Life in a Jewish Orphanage
by Ahuva Goldenthal

In an article in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot for Wednesday, December 27, 2000, entitled "Difficult Childhood" we learn from a statistical study that there are more than 2 million children and teenagers in Israel and that 60% come from lower income families. 2.3% are high school students of grades 10 and 11 who were either hospitalized or operated upon due to physical abuse in their schools. 1.5% of the child population is in danger of physical or emotional abuse. Children have no peace in their souls.

Child abuse is very common in today's society and in all cultures. However, it has now become very common among the Jewish Orthodox families, which has never happened before to such a degree. These abused children are very well taught not to talk Loshon Hora (bad things about other people) especially against their immediate families. The children learn to honor their fathers and their mothers as well as other adults. A child who is physically, emotionally, or sexually abused by a parent or other authority figure, would likely not tell anyone. She is afraid to tell anyone, and keeps her emotional scars to herself. It is a HiluI Hashem (an embarrassment to G-d). In the past, child abuse was a form of discipline, but today, a parent, or any caregiver who abuses a child would end up in jail.
This story is about a Jewish-Orthodox child who was severely abused by authorities and when she complained about this abuse, she was told to listen and behave. She suffered from her injuries so badly that it put her into the hospital's intensive care and neurological unit more than once. This abuse took place in a Jewish-Orthodox orphanage, where she grew up and lived for eleven years under the supervision of a very disturbed Holocaust survivor who imagined that our heroine was her child who had been killed by the Nazis. The supervisor also instigated some counselors to use Ahuva as a human target. Ahuva channeled her energies towards constructive activities: writing a daily diary, athletics, playing the accordion, volunteering in hospitals, helping in the orphanage's infirmary, studying, sewing, knitting, crocheting, and helping other children.
The author turned her miserable life around to a very fulfilled life which gave her joy and an outlet for her pain. When Hashem (G-d) gives you a mission you find the strength to value life and not commit suicide. She wanted to live a normal, healthy, secure life with her loving mother and loving siblings, who were always there when she needed them. Her goal for writing this book is to instill her strength to those who are suffering the same fate that our heroine experienced. Her message is: love life and go on in a constructive manner. Walk with your head up high, and look for your rainbow. Amen.

LIFE IN A JEWISH ORPHANAGE: ONE CHILD'S STORY is a very poignant and emotional depiction of the trials and tribulations found by an unusual child in a series of unfortunate circumstances. This book presents the philosophical message of the ability of one's inner strength or obstinate belief to triumph over trying events. Readers can readily find this book both fulfilling philosophically and religiously rewarding.


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