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“My husband and I need to speak with you, Rabbi,” the mother of an eighth-grader named Adam told Boys Town Jerusalem Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz by phone. “I’m afraid we don’t have much time.”

The rabbi quickly made arrangements to meet the parents in his office that afternoon. “I had been in touch with Adam’s mother in the past,” he explained. “The youngster’s schoolwork had taken a downward spiral, and he was now close to failing. But I was hardly prepared for what I soon learned about the reality of his situation.” At their meeting, the parents informed Rabbi Rosencrantz that Adam’s father was dying of cancer, and they simply could not find the words to tell their son.

“They had tried so hard to shield Adam from the painful truth,” Rabbi Rosencrantz said. “We sat together and discussed various options before deciding that they would tell their son that his father was quite ill, but not reveal the very grave extent of the disease. Together, carefully, we chose the words they would use.”

At the same time, the rabbi mobilized the social services staff, faculty members and even the kitchen staff to inform them of the traumatic situation that Adam – a very thin, fragile-looking boy – is facing. To ease the family’s financial burden, the school immediately waived Adam’s tuition payments. To fill the boy’s afternoons, Rabbi Rosencrantz arranged for him to join several fun extracurricular activities, at no cost. Adam knows that he can confide in his rabbis and social worker, and he is slowly beginning to open up to them. The school is also providing him with tutors to help him keep up with his studies, despite his difficulty in concentrating.

“For now, I know that Adam is relieved that his parents were finally able to speak to him about his father’s illness,” Rabbi Rosencrantz said. “Although they didn’t share the ‘death sentence’ that the doctors have delivered, they were able to give Adam the confidence and love to face the illness together with them. We are ready day and night to be at this family’s side to help them in any way.”

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