Anat Gopstein’s latest column in the Shabbat weekly Gilui Da’at:
This happens in the best of families
“Anat, I’m shocked! My student, involved with an Arab!” This is what an old friend, who works as a teacher in the ulpana, said to me. She couldn’t believe how it could happen that a good girl from a Torah family could fall into such a situation. The teacher testified that she knows the girl well and doesn’t understand how this happened. “It doesn’t fit her”, she said. The girl let her friend in on the secret forbidden relationship and asked her to keep it secret, but her friend could not keep such a secret, especially in light of the fact that this was a dangerous man, so she shared the secret with the teacher. The friend clarified details about him and saw the photos and videos he posted on the internet – photos of him with a weapon, showing support for terrorists and calling for attacks on Jews.
Of course, those are things that Facebook does not block, and that’s how she found out about the tangible danger hovering over her friend, beyond the fact of the terrible truth that she’s involved with a non-Jew. No doubt, she knew that a relationship with such a terrorist endangers her. The teacher said that the school did not know how to deal with such a reality. “We’ve had many special educational seminars, but nobody prepared us for this situation. I see your column in Gilui Da’at, and I told the principal that this is your area of expertise. Whatever you tell us – we will do. I didn’t think it could happen to us in the ulpana. This is a good, Torah-observant family. True, you write again and again that this happens in good families, too, but when it’s up close and personal – it’s terrible. If this happened to her, it can happen to other girls, too. We have to work to prevent it from happening. It’s hard for me to understand. This is something so significant that it means disconnecting from the Jewish people, and no one talks about it. And when it happens, we don’t have the tools to deal with it”
So I met with the hurting parents and the girl. It’s easy to break trust, but hard to get it back. Baruch Hashem, the good relationship that stood at the base of the relations between parents and girl, stood them in good stead at the time of crisis. The girl understood her mistake and wanted to correct it. She had extensive support from her parents and from the ulpana.
Today, she understands much better the meaning of her actions. She regrets them, and she’s even angry at herself for getting to such a state of affairs.
This month of Elul is much more meaningful to her than in any previous year. She so regrets her actions, and she knows that great is teshuva that brings a person closer to the Divine Presence. HaKadosh Baruch Hu does not give up on any of His sons and daughters. And we, who are commanded to follow in Hashem’s footsteps, must rise to the occasion and help our errant brothers and sisters who are wondering how to come back home.
“Bring us back to You, Hashem, and we will return”.