Reader Responds to Seminary Woes

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    Y.W. Editor

    The following letter was submitted to YWN via email:

    Dear Editor,

    I write in response to the letter you received from a desperate parent in regard to the seminary experience in Israel which she feels her daughter MUST have, although she does not have the means for it.

    I admit, I found myself in the same predicament. I decided to do some research and discovered a wonderful local seminary which offers a half day learning program, crammed in with top-notch role-model teachers, tens of series during the year given by experts in different fields, and much more. However, my daughter wasn’t too excited at first since it was not the “in” thing to do. To make a long story short, she recruited some friends, and together they will be doing this seminary in the mornings, teaching in the afternoon, and going to Sara Schenirer’s special ed program in the evenings.

    By the time her friends return home from EY” with their parents $25,000 in debt, they will have had a year of seminary, a year of teaching or office experience, a degree, started shidduchim, spent a quality year with their families (this is the nicest year at home, pre shidduchim desperation pressure, post high school immaturity) and mostly, not having put a financial strain on anyone.

    Additionally, they are settled, out in the world, but armed with the remarkable hashkafos and knowledge that they will receive from seminary and the amazing teachers.

    I discovered that in almost every community there exists such an option, but most girls close their eyes to it, trying to ignore the existence of this option.

    Why do parents have to succumb to such enormous pressure? Staying home should be the FIRST option, while going away should be the second option, made primarily for girls who NEED to be away from their homes for various reasons.

    May we zoche to the time when normality will once again reign, when people will be able to make sensible decisions, without the fear of “what will my friends say”….

    (Name removed)


    To the original poster: I am happy for you, but in some out of town communities, we don’t have in town options, and the overwhelming number of girls go to E”Y. I can try to change things, but it may not happen soon enough for me.

    I know, I know, there’s always just say no but #1, believe me, we say no to quite a lot as it is, and #2 you can only say no if you have a good option to say yes to.


    I went to sem in Israel and I want my daughters to have the same special experience as I did. The ruchnius in Israel is fantastic and it’s not the same to go to seminary here, although I respect those who don’t send and have options, so great for you. Also, I feel this is my way of supporting Eretz Yisroel and my daughters spiritual growth is very important to me. They also mature and grow up in Israel in ways that they can’t when they are home, they have more responsibilities to take care of their own lives cause they have to over seas, no mommy to make your bed and do your wash! they come home so appreciative also that they had a great year, and make so many new friendships. If I had an in town option maybe I would think about it but over here there aren’t any that come even close to Israel. lahitraot!!!


    If the Gerrer Rebbe can tell his Chassidim who live in NY point blank, to send their bochurim to “Yeshiva Govoha” — the Gerrer post high school Bais Medrash in Boro Park (not to be mistaken with Bais Medrash Govoha of Lakewood) why should that be different for the rest of chutz la’aretz people. There are plenty of worthy seminaries and Yeshivas in New York and around the US.


    Shindy, the problem is that you may feel this, but we can’t telegraph this as a global answer. We have to let the girls feel that an intown, or chutz l’aretz option that would be out of town or even out of the country (England e.g.) is just as genuine a sem. experience. If we can throw in a good Israel experience, say a summer, or visit during the year if a girl has a structure and family, etc. to share this with, harei zeh meshubach.

    If it’s a growth issue, the girls will grow anywhere out of town (BTW when I say out of town here, I mean out of MY town). If it’s E”Y please let’s validate the experience of a good summer program, etc.


    Keep girls near home! Much to much running around in EY. Let the boys learn there undistracted by the crowds of noisy girls. There is no way to justify the money spent on that year (for girls)-it’s overrated. Only special cases (needy girls) should leave home for the year. We all should really be mechazek our local sems.


    What the BY and seminaries do is criminal. The Bais Yaakov system crrated this thing that if they dont go to seminary they won’t be able to get married. They put pressure on families to go into debt over this. They brainwash girls for a year onto thinking that they have to marry a learning guy and if they’re not married to the prize yeshiva guy in a year they go back to their old high school selves. It became this rite of passage and nothing will change if the parents don’t into go with this and accept it. It’s not a rite of passage. There’s no chiyuv for girls to learn.


    Lakewhut, I’m trying to find one sentence in your post that isn’t merely regurgitating the tropes of every anti kolel, anti torah learning person I’ve ever met since I was a teenager.

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    I never wonder what makes irritable people open up nasty threads to spew whatever bugs them at that moment. But ya gotta wonder about someone who feels the need to dig up a 14 year old thread to do so.


    Avira, it is not anti learning to say that some girls are being pushed into lifestyle they are not prepared for. Those who are, and prepared by their family accordingly – gezunte heig.

    A constructive question – anyone knows good short term learning options for post high school girls? I would think that in town girls could have 1-2 days a week, out of town + a couple of weeks at a time, with learning, socializing that they continue following remotely the rest of the year, while they are getting their degrees and helping mothers


    A constructive question – anyone knows good short term learning options for post high school girls?

    A great question. And the answer is YES. Its called “college” and is available to both “intown” girls and “OOT girls”. They provide great learning opportunities which allow young women to obtain a degree and a good paying job. There a “colleges” such as Stern College for Women in NYC which offer a quality secular education along with limudei kodesh. There are also programs available for college women who want to pursue limudei kodesh in small women-only groups while attending a secular college. Not all post-high school “girls” want to stay home, socialize and help their mothers. Some may choose to use their education and good paying job to help support a husband who want to be a full-time learner for several years before starting a family. Others may decide to be part of a family where both parents work and share family responsibilities. The point is there are multiple options available today and a year at a very expensive seminary in EY is not the only path.


    Gadol, Stern is a good option and I know many people who had good experiences, but, again, for those paying full price, way overpriced over quality. I hate sound so materialistic, but may I use a car analogy: it is wrong when all I need is to commute to work and I am forced to buy a Ferrari “like everyone else”. I understand that contrary to regular colleges, YU counts high/elementary school tuition as part of parent burden, so it may work reasonably for many.

    Could you say more about limudei kodesh groups for college women – this sounds like a reasonable approach.

    As to “where”, there was a striking article in something like OU magazine ~ 30 years ago by a non-NY Hillel Rav at a big university – where, contrary to his financial interest, he strongly advised parents _NOT_ to send their children (both boys and girls) out of town for college, saying that this is an American tradition with no Torah support. This is the age where you have a chance to teach the kid – and you are sending them away?

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