Out Of The Mailbag – To YW Editor (Open Letter To My Seminary Interviewer)

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yw new logo.jpgDear Yeshivaworld: 

Many years ago I was interviewed by you for entrance into “ABC” Seminary.

I had shlepped from a very far distance, starting out very early in the morning, to the middle of Boro Park on a very snowy and icy day, and stood waiting in line with other Bais Yaakov girls for hours to finally be allowed in to see you, only to be asked to read a Rambam that I had never set eyes on before that very moment. (Even Yeshiva Bochrim are given time to prepare before a Farher!)

At one point, I touched the top of my boot, which caused you to gasp in disbelief and send me directly to the corner where there was a sink to wash my hands.  Doing a good job on the Rambam or not, did not matter any more; I knew my fate was sealed – I was not accepted.

Life is funny.  Believe it or not, (even without “ABC”!) I have become an “Eim B’Yisroel.”  I can still read a Rambam – although I rarely have the opportunity to do so (unless I am helping one of my many daughters with a few words she may have missed in school).  Even without the “ABC” pedigree, I married a Ben Torah who spends as much of his spare time learning Torah as possible.  We have an open house that is filled with Gemilas Chasodim, children and grandchildren attending Bais Yaakovs and Yeshivos, and are involved in many community Tzedakah organizations.

So, although at the time I was meant to feel as a failure, I am here to tell you that that feeling was so wrong!  No girl should ever be put in a position to feel that way!  I know that those same circumstances still apply, and I believe that there has got to be a better way of meeting the girls to be accepted into Seminary.  Some of my own daughters have been accepted to the best Seminaries in the US and Israel based on a friendly interview with a person who understood a girl’s natural nervousness, and asked questions based on the application she had sent in.  No pop quizzes, no waiting on line only to be treated as some worthless brain vying to get into some glorified girl’s school which is run like a boy’s Yeshiva – only more pressurized!  Where is the Haskomas Rabbonim to teach some of these things to girls?  When Sara Schnierer started the Bais Yaakov movement, it was to teach older (and younger) girls to be an Eim B’Yisroel, to appreciate the gloriousness of the creations of Hashem, and to pass that on to the next generation; not to be able to memorize every Rashi in Sefer Beraishis!

Last week I happened to notice the Daily Halacha on Yeshiva World, which disputes your original decision to send me to wash my hands upon “touching” my boot.  According to the Halacha (available by clicking HERE): “(35) The minhag is that if one only touched his shoe laces no washing is necessary.(35) Shearim Metzuyanim B’Halacha kuntres achron 2:9:page 361, see Kaf Ha’chaim Palagi 8:28, Vezos Ha’beracha 21:3.”

Although I am too busy with my children to spend time looking for this sefer and looking up the Halacha, I hope to ask my husband to do so to confirm this opinion.  I only wanted to point out that aside from the embarrassment, humiliation and ultimate disappointment you caused me, you were mistaken in halacha as well.

Although I was mochel you many years ago for these things of which you were obviously unaware, the best way you can make it up to me (and others) is to do what I originally suggested.  Please try to make it more comfortable for a scared (and sometimes lonely) young 16 year old girl on the interview that she sees as the most important one of her life.  She has been told for most of her life that her entire future depends on the Seminary she goes to (not true) as it will affect her Shidduch (also not true) and basically her whole life (definitely NOT true).  Please tell these girls that they are worth something no matter where they go, as long as they have the Bitachon that Hashem (not the Seminary higher-ups) is guiding them.

If this belated letter can cause even a slight change in how the Seminary system works, then all that has happened has truly been Gam Zu L’Tovah.

An Eim B’Yisroel




91 COMMENTS

  1. Kol HaKovod to you. You are to be commended for not allowing this mechanech (dubiously titled) for spoiling your life. You obviously knew what your purpose truly was and set out to fulfill it without the albatross of pedigree. I often watched teens go white with fear when the seminaries came to interview them. I used to ask them what the difference would be in 20 years if they went to BJJ or to Sharfman’s? It’s been 20 years, girls, anyone want to tell me what the difference has been.

  2. Eim Beyisroel

    nothing has changed !!! yiddishkiet has been completley commercialised , if you dad would have had lots of money you would have been accepted without an interview, even if you had been dressed in a t shirt – denim skirt & flip flops !!

    vehamavin yovin – hashem yerachem.

  3. Excellent letter! Unfortunately this is the reality and probably won’t change.

    BTW BoruchYS- BJJ and Sharfmans have a very different hashkafa so that may not be a good example but point understood,

  4. the fact that we put so much into what school a prospective shidduch went to is stam a problem with our generation. I know many boys here in eretz yisroel not learning and it doesn’t matter whether they are in mir, brisk or R’tzvi’s. But when it comes to shidduchim the brisk boys will have an easier time!!!!!! how sad!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I for one do not understand why which seminary one goes to, or whether or not one goes to seminary at all is so important. I know many fine girls, with very good hashkofos who opted not to attend any seminary and went straight to work after high school and they are married B”H to very nice young men and are raising wonderful families. A girl who wants to teach perhaps has to go to seminary, but, a girl who wants to be an Aim B’Yisroel doesn’t need seminary if she has the proper hashkofos to begin with. I also do not see the importance or relevance to a girl learning all those meforshim bifnim, such as Ramban or Sforno etc. It didn’t make my life any better. I doubt if even Sora Schenirer ever learned any meforshim.

  6. 2, Joebloggs,

    Dont be silly!! You have no idea whether the writer comes from a wealthy family or not. The fact is that unfortunately there are seminaries who accept girls based ONLY on their knowledge of inside learning rather than hashkofo or midos.

    I remember years ago there was a seminary in Lucerne, Switzerland where teh girls were interviewed and chosen based on personality and hashkofo. Whether they can explain miforshim or not was not a priority!

  7. The writer is correct, & obviously a wonderful person but she misses the point.

    You presuppose that the seminaries have anything to do with Torah & Hashem. The dirty secret is it is simply a business.
    These marketing geniuses have created a market that never existed. Now the girls & their parents are driven to poverty because of Shidduch terror. There is a new mizvah called “women have to learn”. (it is no where in Shulchan aruch).
    People who ostensibly represent Torah violate the very foundation of the Torah by saying things to girls like “why did you even apply here, if you can’t read that Ramban”(true story). (The Ramban would roll over in his grave if he knew how his holy works are used as vehicles for elitism, insult & snobbery.)

    The Kashrus business is no different. It is Ostensibly to assure no violation of the Holy Torah, but the reality is that it is about profits, as the back stabbing between hechsherim, huge salaries to the guys who run these “non-profits”, & lavish offices show.

    Do not dispair, in the next world “Elyonim, tachtonim”.

  8. I like this line “Please tell these girls that they are worth something no matter where they go, as long as they have the Bitachon that Hashem (not the Seminary higher-ups) is guiding them.”

    I understand things like peer pressure and the like, but can’t parents tell their children that they are who they are regardless of the seminary they attend? Would a brother of two sisters, one who went to a prestigious seminary and one who went to a less prestigious school, think less of one sister just because she didn’t go to an “elite” seminary?

  9. i am also a victim of this trend. i was told to apply to a second place…just in case. well both letters came saying, we are puting you on the waiting lost but there are so many other girls…how great i felt. bh i am married a baby. happy..its not nice what these people do to young girls………….

  10. I dont see why the writer had to be moichel the mechaneches! It seems that the writer is quite content with where she stands now in life. Had she been accepted to that seminary, who knows where she would be today! Thanks should go to that mechaneches for not accepting someone who didnt belong in her institution.

  11. Hey, you forgot to tell her the main thing: Do not teach girls the technical part of Torah (especially focusing on the parts which will NOT be relevant to them), rather focuse on the beauty and life lessons of the Torah.

  12. An Eim B’Yisroel

    Your letter brought tears to my eyes. I never heard of such a foolish, wrong, mean, heartless way of treating potential candidates for ANY Yeshiva or Seminary.

    Oh, sure, I have had to undergo some rough Fahrhers to get into certain Yeshiva’s, but more to place me in the correct shiur.

    I had applied and was admitted into some of the most rigorous programs, including Mir, Rov Koppelman’s Shaarei Yosher, and the Satmar Rov’s ZY’U Yeshiva Torah V’Yirah.

    I have been examined by HaRav Avraham Kalmonovitch ZT’L, HaRav Shraga Moishe K.; HuRav HaGuon, Rav Koppelman, HaRAv HaGoan Noson Yosef Meisels ZT’L, and The Heilige Satmar Rov himself, ZY”U, and NEVER was subjected to humilation.

    Sure, I felt pressure. The pressure was because I wanted to make a good impression on these men for whom I had enormous respect. But, they ALL showed me equal respect by treating me with loving kindness, and understanding about a bochur’s nervousness. The very hardest examinations I have had were from R Noson Yosef Meisels, the Rosh Yeshiva of Satmar, and from the Satmar Rov ZT’L, as I was transferring from a successful time in Mir and Rov Koppelman’s yeshiva, and wanted to get into their highest shiur.

    I thought that coming from Mir’s highest shiur in their Beis Medrash, and from being Rov Koppelman’s talmid until he left for Switzerland, I would be a “walk in” to the highest shiur in Satmar.

    I did not make it. I was placed ( ACCURATELY ) in their second-from-the-top shiur.

    The Farher from the then Menahel, R. Noson Yosef Meisels was gruelling, and by the time it was over, I was soaking wet from perspiration. He spent over 2 hours of his time searching through my brains and abilities to make sure I was placed correctly. BUT AT ALL TIMES, I FELT LOVED, RESPECTED AND KNEW THAT THIS GAON TRULY CARED FOR ME, AND WAS EXAMINING ME FOR MY OWN GOOD. When it was over, he gently and lovingly advised me that his recommendation was that I should spend at least a year with the Shopriner Rov (2nd from highest) before moving up to Rov Moshe Yosephovitch’s shiur. He explained that many people assume that just because you are “at the top” of a Yeshivish yeshiva, you will be at the top of a Chassidish yeshiva. That is likely true for many Chassidish yeshivas, certainly not then for The Satmar Rov’s Yeshiva.

    He spoke to me in a way which preserved my dignity, my ego, and my confidence. His examination, and questions were delivered like an excited chevrusa interacting with his chevrusa! He did not “reject” me from where I wanted to go, he complimented me on how great I could learn, and “guided” me to a year’s preparation for additional challenges, and invited me to his home for Shabbos in the same breath. I felt honored by the time he spent in helping me, not humiliated by my placement.

    He was right on all counts. I loved it there, and realized he placed me correctly. The Shoproner Rov’s shiur probably added 20 points to my IQ and maturity in thought and understanding of learning. When I did get to the next shiur the following year, and experienced a higher madraiga still, I went down to visit the MeNahail, R Noson Yosef Meisels, and thanked him for having me spend a year in the “easier” class.

    Now, to be honest, I walked into his office that first time with an attitude of Geivah. I thought I was king Blank. I was the one coming from the top of Mir, and a Talmid of Rov Koppelman, and thought I was so important and great. Yes, he brought me down off my foolish self-inflicted pedestal, but I never felt anything but caring, compassion, and Ahavas Yisroel from a Gaon who was doing it to do what was best for me. The gentleness in his voice and his eyes took away any negative feelings I may have had. Oh, by the way, I realized later just how insufferable I was, I later asked him how he tolerated my Gaivah from that first day,. He replied, “It is all part of growing up. You did well, I knew I would be proud of you, and I am.”

    In my humble opinion, NO APPLICANT for any seat in any Yeshiva, Seminary, professional school or any job should be made to feel like a failure or unworthy.

    I have had businesses that employed over 175 employees, and always remembered that interview with R Noson Yosef, and always interviewed, and examined potential employees with care and respect.

    I hate to say this, but maybe a Yeshiva or Seminary which would allow a 16 – 18-year-old girl to feel so bad as the result of an admission interview, is not as good as its reputation, and is not worth going to.

    That Seminary was not worth of you. You deserved better, and Thanks to Hashem, you received better.

  13. עולם הפוך ראיתי עליונים למטה ותחתונים למעלה

    רב יוסף בריה דר’ יהושע בן לוי חלש ואתנגיד כי הדר
    אמר ליה אבוה מאי חזית אמר ליה
    עולם הפוך ראיתי עליונים למטה ותחתונים למעלה
    גמרא מס פסחים דף נ

    The Talmud relates a true story where Rabbi Yoseph son of Rabbi Yehoshua fainted and went into the Spiritual World of Souls, he was allowed to take a glimpse at the Eternal Divine Spiritual World. When he awoke, they asked him “what did you see?” He said he saw a world that was totally “upside-down” as the great and famous people are considered unimportant in Spirit World. Whereas some of the poorest and most unimportant people in this physical world are considered to be the greatest souls in Spirit World. (nothing changed since!!)

  14. i think this whole seminary thing is outta whack! my g-d i myself dont know rambam and im enrolled in a very elite institution. and who decided there’s a difference betweeen bjj and sharfmans to me their both money seeking institutions who claim to be raising bnos yisroel in the proper fashion. because mrs. so and so was financially strained she automatically became an opinion on raising jewish girls. we all know good and well that seminaries arevway off track in their methods. instead of selling lies let them admit their just a frum version of Year Course or Birth Right!!!

  15. My wife and I have trained our daughters to be individuals, and although it sometimes has brought frowns of disbelief, whenever I ask them if they think we brought them up incorrectly they protest vigorously.

    I am ashamed to admit that that I knuckled under for a few years to the prevailing herd frumkeit mentality, and bought a bunch of black and “shades of black” suits, “for my children’s sake”. The other day I commented to someone that bli neder my next hat is going to be a gray hat. He said to me, “I hope you can find somewhere to buy one”.

    That’s what it has come to. Well I can still find a place to buy colored suits…

    Girls, shouldn’t “need” to go to seminary in Israel, (although let’s be honest, mostly they all love the freedom from parents and would have it no other way). But like someone said above,
    “These marketing geniuses have created a market that never existed. Now the girls & their parents are driven to poverty because of Shidduch terror.”

    That is the real truth here. We are all driven by the herd mentality, including all the boys’ parents who now control who their sons meet to the point of absurdity.

  16. To “RealisticJew”:

    Though you may well be right, how do you get through life carrying SOOOOOO much cynicism?
    Does it extend to all facets of life or just the 2 you mentioned?

  17. What a wonderful, honest & true letter. You see, from the interview on, the seminaries have to scare you & make you feel like you should be glad & thankful to give them close to $20,000 for the year!!! I’m not sure what the seminaries(especially the older “elitist” ones) think that these young American girls are made of. They are degraded at the interview & then left to fend for themselves once they are in. Thankfully, many of the new seminaries that are opening are treating the girls with alot more dignity. They are taking care of them on Shabbosim. They are giving them human accomodations. Wouldn’t you think that for $15,000 tuition before flights and expenses the girls should not feel homeless & beg for Shabbos meals? This all comes from the same attitude they get at the interview. You owe us everything, you need us & pay….I’m thinking that parents will wake up soon & send their children to the seminaries that treat the girls well. I’m wondering what other parents feel about this. Hatzlacha to all!!

  18. joebloggs

    Now from my previous post, the long megillah that I just wrote that has not been posted yet, you can see that I fully feel for this woman, and absolutely abhor the way she was treated.

    But to state, as you state, that it is all money is just not reality.

    I know of a good seminary which chooses to limit their number of girls to 20. They chose the best 20 out of about 40 or more applicants. Often the ones they choose are NOT the ones from the richer families, but the ones who they believe will be a best fit for their seminary.

    There ARE good ones who use appropriate methods of choosing.

  19. i was in seminary only a short 2 years ago, and unfortunately, this is the way of the interviewers. two out of three of my interviews were horrible, and really did make me feel worthless. one interviewer asked me why my father was not learning anymore, after thinking for just a minute, i responded, well, he had to go to work so that he would be able to send me to seminary…the interviewer was a drop taken aback, but i think he realized that i was right…on another one of my interviews, as i was leaving i told her, thank you for your time and have a good day, her response was cold and nasty, as she replied, we’re jewish, we say kol tuv…after leaving both interviews i was horrified…i settled for my third choice, but bh i experienced one of the greatest years of my life. bh today, i am married to a boy who is learning and im living in eretz yisroel. i often have girls over and when my husband hears or reads the reports and homework assignments that are required of them, his hair literally stands up. often times he admits that he doesn’t even know or understand some of these meforshim. unfortunately, the year in seminary does not really properly prepare girls for marriage or life, it is basically like 13th grade piling on more work and memorization. seminary staff should understand that there are more important things in life than grades and reading meforshim…and they should work on trying not to embarrass or hurt their applicants, but rather to set examples for them of what it means to be a true eishis chayil, eisha tznua, and aim b’yisroel.

  20. as someone who teaches in almost every type of Seminary I would like to respond:
    The 2 seminaries mentioned above are much closer in Hashkafa than you would imagine. They are both trying to create Bnos Yisroel who are machshiv Torah. They are starting from different places- but beleive me the goal is the same. I personally know literally hundreds of yungeleit who are married to Sharfman Girls.
    The canard that schools are for money is maybe partly true, but understand that the girls demand all these amneties.
    The need for this type of learning is very needed. Even girls from the most Heimish homes need a year in EY to try to lift themselves upwards and higher.
    Written as a couple who have spent the last 25 years involved in this world and have watched the growth of thousands of young women of all types from this beautiful world.

  21. This article is a great start. We have to realize that this seminary thing is out of control.

    Boys need wives who will be wives and mothers to their kids. NOT ROSHEI YESHIVOS!! They don’t need their wife to know how to learn a Ramban!

    We need to fix the system. But, we need to first admit that we have a problem.

  22. I know I am inviting abuse by taking a contrarian viewpoint, but nevertheless… Writing a letter such as this one so many years later says more about the interviewee than it does about the interviewer. At the risk of sounding harsh- get over it, move on. Noone is perfect; running a seminary or other institution doesn’t make one a Ba’al Middos, years of hard work does. There is a certain bitterness and agenda that comes across in a letter such as this one (much like one that appeared in the Yated a few weeks ago from a boy who had been asked to leave a Yeshiva) and it compromises the point of the letter, however valid that point may be.
    “Although I was Mochel…” Lines such as these speak to a certain self-centeredness that colors the tone of the entire letter and projects a need for validation and approval that best be sought from within oneself, and not from anonymous people surfing the web.
    The world of seminaries is a business, as we all know. We should be appreciative when its leaders conduct thmselves with Middos Tovos, but hardly surprised when they don’t. What business is immune to lapses in Middos and integrity?

  23. I don’t understand WHY if everyone commenting on this accurate article are in agreement that this is the wrong derech then why it is still happening?

    I also was part of a seminary interview of being shot questions and getting displeasing glares at my answers. Then I sat in the next room and heard my friend get interviewed! Oy, hers was even worse due to her family background!

    The seminary that I went to had the most pleasant interview with talking about my talents outside of school and ending with a hearty, “it was so nice to meet you”. I believe that interviewer was considered too “soft” and the seminary has since switched to a “more inquisitive” investigator.

    Let me tell you that adjusting to marriage with no time for learning meforsim etc… unfortunately left me feeling unfulfilled, until I realized that my job is to be a devoted wife and mother, something very few teachers spoke about.

    I hope this system changes very very soon in the light of what Sarah Schnerer really meant.

    May Hashem help us.

  24. I heard that the seminaries make the girls do reports to no end, but then never even give them back with comments or feedback! That’s not how one learns. Just a way to keep the girls busy and the teachers don’t really have to do anything…

    At any college or university, part of the professor’s job is to review the student’s work with the student and provide feedback and instruction. I guess $20,000 is not what it used to be.

  25. EXCELLENT LETTER! Thank you for taking the time to write it. Please, send it to the administration of each seminary in E”Y. Please! (Although there are more now than when we went, as I am around your age, and it will cost a few dollars in postage. It is an opportunity to make a difference, as it is an excellent, respectful and well written letter.)

    Hashem yeracheim aleinu. The frum world has turned frumkeit and Torah into a vehicle for elitism, competition and shame. We are supposed to be helping each other with all the money, freedom and convenience we have here in this reprieve of suffering at the hands of our host country in golus. Instead, we are competing with each other; we keep “upping the bar” and using Torah and frumkeit to hurt, shame and compete with each other.

    Unfortunately, the writer of post # 8 is correct – the seminaries are businesses. And unfortunately, so are the yeshivos. Some are run by people with a sense of responsibility to the klal and yiras shomayim. But unfortunately, too many are not. If money is the driving force, then it is inevitable that corrupt values take on the mask of frumkeit.

    A lot of Seminary and High School teachers at girls schools say things to girls that have nothing to do with frumkeit, with our mesorah, or with Torah. We girls were told 20 years ago NOT to go to college, but to support boys who are learning by being a teacher. And now all the girls are told to go to college. What was that about? In Seminary we had a teacher who told us that we should go onto welfare and foodstamps if our husbands are learning. Another Seminary teacher told us not to do kiruv because we can get negatively influenced by the people we are trying to be mekarev. Who gives these women who take teaching jobs the authority to say things like this? No one. Teaching is a platform given to too many people who say their opinions to trusting girls who think that those opinions are representative of Torah and guidance on how to fulfill it.

    Can we adults resist taking on the teenagers’ peer pressure, and approach our girls’ high schools as a group? Can we put pressure on our girls’ high schools to impart the message to girls that WHERE a girl goes to seminary doesn’t matter? And IF a girl goes to Seminary or not doesn’t matter? Can we start a “Seminary-Doesn’t-Matter-Movement”?? Unfortunately, many high schools are monetarily connected to the seminaries, and may not be open to imparting those messages. Can we make our voices louder than the money driving these businesses?

    Is there anyone capable and willing to unite us to give a voice to how so many people feel about this? (And while we’re at it, about the focus on academics over midos.) If so, please post an email address or phone number here, I would like to be a part of solving the problem (instead of just another person complaining about it).

  26. SUPERB LETTER
    “She has been told for most of her life that her entire future depends on the Seminary she goes to (not true) as it will affect her Shidduch (also not true) and basically her whole life (definitely NOT true). Please tell these girls that they are worth something no matter where they go, as long as they have the Bitachon that Hashem (not the Seminary higher-ups) is guiding them”. _ MY QUESTION IS, “Who are the fools that are feeding MISINFORMATION to our daughters and granddaughters? (Yes I have several sons married to girls from plainjane seminary/ or have not attended even one..heaven help!!)

  27. My daughter is now in her 2nd year back fronm EY Sem. B”H her interview was abolutly nothing like the writer pertayed in her letter. In fact, she said that she and the Menahel were “rolling in the aisles” with laughter. To be sure, it was an enjoyable experience, but she was sure that she wasn’t accepted, due to the lack of seriousness at the interview. She was accepted. and she did go,m and it was a very severe financial strain on us. But boy did she grow while there. Her Sem taught her how to teach, taught her how to be a peron to become a Eim B’ysiroel, but also how to learn so that she could help others ( children, students, Partners in torah, etc), but not to be a Rosh YEshiova. In fact, she was also expected to liva as an adult, on the honor system, to be where she was expected to be , when she was expected to be there without Mother Hen manging every move.

    Not everywhere is it lkike this. After she came back, and started her professional teaching career, she really appreciated what her Menahel did for her. She sings his niggun every shabbos which shows the great kesher that she has with his hashkafah. Bring out the Best in all the Girls, not bring out the Best Girls.

  28. Something to think about:

    I too went through a lot of the same pressure with yeshivos and camps etc.

    While it is not an axcuse for the seminary who should teach the girls how to respect others, the pressure does (most of the time)have a positive affect on th students. I believe that you are a good example. You will never know, how much of the success that you b”h had can be attributed to your desire to be vinidicated of this humiliation. In life there are many times when you work on a shiduch or job or many other things, where there is competition and where not always that the better one win. This exercise helps to prepare people for that reality.

  29. response to #28:
    You are so right. Torah teaches that women should be b’tznius. Years ago sitting & learning in kollel meant doing without. The seminary taught how to teach..a tzniyusdikeh occupation.

    But now, the boys want to learn & have gashmiyus too. The answer? Send the bnos yisroel to become professionals. Spend years rubbing shoulders with goyim in college, doctors in hospitals & lets not forget to be dressed to kill when in the “workplace” (with the sexy shaitel mandated by the Torah!)..all this so your husband can learn & still have nice furniture & meat every night!

    Things are so backwards…if a man prepares to support his family this is now a negative & if a woman is a great housewife who wants to raise her children & keep a Jewish home she isn’t machshiv Torah, because she won’t leave her kids with a goyishe babysitter , go to an office full of prusta Goyim,so her husband can learn.

    And G-d forbid , if a girl actually expects a man to fulfill what he swears to do in the Kesubah (support his wife & family) she is viewed as NOT TORAHDIKE! That’s right, by wanting to have a husband who keeps a chiyuv dioraysa , she is not machshiv Torah. This is Orwelian

    Sometimes I think this is all Alice in Wonderland!

  30. I both agree and disagree with the writer and the above comments.

    Firstly, I think much of the hype that surrounds seminaries is created by the parents and also by high school teachers, not by the seminaries themselves. I went to a high school that puts so much pressure and emphasis on going to seminary (and to specific seminaries). I myself went to “ABC” seminary, and loved certain aspects of it – but can’t say that I’m better because of it. I happened to have enjoyed the stimulation, and many of the hashkafos were very sound – but are in fact the same as many other seminaries. Just because a seminary is ABC, DEF might be just as good (or better). Also, the mechanchos in the seminary itself have a high regard for other institutions – and many of them teach at multiple schools – so whose to say that one is better than the other? Again – it’s certain people that put that pressure – you can’t blame it all on ABC.

    oh and #5 – Sarah Schenirer, BTW, was a VERY well read, well-versed in meforshim, and educated women. Please read the book “Carry me in your Heart” for more information.

    Anyone who goes to a seminary in order to get a good shidduch would be better served investing in their middos and coping skills to prepare for marriage. To that end, choose a fine institution that emphasizes these goals, and you will be well served.

  31. as a rabbi who has taught in a prominent canadian seminary there are good choices on this side of the ocean . with a visit to ey for a few weeks ( with all that saved seminary money) a girl can be interviewed and educated for the year with pride and self worth. and you ask about shidduchim? hashem makes the shidduchim says the gemara.if you have a problem with that then your issues are much deeper than seminary problems. hatzlacha to all those wonderful girls who are applying for next year. daven hard and hashem will send the right answer for you!

  32. From where are we taught to learn how to live our lives? What our priorities should be? How to behave? Obviously from the Torah. Who should teach us how to interpret Toirah if not our Gedolai Hadore?

    When my girls were young (in the upper grades of elementary school) my husband A”H (who had no sisters and had never had any shycheus with girls) said “How do I know how to be mechanech a Bas Torah? He made an appointment with Rav Moishe Feinstein Z’tzl, which I also attended.

    Obviously the Bais Yaakov’s and seminaries never discussed this issue with Rav Moishe or they just didn’t follow his hadracha. Rav Moishe gave the following priorities: First and most foremost, always show your daughters that you love them Give them gifts, even if they don’t deserve them. (Yes, you heard right). Instill in them a love of Torah and a desire to do mitzvos and have good midos. Lastly, if they are so inclined comes the academics. Now why does this sound foreign to us in this day and age? This is definately not the derech of Bais Yaakov chinuch today. As an aside, my daughters were regular Bais Yaakov girls who attended a main stream Bais Yaakov and then seminaries in E”Y. They all K”AH lived in Kollel for a nice period of time (one daughter – her husband learned full time for about 13 years and part time for approximatley another 4 years). This is without gettin “any big money” from family or the government coming their way.

    My other point. As we look to the Torah to show us the way, what do we see? Which women does the Toirah focus on to teach us to emulate?

    Sara Imeinu – had an open house, worked along side her husband Avraham Avinu to be mekarav people to Toirah and was a mother.

    Rivka – her chessed and devotion to the future of Klal Yisroel.

    Rachel, her great devotion and compassion for her sister and others. Why was she burried on the side of the road? So she could intercede for Klal Yisroel when we need her tefilos. Not because she knew Rambans but because of her midos bichlal and her selflessness for her sister Leah.

    Chana who was willing to sacrifice her children – again not because she excelled in historia but because of her mesiras nefesh for Hashem.

    Aishes Ohn Ben Peles who stopped her husband from joining up with Korach and his gang. We don’t hear about her ability to read and decipher meforshim. She knew what to do in this situation (which was to uncover her hair when the other men came to collect her husband, thereby turning them away and saving her husband from taking part in the terrible aveirah.

    Bas Paroh, Miriam Hanaviya, Yoched and Miriam – their mesiras nefesh and love of klal yisroel. The 5 daughter of Ohn Ben Peles and their love for Eretz Yisroel. ETC. ETC. ETC.

    The Bais Yaakov movement is missing the boat, big time, on this major issue!

    It’s not how much you can force the girls to memorize at the fear of not getting into seminaries, getting decent shidduchim, etc. It the love and dedication that you instill in them for Torah and yiddishkeit and the midos tovos toward others that you instill in them. And you certainly don’t instill that by making them feel like loosers, etc.

    Remember what Rav Moishe said (see above) were the priorities. Does anyone think that belittling and making a girl feel like she is a nothing (or not as good as someone else) is going to be the inspiration for her to want to achieve gadlus in her role as a bas yisroel? Think again. We have nebach destroyed girls with all thes crazy pressure we put on them for no reason. If the boys want chavrusos they will find them in Yeshiva. They don’t have to marry them! A girl / woman does not have a chiyuv of Limud Hatorah, so stop pushing all this on them.

    And if the answer is that you think that this is the way to keep them busy and out of trouble – think again. There are so many other positive and valuable things that girls should be doing with their time. Chessed – see above. Activities which bring out the natural talents and help instill pride and good feelings within them, i.e. drama, choirs, etc. I think the Bais Yaakov educators need to really rethink their system.

    Last but certainly not least is the mishagas the girls are put through to gain access to “choshuveh” Bais Yaakovs. The acceptance system used has to be dumped and replaced with a system that does as much as possible to protect the girls from pain and rejection, i.e. like all the schools sending out their acceptance letters at the same time so some girls are not humiliated when asked by others (who have already received their acceptance letters) “so which school are you going to?” The present system is criminal! The very institutions to whom we entrust our daughters to learn midos from are the (unwitting) culprints who hurt and humiliate thousands of girls each year. We have to know that you teach by example.

  33. realisticjew: Although you bring up valid points and are not saying untruths, you would be a happier person if you could balance your realistic attitude with a touch of idealism.

  34. This issue is directly related to the previous Out Of The Mailbag issue – A Shadchan’s Plea

    http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/Out+Of+The+Mailbag/13173/Out+Of+The+Mailbag+-+To+YW+Editor+(A+Shadchan's+Plea).html

    The seminaries are too busy focusing on all the Meforshim (Rambans etc) which have ZERO relevance to “real life” after seminary, and are not even giving desperately needed proper hadrocha to the future mothers of Klal Yisroel!!!!

    Now its NO WONDER why there’s a ‘shidduch crisis’ that girls are so quick to just say ‘no’ after one date!!

    ITS ALL AT THE ROOT…the seminaries should STOP focusing on Miforshim etc, and focus on the PRACTICAL living life as a Torah Jewish woman.

    If they start giving practical Haskofas Hachyim (not their own – made up stuff, but dass torah!!) and some practical holachos for woman (ie kashrus) then this one year of seminary could CHANGE OUR GENERATION, and can be a huge help in solving our ‘shidduch crises’ / divorce rate.

    BTW: BOYS YESHIVOS (post H.S.) MUST also give over PRACTICAL Haskofas Hachyim to its boucrim, so when they leave the Yeshiva (“real life” after yeshiva) they’re not clueless how to be an erlicher yid, and hopefully will have their priorities straight when it comes to choosing a ‘partner’ in rising the next generation of Klal yisroel

  35. My daughter came back last year from a top tier seminary in Israel. She was bored to tears there. Most of the instructor, their classes and assignments where just time fillers and make work projects. There is no jewish value at all to this system. She did have a great time however outside of seminary while busy with her chesed projects and touring. Did her parents have to spend $20,000? If the Rabbonim would condemn this practice then it will stop. No one has the nerve to buck the trend. Think of how much money could be diverted to tuition for our real schools and young couples!

  36. #32. RealisticJew – nice to see someone has their head on straight.

    When I was single and working in a corporation with non-Jewish men only, I said something is very wrong with this system. Everyone said shut your mouth & keep on making those $$$$.
    When people asked me what I am looking for in a shidduch, I said I want to eventually stay home and raise my kids. Well meaning shadchanim and friends said just don’t tell that to anyone or you won’t get married.
    Some people considered me not to be machshiv torah because a)I didn’t feel comfortable as a single girl working in a non_jewish environment and b)because i wanted to raise my own children.

    Something is very wrong with the system!

    And more on topic with this discussion – I went to a top sem which was very nice and I’m not sorry I went but I think sem really has no bearing on real life. i can go on and on about this, but I’ll just say a few points. I live in e”y and work full time (from home) to support my husband in kollel with 2 little ones b”h. My sister is in sem here and is not allowed to come to help me as her main chesed job, so instead she goes to some stranger, and only comes to help me out when she’s done with that. So great, the sem is teaching her to help strangers before her own family. That is truly a lesson we want to teacher future Jewish mothers, no? Besides for that, I almost never see her because she’s busy doing reports all day.
    Every teacher tells them something else. One says don’t get a college degree at all costs, even through frum programs. The other says, you must live in eretz yisroel after you get married – it’s assur to leave. Etc. She’s getting contradictory messages from different teachers. But maybe it’s better that way. Maybe she’ll actually have to think for herself.

  37. To # 27 I am and my wife are isreali seminary teachers and we have spent all chanukah and this time now marking and commenting on tests and papers. Please a little Kavod and no hearsay!

  38. I didn’t have time yet to read the letters but two comments… A) Why in the world do you think that the heads of these seminaries are goiing to comie close to reading these letters on the internet to tell them how to change it which leads me to B) this is just going to turn into a real nice juicy piece of LH on seminaries and their Roshei yeshivas and I dont think that is a good idea… you hava a prob witht the way they do things… send THEM personally a letter and let them know how u feel… believe me… not worth is to PUBLICLY malshin them. It dont make G-d so happy!

    Hopefully no more girls shall have to be shamed.

    shkoyach!

  39. WHAT ABOUT THE COST OF SEMINARY??

    Stories abound about how people are using their home equity and all of their resources to send their girls to seminary and then have nothing left to make a wedding or support them in kollel. And that’s not even considering the other daughters. Klal yisroel has to come together on this.

    Loved the letter, but it has nothing to do with seminaries themselves; rather, it’s reflective of an inherent arrogance in the frum community that slowly eats away at anyone who is not strong enough to face up to it. My daughter, who attends a main stream bais Yaakov and is very well-liked in the school, was recently reprimanded when the back row of (100)girls that she was sitting with didn’t hear the teacher begin her class. She and her friend became everyone’s scapegoat and was kicked out of class. Afterwards, when they approached the teacher to apologize and explain that they didn’t mean to be disrespectful, the teacher said,”Girls, you’ve got to be really careful to please me because I’m the one they call when they’ll ask to speak to someone about your shidduchim.” My daughter is 15, k”ah, and was quite shaken up from this, which was her first experience ever of being reprimanded for anything since she started high school. I held her tight and assured her that she was a beautiful, talented girl, loved by Hashem who makes all shidduchim.

    Believe me. The problem isn’t the seminary: that’s a whole different can of worms that we have to deal with. The problem is with the people in our community who are filled with an arrogance that is throwing people off the derech left and right. Thank G-d, my daughter is a stable girl, but I think it’s crazy that I have to be alert to these thoughtless people who could possibly ruin her life, chas v’shalom.

  40. well “RealisticJew”, I guess you answered my question. In reality though, I did enjoy your post!

    As for “Providence”: Please understand that these young people are still very vulnerable, and to a great extent, the way they are rejected can leave everlasting scars. This should not come as news to any reader. Perhaps she is a bit self-centered, but in no way does it excuse a person who is in charge of Chinuch from acting in such a way (assuming the story is true).

    Let me just add that I too had an experience with
    an authority figure in my Yeshiva who accused me of doing something wrong, and told me I had to leave and not come back without my parents calling him. Besides the fact that I felt his basis was wrong, I thought his actions and the way he spoke to me (which I won’t repeat) were incredibly stupid. This man has gone on to be a famous personality, and is considered a tzaddik.
    I have no problem with that, but it DID take me quite few years to get over it. I have gotten to the point where I understand that he did this with pure intentions much like a drill seargent in boot camp, but we expect much more from our mechanchim.

    There, I feel a little bit better.

  41. its so ironic!!!!!
    the girls [or their parents]think that getting accepted to certain sems. are better for shiduchim but the truth is the boys are NOT machshiv at all the the girls’ intense learning [ramban ,meforshim etc.].its just accepted (among the boys) that abc sem is top!!

  42. WOW! I have so much to say, I don’t even know where to begin. The seminary situation is terrible but I feel like it will never change. It is so out of hand that the only way for it to change would be for the Rabbonim to speak out. I did not attend seminary and I can not even begin to tell you how many “warnings” I got about not being “redt” to good boys because of it. Over and over again, a teacher that deals with shidduchim warned me that for shidduchim and life in general one must attend seminary. Although I am still in the “Parsha”, to be honest with you,I have no interest in going out with a boy that will make his decision solely on this. I am a normal, regular BY girl, but didn’t get in to my choice seminary and decided not to go at all. But, let me ask you a question. If you had a choice of two IDENTICAL girls for your son, one that went to a top seminary and one that did not go at all, which girl would YOU choose? Do you really think that she is a better person because she went to seminary? Something is wrong with the system, our Hashkafos are mixed up and it must change. Do you think that because I didn’t spent a year in seminary studying and doing reports I won’t be a good mother I”H? There are so many other important things in life-like MIDDOS! You can’t imagine how many times, whether it be in camp, or just when meeting somebody and I am asked what seminary I went to their reply is the same. I have no problem with people asking because I do the same. Many times the seminary tells you about the type of person they are but nothing beats the reply that I get from many people. “OH, I AM SOOO SORRY!”. If anybody can explain that, please do. THAT, is the problem. Something is terribly wrong, and this something must change.

  43. Being a teacher in a few seminaries I guess my comments are predictable but here goes:
    Gotta agree with #23 – BJJ and Sharfmans are actually much the same hashkafa – different girls. Different methods. Similar hashkafa (and a few BJJ grads as teachers)
    Gotta agree with #25 – the letter writer says more about herself than anything else. I would not be surprised if she and Satmar yeshiva bochur (#13) were treated the same, but heard different messages.
    Gotta respond to #26 – the reason noone’s doing anything about it is because the accusations are false – most girls find their interviews pleasant and the year to be one of tremendous personal growth.
    Gotta respond to #27 – I assign a report. It takes me more hours to mark than I could ever possibly be paid for. My students tell me that they read my detailed comments over and over it gives them such hana’ah.
    Gotta direct you – to the “frumteens” website where there’s a current discussion going on among the girls about seminary interviews.(forum- “Seminary”) Something about the above letter doesn’t “shtim”

  44. I cannot agree more with the writer. I too was one of the many girls that was bashed by a “seminary interviewer”. I was asked by the Rabbi of a seminary why I had applied to a few seminaries (5). The question was as follows, “is it because of a lack of self esteem that you applied to 5 different seminaries?” Would that offend you? I was a bit taken aback to say the least, however, I did not answer in a defensive manner, but rather the truth, that my father had advised me to apply to a wide range of seminaries.
    These types of people should not be running seminaries. They have issues- lots of them, too. It’s a need for control (a control freak, in common language). Seminaries are set up to be a guide for the young woman’s life- to teach her what life is about and instill in her the correct hashkofas hachaim. We don’t need any “she-gaons”, women need to be proper wives and mothers, that is the most important lesson that can be given to young women. Shuirim in emunah and bitachon is what is needed, not tests and papers on every meforash in the Torah.
    I could go on, but once again, I will spare the readership of Yeshiva World my philosophical and spiritual theories.

  45. #32: I agree with you, I hope others learn to see the truth you are saying!!!!!

    If you read “Carry Me in Your Heart” you will leave with the solid impression that this is NOT what Sarah Schnerer had in mind at all!

    Girls have become “too smart” for boys because of the schooling system. Which is ironic, since a goal of Sarah Schnere was to help girls have an appreciation for serious learning boys. They do not only want to marry a “learning” boy but they want someone who is learning AND with it and smart and “wordly”. Well of course if you spend your life in college and work then you need someone who can relate to you. A studious yeshiva man who only wants to learn is “only in his dalad amos of yeshiva” SO WHAT’s WRONG WITH THAT?

    I still don’t understand why it is like this if everyone is in agreement of the problems of the system!

  46. Response to #36 DeliberatelyEsoteric

    I appreciate your advice about being idealistic. You admit my points are valid. Without breaking my arm to pat myself on the back, I do have quite a bit of idealism. I support mosdos of Torah including Kollelim. At the end of the day the future gedolim will be produced by this system.

    However , as the RAMBAM says in Hilchos Shmitah & Yovel, anyone can be like Shevet Levi (parnoso from Hashem in exchange for devotion to Torah). The Rambam says “nodev libo” he volunteers…not that he is coerced by a social system out of control. In addition by definition, and historically, devotion to Torah is a life of material deprivation. When we see boys shirking , one one hand, the responsibility of supporting a family, yet on the other hand, not willing to be moser nefesh in gashmiyus, then they are not keeping the bargain.

    Naturally, those who truly are devoted to learning & aren’t hitting the restaurants twice a week, should be commended, supported & are clearly keeping the world alive.

    But lets not sacrifice the holy tradition of Jewish women NOT being in the Gahs (street) all the time, for the sake of the very Torah that requires tzniyus & kedushah. It sometimes seems like a tovel v’sheretz b’yodoh.

    P.S. I enjoyed this thread very much, & lets all remember for whom we ultimately work, learn & teach.

  47. As a seminary “graduate” of only a couple of years, im hopefully going to try adn clarify some things. i went to sharfmans, yes it was expensive but b’h my parents were able to aford it. let me tell you about i would say more than half of the girls in my year……..if you would take one look at them today most of them are kollel wives, where there hjusbands are sititng and learning or learning half a day and working half a day, some live in yerushalayim while others have moved to yeshivish communities in america….now rewind to a couple of years ago these girls came from coed schools, some were baalas teshuvas, most (myself included) grew up modern orthodox with televisions in the homes and going to movies…..i think there needs to be a seperation when discussin semiaries, some ppl thatt posted above were correct BJJ and sharfmans have similar hashkafas the difference is in sharfmasn the girls coming in in september are in no way shape or form a “bais yaakov” girl. however the girls that come out in june do resemble hashkafas of the bais yaakov type. speakin for myself and my friends we would not be where we are today without seminary, does it have its issues yes all places inevitably do. but to call it a money making scheme and another name for “birthright” thats just completely sad and incorrect. so i think we need to clarify when we speak of seminaries….my experince in sharfmans is one i will never forget o adn trust me there was no homework there was some tests and a paper, but not the type of work that makes u feel like ur back in high school. adn to be honest, some seminaries like sharfmans focus on the girl growing in her frumkeit first, not shidduchim. i dont belive that seminary shouuld be a year about marriage and shidduchim. if the seminary does the right job you will hopefully will come out with the right middos and actions and learn from mentors and teachers on how to build a marriage. i know i did.

  48. most of you said very well, however will anything change? Probably not. Like some one mentioned, the boys couldn’t give if the girl could read the rambam, they just want their dream girl, and they think that it’s waiting for them in certain ones of these seminaries-businesses. Also agree with “realistic jew”!

  49. Mirrer, I disagree. Most girls do need SOME intellectual stimulation and seweing and cleaning provides none of that. Should we go to the other extreme and embarress a girl who can’t read a random rambam on the fly? No. There has to be a middle ground between only cleaning and only Rambams.

  50. You got off easy. If this was a Brovender’s interview, he would have asked you about the machlokess between the Magid Mishna and the Kessef Mishna and how R’ Chaim answers a stirah from a different Rambam.

  51. your letter touched me. My girls are far from seminary age howeverthe pressure starts at a young age. Here in Lakewood getting your 5 year old in a school is like applying to harvard. If you are not in the right elementary school than its all down hill after that.

  52. #30 – I believe I went to the same sem as your daughter. (The niggun and honor system kind of give it away…)

    And I wasn’t given a Ramban to read during that interview. If I remember correctly, it was an excerpt from Michtav, which is relevant towards the female gender.

    It truly depends on the sem.
    During a different sem interview, I was asked to prepare half of a Ramban. The interviewer then proceeded to ask me questions on the second half of the same. When i couldn’t recall the answer, she blamed it on my nervousness, and wouldn’t listen to my claims that I hadn’t read that part until she actually decided to read the said Ramban herself.
    Said reviewer was quite embarrassed, so much so that I wasn’t accepted. Baruch Hashem.

  53. Any men out there that are arguing what seminaries should be teaching, should first go to seminary to find out before they talk. I went to a very academic seminary and I came out with a lot of hashkafa for life. Even the academic seminaries open the girls up to a lot more than textual learning.

  54. as a 3 time loser who has sent 3 girls to seminary in Israel I would like to set the record straight. 2 of my daughters went to one of the top top seminaries where ramban is just an afterthought .they spend days learning gemorrah and meforshim.they had copies of dafim of gemorrah that they went through line by line.In conjunction they are given a project on some obscure topic that they must spend a minimum of 100 hours doing research on. They are being taught by wanna be rosh yeshivas who have their hashkofos all mixed up. They know to brainwash the girls that to marry a yeshiva boy who is going to college or even to marry a boy that would even think of working is a worse fate then death.
    some of the top schools interview hundreds of girls who have sent in a $100 application fee.what exactly costs $100?????What is even a bigger chutzpa is that many girls stand no chance of getting in but are given an interview just to be yoitza so that the school should not have to return the money. this is outright genaivos daas and these are the mechanchim of our future yideshe mamas.
    We need some rabbonim to stand up and say enough is enough and suspend seminary in Israel for a few years until the costs are drastically cut and the curriculum reviewed by real daas torah. Bottom line all had the experince of a lifetime in their year in Israel but none came home and knew how to make a kugel and a cholent

  55. As sem teachers, I’m not so sure you are objective. I went to sem 6 years ago and although I enjoyed myself thoroughly it had more to do with my friends than with the curriculam or staff.

    I am B”H a kollel wife and teacher. And I think sem was a waste of time .

  56. The Seminary Crisis is an issue that should be adressed by our Gedolim. I feel that there are many good points in the above comments. Let’s compile them & present them to Daas Torah.

  57. When will all the shtick stop!!!?
    Everything today is judged on chitzonius. Who looks at the quality or depth of a boy/girl today?
    Yiras Shamayim?! The gemorra says that Beikvesa Demeshicha “Veyirei Cheit Yimasu Vehaemess Ne’ederess” (Sota 49B).
    One look at the marriage/divorce situation (not to mention the sidduchim scene (BTW do they stack the plates?!) will give us a clear indication that the whole emphasis of klal yisroel today is not on the Neshama but rather on the Guf.
    We need more projects like Project Chazon to help the children today to understand what yiddishkeit is about. To help them build a relationship with Hashem (as the Gemarra concludes Veal Ma Yesh Lonu Lehishoen Al Ovinu Shebashomayim).
    Maybe then there will be hope that a new generation will flourish who will be Machzir Ataroh Lyoshna and bring the final redemption Bimheiro Beyomeinu.

  58. I don’t know who this “realisticjew” is but he should be the leader of the poor masses who are subjects of the establishment. His comments are great!I think there are 3 comments by him in this thread.

  59. I think that the seminary crisis can be tied to the kollel crisis as well. These girls are being told that they must work and support their husband in kollel but they can’t go to college to get a decent job. Anybody heard of Touro…

    I went to sem and had the most amazing time . I went to a place where the girls are coming from Modern Orthodox homes with an interest of becoming stronger.
    The interview was wonderful. I didn’t have to read any pesukim etc. to get in. I was just questioned on my desire to learn.
    The sem I went to was a place where there was no pressure just love and acceptance. Quite a few of the ppl I went to sem with are mothers with fine Jewish homes .
    This sem doesn’t stop caring about you when you leave. I called the menahel from my sem whenever I had shailos when I lived in NY. Now that I live in EY I call him for all the EY shailos. They were also very helpful when I was stuck in Hadassah for two months. How many sems bring the purim seudah to their former student in the hospital!!! This is 10 years after I am out of there!!!!

  60. As someone who attended sem in EY for a yr, I can full relate to this letter. Although I truly gained a lot from the yr, I bli neder wouldn’t send my children bec completely didn’t feel it was necessary. The mechanchos make it seem like your whole future relies on the sem but guess what? No one ever asked to see my “teuda” which I slaved away all yr to achieve and in laws and husband are perfectly happy with me whether I went to that sem or not (or whether I went to sem at all). The whole thing is one big trend and business.
    Besides for the valid point this writer makes abt seminaries operating like yeshivos or even more stringent. Since when is a girl supposed to be praised bec of how bright she is? And since when are girls supposed to be learning gemara? The whole thing is totally riddiculous.

  61. With regard to 52 “Seminaries should be teaching girls to sew, cook and clean” and # 60 “but none came home and knew how to make a kugel and a cholent”; You have it all wrong. MOTHERS are supposed to be teaching their daughters how to keep house. Educating a girl is a partership between the home and the school. You can’t push off all your responsibility on the school.

  62. Unfortunately, middos and ehrlichkeit no longer have any meaning in our Bais Yaakovs and Seminaries. All that counts are shallow externalities and getting at least a 95 on an entrance exam. Is that what Bnos Yisroel are all about? Are our daughters being trained to be Roshei Yehiva and Harvard Grads or caring Jewish women with souls?

  63. 5 and 58, maybe day seminary is less essential for in towners, but as an out of towner and mother of daughters who’ve been through sem it is essential. As was explained to me 30 years ago, especially if a girl is going to continue her secular studies, she needs advanced Judaic studies on a more sophisticated level. And I am NOT talking gemara. (I am astounded that gemara is being taught in the more right wing seminaries and honestly can’t believe it. ) My daughters’ sem teachers were “unplugged” in a way that they could not have been in high school, in honest, productive hashkafa discussions that I am forever grateful for.

    And please, don’t say they should be getting that in 12th grade – let high school be high school!

    23, for all I know you may be one of the teachers, and thank you so much, even if you aren’t for your avodas hakodesh. But as someone who wasn’t able to attend sem in E”Y, please let’s stop propogating the myth that one must go to E”Y to get the full benefit of the year. I am so grateful my daughters did go, and hope my younger ones can go too. But what we really need are more American dorm seminaries. Not everyone is “academic” (can’t stand that word! But I mean a sem. that isn’t intensely text based) or suited for Lakewood, Yavneh or Baltimore. If these sems exist, principals, please get out there! There are wonderful girls who would be assets to the seminary and reflect well. My high school principals are very involved and helpful in the sem admissions process but will not push seminaries they don’t have practical knowledge of.

  64. I went to seminary a few years ago, and had a great year. the fact that i had such a good time was completely due to the fun aspect of dorm life. my year centered around my dorm and my friends and had very little to do with the classes. I went to a terrific high school where my 12th grade teachers shaped me and taught me more about being a good jew and a good person than seminary ever could. I dont regret the year in israel for a second, it was worth it just to gain some independance, and no one can underestimate the importance of being in israel itself! however, with the exception of a couple of programs, people going to seminary should just be prepared for an extra year of high school in the Holy Land.

  65. Any parent considering sem options for their 12th grader should keep her closer to home. Far too many girls are running around in Eretz Yisroel these days. Our local seminaries deserve our attention and chizuk.

    The sem experience has changed since I went in ’80. We were a group of unsophisticated girls with no big ideas or plans to be home for Yom Tov. We rarely spoke home and even missed family simchos. Many of us came from smaller out of town schools and were amazed and inspired to be part of a class of 83. When we left home for our year, we could have been leaving for another planet! We were an impressionable bunch and boy were we ever impressed.

    Today’s 12th graders are savvy with lots of know how. Many have been to Eretz Yisroel before their sem year. I’m sorry to say that lots of that sem magic is gone. I don’t think that there is a small school anywhere anymore, so our daughters have seen lots – of B.Y. spirit( not to mention the huge summer camps).

    Our local B.Y. high schools have wonderful role models for our daughters. There is lots of talent right here on the home front. I loved my year in ABC, but will try to keep my girls close to home. A year away is a long time and many girls who should not be away are going because not too much thinking is going into this decision. We have actually created a need for many more sems to open up for this coming year. Are we crazy? Pleading for a $20,000 priviledge??

    Seminary is Eretz Yisroel is not what it used to be. Not even close. Let’s strengthen our sems on this side of the ocean. I think BY summer tours are the way to go for now. Eretz Yisroel is for our sons.

  66. I have spent a few minutes reading the various comments on the subject.

    There is one recurring theme. No one has a really good reason why ‘every girl needs’ to go to a Seminary in Israel.

    There is no doubt spending a year in Israel completely independent can be a growth opportunity. The choice in Seminary can be completely irrelevant.

    There is no doubt spending a year immersed in learning can improve an individual, but why can’t that happen at home?

    These comments apply to the boys as much as the girls.

    Try asking a boy or girl why they are going to learn in Israel, or even one who has already returned. See if any of them have an answer other than “It’s a great experience”.

    The main subject I would like some feedabck on was briefly mentioned in a previous comment.
    We are all aware of the exorbitant cost of spending a year learning in Israel. Amounts can easily reach up to $20,000 after all expenses. Additionally, there are very limited if any tuition breaks in the majority of Seminaries.
    My big question is regarding a sample family with 6 children ready to send one off to Seminary in Israel.

    With a modest household income requiring tuition discounts, the family pays a total of $10,000 annually to the local Yeshivas where 5 of the 6 children attend. However when it comes to forking over $12,000 or more to a Seminary, the parents somehow find a way to pay.

    This is sick on so many levels.

    1) The parents have been completely suckered and taken in by the ‘system’ which demands that their child attend a Seminary in Israel or risk being ostracized in the Shidduch market.

    2) They are now most likely in a financial crisis and the rest of the family is suffering because of it.

    3) Most importantly, this is a major factor why most yeshivas are struggling financially. In this example, the family is spending over 50% of its tuition budget for 6 children, on one child. People have a right to spend their money how they see fit, but not at the expense of the rest of the community. This person has no right to take huge tuition discounts at the local schools only to go ahead and spend all that money on one child in Seminary. I don’t think that if a person gets a tuition discount the school would have a right to dictate how they can spend their money; but this is another education expense which has a direct impact on the tuition amounts of the other 5 children.

    Unfortunately, I echo a very popular sentiment. Until something very drastic takes place, nothing will change.

  67. First of all, someone has to get the guys running this page to have this on the front home screen for a couple of weeks. This has potential to create a “critical mass” that is willing to finally proclaim “the Emperor has no clothes!”

    The people pushing Seminary are like Al Gore pushing global warming. So far he has made 100 million dollars (really!) “saving” the world. The people who care so much about our daughters are simply creating enough hysteria using the shidduch phobia (because, naturally Hashem can’t possibly manage to send our daughters a good zivug unless we go in to debt, to send our kids & money to these fellows in Israel who can’t make a living in the real marketplace)and people, like lemmings follow the crowd, Are we all Sheeple, or people!?

    Anyone who has had enough, should post a response stating that they will no longer do it. When enough people agree, we will start a group, get friends on the bandwagon..& break free of the shackles of this new form of extortion.

    Mi Lashem Elai!

  68. Maybe i should add my two cents to this issue.

    First & formost to me as a father of two wonderful doughters, it never occured to me to send my children to Seminary, & yes i making fun of all those who do send to Seminary as its nothing more than a bunch of nonsense. In my dictionary there is only three things that apply to girls Tzenius, Middos, Yiras Shomayim, all the rest is stupid & uncalled for.
    Girls dont have to learn anything at all except those Halohos that apply to them for example Hilchos Shabbos & the likes otherwise they are exempt from TORAH LEARNING no matter what & it does not make a difference who founded the Seminary & which Rav advises you to send your doughter to seminary.

    In closing B”H both my doughters are married to wonderful men & the main thing is that they are great mothers & good wifes & are there to take care of thier children & yes the husband does not sit in Kollel but they are going every night to a shiur & this is what counts,
    Just look at the Chassidic girls who dont go to seminary & dont know Rambam’s but thier Tzenius is legendary & the girls who go to seminary there is nothing to write home about thier Tzenius

  69. I would like to clarify a point made by #74 Chicago Mentch.
    Please bear in mind that a Seminary education is considered a College level education. If a person goes to an Israeli seminary via a US College with an Israeli program ( Touro) they qualify for Federal and State financial aid. The lower the family income and the higher the number of dependents in the family the greater the monetary award. This form is a FAFSA form and is required by most post high school Seminaries and Yeshivos including BMG Lakewood. It could well be that the family that got a sizable tuition discounts from the local Yeshiva is not paying the 15 to 20 thousands dollars of seminary tuition. It is the middle class that is really hurting when it comes to paying for seminary. By the way Seminaries are also not for free in the US either!
    All my daughters went for a year of seminary in Eretz Yisroel and it was a great experience for them. They all worked throughout high school to save up for the airfare to Eretz Yisroel.
    I would strongly question if a Chidduch would be red for my son if the prospective young lady did not attend any Seminary.
    As far as the letter writers interview experience are concerned unfortunately there are people working in all aspects of Chinuch that don’t belong there. Many Yeshivos, Bais Yakovs, Seminaries are private enterprises not governed by elected officials of the community. So very often the ‘family’ gets hired whether they are qualified or not.

  70. 76 – 100% I was about to comment that B”h by the chassidishe we don’t suffer from this problem. as soon as we graduate 12th grade (some skip 12th as well for) we go out to work & make money. I think the extra cash can support a kollel husband more realistically than a seminary experience. As for the “Hashkafa” that you’re koina in Sem. – interestingly enough we seem not to be lacking any hashkafa in our high school lessons.
    so if you still insist on going bankrupt for stupid reasons, by all means go right ahead & send all your daughters & nieces to Seminary.

  71. Send your girls to Bais Chinuch Hayashon and they will learn to cook and sew in highschool. They will not have their self esteem damaged by applying and interviewing to seminaries which will not accept them. They will be ready to marry at 17 or 18 and you will save the money you would have spent teaching them Rambam, gemorah, and how to bake cookies in Seminary.

  72. 81, not all girls are ready to marry that young. (And I do hope that those that do are marrying young men who are ready and willing to step up to the plate to support the family honorably.) Perhaps it is the chisaron of communities other than yours. Couple that with a complete inability to earn the income necessary to support someone in kollel. (Assume the parents are unable to help as they have other children and obligations.) If a girl has to get any professional or vocational training post high-school she MUST have some institutional kodesh chinuch, whether day or night sem, at least for the first year or two as a foundation.

  73. #81, I detect a note of sarcasm in your post, but whether you’re serious or not, You don’t have to go to the other extreme. Bais Chinuch Hayashon isn’t the only chassidishe school around. Many Tomer D’vora, Bais Brocho, Vien & Bobov girls don’t travel to Israel either for the year…

  74. #1 First of all, stop bashing seminaries-which i know was not your intention- when you give examples of girls who went to this school or that school, you are offending any person who ever went to that school, and it is complete stereotype to make a statement across the board about a “type” of girl from a “type of school. Who said Sharfman’s and BJJ have different hashkafos? maybe they cater to a different type of girl, but both schools promote being machshiv Torah, both schools follow halacha, and both schools encourage girls to marry a ben Torah who either learns full time or is koveia itim. So Sharfmans girls may have gotten less of that at home, so they need it reinforced when they go to seminary. But please don’t put down those girls who had to work a little bit to where they have gotten, because I know a lot of Sharfman’s girls who are working hard and scraping to support their husbands in kollel, and I know a lot of Sharfman’s girls who are now big rebbetzins helping clal yisroel. So maybe its not considered to be as chashuv a place to go as BJJ, but please dont think less, and please dont judge, because a lot of people who have gone to Sharfmans and grown from it, arent so proud that they went there in the first place. Many are, but some are more sensitive about it, so dont talk about it as the bottom end of the hierarchy when youre comparing it to BJJ.

  75. Re 83: there was no sarcasm intended at all. My apologies if for a nanosecond you feel you were being mocked in any way. But the reality beyond Brooklyn, and chassidishe schools, is very different. And I like your reality. If any of my children would for some reason opt to join such a community, I would get great nachas and support them whole-heartedly. Shivim panim l’Torah.

  76. And re my last post (response to 83), there are 2 different issues – the need for seminary at all (which will add up for out of towners, even if their children stay in the country), and the year in E”Y. I think E”Y can be an exceptional experience. E”Y is not the essential experience, seminary, even chutz la’aretz is (for most of the non chassidishe).

  77. I would like to confirm the story of feif un #62.
    I heard it in Telzer Yeshiva at the Sheva Brachos of the late Rosh Yeshiva R’ David Barkin ZT”L. (I believe it was in 5729).
    As you may or may not know R’ Barkin learned bechavrusa with Rav Schach zt”l. One of the speakers at the Sheva Brachos (I think it was Rav Gifter zt”l) mentioned this story.
    This is approximately the way I heard it in the name of the Choson (R’ Barkin)
    Once as they were sitting and learning a girl came in with her finger on the Ramban and wanted to ask Pshat. Rav schach escorted her to the kitchen offered her a piece of cake and said: “WE will learn the Ramban, You bake cake.”

  78. 88, that’s not a question. Everything that happens in a child’s life has an effect. More traumatic things are usually remembered and if not dealt with properly leave scars that still bother a person. She is even more bothered since she sees it still happening today.

  79. oh boy am i glad someone brought this up.

    can someone explain to me why, because I opted not to go to seminary, i’m “limited in my shidduchim options?????”

    Did it ever occur to any of those narrowminded people that the REASON i didn’t go, was to save the money so i can, Beezras Hashem, support a kolel husband, at least for the first few years?

    maybe the reason i stayed home, and am attending touro and working as well, is so that i can have a job that will, Beezras Hashem, enable my husband to devote time to learning, to set the Torah foundation in our home, in the early years?

    perhaps the reason i stayed home was NOT that i wasn’t interested in spiritual growth, but rather that I had gotten such a wonderful highschool education, that I feel like I have a real head on my shoulders, i know what I want in life, and I have a strong, beautiful Hashkafa that I am happy with…so I am ready to start life…

    I attend night shiurim regularly. I learn because I want to. I am not a streetgirl. I am not a bum. I am no different from those wonderful girls who chose to go to seminary. I do have money values.

    as far as attending seminary here and saving some money….they are still expensive. i just felt that I could spare my parents’ money. I’d rather the money i made all these years go towards a downpayment for a house or something, and go to free shiurim localy.

    my hashkafa, after FOURTEEN YEARS OF BAIS YAAKOV EDUCATION, is Boruch Hashem, nice and strong. for those girls who could use extra, and can AFFORD TO GO, kol hakovod.
    but don’t make it mandatory.

    my friends all went and had a great time. and nearly ALL of them said it was nice but not necessary.

    and as for the ones who were in Eretz Yisrael, well…please don’t think that the land of the spiritual high is free of spiritual danger. the disgusting stories they come back with about the lewid “marriage proposals” they receive every day, the flirting from both secular and frum teenage boys, etc etc etc maks me glad I stayed home.

    and no, these girls are not in “those certain seminaries where they hang ut till 2 am on Ben Yehuda.”

    no, they are fine girls attending BJJ, Hadar, Bnos Chava, etc.

    at least here I don’t have to worry when i take a picture with my friends, that boys are standing behind the photographer and taking pictures as well.

    seminary can be wonderful for those who need it.
    but please, we need to unite, and make it an ACCEPTED THING for BY girls not to go. I know so many people who don’t want to go, but are afraid of what “people will say.”

    if we get Rabonnim involved, so many people will breathe easier.

  80. Belev Echad (90), I appreciate where you are coming from and have a great deal of respect for you. Not everyone would be as self-motivated. And outside of NY, the opportunities for regular shiurim OUTSIDE of a formal sem. structure are much more limited. Kol tuv and hatzlacha in all your endeavors.

  81. my 4 daughters were pretty sure they could identify the seminary that A SOUND VOICE applied to, because they, too, had the same kind of pseudo-physchological,”deep-thinking” drivel thrown at them. It seems that this particular rabbi has a reputation for asking this kind of “insightful question” and his seminary is known to focus less on academics than on developing “self-awareness.” Even without the benefit of college degrees in psychology, I’m glad that my daughters, like A SOUND VOICE, had enough sechel to recognize a “control freak.” It’s a common occurrence for girls to come out of his interviews in tears. So please tell me why, several months later, these same girls CHOOSE TO GO TO THIS SEMINARY? What does that say about our “flavor-of-the month” mentality and our daughters’ lack of self respect when presented with the possibility of becoming one of the select few who are invited to join this “exclusive” group? And what does it say about us parents who actually PAY MONEY to a person who acts like this?!–and, judging by the comments my daughters have heard from their friend, many of this rabbi’s comments serve to undermine the respect the girls have for their parents.

  82. My daughter is doing this very same thing today- traveling to ny for a seminary interview. i have had 3 other daughters in eretz yisroel seminaries, and while i would much prefer that my daughter not have to travel for her interview, (especially with the expense on top of the application fee), i know how wonderful it would be for her to spend the yr in E”Y. contrary to several people’s postings, i was very very happy with my daughters’ development and growth in seminary, and i know they did not hang out and party at all! yes, in additon to the learning, they had fun with their friends (good clean kosher fun) and became very independent, all while taking in the mekomos hakodesh and the gedolim and the kedusha of E”Y. i think that a person needs to know their daughter. is she the type that is comfortable in her frumkeit and doesnt need to experience the “freedom” that seminary in E”Y allows, or is she going to try things and experiment with her newfound freedom. E”Y is not for everyone, but for those who it is, the experience can be life altering- for the good!