Choosing a Seminary

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    I know it’s a little early, but I’m trying to look into a sem (in Israel) for my daughter for next year. It’s a little tricky,as a sem like Haddar or BYA is too “Bais Yaakov’y” for her,but it can’t be a MO/YU type of place.Someone suggested to look into Chochmas Lev.Anyone have any suggestions?


    What about Seminar and Meor. They’re both a little similar to Chochmas Lev, with Seminar being a little more yeshivish. There’s also Bnos Chava if she wants academic.


    Thanks,but I’m familiar with those 3 and I don’t think any of them are the right “fit”.Any others?


    another choice out there is the new gateshead. the newer one is not as yeshivish and good girls go there to. another choice could be yavne but i think that gateshead and seminar and meor that plonis suggested should be looked into. hatzlacha to you and youre daughter.


    If you’re applying to more than one, and you find out that these are good fits, Seminar, Meohr, and Chochmas Lev are all fine sems. We dealt with the last two – perfect for each girl.

    And check if the sem accepts the MASA grant; that can be a big help.

    There are different angles to the sems. Hadar, e.g has GREAT girls, but very yeshivish, and is very strict, and very academic. So you want to decide

    – do you want academics and/or hashkafa?

    – a very homogenous crowd or not?

    – keep adding to the list

    There has to be someone in the school who can start to give you direction.

    P.S. BYA is also a great option. As are Bnos Chava and a host of others.


    There are lots of others like Ateres, Machon Raaya, Masores Rochel, even Nachlas which is kinda yeshivish, but more balebatish.


    Thanks for the suggestions,everyone.We’re looking for a sem that’s more into Hashkofo than academics,and that’s more out-of-town frum than “Rebbitzen”y-Bais Yaakov(for lack of knowing quite how else to put it.)I’ve had a daughter in Haddar and she loved it-but every child is different,and this daughter needs something else.The school she’s in doesn’t have too much experience except with the more typical.Iv’e never heard of Ateres,Machon Raaya,or Masores Rochel-can anyone give me some info?


    I guess Masores Rochel and Machon Raaya are out then. Ateres is maybe a possibility but I dont really know much about it. But from what you said, I think maybe Chochmas Lev is one of your best bets. Is there no one in her school that can advise her?


    Ohhh i forgot all about Shoshanim. And there’s also Pninim.


    to aimhabonim there is also mesilos im not sure if it is still opened but i think that shoshanim and pninim are good ideas to look into


    aim- Does your daughter’s school have a guidence counselor or someone who talks to the girls about seminary? In my high school there was someone who knew each student (I come from a smallish school) who had a private meeting with each of us and helped us decided and gave us options.

    Each girl needs a different seminary. I don’t know your daughter so I can’t say where she should go but maybe someone who knows here well who went to seminary in the past two or three years can help. Seminaries change from year to year so just because it was a certain way one year, it will not be the same the next. But the policies and main hashkafa of the place will be the same.


    When I was reading the OP, the first thing that came to mind was chochmas lev or ateres. The impression I have, is that they are less focused on academics. good luck!




    I do not know the names of any sems in EY. However, the questions to ask when selecting a sem for your precious daughter are:

    1) What color tablecloth does the principal use on Shabbos? Does she use disposables or china? Plastic cups or glass?

    2) Does her husband wear shoes with laces or otherwise in general? On Shabbos?

    3) What is the average dress size of talmidois in the sem when they enter versus when they leave?

    4) What does the principal cover her hair with? What size and brim style hat does her husband wear and what type and size of yarmulke does he wear under it. Even for more modern sems it is very important to find out how many pins the principal’s husband uses to secure his kippa sruga and how wide it is.

    5) What is the average income of the fathers of the chossonim of graduates of the sem?

    6) What kind of kugel does the principal serve on Shabbos and what type are girls in the sem taught to make?

    7) What medications do the principal of the seminary, her mother, her grandmother, her husband and each of her children take? Include OTC remedies and vitamins from age three.

    Other points to consider include color of nail polish, exact length of skirt worn to the nanometer, and similar chashive nekidois.

    Remember that your precious daughter will be very influenced by this menaheles whom she may even see every other day for an hour and that you do not want her to emulate anyone who has minhagim that may be problematic come shidduch time.


    That’s my kind of humor kilobear!


    600kilo, maybe you need a calming herbal tea now.

    But when all’s said and done, you made some good points.


    lol KiloBear!!!

    Darchei Binah is gr8 sem…i believe its “sister schools” with chachmas lev


    Chachmas Lev was ‘made to be’ (started to be?) a drop more yeshivish version of Darchie Bina,(although it’s not really that much more) and as stated above, more Hashkafa oriented as apposed to textual.

    It’s a great Seminary, very warm and the girl are very much striving to grow.

    hope this helps!

    and as everyone said, if possible the best thing to do is speak to the 12th grade teacher that deals with seminary (if there is one) because they are usually really very well acquainted with the Seminaries.



    Good to start early- you can ask teachers before they get ambushed by tons of parents and girls. Also have your daughter think about who they would ask recommendation letters from… It can make a big difference. I would advise talking to someone that knows your daughter personally, one that your daughter has a kesher with or likes her (just because female teachers would probably know more and feel more comfortably about giving seminary advice.).

    Some good questions to pose (I went through these with someone I know and it helped narrow down choices for her).

    (In no order of importance, just as they popped into my head)

    1. Small or Large? Each has their own benefits. Is your daughter a social butterfly who would be more comfortable with a large crowd that can be varied in types (up to a point)? In these the staff might not know each girl so personally and each girl will not know the entire seminary that well (unless your daughter is the type to know the whole school’s name the first day of high school…) Or would she like a smaller, family-like setting where the staff knows the girls, each girl knows the rest of the seminary and it is more likely that the girls are more of a similar mindset hashkafically and academically, if your daughter has specific topics she is interested in or questions or subjects, or specific needs (food allergies) a smaller sem might be more suited and can adjust year to year easier than larger ones… Seminaries can be 30 girls (shoshanim, tiferes) to 150 (BJJ, Hadar)…

    2. I hate the terms academic or non-academic. I dont like the questions that are “put yourself in a box and dont leave it for anything” type. Most seminaries teach, some just do more of it and stress it. Really book-ish? Are there not enough class hours in the day? (most girls by the end of sem love their teachers). If she is somewhere in between, I would recommend leaving this question unanswered until the end…

    3. How yeshivish? (another boxy term I hate. Everyone is a little different and what one person considers one thing, another may consider it the opposite. for lack of better terms, here it is…) Is your family set on kollel-life? Is it possible or definite that she will go to some sort of college (community, touro, regular/secular college)? Some seminaries will try to convince your daughter that she “must do this” and if it is against your daughter’s ideals it can pose a problem if she doesnt want to end up that way.

    4. Does your daughter think “out of the box” ever? Does she either question what teachers say, does she think for herself…? Some seminaries or types encourage it and others dont. There are BY or non YU seminaries that allow people to ask questions, albeit sometimes after class so not to take up time in class. Some seminaries discourage any type of self-expression of ideas, thoughts ect.

    5. How old of a sem do you want? there are those that are in their second year, some that have been around for a while… It can make a difference: experience can be a good thing!

    Ideas: Besides asking a teacher, have your daughter ask a girl whom she thinks is quite similar and find out where she went to seminary and what she thinks.


    To my earlier post, another question to ask yourself is

    **How much a JAP (another box word) is your daughter? Is she going to be bringing 32 pairs of weekday shoes to seminary? Is she going to wear designer/brand name clothes? (I mean if she wants only those and likes them for the name). It all depends on what type your daughter is… Some seminaries are known for being one type or another….

    Oh, Maybe a list of different seminaries and just cross off the ones that wont be a proper fit and keep adding to it….

    On the “No list” so far based on your statements are:





    Bnos Chava

    So far listed here that weren’t commented on as yeses or nos….. the: “yes so far” list

    Chochmas Lev- academic but not THE most, a little more to the left than some of the others.

    Shoshanim-small, out of town but still NYers there, not the most academic but I saw someone’s schedule and it was a lot of classes-more than the norm- (so less homework… thats why it seems to be called less academic). I heard that they will do their best to make everyone comfortable in the environment (tutors if needed or special accommodations) and ask opinions of girls about topics for speakers, yomei iyunim and follow through.

    Seminar- I think this one is on the larger side.

    Darchei Bina-sister of chochmas lev, but drop to the left.

    Ateres- not so academic

    Machon Raya- new

    Mesores Rochel-its new and I heard its very academic.The “new BJJ” acc. to some.

    Nachlas- kind of new…I dont think it is so academic

    Tiferes (I dont mean Tiferet which is more modern/MO type and in Ramat Beit Shemesh)tiferes is yeshivish but not the most booky, location: Sanhedria Morcheves, someone I know who is there said that she applied cuz they were big on middos…

    Another idea: is your daughter comfortable in “all hebrew” classes? if yes, maybe bnos sarah…but that is really academic as well. I know girls who did the BJJ and Bnos Sarah (and some mesoras rochel) combo…

    Hope this helps…hatzlacha


    I would totally recommend Chochmas Lev! I have a good friend who went there and loved it! they had a long day of classes but very minimal H.W and testing! very hashkafa based and great girls, from all backgrounds go there! not as BYish as BJJ, BYA ect..

    Seminar may be similar with fantastic teachers but there is work…h.w. tests ect. However the day is shorter and while some parents might be thrilled with a long day of classes to keep daughter away from “hanging out”, I can tell you that some girls get burnt out from whole day of classes and need more breaks! if a girl gets burnt out from classes that whole point of sem is counterproductive!

    Shoshanim is a more out of town seminary…however as far as I recall my friends who attended did have alot of work to do outside of class…well guess long story short is that most seminaries today compete with eachother for the “TOP” name and they do that by increasing accademic levels!

    but I think chochmas lev has a great balance and doesn’t increase workload like other sems do!


    I don’t know if you’re b’davka looking for a sem in Eretz Yisrael, but I went to Bais Yaakov seminary in Montreal, Canada and I LOVED it. The “type” of girls vary from year to year and even when I was there, there were all types- yeshivish, heimish, more “open-minded”…. There are out-of-towners and in-towners. The sem is not small but not huge either which makes for a really nice experience. The teachers and hashkafos are amazing, and one thing I loved especially, nobody is overbearing and nobody will TELL you what to do… it was a great place to be independent and yet at the same time, close to home (I’m from Brooklyn.)


    Havesomeseichel, great post. A word about academic vs. non – it’s not that the non academic sems are for slackers as much as that they offer more hashkafa-wise. Good, honest, unplugged (literally, one daughter had teachers who said, ok, no more taping at this point.) discussion. If someone finds that the work load is really light, there’s always chesed, night classes, or squeezing in clepping or college classes.


    I hear Seminar has good hot cocoa…


    havesomeseichel-where do you get your info from?! nachlas is very academic and as with every sem, you could do the work or not…it all depends on you.


    Gezuntheit- I know a lot of girls who are or were in different seminaries the last few years. It could just be that those I know who went were not on the “academic track” in their high school… I didnt state this one as fact, if you would look back, I said “I think…”

    It can also vary year to year. I think the girl I am thinking of right now went the first year it opened and the sem could have changed in the last 2 years.

    skates-Shoshanim doesnt have that much HW. (Good friends went there) They have a “study period” twice a week to do homework/ preparation that will be needed for the next day’s class but they have teachers and staff ready to help during those times if needed… Besides that, not much at all. More classes so less homework… The trade-off between classes and HW comes from whether or not you like to learn things on your own or if you want to learn from teachers.


    HSS – you did a pretty good eval. I think the original post was no yeshivish, and after that she said more hashkafa, less academic. I think that cuts out Nachlas, Tiferes, Masores Rochel, and maybe even Machon Raaya.

    I think Chochmas Lev is not academic, I think it has a very big focus on Hashkafa.

    Once you cut out Seminar, Meor, and Bnos Chava you’re basically left with:

    Chochmas Lev, Ateres, Shoshanim, Pninim, and maybe Darchei Bina.

    aimhabonim – I think you should try to find someone who can advise your daughter and help her pick. In my high school, the principal went through each girl individually – advising her, weighing the options…. and it was very helpful because I didn’t know anything about seminaries before.


    Plonis- you’ve got a pretty good eval as well. 😉

    so, Aimhabonim… where abouts on the spectrum are you… ie: darchei bina or closer to chochmas lev? peninim or shoshanim? **be careful with those two…their name is similar but they are very different. peninim is much less academic and just a different type of crowd goes to each one. People confuse them but once you know the two types, they cant be confused.


    hi im in machon raaya at the present and i just wanted to say that its a really great place. its extremely warm, the girls are amazing and the type of girls who come here are your not typical bais yaacov girls. we all want to learn and grow and they really help you. it is slightly academic but a major plus is that you choose your own classes so if you dont like a particular class you dont have to take it. from the way your describing the type of place your daughter wants, i realy think you should consider machon raaya.


    machon raaya- can you please tell us: (not trying to be accusatory, just want some info about this new seminary!)

    a) how do you have access to the CR? Does your seminary give you access to computers and internet?

    b)what do you mean by “not typical BY girls”?


    Don’t know much about Machon Raaya, but the girls who went there from my community were very warm, open, spunky and interested in growth


    we have limited access to the internet we can only access gmail and yeshiva world. the fun spunky openminded self motivated and eager to learn great girls we are also very achdusdik and its only the first week and we all feel at home and dont wanna ever leave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    seichel, quite a few seminary’s have computers with internet for the girls to use (I assume, mainly for homework purposes).


    I dont like the fact that seminaries have access to internet and email. It might make things more convienient but where is the supervision? Parents aren’t there so the staff has to know what is going on. if there is a filter, well, there are those who know how to bypass it…

    Mepal- you assume for homework… what homework purposes would you get from YWN? Gmail?

    I know many seminaries who would NOT have them. They might have had them at one point and then chose to remove them. Some seminaries I know have them just to type their papers and the like… no internet capabilities on them at all. Girls would be on the computer all day and not experiencing Eretz Yisrael!


    seichel, I assume the reason they are allowing the girls to have internet access is for homework purposes. Whether or not there is a filter, I do not know. (Apparently not.) Anyways, usually there are few computers for all the girls to share so its not that likely that a girl would spend all her time there being that she has to share it with so many other girls.


    ok, I guess that it is something that the parents have to reckon with regarding choosing seminaries.

    Aimhabonim… anything else we can help with?


    I really appreciate everyone’s input.All the info given is definitely helpful.Thanks!


    I’m from Machon Raaya and I just want to update what was written a few days ago by another Machon Raaya girl… THE WORK HERE IS MURDER!!!! when she posted that, we had just started school but now, two days later, we’re loaded with work. The only thing is, the Seminary is there for us. They listen to our compaints and they are there for us. You feel so comfortable with the staff, that it doesn’t feel like a principal/ teacher/ student relationship, it feels like a home. You don’t have to feel uncomfortable or awkward to go over to them and tell them how you feel. Today my principal came over to me and asked how it is going (no this is not the first time she asked me. She is constantly making sure we all are adjusting and she shows she cares, and it isn’t fake.) when I told her that I feel really overwhelmed, she told me to come to her when I have time and she will sit with me and work it through with me. I honestly feel like I’m in a home. Not just a home, but a small, warm, close nit place, with people who really care. If you want a big seminary, than this place is not for you. If you want a seminary where you aren’t just one of many girls, but you are a person, an individual, than this place is for you. It is extremely open minded. If you want to come with your group of friends, forget about it because you won’t fit in. Meaning that here eveyone is friends with everyone, there aren’t cliques or groups. so if you are gonna hang out with just your little group, don’t do it here. Here everyone is friends with everyone. Everyone cares and you feel that warmth from the second you step into our Machon Raaya Home. Hatzlacha to everyone, I know it’s hard but iy”H you I will daven for all of those 12th graders all over the world. Just relax, you’ll be fine. Smile.


    from what i’ve heard from girls who are now in machon raaya is that its EXTREMELY hard. You have to be able to read many meforshim fluently as their is in class prep and out of class work. so while she says the faculty is very warm and the girls are a nice mix you have to be prepared to work very hard. this is coming from girls who have worked hard in highschool.


    Machon Raaya seems to be a new BJJ…not for everyone.

    I know someone who went to shoshanim and she LOVED it. Very warm and friendly, everyone was friends with everyone. The staff really cares about you. The schooling is academic toned down… there are girls that are super academics and girls who are not so academic. Its more of a low-pressure environment where you can learn and absorb without having to memorize the whole tanach by the end of seminary. You learn tons but you dont have the pressure to study 40 hours for a single test. There were papers but the teachers guided you and there was always help from the madrichot or aim habayit if you wanted it. There were tests and preparation to do, and girls did it. Its not a party school where no one studies or does the homework. Girls do it, but they aren’t driving themselves crazy over it.

    Each seminary is slightly different and for specifics, ask those who went there!

    Hatzlacha with picking a seminary!


    There’s a seminary called Afikei-anyone know anything about it?


    About Afikei – it’s part of the Darchei Bina sems, of which there are three: Darchei Bina, which is intellectually challenging, attracts bright girls, not necessarily all BY types but very solid girls, is known to have some of the best teachers around (Rabbi Orlofsky and Shira Smiles among others);

    Chochmas Lev, which draws on the same infrastructure but is BY, has great teachers and curriculum, hashkafa oriented;

    Afikei – kind of a Chochmas Lev for girls a bit to the left


    what type is chochmas lev? and how is it different than seminar?


    It’s hard to believe that it took so long to mention Afikei. OK, here’s the scoop on it – I know it well because my neice attended it.

    It’s part of the Chochmas Lev/Darchei Bineh family. It’s definitely BY hashkafa, but does take girls (especially from OOT and overseas) who did not necessarily attend BY’s (my neice did attend one in NYC). It is not at all a MO seminary, and has the same hanhala (among them, Rabbis Orleweck, Orlofsky, Lauffer, Taub) as the other two. The main difference is that the girls are more the type who like to really discuss things, instead of just read text and take everything as is. It was a wonderful group the years this girls went, and she loved it so much that she, and 15 others went back for Shana Beis.

    Please do your daughter a big favor and look into it. The girl I know who loved it said one of the key differences to her was that it didn’t feel like seminary was just an extension of high school, but rather, a whole new approach to chinuch.


    Chochmas Lev is more hashkafa oriented, well rounded girls aware of the world, at least the year I know. Wonderful kids.



    To my understanding, Rabbi Kurland started Chochmas as his answer to the BY seminaries such as Bnos Chava, BYA, Haddar – and therefore, seeks the same type girls as apply for the others.

    By the way, to our original question poster – you may also want to look into Peninim.



    Can you please enter twice before the first line of your post? Cuz its getting cut off with your SN.

    That won’t work. You have to enter a period then enter…80




    Sorry, I have a long name. But I’m sure all readers figured out the gist of what I was saying.


    Could someone explain Ateres to me? I don’t know anyone who’s gone there.


    Woman in Brooklyn, that may or may not be what R. Kurland had in mind. In the out of town school my kids do, kids from a single class go to all the sems mentioned, but they’re very different types of girls. The other sems you mentioned are much more academically focused than C.L. and may not have the same type of open hashkafa discussion, as a particular hashkafa is presumed (Haddar, especially. Note: I LOVE the local girls who’ve gone to Haddar but there is a definite mold.).

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