Helping Isaac come to terms with tragedy

*Isaac’s parents met as new immigrants to Israel and already had two teenage children when Isaac was born. Isaac was just a toddler when his parents went through a bitter divorce; subsequently Isaac’s father left the country. Poverty-stricken, his mother has struggled ever since to support the family, working day and night as a cleaner.

As a result of her long hours at work, Isaac has been fending for himself for a number of years, spending time alone and hanging around on the streets.

Yet as tough and independent as he had become, Isaac was nearly broken by a tragic event that took place earlier this year.

Some months ago, Isaac went to visit his 28-year-old sister and her children for the weekend. His 25-year-old brother Gidon was also living with his sister at the time. Sadly, Gidon had been in and out of prison over the years for drugs and theft, and his sister was now making great efforts to help him reform. Gidon returned to Jerusalem on Sunday having spent Shabbat with his siblings and only later that night noticed he had a phone message from Gidon, the message said, “Good-bye. I loved you.”

Tragically, Gidon’s body was found later by the police, he had committed suicide. Understandably,  Isaac was devastated and blamed himself for not doing more to prevent this tragedy from happening.

From the moment they heard of the tragedy, Boys Town Jerusalem’s social worker Hadas Knopf and Junior High Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz did not leave Isaac’s side. His classmates and teachers, too, were constantly present from the funeral throughout the shiva week. “Isaac felt a tremendous sense of guilt,” Hadas noted. “He welcomed the opportunity to open up to me, and we now regularly talk about relating to his family. “

Hadas continues, “Isaac struggles to attend school and to keep up with his studies but slowly but surely, Isaac is choosing life. Rabbi Rosencrantz is amazing in the constant support he gives Isaac, who desperately needs a father figure. We are doing everything possible to give him the strength to cope and move forward.”

*Not his real name