The Juvenile Court in a Changing Society: Young Offenders in Israel

The Juvenile Court in a Changing Society: Young Offenders in Israel

The Juvenile Court in a Changing Society: Young Offenders in Israel

The Juvenile Court in a Changing Society: Young Offenders in Israel

Excerpt

The ideas and impressions presented here are based on over thirty years of field work -- the first ten years as a child welfare worker with wayward children and some twenty years with delinquent children as a judge in the juvenile court. A few remarks about the first group may be appropriate here, because my later understanding of juvenile delinquents and of their conditions has constantly been nurtured by my previous experience with wayward children and their parents. Through many years of close observation, I acquired first-hand knowledge of the behavior and personality of Oriental Jews, with whom this book is largely concerned.

Tel Aviv, was in the 'thirties and 'forties, the principal city of Palestine and drew a host of Jewish newcomers, attracted to it because it was the first all-Jewish city. It was an active, lively, commercial city whose very streets, marketplaces, cafes, and restaurants seemed bright and cheerful. It was also the country's main industrial center, insofar as the beginnings of an industry could be observed. Furthermore, as the commercial and spiritual center of Jewish life in Palestine, it was extremely susceptible to cultural and socioeconomic influences. Even then, every vogue, every fashion which appeared in Europe or in the United States was immediately imitated by those few who could afford to do so. It was hard to imagine that all the miseries of the slum areas -- thousands of families enduring wretched living conditions, children playing in unpaved, muddy streets with no drainage or sewage system -- were only a few yards from the center of the city. Thus, on the one hand, there were plenty of goods available and a great deal of luxury evident, and on the other, misery and want -- all juxtaposed in the closest proximity.

When the children of the slums tired of playing in the muddy streets or of staying in their shabby rooms, they were drawn like magnets to the bright, attractive streets, where they saw people enjoying a way of life that was in sharp contrast to their own. Both children and parents felt instinctively that they could profit from the gay, busy life going on in the "real Tel Aviv." Children, sometimes as young as eight and nine years old, would go to the center to become street vendors or hawkers, to carry heavy packages, or to be shoeshine boys. The children viewed it as a wonderful opportunity to take part in the gay life of the city.

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