(This represents a commonly asked question about this topic)
Dear Rabbi Portnoy:
We live in a chassidish area of Brooklyn and I keep noticing many chassidish young men who are clearly slipping in their religious practice.
Many times I think of approaching them, but I’m not sure that I will help things — and perhaps I might even unintentionally say the wrong things and accomplish the exact opposite of what I’d like to do.
Should I try? What would you recommend I say or do?? And finally, is there any type of training I can get to help me help them?
I look forward to your response.
A teenager told me recently that in his community (it’s a small, out of town place) there is a minyan that somebody created for teens by teens.
The davening is late (because teens sleep late), and the teens are in charge (gabbai, etc)
They appreciate the freedom to be themselves, and the knowledge that nobody’s judging them there; and so they come.
(I think it’s a Shabbos/Sunday minyan; not sure if it functions during the week.
Whoever runs this might not be making them “frummer”, but he’s keeping them close, and is creating positive associations with religious observances.
Basically, somebody in the community realized that the non-mainstream kids need a place too, and created it for them.
“People never care how much you know (and or what you have to say) until they know how much you (really) care”. John Maxwell American author and speaker.
Living by this quote is perhaps the best and most influential method to have a significant impact and influence in all settings. At first let it be recognized that you are truly concerned about their material and physical wishes and needs not their spiritual issues. Listen rather than lecture. Validate rather than disapprove and criticize. Care, and show that you care, and you can and will make a difference.