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Inbox: Issue 1008

“If parents are investing so much in seminary tuition, why can’t they use the year to really prepare girls for marriage?”


In the Same Boat [Open Mic / Issue 1006]

I’d like to throw my two pence into the ring in response to the “Mancunian” who wrote the piece called “Time to Rethink Learning Abroad.” I sympathize with the writer struggling to meet the exorbitant costs of sending children to Eretz Yisrael to learn. I’m also doing the same balancing act, making a chasunah very soon, with another child about to start shidduchim, and a third child going to yeshivah, yes, also in Eretz Yisrael.

I think it’s important to differentiate between really strong bochurim and those who can’t sit all day, or don’t come from black-hat backgrounds. Yes, there are yeshivos emerging in the UK that cater to bochurim up until marriageable age, and sending them there would save parents a lot of money in fees and all the associated costs that go with yeshivah overseas.

But they cater to the black-hat, white-shirt clientele who want to continue learning as long as they can. None of them offer any extracurricular activities, and they discourage going to the gym, for example.

But boys who need a less intense yeshivah, like the ones that are equipped with gyms, feature a weekly oneg Shabbos, and offer monthly tiyulim, etc., will not find them in the UK. Should we give up on their learning altogether? The influence yeshivah has on these boys (yes, even these “less than” yeshivos!) is profound.

They absorb the message that they also have a cheilek in learning. They learn to be machshiv Torah, will often take upon themselves to be kovei’a itim laTorah, and become more aware of halachic issues that come up in their daily lives. This in turn has a positive effect on the type of households they will set up in the future, even if their commitment to learning isn’t permanent or full-time.

Bottom line, the impact of post-high school yeshivah learning, even for boys who aren’t necessarily the most committed, is inestimable, but there aren’t yeshivos for boys like these in the UK.

A Londoner in the same boat as you


We’ve Lost the Awe [Open Mic / Issue 1006]

I was greatly saddened by the piece called “Time to Rethink Learning Abroad” penned by “A Mancunian,” in which he questions whether the rising costs of living mean perhaps it’s time to deem learning in Eretz Yisrael “a luxury.”

We’ve been spoiled by the ease of air travel (yes, even with rising fare costs) and the way our world has shrunk. Trips to Eretz Yisrael have become commonplace — for family vacations, seminary, bar mitzvahs. We’re besieged with news updates, and for many of us, recent legislation and all of the discussion surrounding it has allowed our perception of Eretz Yisrael to become politicized.

We’ve forgotten that this is the land that Moshe Rabbeinu begged and pleaded to enter — and was denied. We’ve forgotten thousands of years of history in which our ancestors risked their lives to make the dangerous journey — by foot, by boat. We’ve lost sight of the iconic image of a Jew stepping off of a boat and falling to his knees to kiss the ground. We’ve forgotten what Eretz Yisrael should mean to us, individually and collectively.

I’m not here to weigh in on the decisions that individual families may take; I’m neither a rav nor a financial advisor. Every family needs to make this decision carefully, taking into account their financial situation, their child’s needs, their chinuch goals, etc. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. For some people, the right decision may in fact be to stay in chutz l’Aretz.

But please, just don’t call Eretz Yisrael a luxury.

Name Withheld


Close to Home [Just One More Day / Issue 1006]

It was with much interest that I read the tribute to Reb Binyomin Zev Lowy who was recently niftar in Mt. Kisco, New York. Reading about Holocaust survivors and a world that was is always gratifying, but this article was especially close to home for me.

My mother a”h grew up in Pressburg and her brother attended the Nitra Yeshivah. Her father, David Weisz, was an askan and baal chesed in the kehillah. In 1944, when the family relocated to Nitra, my grandfather took the yeshivah bochurim under his wing and was involved in the plan to hide the boys in the attic, which presumably included Mr. Lowy among them.

My mother always spoke about that fateful Erev Yom Kippur when her father urged the boys to flee ahead of the Nazi raid. Some did manage to escape and a few even survived the war. The Gestapo mob seized my grandfather and murdered him there and then outside the building.

Baruch Hashem, he was zocheh to kever Yisrael on that Shabbos Yom Kippur. The non-Jewish caretaker of the Nitra cemetery was passing by and wrapped his body in a tallis from the yeshivah before burying him in the beis olam.

May the zechus avos protect us, especially in these trying times.

Mrs. Dena Werner,

Lakewood, NJ

Weakening Convictions [As They Grow / Issue 1005]

I’m writing in response to Rabbi Greenwald’s insightful and empathetic response to the mother trying to figure out how she can host her married children for Yom Tov without displacing her older single daughters, who don’t want to move out of their rooms. I’m sure this column resonated with others as it did with me; there are no easy answers here.

I never thought I’d be the sort to even raise this dilemma — of course we need to be sensitive to the feelings of a single woman who may already be having a hard time over Yom Tov; of course her pain should take precedence over someone else’s convenience. I married young, but I have many close friends who didn’t, and when they shared their frustration with their single status over Yom Tov, I sympathized, offered a listening ear, and privately vowed to never be so thoughtless.

A number of years down the line, though, my conviction is wavering. I appreciate my mother-in-law’s sensitivity to her single daughters (21 and 24), and I share it… at least I think I do.

At the same time, though, it’s hard sharing a room with multiple children while I’m expecting. It’s hard needing to get fully dressed at 3 a.m. to go to the bathroom I share with three brothers-in-law, knowing that my sister-in-law’s room has an en suite bathroom. It’s hard to comfort a crying two-year-old at 2 a.m. while praying that he doesn’t wake up any of his siblings.

If we were all married, I know that we’d be juggling rooms based on need — who has the youngest baby, whose kids wake up at night. I also know that my sister-in-law’s single status does mean that we should be extra considerate toward her. I also know that it means so much to my in-laws to host all of us for Yom Tov.

I just don’t know how we can reconcile all of the above in the way that’s most fair to the most people.

Name Withheld


Bucking Trends [Double Take — The Best Policy / Issue 1001]

My letter is long overdue but I wanted to write about the seminary saga. I find the whole thing so upsetting. Why are we encouraging our girls to learn for another year abroad? Why are we encouraging our girls to go through this humiliating process of selling themselves short and reducing them to paper and facts just to get accepted to seminaries? Why is it good for young girls to be gallivanting across the world to learn, when chinuch begins at home? And what are we teaching our girls when we go into debt just to send them to Eretz Yisrael for another year of school because it’s the done thing?

Yes, there are some girls who would benefit from this year away, but how many parents are thinking about what’s good for their specific daughter and not just what’s the done thing?

And why are we spending a whole year learning more Chumash and Navi? Why aren’t we spending more time teaching girls how to realistically and economically run a home, especially if we are heavily encouraging them to support husbands in learning? How about some hashkafah and shalom bayis lessons? And I don’t mean a spontaneous lesson here or there....

If parents are investing so much in seminary tuition, why can’t they use the year to really prepare girls for marriage? It would be so beneficial for all couples if the girls learned economic lessons and financial smarts before they got married.

Personally, I’m a young married woman who never attended seminary, and believe it or not, my husband never learned in Eretz Yisrael.

The reason I’m introducing myself is to dispel the popular perception that girls need to go to seminary in Eretz Yisrael to gain valuable life lessons and independence, and because it’s good for shidduchim....

Contrary to popular belief, I believe that children benefit a lot from seeing themselves as individuals and doing what’s best for them, not for their shidduch résumés. My husband and I stayed close to home all our unmarried years and learned valuable, real-life lessons on how to run true erliche homes from our parents who were true role models.

Subsequently, we decided to buck the trend of living in the Tristate area and to settle in a small out-of-town community. Talk about independence.

I’m not saying no one should go to seminary. Some girls benefit. But why does everything that one person does have to become the done thing for everyone?

Someone who is so happy to live a life out of town where the norm is what’s good for you as an individual


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1008)

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