Sunday, February 25, 2007

Like Far Rockaway Boardwalk in the early 1960s

The Town Crier sent me here - ‘Yeshiva Break’: Do You Know Where Your Children Were?

Alisha Abboudi and Debbi Frankel from Philadelphia write about their experiences.

We flew down with our teenage daughters [to Miami Beach] who attend co-ed camps, watch TV and movies, and seem connected to their iPods...During several late-night walks we saw hundreds of Jewish teenagers in groups large and small roaming Collins Avenue, the boardwalk and several hotels, drinking and smoking, completely entranced with the goal of getting “high” and intoxicated beyond belief.

The girls, aged 15-18, were so scantily clad that bathing suits would have covered up more. Nothing they possessed was left for the imagination. Thin figured or full, they wore outfits that seemed to say, “I’m here! Come and get me!” The boys dressed in jeans, T-shirts or shorts may have looked fine, but they huddled in groups, beer cans in hand and cigarettes and matches at the ready.

The interaction between the girls and boys was grotesque...As we observed the scene, we had one question in mind: Where were the parents of these youngsters? Where were they when their daughters exploited themselves, when their little girls were urinating on themselves because they were so drunk their legs gave out, when their sons drank so much they flung themselves over boardwalk railings and exposed themselves?

Why did parents trust that a week at bubbe and zeyde’s condo without their supervision was permissible? Why did it seem we were the only two parents in Miami Beach that week? Among the throngs of unsupervised teenagers, that’s exactly what it felt like.

...The week was not without tragedy. A 15-year-old boy from New York died under a cloud of mystery. But anyone who witnesses the raucous behavior of the annual scene realizes it is a recipe for disaster.

...These precious lives need guidance, love and stability. As parents, we bring our beautiful children into this world. They are precious as infants, adorable as toddlers and then, before you know it, they are teenagers. Mouths get bigger, opinions get louder, altercations are a daily occurrence; the tide shifts and parental authority is suddenly in question. Does this mean we throw up our hands and say, “Ah, he’s just a teenager; it’s just a phase,” or, “She’ll outgrow it”?

Rather, it’s our job to speak to our children and hear them as well, to teach them right and wrong, and most of all, show them we are there for them always. Shame on those parents who allow their children a “fun” week in the sun and sand without supervision! Vacation for them does not mean vacation from them.

Go ahead and ask them. Find out exactly what they were up to when they called to tell you what a “blast” they were having. Even if they were clean and sober, they saw plenty. Make them talk to you. Make them listen.

Be a parent.

Well, no weeds but I seem to recall Far Rockaway in New York in the early 1960s being quite similar. The boardwalk from high 60s down to 19th. In fact, the non-Jewish boys used to wear "mezuzot" pendants to get in on the action.

But, of course, parents cannot shake their responsibility of supervision.

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