My $21000 sacrifice to get my daughter out of her misery

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    Hi again! For all off you who commented on my post a couple of weeks ago, I figured its only right to update you on what happened with my daughter. I forfeited my $21000 and my daughter is now back home, and is one of 8 girls that I heard of, that left seminary in Isreal this year thus far. Most of you posted that she should “wait it out”, or, “she will survive it”, or “stop worrying about the money”. All I want to tell you all, is that, that makes no sense. Why do people need to go into debt to have there kids “survive it”. Yes it is true alot of them end up “LOVING” it, but why cant we just give our girls a more affordable, local option, right here in brooklyn. I did hear of the NY Sem oppenig next year by Rabanit Assaf and Rabbanit Weinreb….all I can say is I hope that will change the “OMG I must go to Isreal” crazzyness.


    Are your pockets lined with greenbacks?


    I’m glad you had the courage to do what was good for your daughter.


    We also lost several thousand a few years back when a yeshiva in Bayit Vegan did not work for our son. What incentive do these yeshivas and seminaries have to solve the problems of kids they are not serving properly, when they get to keep money for no outlay on their part if the kid returns early to the US?


    Well, I’m going to take a chance to disagree with PBA (please don’t take my head off) and say that I think you just taught that it’s OK to quit. Sometimes Hashem puts us in situations that we cannot change and we have to learn to deal with them, even if we’re unhappy about it.


    You did what was right. Sunk costs are sunk. Good for you.


    Is it possible to negotiate with the Seminary for a refund or if you did not pay the entire amount yet not to pay them?


    As painful as losing $20k is, its a small price to pay to save your daughter.

    I’m in a similar boat (cost of tuition where the kids need to be vs the cost of a much cheaper option, but one not right for them) and in the long run, its the child you need to be concerned about.

    Your daughter is lucky to have you as a parent.


    Well, I’m going to take a chance to disagree with PBA (please don’t take my head off) and say that I think you just taught that it’s OK to quit. Sometimes Hashem puts us in situations that we cannot change and we have to learn to deal with them, even if we’re unhappy about it.

    I’m going to bite your head off.

    Firstly, I don’t know the first or last thing about this particular circumstance. So I can’t possibly know if it was really the best thing for the daughter. I was glad that the mother made a decision that was hard, with her daughters best interest in mind.

    Secondly, (here comes head biting), sometimes Hashem puts us in hard circumstances which we can change. Like this one. I don’t see why you need to do hard things which you can change just to prepare for the ones you can’t. There are enough hard things which we actually cannot change, to provide all the training required.

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    Regarding the money issue – It is understood loud and clear up front that if you pull out you dont get a refund because there are waiting lists for every seminary and they could have filled that spot and gotten the funds that are figured in to their budget. If that isn’t okay with you, then don’t sign up.

    (run on sentence to the extreme)

    Arig – I commend you for doing what was best for your daughter!! Yes there are times when Hashem wants us to persevere despite hardship, but there are other times when Hashem wants us to do what’s right even if it goes against the norm (or the wallet). So Yasher Koach and I wish your daughter and you much hatzlacha. In the zchus of choosing your kid over money (not to imply it was an issue of yours), may you be rewarded with enough money to make up for the loss!!

    *The Syag*


    Most seminaries will make some kind of compromise, but I know that Mayanot will not.


    Arig – I commend you for doing what -you feel- was best for your daughter even at such a great cost.

    That said, we in the CR dont know if that was the best decision because we dont know your daughter. You had little knowledge of the dynamics of having a daughter in E”Y which is why you turned to the CR critics. My opinion -and hopefully those of most of us- is based on personal experiences of living in E”Y for a number of years and having siblings, relatives and friends that were in various seminaries there. For the vast majority of girls, a decision to bring them home early would be the wrong one. BUT there is a minority and your daughter may fall in that group.

    So I would like to commend you again for your concern and action to do what you feel is best for your child.


    Kol Hakavod what you did for your daughter.

    However, i am wondering if the money loss was discussed with a dayan who deals in such.

    Now i remember that when one of our sons went to Eretz Yisroel, he was unhappy with the yeshiva he went to. Luckily, he found a place who was ready to accept him(where he thrived B”H and is still in Eretz Yisroel learning, raising a beautiful family and doing loads of chesed). The first yeshiva was very understanding about the situation and reimbursed us. In return my husband gave them a nice donation.

    If this seminary is not reimbursing you, then, in my opinion it is a business and not L’shem shamayim.

    There are seminaries in N.Y. too such as Reb Bulka, where the girls can work towards a degree as well.

    old man

    No one can dictate to you what is best for your daughter. As a parent you have the right, nay, obligation to do what’s best for your daughter. But yours only.



    Weel no you cant get a penny back… but thank you all for the chizuk… Do you people think the day will come that there will not be this pressure of going to Isreal for seminary? Thats why I mentioned this new sem in town, can that make a change in attitude towards this issue?! Remember I do have more daughters coming up IYH!


    They make you pay the $21K in advance?

    Most yeshiva tuition you pay by the month.



    you are a wonderful parent for putting your daughter’s good ahead of a financial loss and I hope Hashem will replace the money you lost.

    Not as a criticism for the past, but I don’t understand why parents feel a need to give in to the pressure to go to eretz yisroel. There are already a bunch of options in the US – Cleveland, Baltimore, Montreal, 2 sems in Lakewood etc.


    Forgive me for being so naiive, but what was so terrible that would constitute “saving” her from it? Was the school beneath her and therefore bringing her down? Or was it Israel itself that she had her issues with (which is why you’re asking about local options)?


    I don’t think you ever detailed what was so horrific in that sem.

    If you did I apologize. Not knowing this detail but obviously she was uncomfortable with something.

    I was sent to a Yeshiva highschool in Israel for 10th-11th grade i hated it, but there was no other option that my parents would consider.

    In the final analysis I turned out relatively ok so hard to say

    what difference it would make had i left there or not.

    I so hated it that I caused physical damage to their alarm system so that on Purim it went off in the middle of the night.

    The ROsh Yeshvia was very angry and while they had no proof it was assumed that it was me.

    Beyond that I then went OTD for about 14 years. So maybe you made the right choice.


    “They make you pay the $21K in advance?

    Most don’t, Mayanot does.


    i agree with yungerman that for most kids this would be the wrong decision as it is well known that many kids are miserable for a few months and then end up “loving” it as well as growing in many ways. however, only you and your wife know your daughter and if this is the right choice for her then kol hakovod.


    i am sorry that you took a $21,000 loss to bring your daughter home. i am personally still trying to figure out how to get the additional amount needed to pay for my tuition. i am attending a yeshiva in eretz yiroel in january but have only come up with paritial tuition. i wish you and you daughter happiness and success.


    cherrybim, did you attend mayanot? did you not enjoy mayanot? did you have a bad experience? please explain in greater detail. please.


    and many others continue to hate it for the duration of the year and are traumatized by all the homesickness etc. But for shidduch purposes they pretend they loved it and that they grew so much from the experience.


    and many others continue to hate it for the duration of the year and are traumatized by all the homesickness etc. But for shidduch purposes they pretend they loved it and that they grew so much from the experience.

    Sad and sadder, but very true.


    there is a wonderful sem in toronto that is now in the beginning of its 3rd year. gevaldigge teachers, very dedicated. they have a great syllabus and include a 3 week trip to EY with teachers there, so the girls get a taste of EY and education there. there is a Shabaton, educational trips to cleveland ny and chicago. the menahel is an experienced mchanech. if you want to look into it for next year call 416-787-0800 and ask for hoRav Blumental.


    Most seminaries demand about 15% when you get the acceptance letter, around 02/15, due by 03/01 to confirm the acceptance. The balance is due in 3 installments. Usually around 05/15, 08/15, and December or January. There are various schalarships that kick in at various times during the year, if you’re eligible, and frequently that last payment does not need to be made.

    If there is an issue, that last payment is just about the only leverage that you have. I know someone close to me that had an issue in mid cheshvan, and the seminary was mochel the last payment. But they still got about 15K for less than a month’s service provided. (There was very little going on in the last week of Elul when the year began, and Tishrei which was already vacation.)

    It is also not completely true that when they give you a spot they have lost the opportunity to sell it. It is well known that issues sometimes come up, and a (small) percentage of girls switch in mid year. So an opening can be filled in mid year.

    Generally there are halachos about backing out of a deal in the middle. (Poel yachol lachazor bachatzi yom.) Under those circumstances, they should not be able to charge you the entire fee. Unless it is stipulated in the contract in the beginning. (Which these days, most are.) Then the klal of kol sheb’mamon t’nao kayam would apply. Meaning basically, if you agree to their terms, you’re stuck with their policies. The seminaries know they can get away with putting that line in, because by the time you get to that point, and you have an acceptance letter in hand, who’s gonna tell their daughter they won’t sign up because of some t’nai in the fine print?


    There are many seminaries and each have a particular focus that is presented to the applicant prior to enrollment. But one seminary can’t be everything to everybody and should not present and sell itself differently to individual applicants; this gives a false impression of the institution.

    Be careful and apply to a seminary with a proven record and get the ok from your Rov. While a seminary’s ultimate goal is the current and future wellbeing of the girl, it still needs to be concerned on parnossah and paying bills. But to withhold an entire deposit or year’s tuition and fees and thereby causing so much agmas nefesh, grief, is not the way Hashem provides money to an institution.


    When you make a commitment to a seminary or yeshiva in E’Y you should NOT take it lightly. This is a discussion that one HAS to make with their children before you sign on the dotted line. This is NOT a weekend in the mountains nor is it a summer in camp. This is a major experience and a major lesson in independence and in problem solving. Finances is another discussion that one must have with their children. Believe it or not NOT everyone winds up having the privilege and opportunity to go learn in E”Y. There are yeshivas and seminaries in the states and kids don’t always go because families just can’t afford it and there are not enough scholarships to go around. So when a child does get the opportunity to go, they should NOT take it for granted nor take it lightly. On the other hand, many kids choose NOT to go because they just don’t want to. They prefer staying here, getting college started, or feel they are independent enough to not need that experience.

    Maybe some kids are just NOT cut out for it and they should figure that out before they choose to go and take someone else’s spot. That is the reality of the situation. There are just so many beds available in seminary. Each student needs to be accommodated and cared for. When you are accepted it means that someone else was rejected. That is a great honor and something again not to take lightly. High Schools should do more to prepare kids for the experience and maybe there should be some sessions with Guidance Counselors or parents should recognize that some kids should go to therapy before making these decisions to truly qualify if your child should separate from the family and go on this adventure alone.

    There are many elements that need to be considered. There is the fact that s/he will be on their own taking care of themselves. That means grooming, cleaning, laundry, shopping, meals, making arrangements for shabbosim and yomim tovim, and staying on a budget etc. Then there is the learning and the work involved in that as well. Then there is the intetgration and getting along with the other students/roommates that they are thrown together with. In addition to being in a country that they are not fluent in the language and they don’t know the currency or their way around. This can be very overwhelming to some kids that are used to having everything done for them and everything figured out for them. And for those who are NOT accustomed to listening to rules, this can also be a recipe for disaster.

    As fas as such a case where a child calls early on and wants to come home, without pointing to this particular family, it is too difficult to make the call if it is the right or wrong thing to do since one cannot settle into a routine until after the Yomim Tovim because everyone is scattered all over and there is no real routine in school until everyone comes back and Yom Tov is over. Everyone is basically on their own forced to make their own arrangements for the entire Tishrei until they settle back after the Yomim Tovim. Most schools say that the real bonds and the real flow cannot really be determined until Chanuka time.

    So NO there is no rule that says that you must send your kids to E’Y for seminary or yeshiva. But if you choose to do so, make sure you all know what you are getting yourselves into from the start. Don’t take it lightly. Know what your commitments are and what the costs will be both emotional and financial and how they effect everyone involved.


    midwestener, when a spot is given away, children vying for that spot will seek to get into another school. If someone goes home mid-term, it is not likely that a spot will be filled. Firstly most girls will already have been settled somewhere and secondly, bringing a girl in mdterm would be disadvantageous to her. She would have missed half the work and would not be on the same level as the other girls. There is no way she would ever be able to catch up.


    Aries; There is a small amount of movement mid year. Within a month after sukkos there are a few, not many who will seek to switch seminaries. They are already there, it’s not working where they are, and don’t want to quit on the experience. Its not many. But the ones who leave to go home aren’t that many either. Those gaps sometimes do get filled. It is not guaranteed to be a writeoff for the seminary.

    And even if so, that should be the cost of doing business. You try to fill 100%, but the parents take risks sending kids, and the seminaries should take risks on accepting.

    Let’s take a hypothetical seminary that takes in 100 girls at 18K each. That’s 1.8 million to provide 8 months of programimng and meals 5.5 days a week. They shut down during nissan and tishrei. They make the girls schnorr from the not very wealthy Yerushalmi residents for Shabbos. And when they have 1 or 2 backouts in mid year, they can’t survive on 1.79 million instead? (All this while preaching to the girls all year long they they must be mistapek b’muat for the sake of Torah!)

    Seminaries aren’t even willing to accept a little marketing expense. The trips to America by those who interview the girls need to be recovered by the nonrefundable application fees. They do not live in the real business world. But they get away with it because the kids have their parent wrapped around their fingers, emotionally.

    And yes, I’m a bit stressed over having to write out all those checks for my third daughter very soon. She’s a wonderful bas yisroel, looking forward to a wonderful year. And I hope to be able to provide it for her, with Hashem’s help. But methinks the seminaries are extrorting from us parents.


    In my Senior year of High School we WERE pressured to go to Israel for a year. Basically they would not accept any other place.

    I knew I wasnt ready to go away I went to a local college (I wasnt ready to go away for college either).

    Most people I know who went had the best time of their lives , but I know a few who did not. It really needs to be done on an individual basis



    after all the serious discussions and therapist visits (never knew one must go to a tharapist before making a weighty decision) have taken place, there will still be some kids who really honestly thought they can handle it but then find out while they are there that they just can’t. That doesn’t mean they didn’t take the decision seriously, it just means they are not nevi’im.

    Would you also say that every couple who gets divorced did not take their engagement and wedding seriously?


    so happy that your daughter has a dad like you. I did nto go israel for sem and think I turned out pretty good either way and I’m even getting married. Can you believe?!?!? this world is nuts they make issues out of tissues. not everyone has to go to sem in israel! what the heck is wrong with people these days. I had the most awesome year in brooklyn that I would not change for anything!


    adorable – please tell us you’re kidding! Everyone know one cannot get engaged without going to seminary in Eretz Yisroel!


    On motzei Shabbos of Sukkos this year I went to Yerushalayim for a ladies only evening. Before leaving Yerushlayim I went to Ben Yehuda Street for a coffee. The street was packed full of English speaking yeshiva and seminary kids from all streams. The more “frum” were just walking around and staring and the rest were mingling. There were quite a few OTD Anglo Israelis , too. Perhaps there are hangouts all over the place-but the scene that greeted me was the giant hang out of them all. Please think carefully before sending your child to Israel. He or she is going to learn a lot-perhaps a lot of things you are not considering…..


    charlie brown-haha my sister didnt go 2 sem in israel and is happily married with my new nephew k’ah!!


    The seminaries are very clear on this topic. If you pull out, they don’t refund. We had an instance, where my daughter was registered for seminary, but before she even got there, THEY cancelled on us, and refused to give us back our deposit. We took them to a din Torah, and they ruled they have to to refund all the money, which they did. But if YOU pull out, you have no recourse. and yes, it’s a very lucrative business!


    “cherrybim, did you attend mayanot? did you not enjoy mayanot? did you have a bad experience? please explain in greater detail. please. “

    i would appreciate if you could please expound on this topic.


    honestly im embarrassed for ur daughter. i paid for half my seminary in israel, and in the beginning i didnt like it, because change is hard on everyone, but i stuck it out and ended up LOVING it. if i wouldve made my parents take out a second mortgage to get me into seminary and then leave not even a quarters way thru id be to embarrassed to face them. the yomim tovim are just over, now is when seminary just begins, everyone is homesick in the beginning, its hard to go to strangers for every shabbos and yuntif meal but thats part of the experience. i went to sem knowing NO ONE and thats crazy cause im from flatbush but u know what i came out learning so much and made some really long lasting friendships!!!


    And when they have 1 or 2 backouts in mid year, they can’t survive on 1.79 million instead? (All this while preaching to the girls all year long they they must be mistapek b’muat for the sake of Torah!)




    Charlie, Israel is NOT a necessity! It is NOT a NEED, it is a want. And it is something that not everyone can afford. It is a decision that parents need to make according to their own variables and circumstances and not because of peer pressure.

    Of course there will be kids that will go with confidence and happily and it will still not work out. But they have to be willing to try and keep trying until they know for sure that they are not cut out for it. They have to be committed to their decision until they understand fully and completely that they made the wrong decision. There has to be a level of maturity and accountability there.

    Midwesterner, seminaries are in the business of making money and that’s the bottom line. They don’t return money. That is a given. They don’t care if you mortgage your house to send your kid. They want your money and thats that. They take $100 and up for each application they receive. Why? They get over 1,000 applications for what 100 spots? Does it cost $100 to read an application and process it? Seriously, they should refund the $100 with the rejection letter. Why don’t they? Because they are in the business to make money period. Every spot is worth $20,000. That is their budget as you said. If they return any funds, they will be out of balance. They don’t gain more because it does NOT cost them any less if a girl goes home and they are NOT willing to take a cut in their profits.

    Does every girl come home at the end of the year regaling over their amazing experiences? No. There are many, many complaints. Like being treated like kids in grade 13, being forced to wear uniforms and being locked in each night. They don’t feel like they were treated like mature adults basically ready to get married. So you have many coming home thrilled and happy and many who just survived the experience. It is NOT for everyone and it is high time that both parents and kids realize that from the get go.

    So where does that leave everyone? What are the options? Being more careful about the decisions we make in sending our kids there. Opening up more seminaries at home and saving the additional funds for our kids’ weddings. Possibly having a summer seminary in Israel that will allow a taste of the experience and then continue it at home. Everything starts with an idea and parents who choose not to conform to what others push for.


    I don’t like the way the 21K is just thrown around. There are many people who can’t afford to send their daughter away. The way you state it, sort of like a joke. what me worry style. I wish people would show more derech Eretz to poor folk. I was able to send me daughter but we got a reduced rate via the Masa web site, and she had gotten some grants from her high school so it cost us 5K. Still we preferred not to spend on her coming back for Pessach. Most of the kids do. We didn’t visit as a family although I made a winter trip. THe story would have been just as impactful without mentioning the money part.

    It is expensive but then so is all the years before what with the tuitions.

    I still think there is a positive atmosphere in them going. Regarding the carousing with opposite sex, it’s not everyone in my daughters case there was none of that from her seminary. and how do you know what you saw was seminary or Yeshiva boys, they could be tourists visiting, it is after all the in thing to do for Succos. Its probably more about feeling connected to Eretz Yisroel or not. and again, I understand the finances part.


    So i will be honest and don’t take it personally. I think you shouldn’t have acted so quickly. I was in seminary recently and i was one of those girls who hated it and everyone knew wanted to go home. I was on the younger half of my family and always went to camp and loved it. Before i even left i hated it. I went and cried so hard to my mother i feel bad to this day of what i put her through. I arrived the first day and told my mother i was gonna fly home the next day without any permission. Well she was not happy about that one. I envied the girls who went home early bc they didnt like it. I cryed to everyone i knew and never gave myself a chance to even like it. Well when i settled in a after succos i starting loving it put it this way by the end i cried when o had to leave. Its a experience there is nothing like. And i agree with others you are giving her reason to quite and not to go through some challenges, its okay to wanna come home but it passes. You are instituting values by making a child stick there way through something, a commitment!!


    Welcome back, cshapiro.



    Aries: I think it was quite clear that I agree with you that it is a business. They just present themselves as klei kodesh who are moser nefesh for chinuch habanos, yet they run themselves as a business. And they run it more ruthlessly than most businesses do, in ways that both you and I described, for reasons that I explained above. Basically, they have have to respect their customers, so they don’t.


    I went to Seminary last year and one of my really good friends hated it she’s not the go away from home type and she was miserable almost the entire year, she didn’t cry before she went home and she was never obsessed with seminary. If you ask her if she is happy that she stayed without thinking she will say yes! why? It’s simple she learnt so much about herself, about connecting to Hashem, but mostly about maturing. We are sheltered our entire life and even in High school we don’t really need to make so many major decisions and we are quite dependent on our parents. By leaving your home, your country, and your friends for a year you get to break out of your shell and just get to know yourself. You also learn that no matter how hard life gets you can stick it through without turning back. You gain an independence and maturity that it is impossible to get while living with your parents. You become yourself. Just wanted to let you know what you deprived your daughter of by taking her home. You just taught her that when life gets hard you run the other way. 21,000 thousand dollars is a lot of money to waste without giving even 3 months to try to get used to it. I really hope you did it because of your logic and not your emotions because i am sure it was hard for you to hear your daughter miserable without being able to do anything about it.


    Ein Od Milvado – The school misrepresented itself and after a few days our Rav and my daughter’s pricipal instructed her to leave immediately. She went to Sharfman’s where my daughter had a wonderful year. Needless to say, we lost many $thousands.


    I am sorry to say but you made a mistake, i’ve met hundreds of Seminary girls over the years and many of them were very unhappy until around Channuka time and at the end of the year they said it was the best year of their life. I also think you taught your daughter a bad lesson but showing her that if she doesnt like something she can just walk away from it instead of tyring to work it out , its a bad message.


    cherrybim – misrepresented itself? please explain, i dont want to make the same mistake!!

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