PHOTOS: Gedolei Yisrael Express Opposition to Academic Studies for Women




Gedolei Hador Shlita participated in the Kinos held in Bnei Brak on Tuesday night the eve of 20 Kislev including HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita and the Vishnitzer Rebbe Shlita. Many roshei yeshivos were present as well, as were principals of girl’s high schools were present.

A very short letter was sent by HaGaon HaRav Aryeh Yehuda Leib Shteinman Shlita expressing opposition to the teaching of secular subjects to girls in high school and to “educate the girls in the exclusive framework of Beis Yaakov”.

“כבר עוררנו בעבר על חומר הלימוד במקומות שאין רוח חכמים נוחה מהם, ואנו שבים ומעוררים שהמקום היחידי שאפשר וראוי לחנך בו בנות ישראל הוא במסגרות בית יעקב בלבד”

The gathering was organized by the Education Committee of the joint Torah Councils of both Agudas Yisrael and Degel Hatorah to emphasize the dangers posed to the children by introducing “foreign education into the camp”.

The main points delivered to participants include:

· Gedolei Yisrael are responsible for the education of Jewish girls from the youngest age until completion.

· There is a real danger in all institutions that teach secular subjects from both the subject matter and lecturers. Therefore, Jewish girls and women should not study in academic institutions including those which are extensions of this institutions, even if they calls themselves ‘seminaries’ but give an academic diploma.

· Bnos Yisrael should not get a matriculation diploma (bagrut) or engage in studies preparing them for higher learning without exception and one must not take the tests independently. This must be stringently enforced by principals.

· All studies and continuing education seminars attended by the girls and teachers in Beis Yaakov must be exclusively in the framework of Beis Yaakov and no other institution and it goes without saying a woman should not seek an academic diploma.

· We call on school principals and administrators not to recognize any degree from any institution not under the guidance of the Vaad Chinuch (Education Committee).

The son of the Slonimer Rebbe Shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Slonim HaGaon HaTzaddik Rav Mosher Brazovsky Shlita stated most of the girls are not seeking the academic education or degree but are seeking a means of supporting a family. He warned that while this may be so, one cannot compromise one’s neshama and emunah for the sake of earning a livelihood.

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(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. I just don’t get it. There’s an expectation for a woman to work to support her husband in kollel, but she is forced to work in a dead-end boring job because they can’t get any real academic degrees. This doesn’t seem sustainable.

  2. It’s the first few words of this week’s Parsha.
    At the young age of seventeen, Yosef Hatzadik joined the rest of his brothers to be a Shepherd. So, who was sitting and learning in the Bet Midrash of Shem V’eiver? Did it still exist? Did Yakov Oveinu ever try to persuade his Bochrum to stay in learning for at least another few years?

  3. With all due respect, how, pray tell, are these women and girls all supposed to support their husbands who are all in kollel— (either learning or not) because g-d forbid should te men work to support their mostly large families

  4. I don’t see Rav Stienman there! Anyway the pitures don’t show what the speakers are saying, and neither does it show if Rav Chaim agrees.

    Its a shame they are getting so busy with academic studies. Perhaps they should discuss a plan for high school students to earn a respectable parnassah in the future.

  5. Rav Shteinman referred to the PLACE where the girls are educated, not the CONTENT of what they are taught. I don’t see where he says girls may not be taught secular subjects (especially those which will help them in the future earn a parnassa for their families while their husbands kvetch the bench), provided the teaching is done in a Bais Yaakov environment.

  6. It is interesting to note that not one woman (menaheles)was present at this meeting.

    The right-wing, Chasidish community wants their women/females to remain ignorant, uneducated and poor. This way, they won’t “revolt” against what is status quo. Very sad, indeed.

    Don’t they realize that if you tell someone not to do something, they will do it.

  7. i cant believe the chutzpa of the above writers questioning daas torah, what i dont understand is why the beis yakovs in the US not adopt the same policies as here lehavdil unlike in eretz yisroel we are sorrounded by akum. the us beis yakovs must do the same.

  8. it’s not written anywhere in the Torah that women should go out to work to support their husbands that are in kollel.
    if it means that they have to work or learn in places that are נגד רוח הכחמים so the husband should get out to work! what’s his learning worth if his wife is not going the Torah way?

  9. shazam- “Bnos Yisrael should not get a matriculation diploma (bagrut) or engage in studies preparing them for higher learning without exception and one must not take the tests independently. This must be stringently enforced by principals.”

    You can’t get a good job without the proper diplomas.

  10. I find your headline extremely biased in implying that a Bais Yakov education is non-academic. I suggest you meet more Bais Yakov educated women. They are not lacking. Even vocational background/preparation can be done in a Bais Yakov.

  11. shazam: with what they teach in the BYs, u cannot earn a decent living. which is why they had this meeting. all the BY principals are trying to save their skin and make sure the schools stay opened because ppl are becoming disillusioned with the career choices being offered.

  12. karlbenmarx- Why limit it to women? Why should men expose themselves to such dangers? Are women’s emunah that much more fragile then men?

  13. Yakov Aveinu sent all his sons to work when they were young. Yosef went to work at the age of 17, even before getting married.
    Why? To support their families.

  14. This article is missing an important point. This meeting happened in Israel, and is referring to the Israeli Bais Yaakov system, not to the American. In general, the practice of American Rabbonim is to take such statements under advisement.

    Everyone agrees that it is better to be educated in a Torah-dig environment, no one’s arguing about that. The problem is that sometimes the education being brought in turns a frum environment into one that is less so. In Israel, there is less tolerance.

  15. #13, who said men should go out into the tuma as well? if anything men are more vulnerable, where is everyone’s emunas hachamim, remember if they say black is white then it is white. I guarantee no one will starve to death in eretz yisroel due to not having “matriculation”.

  16. “so the boys should stay in learning, and the girls should not get degrees – so who is supposed to be supporting? very funny.” -That’s vat ve have the cheloinim for

  17. For those being ignorant as to the level of academics in the israeli chareidim Bais Yaakovs.. Let me tell you this:::: The regular high school level , even with a lower standard ; according to what the rabbanim want to implement. Is still a lot a lot higher than the regular High School, Post High School Bais Yaakov in the states. As one, that has taught many years in the states in some of the most respected chareidi bais yaakovs and continues so in the Israeli system… It can never be compared. Try having a bais yaakov talmida from the states into an israeli by high school and watch her struggle with the intensity of the level… So before you jump to any conclusions about their future etc… The regular Teudot that theyre offered in the schools are very prestigous too and have earned many women good parnasah. There is a problem existing ; as the rabbanim mentioned but I do believe that it will be a very hard one to solve since the schools offering those maslulim that offer toarim/degree do it cus they get more money from the govt… the higher the learning the more money for the school. As long as these rabbanim dont have the money to fully support the schools financially without depending on the govt and their demands then I must say, it’ll be miraculous if they do solve this problem…

  18. Israeli Beis Yaakov girls receive an “external matriculation” diploma, but not the regular state high school diploma. Girls are able to learn pedagogy, graphic design and computer programming at a high level within the Beis Yaakov framework.

    In addition, Bar Ilan University and other academic institutions offer off-campus college programs for the Chareidi sector.

    I assume that the Gedolim at the meeting are in favor of the former, yet have concerns about the latter option.

    Can anyone elaborate?

  19. Are there Beis Yakov’s available that offer secular/degree programs? Can’t teach in most Charedei Beis Yakov’s in EY without a degree & your salary is cut by 1/3 without a master’s degree.

    BTW this is not an anti-secular subject meeting it is ANTI- Bayit Yehudi supervising the education at Charedei girls’ schools. In order to receive a degree the teacher/lecturer must use approved texts & be licensed, this is the core problem.

  20. karl- so frum men should not become doctors, lawyers, accountants, or any other profession where you need a college (and postgraduate) degree or where you need to work among Benei Noach? We should be a nation of kollel guys, Rabbis, store owners, and entrepreneurs? I don’t think that’s sustainable.

  21. Karl- “i can’t believe the chutzpa of the above writers questioning daas torah”. I absolutely (respectfully) question daas Torah and instruct my children to do the same. 1. We aren’t a religion based on the Rav telling us to jump, and we ask “How high should we jump”. There are many outlooks and avenues in our way of frum life. Example: Hilchos Nidah. 2. How can we learn in life if we don’t question daas Torah. I recall (respectfully) questioning our Rosh Yeshiva about something from his shiur. He knew I disagreed. It turned out that there was an additional source to the parsha. Sitting like a lame duck will never encourage growth and knowledge.

  22. With all my respect to our gedolim, I would like to ask the following:
    If every Jewish man will learn in a kollel full time all his life and every Jewish woman will have only BY education, who will support them and their families? To whom they will turn for financial help? What kind of a decently paid job person can get without education today? How without good paid job woman can cover only tuition cost for a few kinds, not to mention rent/food/utility and medical bills?

  23. I’m reminded of a graduation ceremony some years back at a Brooklyn Beis Yaakov that shall go unnamed. During the typical address to the graduates, in which they were encouraged to marry kollel guys and support a family while he learns, one young woman asked the speaker, a member of the Moetzes at the time, if he had ever learned Sefer Breishis. Taken aback by the young woman’s seeming arrogance, he asked her to continue. She stated that the Pasuk says, in connection with cheyt adam harishon, “b’zayas apecha tochal lechem”. Women, she said, have their own klalah from that sin. She told the speaker to stop making his klalah into a woman’s problem. Now we go one step further, we’ve transferred b’zayas apecha to the woman AND told her that she can’t have the education to actually earn any money. And we wonder why we have the drop-off rate among women in the Charedi and Chassidic worlds that we have.

  24. The drop-off rate among women in the Charedi and Chassidic worlds is far far lower than the dropoff rates in the Modern Orthodox world or, for that matter, in virtually any other religious group. Chareidim and Chasidim have a very low single digit dropoff rate. You don’t need all the fingers on one hand to count the percent.