Bais Chaya Rochel (Newer Gateshead Seminary)

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    Hello to all of you. I’m new to this coffee room posting. I’ve never done this before so I’ll try my best & give my best shot at this.

    I have a dilemma which I’m trying to work out. I’m hoping this won’t bore you & that some of you intelligent posters can help me out with your insight into this matter.

    I’m a single divorced mother w/ a daughter of now bli ayin hara 16 1/2 yrs. old. She’s in the 11th grade in a prominent frum high school. She’s a wonderful kid, smart as well. The problem is, is that she’s unhappy in school since she feels that she’s not getting enough of Hashkafa there & she feels that many of the teacher’s don’t really know how to give over their lessons properly in a manner that will make the kids interested in the subject & not bore them to death &/or fall asleep in class. Meaning like for ex. when they’re learning the various different sforim from Torah, Neveim &/or K’suvim, they’re not being expounded upon (when I say expounded upon, I don’t mean w/ all the different mefarshim-but rather in a more interesting manner) & being taught the lessons that can be learned from many of these lessons that are being given over to the girls. In addition, a number of the teachers are already pretty advanced in their age & cannot teach it properly nor can they control the class very well either.

    She feels that she has nothing to look forward to for next year cause she already heard from other kids that I guess are now in 12 grade that the teacher’s from 12th grade are nothing special to rave about(at least that’s how she makes it seem). You know how kids just know how to press the right buttons when they want to get their way & so they tell you anything just to influence/impress upon you. So the issue is that she wants very much to go for 12th grade & Seminary year to Bais Chaya Rochel which for those of you who might not know-it’s the newer Seminary in Gateshead. They’ve been around for somewhere between 10-13 yrs. Anyways, she feels she’ll gain much more over there in terms of the Hashkafa-it’s an area which the school puts a lot of effort into. So she feels that she can grow much more in a place like this whereas in the school she’s in, she feels that she just cannot get all of this. In addition, they have in the afternoon, interesting courses that they give for the girls such as I think hair cutting/hair dressing, make-up course, sewing, graphics etc… which are things that they can use for life.

    I’ve done a decent amount of checking so far. I even spoke at length to Rabbi Katz from the school too. It all sounds like a nice program. I’m still trying to do more checking into this-I haven’t finished my homework just yet. I just don’t know what the right thing is to do with a kid like this.

    On the weeks that she’s able to, she goes either w/ her friends or w/ me & sometimes she has her friends come along in the car too to Rabbi Wallerstein from Ohr Naava to hear his lectures. She feels that she gains a lot from going there cause he brings in a lot of the Hashkafa in his Shiurim & discusses things that you don’t quite hear in the lessons taught in school.

    So to sum it up:

    *I’ll wind up being alone for basically 2 yrs. which is in & of itself a difficult parshah for me. (Yes, I’m trying to put that part on the back burner for the moment & trying not to focus on that part too much.)

    *The expense which is enormous (tuition – B’Erech 5G p/yr., shopping prep. prior to going, spending $ for over there, 4 round trip tickets ea. year-since they come home 4 times in the yr.) Yes, my “X” husband would have to share in the expense as well.

    The fear is also not know if your’re doing the right thing for your child & making the right decision. I don’t know at this point who is going & from what types of families these girls come from. You want to be secure that your child is going to be w/ kids from very good solid frum homes, not someone who’ll have a bad influence on her-even though R’. Katz has told me that they generally try not to take kids who have a bad Hashpa’ah on other kids.

    Okay, I think I’ve elaborated enough – I hope you all get the gist of my dilemma. I look forward to hearing your responses. If you don’t have anything smart to say, then do yourself a favor & keep your comments then to yourselves.


    Welcome to the coffee room (I’m pretty new myself). Its a friendly and cozy place.

    #1) What does her father think?


    It sounds like a very viable option.

    Seminaries everywhere are expensive, even in the states if parents have to send their kids out of town and just miss qualifying for gov’t aid. (I heard some people explaining how Israeli seminaries cost next to nothing for them because of the various grants specifically for Israeli sems, they qualify for gov’t aid and even insurance help, etc.) Sem is a worthwhile investment IMO and I think your daughter will gain immeasurably. As I said, this seems like a fine option for her.

    Now about coming home 4x a year: do ALL the girls really do that? Do some stay, and spend the time with friends’ families? I have a hunch more than a few girls do and they don’t feel at all nebby about that.



    being a single parent, albeit male, with a similar question coming up, i think the only ones qualified to answer this is a Rabbi (or similar) that knows you, your daughter and the school well.

    having said that, i grew up in Gateshead, (for better or for worse), i know Rabbi Katz, and i know the system somewhat, my sister learnt there, and i will say the following, that there is no question girls that go to Gateshead come out different people, the grow, they mature, they develope, they advance in every which way….

    so yes, if you can manage the seperation, the financial burden, the downside of sending your daughter away then there is no question your daughter can have tremendous benefit from these two years.

    in addition, i agree with tzippi, she doesnt need to come home 4 times a year, many friends will host her some of the vacations.


    good luck with whatever you choose to do and may G-d help you make the right decision.


    To Truth be Told, I don’t think that he commented too much on it. I’ve asked my daughter if she happened to mention anything to her Father w/ regards to this matter & what if anything did he say? She said that he just said okay. It doesn’t sound like he put any thought into it.

    not I

    I know a few girls that went there and enjoyed it immensely.

    Gateshead is a great place for sem. being that there is such a limited access to gashmius.. The ppl that live there are simpler ppl. The lessons are supposed to be great!

    Yes, girls do NOT have to go home so often. Teh enlish girls know that their ‘over-seas’ friends are looking to stay by a friend for one of their vacations..

    As well England is close to EY and often the first year for Succos the girls go to EY.. Not always but I know friends who did that..

    Your daughter is not going to regret it at all!!

    And you.. You will just miss her!


    I am also considering this option for my daughter as well, approximately the same age. We live in E”Y so her schooling basically is free now, but she doesn’t get a full day program like in a dorm.


    I am sure Gateshead is great. But, sounds like the girl is unhappy, critical of her current system, and may need some help before just sending her off to England. (if you are in the US)

    First, growing up with divorce situation, plus lack of happiness in school, rightfully or not – she may benefit from a good female frum therapist who will help her gain inner strength and possible an accepting and happy perspective on life, in general.

    She may benefit from a smaller school with a dorm to build herself, school with a lot of spirit and hashkafa, but it doent not have to be across the ocean. Many possibilities in the US. Find out about local options. I know a girl who came back from England, had family issues (not her fault, of course), parents were hoping England would be a cure. It was not. She made good friends, and deferred the issues, but nothing went away. I am currently looking to place her ina good home for better role models. I am sure your daughter has wonderful parents, but life is not always easy for a child growing up in a divorce situation.

    Good luck


    In the Gateshead Seminary school, do they have financial aid as well for those who have a difficult time financially, Also, when you say that some of the kids there stay there on some of their vacations & travel to the different places near there (other European countries, Eretz Yisrael, etc…) aren’t the tickets from there costly as well? That’s what my Father had told me when I discussed the matter w/ him. He used to travel a lot on business to Europe so he knows from experience. Any insights into this?


    when I checked on Financial aid for a deserving family, no school in the UK offered any. Its more a US thing, sponsored by our Malchus of Chessed.

    not I

    You may ask the seminary if they are able to lower the tuition due to the circumstances.. Whatever they can do is already worth that amount!!


    Can anyone elaborate more on the New Gateshead Sem? How is it different from the Old Sem? Different curriculum and emphasis? What about physical location? Size of school? And is it hard for American girls to adjust to the lifestyle in Gateshead?

    The Best Bubby

    The old Gateshead Sem has been there from time immorial. Their hashkafa is very frum/litvish. They do not have any other subjects studied there, ie. hairdressing, make up, computers/graphics, sewing. The girls’ in Sem are expected to help Gateshead families for Shabbos with peeling, cooking, washing up, clearing up, looking after the children etc. They have hugh families bli ayin harah, kein yirbu and the cleaning help there only works for a few hours. The Rabbanim in Gateshead forbid for any women to pay more to any cleaning help, than is decided by the hanhalah. There is enormous chesed there B’H.

    There are usually no grants, as people are all in the same boat. The new Sem is run well and the girls there can be bit less academic than the old sem, therefore they teach them more life skills.

    Your daughter will not have to fly back 4 times a year. She will make friends and usually there are families in Gateshead/ Manchester (which is a larger city accessable by train or coach, to be purchased in advance), who would put up a girl for a Yom Tov, or a break during the end of December. She will need to go home for Pesach. She can fly in to London Heathrow and take a connecting flight to Newcastle.

    There is nothing to do in the whole of Gateshead. There is a massive shopping mall in Newcastle, but I don’t think they are allowed to go. There are certain hours for the girls from both sems to go to the local kosher, heimishe shop, and certain times for the boys to go into the shop. They even have to walk on different sides of the street. The dorms ave very pashut, no luxuries at all. The showers here are really a trickle of water, and the food is very basic. You will need to subsidise her meals, and food is very expensive compared to USA prices.

    The ruach is phenominal and there is alot to learn, but as Professional wrote, she needs to get professional help with a frum therapist to discuss different issues BEFORE any decision is taken whether to stay in USA or fly to a very cold, rainy Gateshead.

    Much hatzlacha in all that you do, and may H’KBH guide you to do the right thing for your daughter.


    I can’t answer all of your questions, but all I can tell you is only from the research that I’ve done so far is that I keep hearing about how their very much into the Hashkafa-and how the girls really enjoy it & grow from it. They have a lot of shiurim through the first part of the day & then again in the evening too. In the afternoon, as I’ve said in my original post, they have these extra curricular courses that they give to the girls which they can use for life.

    As far as Shabbos is concerned, they usually have the girls stay in the dorm. & they have all the meals in the school. I’m told that they try to give them as much of a warm Shabbos as possible. On Shabbos, they also have numerous shiurim too. They try to bring in certain speakers from the area to come & speak to the girls on various topics I suppose.

    It seems also like their pretty firm on the concept of tznius (that the length of the skirts should be 4″, clothing not being tight fitting-if a girl comes w/ a garment which is against their rules &/or halacha they’ll either make the girl change or in a more severe case, they may take away the garment/skirt).

    The Jewish section of Gateshead from what I hear is just a few short blocks (aprrox. 5,6-I think)so there’s not much that one can do. The girls are basically on their own in their spare time & when they all go together on an outing, I think they have one or two of the girls who are there for their 3rd yr. (the 3rd yr. is optional) already as supervision for the girls. I was told that even the pizza shop has separate hrs. for boy & girls. Certain things they can get help from the Aim Bayit there-but from what I understand that most things like laundry, Dr., etc… they can go w/ a friend, but, they’re on their own pretty much. As far as the adj., I was told that in the beginning, it’s quite difficult to adjust-but, after a couple of weeks they bounce into it. And then when they come back from their extended vacations, it may take some time to adjust again but probably not as long as the first time it did.

    I don’t know too much more, so I hope that I answered some of your questions blstrasburger from whatever research I was able to obtain so far. Hatzlacha Rabba to you as well!!!!


    the best bubby

    i must take issue with what you wrote, i dont know when you were last in Gateshead, but,

    1. the Rabbonim never decided how much to pay the help, there is a standard going rate, but it was never a rule

    2. girls from both Seminaries help Thursday night. i was recently invited to eat by somone Friday night in Bnei Brak, it turned out his wife was my mothers thursday night helper, so you know where she learnt to make Chicken soup.

    3. the girls going out to help learn tremendously valuable parenting, social and other family oriented skills. they derive tremendous benefit and it is only to their advantage.

    4. under what asis do you say that the new sem is less academic and therefor teach more life skills. i dont think it is true, it is a differnet style, meant for different (maybe more open) type of girls, and it was set up to give more life skills. it filled a need that was missing. both seminaries are excellent just this focuses here and this one there.

    5. one of the main differences is that the old sem is a three year program, the new is only two years.

    6. i am not usually so patriotic, but there is plenty to do in Gateshead, it boasts the biggest mall in Europe, many times bigger than the mall of America, (i was in both) the girls go there plenty, there is beach, there is country walks, there is ice skating, there is a park with boating, and then there is Newcastle with plenty of Museums and castles and what not. trust me the girls dont get bored.

    7. it is true that the store has seperate hours for boys and girls, excellent rule for a city with 2 stores only, but over 700 boys and girls of all ages in the various mosdos. B”H Gateshead can boast a minimal of underhand behaviour.

    8. the dorms are fine, the showers give more than a trickle and the food is actually quite good, so says my sister. but yes, food can get expensive.


    i can only say i was recently (last year) involved with a girl from a terribly broken home that went there. she grew by leaps and bounds and came out two years later a differnet person. so possibly it doesnt help some, but i believe the majority have big benefit.


    you have done your homework pretty well.


    To tzvideer, thanks for your compliment!! Although I’m not done yet with all my inquiries, however, I definitely worked pretty hard in obtaining whatever information I’ve received so far.

    Just a slight clarification to all: When I wrote on a previous post that the skirts need to be 4″, I left out part of the sentence. I meant to say that it’s got to be 4″ below the knee & no less. No, they will not come w/ a measuring tape & measure each & everyone’s length of their skirts. But, it has to cover your knees when you stand & also when you sit down comfortably. If it looks too short, that’s when they will say something to the girl. I hope I clarified myself properly.


    tzvi, if a girl feels she didnt get enough love and attention at home, lack of warmth, pain from parents interaction, (Not referring to OP) and such, she has scars that need a lot of help to be a good parent and be able to function and build a good home. sending them away to get good hashkafa doesnt heal the pain. I am still looking for a good home for that girl… was trying while she was in England, and now looking while she is back. anyone? (Ohel helps till age 18)


    I know that this post is older, but I was a student at BCR about 8 yrs ago. If anything developed me as a person it was that place. The Rabbonim there are unbelievable, and the experience is great. The variety of girls make the seminary very well rounded(although it changes from year to year there are all different types of girls there) They are strict on dress code,but somehow thing are easier to do there because you start having a new appreciation for it and there is no styling pressure there as the girls are all so different. I know that the school offers scholorships(discounts) based on need( I think it says it in the introductory application form) most girls dont fly back every vaction. some girls go for one summer(4 weeks) to Israel which is cheaper then flying home ,or stay for the yarchai kallah summer camp, during winter break many girls stay by friends either in england or some other european country. Shabbos most girls stay in at night and some go out during the day. There are tons of leadership opportunities(reps) so that girls get a chance to be heard if they want to. I think the most striking thing about this program however is the kesher that the girls get with their teachers, and that girls comeout with a huge amount of respect for rabbonim, although there are 200 girls there its nearly impossible to get lost as there are somany people caring about you.

    all these comment about the seperate hours shouldnt throw you off, its all part of the experience, and they really provide more then enough food there(snacks etc you usually bring wiht you as its expensive) every meal has fresh fruit and veg. Really really a great program.


    hi i know that this is an old post but i just saw it today and felt that i had to write in. I went to BCR as we at the seminary called it 5 years ago. I know that it is possible to get a discount and that a lot of people do. I have to say that those 2 years at BCR really changed me for the better. The staff there is caring and absolutly amazing. They really are geared towards the hashkofah of what they teach. I heard the rabbonim say many times that they are teaching us to be the future mothers of klal yisroel. All the classes stress the hashkofa behind what you are learning.

    If you are worried about her being so young and going away from home I just have to say that there are girls all diffrent ages. When I was there I had some girls in my class who where 16 and one that was 21, so the girls are all diffrent ages. For me going there opened my eyes and made me relize that there are frum jews all over the world.

    And as to the vacations, my first year I went for Elul and came home for pesach. The other 2 breaks one I went away to israel and the other I went to a friends house in Gibralter. If you need help finding a place to stay over the breaks the Aim HaBayis or House Mothers are so helpfull. They always made sure everyone had a place to stay and a way to get there.

    As a whole the seminary is amazing and really I give them all the credit for making me who I am and helping me grow.

    I wish you good luck with whatever you decide to do. May Hashem guide you in your decision.


    Thanks tgwdod and Kellyk412 for the input. I am seriously considering sending my 16 year old daughter next year.


    Again another “bcrer” responding, hoping its not too late and you will see my post and help influence your decision in the best possible way! Hummingbird, i can totally identify with your daughters feelings, when i was 17, i was in school and unhappy, i wanted that hashkafah too that i felt i was lacking and didnt have, i always thought i would go to an american sem in israel but as i started to think more deeply into it, i felt it wasnt for me and slowly it led me to the new sem- bcr. It was the best decision i ever made in my life. It changed me and moulded me into the person i am now, which was very different before going to sem. I built a kesher with 1 Rav who guided me during sem, after sem, through shidduchim and even now in married life. The shiurim are there to help you, guide you and gear you for your future life. Every shiur is hashkafah based, this is very different to the old sem, which is more textual based, you are required to prepare before for most shiurim and they study text in depth whereas new sem is about learning hashkafah and lessons for your life. As for friends, it teaches you about different people from all over the world, and i feel like i made life long friends there, i met the most unbeleivable girls and there is a sense of family, girls who i havent seen in years if i would see them today id feel like we were sisters meeting again. You can choose in the afternoon to do courses as well as helping out family with kids etc. and gain a kesher with familys, which always help when you feel you need some time out from sem.

    Plus there is the show they produce every year which is amaizng to work in and be part of.Overall going to bcr was the best decision i ever made, i grew spirituality and developed in ways i longed to. i found myself. hatzlachah


    I actualy learnt in bais chaya rochel a year ago for 2 years and i really enjoyed it and learnt alot especially from the amazing shiurim the rabbonim gave over. however the traveling is very expensive and alot of girls especialy from overseas stay at friends for over some of the vacations to save money from flying back and forth. hope all works out well and she enjoys it there if she ends up going. wishing you and your daugher all the best!

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