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Issue 139 - Proactively Addressing the Chinuch Challenges of Our Generation
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Publication: Mishpacha Magazine

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1/2/07

About eleven years ago, I began writing, “An Ounce of Prevention” – the article that dramatically changed the course of my life. It appeared in the May 1996 issue of The Jewish Observer and candidly addressed a topic that was simply not discussed in polite company at that time – the subject of our beloved boys and girls who were not making it in our yeshiva system.

The Jewish Observer got more than fifty letters to the editor – the most ever in response to a published article – and more than 300 people called my home phone in the first month alone. A small percentage of the letters and calls complimented or took issue with some of the things I had written. But the vast majority of them were from desperate parents looking for help – any kind of help – in getting their children back on the path to successful lives. Clearly, a sensitive nerve was touched.

Following sessions on the topic of at-risk teens at the national conventions of Torah Umesorah and Agudath Israel, and with the active encouragement of our Gedolei HaDor, Project YES was created with a sacred mission – to help each and every one of our precious children achieve success in our Yeshivos and Beis Yaakovs.

Over the past ten years, many positive developments have occurred as a result of the attention devoted to this critical issue. Many wonderful organizations and tailored educational programs have been created to help children who are not making it in mainstream schools. Parenting classes and in-service training for rebbeim/moros have become accepted in our circles. There is a far greater degree of sensitivity to ‘children at-risk.’

But I am deeply, deeply concerned that conditions are ripe for a huge, exponential increase in the number and percentages of our children who will r’l abandon Yiddishkeit in the coming years – like nothing we have ever seen in our lifetimes – if we don’t dramatically transform the way we parent and educate our children. I have been feeling this way for a few years now, but this uneasy sentiment is growing as time goes on.

Why all the worry, you ask? Are we not doing extraordinary well in the arena of raising our children? The answer is that we most certainly have so much to be proud of. Batei midrashim, kollelim, and seminaries are brimming with many thousand of outstanding, spiritual young men and women, kein yirbu. We have, over the past few generations, demonstrated our ability to transmit our timeless tradition to our children and grandchildren. But that is only part of the story – the enjoyable part. However, there are components of the bigger picture that are out-of-sight and therefore conveniently out-of-mind.

I’d like to ask you to conjure up a mental image of the dancing in the men’s section of the last wedding that you attended. In your mind’s eye, there are probably several concentric circles of participants – each of them with varied levels of intensity. In the inner circle, you have the chosson and his friends dancing with great fervor. The second ring probably consists of middle-age guys (like myself) operating at a much slower RPM (for readers who occupy the inner ring at weddings, RPM stands for revolutions per minute), while the outer circle of the dance is comprised of SMV’s (slow moving vehicles). In addition to these three groups, you have individuals sitting at tables not partaking at all in the festivities. Finally, there are those outside the wedding hall, smoking or chatting on their cell phones.

Now imagine if you asked people from these diverse groups for their perception of the dancing at the wedding. The inner, lively group would say that the dancing was fantastic. Middle age guys would say the music was too loud for their taste. Outer group members may tell you that the boys were a bit on the wild side. And the fellows outside on their cell phones will say, “Dancing; what dancing?”

That is a thumbnail sketch of the children our community is raising. The ‘inner group’ – those achieving success in our schools – are doing extraordinarily well, Baruch Hashem. The ‘middle group’ thinks that things are too intense for them, but they are still part of our community, while the ‘outer group’ operates at the fringes of our society – barely participating and feeling rather disenfranchised. And then there are the people outside the wedding hall … those who completely abandoned Yiddishkeit. So, how are we doing as a society in the raising of our children? Well, it depends on your vantage point.

If I may stay with the wedding analogy for another moment, I am that restless fellow who bounces around among the three dancing rings – and keeps running out to chat with the guys outside the hall. You see, there is an extraordinary dichotomy in my professional life (or rather lives). Daytime, I am the quintessential inner-ring participant. I serve as the menahel of a Yeshiva elementary school, where I get to walk the hallways and listen to the sweet sounds of tefilah and the beautiful singsong chanting of the timeless Torah thoughts of Abaya and Rava (two sages of the Talmud). But as the sun sets each night, I am confronted with the horrific agony of the children who are not succeeding in our school system and the unspeakable anguish of their parents, siblings and grandparents. The phones at Project YES and so many other outstanding organizations ring with stories of frustrated, unhappy children; with reports of gambling, drug use, molestation, promiscuous activity – even deaths and suicide (I personally know of three frum children who committed suicide in the past nine months alone).

What are the numbers – the percentages of our children in the various ‘rings’? Accurate information and research-based studies are not readily available, but I would estimate that during the past few decades, about five to fifteen percent of children from observant homes completely left Yiddishkeit – which is far more than we would like to admit or believe.

However, viewed from an historical perspective, the ‘drop-out’ rate from Orthodox Jewry in the past fifty years is far lower now than it was during the tumultuous hundred years that preceded the generation of our parents – from 1850 to 1950. The ‘drop-out’ rate was much, much higher in the Lower East Side at the turn of the century, in Yerushalayim in the Thirties and Forties, and in many Chassidish, Litvish, and Ashkenasic communities in pre-war Europe during the height of the haskalah – when communism, pogroms, and grinding poverty decimated the ranks of the frum community.

We are deluding ourselves – and ignoring the lessons of history – if we think that we are somehow immune from another colossal tidal wave of children leaving Yiddishkeit in the years to come. For we have been steadily increasing the frantic pace and intensity of the ‘inner ring’ over the past ten-fifteen years. And the dancers are clasping their hands tighter and tighter – inadvertently excluding a significant proportion of prospective people from participating.

If you accept my proposition that five to fifteen percent of our children are outside the wedding hall (and I think those numbers are low-ball estimates), trust me when I say that there are huge numbers of kids in rings two and three. They are waiting and watching – not sure if they want to join the dance or just go outside for a smoke and a schmooz.

All the while, there are enormous cultural changes occurring that have profound ramifications for the Torah observant community. More than seven years ago, I delivered a lecture at a public forum regarding the challenges presented to Torah families by rapidly evolving technology. An individual on the panel who preceded me spoke about the need to ‘circle the wagons’ – keep these influences away from our children. I followed his presentation by stating that I agreed wholeheartedly that parents must be very vigilant about what their children are exposed to, as I have repeatedly stated at virtually every parenting class that I conduct. But I also said that this will not nearly be sufficient, as I predicted that within ten years, our children will be able to go to the local candy store or 7-11 and purchase a disposable palm-size device for $25 (along the lines of a phone card) that will allow them to set up their own email account and go on-line without their parents knowing about it. (Update: We are almost there. One can already purchase an audio IPOD with limited memory – and pornographic content – for less than $20.) I then spoke about the need to effectively parent our children and see to it that they are in nurturing school and community environments.

I keep getting calls from concerned parents from very charedi and chassidish homes asking me how to respond to their teenage children’s requests for IPOD’s. These are sheltered children from heimishe homes. Their parents are rightfully terrified of what the implications are for saying yes to the request, but correctly realize that saying no to the request without a good reason will be counterproductive. They also fully understand that their children can buy it without their permission if they really want to.

What is also unsettling is the fact that many of these parents have no idea what an IPOD is. So there you have it. Kids speaking a language that their parents don’t understand. Children acclimating to a new environment while their parents are like … well, immigrants. The last time we had that experience was on the Lower East Side. Do you have any idea what percentage of the kids left Yiddishkeit in that generation?

People are always asking me how things are doing these days regarding the teen-at-risk crisis. In response to these questions, I usually nod my head and make small talk, as the settings in which these questions are presented are generally not conducive to serious discussions. And to be perfectly honest, I have found that most people don’t really want to hear the stark reality as I see things.

But if you wish to know my candid thoughts on this subject, pull up a chair and read these columns very carefully over the next few weeks and months. What I have to say will probably upset you. I may engender your resentment and perhaps even your anger for writing these columns and airing these subjects in such a public forum. But I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to write these articles, nonetheless.

For we need to candidly discuss how we educate our children and how we set our charity priorities. We need to talk about investing in the training and financial stability of our valiant mechanchim/mechanchos, and discuss the need to provide recreation opportunities for our kids. We need to reflect on the missions of our schools – are we looking to raise mitzuyanim/mitzuyanos (outstanding students) or normal, well-adjusted children who have the capacity to become mitzuyanim/mitzuyanos? Should average or weaker students be relegated to second-tier schools, or should they be welcome in mainstream schools? We need to have candid discussions about how to confront the challenges of technology that are heading our way – ready-or-not. The list goes on and on.

I am grateful to the editors of Mishpacha for providing the forum for these critical discussions. We envision this section to serve as an open forum on chinuch matters. Please participate by reading these columns, writing letters, and perhaps even submitting an essay (800 words or less, please) for publication.

Feel free to write in support of – or in disagreement with – a position stated in these lines. But we ask that the discussions take place in an environment of ne’imus and with an elevated tone, one where we can agree to disagree respectfully. This section will appear in the middle pages of Mishpacha – so that parents who would like to remove those pages from the paper can do so easily if they do not wish to have their children read the dialogue over these critical matters.

It is our vision and hope that this forum will help us realize our collective goal of “V’chol bo’nayich limudei Hashem.”

© 2006 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved



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Related Articles:
Issue 141 - Exit Interviews
Issue 143- It Doesn’t Start in Tenth Grade
Issue 145 - Training Wheels
Issue 147 - Pulling in the Gangplank
Issue 149- Rolling out the Welcome Mat


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1. Where are the mommies?     1/2/07 - 8:01 PM
M

I am glad to see this first of a series of articles on chinuch. Thank you Rabbi Horowitz (and Mishpacha magazine).

Towards the end of your article you list many topics that need to be discussed. Seems to me there's a glaring omission. I am wondering whether you, and we in the frum world, are brave enough to discuss our children and various problems but are afraid to address one of the major issues that affects them.

Back in the 60's and 70's we did not have a crisis with our youth. Yes, there were children who went off, but I think - correct me if I'm wrong, that by and large, frum parents raised frum children who remained frum, many even becoming frumer than their parents.

I can't give you the precise figures, but back in the 60's and 70's, most frum, American mommies were home raising their family. [I remember Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss saying that he did a poll among his seminary students. Perhaps you could ask him the precise results but I seem to remember it was something like 80% of mothers were home and 20% at work at one point and then the reverse, 80% at work and 20% at home at a later point!]

Some worked in family businesses or other jobs but most mommies were home when their children came home from school. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, mommies did not drop off infants at babysitters. They didn’t drop off toddlers at daycare centers. Some children (gasp) were home till age 3. When a 2 and a half year old went to a playgroup, it was for a few hours, not 8-2, or 3 or 4 or beyond.

When a 3 and 4 year old went to school, it was for a few hours a day. As recently as the early 90’s, a 4 year old’s day in school was from 9:30-2:30 – 5 hours. How many programs will you find for a 4 year old these days with such short hours these days?

Rabbi Manis Mandel a’h believed little children should be home with their mothers and he resisted having a preschool for a long time until, inevitably, Y.O.B. opened one.

Mommies are told that babies need to socialize, that they are depriving their toddlers of stimulation if they don’t send them out. Mommies of two year olds are asked by other mommies where they’re sending their toddlers to playgroup and are looked at askance if they have no intentions of sending them anywhere. Mommies who want to get together with other mommies and their children don’t have many options since most people have bought into the daycare system. Mommies are told they have a life too and if they’re happier sending their toddlers out, that’s good for the toddler. These and other lies are rarely, if ever, addressed in our frum circles.

I think we need to discuss what messages we are giving our daughters. That they have to pick a career (preferably one they can get either online or through some frum, accelerated program) so they can either support their husbands or help pay tuition while others raise their children? Should we expect our children go grow up emotionally stable and bonded with their parents if they are being raised by others from infanthood? Should we be surprised when children abandon the religiosity of their parents and express resentment, hurt, and grievances about them when they never fully bonded with them? Should we expect our children to give us nachas when lectures, workshops, articles and books for the frum oilem regurgitate current psychological ideas on parenting which are not Torahdig? Psychology was called avoda zara decades ago. Has it gotten any better since then or do we now have more and frum therapists espousing secular ideas to us?

I think that without addressing the hot topics of mother’s role and what a real yiddishe mama is all about, discussing whether girls in school are being groomed to be yiddishe mamas or working women, and where psychology is leading (or misleading) us, you are missing crucial components in this discussion.


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2. Don't Underestimate Mother's influence     1/2/07 - 9:18 PM
T. Zager

I have to agree with the first comment. I used to work full-time to support my husband in kollel. After 7 years I stopped. I cannot begin to tell you what a difference it makes to the kids. They know I am always here for them. They talk to me when they come home from school. We eat supper (that was prepared earlier) together. They are more confident about themselves because I am their advocate and they can rely on me. The stress in school eases off when they get home because Mommy is waiting and is their haven. Yes, school is stressful and the pressure is on. Social problems can make it worse. But, when Mommy is not there to listen to their daily problems of school etc.. you have a recipe for disaster! BTW, I have a group of 5 friends, all Stay At Home Mothers, and we get together weekly with our children who are are home with us. It is the best support system for the mother and the best social atmosphere for the kids. At that age they feel safe to play with all the kids with Mommy right there. The need for Mommy as a safety net does NOT go away when kids hit 5th or 6th grade. If anything the need is great because life for them is harder!!!


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3. A Subject that Needs Addressed     1/3/07 - 12:03 AM
SephardiLady - orthonomics@gmail.com

Rabbi Horowitz,

Congradulations on your new column. I applaud you for marching to a different beat and addressing topics that people desperately want addressed, but are too afraid to bring up themselves.

I share the sentiments of the above two posters and are very concerned about long school days coupled with parents who are hardly available (and when they are available in the present, it may only be physically).

The first poster mentioned how hard it is for mothers to keep even 2 years old home. This is no joke! The two major areas of difficulty: 1. Listening to others who think you are practically destroying your children by not providing them with social time and 2. Just trying to find other available mothers for a change of pace for everyone. By three years old, a mother who wants to make that choice is on her own in the frum world. While pre-school has its benefits, there is a such thing as too much.

Recently I saw parents looking for an after school Nanny. Apparantely their children get home too early (after a ridiculously long school day, like you have addressed) and they are looking for someone to meet their kids at the bus and watch they until 7PM. Not that long ago their was a letter in the Yated about the need for after school care for children. I don't want to see aimless "latch key" kids any more than the next, and I understand the financial struggles parents go through, but it is heartbreaking that so few are coming home after a long arduous day of their own to nobody of significance.

As always, looking forward to more columns and more comments. Goodluck with your newest endeavor.


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4. Responsibility     1/3/07 - 6:27 AM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

To the 3 previous posters:

You all bring up excellent points. I think it is all about setting priorities -- and having the courage to resist communal pressure in order to keep to those priorities.

Two areas come to mind:

1) When our eldest four children were young, my wife and I decided that we were not going to attend any simchos until they were in bed for the night -- unless they were those of immediate family members. Not all were pleased with our move. But our kids sure were! I read to each of them before bedtime almost every single night.

2) I planned on learning in kollel for a number of years after our wedding, and my wife worked during the first year of our married life to support my learning. When Hashem blessed us with a son one year after our wedding, she very much wanted to stay home with him full-time. I supported her decision, and took an 8th grade remedial rebbi position right away -- while all my friends were still in kollel. May not have been right for others, but it was right for us.


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5. Almost My Rebbe: Rabbi Horowitiz     1/3/07 - 10:50 AM
shloma edelstein - stevenedelstein@gmail.com

I had you as a rebbe for 2 weeks in Toras Emes, until my father, I do not recall why, had me moved to Rabbi Ackerman's class, that was your last year at YTE. The next 4 years were a whirlwind a new yeshiva for me every so often. When people innocently ask me "which high school did you go to?" I respond with "which year?" BH; everything worked out in the end.I met a kollel guy in my last months of HS; that sat down with me and helped me focus, I sort of graduated picked up some pieces and moved on.After back peddling and much effort i did very well,got smicha, sat in kollel for a bunch of years and built a BNB. All the extra effort might have been avoided had we just left me in that class room in 1987, not that Rabbi Ackerman wasn't the best, I just don't know if i was ready.


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6. gratified     1/3/07 - 11:20 AM
M

I must say, I am gratified by the previous responses! Thank you for posting those comments. I feel emboldened to write some more thoughts on my mind.

In reading about after-school nannies, I am reminded that I was told about a chesed project that someone was working on organizing last year. She wants to match up mothers who are at home, with children whose mothers are not home when they come home from school, so these motherless children can come to their house for a snack, have someone to say brachos with them (as opposed to the non-Jewish cleaning lady), you know ... a heimishe environment.

My reaction was one of incredulity. Reminds me of the Chelm story, the one about the people who kept falling off the rickety bridge and hurting themselves. Finally, the brilliant Chelmites built a hospital under the bridge to care for all the injured.

Frum parents have been sold a bill of goods, the same one the secular world has embraced. Frum parents take it as a GIVEN that teenagers are difficult and rebellious. When someone says "you know how teens are," they expect people to nod sympathetically in agreement. Frum parents believe that by their teenage years, peers will mean more to their children than their parents.

The truth of the matter is: IF you raise children as the secular world espouses (even for sacred reasons like to support Torah learning) and you buy into the lies of quality time and the views I commented on earlier, THEN you can expect your children to distance themselves from you and even defy you.

Too many "chinuch experts" speak in terms of the metzius, rather than promote proper parenting!

I recommend this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Hold-Your-Kids-Parents-Matter/dp/037550821X

Although it's about secular parents and children (and some of the material is graphic), the message of this book is SO IMPORTANT. From a review:

"Multiple play dates, day care, preschool and after school activities groom children to transfer their attachment needs from adults to their peers. They become what the authors call "peer oriented." The result is that they squelch their individuality, curiosity and intelligence to become part of a group whose members attend school less to learn than to socialize."

Do we need organized Friday afternoon activities for our children? Overnights? Why do some yeshivos have mandatory motzoei Shabbos seder? Why are we in the frum world, pulling children away from their parents? Why do frum parents want to encourage independence in their youngest of children, swallowing the secular 'wisdom' of giving toddlers choices of what to eat and wear as though it's Torah M'Sinai? Why do parents CONSIDER sending 8 year olds (and younger) to sleep-away camp?

I grew up in a time with Bnos-Pirchei and voluntary after school, Sunday afternoon, activities, but I also grew up in a time when my mother was HOME. I am not opposed to all outside-the-home activities. I am opposed to REPLACING the home, UNDERMINING the home.

A final thought for now - anybody willing to acknowledge that the explosion of ADD, ADHD, and ODD and the medicating of children for their behavior (!?) has something to do with mommies not raising their children? Is it a coincidence that in the past 2 decades millions of American kids have been diagnosed as being "sick" with (I'll be brave and say it:) pseudo-illnesses? It's so much easier to give your kids pills, and SO much easier on the conscience to hear that it's NOT YOUR FAULT, your child's brain is faulty. Anybody in our frum world willing to say the truth: The Emperor Has No Clothes! CHILDREN NEED THEIR MOMMIES!

p.s. and daddies too!


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7. Educational Values     1/3/07 - 11:54 AM
David S

It is an oft cited problem throughout our society that when discussing our children with others we tend to focus on their achievements rather than on what kind of person they are. At a wedding or a party when asked out our children, when talking to someone we are apt to brag about how good a student our child is, or how how talented they are at music or whatever. The focus is squarely upon achievement and not upon character development.

I agree wholeheartedly with this article and sincerely wish that more people were brave enough to focus on these kinds of issues. At the end of the day, we cannot win this battle unless we teach our children how to CHOOSE between right and wrong. That is character development and it is as important as any subject that we believe our children should learn.


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8. Our left behind     1/3/07 - 12:06 PM
Anonymous

Unfortunately R' Horrowitx, our schools are not even producing truely outstanding students. The atomosphere prevelent in our schools is stifling to those few who are truely brilliant, and if personal observation is meaninfull, they are one of the larger groups who is leaving yiddishkeit alltogether. I should know.

As a very young child they tested my IQ at about 158, which is, if anything, rediculously high, and my teachers think that that is already a low estimate. Those of us who are truely gifted feel left out by our school systems. I already know a few like me who have left frumkeit entirely, because what they saw, and what they where taught was simply not stimulating. We have, as a rule, a strong tendancy to enforce a rigid conformity, something that is suffocating to myself and people like me. We are, most unfortunately finding that our ideas and our thoughts are not welcome in our schools, and that we are being sidelined because we think very differently from the way our educators would like us to think. We are being turned off by the shallow conformity that is present, and we are being repusled by the avoidance of questions and the lack of stimulating material.

To be clear, yiddishkeit has material that is stimulating yet our teachers and our rabbis stay clear of this and treat it as radioactive. For my self I can attest that it is very difficult not to follow my friends in the quest of itellectual honesty and cohesiveness. It is sometimes hard to remember that the face present by yiddishkeit today was not the face presented by it generations before, nor is it the real face of it. It is difficult for us to ignore the fact that many of our educators only pay lipserves to such values as achdus while publicaly denigrating other jews, and it is hard for us to force our selves to accept predetermined conclusions, and when all we are exposed to in yiddishkeit are predetermined conclusions, we feel a strong desire to leave.

We are, by all accounts, the future and yet we feel as much dissenfranchised as those children that are cannot keep up. In the attempt to try and protect us, those who posses the potential to be true leaders, the conformity and the regidity are driving us away, the very people whom they are trying to make achieve their potential. We do not stay because there is no room for us to realize our dreams, for us and others. In the attempt to allow us to realize our potential and keep us all "safe" from outside influences, they are squeezing us out of the system and excluding all but the mediocrely bright from the system. We are serving noone and not only cutting off the average kid we are cutting off those like my self as well.

I am not identifying my self for obvious reasons, but I think that this needs to be genuinely considered. In the fight to keep us "pure" we are being driven out, and excluded because we are caught up in the stupidity of it all. We are not even achieving that which we are set out to do.

As I said, I know many like me who have become "at risk" because of this regidity, and I am often very tempted to follow them.


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9. why Mothers matters     1/3/07 - 3:53 PM
T. Zager

Rabbi Horowitz, You gave 2 scenarios where parenthood should come first. I'll give you another example which directly relates to the problems you listed in your article. 1st grade Son/Daughter comes home. "Ma, we have a day off next week for Curriculum Day. Something about helping teachers learn how to teach better or whatever...." Mother rolls her eyes. "Again you're off from school? What do Teachers need more time off from teaching?? What should I do with you when I'm at the office?" Child learns 2 things. Teachers are wasting time again. Children having vacation is a pain in the neck for mother. Scene 2 - same settting. Child tells mother about curriculum day. Mother says, "Great, I am glad your school are investing time to learn new methods to enhance your school experience. That is wonderful!"(Which, by the way, is something you stress so strongly in your article(s).)"So you have a day off - Great! Should we bake cookies or go to the park?" Child learns 2 things. Mother respects school and their efforts. Mother looks forward to spending time with him\her and is glad child has some free time.

BTW, for those who will argue that mothers need to work to pay bills. That may be so for some mothers who work - but for many mothers it is choice or society pressure rather than real need. My husband does not earn 6 figures. We barely scrape by. I don't have weekly cleaning help, I drive an '87 car, my Shabbos shaitel is 8 years old, we don't go on fancy vacations, I don't own a dining room set, my sweaters come from Value Depot and those were MY choices so that I could make this work. I don't feel deprived either. I feel most grateful and happy to be home raising my children so that they feel secure and loved!


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10. And one more thing     1/3/07 - 4:14 PM
T. Zager

And one more thing ..... For those who say that being with their kids is boring, isolating etc.... Between visiting a homebound lady with my baby, learning on the phone with Partners in Torah, volunteering to head the Chinese Auction at my daughter's school, heading the Box Top program at my sons' school, getting together with other mothers for my baby's social time (by the way, mothers who I met while doing all this volunteering - Stay at home Mothers are out there - you just have to look for them in the right places!) Oh, and taking care of my baby, laundry, shopping, cleaning and cooking, I don't have time to be bored! (I love being bored - it just doesn't happen!) Oh, did I mention that I also work from home at night? I wanted to be a Project YES mentor but it conflicted with the time I spend with my older children at night and with my husband's learning time in Bais Medrash. I think that if we want to put our home first, we can find a way to make it work where everyone can be happy and the children, I can assure you, will thrive!!!


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11. letter to Mishpacha mag.     1/3/07 - 8:04 PM
Anonymous

I want to show you how our frum publications are contributing to the destruction of what we hold dear. Mishpacha magazine, the very same magazine which is printing your articles, had an article on Separation Anxiety - the difficulties mothers have when dropping off their babies and toddlers at daycare and the difficulties the children have when abandoned by their mothers.

I wrote the following letter in response to the article. The letter was not printed. As I reread this old letter, once again I am OUTRAGED that such TRASH as that article is being published by US, the frum world!

Dear Editor, In issue #99, in the article on "Separation Anxiety," an obviously biased educational counselor for daycare centers is quoted as saying that a three month old baby doesn't differentiate between his mother and a surrogate mother figure. This is false. At three days old an infant can recognize his mother's face; by six days he is able to identify a pad that has her breast milk on it. Even a fetus recognizes its mother's voice and distinguishes it from other female voices, and newborns prefer to listen to their own mother's voice to that of a female stranger! How odd that she mentions "by the way," that the Israeli Ministry of Labor formerly did not allow babies ages three to six months to be put into daycare, yet she maintains that daycare for most three month olds "doesn't pose a problem." How about her saying honestly, "Infants recognize and need their mothers. How sad it is when mothers cannot or do not care for their babies." Then you have a "lecturer in psychology and parental guide" advising mothers on how to overcome their G-d-given motherly instincts and compassion when abandoning their children, for "it's important not to be upset if he cries, or even if he screams. On the contrary, the mother should remain calm ... and not be drawn into anger or pity." In other words, mothers should be achzariyos (cruel) and "reflect the feelings" of their infants, babies, and toddlers, "show respect and understanding," and leave! I am outraged that such advice is being given in a publication read by mothers, n'shei chayil. Must we in the frum world parrot every shtus promoted by the secular world and its so-called "experts" even when we see how it goes counter to Torah, teva, and is destroying our society? (I signed my name in the letter to Mishpacha)


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12. letter to the Jewish Observer     1/3/07 - 8:08 PM
Anonymous

This is a letter that I wrote to the Jewish Observer to commend them on article they published:

Dear Editor,

Your September 2004 issue had an article “Parents at Risk” which I thought was a breath of fresh air! Yes, I remember when most children loved, admired, and respected their parents even in their teenage years. I remember a time when teenage rebellion was a non-issue for most frum families. I remember a time when parents weren’t faced with an array of classes, articles, books, and therapists to enable them to be good parents yet produced normal children. And I remember a time when children were raised to be good, moral adults and if anybody had suggested that children esteem themselves, they would have been looked at askance.

Thank you Rabbi Klestzick for reminding us that the responsibility lies with the parents, and for fearlessly stating that the world, even the frum world, is upside-down!

(I signed the letter to the J.O.)

The article can be read online here:

http://www.shemayisrael.com/jewishobserver/archives/sept04/JOSept04web.pdf


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13. To the person who wrote: Our Left Behind     1/3/07 - 8:22 PM
Anonymous

I am married to someone with a ridiculously high IQ who was skipped and skipped and was still not stimulated. His potential was largely wasted in yeshiva, unfortunately, and this has affected his entire life, not in a good way... so I know what you mean in that respect.

Perhaps you can explain some other points that you wrote as there are a number of things I don't understand. Why would lack of stimulation in yeshiva, when you know that yiddishkeit has stimulating material, make anyone leave? What are they finding elsewhere that is more satisfying? Are you quite sure that the brilliant people you know who have left frumkeit did not use their lack of stimulation as an excuse to leave? Because I don't get it - what intellectual honesty are your friends seeking out of Judaism? What do you mean by cohesiveness? What do you think the "real face" of Judaism is? What predetermined conclusions are you referring to? What dreams do you have that cannot be realized in this system and why can't they be realized? What does keeping you safe from outside influences have to do with being stimulated in yeshiva?


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14.     1/3/07 - 9:19 PM
being left behind

Thank you for asking these questions as I was to frustrated while writing my comment to organize my thoughts well and explain my self clearly.

Regarding lack of stimulating material in yeshiva:

There is a certain kind of lie known as a lie of deflection. It is perpertated when you selectively poor out information inorder to focus outside oppinion on these particular aspects, at the exclusion of others. This is a very similar situation. When we are constantly being bombarded with the dregs of rabbinic litturature and scholarship, the most rediculous and unsatisfying of oppinions, as is common, or being costantly forced to focus on the most meaningless aspects of yiddishkeit, to the exclusion of others, then it becomes very difficult to focus on what is important. when other people do not respect getting involved in those truely meaninfull issues, it creates a certain social pressure. there is a certain lack of interest in genuine schollarship. When someone comes up with something truely cleaver and origional they are often asked "what gives you the right to make such a chiddush?" We are discuraged from engaging truely meaningfull material, and we are discouraged from addressing the material on our level, and g-d forbid we should stand up and prove some acharon blatantly wrong.

I will illustrate with an example. First I should point out that I am a lubavitcher. Durring a certain shiur on the rebbe's sichot, The sicha was based off a premise that the measure of the spoils from the war was exact, and that this was the basis of a lesson we could learn from it. (namely that hashem will provide us with the required circumstances to do the mitzvos properly.) However, based on the material presented, and my own knowledge of tenach I realized that the assertion that the numbers where percise was not necessarily true.

Let me explain. Often in the tenach when we deal with spoils of war, the numbers are given only to the thousands, and not further. Torah speaks in the language of people, and it is the nature of people to round numbers that are not particularly important, or that are large, such as this case here. It is not unreasonable to assume that the numbers here are also rounded, hence defeating the entire point of the sicha; although I hadn't gotten to that aspect of the question yet.

I asked this question framing it as a "what makes it necessary that we say this? If I remember correctly we do not very often, if ever give the spoils in percise numbers, and why do we have any justification for saying this is percise? what's the source?"

The rabbi (whom I love very dearly) responded by calling me a kofer and an apikorous, humiliating me infront of the entire kehilla, for nothing more than a simple, honest and justifiable question. He was not comfortable with the question, and admitedly it would have been better to ask it later. later that night the rabbi realized just how appropriate the question was, and sent and appology, and he has been much more sensitive to my questions and much more thoughtfull about them in more recent times, but the sting is still there. Those questions that we learn the most from are those that are the most shunned in our yeshivos.

People often do not value what is intellectualy stimulating and challanging. They prefer what is comfortable and are not welcoming to big questions. this was from one of the most openminded and reasonable rabbis I have ever met, and still I get this response.

When we study a gemorah, and study the meforshim, and then come to the conclusion that the bais yosef is wrong (as a hypothetical example for poignancies sake), people do not take kindly to it. The only learning that is valued is that which supports the predetermined hashkafic solutions that are popular. The results are already determined, so what then is the point in involving your self in the material? what then is the point in learning the sources and anylizing it to comprehend it clearly, when it turns out that what the shulchan aruch says is different that what they (in some cases) the stated halacha in the gemorah says? there are litteraly hundreds of such cases, so much so that one prominant dayan I heard from stated that half the shulchan aruch is chumrah (I am being perfectly honest here). There is a certain tradition of questions that is dying.

when we are faced with cases like these, and forced to either violate our own concience and be accepted, or follow what we know good and well to be right and be rejected, How do you expect us to feel? We are cought between this dichotomy and many of us would as soon be free of it, free to follow our concience and do what we know is right. However that comes with a terrible price. Judaism is a communal religion, with out community there can be no religous life. You cannot "go it alone" in judaism, and so we are forced with a painfull choice: give up all we hold dear, and be able to follow our conciences, even though we can not live the life we would like to live, and to confrom and prostitute our own hearts and beliefs for the sake of acceptance. Often they choose the former, and when they do so, they loose their whole baring on life.

this is of course when we actualy realize that there is more to judaism than what is being presented to us by our schools as I did. The version presented by the schools is often so stupid that the truely gifted reject it outright as meaningless, and how could they not? Or they get stuck on the hypocracy.

To illustrate that example, my best friend and someone whom I badly wanted to marry, a girl from the bais rivkah school system, was hurt very badly by much of the hypocracy of the schools she went to. They preached achdus achdus, and yet they where denigrating other jews within the same breath. They presented a system that was not willing to answer questions, and that did not encourage them, and y'know what? she left. She went to college, and without a better example of judaism, and constantly being faced my so much pettiness amoungst those jews whom she used to admire she started drifting away. She became deeply unhappy and started using drugs. Never in my life was I as scared as I was then.

Now she is in the military in germany, and I am constantly praying for her life. I considered following her then, and still struggle with the idea in and of it's own right.

It becomes very hard to seperate the face of what we see, from what judaism itself is.

Further the "attempting to keep outside influences" is very overdone. Those who will become true gedolim will keep themselves pure, they will not need your help. They will guide themselves and guard their won souls. But they will dable in all kinds of things as well. They will experiament, and see what there is to be learned from all kinds of other academic sources, and they are not alone it this. All kinds of famous rabbis from the past engaged in secular learning and do you think they had anyone telling them what they could and could not learn? no. Further regarding the boys and girls issue, gifted children present special problems. even though we would never allow ourselves to sin with a girl, that does not mean we do not crave meaningfull companionship. Amoungst those who are normal, often they do not feel the tug of loneliness untill perhaps 16 or 18 or so. For us, it is not unheard of at the ages of 8 and certainly by the ages of 12 or 14. This does not mean we wish to sin. This only means that we are looking for meanifull companionship. These facts are well documented in the research on gifted kids and it is documented all over.

Our current untrusting attitide make us (the gifted) feel constrained and suffocated. We are not free to persue our own kosher interests, and we are not free to police ourselves, because we can and will.

I'm almost in tears already from sharing the story about my friend so I'm going to have to stop here. Please read my words and consider them, I may answer other questions later.


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15. Another yes vote...     1/3/07 - 9:41 PM
Anonymous

...for the posters above who have said it's time for frum women to put aside the secular paradigm of career above all things. I have seen sisters, friends, and neighbors who have sacrificed their children, their marriages, their parents/extended family, and their obligations of community gathering and charity on the altar of their careers, and it needs to stop. But the problem is not all from the outside, either. Men, also, need to step up to the plate and get real market-rate jobs, and that means not being too proud to actually learn a trade or skill besides Torah and contribute substantially to the community's economy. Children under kindergarten age need to be raised by their mothers, not by strangers who don't know them and will never be able to give them the attention and consideration that they need. And children also have an inherent need to see their fathers being the providers for the family - they want their dads to go out and conquer the world, so to speak. We are not rich by any means - no where near 6 figures, actually only about half that - but we are not on welfare and not in any serious need. It can be done, even with a house full of kids. In fact, there's a book called "The two income trap" that shows, among other things, that it actually costs women more than their take home pay to have daycare and preschool for children and all the expenses they incur because of being employed. But I digress. Even older kids need loving supervision and loving support more than ever, not just more peer pressure and more education pressure. Mom at home can provide that - in a safe, nurturing home environment. More after school programs simply cannot do this.


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16. I believe the Rashei Yeshiva know where the mommies are     1/3/07 - 10:06 PM
T.B.

I have a secret to share. All organizations--Yeshivos,Shuls, all businesses--from doctor's offices to supermarkets--operate from a top-down model even if they do not realize it. The tone is set by the ones in charge and somehow everything and everyone falls in step. . Warm doctor, warm nurses, receptionists. Super-organized restaurant manager, responsible/responsive waitstaff, clean bathrooms. Orthodox Judaism follows the same rule. It is a top down enterprise. Always has been. Even more so because Orthodox Jewish culture demands great respect for those at the top. For years our Rashei Yeshivos have been encouraging boys to sit and learn for as long as possible and to marry girls who could support this notion. For years these girls have been taught to work to support their husbands for as long as possible. The sanctification of Yeshiva over family has been going on for years. What has this top-down approach wrought? Infants and small children being raised by strangers including many who do not share our religion. Older children attending schools where in the boys' cases they are pushed to spend excessive hours in the classroom with less and less physical activity--in some schools, none, to move on to high schools where the once a week mishmar night is now a nightly affair. That is if the child is actually in a local yeshiva. Many are sent away completely to be raised by... their dormmates. Summers in sleepaway, shortened midwinter breaks, structured learning on Motzai Shabbos for third graders in...no not the home but in the local Yeshiva. Bain Hazmanim learning programs, extended Sunday learning. These boys then grow up if they haven't been broken into indifference or rebellion to expect young women to support them for as long as possible and it is most logical to marry a girl from a wealthy home to assure that impediments...excuse me...babies do not interfere with the learning so if the wife does want to quit work, there will still be money. That leaves hundreds of wonderful, idealistic, kollel-minded girls from non-wealthy homes struggling to find a suitable husband. Rabbi Horowitz, we can talk and write all we want, but until our Rashei Yeshiva make the necessary Takanos, this will continue. Oh and as a teacher and a mommy who made sacrifices to be at home, I'll tell you one last secret. We teachers always know as we move through our teaching year, which students have mommies that are home and which do not. Shhh. If we continue to scream out on paper but sit silently in the studies of our Rashei Yeshivos, the revolution that needs to happen will never begin.


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17.     1/3/07 - 11:46 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey, NY

I'd like to thank those of you who posted comments for doing so.

I think that having a forum where today's issues are discussed b'koved rosh is very important.

One comment on women in the workforce, something that quite a few of you noted in your posts: There are many women who need to work in order to survive, and others for whom work is a very important outlet.

It is all about balance -- doing what we need and want to do, while keeping our children as our highest priority.

We should not be so quick to condemn those who chose to work.

YH


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18. Underdiagnosis of true problems: a doctor's perspective     1/4/07 - 5:01 AM
Leon Zacharowicz MD MA - Far Rockaway, New York

Dear Friends and Colleagues, Many of the above comments are poignant and to the point. Rabbi Horowitz shlita deserves a lot of credit [as does his ezer k'negdo!] for this forum. In my two decades of experience as a child neurologist with a Master's in psychology, and having spent more than 4 years consulting for the special-ed public school system, I have seen a myriad of problems result from problems that were undiagnosed or underdiagnosed for too long. This is a big problem in the secular world but perhaps even more acute in frum circles. I would like to urge parents of children experiencing difficulties to promptly get their child a comprehensive medical (including a neurological evaluation) and psychoeducational evaluation, or better yet a neuropsychological evaluation. Therapeutic and corrective measures must be preceded by the correct diagnosis. The small investment of time and resources can prevent major problems later on. Sometimes, the problem admittedly lies in family and parenting issues (the book BALANCED PARENTING is a good start). However, all-too-often in the frum Jewish community the correct diagnosis is simply missed--such as dyslexia and other bonafide learning disabilities, true A.D.D., autism / P.D.D., and even giftedness (which can present challenges even worse than low IQ in many cases, as suggested in a comment above, and well described by my neighbor and colleague, Prof. Abe Tanenbaum, an authority on education of the gifted). The rise in disorders such as A.D.D. and P.D.D. cannot be attributed solely to the absence of good parenting. Developmental disorders including learning disabilities, A.D.D., etc, can often be readily treated if caught early enough. Then, the phrase "Chanoch l'na'ar al pi darko" applies--an individualized educational plan can be implemented, and re-revaluated periodically. The ostrich-like approaches of denying a problem (or worse, inappropriately blaming the valiant mother/wife who is trying to work and juggle responsibilities), hiding problems for the sake of shidduchim, and delaying proper treatment of disorders of cognition, behavior and emotion can and will chas v'shalom result in an increase in the drop-out phenomenon--and much worse. Respectfully, Leon Zacharowicz, MD, MA


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19.     1/4/07 - 7:43 AM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey, NY

I second and fully support all of Dr. Zacharowicz's excellent comments.

YH


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20. Important Correction     1/4/07 - 8:26 AM
TB

I admire Rabbi Horowitz for his proactive approach in addressing issues that can be at times controversial and "cutting edge" for our community. I must follow his courageous lead and reassert that no matter how politically incorrect this statement is, it is no less true--in most cases, women do NOT need to work to pay the necessary bills. For those women who need to spend some time out of the home, part time options exist. And perhaps most importantly, in both cases, Jewish caregivers should be hired. It means significantly less take-home pay, but it is doable. These are the facts on the ground. With respect to you Rabbi Horowitz and other men who seek to be supportive of the needs of Orthodox women, you are bending over backward and losing your balance in the process. This isn't about being judgmental. Ironically, by condemning us with that label that conjures up a known stereotype about catfighting women backstabbing each other and it undermines the cause of many women like me who know many women who live simply, come from lower income families and/or have married men who do not work high-pay jobs and still manage to pay the bills while staying at home full or part time. We're out there as the woman above notes. We're the women in the playground during the day with simple denim skirts we bought 10 years ago and 5-year old loafers on our feet. We are scouring the supermarket circulars and stretching the chop meat when we make those meatballs. We retire on our second-hand or older couches in neat little living rooms in smaller homes. Yep. It can and should be done. And when we do work, many of us hand our children off to kind Jewish women who live the laws of Kashrus and get paid more just for that. We have to stop deluding ourselves as a Klal in a misguided quest to not hurt some women's feelings by continuing to repeat the mantra that many families need this second income or that some need the outlet and that those that do need to work need to be working full-time using $4 an hour cattle care/or $7 an hour non-Jewish help. We can and SHOULD do better by our kids. Isn't that what your bold articles have always been saying, Rabbi Horowitz?


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21. Separate but equal     1/4/07 - 9:14 AM
TB

Brief clarification and then I will take a break from commenting. I respect what Dr. Zacharowicz is saying, but readers and special education professionals please note the following: If you consult more with the teachers like me who are on the front lines of this battle to educate and motivate our children, you will find that the parents fall into one of three categories: 1) those who avoid the diagnostic procedures necessary as you mentioned, 2) those who do pursue diagnosis/therapy/possible medication and actively involve themselves in the recommended remedies, 3) and those who do, but do not involve themselves actively in the process after the therapies/medications have begun with active parenting. We teachers find that the children who are the most successful in the classroom and who--more importantly--function with the highest levels of self-esteem are those whose parents fall into category 2. Dr. Zacharowicz in his comments is addressing Category 1 without separating out that third and large group of parents that fall into category 3, those who are enlightened enough thanks to educators like Rabbi Horowitz to get the testing, but are not "present" enough on a regular basis to follow through on the recommendations or rely too heavily on the needed medications/therapies and do not actually spend enough time with these children. The therapies and medications need to be partnered with the bedtime stories that Rabbi Horowitz referred to earlier and the trips to the library and the sittings at the dining room table doing homework. Ask your teachers how many times they have been asked to fill out forms, monitor changes in behavior due to medication dosages, consult with therapists only to find that these same well-meaning parents are not sitting with these children and assisting them with their homework, not helping them organize their backpacks, not talking with them about their experiences and future assignments. Please listen to the teachers. Parents need to address the diagnoses and they also need to be there. These are two separate, but equally important components for success.


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22.     1/4/07 - 12:20 PM
Anonymous

"This section will appear in the middle pages of Mishpacha"

but it doesn't!

it's on page 12-13


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23. If you're going to be p.c. forget it!     1/4/07 - 12:42 PM
Anonymous

Rabbi Horowitz, if you're going the p.c. route, then I'm afraid we're wasting our time. T.B. is right. No, it's not about balance. That's what the baloney articles have been telling us. It's about OUR KIDS FIRST and that's not "balance". If our girls and boys don't get this drummed into their heads, if the message is constantly watered down and qualified, then all the articles and workshops about all those topics you want to discuss are besides the point.

I can see you (R' Horowitz) are struggling with this point since you don't want to take on the roshei yeshiva and our current mindset. You didn't even list mothers-raising-children as one of the topics for discussion in your opening article! You're afraid you're going to have lots of women screaming about your insensivity and plenty of people, men and women, yelling that you seek to undermine our kollelim and who are you to say what the roshei yeshiva aren't saying - are you 'daas torah' ...

Who and how many women are working to survive? Why are they working to survive? Are they widows ch'v? Where are their husbands? Are they disabled ch'v? Women working to SURVIVE?!

As for women working for an outlet, if it's at the expense of their children, if their children are not home with them till age 3, then these pathetic women are sacrficing their children out of selfishness. No less. Let them find outlets while their children are sleeping.


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24. A modest proposal     1/4/07 - 12:51 PM
Anonymous

Can anyone explain to me how women are supposed to have as many children as Hashem sends (i.e. not use birth control), raise their children (who may be born every 15-18 months), support their husbands in learning - ideally (as per B.Y.) by teaching limudei kodesh and pay full tuition (i.e. not need to accept charity) and then promise huge sums of money to future sons-in-law?

Is this not absurd?

Maybe couples with fulltime working women who are supporting their husbands in kollel should be exempt from peru u'revu for ten years or so, so the husbands can shteig and children won't be the korbonos ...


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25. problems? difficulties?     1/4/07 - 12:55 PM
M

Dr Leon Zacharowicz: perhaps you could clarify -

"I have seen a myriad of problems result from problems that were undiagnosed or underdiagnosed for too long."

Could you please tell us what problems you are talking about?

"I would like to urge parents of children experiencing difficulties to promptly get their child ..."

what sort of difficulties are you referring to?


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26. Problems result     1/4/07 - 3:28 PM
Anonymous

I must remain anonymous here for obvious reasons. With relatives in Lakewood, I can tell you that the chinuch crisis there is rising steadily. Chutzpah in the extreme in yeshivos is but the very least of it. And mothers there will be one of the first to tell you that fathers are not there for their kids (second seder ends pretty late) mothers are at work most of the day, and kids are being taken care of by others. (To the woman who said childcare should be frum, the frum women babysitters in Lakewood don't seem to help matters much.) A cousin of mine has a number of children, she works most of the day, all her kids are in daycare and the baby was by a babysitter who was watching EIGHT babies. (That is the norm in Lakewood.) Her baby frequently did not get fed, because the baby was not hungry during the time slot alloted to him by the babysitter. Of course he was hungry later but then it wasn't his turn! As the kids get older, the parents are still not there and the behavior issues and chutzpah issues abound! Regardless of what Rabbi Horowitz wrote "It is all about balance -- doing what we need and want to do, while keeping our children as our highest priority," Mothers need to be home for the children and unfortunately for the majority of children their mothers (and fathers) are not there for them. Then, when kids rebel to get attention, we wonder why it is happening!?!?!


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27. Chinuch for girls     1/4/07 - 4:36 PM
Anonymous

When we were looking for a school for my daughter, we had an interview that proved quite illuminating. The principal asked my husband and I what we do. My husband had been in kollel for a number of years and had then gone to work which is what he told her. She replied that most of the fathers in the parent body were in kollel. (Needless to say this is probably why we were not accepted - but that is another story...) I then told the principal that I was home with my children. She looked at me and responded something to the effect that if I liked being home then that was fine for me but that over 95% of the mothers in their parent body worked. Well, my husband was horrified at the thought that in a girls Bais Yakov they would have the attitude where stay at home mothers were not the ideal. My daughter would not have gone to such a school even if she would have been accepted. If we are not teaching our girls that taking care of a Jewish home is the ideal - the way it used to be and the way it really should be- then being a mother to our children will not be a priority for the next generation of Jewish mothers!


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28. re YOB     1/4/07 - 6:30 PM
M

I'd like to add to what I wrote earlier:

"Rabbi Manis Mandel a’h believed little children should be home with their mothers and he resisted having a preschool for a long time until, inevitably, Y.O.B. opened one."

I was told by a YOB mother that until 5 years ago, there was no program for those under kindergarten age because R' Mandel thought those under age 4 did not belong in school!

He finally succumbed and opened the nursery program because the children were going to nursery school anyway, just not to YOB! However, his preschool program - through pre-1A - had hours from 9-1:30! Imagine that, school over at 1:30 for kindergarten and pre-1A. (At this point, there is an optional program in which the children can stay on longer.)


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29. In reply     1/4/07 - 10:26 PM
Leon Zacharowicz - Far Rockaway, NY

In reply to the above queries directed to me:

1) A myriad of problems result from delayed or missed diagnoses of disorders such as ADHD, developmental language disorders, dyslexia, bipolar disorder, autism, Asperger's, Tourette's--you name it. There are critical periods for language acquisition, for example, and if these periods are missed it is very difficult if not impossible to fully correct a problem. Also, many secondary problems arise, such as low self-esteem, and 'self-medication' by the undiagnosed ADHD teen (i.e. alcohol and drug experimentation, etc).


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30. Reply (continued)     1/4/07 - 10:45 PM
Leon Zacharowicz - Far Rockaway, NY

2) The sorts of childhood problems that should trigger a prompt evaluation include, without limitation:

a) cognitive problems -- e.g. the child does not seem to understand what is being said or taught, the child has difficulty understanding language and / ore expressing himself or herself, etc.

b) behavioral problems -- e.g. the child cannot sit still or cannot concentrate, he or she is impulsive or distractible or fidgety, etc.

c) 'emotional' -- e.g. the child has inexplicable moodiness or mood swings, he or she is overly irritable, he or she seems depressed or exhibits 'learned helplessness,' school phobia, truancy, etc.

d) social -- the child is an 'oddball,' socially he or she does not 'fit in' or seems to be in 'another world', is ostracized by peers, is bullied by almost everyone, the child is fearful of a particular individual (busdriver, gym teacher, rebbe, older student, neighbor, mikvah attendant, etc).

e) neurological -- the child has evidence suggestive of hearing or visual or other perceptual problems, he or she complains of migraine-like headaches, or loses milestones, or develops tic-like movements, etc.

The list is longer, and is not exhaustive, but I would like to suggest a rule of thumb: IF an experienced teacher or parent is concerned, or the parent himself/herself has a gut feeling that something is wrong, act on that feeling, and if a professional is dismissive, seek a second opinion.

Schedule an appointment with your pediatrician solely to discuss your concerns; do not bring them up as he/she is ending a 'sick' visit and about to call in another patient.

Trust your instincts, but also the concerns of others should be taken into account.

************

Regarding the comments from a teacher, having spent over 4 years inside schools 5 days a week I think overall teachers are doing a phenomenal job, and there is much to be learned from naturalistic observation of children in their school settings.

As for suboptimal adherence (formerly called 'compliance') by parents, the obligation of behavioral professionals is to help improve this, and there are proven techniques to accomplish this.

A recent study of adherence to medications by the elderly demonstrated that a simple change in medication administration (arranging the various pills in little plastic bags for AM, PM and bedtime) improved adherence from less than 50% to 97%. There are many parents who, for whatever reason, are not 100% adherent, but I would respectfully submit that an interdisciplinary approach and a clear demonstration to the parents that one really cares about their child MAY help motivate change in the long term.

Hope this helps!

Dr. Z


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31.     1/5/07 - 9:08 AM
tb

It does not help, Dr Zacharowicz although I know you mean well. I'm going to speak plainly. Dr. Zacharowicz' choice of words speaks to his educational background and area of expertise. He is one of the support professionals that we caring teachers must coordinate in order to help our students succeed. Please note again that success for good teachers is not about grades, but about functioning in the classroom setting, learning at levels appropriate for that individual student, and being a part of what is going on in the classroom in a positive manner. I say coordinate and not consult with because there is much misunderstanding today about the role of a teacher. Here's what I think might help. I think, and Rabbi Horowitz could probably pull this off, it would be really productive to have a round table discussion with representatives from all the professions that deal directly with elementary school children. If you read Dr. Zacharowicz' response, you will see that he is heavy on the neuroscientific terminology and rightly so. That's his background in education. My degrees are in elementary education and children's literature. His responsibility is to diagnose, medicate, and/or treat the conditions that he has determined are present in his client. My responsibility is to run a classroom with an average of 20 childen and help integrate diagnoses and recommended treatment/therapies of support professionals like Dr. Zacharowicz, plus occupational therapists, behavioral therapists, in-school and out of school special ed professionals to work practically for the individual students in the classroom. This is in addition to working with in-school resource room staff and at-home tutors that may be involved. It would be helpful if we all talked about what this actually means for today's caring teachers and how all the components need to mesh in order to bring success in the classroom. I am happy that you are spending so much time in classrooms, Dr. Zacharowicz. That is the first step and one which I recommend to all the support professionals that service my students. But I also recommend that parents sit in on classes because I want them to see what the actual learning environment is. Techniques for ensuring that adults take their Alzheimer medications have nothing to do with parent involvement in children's lives. The kind of parental involvement that the commenters and I are referring to is not scientificaly quantifiable. Neither you nor I go home with these childen each night. Your "techniques" for improving "suboptimal adherance/compliance" in parents may be helpful, but please do not overestimate your importance as a cog in the wheels of this machinery called "student self-esteem and success." Parents are what I like to call my silent partner in all of this. We may speak, we may meet, we may even strategize together which is the best way to go about this, but I do not know what actually happens at home and I do not contol it. Neither do you. That's the silent part no one talks enough about for fear of offending people and losing their jobs. Yet, and herein lies the rub, what goes on at home greatly affects what goes on in my classroom. Dr. Zacharowicz and other outside professionals, and the coordinators of all this--the classroom teachers--are only a part of the success plan for the student. Increased parent involvement cannot be mandated or regulated in some Pavlovian manner as you are not in constant contact with your trainees and as I mentioned, and the at-home support behaviors we are talking about are not all quantifiable. To sum up, here are my recommendations: 1. Round-table discussion recorded for future use by educators, parents, and support professionals. 2. Increased dialogue about what the role of the parent should be, the need for increased time with children and what parental involvement in the home really means. Asking experienced teachers what strategies actually work with regard to parent involvement. 3. Increased understanding by support professionals about the practicalities of integrating the various treatment plans in the 20-child classroom. The role of the teacher, the role of the parent in all this


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32. Poor Schooling is Poor Excuse     1/5/07 - 9:39 AM
Anonymous

To the person who wrote about her spouse in yeshiva who got skipped many times, and this has affected his entire life, not in a good way. Without knowing full details, I am just guessing that he can be using his past as an excuse for possibly not having his life proceed in the “good way” that he would want. I know a number of very bright people with similar difficult experiences in Yeshiva who on the contrary, have counteracted their bad school experiences and have moved on with their lives; are happy, fairly well adjusted in spite of their unremarkable history as students. It could very well be a cop out to say that the yeshiva system failed me, and therefore life will fail me too, and I cannot do anything about it.


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33. fearful of particular individual/poor behavior     1/5/07 - 10:22 AM
M

Dr. Leon Zacharowicz:

Why do you think a doctor needs to evaluate a child when "the child is fearful of a particular individual (busdriver, gym teacher, rebbe, older student, neighbor, mikvah attendant, etc)"? Shouldn't the parents investigate why that particular individual is scaring their child? How would a medical dr. help?

As for "behavioral problems -- e.g. the child cannot sit still or cannot concentrate, he or she is impulsive or distractible or fidgety, etc." the focus on a medical evaluation is disturbing to me. Does the dr. make a housecall to see what the child's home is like? The obvious cause for poor behavior is the home.


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34. parents and sick children     1/5/07 - 11:03 AM
Anonymous

My mother, a pediatrician, once stated regarding children that more often then not fixing a childs mental and/or behavioral health problems means fixing the parents, and that no amount of medication or therapy for the child would make things go away until the parents fixed their bad behavior.

(she, btw, was very prominant in the community for dealing with those hard to deal with paitents like this and knew very much what she was talking about in these matters. Now she's gone back and gotten certified in psychiatry as well and refuses to get in to childrens psychiatry for exactly this reason, combined with the fact that the children's parents don't want to be fixed, and that she cannot stand to see the childrens lives ruined because their parents wont own up to their responsability)


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35. Rabbi Horowitz - emails?     1/6/07 - 10:03 PM
Anonymous

Rabbi Horowitz, I've sent you emails at several addresses and haven't received a reply. Is there a preferred email address? Should a reply be expected? Do you read all emails at all your email addresses:

projectyes@pyes.org

Parenting@rabbihorowitz.com

jp@rabbihorowitz.com


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36. Reply from a child neurologist     1/6/07 - 10:49 PM
Leon Zacharowicz - Far Rockaway, NY

This is in response to the comments directed at me, above.

1) While the parents should seek to learn more about why their child might be fearful, parents may not be as experienced as some professionals in fully evaluating such a situation. While not every fearful child requires a prompt evaluation by a skilled professional, many do. I would prefer that parents err on the side of caution.

At the very least, serious fears and concerns should generally be brought to the attention of the child's physician, in my opinion.

2)The cause of problem behavior may sometimes lie in the home but may also be due to such brain-based disorders as attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder--and to blame the home environment or parents for this inborn disorder would not only be akin to blaming the victim but would also delay proper therapy, in my view.

A diagnosis of ADHD, which affects roughly 5% of children in some studies, should be made by an experienced professional.

I regret that I cannot continue this discussion online, but my office can be reached at 516-561-9016.

Leon Zacharowicz MD


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37. round-table discussion     1/7/07 - 9:02 AM
tb

Please call a round table discussion for educators, administrators, all kinds of support professionals, and parents. Please videotape, transcribe, and post the dialogue. A) We all need to work together and understand how our personal professional goals for the student at need jive with the goals of others working with that student. B) We need to make more clear to parents what we have seen as successful active parenting--even in large families. Here are some examples: physical time spent in the home, doing homework with child, physically helping organize his/her belongings, alone time to discuss the events of the day/week, trips to the library, recreational trips, supervised decreased video game use. Some kids need treatment, some need meds, yes. All of them need the above. Let's get moving on it please.


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38. positive stuff     1/7/07 - 9:22 AM
tb

I reread all the posts. Mine come off pretty negative, but here's an idea. As all teachers know, even me, accentuating the positive is better than criticizing (although in this forum, I still think the criticism for adults is necessary for us to move forward.) Let's call the round table discussion: "What Works?" and have those present comment on what they have seen work for many children. Teachers who have worked for years and taught hundreds of students are worth hearing from. We say it to each other in the teachers' room all the time. Let's open up the doors to those teachers' rooms. Are parents ready? Don't forget, many of us are parents too and have made our own mistakes. We don't seek to villify you, we seek to assist you in ways that pop culture and science are not. We hurt when your kids fail. We hurt even more when they are asked to leave the school or choose to leave the Derech later--our students are our students even when they grow up and get married, just as we are their teachers when we see them at a wedding and they still call us Morah years later. We seek to help you and each other. We do not seek to condemn. WHAT WORKS? Let's explore together.


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39. lower east side comparison     1/7/07 - 10:31 AM
Anonymous

The situation on the Lower East Side was that Jewish children attended public schools, and at best afternoon Talmud Torahs. How is our situation today comparable, when our children attend yeshivos and bais yaakovs? The exponential increase that Rabbi Horowitz expects doesn't seem to take this into account.


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40. a professional?!     1/7/07 - 10:37 AM
M.

Sounds peculiar to me. A child is scared by a PARTICULAR individual (busdriver, gym teacher, rebbe, older student, neighbor, mikvah attendant, etc). and Dr.Zacharowicz thinks it is preferable that a PROFESSIONAL evaluate the situation?!

Why should fears and concerns be mentioned to a pediatrician? Was there anything in the pediatrician's training that equips them with treating fears?


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41.     1/10/07 - 8:14 AM
tb

I will begin the task of organizing a panel for a round table discussion on Chinuch issues. This has been a dream of mine for a while now. My intention is to include people who work with elementary school age children in the school and in conjuction with the school. My goal is for this round table discussion to travel and take place in Yeshivos and Day Schools across the New York/NJ area in auditoriums where parents are present and participating. These discussions will be recorded and the comments transcribed for public reference. Please post if you are interested in helping with this project. Rabbi Horowitz, any thoughts on my project?


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42. tb:     1/12/07 - 9:43 AM
M

about your roundtable discussion - a thought:

I was discussing chinuch with a mother of a large family who gives a lot of thought to chinuch, and at some point we said - wouldn't it be great if mechanchim, directors of camps, etc. gathered together to examine all those things which are taken for granted and see whether these serve our children's needs these days?

I'll explain what I mean by giving you some examples. Take color war in camp and school. For many people this is a given. Perhaps it's time to discuss it. Is competition what we want? If so, what kind? Should children be singing songs that express ideas like: we are better than you? Many of the "traditional chants" do not reflect our Torah values.

What about "lazy day"? "topsy-turvy day"? etc. There are many activities done as "shtik", supposedly because otherwise life would be boring and that would be just horrible ... Do these activities reflect Torah values?

Isn't it time we looked at our curriculum and activities for both girls and boys, to see whether it is optimally designed to produce the yirei shomayim, knowledgeable young adults we want to produce?


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43.     1/13/07 - 8:21 PM
tb

Thanks for taking the round-table discussion idea seriously. The silence was deafening. The forum I am advocating would allow time for parents to put issues that are relevant to them--like the one you brought up--on the table. A short note on your concern. I'm not a big fan of forced competition; however, what you see time and time again when color war time comes is that the children who are not necessarily the strongest academically have an opportunity to shine, to be creative, even to lead! For the Klal, there is a sense of community and working together. Those who don't like the idea usually hang back like I did in school and may feel a bit uncomfortable for a few days. Contrast this with the many days and hours that those who shine during colorwar but struggle in the classroom or Camp Shiur time feel uncomfortable. Also, please ask your Rav about the need for outlets and whether these things you refer to as "shtick" might actually serve an important purpose for some children. As for Yiras Shamayim, I think I have been really clear and really politically incorrect in my assertions that it and most other basics are planted and nurtured in the home. A lot of Yeshiva parents today seem to be underestimating their power and overestimating that of the school. With shared respect and hope for our children, TB


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44.     1/14/07 - 8:18 PM
M

What would be the point in my asking a rav about this? The camp directors need input from the parents (who pay them $$$$) as to how they want their children spending the summer.

Whether or not some children need outlets, "lazy day" is not a Jewish concept, period. As for other silly activities - it's hard to believe that children who need outlets can't be provided with tochen'dike outlets that will benefit all campers.

I agree with you that middos and yiras shomayim are implanted in the home! However, since our children spend most of their waking hours in school and sometimes 4-8 weeks away from home in camps, yeshivos and camps need to do their share of implanting middos and yiras shomayim!

as for the deafening silence - I wonder about it ... is anybody reading this? how many people? why aren't there scores of comments?

Does R' Horowitz read comments to previous articles or just new ones?


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45. thanks     1/14/07 - 11:08 PM
tb

I get what you are saying. You may have a point there. And I do hope Rabbi Horowitz and others are reading this, because I feel this is constructive talk about important topics. I'm glad there are people out there like you who care too.


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46.     1/18/07 - 8:14 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey, NY

TB, M, all:

I do read each of the comments. Due to the demands on my time, I do not get to respond much.

I do think that the discussion of these topics are very important.

and, why don't you post your names and the cities where you live? I do.

YH


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47. Education reform     1/19/07 - 12:21 AM
Anonymous - yakovmeir@gmail.com

The truth is that the "at risk" factor is only one small symptom of the problems in our education system. The inner dancing circle that you described, in reality is not up to par. I know because I'm in Lakewood. I learn with many of our yeshivas' successes because I'm in Kollel with them.

Our yeshivos are not succeeding in making sure that all their students are acquiring the necessary skills to learn. Our yeshivas are not making sure that their students are acquiring knowledge of large amounts of gemara. In fact many of the "better" yeshivas (the ones that everyone tries to get their kids into) are not even trying.

Too many rebbeim think that their job is just to give shiur. They don't pay attention to where the students are holding. They say to themselves: "If a bochur is not gaining from my shiur, he shouldn't be here". Meanwhile no one is making sure that the bochrim can do something as simple as saying back the shakla vetaryah of the gemara!! With all the focus on what the rebbe says in shiur and on lomdus, many students don't realize they are not learning. If they know how to throw around some sevaros they think they're doing okay. Testing in these yeshivas is frowned upon (We're too good for that). It's so sad to see men in their 20's slowly realize that they haven't really been learning all this time. These boys are all going through the system, through the top yeshivas all the way to Brisk, then to Lakewood and no one is overseeing the quality of the product we are producing.

Change will not be easy. The first people to resist will be the parents. I just overheard a parent talking about his son in the 11th grade of a prominent yeshiva. He was saying that his son has 45 boys in his class. "That seems like a lot" someone said to him.

"It's the 'aleph' shiur" he explained "they don't need so much help from their rebbeim, they're good boys".

I am much younger than the man that was saying this and I couldn't think of a respectful way to reply, but their were so many things wrong with what he was saying.

1. Aleph guys need just as much attention as beis guys if you want to maximize their potential, if not more.

2. Let's accept this assumption that it's OK for an aleph class to have 45 students, are these really aleph guys in this class?

A. At what age were the classes divided? The classes were probably divided into aleph beis and gimmel when the boys first started 9th grade. Many more skills are acquired (hopefully) since that time. Since the boys develop these skills at varied speeds it follows that the boys that were "aleph" boys when coming out of 8th grade are not necessarily aleph boys any more. Also many of the "beis" boys may now very well be aleph boys. We can't call this class an "aleph" class based on the division made at such a young age.

B. What was the criteria to enter the "aleph class? I'm sure they accepted all the boys that were learning the best, but I'm also sure they accepted all the boys with "pull". what's going to be with all those poor boys that have been granted the favor of acceptance into the aleph class.

3. We have to ask ourselves: Why are their 45 boys in one class? Is it to save money? The school cannot afford to hire a second rebbe? I doubt it. Maybe the rebbe is so outstanding that everyone wants to be in his class even if it means a class of 45 guys? Maybe. But I think I know the real answer. If we were to split this class in half, all the parents of those that were put in the lower class would come screaming bloody murder. This is despite the fact that their children are being put in a smaller class where the shiur is closer to their level. They'd be upset because their son has to be in the best class, in the best yeshiva whether it's good for him or not. Bottom line is that in an aleph shiur of 45 boys, if the shiur is being given at the high level expected of an aleph shiur, at least half of the boys do not belong there and are probably wasting their time.

Maybe this mentality is for shidduchim. I don't know. But until this ends, until parents stop having to get their sons into the "best" yeshiva they can (the one with the best "shem"), we're going to continue to have "top" students that don't know how to learn, and nobody, not even the students, will notice.


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48. Would love to be a stay-at-home Mom     2/7/07 - 11:00 AM
Sara - Monsey, NY

I know the importance of being a stay at home Mom. That would be my preference, no, it would be my dream. No, my husband is not in Kollel, just a regular working guy struggling to survive the daily expenses. We have been married B"H for many years and have managed to make this work for our children. I, too, manage on discount clothes that I keep around for many years...after 25 years of marriage, just bought a first "real" shaitel for my daughter's wedding....and shop with coupons..and buy on sales..and don't have cleaning help or haven't remodeled anything in my home...AND in order to meet the bills..both my husband and I HAVE to work. My entire salary and part of my husband's goes to tuition. How could it not...HS tuition is upwards of 13,000, if you send out of Monsey, include 2500-3000 for bus transportation and much higher education costs. Elementary school tuition is between 7 and 10,000. If you send your kid to Bulka that is 30,000...Touro is 11,000 plus transportation and books. Seminary for the year will cost you $20000. My tuition bill is upwards of 45000..and that is AFTER TAXES. You would need to make a salary of 70,000 just to pay that. Forget about all the other bills, mortgage, food, insurance..etc..you get my point.

The phenomenal expenses of tuition REQUIRE that both parents work, unless one spouse is making a six figure salary, or they are independantly wealthy...I envy those mothers who can sit home with their children baking cookies. I have tried to maintain a balance in my life..by having my husband put the children on the bus in the morning..while I am there either when they get off the bus..or shortly thereafter...but not everybody can do that. I prioritize my children over everything. I do not resent that I had to work..I am grateful that B"H my kids have turned out beautifully. But please don't look down upon those mothers who HAVE to work..>I bet many of them would love to sit at home, if they had the choice.


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49. Sara:     2/7/07 - 6:04 PM
Anonymous

Do you think that all the women who are not working have husbands who make a six figure salary or are independently wealthy? Surely you know this is not the case. Some couples choose to have the mother raise her children and not work out of the home despite the costs you enumerated.

How do they do it?

There are probably a number of answers to this question. Some families are entitled to government help and get WIC, food stamps, Section 8, govt. health insurance. As for tuition, many heimishe schools give deductions based on income.

Seminary costs 20,000? That's obscene and if you feel like spending that kind of money (sounds like it includes a trip to Israel), that's your choice. Those who attend a local seminary don't pay extragavant sums like that. Those who don't attend seminary at all, pay nothing.

I am thinking of a family I know that lives in Brooklyn. They have 8 children. The mother does not earn an income. The father works but does not earn enough to cover all the costs you enumerate. They get WIC and tuition costs at YOB are low and they get a discount. Tuition at the Mir is higher.

I'm curious - what would happen if you stopped working and your income was no longer available for tuition? Would your children not be able to attend school/yeshiva?

To say that tuition costs REQUIRE women to work and that you envy those that don't just doesn't sound right to me. It sounds like an indictment of all those women who are home with their children who are not doing what you say they are REQUIRED to do.


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50. no disrespect     2/8/07 - 9:22 AM
tb

I don't look down on you. It's just that I know many large families in which the mother does not work and they get major tuition breaks as they should, their kids do not go to day camp(sometimes the older ones do) and they definately do not send their daughters to Israel for seminary. Really! Also, as of about 12 or 13, their kids work in the summer and babysit during the year to pay for extras that they want. I personally worked from this age and did not resent it. I contributed to the purchases I wanted. At 18, I had a "real job" and went to seminary locally in the morning. In the large families I know, the fathers are either in Chinuch or in office type jobs (sales, running a business) and their families aren't wealthy. I do know that they get some government help. What can I tell you? It is working for some people in Monsey and other places. Some women start working part time in the Yeshivos their kids attend and in other situations. Part time is very common. Some wait until their kids are all in school, even in these large families. I am not making this up. I can't know your story. I can just tell you that tuition is completely negotiable as it should be. No one will deny your child a yeshiva education because you choose to stay home. I know. I work in schools. I know what goes on. As for Touro, sorry, but you lost me there. I went to city college because it was cheaper. And because as I said, I had a real job each afternoon and went to school at night, I paid for my college costs myself. Good luck. Please know, as a teacher, that I cannot emphasize enough what a difference in children--especially those with learning problems--it makes if the mother is at home and if the babysitter speaks English and shares our religion. That's the politically incorrect truth that everyone is afraid to talk about.


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51. practical     2/8/07 - 10:05 AM
tb

By the way, Sara/Monsey, if we were in the same room, we would probably be arguing and that doesn't help anyone. What would help is if someone writes the book for Frum Jews on how to do this. How practically--with numbers and everything--some women are staying home. Then we need to address current frum culture and do some preventative work by getting the Rashei Yeshiva on board and getting our daughters set up with the right information in high school so they can pursue a path realistically that would set them up for this lifestyle. I don't want to go into it now, but the large families I know who have daughters of Shidduch age are not seeking what their friends are seeking and did not do post-high school what their friends did. Yet they are amazing, sincere, frum, Yeshivish young women. They are working hard at part-time jobs, attending co-ed colleges (which we all did 25 years ago--those who went to college)that are cheaper, and not looking for Kollel boys. They really are amazing girls--I promise, but the system is set up so it's really hard for them to find a sincere boy who is Koveah Itim. The system is set up where the Shadchanim are asking in concerned tones why they did not go away to Israel for seminary and why they are not looking for Kollel if they are so frum. We need to change the system and we also need to publicize to all young women how women who stay home are paying their bills and not judge those that haven't yet figured out a way.


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52. why are they working and going to college?     2/8/07 - 1:05 PM
M

tb- you write, "They are working hard at part-time jobs, attending co-ed colleges (which we all did 25 years ago--those who went to college)that are cheaper, and not looking for Kollel boys."

Why are they working and going to college when they don't plan on supporting a Kollel husband? Do they plan on staying home and raising their children? Do they do any post-seminary Jewish learning?


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53. It really does help!     2/8/07 - 6:43 PM
tb

M: Really simple. The working mothers are absolutely right. Everything is a struggle nowadays. Staying home with your kids even if you have a working spouse is not easy to pull off. What if you want to afford a house at some point? What if your parents can't help you? What if the boy you marry is not a lawyer? So these girls are preparing themselves with respectable degrees at cost efficient tuitions so they can work until they get married, save for a down-payment on their first house even before marriage if possible, once married work until Hashem blesses them with children (hopefully soon)and then have the Menuchas Hanefesh to know the following: They will have a degree and possibly some work experience for when their children are older and if needed earlier, they can work part time at better salaries. The girls I am referring to are studying to be teachers, OT's, nurses, sonographers. That is just a sample of the ones I know personally. With respect, our post high school girls need to understand the race they are in to get things done before they are married so they have less of a chance of struggling later. Less of a chance to have to go to work. One income may not make it for them. If they get a degree and some work experience--even if they never leave the hallowed walls of teaching in a Yeshiva as I haven't--they will get paid better salaries and have more flexibility to work part time because they will have higher salaries for their part time work and be more marketable in the job market. If they marry someone who is able to support them completely, then that's great. But how can you guarantee them that? If staying home is a priority, then why not work and save as much as possible so you don't have to stress as much when you outgrow your apartment and need a house or if your husband loses his job. And why not be prepared in case you have to work so that you can get more for less hours? Two of my closest friends and I actually saved a sizable amount of the down payment on our first homes before we got married and they even got married at 21. One of my friends who is now B"H a mother of 6, but got married many years ago at 19, wishes she had pushed herself more at that time to get her degree. She ended up having to get a degree later in life just to get a part time job to help pay the bills. She--a wonderful Yeshivish woman, very sincere about her frumkeit--purposely put her daughter in a high school that did not frown on college and plans to push her hard to work and get her degree as soon as possible so that she can stay home with less pressure. A relative of mine, stay at home mother of 9 K"AH, also wishes she had gone to school and worked hard before she got married at 21. She stuggled on one salary and government assistance for years and now that her kids are in school is in school herself. She encourages her daughters to work in high school and once out to go to a cheap local colleges in the neighborhood. No one can plan everything, but we do need to try to entertain the option of changing the system. As for post-seminary learning, I really think--and this includes seminary, by the way, and I'm a graduate of a really good one, that a girl's priority should be her children. Hopefully, Hashem should grant her a nice Choson and some children sooner than later. Learning is for single girls and older married women. If you can squeeze some in when it doesn't affect your kids, Kol Hacovod, but, as my grandmother used to say: When you are a young mother, your diapering, feeding, nursing, singing, playing on the floor, Brachos- making are your Tefilos. I think they are your Torah too for that time in your life. For those of us who want to stay home: let's be more practical so we can be less hysterical. It really works.


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54.     2/8/07 - 6:52 PM
tb

M: oh and one more thing. if you meant that the post seminary single girls may not have time to learn, i have this to say. These girls can and do go to seminary part time, work part time, and college part time, plus summer school. When they (and I in the distant past, by the way) finish seminary, if the Chuppah hasn't happened for them yet continue to go to night Shiurim which is plenty if you are planning for an amazing stay at home life with your kids. Not all the girls I know are this determined and this busy. They could be if they understood. Many who are this busy are saving and going to school so they can support Kollel and continue to work later. I say, be busy, but in order to plan to stay home. If you are wealthy and know that you can stay home while he learns or if you plan to support him until you have your first baby then hooray, Kollel is a great thing. Otherwise, I really think that the current system of dropping our babies off at factories of 8 to 10 kids or leaving them home with non-Jewish babysitters does not contribute to a Torahdik home. Kollel or not.


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55. where are they headed?     2/8/07 - 8:30 PM
M

Yes, I was referring to post-seminary (or those who skipped seminary) single girls.

I understand all you wrote and I find it troubling because it only works if the girl is not getting married shortly after seminary (or high school, if she's going to work after high school). As Rabbi Avigdor Miller z'l said - girls should get married as soon as possible so their idealism for Yiddishkeit and Yiddishe values doesn't dissipate.

All that pushing to work hard and save money, for a downpayment yet, and acquiring a degree is not happening while girls are marrying at 19. The rationale sometimes is, they can't be expected to twiddle their thumbs while waiting to get married, so they're making the most of the time. Well, far too often we end up with educated girls, with degrees, and great jobs, who are single into their late 20's, 30, and 40's. I know MANY of them.

If girls are encouraged to marry and raise their children, they are likely to do that (this is typical of the Chassidishe world where there are hardly any older single girls). If they are encouraged to get degrees and work at good jobs, the likelihood of their staying home with their children is quite slim (that is, if they marry and have children).


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56. You have it all wrong     2/8/07 - 8:50 PM
tb

These girls aren't prioritizing college and work over Shidduchim. Please. They are dating and trying to get married as early as possible. I was and so are these girls I know. The Shidduch market is absolutely brutal. We are talking about girls whose families do not have money and who want a boy who will pursue a degree while being Kovaya Itim, a serious, sincere boy who wants to support them so they can take care of their children. A) Do you know how hard it is--with the system I mentioned--for them to find a boy like this to date. Do you know how often they have to fend off the ne'er do wells, the boys who are not serious about their learning because that is what the neighbors think they should get. B) Do you have any idea how hard it is for a girl from a large family with no money and no major Yichus to get dates of any kind? C) Those educated older single girls that you and I know too well are not single because they didn't try hard enough and were too career oriented. The system isn't churning out good working boys anymore like it was 25 and 30 years ago. The system is not teaching our Yeshiva boys to be okay with a poor girl. You know it and I know it. Please. These older girls are victims not perpetrators. I said before: Geszunte Heit, let them get married as young as possible. I wish that for my daughter. But I will set her on the path to be prepared in case it doesn't happen right away and I will toil and toil each night trying to get her dates. See my friend's story, the one who did get married at 19. She just wishes she had been more focused in that year after High School. She is also worried about her daughter because the world has now changed and she is expected to go to Israel for the year($$$) and then Touro ($$$)and she would be told to only marry Kollel in a different high school. Are the girls more educated than the boys? Absolutely. Are they overemphasizing the importance of their schooling/work? Absolutely not. Talk to them. They are desperate to get married and they just want to be red nice, frum, working boys. They are doing their best. They deserve a better system.


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57. How it can and does work for some     2/8/07 - 9:09 PM
tb

Let's be very clear. Here's the way it would and does occasionally work: Girl graduates. Girl stays in America, goes to seminary every morning, works in the afternoon, college at night, summer school or Sem in morning, college in afternoon, summer job. She can get an entire year in of school and some money to pay her expenses. June of year one post high school--she starts to date. Why should she start immediately after high school? Her friends away in Israel aren't dating yet. Mazel Tov! She gets engaged to the first boy she meets. Married by Sept. She can still get one more good year in there for work and college (sorry, seminary days are now over). If he is older--the way it was 25 years ago--then he is finishing up his college degree or done with it. Just in time to start his first job. Now, Mazel Tov again! They have their first baby by next June. She may not have finished her degree, but she may be well on her way. She can relax at home with the baby. He can go to work and learn regularly. What a nice scenario. Maybe she can pay a nice frum woman to watch the toddler so she can finish up her schooling part time. Maybe she won't and will resume when she can. With this--your best case scenario in Shidduch and conceiving a child, she is still better off having spent her first year out of high school the way I described. And if she gets engaged at 19 1/2 or 20, she has a shot at completing her degree and saving some money if she works. If she gets engaged at 21, still respectable, she is even farther along. No one is telling her to stop dating. On Motzai Shabbos and Sunday, sometimes a weeknight here and there, she will be in that hotel lobby next to all the other girls. Her mother will be making those embarrassing phone calls to follow up on the few Shidduch leads just like all the other mothers. This is okay. And--just think--if we help her by sending our boys the message that it it okay to go to college and learn and earn, she will have more choices of who to date, more of a chance to get married sooner.


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58. age, college, working boys     2/9/07 - 8:50 AM
M

side point

"If he is older--the way it was 25 years ago--"

it was? my parents married in 1963, he was 21, she 19

don't think this was unusual, some were close in age and others were not

the next generation, those married in the 80's, also were a mix, close in age by a few months or 2-4 years or more

another thing - you seem to have no problem at all with co-ed college, saying that this was common 25 years ago

what was common 25 years ago was that principals of girls' schools spoke against it, as did boys' roshei yeshiva

even if the students are living at home, it's surprising to hear you write about co-ed college as though it's just fine

as for quality working boys - they were rare 20-25 years ago too

what was more common were boys who were learning and going to college, who planned to learn for a few years in Kollel and then work, but boys in shidduchim who were already working? very few

Do you really think that single boys should be working fulltime? If so, from what age? If Rabbi Horowitz quotes kids as saying, "Many or most 18 or 19 year-old boys are simply not equipped to deal with the challenges of unfettered freedom 6,000 miles from home," do you think they are ready for the workplace?


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59. After this, I give up trying to explain this     2/10/07 - 7:50 PM
tb

M: OY. Do I sound as closed minded as you?!!! I hope not. Let me reply to a couple of your responses specifically and then make a general comment. 18 and 19 year olds should learn in Beis Medrash. Some should continue indefinately. The rest should do as the wonderful Baalei Bayis in my extended family did which is to begin college, continue learning part time and be done with college in time to date at 23 so they can support a wife and children. These men in my family are wonderful husbands, fathers, and learners. I know many of these men who are not related to me. They are the men you see learning with their sons in Shul, they go to Shiurim, sometimes give Shiurim, and learn before work and even at lunch time sometimes. Some of these men, spend all day learning once they retire. I have two uncles in their 60's and 70's who fall into that category. Their wives and most of their daughters and daughters in law staid home to raise beautiful frum children. In the 40's, 50's and yes even the 60's it was common for husbands to be at least 3 or 4 years older, if not more, than their wives so they could establish a Parnasa. They began dating later. Oh and yes I am absolutely fine with co-ed college. Every single member of my own and extended family attended one. All my friends did. The reality is much less exciting than the fears of those who condemn it. FOR THE HUNDREDTH TIME, WE FRUM PEOPLE HAVE FORGOTTEN HOW TO BE FRUGAL. CITY COLLEGE IS CHEAPER!!! But, do what you want, M. Here's my general statement: The current system for Yeshivish families is not working. If it was, I wouldn't advocate changing it to the way it used to be and I wouldn't implore you and others to be more openminded. There are too many children being raised by people other than their mothers, too many children lacking basic Mentchlechkeit, there are too many young married women with too much stress--supporting a family and having many children, there are too, too, too many single girls with not enough appropriate choices( by the way, M, there were always learning plus college guys and then learning and working guys then, the Kollel years thing came over the last 20). I know the Rashei Yeshiva are advocating this lifestyle and I know that it is deemed disrespectful to differ with them. I do think that if things are presented properly and respectfully by the right people (i.e. our Rabanim and Mechanchim) then things might change and our children would benefit greatly.


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60. it's not only about $$$$     2/12/07 - 11:05 AM
M

I really don't understand why your points needed to be made with negative personal remarks ... If someone doesn't see something your way you condemn them as closeminded?!

Why were the capital letters necessary? No kidding co-ed city colleges are cheaper. You're responding as though someone disagreed with you about that.

Two reasons have been given for urging boys and girls to stay away from secular colleges: 1) the immorality 2) the heresy and general anti-Torah teachings.

Those two factors were present in the 60's and they are present till this day. You dismiss it for the sake of $$$$.

You've read earlier comments of mine and know that I think mothers should be raising their own children. We agree on that. I think that too many men learning in kollel shouldn't be there.

Someone said to me that he thinks only 10-20% of those learning in Kollel should be there. If the rest leave kollel and the money that went towards them went towards tuition-schools, we'd be far better off. I think it's a great idea.

I myself said there were learning plus college guys then, did you read what I wrote? Doesn't seem like it.

The issue of differing with the roshei yeshiva is not merely one of respect. As you may have seen, I commented on some other article here, if we laymen are being urged to tell our leaders what to do, what makes them leaders, yet there is the new-fangled concept of "daas Torah." Many subscribe to it and it means that somehow the various roshei yeshiva/gedolim say what's right even if they disagree with one another and even if they've been proven wrong and they themselves change their minds.


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61.     2/12/07 - 7:38 PM
Anonymous

Your questions come off as judgments. That's why I got angry. The capital letters are really for the viewing audience, all two of them, because I find a lot of frum Jews who spend a lot more money on what they perceive as frumkeit when a lot of it is unnecessary. This is going to sound sacriligious to you, but I check my own vegetables. I refuse to pay $2 for Chasidishe Shechita on my chickens (have bought Empire for years)--obviously not a half bad idea in light of the debacle we all just suffered through in Kashrus and I don't feel that the dangers regarding immorality and heresy are at all significant in cheap coed colleges. As I said, I know way too many people my age and current college age who are fine and stay extremely disciplined in their frumkeit all through their coed college ed. I know of absolutely no one who has gone off the derech or married beneath them frumwise due to college. I do know many who have gone off the derech in single sex high schools and then later in life as working, single, sad adults. Your kollel money idea is interesting, but it wouldn't cover the cost of tuitions in a large family. The yeshivos are struggling and they need more people to pay full or near full tuitions. Good try.


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62. clarification     2/12/07 - 7:39 PM
tb

previous post marked anonymous was me.


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63. veg and yeshivos     2/12/07 - 10:48 PM
M

Not strangely at all, since you don't know me, I think it's fine if you check your own vegetables if you know how to check them (many if not most people don't). That's recommended. I haven't heard a single rabbi say that it's better to buy pre-checked vegetables. On the contrary. I have been encouraged to check my own vegetables and have been told that the pre-checked (except for Israeli Katif) rely on leniencies and contain bugs. So perhaps you will concede that your assumptions are misplaced ...

As for shechita, if you have done the research (and I haven't) and have been convinced that what you buy meets your kashrus standards and is not a choice you make merely because of money, sounds fine to me. I can't say I understand what your decision has to do with the Monsey scandal though. To avoid that you would have to watch your chickens and meat being shechted and kasher them yourself.

Sounds a little strange, I will say, that you associate going off the derech with single sex schools. What are you saying? Ditto with the working singles - don't know what you're implying.

"Your kollel money idea is interesting, but it wouldn't cover the cost of tuitions in a large family."

What do you mean? The idea is that the collective money that is being used to support kollelim, by people writing checks to support them, be used for yeshivos and girls schools instead. That instead of a woman working to support her husband in kollel, that he work and support his wife and family. That they don't take a kollel check. That men generate money by working. That most parents/in-laws not to have expend money on supporting children in kollel and that this money be used for yeshivos (and a myriad of other worthy causes).


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64.     2/13/07 - 6:25 PM
tb

I don't associate single-sex schools with children off the derech. I am merely stating that the co ed environment at the college level does not cause Jews to leave the Derech. Most Jews who leave begin the process in High School due to school and family problems and some older singles do because they may be saddened by their state, moving in more secular circles for socializing purposes, and not anchored in family life, raising kids in Torah (by the way, note to any singles out there, this does not apply to most of you). Regarding your transferring the Kollel money, you are speaking in more global terms than I originally understood. So, how are you suggesting this revolutionary change occur? And how will these boys support their wives? Will they all be going to Touro? Who will pay for that? Do you think that the wink/wink correspondence degrees and quickie private, frum-owned training programs will be enough to prepare our boys to make enough of a parnasa to support a large B"H family long term? And, by the way, I keep mentioning the money because many Frum Jews are absolutely throwing it away on unnecessary expenses in the name of Frumkeit and that doesn't count the Vorts, the outrageously expensive Yom Tov clothes, the designer glasses, the Pesach vacations............I'm ignoring those examples of waste in our chareidi culture because I find them too repugnant to even comment upon.


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65. Onslaught it is     3/27/07 - 5:57 PM
M

You state: I am merely stating that the co ed environment at the college level does not cause Jews to leave the Derech. Most Jews who leave begin the process in High School due to school and family problems and some older singles do because they may be saddened by their state, moving in more secular circles for socializing purposes, and not anchored in family

If you think so, I won't be the one to change your mind. I'll just say that you are not acknowledging the fact-of-life that we are mushpa by our environment unless we are doing something to be mashpia on that environment. There is no neutral.

Countless frum Jews (i.e.shomer Shabbos, kashrus, tefillin) from good homes without problems have drifted away from Yiddishkeit in college, definitely more of a problem if they are living away from home.

If they are going part-time and are still in yeshiva or seminary, they have good armor to protect them but are still exposed to the lack of morals and modesty as well as relentless anti-Torah messages. Some of their professors are the ones exhibiting lack of morals and modesty and are teaching anti-Torah messages.

Someone who thinks he/she is impervious to this is precisely the one who should be cloistered in a Torah/frum environment. It is the young man or woman who is nervous about the assault on their Yiddishkeit and values who will take steps to protect him or herself from the onslaught.


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66. M     4/2/07 - 7:01 PM
yoni

M, I am going to college right now in a coed enviornment. Yes the girls do not necessarily wear the most tznius clothing, but i like any responsable male refrain from looking at them, at most I only notice them because I am looking for someone, otherwise I keep my nose in my book. I speak with girls daily, but do we mess around? no. The girls are there to earn a degree, not have fun, and ditto for me. Noone has the time to waste on a stupid fling.

within the confines of the majors departments at the local universities and at the local community colleges this is an iron clad rule. Many where I go are married, or about to be. Most are serious and going back to school, I am one of the few exceptions. The girls are not the worst distraction in the world, and actualy the enviornment is alot more emotionaly humane than yeshiva was. I understand the benifite of having boys and girls in seperate classes, believe me, and it is for more reasons than I think you even begin to understand, but one thing that I do not think you understand, being a woman, is that the enviornment in the mens yeshivos is cruel, ruthless, painfull, and exceedingly unsettling. Women balance that enviornment out, and I have seen that as a fact. The higher the ratio of men vs women the more distracting, painful and unsettling the classroom enviornment. When the children are in highschool, they are frequently so overwhelmed by the other sex that they cannot concentrate to begin with, but once they settle down a bit around 18 its no different than anything else.

Also the pritzus in the workplace is not nearly so bad, and this is comming from a major prude. You do not have office affairs every night, and you do not have tryists in the schools every other night.

Thats just the fact.


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67. to Yoni: frightening!     5/20/07 - 7:40 PM
M

It sounds very surprising that your mashpia felt it was in your best spiritual interests to go to college, co-ed college, despite the Rebbe's adamant opposition to it.

Interesting that you say nobody has time to waste on a stupid fling when co-ed colleges are where boys and girls have multiple flings. If you think teens settle down at 18 and have non-sexual relationships with women, in or out of college, that's most astonishing!

Seems quite an indictment, if not a chilul Hashem, to say that the co-ed college you attend has an "environment that is a lot more emotionally humane than yeshiva". You must have had a miserable yeshiva experience to call "the environment in the mens yeshivos cruel, ruthless, painfull, and exceedingly unsettling." A shame that you did not find a yeshiva where people are kind and friendly, for there are many yeshivos like that.

I wonder if your mashpia realizes that you don't think girls are the worst distraction in the world for a single fellow such as yourself (and even for married men), or a close second to the pursuit of money, and that you don't think pritzus in the workplace is that bad. Most there be office affairs every night in order for you to designate the workplace as bad?! As your spiritual mentor, I'd be more confident about your being in a co-ed environment if you expressed and felt much, much more awareness of the dangers instead of dismissing them.

I find your comment frightening and sad :(

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