Helping Our Students Deal with Family Crises

Rav Chollak bringing child for brocha w Rav ChaimIn recent times, family crises abound and our students are directly affected. Due to the tremendous interest expressed by hundreds of principals in practical tools for dealing with the personal challenges of students, principals and Chinuch Atzmai supervisors were invited to a seminar on the influence of the school when a personal situation is threatening to topple the girl’s emotional stability.

The seminar was  hosted by Ezer Mizion with the collaboration of the Bnei Brak Municipality and centered on the theme of “Imah Anochi, I am with her,” the sincere wish to be with the struggling student, to share her burden, and ease her way. A vital facet of the seminar was providing the right tools such as the open phone line for consultation with Ezer Mizion experts in every case of a girl struggling in the face of serious illness or death of a family member.

The hundreds of principals and supervisors were spellbound by the moving examples from the field, as told by Rabbi Zev Freund, Director of Ezer Mizion’s Cancer Patient Support Services. He shared chilling stories attesting to the magnitude of the crisis and the frightening depth of the abyss into which these girls can fall.

Mrs. Ruth Weinberg, Chinuch Atzmai Counselor Supervisor explained that at times of family crisis, the school is the student’s anchor; it serves as an oasis of routine and stability in a world that has crumbled into pieces.

Rabbi Chananya Chollak, International Chairman of Ezer Mizion, described methods of dealing with incidents of illness and death in families of students. He shared with the principals terrifying stories, which are his daily fare, each of them heartbreaking and raising many dilemmas. Alongside the sad stories, Rabbi Chollak commented that, every day, he sees the power of Torah and the open miracles that take place after Hagaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita gives his berachah (blessing), and how patients who were at death’s door emerged from their illness and achieved full recovery.

Rabbi Eliezer Sorotzkin, Director of Chinuch Atzmai, spoke, with great pain, of the inconceivable number of Bait Yaakov (religious school) girls dealing with illness or other crisis in the family. “We cannot close our eyes,” he cried. “We must learn the optimal way to act in such cases. True, people don’t always know what to say or how best to act. But an educator has no choice; he must deal with it. And if he doesn’t know what to say and do, he is obligated to seek the counsel of someone who does know and to obtain guidance, so that there should never be a student of ours who is struggling and not receiving a response.”

He emphasized that the greatest source of coping power is the gift of emunah, faith in G-d. Therefore, the teaching staff must light up the emunah in the students’ hearts. “This force is the unique power of the Chinuch Atzmai teachers and principals, who are themselves Bait Yaakov (religious schools)  alumnae, and must be utilized to support the struggling girls at times of crisis.”

The hundreds of principals and supervisors listened eagerly to the words of Rebbetzin Leah Kolodetsky, who delivered the berachah (blessing) of her esteemed father, Maran Hagaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, that all the participants in the seminar “will merit all the blessings written in the Torah.” The Rebbetzin’s lengthy letter of advice can be obtained by emailing cmiller@ezermizionusa.org .

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