Teenagers, teenagers, teenagers! They are likely the most challenging group of students for educators. But, this challenge is multifaceted. In the early teen years, students are driven by their hormones and a desire to be part of the crowd; as they mature, their minds and emotions develop and they begin to explore the world around them through a lens that constantly amazes their teachers and educators.
This is the world that Chaim Peri entered many years ago at the Yemin Orde Wingate Youth Village on Mt. Carmel, just south of Haifa. Built as a residential educational community for children and teens, Yemin Orde has proven to be a wonderful laboratory for Peri to develop a unique educational approach that deeply touches the lives of the students. After over thirty years as the Director and Head Educator, Peri shares the insights and philosophy that have literally changed the lives of hundreds if not thousands of young people who found their way to Yemin Orde.
Most of the students came from distant lands after painful separations from their families and home communities. They brought with them the typical problems and challenges of children whose lives had been totally disrupted. Thus, they needed an environment driven by a set of values grounded deeply in the Torah and filled with love and understanding and patience.
In this small volume, Peri provides insights into the approach that he has developed in working closely with the children and teens. Woven throughout the text are stories that will touch the reader’s soul, as they reflect the intense emotional experiences of the teens and the staff as they learn to interact with each other.
Perhaps the single most important contribution is the underlying theme of his approach, which ties Tikkun Olam, mending the world, to Tikkun HaLev, mending the heart. These two concepts are the guiding forces that every educator must embrace to bring out the best in young people, whether in the classroom or in their daily lives.
Although the reader will be inspired by the stories and the approach to education born out of a unique environment, I must note one aspect of the book that provides a challenge to the reader. The editing process leaves in many words and phrases that are misused or out of place, resulting in a text that occasionally causes the reader to take a second look to figure out what Peri really meant.