stated that they had been contacted by “concerned Great Neck community members” and the ADL believed that while the school permits an open campus during “free periods,” the school cannot treat Torah Ohr, or any religious institutions or practice, any differently than it treats other, non-religious places or activities.” The ADL said that placing restrictions on “or creating special requirements for the temple’s lunch and learn program is an infringement on a student’s right to association and free exercise of religion in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”1When an institution as large and influential as the ADL can force a school principal to retract a parental notification letter regarding the safety of his students, there is something wrong. While I understand the importance of religious freedom and tolerance, I have a huge problem with outreach professionals luring impressionable high school students into religious programs with promises of free food and drink, so that they can preach their beliefs to them. High school students are at an age where they are still getting the tools they need to explore the world critically. Despite their desire for independence, middle adolescents (ages 15-18) are still developing. They are first beginning to figure out who they are and are first developing their own philosophies. They still need guidance when it comes to life planning.2 (Read more about teen development on a child development pdf put out by Iowa State University here.) The fact that Jewish outreach professionals are preying on high school students during the school day is abhorrent and deceptive.
1. http://greatneckrecord.com/2013/controversy-over-free-lunch-at-torah-ohr/ accessed 2/17/2013 at 1:52pm
2.http://www.extension.iastate.edu/4hfiles/VI950902FAgesStages.PDF accessed 2/17/2013 at 2:07pm