The Mourning After: BTJ Students Struggle to Cope in Wartime

Behind the stark numbers of the dead and wounded in Israel’s Swords of Iron War is the immeasurable pain suffered by the families of the victims. For Boys Town Jerusalem students and so many others, the suffering now extends to those experiencing greatly-increased poverty and stress.

Students lose concentration and focus

Students simply cannot concentrate as they live in constant fear for their brothers on the battlefront,” BTJ High School Principal Rabbi Doron Taib declares. “Our teachers and social workers are working round the clock to care for each boy.”

Students from poverty stricken families are worst hit

Adds BTJ registrar Rachel Cohen-Pur, “Our boys from the numerous single-parent and poverty-stricken families are worst hit. One 12th grader, an Ethiopian immigrant, has shared that his older brother has been badly injured in battle. We’re now there to help him and his entire family.”

One student was severely beaten by his now unemployed father

Sadly, the hardships of war go far beyond the battleground, BTJ Junior High Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz stresses. “Unemployment has spiked among our students’ families, provoking domestic violence. One eighth-grader was severely beaten by his now-unemployed dad, who claimed the boy was ‘taking his mother’s side’ in the violent arguments at home. We’re working very closely with the police and social services to protect the young boy and restore his strength.”

Guiding our students during this time is daunting

The challenge to guide our boys through these terribly difficult times is daunting,” notes Principal Doron Taib, the father of nine and an IDF Major (Reserves) called up to his unit on the first day of the war. “There are days when I cry for my students suffering such severe pain and losses. Yet I am extremely proud how our staff is battling to bring our boys through the war with confidence, faith and determination.”