Monday, January 10, 2011

“Our Place” In Danger of Closing Due To Lack of Funds [Video]

Back in 1998, a youth center for “at risk ” orthodox Jewish youth known as Our Place opened up in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Because of its grounding in Jewish tradition, it opened in two separate locations for boys and girls.

Unfortunately, there are all too many children from orthodox Jewish homes who are out on the streets, on drugs or out of school. Aside from the standards specific to the Jewish community of sabbath and kosher laws, these boys and girls served by Our Place are often engaged or at risk of engaging  in manifestly self destructive behaviors.

Our Place opened its doors with games, food and where accepted, counseling.  It is a safe, supervised environment. Those who find it within themselves to go into drug rehab, further their education or whatever else is appropriate to better their situation are given resources to assist them. There are people who are now in school, a job or happily married who were able to arrive at these joyous milestones in their lives because of help they received at Our Place.

The help that has been extended to  around 8000 kids at Our Place has been possible due to a mix of government funding and private donations. Government funding for Our Place has dried up completely. Private donations are way down, because of the troubled state of the US economy.

By any reckoning, Our Place performs a valuable function. By combating drug use and other social ills, it serves the needs of the larger society. Looked at from a Jewish perspective, it gives children who are close to or over the edge a solid psychological foundation upon which to build a Jewish life. Because it is culturally sensitive to orthodox Jewish life, even a young adult who is no longer observant can speak with someone who understands how he or he grew up.

Before he led the Jewish people out of Egypt, Moshe was a shepherd. A small sheep became separated from his flock, and Moshe went out and brought it back, instead of writing it off as inventory shrinkage. In the merit of rescuing that sheep, Moshe was seen by G-d as being worthy of leading the Jewish people, in Egypt and out of exile.

The people who run“Our Place” share with Moshe the conviction that not one Jewish soul is expendable. The comparson between Moshe and the stray sheep he rescued on G-d’s behalf is an obvious one. The children who have left Judaism are not ours to write off. They are G-d’s children and it is our duty to assist the able shepherds who seek these children out. If we are worthy of the heritage of Judaism’s greatest prophet, the doors of Our Place must remain open.

Click here for link to original article in Globe Tribune.Info with video and links

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