Gail Rosenblum is interim editor of Minnesota Parent.

Speaking Engagements

Rabbi Fine will speak at two free workshops in the Twin Cities. Registration is requested. Call Debra Levenstein, Jewish Family and Children's Service of Minneapolis, at (612) 542-4814. Teenagers are welcome to come alone but are encouraged to bring their parents.


Monday, October 11, 1999

7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Jewish Community Center of Minneapolis

4330 S. Cedar Lake Road

St. Louis Park, Minnesota


Wednesday, October 13, 1999

6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Temple of Aaron

616 S. Mississippi River Blvd. St. Paul, Minnesota

Staying Close to Your Teens: Suggestions from Yehuda Fine

* Talk to your children about everything--that's how they are going to develop values and direction in life.


* Children want to be involved in family matters and family problems. So involve them.


* Ask questions, avoid lectures, and listen to what your kid is saying. This develops good communication and underlines that you value your relationship with your child.


* Praise your kids for who they are and what they do. Be specific, and don't forget the little things.


* Tell your kids you love them, and why.


* Hug your kid every day. Don't be fooled into thinking they don't cherish a warm embrace.

* Share your own struggles with your children. Let them know there is meaning to be learned from facing problems.


* Ask your kids what was fun and difficult in school today. Ask for their opinions about their classes, teachers, friends. This signals that you are involved in their lives.


* Go with your children to movies, ballgames, and other activities. Your kids do want to spend time with you.


* Have fun and goof around with your children. Being a parent is more than being a serious adult.


* Share what has touched your life. Talk about what you believe in--God, love, compassion, truth, kindness, honesty--and your uncertainties about these topics.

An excerpt from Times Square Rabbi: Finding the Hope in Lost Kids' Lives, 1997, reprinted by permission of Hazelden Foundation, Center City, Minnesota.

The lower level of Penn Station smells impossibly bad. I wonder if I'll ever get used to the smell of urine and burnt subway rubber, the smell that so pervades the New York subway system that it almost identifies the city.

The landscape down in the subway tunnels is dismal, dusky, and depressing. Sunlight never slants its way down into those gloomy passageways. I call it The Way Beyond; a place of darkness and hope, of death and dreams. Those tunnels are haunted by the mad and the hermits, the homeless and the lost; our refugees hiding out in urban America.

It was a Thursday evening in the kingdom of the night: New York City from 8:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. I was working outreach with two co-workers from a runaway and homeless youth shelter. Our beat was the dark streets of Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. Part of the night we cruised the backwaters of the city in our outreach van. The rest of the night was spent working the streets on foot patrol and descending into dirty concrete tunnels inhabited by moaning, snoring homeless people. The passageways were cluttered with the cardboard boxes they lived in. The underground of Manhattan on winter nights was a barren outpost of desperation. Our goal was to find kids in need and to get them off the streets. If they sought shelter, we could eventually help them rebuild their lives. Life in a runaway and homeless youth shelter is not only a safe haven, but also a place to find a job, get some counseling, or even complete a high school education. But the first step was building trust with these kids. To do that, we went to them, offered our caring, and gave them some hot chocolate and a sandwich. Then, like clockwork, we came back every night to give them the message that we cared.

When I first went out on the streets into The Way Beyond, I was scared. In time, the fear simply sharpened my senses. What I saw was a war zone: Everything was stripped down to bare essentials. People were dying and disappearing. I saw kids' bodies become ravaged by sickness in just six months. I sat and talked with kids under tunnels of garbage. Rats jumped in front of my flashlight.

Everybody was used or abused. Boys were girls and girls were selling parts of themselves. AIDS and TB ate their way through young people. Night was day, and nobody went home. No one had a home. This was a place rife with grisly rumors. Kids simply vanished. Other kids ended up in medical examiners' autopsy reports. Suicide, OD's, and murder were these kids' endgames. Crack was king and cocaine was the snow queen. This was science fiction gone real, where "beaming up" meant a blue-smoke crack journey into unreality. Everyone lied because the truth was too raw to share.

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