Many years ago I was interviewed by you for entrance into “ABC” Seminary.
I had shlepped from a very far distance, starting out very early in the morning, to the middle of Boro Park on a very snowy and icy day, and stood waiting in line with other Bais Yaakov girls for hours to finally be allowed in to see you, only to be asked to read a Rambam that I had never set eyes on before that very moment. (Even Yeshiva Bochrim are given time to prepare before a Farher!)
At one point, I touched the top of my boot, which caused you to gasp in disbelief and send me directly to the corner where there was a sink to wash my hands. Doing a good job on the Rambam or not, did not matter any more; I knew my fate was sealed – I was not accepted.
Life is funny. Believe it or not, (even without “ABC”!) I have become an “Eim B’Yisroel.” I can still read a Rambam – although I rarely have the opportunity to do so (unless I am helping one of my many daughters with a few words she may have missed in school). Even without the “ABC” pedigree, I married a Ben Torah who spends as much of his spare time learning Torah as possible. We have an open house that is filled with Gemilas Chasodim, children and grandchildren attending Bais Yaakovs and Yeshivos, and are involved in many community Tzedakah organizations.
So, although at the time I was meant to feel as a failure, I am here to tell you that that feeling was so wrong! No girl should ever be put in a position to feel that way! I know that those same circumstances still apply, and I believe that there has got to be a better way of meeting the girls to be accepted into Seminary. Some of my own daughters have been accepted to the best Seminaries in the US and Israel based on a friendly interview with a person who understood a girl’s natural nervousness, and asked questions based on the application she had sent in. No pop quizzes, no waiting on line only to be treated as some worthless brain vying to get into some glorified girl’s school which is run like a boy’s Yeshiva – only more pressurized! Where is the Haskomas Rabbonim to teach some of these things to girls? When Sara Schnierer started the Bais Yaakov movement, it was to teach older (and younger) girls to be an Eim B’Yisroel, to appreciate the gloriousness of the creations of Hashem, and to pass that on to the next generation; not to be able to memorize every Rashi in Sefer Beraishis!
Last week I happened to notice the Daily Halacha on Yeshiva World, which disputes your original decision to send me to wash my hands upon “touching” my boot. According to the Halacha (available by clicking HERE): “(35) The minhag is that if one only touched his shoe laces no washing is necessary.(35) Shearim Metzuyanim B’Halacha kuntres achron 2:9:page 361, see Kaf Ha’chaim Palagi 8:28, Vezos Ha’beracha 21:3.”
Although I am too busy with my children to spend time looking for this sefer and looking up the Halacha, I hope to ask my husband to do so to confirm this opinion. I only wanted to point out that aside from the embarrassment, humiliation and ultimate disappointment you caused me, you were mistaken in halacha as well.
Although I was mochel you many years ago for these things of which you were obviously unaware, the best way you can make it up to me (and others) is to do what I originally suggested. Please try to make it more comfortable for a scared (and sometimes lonely) young 16 year old girl on the interview that she sees as the most important one of her life. She has been told for most of her life that her entire future depends on the Seminary she goes to (not true) as it will affect her Shidduch (also not true) and basically her whole life (definitely NOT true). Please tell these girls that they are worth something no matter where they go, as long as they have the Bitachon that Hashem (not the Seminary higher-ups) is guiding them.
If this belated letter can cause even a slight change in how the Seminary system works, then all that has happened has truly been Gam Zu L’Tovah.
An Eim B’Yisroel