When Teen Doesn’t Fit


Leonard Saxe’s “Engaging Teens Through a Jewish Service Corps” (Opinion, Dec. 30) culminates with a study travel program intending to make a “major inflection point.” The proposal needs to be counterbalanced with a transfer option for those registered for Israel programs with which they are instantly uncomfortable and need alternatives.

I am not alone in having sent my teen to a highly regarded and expensive Israel program that was a completely bad fit from day one. Attempts to transfer him at the original cost to another Israel program by the same organization (which cost half the original price) were refused with a businesslike explanation of how goods and services can’t be exchanged. We were asked for additional full tuition for an alternative program.

Months after this trip our son has disengaged from the community and even from his closest former day school classmates. His religious life is now an empty frame full of resentment.

Philanthropists and boards of these programs must create a free transfer option for unhappy youth. For all the good these programs may accomplish the harm of a mismatch may produce articulate, passionate, well-educated adversaries of the very causes they hope to support, through their foolish shortsightedness and hard heart. Even one such individual can be more harmful than a multitude who were indifferent and Jewishly ignorant to begin with.

Beachwood, Ohio