The Lesson to be Learned from Keren and the Rest

I’ve had enough of the Keren story, at least for now. While gratified by the 1500 page views I received yesterday, I hope to attract visitors through my own writing on parenting, Israel, and the Jewish community. I’m still interested in the hyper-tzniut phenomenon, and I’ll continue to provide occasional updates. But I won’t be speculating about the truth of the abuse allegations and the reasons it may have occurred, nor will I be scouring the press for details.

Bli neder.

Instead, we can learn a valuable lesson from the recent reports of severe child abuse. Every family needs to be part of a connected, supportive community. This is especially important for those of us who made aliyah without our extended families. Last night I attended the bar mitzvah of a boy who lived near the family of the severely abused children from Jerusalem. The children’s neighbors expressed shock that such terrible things could go on without anyone noticing or reporting them. This family of American olim (immigrants), living in the center of the city, did not appear to be on anyone’s radar. And according to reports, the abused baby from Or Yehuda doesn’t have any family member with him in the hospital.

Wherever you live, there are things you can do right now to make your community stronger.

  • Call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
  • Help someone with a new or not-so-new baby: watch older kids, clear the sink, shop, or do the car pool run. Some communities arrange meals for two weeks after birth, but an extra meal can be helpful months down the road.
  • Don’t forget other times of transition including a move, pregnancy, illness or death in the family, hospital stay, or family simcha.
  • Some people know what kind of help they need, but others will need you to make suggestions. Remember that people are most reluctant to ask when they are at their lowest.
  • Don’t be intimidated by the neighbor who offers to prepare Shabbat meals for a family of ten without a second thought. You can make a different contribution.
  • If you can’t help with a specific request, locate someone who can.
  • When you see people struggling with their kids, give a hand or a few supportive words depending on the situation. Then make a note to discreetly check up later.
  • Actively seek out newcomers to the community and get them connected.
  • Seek to set up parenting education, breastfeeding support, and other services that strengthen young families.
  • Often the most important thing you can do is listen to and acknowledge a person’s feelings of frustration, exhaustion, or anxiety. Afterward you can make suggestions or share a solution that worked for you, but avoid giving advice.
  • Finally, set an example and ask for help for yourself; don’t pretend to be completely self-sufficient. Allow others to have the zechut (merit) of helping you.

Maybe, this way, a future tragedy can be prevented.

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Comments

  1. One of the great lessons I learned when my child was sick was the blessing of community and accepting (embracing!) the help that was offered. People offered help in very specific ways, not just “call me if you need anything”. A friend counseled me that to allow these people to do what they can makes them better people. I accepted the help, which allowed me to concentrate on my children and in that zechut I try to “pay it forward” when I hear that someone needs help.
    And I am working hard at developing my own personal community here in Israel.
    We are not meant to be alone on this earth. We need each other.
    Your post was worth waiting for.
    Shabbat Shalom!

  2. One of the great lessons I learned when my child was sick was the blessing of community and accepting (embracing!) the help that was offered. People offered help in very specific ways, not just “call me if you need anything”. A friend counseled me that to allow these people to do what they can makes them better people. I accepted the help, which allowed me to concentrate on my children and in that zechut I try to “pay it forward” when I hear that someone needs help.
    And I am working hard at developing my own personal community here in Israel.
    We are not meant to be alone on this earth. We need each other.
    Your post was worth waiting for.
    Shabbat Shalom!

  3. Just wanted to surface from lurkerville to say that this was a great post.

  4. Just wanted to surface from lurkerville to say that this was a great post.

  5. Thank you for clearing through the mire to make some practical sense of all of the emotional reactions one goes through in light of such a story.
    Reminders like this are important, particularly when, as in this case, they are more specific than “find ways to help”.
    I think that so many women hang in the balance of wanting to appear as if they are holding it all together perfectly, and needing to/wishing they could reach out.

  6. Thank you for clearing through the mire to make some practical sense of all of the emotional reactions one goes through in light of such a story.
    Reminders like this are important, particularly when, as in this case, they are more specific than “find ways to help”.
    I think that so many women hang in the balance of wanting to appear as if they are holding it all together perfectly, and needing to/wishing they could reach out.

  7. Garnel Ironheart says:

    When people decide that their neighbours happiness is really important, and those neighbours decide that too, the world will be a better place.
    Kol hakavod.

  8. Garnel Ironheart says:

    When people decide that their neighbours happiness is really important, and those neighbours decide that too, the world will be a better place.
    Kol hakavod.

  9. Anyone who does the things you’re suggesting will never be at a loss for friends. Nice job.

  10. Anyone who does the things you’re suggesting will never be at a loss for friends. Nice job.

  11. A really wonderful post, I’m going to link to it.

  12. A really wonderful post, I’m going to link to it.

  13. WaysofZion says:

    Wonderful post! you’ve hit the nail on the head!

  14. WaysofZion says:

    Wonderful post! you’ve hit the nail on the head!

  15. These are some great, practical ideas and thank you for them. It’s so important to have ideas as to how to help without being interfering. I think it’s also useful to offer this kind of help to people without children–everyone gets down now & then, and it’s good to feel connected.

  16. These are some great, practical ideas and thank you for them. It’s so important to have ideas as to how to help without being interfering. I think it’s also useful to offer this kind of help to people without children–everyone gets down now & then, and it’s good to feel connected.

  17. mominisrael says:

    Thank you, all, for your touching comments.

  18. mominisrael says:

    Thank you, all, for your touching comments.

  19. I AM here, and I LOVE your new look. It’s a fresh new clean page for Pesach!

  20. I AM here, and I LOVE your new look. It’s a fresh new clean page for Pesach!

  21. “And Miriam Shaviv based her article on English sources from the internet (including my blog, which she did not bother to reference). She added no new information.”
    Point of information: I am a native Hebrew speaker and based my opinion piece on the Hebrew-language articles in Ha’aretz and Ma’ariv – as I clearly and repeatedly said in my piece. The JC, where I published my piece, also ran a news piece on the burka phenomenon the same week as my op-ed which I relied on as well. I do read your blog – and enjoy it – and so was a little taken back to see you stating your wrong assumptions as fact on Emes Ve-Emunah.
    Best,
    Miriam Shaviv

  22. “And Miriam Shaviv based her article on English sources from the internet (including my blog, which she did not bother to reference). She added no new information.”
    Point of information: I am a native Hebrew speaker and based my opinion piece on the Hebrew-language articles in Ha’aretz and Ma’ariv – as I clearly and repeatedly said in my piece. The JC, where I published my piece, also ran a news piece on the burka phenomenon the same week as my op-ed which I relied on as well. I do read your blog – and enjoy it – and so was a little taken back to see you stating your wrong assumptions as fact on Emes Ve-Emunah.
    Best,
    Miriam Shaviv

  23. mominisrael says:

    Okay Miriam–I went to RHM and posted an apology, which is awaiting moderation. Thanks for the compliment.

  24. mominisrael says:

    Okay Miriam–I went to RHM and posted an apology, which is awaiting moderation. Thanks for the compliment.

  25. Excellent post.
    Just remember that “extreme” behavior may be the sign of an “extreme” problem.

  26. Excellent post.
    Just remember that “extreme” behavior may be the sign of an “extreme” problem.

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