Thursday, January 11, 2007

One Size Fits All...

There is a notion out there that when it comes to “heimishe” education, one size fits all. That what supposedly worked in Europe in the 1800’s will work here in America in today’s day and age.

I have to admit it’s not easy for me to write about this as I am a graduate of this corrupt system, but here goes.

Let’s take the quintessential Yoli as my example.

Yoli is seventeen years old, he lives in Monroe, or Williamsburg, or Boro-Park, or Flatbush, you get the picture. He knows that he should be up and alert at 7:00am sitting in yeshiva with a gemora, the problem is, HE IS NOT INTERESTED!!

Nuchem is a 22 year old bucher, he lives in approximately the same place that Yoli does, he has finished the yeshiva circuit, has been three zmanim is Israel, and is now expected to firmly plant himself into a reputable kollel at least ‘till the shadchan can find him a girl that suits his parents. (I know this is a post in itself). Here is the problem; he has no interest in sitting and learning any longer. He understands that money is tight, and he wants to go get a job, after all a “balabatishe” wedding is far from cheap, and the Italian furniture that you “simply must get” costs more than what some people put down for a house…..

Avrumi is fourteen years old, he has been through elementary school, and now finds himself standing at the threshold of a reputable Yeshiva Kitana, the little talk his dad had with him the other night, not in unkind tones, still rings in his ears,, “I paid them $50,000 to accept you,, make sure you make me proud!” Avrumi desperately wants to make his parents and teachers proud, but is it his fault that letters just get jumbled in front off his eyes? His intelligence is very high, his athletic abilities superb, he is popular, and ehrlich, for some odd reason he just can’t read very well……

Shimon is a happily married young man, he is 19 years old, his wife is only a few months older then he is, and their daughter is 2 months old, he has got it all, or so he was told. As a bucher he was considered “the best” he had finished shaas, was good natured, got along with everybody, good looks, he was a “catch”. His wife was G.O., head of chesed, director of dance for the school production, head counselor, and Hebrew valedictorian, a perfect shidduch! So what has got Shimon so worried? His lovely wife decided that she would like to stay home with the new baby, but the rent and utilities need to be paid, and the wife really did want to go to Florida this winter. It was then that Shimon realized that his job qualifications were not that great, nor were the opportunities so readily available, what to do, what to do.....

What we have in today’s society, both chasidish and litvish, is a failing education system. Our students are not learning right from wrong, but rather mine is better than yours. Where minds should be stimulated to promote creative thinking, they are being chained by the incompetence of educators that were hired to their positions due to “connections” as apposed to qualifications.

I could go on, but I don’t think it’s necessary, I trust you got the point, what are your thoughts


At 12:34 PM, Blogger heimishinbrooklyn said...

So true, so true! It's really sad whats going on out there. Most bucherim don't have any skills or where I live, they hardly know English. The wife has one baby after another and cannot continue to work. The rent is skyhigh. It's a lose-lose situation here. But most girls won't take a boy that isn't full time in Yeshiva although he will be out of there the instant he's engaged. We're still scared what people will say...

At 8:11 PM, Blogger Shpitzle Shtrimpkind said...

The place the authorities get away with this crime, a problem that effects EVERYONE in our society much like you noted, is by drawing a line between EDUCATION and TORAH LEARNING. According to the popular belief Torah learning is so important, one should not give away a spare moment for anything else, let alone secular studies. When we can't even argue for change, because the rabbonim have the Torah and God on their side, things proceed to stay the same corrupt way.


At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what? The Satmar Rebber zt"l (Reb Yolish) did not allow people to sit in kollel and he was vehemently opposed to the whole "learning as an occupation" concept precisely because he foresaw what would happen. So guess what? This concept skipped a generation and we are reaping the rotten fruits of a messed up collective mentality. But, things are slowly changing because the ratio of nonlearners to learners is great diminishing to the point where nonlearners will overtake the learners. I just hope people will wake up before it's too late (read: before it hits in their home)

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Shtreimel said...

Now that you realized the ills how are you going to cure it (i.e. your kids)?

What does the not sitting in Kollel have to do with anything? What kind of an education does one get in YESHIVA? And once someone is married, school is feasible, but torturous.

At 7:03 PM, Blogger Independent Frum Thinker said...

As with all systems, there will be those who fall through the cracks. Overall, our system is working, and the cases you described, though true, are not the majority.
More attention must be paid to those slipping through, to help them and encourage them for their specific needs, but we should never change our time-hallowed beautiful Torah traditions.

At 11:38 PM, Blogger Chaim Chusid said...

Heimi In Brooklyn,

I totally agree.

Madame Pointe,

In through the nose, out through the mouth,,,, and repeat....

Iz All Good,

It's hitting home, what more are you waiting for?


Well, I can home school, but yes it is a serious issue, I have actually taught some courses to heimishe yingerlait it went pretty well,, but your 100% right, seems you and I have agreed wholeheartedly on something for a change!

Inde Thinker,

Are you thinking at all? Independently or not??

I wonder, if you were one of the cases that slipped through the cracks would you be so nonchalant about it? Would you still think the system works?

Changing our education methodology does not mean changing our hallowed traditions.

I do remain,

At 11:54 PM, Blogger Independent Frum Thinker said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:55 PM, Blogger Independent Frum Thinker said...

Since my point was misunderstood, allow me to clarify.
No system is perfect. Absolutely none. Therefore we can never judge a system based on its failures. Would you say that Democracy is a failed system since it tends to breed cronyism and the like? No. Why not? Because with all its faults it still appears to be the best system, and is working for the most part.
Anyone who uses the failures of our system to claim that that it isn’t working, simply isn’t being honest, isn’t thinking, or has an ulterior motive stemming from hating the system.
In my independent Frum thinking opinion, we do not need a major overhaul of a system that is working for the majority. All we need is some tweaking, and more importantly, an alternative framework for those who are slipping through the cracks to allow them to grow for what they can be.
If this was your intention, there exists no argument. If not, I can only state what I believe.
By the way, there is no need for personal attacks. I put my heart and soul into helping these failed cases that you mention. However, that does not lead me to believe that the entire system is broken.
I hope all is clarified.

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shtreimel, kollel has a lot to do with it. Because when kollel wasn't an option, the English department in the yeshiva education system was a whole lot better.

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Shpitzle Shtrimpkind said...

IFT - Several points:
First, you claim that things must not be judged by it's failures, by pointing out that other very great things have their problems too. While I do not argue that anything is perfect, the percentage of failures and the extent they go is not an important factor in evaluating success. MANY bochurim fall through the cracks, MANY spend their days without sipik and MANY have trouble earning a living with the limited secular education.

Second of all, if we do not need a major overhaul, how then do you suppose we fix this? Human beings are not meant to sit and learn yomim velayleh and if you ask that of them you're setting up a system full of cracks. I don't see why we have to squirm at the idea of introducing secular studies. Censorship included, ofcourse.

Third, I know you're a very kind person, but how do you help these boys? Do you try to coax them into learning? If not, do you change the system for them and allow them to choose a different path? And if you do, they you've just added another size to fit some. Couldn't we achieve that without putting these kids through the outcast process?

At 1:14 AM, Blogger Independent Frum Thinker said...

Shpitzle –
1 - You may be right that the numbers of failures are great, but I still fail to see the need for a major overhaul. I think some well-thought out tweaking would do the trick, in addition to establishing an alternative “safety net” for those that still slip through.
2 – Perhaps as you suggest. There are other ways too, but frankly I’m too tired to write a long reply.
3 – I help them in both of the ways you described, depending on how far the boy has “traveled”. I agree that working from within, before they become outcasts, is the ideal. That is actually what I refer to as tweaking the system.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Chaim Chusid said...

Inde Thinker,

Firstly nothing I write should be taken personally, I am simply voicing my opinions, but I will be more sensitive henceforth.

Democracy is not a perfect system, true, but it does allow anyone to do as they please within the normal realms of society.

Our chinuch system does not.

The very fact that you put your heart and soul into it, tells me that there is something wrong, no? I mean if all is good then why waste you efforts?

The system is far from perfect, the qualifications of Michanchim and the like are dismal, we DO need a total overhaul or our youth will suffer the consequences.

Iz all good,

Kollel is important for those that choose to graduate as dayunim and the like. An English high school education is important 'cause even the Sanhedrin spoke a buncha languages. College is important for the rest of us that want decent paying jobs and want to earn a decent honest living, or perhaps we’re just intellectually stimulated differently than the kollel guys.

Madame Pointe,


I remain,

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not denouncing the system of today, the factor that it is a issur to send to collage, is the reason why most frum yidden are low income, and this was decided by great torah leaders of the previous generation, that this will save yiddishkeit in its original form, other wise yiddishkeit in general wouldn't survive.

No system is fool proof, but its the best that can be done according to the society, and it seems to be working, with exception of individual cases, where the mechanchim rebbes and parants need to be smart enough t make a different decision based on the individuals facts and needs.

as for parnosa, Courses by UJO etc. do help some what, for yungerleit to get some training for a decent job.

The kolal yungelait who don't want to learn should go out to work, but keeping them in shul/kolal for a year or 2 is not a bad idea, for those young tzutziklech who are not ready to face the secular world with all the temptation, before they settle down, and start to understand what life is with all its responsibilities

At 12:15 AM, Blogger Chaim Chusid said...

N A C,

Yiddishkeit today requires all the more money than what was required years ago. What was tution then, and whats it like now? What was rent then and whats it like now? What were bills like then, and what are they like now?

Take a truly fine and ehrlich bucher that gets married and suddenly faces a pile of bills, he has no idea what to pay first, he gets a few credit cards they quickly max out, he now gets collection calls, where is his betuchin going? Where is his meciychas hanefesh going? Is his family suffering because he is in a desperate mind frame?

No I am not exagerating at all.

And please the young tzutziklach that are in kollel are driving cars that are way beyind their means, and the vacations they are going on are wild.

Whats left after all the chasunah money was spent on a new SUV, and they young couple went to Europe and Israel on a honeymoon?

You would also be surprised at the discipline that a proper college enviroment can provide.

I remain,

At 12:32 AM, Blogger Independent Frum Thinker said...

Why are you assuming that Kollel Yungerleit are living beyond their means? Most Kollel families that I know aren't. I'm sure there are plenty of College educated people spending wildly too. I don't think it's an issue of going to College. It's an issue of self-discipline.

At 2:20 AM, Blogger Lady-Light said...

Hey, what's wrong with Torah im Derech Eretz ? 'Derech Eretz' has several meanings, one important one being related to parnasa . Torah learning is great; and so is having a profession or a skill in order le-pharnes et hamishpacha . So, one can have one's cake (badatz of course) and eat it, too.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger yingerman said...

At the risk of sounding like a feminist basher, I honestly think the girls high school is at fault.
Hey I thought we were talking about the boys having the prob?
True, BUT
the girls get bombarded diaky with the mantra of marrying a talmid chucham, so here's the scenario, the girl gets engaged, and the number 1 question is (drumroll) which yeshiva is he in.
So no self respecting girl wants to get engaged to a (gasp) working boy.
So the boys drone through yeshiva cause if they dont they'll never (big word i know) get married.
Our whole thinking is screwed up.
then they hit the ground running no highschool or any education, just spent the last few years clutzing, no decent prospects for a good job, even though the new wife want a fur coat like all buddies.
some rabbanim have got to get together and impliment changes before we all have a government dependancy.

At 9:31 AM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Nice blog and very important issue you bring up. What's to do?

At 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, reading your post, reading Shtreimel, UOJ and numerous others, I have a question to all of you guys, (well, those of you who are still interested in frumkite.) I know that the Modern Orthodox system has its own flaws as well, but, by not emphasizing "Torah Li-Shma" as the only option (and maybe not even an option at all,) they at least solved those particular issues that you have mentioned. You want a profession, go to Touro or YU (which is even considerd to be one of the top 50 in the US.) You have a dyslectic child, then just send him or her to P'tah in NY or Sinai in NJ. And so on...
Also, not surpisingly, we in the MO world look at the "required" Italian furniture and reject any such requirement. One of our sunniest conversation subjects is the alleged ways people examine the girl's family (i.e. whether they scrap the dishes over the table, whether they use plastic table-cloth to cover the white table-cloth, whether the girl sits in the front car-seat [that last one is the best - there are stories about how the girl is supposed to drive the car sitting in the back seat] and so on.)
My only solution to you is "guys, get life" and adopt what is good in our system. You do not have to become MO if you don't want to, but you must admit that there are some things we do right.

At 5:49 PM, Blogger Chaim Chusid said...

Amous Mo,

Yes MO has its advantages over UO, but is it the right way? I mean how are we to decide what’s better?

A large part of my family is MO, and quite frankly I have always seen myself as one of them,, so I wear a shtraimel, the table conversation is not any different.

I eat what they eat; I enjoy the same conversational topics, etc.

I think it has to do with how you grow up.

One thing that I do find troublesome about UO that I don't find with MO, is the idea that UO is the one and only way to G-d,, you will be hard pressed to find a MO fellow that will say his way is the only way.

I remain,

At 3:54 PM, Blogger Hot Chani said...

and the Italian furniture that you “simply must get” costs more than what some people put down for a house…..
now days, china reproduces all of it for much less and no one can tell the difference

At 1:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yes MO has its advantages over UO, but is it the right way? I mean how are we to decide what’s better?"

Please, there is no need to decide what's better. I was not judgemental. All I said is that the UO should look at the MO and pick up what is working. The unfortunate part is that in order to do so in the OU world, you need the support of the Rabbis and let's be realistic, right now, being under the heavy attack of UOJ and others like him they are in the deffence.
The truth is that the best deffence is an attack, but not an attack on the internet and banning it but an action to improve the educational system, an action to resolve the very social ills that you have so eloquently described. Let's hope that they would do that, though, as it is now, I am doubtfull.

At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely the moisros amount to a huge part of the problem? I'm not playing down the importance of lack of job skills, but for someone with modest claims to belief, parnusse is bashert - it's just the outgoings that depend on us. Spend less and need less. In the older kehilles there were strictly enforced rules about what could be bought for a wedding etc, based on the taxes community members had to pay (not such a bad idea, eh?) that were based on declared income.
In a slightly different vein, perhaps the same gedoilin that are so panye brat with the Riboino shel Oilom as to be able to block so many different avenues of parnusse might find ways to stop people splashing out at every opportunity, and begin to live a normal life.

At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Mo and I learn in a sedar every day and go to minyan everyday. I agree that MO has its flaws but if you are true to the orthodox in MO then it might be the way for those boys who cant sit in yeshiva all day or are just not True UO. Yes we concentrate on college and gashmius but we have a very good track record in chesed. So if you are UO and it works for you stay UO if it doesnt try to be a true MO. Your family might be upset but they will realize it is better than the alternative.


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