Finding the Right Seminary

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    We have heard wonderful things about many seminaries. Could anyone help clarify the differences between BJJ, BYA, Bnos Chava, Bnos Sarah, Mesores Rochel and Mchon Ra’aya?



    bjj and bnos chava are very big bnos sarah is smaller mesores rochel is very yeshivish machon raaya is small and academic with non typical bais yaakov girls


    Try to contact someone who’s child attended any of these seminaries &

    ask for feedback. If the parent was happy, pros, cons, etc..

    A smaller seminary might be a better choice (if they have years of experience)

    depending on the girl.


    There is a lot of overlap between those seminaries. Whoever gave you this list should be able to help you narrow it down – good sources include current and very recent students and parents, and the faculty of your daughter’s school.


    Thanks. We certainly are asking those sources but wanted to utilize this resource as well. Also, wanted to have a bit more information so we could have an informed discussion with the hanhalla of our daughter’s school.


    As stated in another post, decide: small or big? where on the yeshivish/non yeshivish spectrum?

    Pros/Cons to big: the seminaries you mentioned were larger: BJJ, BYA, Bnos Chava ect. They are great if your daughter is a real socialite who needs 30 good friends this type may be for her. More of a variety of girls. Can be clique-y when there are so many girls there.

    Pros/Cons to small: Less girls so it is better for those who dont want to be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and types. Smaller seminaries may choose the exact girls to go that are a certain “type”. This is great for those who like a few really close friends but is friends with most of her seminary. She will know almost everyone at the start (a real struggle for some), have attention from the teachers, and there is a certain school spirit when girls know everyone.

    There are also differences in academics. Some sems are particularly one type or another. Some have a mix of levels, which means they focus on the overall girl and yeshivish level rather than high school grades and GPAs, and this has its benefits as well.

    There are some things that can only be done with larger seminaries and some only with smaller ones. Its like the shidduch process but there are so many out there that you can find the one that fits your daughter best. Maybe tell us more info about the place you are dreaming of and we can tell you better fits.


    Understood. I am just gathering information on some of the seminaries that seem to be in the “parsha.” I understand that many of the listed seminaries are very similar and I am just trying to get a sense of their differences. One difference mentioned is that BJJ and Bnos Chava tend to be larger than the others. Mchon Ra’aya it seems may attract “non-traditional” BY girls. Are there any other distinctions between these seminaries in terms of academics, hashkafa, type of girl attracted, or anything else? The problem is they all sound too alike.


    I can’t talk for all the seminaries but as for Machon Raaya…The “non-traditional BY girl” comment has to be explained.

    All the girls there are Bais Yaacov minded,with the correct hashkafas and strong values. Most went to BY schools and are all solid, good girls.At the same time they would probably be classified as “out of town” due the fact that everyone is very open minded and intelligent, not only in Hebrew studies but in English as well. Graduating w/ high averages and AP classes in various English studies, all the girls are intelligent In The Box AND Out of The Box thinkers. It is a bit of a mix, ranging from actual “out of towners” to “out of countryers” and brooklyn(yes that’s in-town).

    The school itself is on the academic side(which you probally knew already) but at the same time the pressure is minimal. Yes there are a lot of teachers and preperation and Hachana but it’s all quite bearable once everyone settles into the school year. I would not quite equate it with BJJ on that point alone.

    The girls in BYMR know how to have a good time and the school itself arranges many trips(bi-weekly trips w/in the city+tiyulim+Shabbatons) and activities for the girls which are quite enjoyable. There is a lounge and excercise room (and the food and snacks are GREAT!) and every staff member is warm and caring. *One of the biggest praise for the school would probably be the amazing staff members; teachers and hanhala alike.

    Bottom line: It’s a Bais Yaacov school but with a bit more room, very intellectual with a small, close knit, group of girls and a fantastic staff.

    -sidepoint: When they say the school is textual they mean it! They do A LOT of inside work and prep for class. But not everyone that came was nesc so textual and at this point (almost 2 months in) most said that they are definatly getting better at it and actually doing quite well in that area. So if you are not so textual…that changes!


    Confused Tatte- would you look into other seminaries besides those? There are tons of seminaries that are not as publicized that might be right. Before, when I meant academic, a better term would be textually based or not. Some, like machon raya and BJJ, seem to be mostly textual classes. Some seminaries have a mix, while some are mostly non. Textual also can mean “will they make you learn the entire sefer shoftim on your own in a week with meforshim” or it can mean “we will be learning shoftim in detail and depth in class with homework preparation”. Hatzlacha finding the right seminary for your daughter!


    Thank you for your good wishes. We prefer the textual-oriented seminaries. What we don;t necessarily want is busy work, but meaningful work is something our daughter enjoys and appreciates. She is studious, B”H. It seems that what distinguishes these various places (BJJ, BYA, Bnos Chava, Bnos Sarah, Mesores Rochel and Mchon Ra’aya), besides their size, is the type of BY girl they attract, the type of work they demand and how “warm” they are. That is where we are trying to understand the differences.

    Thank you “gaffligle” — that was very helpful.

    Pashuteh Yid

    The only proper way to rate a seminary is to look at the percentage of girls who get engaged within a month after returning. All the other info is meaningless.


    To P-Yid: Read a letter in the recent Yated a girl writes to her sister now in sem. I think the girls grow tremendously. Doesn’t HAVE to be a full school year in E”Y, there are sems chu”l and I think we need more dorming options in NY to see a sea change. But B”H I know I’ve seen great peiros, personally and from my own daughters.


    Pashuteh Yid

    Was just kidding.


    Want to get back on track. Thanks to gaffligle, Machon Raaya seems to be covered. What can people tell me about BJJ, BYA, Bnos Chava, Bnos Sarah, and Mesores Rochel?



    First of all: It is not easy to get into any of these sems, so the point is to settle on a few. I recently had girls in both Bnos Chava & BYA. Bnos Chava is very big, it is easy to get lost. It is also is very hard work and most of the girls are extremely talented as well as bright – if your daughter is a star in HS she may not be one there, the competition is fierce but the experience is worth it. My girls LOVED it and learned a lot. BYA was perfect for the daughter who went there – she is quieter, the school is smaller and less diverse, it is not low level at all but more like HS type learning on a higher level than HS(at least that is how I found it the one year my daughter was there). Bnos Sora is a blend of the two but VERY HARD WORK.I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the schools you mentioned but be aware that the student body can vary from year to year. I think your HS mechaneches is your best source of advice. Hatzlacha rabbah.


    I have friends who went to Bnos Chava…the place is big, academic some pp say bit jappy( jewish american princess) high maintance NY type BUT i know tonz of girls who went there who are not that type at all and loved it! they have phenomenal teachers! food there bit of a problem…lol dorm is nice

    BYA- has great balance of school work and H.W…girls who went there liked it very much

    yes…bit higher level of HS BUT they have inspiring speakers come all the time and have great shabbatons and teachers like class discussions!some parts of year have more H.W than others but work is manageable and there’s plenty of time to breathe and relax…food and dorm is nice. Lots of girls from NY but also lots of out of towners as well!!

    BJJ- very academic…lots of H.W, teachers tend to be older there( BYA has mixture of older and younger teachers) but i heard classes were great!! variety of girls from all backgrounds go there! but in general the more academic or bright kind…

    dorm is big and nice near geula…one of the olderst sems around so they have that charm to it but again prepare to have lots of reports and H.W


    Save the money and have her stay home. Be a leader not a follower.



    To Pashute Yid: I had a hunch, still a bit unexpected.


    How about this confusion. When did a community known for its tuition tzoros decide that seminary is a must?

    Chushuva yid

    I heard that bnos chava has changed since rebbitzin tarshish left… I dont know if it is true and to what extent but if anyone knows how it currently is i wouldnt mind knowing bc im looking into it myself!


    Once again, are you only going to look into those seminaries listed? Just because it was right for shmerel and berel doesnt mean that it will be right for your daughter. Just because her friends are going there, it might be best to go somewhere different. She can be who she wants, instead of who she was in hs (no one is there to say- frumy, you know she wasnt like this in hs…) I know a girl- all her friends went to BJJ and the like and she didnt but she grew so much and had such a wonderful year! Some of the less popular ones might be right. Your daughter is different from everyone else’s so she shouldnt be forced to go to the same ones as they are. Look into different ones!


    My sister went to Bnos Sara and loved that it was small and that she knew all the girls and all the staff. It sounds like most of the girls there also apply to BJJ, but I got the impression that it was much less of a “factory” than BJJ. That was 2 years ago when it was still newish, though. I don’t think they have so many tests, the main thing there is that they have 4-5 very hard reports throughout the year.


    It sounds like this might not be right for your daughter, but just today I heard about a new seminary, Shir Bamidbar. Since they are new, there is no history, the only information available is what you can get from their web site. It seems it is not for everyone, but for the right type, it looks pretty good.


    How warm is BJJ? Are girls close to the staff? Same for Masores Rochel. I have heard high praise about Mrs. Tarshish and am curious how it compares academically to BJJ, Bnos Sara and Bnos Chava (at least when Mrs. Tarshish) was there.

    havesomeseichel — I appreciate your thoughts, and if you think there are other seminaries of this ilk I welcome suggestions. But yes, my daughter wants an academic, true BY seminary. As it so happens, my daughter is in a class where very few girls are applying to these seminaries so she is certainly not following the crowd in choosing these places.


    I applaud the fact that your daughter is not following the crowd. I assumed that they were popular in your daughter’s school as well as from what I heard from some girls, those seminaries have been popular the last year or two.

    Have you looked into tiferes? Its warm, smaller (not sure how many are there this past year), and the girls that I know went there are academic but dont want the huge pressure of BJJ and Mesoras Rochel. They want to learn but without the major stress and panic of some seminaries. You learn but they wont tell you to memorize the tanach. Real BY seminary. Girls I know who went there are “daughter of rebbetzin” type but still fun, sweet and kind. I know of a few teachers who work there and they are really warm and kind. You can be close to their staff. its in a great location- sanhedria merchevet- walking distance to the kosel (cant do it 2 times a day but do-able) and near great neighborhoods.


    Thanks. We don’t know about about Tiferes. You mentioned huge pressure of BJJ and Mesoras Rochel. What is the nature of that pressure? Is there a difference between those two?


    Confused tatty – it has been 10 years since I was in sem, and I can’t tell you specifically more than a “feel” I got of schools, but I can tell you that I had Rebbetzin Tarshish in Maalot, and she is unbelievable, in a good way. I don’t know how close you can or can’t get to her, cuz I don’t know how busy she is these days, but she is very caring. But academically, or learning torah, nothing compares – she is brilliant ka”h and brings machshava to life – whether in teaching mitzvos, or tanach, or machshava – anything….she brings all kinds of torah sources before you finish processing the first point and then she ties it all together, and each shiur ends with a huge “WOW!” and tons if inspiration. I personally learned “Shoftim” from her, and it seems at face value like one of the most boring and least thought provoking (if I can say that c”v) of the neviim, and she would bring aggadata and maharal and tons of sources, and break apart each pasuk, and explain from these mekoros what people’s names represented, what “ben so and so” represented, what the name of the place they were from or conquered represented, and what the number of years each one ruled represented – and it was so meaningful and powerful, it both gave me a lot of machshava and yesodos to think about, and it gave me a deeper emunah and appreciation for what tanach is all about, or how much depth there is behind it that we don’t understand – when such seemingly basic “non-inspiring” pesukim could “pack such a punch” of meaning and inspiration…!

    As far as warmth, I think that is the most important thing to look into with any school (and/or families you can hook up your daughter with here in israel that will look after her and give her familial warmth when she goes for shabbos, y”t etc) as that is both the biggest factor in “losing” kids c”v, and the greatest factor in inspiring them and keeping them infused with wanting this derech for life…

    hatzlocha rabbah! and if I can be of more help you can ask YWN for my email…


    All of the schools you mentioned are great schools with great girls. Among them was machon Raaya. While it is only in its second year the reputation it has already created for itself is amazing. The school itself is a Bais Yaakov school with a great mix of girls-both from “in-town” and “out of town”. The fact that the school is small is a plus. One is easily able to get to know all the other girls as opposed to larger schools where it can take weeks to get know the others in your school. The staff and administration of Machon Raaya is unparallel. They are as warm and caring as can be. They work tirelessly for the girls-making sure they are happy with every aspect of their seminary experience-be it the classes, social aspect, accommodations, or food. The work in Machon Raaya is not easy-but you mentioned that your daughter is a serious girl who wants a textual-oriented seminary. It is definitely manageable. While it is an adjustment as most BY HS’s are not textually-oriented once immersed in the text for a few weeks one gets used to it and sees their skills growing. And if any girl feels she needs help the administration is there to help in any way they can. Some are hesitant to apply to a new school when there are so many well-established seminaries out there, but I feel that Machon Raaya is definitely something to consider.


    I was reading this post and decided to pipe in with a seminary that has not been mentioned yet…BAIS YAAKOV SHOSHANIM!

    It is an amazing seminary that has warm and caring staff. It is so easy to gain a kesher with the teachers, am habayis, and staff. The seminary is academic but not crushing in the amount of work they give. There are girls there who are on different academic levels there so the seminary staff will work with those girls to help them make the most out of seminary. It is smaller, close-knit…they become a family to the girls almost immediately! There is a nice mix of in-town and out-of-town girls. It is anything but “jappy”. It has been small in the past (purposely) but they have bought a new building so they can accept more girls this year! It is great to know everyone’s name within the first week!

    The work is not too overbearing but you gain tons! The seminary feels that you are in seminary to learn from some of the best teachers- so you sit in class and learn more than have homework. Classes cover such a wide range of topics (Halacha, Nach, Parsha, Middos, Hashkafa and more) that girls have trouble picking a favorite! There were those who got straight “A”s throughout high school and were challenged, but they wont make you memorize 10 perakim of nach. You learn it and internalize it.There were papers to write and they left huge impacts on the girls. They need to do research, but there are people willing to help, loan sefarim, explain things ect. There is preparation to be done, but there is a set period in the schedule to work on it where there is staff ready to help if necessary! The food is great (as compared to other seminaries where it is barely edible) and they are willing to take suggestions! It is home-style and cooked fresh (not institution food). There are in-shabbosim and “out shabbosim” where the seminary goes to different areas as a school, about one in/out shabbos a month- more than many seminaries! They even made a special shabbos that was not mandatory for the shabbos before pesach because they realized that the way the calendar was set up that year, it would be hard to find shabbos placements. They take you on amazing tiyulim, some that are hard to go on in the 150 girl seminaries. It is so special to be able to travel with the entire seminary together and not have to split up. The have guest speakers quite often, as well as “workshops” where you go to specific teacher’s houses and, in a relaxed, comfortable setting, have animated and in-depth discussions about specific topics, many times relating to the theme (changes about monthly)- the theme coordinates with guest speakers and yomei iyunim as well! It makes it so much more understandable and you get a fuller picture of the topic, rather than getting a snippet here or there.

    It is a real BY seminary for BY girls who want to grow, learn and internalize the lessons! I know its cliche, but the seminary girls who leave feel like they are one big family!


    Bnos Chava(what I hear abt it)-It’s a pretty academic school as well, with amazing educators. Most of the girls love school as it is intellectual as well as warm. The girls have work but it’s all pretty managable. They do have a lot of reports though that the girls work hours on but i think the girls really appreciate all thay learn and find it very enjoyable and enlightening. The staff is very warm and friendly and the girls quite friendly with each other. It is a big school so althogh e/o is friendly, it can get cliquish. The majority of girls are more the “in-town” crowd but at the same time there is still a mix. I love big schools (Bnos Chava included) because you can always find s/o who your gonna click with. In a smaller school it can be hard to do that (sometimes). The school has a great reputation and has been around for quite a few years. The girls there are all great girls and honestly, a/o that goes there I am proud of.


    Thank you all. That is very helpful. dveykus613, what you said about Mrs. Tarshish makes me want to go there! 🙂 Interestingly, much about what I have read concerns Mrs. Tarshish (which has been wonderful) as opposed to the seminary itself. Anyone know about the seminary itself? Also, is Bnos Sara simply a smaller version of BJJ or does it differ in ways other than the number of girls?


    i think, while bjj is very frum in its own rite, bnos sara is more a homogenius mixture of very frum yeshivish grls as oppossed 2 bjj where ther is a bit more diversity. and bjj is more institutionalized.its a great school(espeshially if u like 2 learn and b challenged) but i dont think its so personal and VERY large.


    My daughter is in Mesores Rochel now. She loves the seminary. Everything that was said above about Mrs. Tarshish is true. The learning is of a different dimension. Rosh Chodesh is not a regular day, it has meaning! The month of Cheshvan, what it’s all about, the mazel of the month, and how it all connects,…these are just some of the things my daughter has told me about recently. However it’s a lot of work, a lot! There doesn’t seem to be any letup because in order to understand Mrs. Tarshish’s Shoftim class, there’s a tremendous amount of preparation that has to go in beforehand. This class is in addition to preparing the entire parsha each week, homework from all the other subjects, and tests every week. There’s very little time to sleep. My daughter really enjoys the learning but she is very tired.

    My daughter says the girls are a nice blend and everyone is friendly with everyone. Some dress up for Shabbos, some don’t and it’s all okay. Mrs. Tarshish goes with the girls on the tiyulim. Her rich insight of history and hashkafa make these tiyulim more than just fun trips; and yes, they have fun too. The food is good, the staff is wonderful and they’re located in Geulah. There’s class in the morning, an afternoon break, and evening classes. No uniform but a dress code. Anything else?


    hud, I had one sister who went to BJJ and one who went to Bnos Sara, and both brought friends with them to me for shabbos and meals. I got the impression that the Bnos Sara crowd was more diverse than BJJ. Bnos Sara is much more personalized. I would much rather send a daughter there than to BJJ which is very big and impersonal.


    *and bjj is more institutionalized.its a great school(espeshially if u like 2 learn and b challenged) but i dont think its so personal and VERY large.*

    rebetzin- that is what i said in my original post.

    and abt type, i guess it really all depends who you know that is there.


    Thank you all so much. Excellent information. Some specific questions:

    1. Is Mesroes Rochel on par with BJJ academically? (More concerned about level of learning than amount of work given).

    2. Is Bnos Sara on par with BJJ academically? (More concerned about level of learning than amount of work given).

    3. How do Bnos Sara and Mesores Rochel compare in terms of academics and warmth?

    4. What is Bnos Chava like now with Reb. Tarshish gone now a couple of years.

    5. Nachalas has popped up in some discussions as well. What is it like? I have no real desire to add another to the mix, but am curious about it and perhaps someone posting information about it can help others who are in our position.

    Finally, a tremendous thank you to all who have taken the time to post constructive and thoughtful comments about the various seminaries. Hatzlocho to you all.


    1. yes

    2. yes

    3. depends on the year. girls are girls,and it depends which girls are there in any particular year

    4. While she is worthy of a whole sem. revolving around her, it really doesn’t – there are other teachers. Rabbis Geisler & Abramov weren’t mentioned and they deserve to be!!!

    5. I think it is not on the level of the above academically, but is super in terms of students middos/personality. But again, it depends on the year. If you have sem age daughter you surely know the vort that hatzlacha in raising children depends on “trairen and tehillim”. Kudos on your due diligence. Again, you won’t go wrong with any of these schools.


    The ironic thing is that, to the extent that the quality fo the seminary depends on the year (mix of girls, etc) that is not apparent until after your daughter has decided to go there. Thus, that issue can’t be factored into the decision. Of course, with many of these seminaries, they have a certain type that they recruit and therefore they are likely to remain relatively constant year to year with only minor fluctuation based on the year. Does that make sense? If so, then the trick is to identify seminaries that in fact do not change much from year to year. I would assume warmth is a constant since that emanates from the faculty and staff, whihc presumably do not change much from year to year.


    To confused Tatty. You’re right about the mix. The good thing about the sems you mentioned (and not to add to the fun but Nachlas IS right in there; a good friend’s daughter was accepted to a number of top sems among the ones you mentioned and chose Nachlas when it was brand new) is that they are all great, and if your daughter is considering them, she is a quality girl. Iy”H when all the applications come back, may she actually have a choice (i.e. get accepted to two or more), may the choice be easy, and may she get into at least one.


    And a P.S. I sent a few daughters to sem in E”Y, don’t want to say, which but none from your list. And I think my girls are quality girls too 😉




    Anything more on Bnos sara in terms of academics, warmth, distinction from BJJ, Mesores and Bnos Chava?


    Well i went to Bnos Chava a few years ago and loved it. I noticed that the Bnos Sarah girls (its right next door) got very close, like one big family- more so then in BC. not that we didnt but as a bigger more diverse school it wasnt the same bond that ALL the girls in BS shared. At that time (Mrs. Tarshish days) I think they had a more steady workload and a little harder then BC. meaning in BC we had the shoftim tests and then a couple papers that were over two over parts of the year, but they had a few more papers maybe not as big as the medrish paper (which was very intense) but as big as the other paper.

    i dunno what it is now, but i heard that BC’s workload is comparable to what it was then.


    Good shabbos and many many thanks to all who have posted. If anything more occurs to anyone on BJJ and Bnos Sara, we are still interested.

    Good Shabbos and may all our girls trust the Yad Hashem in guiding them to the proper seminary for them.

    Good Shabbos


    Just remember that its hard to get into some seminaries!! especially BJJ! so apply to a few places your comfortable with and let Hashem do the selection for you!


    We are very well aware of that and that is why we are looking at several seminaries, trying to decide which ones she will apply to. Am trying to get a handle a handle on:

    1. How warm is BJJ?

    2. How academic is Bnos Sara (and how does it compare to Bnos Chava, BJJ and Masores)?

    These are all excellent seminaries and we have heard wonderful things about them all. So IYH she gets into one of them, we know she can’t go wrong. Nevertheless, there are subtle (and not so subtle) differences and just trying to figure out where to apply and where she would most like to go.

    I hope this thread is also helping other parents in the same situation.


    First off, I think you should really talk to girls who are in those seminaries now! other people just hear rumors and often false impressions. You realy dont know unless you’ve been there.

    THat said, I’ll mention that I’ve visited these seminaries and have friends in both BJJ and Bnos Sara but Im not actually in either of them. My impression has been that Bnos Sara is alot warmer than BJJ, but its still very acedemic. Both are very good seminaries and are similr in many ways. Its proably best not to decide on one until you have been accepted.

    Also, just curiousity, but where’s your daughter in all this? Does she really want the same things as you?


    Thank you wxyz. How would you compare Bnos Sara and Mesores?

    As for my daughter, she is following this thread. 🙂 Yes, we have discussed this and have asked her where she would like to go. She chose to focus on Bnos Sara, Mesores and BJJ. She has spoken to girls from various seminaries, but of course the girls love their seminaries and at some level sound remarkably similar. Maybe because that is the case. We are just trying to gather as much information as we could so she can make an informed decision.


    I wish there was a clear cut outline to lay out exactly what every seminar is like…but i want you to know that same type of girls can apply to BJJ Bnos Chava, BYA and BNos Sara and then when acceptance letters arrive, girls decide where they want to go…so the group dynamics which you are asking about will change every singel year in every seminary…thats why you hear that some years this seminary had a fantastic year while another seminary, girls didn’t like it that much…

    but you can never really know what type it will be that year until you go there…

    however u were asking about BJJ and Bnos Sara…I heard Bnos Sara is warmer…thats from my friend’s experience.

    and just like with everything in life…it pays to daven to Hashem that He directs you to right seminary cuz this is one of things in life where you need mazel as well!!

    good luck!


    it is very true that alot depends on the year and which girls come. But, at the same time, seminaries like bnos chava, BJJ, bnos sara, hadar… that have been around for a while are pretty much going to get a certain type every year. It might vary a little but not so drasticly. It’s always a risk, but not as much as going to a new seminary.

    I dont know much about Mesores Rochel- I dont know anyone there. I’ve heard that its very intense academicly, and it seems to center around Rebetzin Tarshish.

    Either way, it sounds like you’ve narrowed it down to three to apply to. That’s all of the decision you need for now… until acceptances come.

    Hatzlocha rabah!

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