R. Benzion Scheinfeld, my twelfth grade rebbe, in a letter to the current issue of The Jewish Week (link):
Soul On Ice
As a rabbi teaching in a high school and always keeping an eye out for insights that can penetrate the countless diversions and distractions that mask the true spiritual yearnings of a teen’s soul, I want to thank The Jewish Week for the beautiful front-page article on Benjamin Rubin, the religious aspiring hockey player. (“Jewish Soul On Ice,” Nov. 17)
In a world where many of our youth (and many of us) are removed from or skeptical of the idea of a personal connection to Hashem, Benjamin’s story is particularly relevant. Many teens may wonder in astonishment why anyone would sit in a hotel room alone and possibly forfeit a lifelong dream of playing professional hockey because of a personal conviction to keep Shabbat. The fact that Benjamin is not from a haredi background and is not really pressured by his parents to make his choice makes it particularly relevant and powerful.
In the United States, the greatest threat to one’s observance is not persecution but apathy. For some, this apathy is due to the complexity of modern life, while for others, it is due to the superficiality that pervades our society. A rabbi’s greatest challenge and most important mission is to help students nurture and develop a sensitive and wholesome sense of self that is infused and inspired by a committed and passionate relationship with Hashem. Your article about Benjamin is a great example of such a relationship. I plan on sharing it with all of my students.
Rabbi Benzion Scheinfeld
HANC High School