Finding the Right Seminary

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    To confused Tatty:

    Being that I went to Machon Raaya last year, I just wanted to say a few things about the Seminary, which may help you out!

    I am a very “Bais Yaakovy” type girl, and to be perfectly honest, Im pretty much as they say “In the box”. I went to a very good Bais Yaakov school-one of the tops in Brooklyn (at least in most ppls opinions) and Baruch Hashem, from that p int of view, All othat I have to say about Machion Raaya is that it is an unbelievable place.

    The girls who go there will of course vary from year to year, but on a whole, they are extremely solid and frum girls, some of who are yeshivish and some who are not. But definately all very frum and solid.

    The staff and teachers can probably not be matched, without exaggeration! They are a group of extrememly amazing, chashuv, and wonderful ppl. Whether in the classroom or by their shabbos tables, they are truly all ppl to look up to, learn from, and maybe most importantly, to keep in touch with.

    Machon Raaya is extremely warm, as I said each girl really felt that the teachers were approachable either for questions or places for shabbos. And the hanhala is extremely accomidating, and not to mention well connected!:) (With R Elyashiv, R Chaim, R Shteinman to name a few…Just a side point that I thought was AMAZING!)

    As for academically, I saw girls who came from less advanced schools in areas like meforshim and “text” become really adept at just those things over the year!

    Busy work was also pretty rare.

    Trips and stuff were awesome and they took us places that no other sems go bec there are trips within Yerushalayim on a constant basis.

    Hatzlacha figuring everything out!!!!


    by no means authoratative. this is my understanding of the various sem choices:

    bjj- you: rosh yeshiva, kollel, or VERY yeshivish. your daughter: straight alef (with maybe a very stray aleph minus) on her h.s. transcript. very serious student, wants to expend serous energy learning tnach in depth with meforshim. either because she is very motivated on a hashkafic level or she wants to be a morah, or give the occasional lecture/shiur to other women…. if you (actually your daughter) is looking for warm and fuzzy this is NOT the place for you.

    hadar (and maybe bnos sara now) slightly less hardcore than bjj. you: yeshivish, if you are not in kollel or a rebbi etc.. then you are more than koveah ittim. torah permeates your house, (your boys are in philadelphia, telshe riverdale, etc….) also hi level of academics. your daughter: one of the top in her class, especially in limudei kodesh.

    tiferes: you: yeshivish (see hadar) your daughter: yeshivish, SOLID hashkafos, not as academic. more concerned with yeshivish type girls (they get quite a few from lakewood)

    bnos chava. as academically strong as hadar, but the families tend not to be as yeshivish. the parent body may be a bit more on the professional side that does NOT mean they are jappy. it’s NOT a negative, it’s a statement. solid families, koveah ittim etc…. as a matter of fact i know FIRST HAND some people they DIDN’T take because they were what they considered to be jappy. (Those people weren’t my opinion.)

    masores rochel: reb tarshish is that good. similar crowd (girls) as bnos chava, (parent body not AS professional) solid academics, too.

    nachlas: solid yesivihs/koveah ittim parent body. they seem to attract/recruit more on middos/finekeit/aidelkeit. but academics are still SOLID.

    machon raaya: new, don’t have a lot of info on them, but i do one girl who went there (from brooklyn) my undersatnding from her (and her father): focus on warmth, nice girls, but definitely not in the box. (sorry Mashehukazeh, nothing against you, but you must understand “Bais Yaakov” type means different things to different people. Also, Prospect, BY Drav Meir, and BY of Boro Park, Masores, etc.. are all one of the best schools in Brooklyn, but each caters to different clientele)

    summary: All except BJJ will give various degrees of warmth. (A lot depends on your daughters personality, too.) All have excellent teachers. (When you’re not tied down to a curriculum, and it is permissible to let the non-motivated girls just go to sleep in the back, you can teach much more effectively). All have some connection to the gedolim, and will usually get your daughter some “Face-time” with at least one or two of them at some point.

    Call parents from last yrs 12th grade, get their daughters cell phone numbers in E”Y (it’s REQUIRED nowadays! go figure.) and have your daughter “reach out and touch some one” (or some oneS)) it’s hard for anyone to give GOOD advice with out knowing your daughter well. I assume at least some of the girls in E”Y this year, will know your daughter.(Doe she like late night studying making a “leining” on meforshim.) IS she more outgoing? Needs more friends? is she more yeshivish in her hashkafic views, outlook, and future goals? Is she stronger in haskafa and weaker in chumash, or stronger in navi and wants to fill in more on haskfa? is she looking to grow academically, socially, haskfaically? (I assume it’s yes” to all three) the question is “in what order? there’s no right or wrong answer. it’s what’s good FOR HER.

    hope this helped.


    No offence taken smr and I agree with u that there are girls who went to Machon Raaya who are not what ppl would call In The Box, I just wanna point out that every seminary has girls that are not “in the box” but things stand out more in small settings- for positive or negitive. Im just saying that the over all hashkafa of the school and the girls, is in the box, and Bais Yaakovy.

    Point taken bout “best schools in brookly comment”:)


    I am actually looking into Bnos Chava for myself. It sounds like a great seminary great teachers, being on nevei campus is a big plus hashkafos all of that sounds great but what gets me nervous is that I hear from people that it is very “jappy”. I am not at all jappy so does anyone know from more recent years if this is really true?


    smile1- unfortunately, yes, this seems to be the case. It is not a commandment for all the girls but yes, it happens to be true for a lot of them. They bring 3 suitcases minimum and have someone else bring another for them. So many clothes and shoes…

    It seems like in many of the seminaries there is a real materialism-focus. At least in some of them that are larger. Even those that you wouldnt expect it!

    BJJ, Hadar ect- real yeshivish places- they are not immune and they do it in a different way. Brand names. The uniform says blue shirts? they will get one from an expensive company and have many of them.

    I was talking to girls who have gone in the last few years and they were saying how they felt odd not having Ralph Lauren or whatever that alligator one is… there were girls who found ways to accessorize to show off their brand names. If they were not wearing what other girls wore- they were seen as weird or not frum or yeshivish. Not wearing all black on a shabbos afternoon in the spring- you must be frei. There is an emphasis by some on their clothes and not how the girls are.

    Not everyone is like this but I have found it to be true for some seminaries.


    I ve heard that girls wake up at six to do their hair and stuff….


    there is some truth to the jappy part…however, I know many many girls who went to Bnos Chava who although may wear brand names, but are the sweetest nicest girls you will ever meet!

    Ralph Lauren is cheaper and more accessible in some states than others, so when I saw many NYers wearing them, i wondered if that was supposed to be “the style” but later found out that many NYers got them in Marshals for decent prices…while where i come from, Ralph Lauren shirts can be very pricey!

    point is…you have to diffrentiate between the ones who wear expensive clothings and ones who have that “superior” attitude that they are better than others( unfort. there are those…)

    From my experience, in the beginning of the year, everyone is into how they look BECAUSE you want to make a good impression on pp you just met. However, later in the year, I have actually heard teachers( from diff sems) complain that girls are walking around “shlumpy” lol because at that point, girls are comfortable with their sem and surrounding and dont feel the need to look top notch…


    smr, I don’t think you’re right about BJJ having a very yeshivish parent body. I get the impression that BJJ (and Bnos Sarah) have a much more diverse crowd than Hadar, and lots of the students don’t come from typical yeshivish backgrounds, as opposed to Hadar.

    BJJ likes to accept girls from interesting backgrounds and places. They accept a percentage from all schools. So if someone applies from a very out of town place or from a more modern high school, they have a better chance of getting accepted than someone who applies from in town. From my grade in Lakewood, very few girls went to BJJ and lots of girls went to Hadar. This was a while ago, but it doesn’t sound like much has changed.


    Really?! What’s with the academic strong hashkafa background? How does tha fit with Ralph Lauren and ironing your hair for hours and looking like cookie cutter stamps?


    ok, mashehukazeh, i agree with your “all have some in and some out of the box”. just because your father is a rosh yeshiva, rav, or rebbi, doesnt automatically ,ean you are in the box. so, yes, all seminaries have some in and out. machon raaya’s environment seems to allow these out of the box girls more room to express their “out of boxness” so therefore… and NO, it’s not a bad thing. these are also good girls, and they deserve a good sem experience, too. but your “standard” bjj, hadar etc.. girl would probbably feel out of place there.

    as for jappiness, smile1, it’s a problem in brooklyn, it’s a problem in money, it’s a problem even in lakewood, so if it’s a problem in the 3 largest feeder areas then it’s gonn abe a problem in sem. bnos chava is no more jappy than some of the others. you will have some japs wherever you go.

    as an aside, smile1, if you are on the web, accessing this website/blog etc.. then your’ hashkafos are not totally in line with many of the sems that we are discussing. BEFORE, everyone jumps all over me for that statement, pls note, that most bais yaakov schools and sems do not allow internet access for their students. the “better” sems only allow “kosher” cell phones. the internet IS adangerous place, as we all know, and as adults we are better “suited” to deal with many of the nisyonos there. it’s no different than a chainsaw. it’s also very handy and useful, but you wouldn’t give it to your 16 y/o son to use (and definitely not supervised). ALL: please do not go “off topic” by arguing this point, we are discussing seminaries. if you want to discuss this, you can start a new discussion.


    Thanks smr, that was an excellent summation. Interestingly, what I have heard about BJJ and Hadar is more in line with what rebetzin posted. In any event, I think it seems clear that BJJ is bigger than many of the other seminaries discussed (aside from Bnos Chava) and probably less warm (that is not a knock at all — some people do not thrive in overly warm academic environments, while some do). BJJ has been described as the Harvard of seminaries, because of its strong academics. It is clearly a well-deserved reputation and I do not mean to invite debate on that. How would you compare Bnos Sara, Masores Rochel, and Machon Raaya to BJJ, in terms of academics?

    And yes, we are having my daughter speak to girls in the various seminaries — those who graduated last year and/or those in the seminaries right now.


    MaKesher, do you have kids? Good girls spend time on themselves and notice these things, it’s part of being a teenager, just as solid boys like the shpitz too (true, some more than less), which doesn’t mean they’re not great kids.


    confused tatty- you might also want to have your daughter ask girls who went 3 years ago as they see things from a different perspective than those straight out of seminary and are still in the “cloud”.

    tzippi- I wouldnt define “good girls” as those who spend time on hair and clothes. What about middos? I have found in my experience that those who spend more time on these things are not spending them on more important things. I am not saying that good girls are shlumps but those that have every hair on their head aligned and in place are not necessarily that “great”. And seminary girls are not really teenagers anymore, especially if they are ready to get married. Teens, yes, may be involved in themselves and care how others look but once you become a wife, you need to look outside yourself. Your kids take precedence over your hair, nails or outfit. They need to realize that what is important is what is inside: mind, thoughts, hashkafa, middos ect.


    Although I haven’t been commenting I’ve been following this with interest. Can’t let that last post go by, though. A “good” girl should spend some time on her hair and dress – even in sem. It is a matter of self respect, and we are taught to look to be put together – boys too! None of the schools discussed here have girls who are more into their looks than their learning/hashkofos/middos. They are ALL good places, the girls are all good girls, some warmer than others, some smarter, some more serious and yes, some just there for the name of having gone to that elite sem. I have found that any one of the girls who attending these “top contenders” could just as easily been in any one of the others – they are not that different. BTW, a girl of 18 who spends time on her hair in sem will in all likelyhood greet her husband in the am dressed “to go” and not wait for the bus in a robe over a nightgown!! 🙂


    havebeenthere- there is a difference in looking presentable and looking like you are going to your best friend’s vort every day. It is ok to throw your hair in a pony and not have to iron it straight everyday. What a waste of time! What is with so many girls today dressing so fancy! I never said that ALL girls from ALL these seminaries dress in a particular fashion. I just stated that no place is immune to the disease called “materialism” and “fashion conscious”.

    I reject your statement that the places mentioned have girls that could have gone to any of them. Yes, there are those that apply to a combination of them, but there are many that would only fit in each one. If they were the same, why are there so many tears come February that I “only got into place X when I wanted to go to Y”. Why would there be a need for all of them? By the way, the phrase used “top contenders” makes it sound that girls that go to other places are not as “good” of girls as these girls. I have found that the place that you go does not define what type you will be. I know girls who went to these types who are “worse” than those from other seminaries. I have spoken to girls back from seminary and some of the girls who went to “top” places were so rude and cruel to those who went to others. “Well, they didnt go to my sem.” “Well, I went to place ABC”, implying that the other place was a sem for rejects, a second tier school or whatnot. Just watching how girls interacted when they came back. Seminaries do not make the girl. The girl has to be willing to allow the teacher’s wisdom to penetrate. Good girls go to many different places and not all the girls who go to any seminary are “good”.


    rebetzin, confused tatty, et al: look at my original post, the difference between hadar and bjj parent body is minute. splitting hairs, different shades of grey, pick your cliche. hadar IS very yeshivish, the difference is they will accept girls that bjj won’t. (NOT a knock on eithere one!!!)

    i know hadar is big in lakewood, but they are increasingly competing with tiferes there, too.

    academically: bjj is still #1. they are all academics all the time (yes, i know, they also go on tiyulim, but…)

    bnos sara and masores rochel are also seriously academic.

    i don’t think you can really compare machon raaya in any way with these others (bjj. machon, masores)


    would somebody please explain the definition of “yeshivish” in tiferes…


    hodulashem: daughter of kollel, rebbi, or if you are not in kollel or a rebbi etc.. then you are more than koveah ittim. torah permeates your house, (your boys are in philadelphia, telshe riverdale, etc….)


    Im just wondering how exactly smr knows what the work is like in Machon Raaya….

    I have a pretty good idea of what the work is like because I was there for a year…

    The work is Not busy type of work, like I mentioned before. The classes are NOT on a low academic standard by any means. While I wouldnt equate them with the level that BJJ is on, but I would definately not be surprised if it were similar to masores rochel etc etc…

    The classes are very stimulating, interesting, and are all textually based. Some of them are “Harder classes than others” in terms of content, homework and tests. But none of them are the type that you could just study for an hour before the test and get a hundred. You have to work for what you get.

    In terms of the academic schedule, in comparison to what many of my friends in other seminaries looked like, my schedule was pretty full. (My madricha who was in bjj the year before said that she had an emptier schedule than we did:)) But the absence of busy work still left us plenty of time to do whatever we had to do…

    Some of the classes are electives and you have a choice of which classes to take. Many girls took one or two more than required cuz they were too good to give up, but that choice is up to each girl.

    So in summary: Not as “hard” Or as much work as BJJ, but pretty much on the same level as mes rochel, bnos sarah… I had friends in all the above mentioned seminaries and that was the impression that I got.


    my husband is not in kollel, is not a rebbi, but does make time to learn… however, i personally do not feel that the occupation of my husband, or the yeshivas that my sons attend can define the yeshivishness of a girls’ seminary!! the yeshivishness of a girl can greatly depend on the home she was raised in, but there are also many girls out there who blossom in yiddishkeit in a school setting, camp setting… etc. i want to know about the “yeshivishness” of the GIRLS, not what there fathers do for a living… (after all, their fathers and brothers will not be dorming with them…) my daughter keeps hearing that tiferes is yeshivish and she is trying to understand what everyone means by that. basically, what are the girls like?

    anon for this

    rebetzin, your description of BJJ is consistent with my own experience there.


    hodu: when i describe the fathers and the environment at home, i am referring to girls who reflect those hashkafos and want them too, for themselves and their bayis ne’eman.


    sorry, i misunderstood… thank you for clarifying


    Am curious. Both Bnos Sara and Bnos Chava have been descriibed as seriously academic. I know Bnos Chava is older and bigger, but aside from the age and size, what differentiates the two, especially given that they are both part of the Nvei network and next to each other on the Nvei campus?

    Another curiosity from girls who were in EY for seminary. In your opinion, is it better to be a bit out of the way, such as in Har Nof, or more in town, such as in/near Geula?

    Finally, how much information is available about seminaries at the BY convention and from sources does the information come?

    Gut Shabbos to all.


    Mrs. Epstein, the principal of Bnos Sarah is going to be in the US at the end of November. She is pretty open to meeting with/speaking to parents. If you can contact me thru the mods I can try to get you more information.


    I think that Bnos Sarah has a lot of chavrusa style learning.

    About convention: probably the best source will be the girls networking among themselves and chaperones. Call the host school and find out who’s coming to town and whom they’d recommend your daughter trying to meet with. I would suggest she have a very focused list of questions to maximize the time.


    CT – as per your question – Bnos Sarah is the more yeshivish of the two – less “jappy”.

    As per your other question – in some ways it is better to be “out of the center”, but in some ways not. The seminary that I attended was not in the Geula area, but for me that was kind of a plus. I didn’t spend my nights and off times in Geula. There were girls in my seminary who were constantly hopping on the bus to Geula to “hang”. As for inconvenience, it’s really bad. We had to take 2 busses to the kosel because we were too far out. (Now that I just gave away which neighborhood my seminary is in…) I believe it is better to be away from Geula, because that’s where all the yeshivos are, but I guess a girl who wants to be doing what she’s not supposed to be doing will do it regardless of where she is. But I (again, personally – this is my opinion) don’t think that that question should be part of the deciding factors.



    All of these sems seem to be good for yeshivish families, what about chassidish ones? looking for highly academic sem in Israel that would suit girl from learning family of chassidish slant – any suggestions?

    anon for this

    aussie, when I was at BJJ some of the students were from more chassidish families, thought they definitely did not constitute the majority.


    aussie…I think Hadar or if your willing to consider seminaries in America…BY Intensive has great name and I know of girls from chassidishe backgrounds who went there…


    aussie: I heard that a new Sem is openning for Chasidish girls with a lot of chasidish reb involved called Azamra


    I saw the posts on Machon Raaya and felt I had to add my opinion, being that I was there last year.

    Firstly, in terms of there being students that would be considered ‘out of the box’: yes, there definitely are some students whom those would consider being out of the box, mostly because they’re out-of-town type, or more broad minded thinkers, etc. However, there were plenty of girls that were totally standard, regular, Bais Yaakov girls, from all the mainstream schools, myself included. Part of the beauty of the seminary is that is IS a mix, with different types of girls, and that’s what makes it so amazing. There are enough girls of ‘in the box’ type for ANYONE to feel comfortable, so to say that a standard Bais Yaakov girl would not feel comfortable is just simply not true. I was extremely comfortable, and I know you’ll say that I can’t look at myself objectively, but I am being extremely honest when I say that I am a typical, standard BY girl. There is so much to learn from everyone, and you can be friends with all types of girls who are wonderful and frum, while at the same time feeling comfortable with those who are more ‘standard’.

    In addition, I personally felt that as far as the learning went, we were definitely as challenged (if not more so) as BJJ and Bnos Sara. It was very textual, with amazing hashkafah as well, and there was really no busy work. We had full schedules (though we were able to learn very good time-management skills) and learned a ton! For those who are academic and want to learn, the learning is unbelievable!

    In general, the girls and staff were great and warm, everything was good about the place, and i had a great year. I would go back in a flash.


    Just in case anyone wants to know… since the discussion of seminaries is still relevant, Rabbi Rosen of Shoshanim is expected to be in America in the next week or so (not sure exactly). They have a beautiful new campus, warm and wonderful staff and it is academic. Many people confuse the name with other seminaries, but it is different than other seminaries. Some places take the girl based on getting perfect grades, having sisters who went there, or who their father/grandfather is. Shoshanim is different. Each girl added something special to the seminary. Somehow Rabbi Rosen manages to pick the right girls- he does it based on the girl herself. Smart girls were challenged there- there were girls who got straight A+ in school and liked the seminary. Girls are chosen for their middos and attitudes- what a difference compared to some places! Girls came back and they still keep in touch with their friends, even the international ones, for years afterwards! It has a lot of “out of towners” and especially international girls- but NYers dont be afraid to apply! NYers are just as welcome- there is a mix of girls who are sweet, caring girls… Girls have been from boro park and flatbush, monsey and lakewood, baltimore and paris, strausberg and Ottawa… all in the same year!

    shoshanim girls are really “good girls” who are constantly growing, like “roses in the garden”!

    It is a great seminary that I would go to if I was that age again. The teachers there are amazing! The staff is really warm and caring! The teachers are unlike other seminary teachers- you can go to them for shabbos, have a seder at one of their houses, shmooze or have a deep discussion with them- no problem!


    can anyone give some insight into seminaries in the states ? My daughter is 12th grade out of town bais yaakov and we’re just not sure we can afford the eretz yisroel experience but still want her education to continue further.


    Rockymts, I wish I had answers. I wish there were more dorm seminaries and programs, especially in NY for girls. What’s needed is a supervised program for girls interested in a half day sem and afternoon vocational training, WITH A DORM.

    The ones I know of:

    Maalot Baltimore

    Yavneh (no dorm but apartments, the girls are really happy from what I’ve heard)

    Detroit Teacher’s Seminary

    Montreal – Rabbi Aisenstark

    Bais Yaakov Boro Park

    Lakewood (two now?)

    Chicago – Dr. Shkop, more of a college

    And – while this should NOT be a consideration – rest assured that girls who go to these sems make excellent shidduchim, I know of quite a few recent ones.


    putting the parent body and the academics aside, there is a big difference between bjj and haddar. haddar has a lot of rules. bjj has none. hadar tells you what to do. bjj tells you who to be.


    For an “out of country” experience, Toronto has a new seminary, with dorm, that I hear is having a great year!


    tzippi: Thanks for posting all those seminaries. Many times people don’t realize the many options that there are in the US. If anyone has any specific questions about one of the seminaries on the list, ask away… I’ve been to more than one of them… and have had friends in more than one…


    smh1: thanks for mentioning Toronto, I forgot.


    Anyone have personal experience with either Bnos Sara or Masores Rochel (as in having gone there or sent a daughter there)? If so, would love to hear your thoughts on each.


    Thank you for the list.From what I’ve been told it seems like some of these are more for the returning from sem in E.Y girl that wants to continue the sem experience or combine it with college..


    didn’t read through this whole thread, but I have a niece in Masores Rochel and if you

    really wan’t legitimate info. the best way to receive that is to speak to people who have children in these seminary’s and ask very specific questions. Not through a website.


    jphone, you are absolutely right. Its way better to get first hand info than from a website.


    ConfusedTatty, this year my daughter is in Bnos Sorah, she loves it! The teachers are fantastic, she says she could sit and listen to them all day. My older daughter went there too, and I have visited the seminary and met the staff. It is a very warm seminary but for a more academic type of girl. If you have any further questions feel free to ask.


    jphone and Makesher — we are doing that when we can. But it never hurts to hear people’s impressions, even via a website. It can also help to focus our questions.

    At this point we are interested in the environment of the seminary (how warm, how caring, etc) and the academics (what is the seder hayom, is it tracked by level or all one level, how intense academically, what kind of “homework” and projects are assigned, etc).


    Confused Tatty-

    Bnos Sorah is very warm, Mrs.Epstien is the head of the seminary and she is very approachable and friendly. The aym bayit, Mrs.Powitz, lives on the bottom floor and she is a doll, very sweet, my daughters love her.

    The day varies but they start at 8:45 and depending on the day they have evening classes but they do get a break some afternoons. I know my daughter is always working on these reports and she has to give a lesson plan to a real class. Many of the teachers are Israeli and they teach in Hebrew. It’s a seminary for a girl who likes to be challenged. What is nice about bnos sorah is that they don’t choke the girls with a million rules. There is supervision but they show the girls that they are adults and they are selected because they are trusted. I hope this helps. best thing is for your daughter to call up a bnos sorah girl who is there NOW to ask her what it’s like, that is what my oldest daughter did. Good Luck!


    I’m a european girl in my last year of school. I dont wanna go to EY because of some reason. I think I’m going to apply in Yavneh Cleveland and New Gateshead, England. It would be really helpful if anybody could give me some information as quick as possible. I want to know more about Yavneh. What the girls there are like… how the staff is etc.

    thanks for any info


    Can anyone tell me about the seminary in Montreal ? E.Y does not seem to be a option based on finances. I am hoping for North America options ,NY not really an option unless there is a dorm as we are out of town and my daughter will be 17 when she graduates.


    I would totally entrust my daughter’s chinuch to Rabbi Aisenstark. BUT I heard, as of a few years ago, that if the girls are NOT on the college track there is a lot of discretionary, unscheduled time, which is an issue for out of towners. Maybe that’s been changed.


    Any information on the chicago seminary?

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