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Inbox: Issue 921

“Placing out-of-town communities near the North Pole was a total lack of sensitivity, belittling the place we live and hold dear”


Always Our Rebbi [Just Like His Children / Issue 920]

As a talmid who also has the zechus to live in the yeshivah neighborhood, it’s been an extremely hard week since we suddenly lost our rebbi and rosh yeshivah, Rav Shmuel Levin ztz”l. I had the zechus to have a very close shayachus as a talmid for over 25 years. We called Reb Shmuel “Rebbi” because that was who he was to us. He taught us through his shiurim, Chumash shiurim, shmuessen, and by example.

There was nothing we couldn’t ask, and there was never a time that Rebbi wasn’t thinking about us and ready to guide us through life. Although I officially left the yeshivah many years ago, I really never left. Rebbi wouldn’t have let me leave even if I had tried.

When something was going on in our home, I could count on a text or “chance” encounter with Rebbi on the street asking how I was and offering chizuk. If I asked Rebbi for hadrachah, he would always follow up and ask how things were going.

The reason I went to the yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael that I did was because Rebbi thought it was the right makom for me, and arranged for me to meet the mashgiach for that yeshivah. It was not a yeshivah that Telshe bochurim normally went to, but he made sure to clear it with his father, Rav Avrohom Chaim Levin ztz”l, and explain why I should go. When he heard that I was planning on coming back from Eretz Yisrael earlier than he felt that I should, I got a message to call Rebbi so he could try to convince me to stay longer, even if it meant switching yeshivos.

When Rebbi took over his father’s shiur a little over two years before his father’s petirah, it just meant that more hours were added to the day in order to be there for everyone. That’s what a rebbi is and that is what Rebbi was. Watching the hundreds of people coming to be menachem avel this week and hearing the many hespedim and divrei chizuk delivered has given me an added understanding of who we lost. My only hope is to take all I learned from Rebbi and to continue to live my life in a way that he would approve of.

Shimmy Atlas, Shechunas Telshe, Chicago


Our Hands Are Tied [Inbox / Issue 919]

The letter “A System Built on Volunteerism,” in which Y.S. of Brooklyn writes about his wife leaving one of her teaching positions, hit a raw nerve. My husband and I are both in chinuch. My husband was teaching in a school where he was only teaching four periods a week while transitioning out of kollel. When a new school opened up in the neighborhood for the same age group, he was immediately offered a job. When he went to ask permission from the first school, they told him, “You can’t teach there if you want to teach here.” The principal then reprimanded him for the fact that he was also teaching a few hours a week in another school an hour away.

When we were growing up, our schools encouraged us to go into chinuch, but then those very schools tie our hands behind our back. How is my husband supposed to support his family if he is only allowed to teach in one school where they won’t give him more periods (because, they said, they want each grade to have a different rebbi)? Why should a young father have to exhaust himself and commute to so many different neighborhoods in order to fill his teaching hours when there are local schools that would like to have him but refuse to share? At one point, he was teaching in four different communities each an hour or more away, because he wasn’t allowed to teach in the other local school if he wanted to keep his first job.

Covid wound up being a blessing, because he was able to teach on Zoom during those few months and finally didn’t have to come home so exhausted every day from his many commutes. And even together with my teaching job, we can barely get through the month.

Although I love teaching and love being in a school environment, I’m sad to say that I’m discouraging my kids from going into chinuch. We must rectify this situation, not just with talk but in real time, before we lose our future star mechanchim.

Name Withheld (so that we can at least keep the jobs we have)


Another School of Thought [Inbox / Issue 919]

I’ve been reading the many letters about teachers looking for different job ideas. I was surprised that no one mentioned public school. I was a morah for many years, and I loved my job and loved being on the same schedule as my children. But I hated having to beg for raises, better hours, improved working conditions, etc. I was frustrated that because I was a woman I could never ask for as much money as a male teacher.

I have two master’s degrees in education and I walked into my local public school, where I’ve been for the last five years. Things aren’t perfect, but I have a set raise every year and my salary is based on my years of experience plus my level of education. Planning time is built into the workday, and no one expects you to bring papers home. And of course there are the benefits like health insurance and pension.

There are definitely challenges; Yom Tov and yeshivah break are hard, and I no longer work in a frum environment. But there’s a huge opportunity to make a kiddush Hashem and do kiruv, since so many teachers are Jewish.  It’s definitely something that experienced teachers can look at as a great work option, where they can keep using the skills they’re already good at, but have many more lucrative options.

T. Richmond


Children Need Two Parents [Little Could Be More Damaging / Issue 919]

I respect that this magazine is for a frum audience, and as such, I understand if you don’t want to publish this letter. However, as a formerly religious person, I’d like to express the deep pain I felt when I read Dr. Wikler’s article regarding the damage that children experience when alienated from a parent.

I was once a successful frum Yid, with a devoted wife and a beautiful family, but for reasons that are irrelevant here, I no longer follow halachah.

My wife watched my transformation and was absolutely shattered when I admitted to her that I was OTD. She sought guidance from her rav, who advised her to divorce me immediately and assured her that he would personally help her fight to gain custody of our children. When my wife resisted, he sat me down and told me unequivocally that if I didn’t resume practicing mitzvos exactly as I had before, he would do everything in his power to ensure that I lost custody of my children. With all the changes I was going through at the time, the one thing that I knew with absolute clarity was that my children needed their father. So I agreed to his demands.

It has been a number of years since then. Thankfully, my wife has found rabbanim who have helped us figure out how to make our marriage work. I keep my lack of faith a secret and we send our children to a slightly more open school than the more yeshivish one my wife would have originally picked.

There is a perception that people like me want to destroy our children’s Yiddishkeit. The reality is that although many of us do want our children to be raised in a slightly less religiously intense environment than the one we were raised in, we are often willing to compromise. We want stability for ourselves and our children and we recognize that our frum spouse is just as entitled to make parenting decisions as we. Finding a compromise and sending your children to a school that is perhaps just slightly below your hashkafic standards often has a far smaller spiritual impact than the devastation wrought on your children by engaging in a protracted custody battle that estranges them from a parent.

Some people in the frum community are quick to endorse parental alienation when one spouse is no longer religious. They forget Dr. Wikler’s headline that “little could be more damaging” than tearing a child away from their parents.”

Furthermore, over the years I have seen the truth of Dr. Wikler’s statement, “The paradox of parental alienation is that it often backfires.” The best chance that a frum spouse has of raising the children frum with an OTD husband or wife is by finding a way to compromise and make the familial relationship work.

Gaining custody and alienating the OTD spouse may work in the short term, but invariably, when the children get older, they reconcile with the estranged parent. But at that point, the damage has been done. Alienating the OTD spouse is inhumane and cruel to the children and will ultimately fail.

A Formerly Frum Father


Just as Precious [Open Mic / Issue 919]

Dear Bochur Constantly Rejected,

Your letter was fantastic and you made excellent points. There are some truly wonderful boys (and girls) who are rejected for purely superficial reasons that reflect external circumstances and not character faults.

It’s hard to believe that we wouldn’t solve at least part of the shidduch crisis if more people gave these boys and girls a chance.

But why do you call yourself a diamond in the rough? You are as much a diamond as any other boy from a more standard home. (I wouldn’t risk setting my daughter up with a rough diamond; what if he never gets polished properly?) Perhaps a better analogy would be a diamond that has been set into an inferior setting. That diamond is just as valuable as any other. It just needs a better setting to bring out its best characteristics.

Name Withheld


Been There [Open Mic / Issue 919]

This is in response to the young bochur who deserves a “yes” but who instead is “constantly rejected.” Your friends talk of the kitchen tables overflowing with résumés and you have a hard time getting a date. I imagine that’s really hard. You describe yourself as a “diamond in the rough.” You sound like a thoughtful, sincere young man and you definitely deserve a yes.

I have been out of the shidduch scene for a while, baruch Hashem, but I did spend five years in the system, and I have some practical suggestions for you.

  1. Stay in your lane. It might sound blunt or maybe obvious, but it’s worth saying. Just like you don’t come from the perfect family situation, there are many girls who don’t either. Since the shidduch system is so stacked against girls to begin with, girls (especially girls from complicated families) are usually more open than boys are to dating boys from atypical backgrounds. When girls from those situations are mentioned to you (or your parents), make sure that you are taking those suggestions seriously.
  2. Girls from baal teshuvah backgrounds are usually way more open-minded to boys from more eclectic backgrounds. Even girls who grew up more modern and moved to the right are typically more open-minded about family. Perhaps you can speak to shadchanim from those types of shuls and communities.
  3. This is just my opinion, but I think if there is something in your background that is extreme or unusual that most people would be scared off from (something more than parents being divorced or having an OTD sibling, which are common), then you have to make sure that you are adequately distanced from it. It should be obvious to people that you are different from your family. That may mean moving out of your parents’ house, for example.

I’ve been where you are and maybe it was likely harder for me as a girl. I’m giving you these suggestions based on personal experience and the experience of my friends.

There is a great girl out there for you who will not be scared off by your family background. Stay positive and confident.


A mother from Passaic


Hail Out-of-Towners [The Kichels / Issue 919]

I was deeply disturbed by the latest Kichels in which a “Frum Former New Yorker’s View of the World” was depicted. The comic portrayed communities such as Lakewood, Monsey, Boro Park, etc., as the center of the world, while more out-of-town communities like Chicago were displayed as being on some distant planet. As a girl who went to a brand-name, high-caliber seminary, I’ve lived with many in-towners for the past year. While in-town life offers many privileges, they certainly do not override or outweigh the benefits of out-of-town communities.

Yes, to an in-towner, Lakewood is the center of the universe, and even New York has become slightly out-of-towny. Yet nothing can take away from the warmth and general lack of societal pressure in an out-of-town community, period.

Placing out-of-town communities near the North Pole was a total lack of sensitivity, belittling the place we live and hold dear. Even in the Lakewood empire, it is clear to all what assets out-of-towners are, adding so much to the ruach there. I hope that in the future, the Kichels will highlight the inherent value of the out-of-towner, and not belittle them unjustly.

Annoyed Out-of-Towner


Grateful for Quality [Where Our Fathers Left Off / Issue 919]

The most recent issue of Mishpacha had a nice, detailed article on Beit She’an. While I didn’t swallow every assertion made in the article, some of the information was new to me, and some of it so well presented that I’ve saved it for reference if — b’ezras Hashem — I ever write my Roman novel.

Mrs. H. Meyer


With Happiness and Gratitude [Do Svidaniya, Russia / Issue 918]

I read the interview with Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt with tears in my eyes. Tears of happiness that I was lucky enough to know this family for many years; tears of thanks for everything that the Goldschmidt family has done for the entire Moscow community, and for many of us personally; and tears of pride in the position the Goldschmidt family has taken despite the enormous risks involved for themselves and their family.

Almost all religious leaders of Russia, representing many faiths, unilaterally came out in support of the war in Ukraine, despite the fact that the main commandment of these religions is “Do not kill.” Thank you, Rabbi Goldschmidt, for showing Russia, and the entire world, an astounding kiddush Hashem by reaffirming that Jews strive for peace, love, and kindness.

Despite the fact that the Goldschmidts have temporarily ceased their activities in Russia (I don’t believe that this is a permanent hiatus), their herculean efforts did not go to waste. Their students and followers are spread out around the world.

Every night before I go to sleep, I thank Hashem that I live in a peaceful country, am sleeping in my own bed and not in a bomb shelter like those in Ukraine, and that I’m not scared of arrests and Stalinesque repressions like my peers in Russia. This is the zechus of the entire Goldschmidt family, whom I met almost 30 years ago in Moscow, and who’ve played an enormous role in mine and my family’s life.

I want to wish Rabbi and Mrs. Goldschmidt mazel, brachah, hatzlachah, and nachas in their new stage of life.

Liza B., Oak Park, MI


Strike Two [Second Thoughts / Issue 916]

I always wonder how Rabbi Emanuel Feldman combines his Yiddishkeit with his interest in baseball. Years ago, for example, the New York Yankees had a star player named Reggie Jackson, whose nickname was “Mr. October.” Does Rabbi Feldman refer to Jackson as “Mar Cheshvan”?

Eddie Steinberg, Teaneck, N.J.


Mishpacha Shidduch [Loads of Profit / Issue 896]

Issue #896 featured Nachshon Fertel on your front cover. My son, Naftali, who is close friends with Nachshon and in yeshivah with him, was very excited when he was featured in your magazine. He proceeded to tell me all about Nachshon, and after reading your article I realized that I knew a perfect shidduch for him. Thank you, Mishpacha, for your inspiration!

Mazel tov to Nachshon Fertel and Chasida Luriei on your recent engagement.  May you be zocheh to build a bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael! And feel free to feature more single men in your magazine!

R.L. Rosenberg


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 921)

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