The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Home of His Own UPDATED

(This post will remain at the top of my blog for a while. For newer stuff, scroll down)

This is the story of a boy. Let's call him Judah. Judah is 12 years old. He was removed from his home when he was three. Since then, he has lived in five or six homes, I’ve lost track. He lived with us for a couple of years. For the past three years, Judah has lived in institutional residences to treat certain psychiatric and emotional issues.

Judah is very sweet and loving. He can converse with you about the deepest topics, conversations you wouldn’t expect from most 12 year old boys. He is very smart but he has some learning disabilities. He reads a lot but has trouble making change. He can’t sit still for long periods of time. He has psychiatric and emotional issues that are being treated.

Judah loves to watch and play sports. He likes to wear sports jerseys. He loves to go to ballgames. When he was six, I took him out to ride his bike. He insisted that I take off the training wheels. Against my better judgment, I did. He started riding by himself the very first time I let go of his bike. (He couldn’t stop but that’s another story). Today, I took him ice skating for his first time ever. Same thing. He never so much as touched the rails.

I never once saw him cry when he got hurt. If he walked into a wall he’d just grimace and keep going. He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever met.

Judah's devotion to Hashem (G-d) is inspiring. Despite the many trials and disappointments in his short life, he has never taken it out against the Master of the Universe. He keeps kosher and wears his kippah in an environment where, not only is he the only Orthodox kid, he is the only Jewish kid. Sometimes the other kids in the residence get non-kosher goodies, but he passes, without complaint. He benches (grace after meals) and says Asher Yatzar ( aprayer said after using the bathroom). He is fervently Shomer Shabbos (Sabbath observant) and even makes his own havdalah (a prayer said at the conclusion of Sabbath). He learns with volunteers at every opportunity but his Hebrew reading needs work. I don’t know where he gets the strength to maintain his Jewish identity in such an uninviting environment. I am humbled.

His inner strength is equally inspiring. He has always adjusted to the many changes and challenges that he’s faced. He remains an optimist despite everything.

Judah loves to be hugged. It wasn’t always that way, but it is now. When he first came to us, many years ago, after spending a year at another foster home, he was very remote and reluctant to let his guard down. Getting a hug out of him then was out of the question. (Can you blame him?) Now when Judah visits us, he makes sure to give me and MHW big hugs both when he comes and when he leaves.

He loves all the kids in our family. Our kids love him back and consider him part of the family. He will always be a part of our family. (Our son OOS insisted that Judah walk down the isle at his wedding even though Judah hadn’t been living with us for a while.)

It is difficult to adequately describe the tremendous impact that Judah has had on our lives and in the lives of all those who have gotten to know him. He has connected to us, inspired us, and made us laugh and cry. Our lives and the lives of our children have been immeasurably enhanced by our having cared for him.

His relationship with the baby we are fostering is even more remarkable. In some kind of mystical way that I can’t explain rationally, Judah and the baby seem to have connected in a very deep way. She follows him around during his visits as if he were the Pied Piper. I know that makes him feel special.

Now, it is time for Judah to find a home. He is doing very well and the residence wants to place him in a home. They feel that not only is he ready for a home, he needs to be placed in a home.

All we have to do is find him one.

He needs parents who have infinite patience. Who can lavish him with attention and love. Who are structured and firm. He needs a family that will take him in as one of their own.

I am not so naïve as to believe that finding him a pre-adoptive home will be simple. Judah is not simple. On the contrary, he is a complicated, smart, insightful, sweet, sensitive, affectionate 12 year old boy. And, like any other 12 year old Jewish boy, all he wants is a home of his own. A family of his own. A place to come back to after school, day after day. A place to get hugged.

If you or anyone you know in the Metropolitan area might consider becoming Judah's pre-adoptive foster family, please contact me at emansouth @ or Shulamit Marcus at OHEL at 718 851 6300. The transition process from the residence will take a number of months. OHEL will assist in each phase of this transition. Sara and I would be happy to discuss this situation in detail with any prospective foster families.

(I respectfully ask all my blogging friends to link to this post which I will keep at the top of my blog for a month)



  • At 7:58 PM, Blogger Kiwi the Geek said…

    Why not your home?

  • At 7:31 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…


    That's a fair question. The answer is complicated. I will be happy to explain it to anyone who will consider taking him.

  • At 1:35 AM, Blogger Kiwi the Geek said…

    Wasn't meaning to be nosy. I live way over in WI so it's not an option.

  • At 9:53 AM, Blogger lisoosh said…

    Is Jersey OK? My family isn't religious enough for him, nor do I have the resources to take him at the moment, but I will be happy to spread the word, we have a large Jewish community in this area.

  • At 10:04 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    I think Jersey would be fine. I will ask the people at Ohel to confirm.

  • At 12:55 PM, Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said…

    Try maybe the good charity-loving people of Kiryas Joel. They are experts in adoption, as well as abduction. As long as there is a chance to extort the odd penny from uncle sam, they'll do anything. The point is: be careful!. Unfortunately I have some knowledge about such things - v'day lamevin.

  • At 1:27 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    Is there anyone willing to wake up and realize that sinas-chinom and the total lack of unity are at the core of almost all our problems?


    For someone whose blog begins with the above-quoted sentence, your comment is quite shocking.

    This is not the place for gratuitous attacks on other Jews. Sinas chinum, I think it's called.

  • At 2:00 PM, Blogger ByTheBay said…

    Thank you for this post - I am Jewish and in the process of becoming a foster parent. I would love to provide a home for Jewish kids, though I don't believe there are as many in the foster care system as in NY or LA (where they are having trouble finding Jewish homes for Jewish foster kids). All the best to you... May Judah find a loving family soon!

  • At 3:50 PM, Blogger lisoosh said…

    MoChassid - if it is OK, just say the word.

    Is there a shortage of Jewish foster homes in the area? My husband and I were thinking of fostering/adopting a few years down the line and I was under the impression that there wasn't a problem?
    Do you have links?

  • At 4:25 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    There are a fair number of foster homes in the metropolitan area butactually placing kids in homes can get dicey depending on circumstances. Therefore, Ohel is always looking for new families.

    Two cases in point.

    First, Judah. His case is very complicated. He will need very special people who have an abundance of patience and are very structured. There is no one in the current stable of foster parents who fits the bill today (at least we don't think so and that's why we are trying a wider net)

    A second case is our Toddler. Ohel had called a number of foster families, none of whom, for various reasons, was prepared to take a 10 week old baby. By the time they got to My Holy Wife, they were really concerned (they have only 24 hours to find a home or the Jewish kid goes into the general foster population). She literally had about one minute to decide and actually made the decision without even calling me!

    So, yes, they are always looking. You can call Shulamit Marcus at 718 851 6300 if you are thinking about fostering.

  • At 4:12 AM, Blogger Maerlowe said…

    That he says his own havdalah breaks my heart.

  • At 9:50 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    My mom and both of her sisters were foster kids (one was able to be adopted) - they found my grandmother and there they ALL stayed. I hope Judah finds such a special place.

  • At 10:31 AM, Blogger micha said…

    For future knowledge: My wife is a critical resource for finding homes for Jewish children in the US. She usually works with special needs children (around 80% Downs) but she has a network that most people do not. I forwarded the URL to her.

    Contact information (serious inquiries only):
    Siggy Berger

    We also have a 24x7 phone number for adoption calls, as one is obligated to answer the phone on Shabbos in many of these cases. But I do not feel free putting it up on a blog.


  • At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your loving description of Judah is inspiring!

    I am Christian and not an option for him, but wanted you to know how your post effected me and that I will keep him in my prayers.

  • At 10:43 PM, Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said…


    You certainly raise a valid point, and I can't plead innocent to the charges.

    However, keep in mind that not all hatred is in vain. Of course, one's hatred is always justified in his own eyes. But if you care to go through this, you'll understand better. Unfortunately it isn't even the tip of the iceberg. It put me in such a rage that I couldn't resist. I knew about these things for a while, but wasn't sure about their magnitude.

  • At 1:17 AM, Blogger ByTheBay said…

    Yes, there is an urgent need for Jewish foster families in some areas. Here are some links for the person who asked about the need for Jewish foster homes for Jewish children:

  • At 11:17 PM, Blogger ... Is the Window to Our Soul said…

    I don't know if any of the news stations do a special segment for children who need adoption, perhaps that might be a good place to start. Our NBC affiliate does every Wednesday and I think it gets a lot of good results.

  • At 2:28 PM, Blogger Frumstar said…

    Your blog was emotional and inspiring in its simplicity.

  • At 9:09 PM, Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said…

    Mr. MOC,

    This shabbos I spotted aprintout from Aish about an orthodox organization helping to pair fosted parents and kids for adoption. Unfortunately I forgot the link, but it shouldn't be too hard to find.

  • At 6:55 PM, Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said…

    I memorized the link as I don't carry on shabbos, besides that my wife would literally murder me if I bring in one more ounce of shaimes.

  • At 6:59 PM, Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said…

    Great! now your message board doesn't work! So let's try this, OK>

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