torah learning. Another such boy’s school might teach a couple of hours of Torah each day but mostly teach professions such as being a plumber, electrician, computer repair technician, and car repair expert. There would need to be a variety of girl’s schools too.

On a personal note, my first child was rejected from the Lakewood elementary school, that we applied to, three weeks before the school year was scheduled to start. For two weeks, I called multiple times to the school begging them to tell me why she was rejected. No one ever picked up the phone but I left messages explaining that I was not trying to get her into the school anymore but we just wanted to know if there was something that we needed to change or if I had insulted someone to whom I needed to apologize. For those two weeks, I felt that the Lakewood community had “spit me out” as Eretz Yisroel does to treif behavior.

Since my daughter was six years old, and my wife was from Bais Yaakov of Boro Park, I could only conclude that I must have damaged my child by my being a baal tsheuvah. We would need to move ASAP out of Lakewood so that my daughter could go to school. The pain, the hurt, the aching was indescribably deep and unrelenting. After two weeks of no reply from the school, we were told from friends who knew the administration that we were rejected because we had a video machine (VHS in those days) in our home which we used to play children’s videos (Uncle Moishe, Sesame Street, etc.). That day we gave our video machine to a kiruv organization. Our home became video-free. With one week left to the school year, we were accepted to another “right wing” girl’s school in Lakewood which subsequently educated all of my girls and to which I donated over $1.6MM years later when I had some financial success.

I understand the pain of having one’s child rejected from admittance to the school system. But the solution is not to force schools to accept children who do not represent what each particular school is trying to achieve. Reb Shlomo can do a lot of good by sponsoring additional schools which are designed to accept the children and families who do not fit the current schools’ objectives. Everyone agrees that every child is precious and deserves a Torah education. Reb Shlomo has demonstrated the caring and willingness to dedicate his resources to achieving this goal.

I hope that this essay will help him to refine his targeting to achieve a solution.

21 comments:

  1. They say a segulah for chachma is ashirus.....

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  2. That's ridiculous. Schools don't check if you have a dvd or Internet. It's who you know and how much you can help the school.

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    1. They certainly did in the past and many schools still try to the best of their abilities to screen incoming families.

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  3. Thank you Dr. Roberts for such a clear and lucid response. I too feel like the same way about schools in lakewood. Getting in to a "elite" school is not about status and the real truth is there is no such thing as an elite school. There is only the appropriate school for my children based on the values I adhere to in my home. If I try to force my children in to a school that isn't in line with my lifestyle I damage both my children and the other children in the school.

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    1. Who is the judge who decides whats in line and whats not inline. Whk makes sure that the jugde or judges have no conflict of interest?

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    2. Since the tzibur has abdicated its responsibility to fund and make community schools ,then any private person who makes a school has the right to be the judge . Right now the tzibur is more intetested in supporting mosdos out of town and in Eretz Yisroel ,than in local Mosdos . The tzibur has nobody to blame but themselves .

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  4. Thank you Doctor roberts. It's brave on your part to come out and say this

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    1. I say things like this all the time and no one calls me "brave".
      Suddenly if you win the lottery you become "brave" and "smart" and "genius" and "a visionary" and "amazing" and a "huge heart" and "warm" and "full of talent" and a "great basketball player".
      Its amazing, when hashem gives someone wealth he chooses the people who have every maalah in the book

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    2. Why are wealthy people listened too? Why are wealthy people on the board or directors etc? You know why.. Because wealthy people made a tremendous amount of good decisions, and went thru a tremendous amount of ups and downs to get to where they are in life. They are not listened to and respected because they have money. They are listened to and respected because of how they made there money. They are smart and fantastic decision makers. Proof is in their wealth and business decisions.

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    3. "They are not listened to and respected because they have money. They are listened to and respected because of how they made there money. They are smart and fantastic decision makers. Proof is in their wealth and business decisions."
      This is today's dose of kefira. Come back tomorrow for more.
      Peoples wealth has nothing to do with the decisions they made nor ups and downs. There are many poor people that made greater decisions and had more ups and downs than allot of wealthy people. A person can make all the right decisions and get nowhere. And a person can make all the wrong decisions and make billions.
      Wealthy people are wealthy because Hashem made them wealthy! They are no better than someone winning the lottery.

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  5. And now Rabbi Gelbwachs penned a letter on the scoop in defense of SYR. (Damage control by Freddie). He writes that elitism is across the board even by working parents etc.. but that is not what was said at the speech. The 5 Ani Maamins were directed at a certain group.

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    1. If SYR would not have the 1 friend from Lakewood feeding him his anti yeshiva views about Lakewood non of this would have happened

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  6. Since when do we listen to phd doctors or md's for our hashkofos?

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  7. You are just like the scoop. You choose and select the comments. You have an agenda and will not publish comments that disagree with your agenda

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    1. this is very true

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    2. Really? You're nto going to post rabbi gelbwahcs letter?

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  8. It's very nice that Rich Roberts has now chosen to pen a letter. Where has he been till now?

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  9. He got into a school at the end. What would have happened if his daughter didn't get in. He would have moved from lakewood to Who knows where. Would his family turned out the same? Would he be writing this letter? Was his daughter a bad influence on the school or was the school a good influence on her? Exactly Rechnitz's point every child deserves a chance!!

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    1. Great thought. Thank you

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  10. so you're not going to post rabbi gelbwahcs' letter bec it doesnt fit your agenda?

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  11. People say that SYR is an outsider but the TRUTH is that he is NOT because he has mainly one PERSON/SHADCHAN who is an INSIDER who feeds him all these opinions of his which are NOT the opinion of a BEN TORAH , its from a BALA BOS

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