Seminary advice for hs senior

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    Hi folks, I just became a member because I need some advice and I don’t know where to get it. I have a somewhat unusual situation and I’m not sure what to do. I go to a Bais Yaakov school – the frummest in town. As my user name suggests, I frequently disagree with many things that are said. However, I have met great people there so I don’t want to put my school down. Originally, I wasn’t even considering seminary. I figured it would be a repeat of high school, which I didn’t enjoy too much. I knew that I wanted to go to college so I researched that instead. I have applied to some top colleges with the intent to dorm. My parents are ok with this. My dad is a baal teshuva and my mom is a giores, so our family has never fit into one group perfectly. It did take some convincing to show them that I could remain religious though. As for my school, I had a meeting with my principal who tried to convince me to at least not dorm. My dad still felt hesitant about sending me off to college so young, so I said I’d defer my acceptance and take a gap year so that I’m more mature. I also told my mechaneches hoping it would get everyone off my back. Now my teachers and principals are pushing seminary since I’m taking a year off. My dad got into the idea as well although I’m not sure why. I came to Israel for Chanuka and I’m leaving on Wednesday morning. With pressure from teachers and my dad I’ve visited several seminaries. My principal thinks Machon Raaya would be good, several teachers recommended Bnos Avigail, and my dad heard about Michlalah. Yesterday I went to Bnos Avigail and Michlalah. Bnos Avigail had midterms (idk why – it was Chanuka) so no one was around. Michlalah had a break for Chanuka so no one was there. I haven’t gone to Machon Raaya yet. I really didn’t like Har Nof, where Bnos Avigail is. It feels like a conglomeration of Brooklyn, Monsey, and Lakewood.

    btw, if I go to seminary here are things that I don’t want (I told this to my mechaneches and she recommended Bnos Avigail): right wing politics, anti feminism, people trying to convince me to drop my college plans

    If I had to choose a group to be a part of, I guess I’d say mild Modern orthodox. I don’t fit the ultra orthodox community with my college plans, so I suppose I’ll drift over to MO at some point. I feel like all seminaries are ultra orthodox or modern orthodox which bother me. Are there any ones that are just plain in the center?

    I love Israel (it’s my first time here) but I don’t want to sit inside a building all day and have a bunch of rules on my head.

    So my questions: do you think I should go to seminary? If so, where? Do you think Machon Raaya, Bnos Avigail, or Michlalah would fit me?

    Any suggestions and help would be greatly appreciated!

    btw, I know deadlines passed but my school could probably push me in because they want me to go so badly. However, I doubt they’d help me with a place like Michlalah or anywhere MO.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    Hi baisyaakovliberal,

    I know something about the seminaries, have worked in some of them in the past (although it was a long time ago, and schools do change), and have friends who still work in some of them, and I would love to be able to help you if I can.

    Based on what you’re saying, I am not sure that Michlalah is the best option for you. The type of things that are issues for you could potentially. be bigger problems at Michlalah than in a Bais Yaakov seminary. On the other hand, Michlalah is a huge place and there are many teachers and types of teachers there, so everyone who goes can have a very different experience. A lot of it has to do with which teachers you end up having a kesher with. I still would not recommend it as a first choice. But I wouldn’t rule it out altogether.

    I think Machon Raaya sounds like a very good idea. I don’t know enough about B’nos Avigail. I would also highly recommend Darchei Binah. I am surprised that you didn’t mention Darchei Binah as an option. It sounds to me right up your alley.

    One advantage to DB is that it is not in a box – it is neither MO or untra-Orthodox. I can’t imagine your school would have a problem pushing you in, especially since your other option is going straight to college, and I would imagine that they would prefer that you go to any (or almost any) seminary first.

    I am also wondering if Tomer Devora could be for you. I think it is different than the other schools you mentioned, and I don’t know a ton about it, but I wonder if it be worth looking into.

    If none of the other options works out, you may want to consider MMY. I think it could make a lot of sense for you. It is the most intellectual seminary (and I have the impression that that is important to you). It is not really in a box, and the teachers are a range of hashkafos to some degree, but if one were to label it, it would probably be RWMO (right wing Modern Orthodox).

    If you feel like you are heading in the direction of Modern Orthodox, it might be a good idea for you to experience sincere balanced Modern Orthodoxy rather than going to a BY seminary where you run the risk of either getting turned off or getting too “brainwashed” and then going in the opposite direction once you are in college. I’ve seen both happen to girls who were probably similar to you.

    The only problem with MMY is that I don’t know how you would get in at this point. It doesn’t sound like your school would want to push it. Of course, if you point out to them that your other option is going straight to college, maybe they will decide that almost any seminary is better. Even if they do decide to push you in, they may not have any connections there, and I also am not sure that MMY is the type of school that one can push themselves into. But it might be worth trying.


    Hi lilmod ulelamaid,

    Thanks for the response.

    I don’t know much about Michlalah, so thanks for the info.

    Do you think Machon Raaya would be okay with me going away to college? They do have ‘bais yaakov’ tacked onto their name.


    I may be wrong about the first two, please let me know if you have another perspective!

    I will look into Tomer Devora and MMY. By RWMO, I assume you mean hashkafically and not politically?

    You make a good point about MO vs. BY seminaries. It is definitely one of my concerns which is why I’m not so gung ho about the seminary idea. I think it may just annoy me like school did.

    So, it sounds like you think I should go to seminary. Do you think the places you mentioned would be unanimously right wing politically? I don’t want to avoid other political opinions altogether, I just don’t think I can handle being the only one with certain views for another year. Also, I suppose seminaries have marriage focused classes – are they the kind of stuff I’ve heard in high school (support your hubby’s learning, passive female roles etc.)?

    By the way, in terms of academics, I would love to have interesting Judaics classes, but I dislike the way most of high school was memorization. I would want a year without lots of pressure so that I’m not worn out when I get to college. At the same time, I do like learning and don’t want to be around people whose goal is to skip class.

    edited again. Please keep in mind this is anonymous advice from someone never met you. By your posts it sounds like you would benefit from some serious face to face discussions with someone who can help you sort out some of your feelings and perspectives about religion and hashkofo. Hatzlacha Rabbi!

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    1.”Do you think Machon Raaya would be okay with me going away to college?”

    I don’t know.

    2. “I may be wrong about the first two, please let me know if you have another perspective!”

    Something in your original post was edited, so I have no idea what you are asking me! Sorry!

    3. “By RWMO, I assume you mean hashkafically and not politically?”

    yes. I mean, sincerely Frum.

    4. “Do you think the places you mentioned would be unanimously right wing politically?”

    I’m not sure what you mean by that. Are you talking about Israeli politics – not giving away land, pro-settlements, etc?

    I would imagine the more Bais Yaakov places don’t talk much about politics altogether. The non-Bais Yaakovs tend to be pretty right-wing politically when it comes to the above issues. I don’t know how much it is discussed – it probably depends what’s going on in the country at the time. But again, is that what you are talking about?

    5. Also, I suppose seminaries have marriage focused classes – are they the kind of stuff I’ve heard in high school (support your hubby’s learning, passive female roles etc.)?

    It really depends on the school. MMY doesn’t talk much about that type of stuff. You can choose your classes, so even if there are one or two classes like that (which I don’t know if there even are), you would not have to take those classes.

    I don’t know about the other schools mentioned. I think that most of these schools are on the open-minded side in terms of being understanding about where their students are coming from, but I don’t know how each compares to the other in that way.

    “By the way, in terms of academics, I would love to have interesting Judaics classes, but I dislike the way most of high school was memorization. I would want a year without lots of pressure so that I’m not worn out when I get to college. At the same time, I do like learning and don’t want to be around people whose goal is to skip class.”

    MMY pretty much fits that description. In terms of pressure, it depends how you define pressure. Unless things have changed, they don’t give much homework besides for studying for Finals during Finals time, so you don’t have that kind of pressure.

    What they do have is a lot of cheverusa time including night seder (when you can learn with a chevrusa anything you want) from approximately 8:00 -9:45 at night (unless the schedule has changed over the years). But there are breaks during the day.

    I think Machon Raayah, Darchei Binah, and B’nos Avigail all fit that description as well – interesting classes, not memorization type of learning, girls who seriously want to learn.

    I do not know how Machon Raayah and B’nos Avigail are in terms of pressure. I don’t think that’s an issue at Darchei Binah.

    I. M. Shluffin

    “Do you think Machon Raaya would be okay with me going away to college?”

    Well, most girls who got to MR attend college the next year; many go to Sarah Schenirer schools, many go to Touro, some to Stern, some to secular colleges. The teachers won’t encourage it outright but most won’t try to convince you out of it. You’re free to be who you are within the boundaries of halacha and hashkafa. The girls are generally more open-minded and come from all different places, so it’s really well-balanced and I’m sure you won’t have trouble finding your niche. Sounds like you’d be a great fit, if you ask me.


    try bjj i heard its unreal they are so accepting over there and they have the best hashkafa classes

    from Long Island

    As the mother of 2 daughters who attended Michlalah, I can offer some perspective.

    One is very chareidi & one is Chardali. Both attended college & graduate school. Both are very intellectually oriented.

    One took classes given by Rebbis & Morot who had a Chareidi Hashkafa.

    One took classes given by more Tzioni Daati Rebbis & Morot. Both found their classes to be intellectually stimulating, with the staff open to discussion and questions of hashgafa & most importantly “how do things fit” & how do I fit in the world while holding onto my values.

    Michlliala for Israeli’s is an accredited 4 year college & they take their education of both Israelis & Americans very seriously. There is no skating there, but they expect & demand that the girls fulfill their intellectual duties, this is NOT high school.

    I know several girls why went to MMY. Learning is on a very high level, whith the school having a decidedly American/Zionistic hashkafa. They are very open to challenge & questions from the girls. The girls who go there are religious, but their centric approach is less “life lessons” ie; how to live your life within your religion, and more into how to fit your religion into your life.

    Darchei Bina gets wonderful girls who are quite religious and want to stay that way. The learning is great, but not on a superior level. Their focus is to help the girls “firm up” their beliefs and help them figure out how to fit them into their lives. Most continue to college.

    But I have to tell you that myself and most of my contemporaries (parents) would never allow/encourage our children to dorm at a secular school, the exception being Stern. Since most of my generation went to secular colleges, at all levels, we know what is involved and would NEVER permit our kids out of our influence until graduate school.

    Hope this helped.


    I think the main difference between seminaries, as well as yeshivas, is this. In strong places, the teachers are people who have themselves spent several years sitting and learning Torah seriously. They have spent time interacting with other serious talmidei chachamim, learning from and interacting with them. Some of these serious people decide that they want to spend their lives teaching others, and thankfully they have tremendous experience on which to draw and teach, since they have spent many years learning first. They know chumash and midrashim, mishna (and gemarah), halacha and hashkafah, because they have spent years seriously studying these things.

    At weaker places, most of the teachers are people that may have spent a year in seminary, but then spent very little time seriously learning Torah before starting to teach. From what I’ve heard DB is a really wonderful sem, but I am looking through their list of teachers online, and with very few exceptions, most of these teachers did not spend any serious amount of time learning themselves. Maybe they went to law school, or got a masters in teaching or social work, or even in Jewish education, but these are not people that have spent a significant number of years actually learning. Of course they must know something to teach, and they probably speak very nicely, are smart, organized, and “inspiring”, but you won’t get the same depth, generally speaking, that you’ll find in places who exclusively, or mostly, hire people who have been learning first for many years.

    Consider this difference. You’re learning hlichose shabbos. A teacher in one sem is a person who learned the basics of hilchose shabbos in yeshiva or seminar. He/she knows the basics of borer, or mlaben, etc and teaches you the information in an organized manner. They can answer basic questions and their class leaves you educated and informed. When you have a question they look it up in the lamed tes melachose book and get back to you first thing tomorrow.

    Now, consider another teacher, who doesn’t just know hilchose shabbos, but really knows hilchose shabbos. They were fortunate that when in yeshiva they learned it b’iyun, and still remember the important sugyas in shabbos, eiruvin, and throughout shas. They learned the mechaber and Tur, the magen avraham, and the other poskim. They feel comfortable picking up not just a shmiras shabbas khilchasa, but also tshuvose of r’ moshe feinstein and r’ shlomo zalman. They understand the nuances that can only be appreciated through broad experience, and have the ability to look back at the Rambam and the Milchamose, the gemaras, yerushalmis, the yam shel shlomo’s, etc.

    Learning from these two teachers are two different types of experiences. I imagine that some places will provide mostly teachers in the former model, while a few very solid places will provide teachers of the second model. Migdal Oz is one extremely strong “MO” place that certainly provides teachers of the second type, and which I can’t recommend highly enough. I have heard good things about Midreshet Lindenbaum, but don’t know much about it. Michlalah probably has a mix, but certainly many teachers of the second kind.

    Having teachers of the first or second kind does not mean that a place is better or worse. Many families are perfectly happy with teachers of the first kind, if they are warm and “inspiring”, and can help infuse a sense of meaning and worth in their daughters, and that’s very important. Many young women attending sems are looking to form connections with teachers and other students, and of course that has little to do with what kind of teachers they have.

    Good luck with your applications!! May HKB”H help direct you to a place that is perfect for you.


    thanks for the advice, everyone!

    lilmod ulelamaid: By liberal, I mean in terms of American politicians I’d vote democratic. I don’t agree with democrats on everything, but I do more so than with Republicans. Some issues I feel strongly about are the environment, raising minimum wage, and revoking Citizen’s United, to give you an idea about where I’m coming from. I’m not so knowledgeable on the middle east situation, so I don’t have a defined view.

    As for Darchei Binah, hopefully this won’t get edited – is it a serious place?


    Someone just recommended Tiferet. Any thoughts?

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    “As for Darchei Binah, hopefully this won’t get edited – is it a serious place?”

    I don’t know the answer to that question, but I am also not sure if I would be allowed to answer it online if I did.

    I can tell you that I know that there are a lot of serious girls there, but I do not know whether or not they are all like that. I have no particular reason to think they are not, but I don’t know for sure (and even if I did, I’m not sure if I would be allowed to say so online).

    In terms of American politics, I never heard of anyone (students or teachers) discussing American politics in seminary. I’m sure in every seminary you can find someone who is into politics, but it is usually not a major topic of discussion for seminary girls! (Note the practical absence of any females on the political threads in the CR, and probably complete absence of seminary-age females on those threads). So I really don’t think you have to worry about American political views in seminary.

    Regarding M’s post, I strongly disagree! Most of the seminaries mentioned have many teachers who are very learned. First of all, they have a lot of men teachers whose background in learning does not consist of “one year of learning”. In terms of the women teachers, you can not tell how learned they are based on what is written in the brochures/websites. Most women either found ways to learn on their own or they attended institutions whose names they may not want to put down.

    I know many of the women who teach in these seminaries and they are extremely learned! To name some examples – Rebbetzin David, the head of BJJ, is extremely learned. She did not even attend seminary – she had a private melamed, which is something that probably few people know and I doubt it’s written anywhere. Rebbetzin Heller, the head of B’nos Avigail, is extremely learned even though I think her official education ended after seminary. I don’t know where she got her learning from, but she got it from somewhere.

    I know someone else who taught in seminaries who learned for about 10 years after high shool but doesn’t write it anywhere official.

    Many seminary teachers attended Michlalah or Stern for college where they studied Limudei Kodesh for several years.

    But many of the most learned women throughout Jewish history have been women who were dedicated and motivated to learning enough that they found ways to learn even without being officially enrolled in any official institution. Where did Bruriah learn for that matter?


    What about planning a semester abroad in Israel after seminary too?

    You can keep it in mind while you’re in seminary, to give yourself something to look forward to while you’re in the program.

    Plus, you’ll still have Israel-time for personal growth, as you develop your college footing. Since you’ll be a freshman, there may be unique scholarships open to you.

    Also, maybe LU knows more about this, but you may be able to find a frum community of college girls who you can dorm with in Israel.

    You can build the life-experience in this setting, observing the mitzvot while still in college, and apply it to dorm-life when you return home. It could help you feel confident that you can keep your religious footing, which could help you keep strong when the time comes for you to transition to a more secular environment.

    Just another idea to help you balance your experience and growth.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    Tiferet is completely different from the other seminaries you have mentioned and very different from many of the things you wrote you are looking for in a seminary.

    It is also very different from the background you are coming from.

    From what you have written about yourself and from what I know about Tiferet, I wouldn’t think it’s the best choice for you. (keep in mind, of course, that I don’t really know you).

    I could see a non-Bais Yaakov possibly being a good place for you, but I think that coming from the background you are coming from, you would want to go with either a more right-wing (religiously) “Modern Orthodox” seminary or a more open Bais Yaakov seminary.

    I wonder if Maor or Sharfman’s could be for you. I hadn’t thought so originally after reading your first post, but after reading your later posts, I am wondering if they could be options.

    Midreshet Tehila might be a good choice as well (maybe more than Maor or Sharfman’s actually). It’s on Neve campus, so if you are checking out B’nos Avigail, you might want to check it out.


    Regarding M’s post, I don’t think that getting a good education in seminary requires that the teachers be huge talmidei chachamim who learned gemara for many years. I think wise women can be more effective in teaching young women, can serve more as role models while still being able to impart lots of knowledge, whether it is chumash or hashkafa. Like LU said, there are many highly educated, very smart women teachers who know a lot of chumash and hashkafa, maybe more than the average man. And considering all things, it is much better/safer to have a close mentor-type of relationship with a female teacher, v’hameiven yavin. While it was once common in certain seminaries to have male teachers/talmeidi chachamim, I would not be surprised if this model is not changing. Note that many seminaries will have a notable posek/rav for their halacha classes, though, even if the rest of their staff is female.


    To BYL, I would second from LI’s advice about dorming. It’s been a long time since I have been on a college campus, but even in my days, it would be very uncommon to find a frum girl in a secular college dorm. And that was before the movement to make mixed gender dorms and get rid of separate gender bathrooms. I doubt any seminary would be happy with you dorming at a secular college, even if they support the idea of going to college. They would probably encourage you to find some nice, frum girls to room with off campus if you must go to an out of town college.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    “While it was once common in certain seminaries to have male teachers/talmeidi chachamim, I would not be surprised if this model is not changing.”

    Unfortunately, over the past year, I think it has become more obvious to the oilam that it can be a big problem.

    I personally am happy to have had men teachers since I think I learned a lot from them, but I think it’s better to at least make sure to only hire men teachers who are older and who have a good sense of boundaries. And there should also be a lot of women teachers so they can be the ones that girls talk to.


    Seminaries (similarly yeshivas) are often in a bind — they want to hire the “charismatic”, “enthusiastic” kind of mechanchim that will “inspire” their talmidim, form close bonds with them, invest tremendous time in talking with them about their problems, etc, but it is particularly those types of people that we more often find crossing boundaries. Dry teachers, who might even be seen a bit as aloof or out of touch, and who focus primarily on teaching (and less on “connecting”) might not draw in new students, even if they do end up being the teachers that are the most substantive and offer the most to students. Ask any person running a seminary, and they think about this issue all the time. Halvai all yeshivas/seminaries would focus on hiring teachers who focus on *teaching*, and less on connecting (and possibly hire as very separate roles someone like a mashgiach or mashpiah), and I think students would be much better off — they would learn more and be manipulated/abused less.

    Anyone familiar with the world of chinuch will of course realize similar dilemmas. And the focus of many kirruv organizations is primarily, if not exclusively, to connect, with teaching being a mere excuse through which to connect.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    M – unfortunately, what you are writing about is all too true. I’m still trying to recover from the shock of recent revelations.

    I am not sure that I agree that the teachers should focus less on connecting. I do think it’s very important, but there has to be more of a sense of boundaries. This is true for women teachers as well as men teachers.

    The seminaries need to focus on establishing a healthy atmosphere and hiring teachers who are emotionally healthy and have a good sense of boundaries. There should also be some kind of therapist on staff, and the teachers should have some psychology training. I think the schools have been working on some of these issues in recent years.

    There are men teachers who teach in seminaries and are good at connecting to their students but have a good sense of boundaries and healthy relationships.

    It is true that such people are in the minority. And the charisma issue is a very real issue in the seminary world. That is why they should only hire men teachers who are older and have a good sense of boundaries. And the women teachers should be the main ones who are there for the students to connect with.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    Bais Yaakov Liberal – how’s the seminary search going? I think you said that today is your last day in Israel. Did you have a chance to look into any of the schools I recommended? I hope so. Hatzlacha!

    Letakein Girl

    “By your posts it sounds like you would benefit from some serious face to face discussions with someone who can help you sort out some of your feelings and perspectives about religion and hashkofo.”

    I second this!!


    lilmod ulelamaid: “I am not sure that I agree that the teachers should focus less on connecting. I do think it’s very important, but there has to be more of a sense of boundaries. This is true for women teachers as well as men teachers.”

    From what I see, “connection” usually means “manipulation”. For example, a young boy or girl in yeshiva/seminary comes to a teacher regarding a personal problem. Sometimes this happens because the teacher is the smartest (?) person this students knows, and they hope that maybe they’ll know how to solve their problem. Other times, it is because the student wants to form a connection with the popular, charismatic teacher, since being close with them will essentially make the student cool, “in”, etc. In either case, although the teacher might have many years of experience in these situations, they aren’t necessarily any good. Maybe they’ve been giving students nonsense advice, or perhaps even harmful advice, for many years, and basically no one can evaluate that such advice is harmful? What reason is there to think that if Rebbi X spent 10 years learning in Brisk that he has the emotional maturity to counsel talmidim about relationships? Or because Morah Y is happily married with 7 children, what reason is there to think that her advice is worth anything?

    Teachers, when they are talmidei chachamim, when they are drawing on their years of serious learning, be in chumash, halacha, gemara, etc, when they are teaching inyanim which are really their expertise, then they can do a phenomenal job in educating students. When, instead, lomdei torah begin to spend their time sharing advice in areas in which they have no particular expertise, that is just unfair. It would be like me giving you advice about writing website because I sometimes read the YWN website.

    Students, like other human beings, often want meaningful connections. To some degree, rebbeim and morose can provide this, but I don’t believe that they can generally provide it to the degree which they pretend they can. Things end up badly — teachers pretend that they are these super duper tzadikim, students adoring them, etc, when really they are, by and large, regular people like you and me — they wake up, they brush their teeth, they eat breakfast (some like strong coffee, some weak, some no coffee at all), they have friends and there are people they don’t like, they have better days and worse days, sometimes their feel energized, sometimes depressed, etc. A 45-year mechaneses or rebbi, or a 65 year old rebbi, will never find genuine friendship with a group of 18-year olds.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    Forming connections with students does not have to mean manipulation. You are right that unfortunately, it often does, but that does not have to be the case.

    The schools need to focus on hiring emotionally mature teachers who know how to form connections without manipulation. One of the problems is that the schools often hire very young teachers of both genders. They should certainly not be hiring young male teachers.

    An emotionally mature teacher is someone who is comfortable with herself, who doesn’t force relationships with students, and doesn’t form relationships with students for her own fulfillment. She makes it clear to the students that she is there for them if they want to form a relationship with her, but it is their choice. Obviously, everyone is human, so it is impossible to form a relationship with someone that is completely about them and not at all about you, but the focus should be on what’s good for the student and not the teacher’s fulfillment that she could feel good about herself because all these students are connecting with her.

    You can not get rid of the concept of teachers connecting with students altogether. That is one of the main points of seminary. Girls’ education is very different from boys’ education.

    It is true that the fact that someone learned in Brisk for 10 years doesn’t mean that he will have the emotional maturity to form healthy relationships with his students. That is precisely why the main qualification for a seminary teacher is not necessarily their educational background.

    One way to do things could be the model you suggested that there are 2 separate roles – there are people who are there to teach and there are people who are there to connect with. That could be a legitimate model for a seminary. But then it has to be clear (to both the educators and students) what each person’s role is.

    But l’maaseh, that is not how most seminaries work. There may be a few teachers who it’s known that they just come in to impart information and then leave. But for the most part, that is not how seminaries work. This is probably because people see the main goal in girls’ education as being to form connections with them and to help them grow religiously and emotionally, and the learning is seen as a means to an end.


    “By your posts it sounds like you would benefit from some serious face to face discussions with someone who can help you sort out some of your feelings and perspectives about religion and hashkofo.”

    I second this!!

    -wow, that’s harsh (and irrelevant btw)

    Harsh? Suggesting you find someone to help you sort through your thoughts and views is hardly harsh. And changing directions in life based on what you want to leave behind is a valid reason to seek guidance. Calling it irrelevant just confirms the need.


    lilmod ulelamaid: Thanks for all your help 🙂

    I wasn’t feeling well for the remainder of my trip so I wasn’t able to check out the schools. I did look at their websites, though, and I’ll look into them further.


    ^^ I meant irrelevant to my specific question. And by harsh…it could have been worded a bit softer but I’m new to this site and I guess people don’t beat around the bush here. I’m sorry if it came out the wrong way. Thanks for the concern 🙂 I am close to several role models.

    Perhaps we beat around the bush here for lighter issues. The reasons you listed for wanting a more open environment, the descriptions you gave of a BY lifestyle, and the fact that you would consider dorming in a secular college are serious issues. To be given a list of seminaries instead of pointing you to someone who could work with you on an appropriate direction, and perhaps repair some of the perspectives, was very alarming and resulted in a blunt, forthright comment. It was meant to jar, but not to hurt. Please consider speaking to someone face to face (not on here) who can hear you out and help you find a place that will serve, not accommodate, your spiritual needs.

    Yes, I am concerned 🙂 Hatzlocho!!

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    BaisYaakovliberal – hatzlacha rabba! Hope it works out for you to go to seminary (and to the one that will be best for you). I do think it’s very important, so I really hope it works out.

    Please keep us updated if you can.


    I’m unsure why my post was rejected. It seems to only further highlight my point.

    Your post wasn’t rejected, it was addressed to the mods. You are also jumping to conclusions about the rest of it. The message is an excellent one but obviously not for all ears. You make a point about how to address a certain population, why would you want it posted where they will read it?


    Can I STRONGLY disagree with lilmod about Michlalah (especially as I’m unclear why she thought it was a bad idea)? It sounds like a great place for you! You will find a lot of girls very similar to you (I know one girl almost certainly going there next year who I could actually see you being friends with from your description of yourself 🙂 ) and it’s an amazing place. I believe they’re getting a new program director who will bring it in a slightly more MO direction than it is now (it’s currently being run by a charedi woman). But there is a serious mix of teachers, and you can definitely pick the ones who you work best with (I did, and I had an amazing learning experience).

    I wouldn’t necessarily pick a BY seminary- they are much more likely to try to dissuade you from dorming in college. I do agree with lilmod’s recommendation of MMY. (Again, I’m unsure why she recommended it over Mich.) I have several friends who went there and loved it.

    If you want something more on the quirky-BY side, perhaps Midreshet Tehillah? I know a girl who went from there to Harvard, and she described it as a balance between a bit hashkafa-driven than Michlalah and yet still very intellectually motivating. The girls are probably more modern than the average Mich girl, and about the same as MMY girls. (However, MT is more likely to get LW BY girls, and MMY is more likely to get RW MO girls. Michlalah gets both.)

    If my personal background makes a difference- I went to a middle-of-the-road, BY type high school and am now in Stern.


    Point taken, thank you.


    A final thought on this topic — when evaluating a seminary/yeshiva, ask yourself this question: what fraction of the administration’s and teachers’ efforts are focused on teaching/educating, and what fraction of their efforts are focused on connecting with students? Of course every place has some of each of these, and of course there can be overlap between teaching/educating and connecting, but the answer to this question will say much, I believe, about the institution, and about its suitability for different types of students.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    M- very good point. At the same time, one also has to keep in mind that 17 year olds don’t always know what is best for themselves in this regard, and they should keep that in mind as well.

    In terms of the connecting – they should also consider whether or not the connecting is done in an emotionally healthy, well-balanced way.


    lilmod ulelamaid — completely agree. A 17-year old doesn’t always know what will be best for them. But I’m not convinced that a teacher or guidance counselor would either always know what’s best. Maybe the twelfth grade rebbi, or the Israel guidance counselor, regularly gives bad advice? Of course these people are very well-intentioned, work hard, have tons of experience, and maybe their advice sounds very good. But who knows, maybe their advice is generally bad? Maybe those who follow it would have been much better off had they taken advice from someone else?

    In short, I agree that a 17-year old, and a 37-year old, doesn’t always known what’s best for themselves, but it’s also not clear that there is someone out there that does. baisyaakovliberal sounds like a thought-out student, and might be best served by listening to a voice deep inside her. Or maybe not. Who knows….

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    M – maskim. everything you are saying is true. I was really just talking about the specific point you made about the two types of schools. I was just thinking that there probably are many teenage girls who would benefit from a school that is more the connecting type but at the same time they have trouble acknowledging this fact. That is a basic characteristic of adolescence, as well as humans in general.

    That was really my only point initially, but now that you mention it, it is very important for teenagers (and everyone else too, for that matter, but particularly teenagers) to have mentors to get advice from, and it does seem to me that this is something particularly important for baisyaakovliberal. And it does sound like her teachers are doing a very good job of guiding her.

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    Writer Soul: “If you want something more on the quirky-BY side, perhaps Midreshet Tehillah?”

    I am glad you mentioned Midreshet Tehillah. I was thinking that that might be a really good idea, but I didn’t know enough about it to feel comfortable “pushing it” too much.


    lilmod ulelamaid — what a pleasure it is to be in a YWN coffee room forum and discuss something with someone so polite and thought out.



    M +1

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    Thanks for the compliment, M. Kind of wondering why that post was edited 🙂 Certainly started out nice enough….

    Lilmod Ulelamaid

    LB +1


    @writersoul it seems like you haven’t been active in a while, but do you think you can help me? i’m an american girl living in israel. i attended an american jewish day school (co-ed but separate classes) and was in a typical strict bais yaakov freshman year (at my parent’s insistence, which i hated. my friends were all either at the MO co-ed high school or the more lenient girl’s bais yaakov). my family made aliyah the summer before my sophomore year, and i’m currently in my junior year at an israeli bais yaakov, which is considered a very lenient school by israeli standards (many don’t even consider it BY, but i disagree; the girls might not be classic bais yaakov, but the staff and atmosphere are very much that). i’m planning on graduating early due to a variety of reasons. an trusted adult close to me is pushing me to apply to machon raaya, but a) they only accept one girl living in israel per year and b) i’m looking for something less right-wing. while i’m definitely looking for spiritual growth, i’ve had a hard time with BY environments in the past and want something more accepting and growth-oriented rather than in the box and laden with strict rules. as of now, i plan on applying to college in the U.S. after my seminary year, so i’m also looking for a seminary where graduates have gone on to college before. (i hope i’m explaining myself well.) i’ve been looking at tomer devorah, but after doing some research, michalah and midreshet moriah seem like great options as well. i’m not sure where to go from here, as i don’t really have an advisor in this area that isn’t biased towards more bais yaakov seminaries. do you or anyone else have advice for me?

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