Being that I was rather a goody-goody kid I don’t remember ever ditching school but it was a different story with my children. I’ll never forget the time I entered our grammar school and was met by my daughter’s math teacher.
“What’s the matter with your daughter?” she asked with concern.
“What do you mean? She’s fine,” I answered.
“She wasn’t in class.”
“She wasn’t?” I was naively concerned and scurried to her friend’s classroom. The two girls always walked to school together, but her friend was also absent. A quick visit to that girl’s home found the two of them in an empty house in front of a TV set. My daughter was grounded.
As time went on there were more incidents of my kids cutting class and I’m fairly certain that we only discovered a small percent of them. Once in high school and away from home those episodes only increased. Some were as innocuous as going back to the dorm to sleep. Others, which were confessed to us only after seven years of immunity had passed, were as adventurous as getting a ride from strangers to the beach, hiking in the desert, and going horseback riding.
This week in Israel three high school girls also ditched school. On Sunday sixteen-year-old Ashraqat Qatnani left her house taking a knife. Instead of going to class, though, she arrived at a hitchhiking post and attempted to stab another girl. She was killed in the attempt and her father reportedly praised her for fulfilling her moral and religious duty.
Monday two girls, aged fourteen and sixteen, also left home, this time armed with scissors. Again, instead of going to class they headed to the open air market in the middle of Jerusalem and went on a stabbing spree, injuring three. One of the girls was killed in the attempt and the other was seriously hurt.
Two weeks ago two cousins, aged eleven and fourteen, also skipped school. They boarded the light rail train in Jerusalem and stabbed the security guard. He was moderately injured and one of the assailants was seriously wounded.
What kind of culture of hate are these children coming from? Where is the outcry from human rights organizations against the manipulation of children? Why do their parents think their children’s lives are so cheap?
I have no answers to these questions and can only be thankful that I was raised in a Jewish home and culture where human life is valued. When I had my Bat Mitzvah and studied the Torah portion of Akeidat Yitzhak, the Binding of Isaac, I learned, in no uncertain terms, that G-d does NOT want child sacrifices. Rather He wants parents to love, educate, and raise their children to choose life, that you and your seed shall live, Deuteronomy 30:19.
My days of worrying about my children ditching school are long over. I pray that my grandchildren will not cause their parents too much grief with their own antics of playing hooky. I also pray that Arab parents will begin to exert more positive control over their own children. This prayer is not so much for their sakes as for ours. Golda Meir said, we will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.
I long for peace, true peace. I long for the day when children ditch school only to have fun, not to murder.