Rember The Orphan At Your Gates
Even now, I remind myself of this quote from the Tanach.
All my life, I have been propelled by my Jewish values and teachings.
I have been an active member of several synagogues, from childhood to adulthood.
I’ve been to Israel four times.
I have taught Jewish kids from preschool to high school.
Together with my husband (with whose support, none of this year would have happened), we have raised three children seeped in a loving Jewish home.
But 2018, the year a non-Jewish kid found his way to our family, was the year I felt I lived most closely to living the mitzvot of the Torah.
Saving a Life.
Fighting for Justice.
Remembering the orphan, the stranger at your gates.
All five of us, starting with my youngest son, we all had our part in helping and guiding this young man as he made the big leap from high school to college.
But this is not his story.
I will not go into the details of his abuse and neglect, I myself don’t even know the extent of it.
That is his to tell, when and if he ever chooses to tell it.
This is the story of how, for a brief period of time, his life intersected with the lives of my family and the extended community, most of the big players from the Jewish community that rushed to support him.
Though he and I do not agree on everything at the moment, and it is hard to say if this is the end of our story or not, what we do agree on is that this is a story that should be told.
So, if you happen to be that kid who feels in danger at home, or who has been rejected or disowned or abused by a parent because of your gender or sexual identity, maybe the story I will unfold here in this post and subsequent posts will give you some hope.
That it does get better.
That there is a way out, onward and upward to college and a better life.
That, though you may feel you live in isolation now, there are people who care and will advocate and fight for you,
will house you and provide love and nourishment for you, and will guide you to the best of their abilities as long as you want it.
Even if your own family will not.
And if you are a teacher, school administrator, a youth advisor, clergy and you suspect abuse or neglect, you are mandated to report. You are mandated to advocate for that child and not turn them back to the hands of their alleged abuser. You are mandated to report upon penalty of fines and even imprisonment.
That if a kid walks into a counseling office and says, I think I’m in danger of becoming homeless because my father is going to kick me out when I turn 18, you don’t just say to him, okay, here is some paperwork to fill out.
This is a tale that demonstrates that parental abuse and neglect are not exclusive to socioeconomic boundaries.
That there are kids who are living scared and neglected even in the most leafy of suburbs.
For nine, nearly 10 months, I tried.
This is not his story.
This is my story of how I tried.