From the COLlive Inbox:
Tishrei 9 – October 7
Erev Yom Kipper
Before I begin, I want to apologize to anyone who feels this is insensitive or written “too soon” – this is too important and serious to wait and must be addressed while it is still somewhat fresh in our minds and hearts.
The horrific news we heard this past summer about sweet little Leiby Kletzky OBM is an absolute tragedy. A fellow Mommy and Tatty had to bury their 8 year old son – I think it’s very unfortunate that it takes something like this to wake up a community and the world.
Everyone was deeply shocked by the story that unfolded. But, as time goes by, people tend to move on and go back to their usual daily lives almost as if nothing had happened. WHY? What will it take for us to finally open our eyes and see what goes on right beneath our noses everyday?
• I see little girls and boys taking their even younger siblings for a walk down the street for some ice cream and then absentmindedly walking across the street without holding hands or being aware – as their 5 year old brother narrowly misses being struck by a car r”l as he playfully runs across the street after them.
• I see little tiny kinderlach walking home from school or a friend’s house – wearing backpacks as big as they are – with not an adult in sight. Why is this still happening?
• I see Tatties bring their yingelach to shul on Shabbos mornings and let them run around and play outside for hours unattended – am I the only one that sees a problem with this?
We are holding right before Yom Kipper and HaShem wants to seal each and every one of us for a year of good health. We don’t know His master plan, but we do know that everything, no matter how tragic, happens for a reason.
There’s a story of a man that is shipwrecked on an island. As the days turn to weeks and he’s running out of food and supplies, he sees a small raft in the distance. As the raft approaches, the man is enticed to board – but instead stays on the island, stands in prayer and waits for a “sign” from G-d to save him. This episode repeats itself several times as larger, well-equipped vessels visit the island. But still, the man, who by now has completely run out of food and yet is firm in his place – still awaits his “sign” from above.
A short time later, the man leaves this world and stands for judgment in front of his Creator. He argues with the Master of the world, pleading that he prayed for a “sign” – why wasn’t he saved? The Holy One responds that He sent the man many “signs”, in the form of ships that had passed through the island. This was meant to be his wake up call – but unfortunately like many of us, he missed the boat.
I believe that the tremendous pain and heartbreak that the Kletzky family is going through should be taken as a “sign” for all of us!
We need to come together as a community and educate our children. We can’t take this lightly – we need to be firm and arm them with the tools they need to be safe. I encourage organizations such as Hatzolah and Jewish Family Service to put together town hall meetings to open a dialog between parents and community leaders to discuss what steps need to be taken moving forward.
It brings tears to my eyes when I think of what these parents must be going through… I can only imagine. I think about how lucky we all are that it wasn’t one of our kinder r”l – that one of us didn’t receive the news that no parent ever wants to hear – but we need to wake up and realize how easily it could have been r”l. Ad Mosai?!
G’mar Chatima Tova,
Los Angeles, CA
What to Teach Your Child About Safety
1. Don’t talk to people you don’t know or answer their questions. (Don’t use the word “stranger.” If an adult is nice, they can make friends with a child in a minute.)
2. Before you go anywhere with anyone, always get your mom or dad’s permission.
3. Never help an adult do something if mom or dad aren’t right there. Grown-ups do not need help finding puppies or kittens. Grown-ups do not need children to help them carry something to the car or into the house. Nor do they ask kids for directions.
4. Never go with an adult who says mom or dad have been hurt and are in the hospital; never go with an adult who says your mom or dad asked them to pick you up for any reason. Don’t go anywhere with a stranger; run away into a store or other public space if you have to. Parents and children should decide on a special code word like “parakeet.” If anyone picks you up, they must know that secret word.
5. Your body is your own personal business. If anyone asks you personal questions or touches you in any way that makes you feel uncomfortable, say “no,” leave them and tell your mom, dad, teacher or adult in charge.
6. If you need help and a police officer isn’t right there, the best bet is to ask another mother.
7. If you get lost (separated from mom or dad) in a store or another public spot, don’t go looking for them. Stay right where you are; mom or dad will find you.
8. When away from home without your parents, always stick close to your friends and stay in highly populated areas. On a field trip or excursion with other kids, always use the buddy system. Don’t lose sight of your buddy and don’t wander away from the group.
9. Never accept treats, gifts or money from anyone without your parents’ permission.
10. If someone follows you, stay as far away from them as you can; try to go inside a store or another busy place, and ask a clerk, or another parent for help.
11. If someone tries to take you by force, try with all your might to run away. Start screaming immediately: “He’s trying to take me! This is not my father/mother!” If you get away, run as fast as you can and keep screaming. It’s OK to hit, kick and bite.
12. If your parents get off the subway car and you can’t make it out the door with them, calmly get off at the next stop and go to the token booth. Tell the token clerk (if there is one) you are waiting for your parents there. Your parents will get on the next train and will come to the booth and get you. (If you get off the train too soon, do the same thing. Your parents will take the train back a stop and get you.) Look for a mother to wait with if no transit workers are around.
13. If you are going to be even one minute late, call home immediately.
14. Never open the house/apartment door to someone you don’t know. Never let anyone think you are home alone. If someone calls, never give out personal information, and never let them know if you are home alone.
15. Always follow the same route to school, the store and other places that you have discussed ahead of time with your parents. Don’t go anywhere else.