Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Pain I Own

It's Sunday, the weather is wonderful, and Los Angeles is, well, paradise. If it weren't for the fact that my two youngest children were bullied by classmates today, I might not have many cares in the world.

My son's bullying was physical, with him being kicked by an extremely obnoxious older school mate, Hashem should forgive me, whose made my baby his second victim in my family. My daughter, on the other hand, was at a birthday party, and "the cousins" as they are un-affectionately known, five little girls the same age and all, you guessed it, first cousins, told not nice stories about her. This reduced her to tears twice during the party, and had me beside myself when I came to pick her up.

These are children brought up in extremely religious homes, in families that have been Lubavitch, or Chabad, for many years. And it's an epidemic in our closed circle, and one that barely gets the attention it deserves. These children are admonished every day to "love their fellow Jew" yet do the opposite. I cringe at the thought that they get this from their home, but most bad habits, especially bullying, comes from there.

What to do? Well, I called the mother of the boy, but my phone went dead so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. But "the cousins"? My dear friend, whose daughter survived a particular bad bout of bullying in this same closed circle, advised starting with the principal and ending with Jewish Family Services. Don't let up.

It's not just a matter of empowering your child. My children know how I feel about them and how wonderful they are. It's about making them feel safe. They shouldn't have to go to school and feel threatened, not a school that hangs pictures of the Rebbe all over. Because I Rebbe I knew, the Rebbe I met, I Rebbe I love, wouldn't permit this behavior.

When my children are in pain, I'm in pain. I imagine the world in pain as well.

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