Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Return Policy

Rachel Ginsberg

They’re committed to building solid Torah homes long after their early years of rejection, rebellion, or at-risk behavior, yet the baggage of the past continues to challenge their smooth return to the fold. Feeling the pain of a demographic dangling in a vacuum, Rabbi Efraim Stauber has created a safety net to help yesterday’s success stories stay winners.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Eleven years ago, Rabbi Efraim Stauber — a kollel yungerman fresh out of Rav Yitzchak Soloveitchik’s beis medrash — walked into the gym on his first day on the job at Kesher, a yeshivah in Jerusalem for young men from religious families who “went off the derech” somewhere along the way. Rabbi Stauber, hired to be the “let’s reintroduce you to Gemara” rebbi to a motley crew of once-frum American boys who’d gotten entangled in the temptations of secular society, scanned his talmidim. They were in various states of dress, which generally featured hostile-looking T-shirts. Some were lifting weights, sweating away to heavy-metal music. One boy, though, was wearing a button-down white shirt, and Rabbi Stauber stuck out his hand in relief, assuming he too was a staff member. Rabbi Stauber remembers that awkward first conversation. “I asked him, ‘So, what’s your position here?’ To which he responded something like ‘Yo, I’m a bochur dawg.’ I was a little confused, but he quickly clarified by pointing at himself and saying slowly ‘I’m a bochur…[pause]’ then he pointed at me and said dramatically ‘dawg…’ Wow. I knew I’d be expected to learn how to ‘chill’ but I was still amazed at the role reversal where he became the yeshivah bochur and I who had just spent 20 years in yeshivah was demoted to canine status.” When the well-meaning, sincere avreich initially planned his transition from kollel to chinuch, he had hoped to teach a Gemara shiur in a mainstream American yeshivah. “But Hashem basically tricked me into teaching at Kesher,” chuckles Rabbi Stauber, who came to realize — from life in those trenches — not to put a label on himself, or on any part of the complex spectrum of personalities he’s engaged with over the years. He’s seen many boys at their worst, but just as many tenaciously struggling to be their best, making a turnaround, reconnecting to Torah values, pulling themselves together, and bravely embracing or reembracing Jewish life. But these “success stories,” he notes, all too often lack the “happily ever after” ending.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you