Rightsizing Our Children’s Education

Educating our children l’derech Hashem is a chiyuv that we have as adults, rabbonim, educators, parents and a community. This is certainly not a newsflash. So why do I raise the issue?

Imagine that after camp ends in August, you take your child shopping for new Shabbos and school clothes. Money, of course, is usually a factor but you look for the one store that has the proper size and best selection. After spending several days going to numerous clothing stores, you’re unable to find one that carries your child’s slim, husky, tall or short sizes. Even the few shops that carry those special sizes have merely one shelf or rack to select from. With school starting the next day and your child experiencing meltdowns from the boredom of shlepping and shopping you decide to look no further and, out of convenience, settle on the regular sizes. Besides, the store is filled with attractive, regular size, and since everyone else from the neighborhood is buying their childrens’ clothes there, it makes sense to do the same. Sure, it’s a half size too small or big, a little short, tall, tight or big, but, hey, it’s good enough. For the most part, it works. So what if it isn’t the best fit. Nothing’s perfect. Admittedly, it’s not very comfortable but it’s okay. Most parents would obviously want their children to look and feel their best. Why then, do we do routinely send our children to a yeshiva or bais yaakov merely because it is ostensibly the frumest, the largest, the toughest, convenient, popular or they’ll be able to get a better shidduch?

For many children, the average yeshivos/bais yaakovs will provide a child with the best place to learn, intellectually and hashkafically. For others, however, finding the right “fit” is an arduous task at best and an impossible one at worst. Not every yeshiva and bais yaakov is capable of effectively educating every type of student. Many are not capable of providing the services required to address students’ special needs. I’m not referring to the needs of children that are, chas v’shalom, profoundly disabled and have a severely diminished intellectual and/or functional capability. I’m speaking of the “out-of-sync” child, such as those with ADD, ADHD, sensory integration, dyslexia and other behavioral or information processing disorders. These children invariably tend to “fall through the cracks” because they can neither succeed nor flourish in a prototypical yeshiva, and they are far more advanced for a special needs program. Though they may be bright, they may also be aggressive, inattentive, impatient or defiant, and are therefore incapable of learning in a traditional environment or manner. Without getting involved in the substantive issues surrounding the diagnosis and treatment of these and other similar disorders (an expert I’m not), suffice it to say that for a child to remain in an educational environment where there is an impediment to learning, for whatever reason, is like pushing a square peg into a round hole. It will be neither successful nor comfortable. On the contrary, it can only serve to frustrate the child and lower his self-esteem. He will believe that he is dumb an incompetent, incapable of succeeding at anything. The pain associated with those feelings is often devastating, that he will avoid it at all costs. Moreover, there can be, and often is, a negative effect on social interaction and relationships. It goes without saying then, that growth in Torah and yiddishkeit will undoubtedly be negatively as well.

Even if a child does not suffer from a behavioral or learning disorder, it is virtually certain that one yeshiva is a better “fit” than another whether because of the student body, parent body, Torah hashkafa, pedagogy or their tevah (nature). The gemara tells us that as parents, we must not simply teach our children Torah, but we must do so according to their nature. To do so, however, it is imperative that we recognize and capitalize our children’s strengths, identify and accept their limitations, and leave no stone unturned in relentlessly pursuing the yeshiva/ bais yaakov that provides them with greatest opportunity to soar. When it comes to ensuring the perpetuation of Torah, being a half size too small or too short isn’t good enough. We need the right size.

Originally Published February 6th, 2006

70 comments on “Rightsizing Our Children’s Education

  1. If it’s not too late….
    there is alot of empathy in the above comments, but what about solutions? Are we meant to live above our means until our children finish yeshiva? Is it halachikally now acceptable to be in debt? I do not personally feel that living in debt is a true torah lifestyle.

  2. My oldest went to PS because of the tuition, and attended Sunday School @ a conservative shul from K-2 grade, then we got a really amazing tutor who was 6 years older than my daughter. She had her for 3 years, then when she went to learn in Israel, we had another girl who helped my daughter get ready for her Bas Mitzvah. All the while, though, I helped her all the time, by reading about the Parsha, the holidays, etc. My youngest went to Hebrew School for the better part of 3-4 years, and was also “home-schooled” by me as far as learning Yiddishkeit, just like her sister.

  3. Mordechai-thanks for your post. I note that R Y Horowitz is one of the rabbinic liasons for this blog and active in dealing with the issues faced by at risk teens and those of both gender who are “in the parsha”, etc. I would appreciate his comments on this issue and in particular my observations here and elsewhere on the state of the curriculum as it relates to our children both learning the material, developing and maintaining a love of learning.

  4. Steve,

    I promised myself no writing for a while; but you’ve touched on one of my pet peeves-curriculum in Torah education.

    You’re correct, of course, that the Maharal took the order of learning in Avot as injunctive. Moreover, the Maharal holds that when learning gmara begins, it should be p’shat-he held that tosafot was to be ignored until much later, after aquiring general b’kiut in gmara.

    In more contemporary terms, Rav Meshulam Roth, the Ilui from Horodenka (sp?) wrote a tremendously important curriculum guide called L’amalim B’Torah (Rav Yosef Rimon gave it to me as my guide to ‘catching up’ around 25 years ago). The order of learning goes from age 5 to age 24. It is nothing short of remarkable; and it is nothing like what one sees in most schools, especially outside of Israel. Early on there is an emphasis on language, Tanach, history, and piyut (religious poetry). Mishnah, Onkelos, Aramaic language, then gmara with Rashi. Repeat of Tanach with commentaries. Tosafot after about 4 years of gmara. Halacha is centered on Rambam, Tur, and Shulhan Aruch. In the later years one adds Maharal, Sh’la, etc. Get the pamphlet, if you can find it somewhere…

    You may know, too, that Dan Beeri had instituted an order of learning at Talmud Torah Chevron (in Chevron, Ir Hakodesh) that was based on Chazal’s instructions. He had truly impressive results in terms of the children’s learning, ability to process their learning in an age appropriate manner, and they were *happy* with the learning.

    At an older age, Rav Shabtai Sabato (who I learned by for one year, long ago) had his kollel learning largely by the guidelines of the Maharal (and Rav Roth). Their breadth (and later depth) in gmara and halacha was incomparable.

    The Sefardi half of our people often educated their children quite differently than the Ashkenazi communities. I seem to recall Rav Henkin writing in Edut L’yisrael the need to learn some approaches from them, especially where language is concerned.

    Okay, enough of my tirade…back to work.

  5. The Jewish Observer just published a two-issue update on its pioneering issue on kids at risk. I noted many positive suggestions such as The Shmooze as well as a very favorable review of an important book entitled “Off the Derech.” However, those programs struck me as after the fact and almost akin to a band-aid approach on a patient who is bleeding profusely.

    In contrast,I do think that one issue that warrants our attention and which is currently attracting much experimentation is that of curriculum in EY and at least one cheder in Lakewood. The issue of whether we start learning and teaching Talmud at too young an age is not a new idea. Chazal in Avos set forth an age related exposure to Tanach, Mishnah and Talmud. Our curriculums across the board are based upon a Medrash that a thousand enter a Beis Medrash and only one exits capable of answering a halachic query. No less than the Maharal suggested that we utilize Chazal’s statement as a curriculum guide. From what I have read and heard, the students from chederim that work along the lines of Chazal and Maharal comprehend far more Tanach and Mishnayos than their contemporaries.

  6. A hosting service is a company that owns and operates (aka “hosts” lots of powerful computers called web servers. If you have a big, very popular site, then they charge moeny becasue your site is using more “bandwith” and other resources. I don’t know the exact numbers but it seems that you can a fairly well visited site and still not get charged. If you kick it off, you can probably find a few co-administrators. Here is a link for a popular blog hosting company. You can even have blog-ads and make a small bit of side parnassa out of it.

    http://www.blogger.com/start There are others if you look around.

    Obviously I can’t apeak for Mark and Dave who administor this site, but they might be willing to link to your blog from here. That way you people find out about your blog.

    Good luck,


  7. Thank you David Geltzer, I will be in touch via phone soon.
    Michoel: forgive my ignorance, but what is a hosting service? I don’t really want to be a coordinator because I already have too many things on my plate (like everyone) but it may come down to that. I am putting antennas out in my local community.

  8. Chana,
    Why don’t you start one? There are a lot of hosting services that will host it for free. You don’t have to be an expert; just have a nack for pulling together pertinant info.

  9. I finally got my outlook 2003 synchronized with my Gmail. So now I have time to see this website. I found out about beyondbt from their malava melka in Kew Gardens Hills.
    I am homeschooling my fifth grade son and this is our third year. If you would like more information you can contact me at 917-846-3250. There are websites that I can get for you but not right now as it is late. You can also e-mail me at the above address.


  10. Does anyone know any contacts, websites, networks, phone numbers, etc…for people interested in (Jewish) homeschooling?

  11. Michoel:

    You are right, environment must play a difference. Whenever I go out of the city, even as close to Monsey, the air always feels different to me. Yesterday I was most of the day in Sharon, Mass.,a very peaceful place.

  12. It could well be that living in New Hamshire is what is having a positive effect, as much as the home schooling is.

  13. Michoel:

    Okay, so here’s the catch. They are not frum, although the mother does teach them Hebrew and some other topics around Judaism, Jewish history etc. They interact with all kinds of people but not in a frum lifestyle. Nevertheless, I do not believe it would be any different, as their whole demeanor is admirable and enviable.

    We are considering partial or full homeschooling for a child and we have thought it out regarding limudei kodesh, secular subjects, socialization, etc. It can work for people. In our case, there are already friends, social skills, etc. just not education being given over in a way that this child can best learn and so the system can be harmful, even the special ed settings unfortunately.

  14. Finding the right fit for each child is probably one of the hardest things we must do as parents. I have seen children harmed from as David wrote “trying to fit a square peg into a round hole”. Even by special ed programs. Even by those who promised to be the answer to the problem.

    To take it a little farther, when I was first becoming frum in Israel many years ago, I was attracted to a seminary that had great depth but was not the right fit for me at the time. They were into fast conformity, I wasn’t. The experience was hurtful. I tried to fit in, just couldn’t. They suggested I move on. I called a Rav who picked me up and brought me to a well known seminary where I was able to flourish. It may have taken a little longer, but it stuck. I have friends from both places, each person has to find his own way.

    One more step further, years later as I was researching ADHD regarding my child, I had what was called “an AH HA” moment. I was reading “Driven to Distraction” written by Dr. Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist who discovered his own ADHD as an adult. There I was in the pages, it was a liberating experience for me. In fact, when I went to an expert to discuss it, and confirm it, he told me the two best things I ever did for myself was “becoming frum” (he was not frum) and working at NYU for Dr. Weinberg (whom he knew very well, a very structured and efficient physician). Now that was interesting, as I had always thought of myself as a “free spirit”. I had leaned towards external structured environments in which I flourished. I had other jobs in the past where the environments were much looser, or I had alot of freedom or free time, or a huge window in front of my desk overlooking Queens Boulevard, and those situations not only bored me, but made it extremely difficult for me to focus and be productive.

    As I continue to try and find the right fit for a child with regards to an educational setting, I think we have been through it all. Tried everything. Work with all the experts. Nevertheless, we must continue to work to find what is truly needed and supply it in order for each person to flourish as they best can.

  15. Sarah Newcomb,
    How do they do with other frum children? Are they able to connect and make friendships with them? Also, how are they doing in their Torah subjects?

  16. I saw yesterday cousins and their children whom the mother homeschools in New Hampshire and spent many hours with them. They were ages 10, 8, 5, 3. She is a brilliant, educated, stay-at-home mom. The children were very bright, mature, polite, not the least bit socially awkward in a very large crowd. They were respectful to their parents and everyone else. They smiled, made eye contact,conversed. They had a purity about them, a sweetness. They helped each other and especially cared for the little one, as well as other people’s little ones. Looked like role models to me.

  17. Sephardi Lady,

    In my community I know quite a few people who’ve tried/try it and the results are very mixed. Alot depends on the family structure as well.

    I just can’t wait until it becomes mainstream and the real problems start to emerge. You’ll see that you haven’t exactly left all the problems in education behind.

  18. >Orthodox Jews who homeschool are certainly a minority -perhaps even a mythical creature,

    There are plenty of communities where homeschooling is taking on popularity. The fact that the word even comes up in coversation should be an indication that people are very interested in alternative ways to school their children because of some of the problems in Yeshiva that are just disheartning.

  19. SL,
    Our mesorah says that a person should use their own noodle. If you have a makor that says that home schooling b’zman hazeh is inherently problematic, I would like to see it. Until then, it has a right to the marketplace of ideas. Once again, I am not in favor of home schooling. I am in favor of thinking. My Rav is adam gadol. There are people in our k’hila that home school with his encouragement. He didn’t initiate it but he supports it and feels that those parents are being matzliach. One of the home schooled boys comes to his advance gemorra shiur and he has commented that the boy knows how to learn. The rav is very much part of historic Yeshiva-oriented klal yisroel, not a fringe figure.

  20. SL,
    When Rabbi Simcha Wasserman was asked how he could know so much about parenting he answered that he remembered what his father did. He may have been “trancendant” but he likely didn’t see himself that way and he didn’t base his answers on that. Hashem wants people to think for themselves. My point was that people that do not yet have children can have intelligent things to say about child-raising based on what they have seen in their parents, other parents, or read. One doesn’t need to be a transcendant for that.

  21. Glad everyone is digging the debate.

    Chana -I’m so sorry to hear of your children’s experience in yeshiva. May their wounds mend speedily.

    Bob, As I wrote before to Michoel, I’m delighted to hear of any situation where children thrived in their educational environment. You lucked out. Alas for every story like yours there is at least one like Chana’s.

    Michoel, I agree with you that it is healthful for children to be able to get away from their parents and home environment for a while. Assuming that the home environment is a happy and healthy one though, and that the parents wish to be the primary influence on their children, I would postpone this point until adolescence. I feel that a child’s “social-idiocy immunity” is compromised by early and consistent exposure to other children in the school environment for eight hours of the day every week. Still as I wrote before, a homeschooler has plenty of chances to meet other people and escape the confines of home. Just as a tangent: I believe that adolescents are capable of much more responsibility and independence than we currently give them, and that part of the difficulties that 20th and 21t century teenagers have stem from being prevented from taking on genuine adult responsibilities, and from being micromanaged by adults -including their parents.

    Also I’m perfectly willing to cede that where the home environment is dysfunctional the more time the child spends away from it, the better -and yeshiva may well be the best option in some cases.

    Eddie’s point about spending time reviewing homework with one’s children, is, as David writes, assumed. But as SL rightly asks, given the yeshiva/home time ratio, “who’s ‘supplementing’ whom” is indeed the question.

    John -there is certainly a world of difference between being a parent and being a pompously pontificating pre-parent, such as I am, but as SL and Michoel noted this doesn’t of itself disqualify the observations of the non-parent. I make no claims as to being any sort of sage, and I certainly am no Torah Scholar -but I do see a dysfunctional system and I’m not alone in seeing it, and I’ve made some very specific criticisms and suggestions for alternatives which no one is directly refuting, other than by citing anecdotal evidence of individual good yeshiva experiences and saying “but yeshiva is what everyone does.” Eddie wrote that, “In theory homeschooling sounds wonderful but somehow in practice it’s not exactly what it’s cracked up to be.” but offers nothing to substantiate his assertion. Whereas I’ve offered evidence that yeshiva education isn’t all that its cracked up to be. Orthodox Jews who homeschool are certainly a minority -perhaps even a mythical creature, but the experiences and successes of Christian and secular homeschoolers are widely documented, and the movement continues to grow. We could learn a lot if we’re willing to do the research rather than dismiss something out of hand.

    Spehardic Lady -I’m contemplating your suggestion -in the meantime, I’m looking forward to your promised discussion on the chutzpahdic epidemic.

    Have a good Shabbos everyone!

  22. Only a fragment of this comment posted before I’m trying it again:

    “If your own opinions don’t jibe with those of the school you send your children to, switch schools. ”

    Eddie- have you read any of the conformity posts and discussions on this blog? What if, say, I agree with a school emphasizing the primacy of Torah studies but don’t agree that it therefore follows that the secular studies department be at worst an undisciplined, chutzpah-skill honing sham and, at best, mediocre and undemanding? The whole point of the original post and Yakov’s impassioned arguments are that children/students are individuals whereas schools by definition must set uniform policies for all with very little wiggle room to address individual needs or exceptional talents. If I perceive myself within the “yeshivish orbit” do I switch my kids to a co-ed school because it offers AP courses and has an excellent rate of graduates going to Ivy League colleges?

    “Reb Simcha Wasserman was one of the greatest baalei eitzah in child raising and he had no children. The same is true of the Chazon Ish.”

    True Michoel, and the legendary Chazon Ish, despite no formal secular education, once drew a diagram for a neurosurgeon detailing how to make an incision and direct an operation. Transcendent Talmidei Chachomim, having toiled and grasped the intricacies of HaShem’s inner will (AKA Torah) are gifted and aware of HaShem’s outer will (AKA Chochmos Cheetzoneeyos-Secular disciplines) from the inside out. As skilled a writer and original a thinker as our Yakov is I think (hope) that he would agree that the wisdom of Rav Simcha and the Chazon Ish z”l exceeded his own. Remember these are yiddisher neshomos being discussed and Torah wisdom has to be brought to bear on any social engineering experiments involving them. I think that John makes a wry point but one worthy of consideration.

  23. >If your own opinions don’t jibe with those of the school you send your children to, switch schools. If that school doesn’t exist in your community, consider moving to one that has a school of that nature.

    I’m not sure there is a school anywhere that meets all of anyone’s hopes and dreams for a school. That being said, most people cannot just pack up and leave because of parnasah. Therefore, most of us are pretty much stuck with what our communities have to offer whether we like it or not.

  24. SL

    If your own opinions don’t jibe with those of the school you send your children to, switch schools. If that school doesn’t exist in your community, consider moving to one that has a school of that nature. You wouldn’t move to a place that doesn’t have kosher food. Don’t live in a polace that doesn’t have proper schools for your children. That’s more conventional than home-schooling which is a very radical step.

    One of the great Talmidei Chachomim of our generation lived a few blocks over from me when I lived in Israel. His name was Reb Shimon Moshe Diskin and he was a maggid Shiur in Kol Torah. His scholarship was legendary and I couldn’t help but wonder why he didn’t have his own yeshivah where he would be the head honcho.
    I finally gathered the courage to ask him this question and his response was so amazing I’ve never forgotten it.

    He said, “I actually once did open a Yeshivah that was designed to avoid or fix all of the problems we experience with conventional Yeshivos and I was very successfull at that.”

    Nu, I asked, “so what happened to that Yeshiva?”

    “Oy,” he sighed, “I got rid of the old problems alright, but you should have seen the new ones that cropped up!”

    It’s very easy to complain about the system but it’s alot harder to fix that you might think. In theory homeschooling sounds wonderful but somehow in practice it’s not exactly what it’s cracked up to be. The only reason you don’t hear so much kvetching about it is because few people do it. The minute it becomes popular it’ll back to the kvetching. I promise!

  25. John,
    In fairness to Yakov (who is clearly an intelligent and original thinker), Reb Simcha Wasserman was one of the greatest baalei eitzah in child raising and he had no children. The same is true of the Chazon Ish. I think he is saying good things, although I strongly feel that the regular yeshivos are the way to go for almost all.

  26. Yakov-

    “Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.”

  27. Eddie-
    I have no pretensions to sainthood, I just think IMHO that absent the reinvention of the wheel or the home-schooling option the influence of the parents will, by and large, not be as great as that of the school. Especially since most mechanchim will tell you that in order to avoid “mixed-messages” and erosion of respect it is paramount that parents not contradict anything that the kids absorb from the Morah or the Rebee. (Notice who’s sending whom mitzvah notes). This only adds to the aura of authority and, for younger students, infallibility, that these educators already enjoy. How many of us have had “but Moreh said____” or “Tatty, boy were you off the mark, just wait till you hear what Rebee said about___issue” conversations/confrontations?

    If our own hashkofos essentailly jive with those of the School it’s fine. But when they don’t we really have to take Yakov’s charge, that school-schooling is a dereliction rather than a delegation, of duty as a serious critique and not just a rant.

  28. I’m thrilled that this subject has evoked a spirited discussion. I must confess though, tha of all the wonderful and meaningful insights, Eddie’s is perhaps the single most important piece of the puzzle. My post assumed the existence of what he is suggesting. In fact, I would argue that any parent not intimately familiar with the details of their childrens’ chinuch would not be in a position to recognize “the right size.”

  29. 2 issues:

    1. In some places (particularly small communities), sending your kids to the “other” school can get you and your kids ostracised from the community.

    2. With each additional school you have kids in comes additional infrastructure expenses, tuition, give or get, fundraising, etc. Sometimes it’s not feasible to have 6 kids in 6 different schools.

  30. SL – the influence that parents have on their childrens education is not totally dependent on hours spent with child. It’s dependent on interest, consistency, patience and how well the parent is a role model.

    Someone who doesn’t do homework with their child [or at least look it over etc.] every SINGLE night forfeits their right to complain about the school. If a parent is unaware of when the next test is scheduled for and on what material etc. they demonstrate to their child that it’s not important and the kid will be only too happy to agree.

    Children who know that their parents be checking their homework and test scores and working with them to correct the mistakes will take it very seriously from the get-go. The negative peer influence will be greatly minimized.

    I know of one principal who tells this to parents all the time and has great results from parents who take him seriously. The fact is that oftentimes the biggest complainers about schools are the ones who relied on the schools without doing their part. We don’t know who’s writing here and everyone can pass themselves off as a saint. I believe the reality will demonstrate otherwise.

  31. Eddie- If kids are in Yeshivas 9-11 hours a day and parents learn with them 4-8 hours a week, who’s “supplementing” whom?

  32. And here’s another suggestion that you may find bridges the two worlds.

    Yes, homeschooling certainly has its advantages but there’s much to be said for what Yeshivos can offer children as well.

    How about sending your children to Yeshivah and spending an appropriate amount of time reviewing their studies with them at night!

    Sounds wild but it really works. It ensures that the education is not left in the hands of the yeshivos exclusively but still allows for the many positive aspects of the experience.

    Try it before reinventing the wheel. You’ll f ind that it works very well. Unfortunately many parents leave it all in the hands of the yeshivos and then wonder why it didn’t measure up. Yeshivah was never meant as a substitute for home education, it was meant as a supplement. When parents do their job right, the yeshivos do a much better job of it as well.

  33. Yacov,
    You really gave me some food for thought. Thank you. However, my son’s cheder is so vastly better than what you describe, it is really apples and oranges.

    Is not healthful for children to be away from their parents and home invironment a bit?

  34. When we lived in Metro Detroit, our kids had very good experiences in the “frum” school system (Oak Park and Southfield, MI). When we moved elsewhere for job reasons, our younger son and daughter gladly stayed to complete their studies in Detroit.

    Although the Bais Yaakov had no dorm, the family of a classmate of our daughter’s volunteered to put her up for free for her entire senior year, treating her as a family member. They later helped us find her a shidduch, too.

    I can’t say enough about the help we received from the teachers and administrators we dealt with. When one child needed supplementary tutoring at the high school level, the principal of the the elementary school found us a great tutor from the local kollel.

    In our experience, the midot of the students were very good, and hazing and classroom disruption appeared to be absent. This was reflective of the parents’ values. The Detroit area schools also had excellent connections to yeshivot and seminaries in Israel, who appreciated the fine qualities of the students.

  35. Yakov: I couldn’t agree with you more, and from very personal first-hand experience. My BT children were very bright and talented, but a bit socially awkward, genuinely willing to learn Yiddishkeit, but not in the “how much gemara can you learn” contests. When they became the victims of cruelty and teasing because they weren’t in the competition, the administrations quickly blamed the victim. Their experience in Yeshiva literally destroyed their connection to Judaism, and had a very heavy toll on their self-esteem. . What a disaster. Years later we are still trying to find a way to repair the damage. I do think there are decent yeshivas out there, but parents really have to do legwork and consider sending (too) young kids out of town.
    For some , even the more built-up frum communities offer no choices….

  36. YD, thank you again for your encouragement.

    Steve and YIS: I respectfully assert that
    “socialization” is the biggest carnard used to discredit homeschooling.

    YIS used an example of his nephew as a socially withdrawn kid who “improved” once he went to yeshiva half-day. In the yeshiva I work at I see dozens of socially awkward kids, as well as many socially adept kids. It is by no means clear that the adept kids are better people or students. What is clear to me is that school socializes kids to be competitive and envious, to bully and tease or to be bullied and teased, to follow the pack, to stifle and submerge one’s individuality, to pursue grades over knowledge (at least in secular studies), to disrespect gentiles, Baal Tshuvas, and secular studies teachers, as well as secular studies itself, and to accept insolence and mediocrity as accepatable standards of behavior and achievement. Even if homeschooling were to somehow stunt a child’s social skills, it would be a worthy trade off. For all the Torah they learn, they sure lack good midos.

    The facts are however that homeschooling does no such thing. I have worked in a (secular) homeschooling resource center in Massachusetts, and have spent time visiting an alternative secular school with a homeschooling-like philosophy, and these children are light years beyond yeshiva kids and public school kids in terms of social maturity. Torah education probably puts yeshiva kids them ahead of the homeschoolers in terms of depth and rigor, but the breadth of knowledge, self-confidence, individuality, poise/composure, and passion of homeschoolers puts yeshiva kids to shame. And as I wrote last post, an Orthodox homeschooler could equal and transcend the intellectual rigor and depth of the yeshiva both in Hebrew and English studies, through the superior process of learning one-on-one at a proper pace.

    The point is that homeschoolers are bound to be better socialized than yeshiva kids exactly because they don’t spend the bulk of their time with other kids as role models. They get to interact with adults and children in natural settings as opposed to the absurdly unnatural child-ghetto that we force them to be in. They’ll still get to play and learn with other kids. They’re part of a community, right? They still have kids on their block to play with, not to mention cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters. They can still go to children’s events and programs, play baseball and football, dolls and chess, and meet kids at shul, right? More importantly, they’ll get to learn much more quickly how to interact with adults through working closely with their parents and tutors, and possibly through apprenticeships and other learning opportunities.

    Your acquaintance who was educating his own son, and who you feel was stunting his Torah learning is just one aberration. I can many cite dozens of stories of dysfunctional kids and families who are in my yeshiva –that by itself doesn’t prove that yeshiva is a bad place to learn or to be “socialized.” (The fact of the almost total universality of the experience of ill-behaved yeshiva kids does prove it though.) No system serves everyone perfectly, but mass education serves everyone imperfectly.

    YIS, your concern for families not being able to get scholarships for homeschooling is admirable, but not a major issue. Most parents are probably paying something for their children’s educations, and they could be paying a lot less were it not for the social expectation that they must send their kids to yeshiva. Remember, I’m not arguing for the abolition of yeshivas, only that they’re dysfunctional on the whole, and that one can educate and socialize one’s children better, and more cheaply at home. Besides, if the norm of yehiva education were ever to begin to significantly shift towards homeschooling, I’m sure loans and grants would be made available. They could be made available now were a foundation or an individual willing to set up such a program. There’s no need to predict a generation of ignoramuses simply because more people may choose to homeschool. No prediction is required however when I say that through the yeshiva system we ARE raising a generation of surly brats (and impoverished, overworked parents.) And anyway, YIS, just because the abolute poorest among us aren’t able to afford something, doesn’t mean that those who can must go without.

    But no one has to wait for homeschooling to be subsidized. This whole idea that we’re incapable of educating our children is disempowering and crippling, and so is the financial honus in doing so. Further, it is humiliating and degrading just to have to be in the position of applying for scholarships -with homeschooling normalized, far fewer would have to do so, and thus the strain on both families, yeshivas, and the communities would be lessened.

    I used to work in restaurants where many of the staff were black, and there were invariably a few of them who were working seventy and eighty hour weeks, making eight or ten bucks an hour, just so that they could pay for their kids to be in Catholic school instead of public school.Catholic school costs four grand a year. I’m have yet to encounter a single Jewish parent other than a lawyer, accountant, or doctor working more than 50 hours a week. I’m not arguing that Jews should work more -I think we should work less (except for those that don’t work at all): I’m only saying that only that often we ask for aid too quickly -especially in the case of education, where it isn’t even truly necessary, and that we have lost our sensitivites to the degredation involved.
    Sephardilady and Rebecca -thanks for your concurrances. SephardicLady, you’re more than welcome to use my post as a jumping off point, just as I did with David’s.

    Sorry for such long posts.

  37. One further note. I know a number of children-Jewish and non-Jewish-who were homeschooled (usually not K-12, but sometimes even that), some of whom are married with children of their own. I don’t see any difference between their social skills and those of their peers except that they are often more confident in themselves and are less influenced by the street.

  38. Hello Yacov,
    When I read your first post, I thought that it was written by me. If it wasn’t for a few small details, it may well have been written by me. I too taught in a Yeshiva on a semi-permanent basis. The things that I witnessed left me in disbelief. The worst part was that the environment created by the school _encouraged_ the behaviors shown by its very (lack of) policies and follow-through with appropriate punitive action.

    The chutzpah that is shown in our schools by our children is absolutely outrageous. Being a product of public school (and a fairly mediocre one at that), I can say with absolute certainty that the level of audacity found in our Yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs is beyond the pale.

    I don’t know if there is really any way to change the Yeshivot from the inside because my observations have shown me that environment is created at the top and the top is the problem.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I intend to use your 1st post as a springboard to launch a discussion about this extreme level of chutzpah that is (sadly) prevelant in too many of our schools.

  39. The problem with homeschooling is that kids lose out on social interaction. My nephew was homeschooled, and while he knew what he was being taught, he became very shy and withdrawn. He was put in school for half a day this year (homeschooled for secular studies), and his social skills improved immensely. He also suffered in terms of learning when his father refused to teach him anything age-appropriate, making him stick to Chumash and Nach without Rashi and skimping on mishnah. He claims he has “gedolim” backing him up,But I haven’tfound a signle person who agrees with him. My belief is that the father, himself a BT with some burnout, doesn’t want his son to know more than he himself does, as he would lose some control over his kid. At least in a school, there are standards and accountability to more than one person.

    The other problem with homeschooling is that there are no scholarships for homeschooling. Those who can’t afford tutors remain uneducated, creating a new generation of amei haaretz.

  40. Yaakov!

    Wow! Powerful and radical, thinking out of the box, stuff. I need to digest these ideas. I think they deserve wider readership and consideration. Why not coalesce and expand the comments and submit them to one of the major Jewish publications?

  41. I think that sometimes in the rush for the most PC school for our kids, we tend to lose sight of what will fit their needs as individuals ( Chenoh lnaar al pi darko-the right derech for the child, not the most nachas now or later for the parent).However, I don’t see home schooling as a viable way for a child to learn how to socialize with peers, etc. In contrast, to paraphrase Clemenceau, education is too important a task to be left solely to educators.

  42. Michoel, I’m glad that you have found a school which you feel suits and serves your children well. Of course, children in secular schools can be downright awful as well. YD, thanks for your compliment, and for your thoughts. I’ll try to answer them here.

    I don’t see teaching limudei kodesh to my children as a problem. There are plenty of guys in kollel and plenty of Rabbeim who I imagine would only be too happy to pick up an extra $300-500 a month for 7-10 hours a week worth of tutoring.

    One-on-one teaching is simply the best way to teach and to learn, as the content, pace, and degree of difficulty can be fine-tuned exactly for the capacities of the student. Mass production, assembly-line teaching is intrinsically mediocre and inferior. Group teaching is bound to search out and accommodate the lowest common denominator, thus serving no one more than adequately, and most students less than such. With one-on-one teaching more can be accomplished faster and with more depth, with either a slow, average, or superior student, than can be achieved in a class setting with all of them.

    Further, in a school setting the child’s primary influences are not his Rabbeim and teachers: they are his peers. Now, while I certainly believe that children need to spend time with other children, I think it detrimental to their intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth to ghettoize them for the major part of their youths, segregating them from adults (and then segregating them from other children not their age.) I think that a child’s primary influencers ought to be his or her parents, relatives, Rabbi, and family friends, and yet most parents today defer that primary responsibility to those who are not even conscious of having it: other children. I personally believe, and I understand that some may take offense at my words, that sending one’s children to school is a dereliction rather than a delegation of parental responsibility.

    Then there’s the financial factor. This whole “obligation” of putting multiple children through absurdly expensive yeshivas is obscene, unnecessary, and it is crippling financially to so many families. Why pay for fancy buildings, administrators, insurance, compliance with state regulations, janitors, nurses, substitutes, books, teachers etc., when you can cut all those costs and pay just for your kid to be taught one-on-one (the superior way) in the privacy of your own home? Paying for yeshiva is like feeding a massive tapeworm. And we’re all just doing it to keep up with the Berkovitzes.

    For FFB parents, they could, if they prioritized it, teach their children Hebrew subjects and hire tutors for English subjects if they felt it necessary. For BT’s it could be the opposite –or they could have tutors for both. The way I figure it, at maximum, you’d need tutors for 12 hours a week, likely for far less: they explain the work, and give assignments. Parents check assignments. What might take four or five hours in school, shouldn’t take more than half that at home, and likely less than that. And if two or three families pooled resources and hired a tutor for their three kids together, they could be spending less than 2k a year a piece to educate their children. Further, once you’ve educated the first child, costs come down for educating subsequent ones, because the elder ones can then tutor the younger ones. When more people prioritize educating their own children, maybe they can also stop breaking their backs to feed and educate their families, and can spend more time learning Torah themselves. When more people take the time to educate their kids, perhaps they’ll have better relationships with them, and their kids will be better behaved towards and around other adults, as well as not so prone to being swayed by other children.

    In answer to your question, I wasn’t homeschooled, but I “emancipated” myself in the eleventh grade. I wish I had been homeschooled, and lacking that, I wish I’d had the courage to act earlier. Thoreau wrote, “The greater part of what my neighbors believe to be good, I believe in my heart to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is likely to be my good behavior –what possessed me that I was so good for so long?” That sums up my feelings about my own formal education.

    I realize that it may in some cases be impossible, impractical, and even undesirable for some parents to homeschool their children. And then, we must make the best choice possible among the choices available. I believe that one can get a good education at an appropriate yeshiva.

    I don’t see taking the approach of reforming from the inside viable: I’m sure some yeshivas may emphasize derech eretz and respect for secular studies and secular studies teachers more than others, and I’m sure some may offer more excercise and better food; and I’m sure that concerned parents may even be able to have their kids thrive in a yeshiva that doesn’t have these things. That said, I think that the problems of mass education are intrinsic, as are yeshivish attitudes towards secular studies (They act as if G-d didn’t create math and science!) and thus I would not send my children (If I’m one day so blessed as to have them.) there unless forced by necessity. I believe that parents need to reclaim their rightful titles as educators and throw off the financial yoke of the yeshivas.

  43. Rabbi Schwartz – as always, your clarity and brevity continually amaze me. I would listen (or, read, as the case may be) to you on anything, regardless of the subject!

    trust me, there’s nothing wrong with you or the manner in which you chose BYQ. That was certainly not the purpose of my piece. In fact, it is very difficult to know what the best yeshiva is to start with. But as your daughter progresses, you may find that the BYQ doesn’t meet a certain need that would help her maximize her potential. As Rabbi Schwartz astutely pointed out, that doesn’t mean the yeshiva is bad or inadequate. It just may not be the best one for your child. Mordechai, thank you for adding that parents must be particular to the specific needs of children who do not have “disorders.” My older son changed yeshivas this year. The one we left is excellent and the rabbaim are fabulous. They were very responsive to my wife and I when issues arose. Actually, he was doing okay. that’s just my point. Okay wasn’t good enough. We wanted to find a place that was the best one FOR HIM. BH, the yeshiva he is in now “fits like a glove” academically and especially socially. It has nothing to do with frumness, both yeshivas are frum. I will say, however, that if my child had some special need, even if it wasn’t severe, I would not hesitate to put my child in a yeshiva that might not be as frum as I would otherwise want. My first concern is giving my children the best possible opportunity to become who they they can be and contribute to klal yisroel.
    I was talking to a friend on shabbos about the amount of money we all spend on yeshiva tuition without batting an eyelash. It’s not even a fleeting thought to do otherwise. That in and of itself is an enormous sacrifice. So when we’re already exerting such effort and making sacrifices, it makes sense to always be mindful that it is easy to get lost in the “everyone else is doing it” syndrome. I know you, Aryeh, and the very fact that you immediately began questioning your decision-making process is no doubt an indication that you’ll be sensitive to identifying and responding to your daughter’s needs.

  44. Mark (in comment 5)

    Who said anything about simple? Last time I checked Chazal say that shidduchim are as difficult as the parting of the Red Sea!

    I have tried to take a “personalized” approach to my kids’ education as suggested by the original post. My four oldest boys ages 15-20 have attended 9 different yeshivas and we are currently considering another switch for one. For the most part my wife and I are happy with the school-choice decisions but there are some pitfalls that people need to be made aware of.

    1) The “coat-of-many-colors” syndrome: younger siblings may wonder “why did #1 get to go to Yeshiva X while I’m relegated to “Y”. They may not view your efforts as customization. They may view them as discrimination/preferential treatment and this can exacerbate sibling rivalry issues.

    2) instability- It’s hard for kids to form deep and lasting friendships ands/or group identity when they move around a lot

    3) The linkage between level of Torah academic standards and Yiras Shomayim/frumkeit has been confounding. When I searched for Yeshivas with a less rigorous/demanding curriculum because I felt that was a better fit for some of my sons I almost invariably found that the peer group pressures were negative when compared to the “elite/snob” yeshivas. I put that in qoutes because for the most part the elitism is a self-congratulitory illusion.

    4) cost – for want of a better metaphor my experience has been that Yeshivas “offer volume discounts” i.e. the willingness to negotiate scholarships is markedly increased when a family enrolls two or more kids in the same yeshiva. For so many who are struggling financially this can make customizing even more daunting.

    Yaakov (in comment 20) you certainly are a good writer. Your comment was excruciatingly sad but (in my experience) mostly true. Were you home-schooled yourself? How do you plan on home schooling for limudei kodesh? While I admire your plan it isn’t a practical one for me nor is it for many people. Any plans for “fighting city hall” i.e. reforming the current yeshiva system so that the food, exercise and secular academic standards all improve? It sounds like you believe that with such reforms most of the derech eretz problems will take car of themselves.

    Rabbi Horowitz if you’re out there reading could you weigh in on this one?

  45. Mordechai, Mark, David, Steve, Thanks for your responses. BYQ just seemed like the obvious choice. So when I stepped back to think about it for a second after reading David K’s post, it dawned on me…hey, did I make an informed decision?

    So thanks again for the reassurance. We’ll talk…

  46. Yakov,
    I have heard some bad things such as you describe. My experience lving in Baltimore has been completly different. I love my son’s yeshiva k’tana and wish I could have learned there also. In my own secular junior HS and HS there was severe bullying and cruel verbal abuse of one effeminate teacher. I don’t think any yeshiva could compare to it. It was in a very good area of Rockand County NY, not in the South Bronx.

  47. As a freelance writer, and a BT less than 3 years, I recently took a job as the on-staff permanent part-time substitute for secular studies in a a established, growing, and well-regarded boy’s yeshiva (k-8). The hours and a pay are great for a writer’s life.
    What an apalling experience it has been. The boys are generally completely disrespectful, not just to substitutes like myself (who, on the whole, the boys seem to like), but to their regular teachers, and even some of the administration.
    One co-worker of mine, a very bright, capable gentile guy who is working on his doctorate, and who had recently taught English to eighth graders in the inner city for a year, quit after four months, saying that these yeshiva kids were worse behaved than the kids in the ghetto! He ultimately quit though, because the administration wouldn’t back him up. A student had complained that a test was too hard, and the principal backed the student despite the fact that the tests hadn’t even been graded yet, and that the majority of the class ended up doing well.
    An acquaintance of mine told me that he’d responded to an ad for a teaching position at a yeshiva, and they’d called him back immediately, and one of the things they actually told him on the phone was that their kids are “worse than public school kids.”
    One of the adminstrators at my yeshiva told me, “You want to know the difference between a yehiva kid, and a public school kid? You can stare down a public school kid!”
    And as I talk about this to my secular friends, it turns out that many of them have already heard that yeshiva kids are like this, and my religious friends all shake their heads, and say that it’s always been this way. it isn’t just the yeshiva I work at.
    A woman whose home I eat at regularly teaches in a girls High School in the same community, and she is similarly appalled both at their rude behavior and at their low level of academic capacity/achievement.
    One of the Rabbis who helped me become frum told me that one of his deepest regrets is the way he and his friends tormented their secular studies teachers.
    On top of all this, the administration doesn’t have real consequences for behavior, and they actively conspire to dumb down the content of the education, leaving kids ultimately probably even more stultified, bored, and poorly educated in science, math, history etc, than is an average American high school graduate (the standard of which is already pathetically low.)
    Even when I try to keep it in perspective: the kids for the most part don’t drink, curse, smoke, have sex, steal cars, do drugs, watch much TV, or play many video-games -I just can’t accept the lack of derech eretz, and the herd mentality that they share. In addition to their lack of respect for secular studies teachers, I’ve encountered real condescension from the kids regarding gentiles and BT’s.
    Believe me, I empathize with the kids -no 12 year old should have to be in school 10 hours a day like these kids are, eating the garbage food that these kids tend to eat, barely getting thirty minutes of excercise and fresh air a day, and being bored senseless by work that their parents, Rabbis, culture, and school administrators seem to cultivate and convey disrespect for. The kids are victims, not the villains here.
    I admittedly have long had a bias against formal education, being myself self-educated, but working at the yeshiva has only confirmed for me more deeply than ever that school is no place for a child, and that I would never send a child of mine to a yeshiva. I intend to homeschool my children with the help of hired tutors. The heck with shidduchs. I want decent, respectful, happy, healthy, well-educated children.

  48. I second Steve’s thoughts that spirituality and grades don’t always go hand in hand.

    I think one of the saddest moment in a child’s Jewish education is when their beloved and cherished Parsha becomes just another subject with tests and grades. Why can’t we leave that one out of the secularization of the spiritual?

  49. David Linn and Steve Brizel both make an excellent point.

    It sounds like these guys know what you’re considering; so that should help you feel good about the choice.

  50. Wait, wait, I almost forgot the most important, if not most obvious point:davening. I know it sounds cliche, but it is so key. If you think of all of the pieces that need to fall in to place (good teacher, good classroom setting, good classmates, work that is challenging but not overburdensome, etc., etc) it is clearly a miracle.

  51. I would second Mark’s thoughts re BY Queens as well as YCQ. I do think that parents should try to supplement their kids needs via tutoring. I also think that parents should try to help their kids realize that the home, and in particular, the Shabbos and Yom Tov meals are ,are as important a source of Torah study, etc as the school. We have to remember that schools focus on grades and that spirituality and grades don’t always go hand in hand.

  52. AL,

    When my oldest girl became school age, the other competing school was just opening its doors. I told my wife that I was uneasy with having my daughter be a guinea pig.

    That made for an easy decision.

    Now that we have four girls there, I can tell you that we are happy. It’s certainly difficult to find another school that keeps a strong emphasis on both halves of the curriculum.

    With any school though, you’ve got to talk to your kids and keep your ear to the ground regarding any issues.

    I think the best advice I could give is to remember that school is not the be all end all of your child’s education. Your home is the place where real life lessons are taught and learned.

    And, don’t worry, my girls will look out for your cutie!

  53. Aryeh Leib – Although every school can be improved, Bais Yaakov is a good choice in Kew Gardens Hills at this time. Two of my daughters graduated and I have one in 3rd grade. If you want more information, you or your wife can call Linda or myself.

  54. Shalom Aryeh Leib.

    If I read your comment correctly, you’re having some doubts, even though you’re committed to a course of action.

    At the risk of sounding crass, I’ll point out the obvious: nothing is more valuable than how our sweet holy Jewish children develop. The future of Hashem’s world rides on it.

    So step back, close your eyes, and ask a simple question: would I invest my money in a similar way? (remember Chazal say sometimes a man’s property is worth more to him than his life, so it’s not such a silly comparison.)

    If your answer is: I would handle risks and hopes for my family’s financial future and safety in a similar way, then you’ve probably done as much as you’re likely to. If your answer is no, then maybe you want to sit down with your holy ezer k’negdo, and ask her to explain how the choices were made and why they appear right.

    BTW, in my house my wife largely handles the finances. She likes it that way, and I have no real interest in it. But when it’s time for a big move of some sort, I ask to be clearly informed and state my impressions before we make a move (usually) :-).

    Is there a bigger move than who you’ll entrust your sweet child’s neshama and world-to-come to?

    I suspect if you get the information, you’ll be able to feel better about it.

    May Hashem bless your child with great blessings in school!

  55. Our first child, our daughter is entering Bais Yaakov next year. To be frank, I think my wife and I are sending her there because we think it is the most frum.

    Now, here on BeyondBT.com that may sound a little off-putting, but we don’t have many choices for a four/five year old in the neighborhood, and many of the girls from her kindergarten class are going there. And we want her in a frum school. Wouldn’t you?

    We know one of the former teachers, and my wife had a more or less pleasant experience when she took my daughter for the interview.

    I don’t want to send her to a modern orthodox school, and I am not really sure why we did not choose the other frum girls’ school in the neighborhood.

    But she’s a very bright kid and likes school alot so far, B”H. We didn’t talk to any rabbeim about it, we just did it.

    I’m sure my wife talked to many of her friends about it. It’s not like her to just rashly do things (unlike it is for me, I admit).

    But does our decision say something about us? Does it say something about the fact that we were so uninformed about the matter, and unadvised? Are we doing the right thing?

    My hunch is that we’ll be just fine and our daughter will too. But really, I feel now like we just made a decision without much guidance or information.

  56. Ilanit, SHALOM!

    How excellent to hear from you! Email me directly when you have a chance; I want to hear all about you. myscher@comcast.net

    And of course I remember you…chaval you can’t see the grin on my face just now!


  57. Is the above Mordechai Scher, Rabbi Scher, formerly of Hebrew Academy in Houston???? If so, this is Ilanit, formerly Ilanit Rozin, who remembers 5th grade chumash, and Navi, and 6th grade mishna…perhaps you remember me?

  58. I know there are kids who fall through the cracks, but I must say, I’m absolutely thrilled with my kids’ yeshivas. They’ve been to three so far; we had to leave the first because we moved to Monsey; had to leave the second because it closed down due to lack of funds; and now we’re on our third, and G-d willing, we’ll be able to stay. In every case, our rebbeim were absolutely dedicated to our children and willing to talk with us at any time. They give out their home phone numbers on the first day of school! When I contrast that with my own public school education, in which I was the quiet kid that the teacher found easy to ignore, I am all the more thrilled with what the yeshivas are providing for my kids.

  59. I would like to see more programs integrated into communities schools so that more kids can fit into schools that are right in the community. It would be nice to see a school that offers not just your run of the mill Judaic and secular courses, but that has vocational offerings for those that are not on an academic track and advanced offerings for those that need a bigger challenge.

    All too often our schools want to maintain a reputation of being “the best” and fail to offer classes that would benefit students who don’t fit in the box they are trying to create.

  60. I, thank G-d, learned and ‘travelled’ in circles where some of the shidduch insanity was not so prevalent…

    David mentioned in his piece ‘chanoch l’naar al pi darko’, educating the child according to his manner/needs.

    Hashem gives us talents and abilities that need to be nurtured, so as to make our special contribution(s) later on in His world. Those can be in many realms, and the *home* as well as the school/yeshiva/seminary needs to be responsive to that.

    I’ll offer two examples; one ‘what if’ and one that happened.

    My wife has an amazing, inherent graphic arts talent. As a girl, her artistic talents were ignored or discouraged, because academics was the thing. Just the other day, we were musing how successful and satisfied she might have been doing something like art therapy as a profession. Sure, she’s a successful physician; but she’s always been a frustrated artist. ‘What if’ someone had responded to that girl positively, and set her on a path that did good, and left her satisfied with it?

    The ‘vadai’ was a surprise to me. One of my HS students is today a successful young rav at Lev HaTorah in Ramat Beit Shemesh. A few years back, he wrote an article as an Atid fellow. At the end, he thanked his HS English teacher (Roberta Sternthal) and me for being there when he needed a mentor’s encouragement. I *know* it wasn’t in learning that I was of any great help. Like Roberta, I also encouraged him to see the importance of his poetic and philosophic yearnings. We only did what seemed right *for him*. I had no idea it would be anything special, or remembered years later. Not only did he stick with learning; but today he’s teaching Torah to a new generation.

    We need to look at the neshama as it is before us, and determine what it leans towards and what it needs. David is 100% concerning ‘disorders’; but there are also students with needs that aren’t ‘disorders’. They would still be best served with a different approach.

    This student (Rav Asher Friedman) put it best himself. I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him: “we teachers are ‘gardeners in the garden of G-d’, entrusted to nurture our students with love, charged with the task of bringing forth their unique beauty…”

    *That’s* the yeshiva or seminary we need to find for our children, as well as the attitude at home. Each will succeed best ‘al pi darko’. The right shidduch will come later…

  61. Rachel, you would be shocked to hear some of the inane things people ask for shidduchim. I’m still a number of years away from that parsha, but several of my older friends are either going through it now or have other friends that are. Many of the “inquiries” are beyond (pun intended) comprehension.

  62. From M. Kagan comment #17 on the 1.12.06 post “Educating our children…where did we go right?”
    “I once heard: There are no good Yeshivas nor bad Yeshivas, no good Rebbeim and Moros nor bad Rebbeim and Moros, no good students nor bad students. All there is are good and bad shidduchim between all of these.”

  63. I love when people say who cares what yeshiva or BY they went to. are you willing to make that step. did you ask whe re your son in laws went. this will always be a problem as long as we are unwilling to change.
    besides I don’t think there are different yeshivos to choose from they all play the I’m frumer than you game so what’s th e point


  64. I actually have friends who are going through the process of finding their son a yeshiva right now, and so far they haven’t found one that is strong enough in both Jewish values and learning and secular subjects. Actually, now that I think about it I know more than one family who has been through this recently. Even I had issues in my public high school with classes being too easy and me getting bored [Baruch Hashem this is no longer an issue]. It seems that everyone is sending their kids away to different places, kids switch schools a lot, and it never is just as simple as sending them to the day school that happens to be in the community.

    By the way, why does it matter so much for a shidduch what yeshiva / day school a young man or woman has gone to? Why are we so preoccupied with all these details? I still can’t understand it…

  65. Even after the school is chosen, I believe it is essential that we actively manage every one of our children’s education. For example, I have a friend who got his exceptionally gifted child a tutor for extra math work to keep him challenged.

    We want our children to strive towards their max potential and that necessitates being hands on. The schools are limited due to the class structure, class size and budgetary constraints. And teachers are generally a little resistant to having frequent contact, but we need to make the effort to contact them and form the partnership that there needs to be to properly educate our children.

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