Religious Guidance – Problem Solving in a Jewish Day School
Wurzweiler School of Social Work
January 1, 2001
Students at the Ramaz School have personal concerns about matters of belief and mitzvah observance in the realms of both bein adam l’makom (between man and God) and l’chaveiro (between man and man). Many are going through the difficulties of normal adolescence. These issues cause conflict; the students need someone to give them support and nurture their religious growth. Many students’ personal religious needs cannot be adequately addressed by the current guidance system in the school. Guidance counselors who are well trained in dealing with children but not familiar with all of the issues of Orthodox Judaism are often not able to see the whole picture of the students’ lives. This is particularly a problem in the school because religious commitment is no longer a prerequisite for becoming an adviser. Students are falling through the cracks of the guidance system because of lack of sensitivity to their religious needs.
Another possible source of religious guidance is the classroom. Clearly, Judaic studies teachers are focused on religious growth in addition to didactics. However, they do not always have the time to make personal connections with their students. Given their teaching loads and other responsibilities in the school, they cannot establish mentoring relationships with all students. At times, too, even if they try to have such a relationship, there is no guarantee they will hit it off. Classroom dynamics can adversely affect a teacher’s relationship with some of his students. Given the personal nature of such counseling, the formal student-teacher relationship can sometimes get in the way. Additionally, even when religious teachers form bonds with some students, not all students are having their needs addressed,...