Anat Gopstein’s latest column in the Shabbat publication “Gilui Da’at”:
May I merit to raise children and grandchildren, wise and intelligent
I write this column in tears over my dear and beloved brother-in-law Rafael Dayan zt”l, who returned his soul to the Creator. Raphael was a righteous and honest man who was privileged to establish together with my sister Gila a holy, righteous generation. May his memory be blessed.
Everyone wants successful children, but this doesn’t always go as it should; the girl or boy does foolish things and endangers him/herself. One of the most difficult things in my work is to stand before a parent who is disappointed that his daughter is grazing in foreign pastures. The great disappointment at times gives birth to estrangement and disconnection, and instead of fighting over the girl – they fight against her, which disconnects even further.
The parents’ difficulty is heartbreaking; feelings of guilt, shame, disappointment and despair. The question is asked: How does it happen that with families, instead of having great expectations, we allow ourselves to break the dishes, threaten, shout, insult?
Such ‘education’ does not promote anything, but only creates estrangement between parents and children. At times it seems like the child is not listening and that the parental voice is not necessary. But especially at these moments, we should remember that parenthood is leadership, and it’s tested precisely in the difficult moments. Our parents’ voice goes with us the whole way and resonates with us all the time. This is conscience, and our own conscience. And we as parents should sound our voice, set clear limits, while our voice is wrapped up and padded with love.
Last week, I got a letter from a mother that her girl left the village. An amazing mother, who fought the whole way over her girl, and for the moment she hasn’t fallen into despair. This is what she wrote to me: “Anat, I would like to make contact through you with the parents of those daughters who fall into dangerous situations, and of assimilating girls. Don’t lock up your hearts, don’t threaten ‘it’s either us or him’, because that won’t help. Don’t say ‘you are not our daughter’. Don’t erase the girl, and don’t lose her. Come back, speak with her and try to understand her world. What led her to do such a thing. True, it’s not nice, it’s a source of shame for the whole family and the neighbors, and together with pangs of conscience that we have failed to educate her, this is very difficult. But I ask you: Judge her favorably. She’s not acting out of evil, G-d forbid. This is naievete.”
She went on, writing: “Please don’t turn your back on her. Remain a loving mother, remain a loving father. Pray that Hashem opens her eyes, and never despair of your girl. Fight for your girl. Give her a place in your heart.”
And something else: “Don’t be ashamed to ask for professional help. Ask for help! Don’t be alone.
“To my joy, the Lehava organization, here in order to help, more than once, when things were fragile, they did not despair of my daughter and strengthened me, and in the end, that is what brought my daughter back home”, this dear mother concluded.
And for me, the only thing left is to get excited and gather up my forces to continue the activity and the struggle to save Jewish girls.