Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hilltop Youth

I want to write about the so-called “Hilltop Youth” (as they are called). The Peace House is full of them as they converge onto the site for the expected showdown.

The media likes to portray them rather monolithically, as wild kids, disrespecting all authority (including the Rabbis), as weeds and dangers to society (sort of like they should portray Left-wing anarchists, but never do). As kids living outside of any societal framework, just wandering the fields. One leftist MK recently proposed they all be gathered up and put into reeducation centers.

Since the Gush Katif expulsion I’ve had the opportunity to get occasional (but insightful) glimpses into their world and their philosophy of the disenfranchised (from and by the State).

It turns out there are two groups of Hilltop Youth and they are very, very different.

The differences lie in their actions, their thoughts, and their origins.

The majority are good kids, healthy kids, good Jews, and simply good people. These are the ones that were sitting last night in the Ulam and learning Torah. That was nearly all of them.

These kids have a framework.

It may not be your typical conventional framework in any sense of the word, but it is definitely a positive framework. They learn Torah. They have Rabbis they talk with and follow. They debate the issues. They philosophize. They will fight for what they believe in. They explore our country and build small new communities. They believe and follow the Torah.

In short they are kids who are using their time positively to learn, create, grow, protect and build.

The second set is the small but highly publicized minority.

These are clearly troubled kids in their very early teens (12 - 15). They are not in any framework whatsoever except for the one that they are designing among themselves. They have no respect for any authority except themselves. They don’t explore the countryside, they wander it.

More interesting, apparently not only did many of these kids not grow up in the settlements, but just as likely, not even in a religious environment. These kids are imports from the cities where they could perhaps have just as easily ended up as druggies in Kikar Hamedina as they could have now as the local media darlings.

The origins are also different.

The first group was disenfranchised by the State, so they have given up on the state in return. But they haven’t given up their Jewish values or education.

The second group are typical problem kids that have found an outlet and escape in the hills of Judea and Samaria. But most did not start in strong framework (society, family, educational, religious) and are not in one now.

The first group of Hilltop Youth (the majority) are going to grow up and take various leadership roles in Jewish society.

The second set (the small minority)?

Without some sort of intervention (and that doesn’t mean reeducation centers) I don’t see them turning out well at all.

But who should take responsibility for them?

Avri Ran is one person who has, on his organic farm. But perhaps what is needed are social workers from within the community they've chosen to align themselves with. They would need government support, but not government intervention to make that happen.

Your thoughts?

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Anonymous said...

Great idea. Only problem is that this government only knows how to (try to) use the army against its citizens, not against Hamas or Hizbollah.

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Unknown said...

Many of the kids in Bet Hashalom are not so called hilltop youth. They are regular high school kids who went there to protest and try to prevent the eviction. They spend most of their time learning as you described.

Tzipporah said...

Who should take responsibility for them? How about their parents??

Esser Agaroth said...



I partly agree with you.

Translation: Reprogramming

haivri said...

In the Shomron regional council we have a fine staff of youth workers and "At Risk Teens" specialists. They are caring overworked professionals (BTW- many of them live in machazim - outposts themselves). They are funded by the government, but far from enough to fill the needs of the youth spread out in the 30 towns and 12 outpost of the Shomron regional council. If a kid from Tapuach or Itamar takes off to hang out in the streets of Natanya or J'lem that is out of their range. And kids from elsewhere (like the ones that settlerjoe is referring to) are not officially their responsibility. That means that the Shomron youth worker receive no resources to deal with youth from other areas and have left their homes to become "hilltop youth". I can think of more then a few kids over the years who have hung out here and been in need of professional help and fallen between the gaps.

haivri said...

BTW - Joe,

I don't think that its so clean cut. There are kids who grew up here in the Yeshuvim, children of the best families who have teenage issues just like kids anywhere else. And there are kids who have come here to run away from their home environment west of the Green Line, who have come out fine. But, I do agree that kids with no family and school framework are vulnerable and likely to have a hard time and get in trouble, they don't always have a relationship responsible adult who can help set things straight when bad things start happening. Kids who live in their natural family frame have parents to fall back on and who look out for them when things start going wrong.

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