Question of the Weekend: Sem and Marriage?

The question, asked innocently enough, was, do ultra orthodox girls choose their seminary because they think i’ll impact their shidduch chances?

“Goodness no,” I dismissed that narishkeit with a wave of my hand. “They choose based on where they think they’ll fit, socially and hashkafically.”

That, I think, is true. I don’t recall thinking about shidduch chances when choosing a seminary. I do recall thinking about shidduch chances when thinking about going to seminary at all. Not that it was really a question. Everyone knew that you’d never get married if you didn’t go to seminary. It meant you weren’t serious enough about your religion.

Don’t get me wrong – shidduchim wasn’t really the driving reason behind me going to seminary. Sure, the horror of staying in NYC, attending Bais Yaakov Intensive, and remaining unmarried at the age of 23 kept me awake at night (okay maybe not), but really I just wanted to run amok in Israel for a year without supervision.

No, no. Not that type of amok. I’ve never been very good at getting into trouble. Possibly I haven’t got enough imagination for it. For example, I’ve always wondered how girls get into trouble.

I mean, how do you find a boyfriend? Assuming you want a decent one, and not just any loser who happens to be looking for a girlfriend? And what about drugs?  Is there some sign to let you know which guy loitering on the street corner has stuff to sell? And there’s got to be more to it than just strolling over and asking if you can buy some marijuana. How do they know you’re for real? And then there’s the business of acquiring  cigarettes and false IDs that bewilders me.  I just don’t get this whole getting into trouble thing. It seems like a lot of trouble to go through.

But anyway, I’m a tad off topic. What I meant to say, several paragraphs ago, was that really we don’t think seminary will effect our shidduch chances. We’re not that obsessed yet. Of course, this is not to say that it hasn’t affected our shidduch chances…  But those are different issues.


104 thoughts on “Question of the Weekend: Sem and Marriage?

  1. First of all, it’s Grammar Nazi time: it’s affect. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    Second, from a guy’s perspective: it matters a little when I hear a girl went to such-and-such seminary. But I’m in YU, and the girls suggested to me are not from the Beis Yaakov range, and it might be different for a different kind of guy.

    Also, while I can’t speak for all guys, I can say with certainty that when I chose where to go post-high school, shidduchim wasn’t even close to being a consideration, at all.

    Finally, something completely off-topic that you’d enjoy: I was googling something that began with the words “is it ok to…”, and one of the suggested searches was “is it ok to wear black to a wedding.” Just goes to show how completely different our world sometimes is.

  2. I also completely agree with your tangent: it seems like such a hassle to get into trouble, and how would it work anyway?

  3. So the decision to go to seminary signals your interest in religion, which makes you an acceptable shidduch candidate. With that information, doesn’t the choice to go to seminary become somewhat meaningless? I mean, the really “off” (disaffected) girls won’t go, but the vapid and uninspired and shallow will still go, knowing that they need to do so order to get married someday. And given that fact, what does the decision to attend seminary actually say? Basically nothing, except that you weren’t totally OTD at the time you finished high school.

  4. I don’t think girl’s think about shidduchim when picking a seminary, but where they go does make an impact on me when i hear about them- certain seminaries wont even get a second glance, and certain ones make me more likely to say yes, based on the type of girls that tend to attend that seminary. It shows what the girl’s mindset was in the winter of 12th grade. Now, granted, i hope nobody is judging me based on my 12th grade year, but that was 6 years ago- for some of these girls, its only been 18 months or so. There are exceptions to every rule, obviously.

    And about getting in trouble, it’s not about knowing where to look. Trouble seems to find some people a lot easier than others. Finding a boyfriend/girlfriend who’s not a druggie/slut/lowlife/all of the above is more about luck than look.

  5. I find it hard to believe that girls don’t think about the effect their seminary will have on shidduchim and some guys clearly do that when they go to learn in Lakewood. If they don’t think about it, they should. Even though I know nothing about seminaries, besides for the ones my sisters went to, it plays some part in who I date. Not a big part, but for most guys it seems like it plays a pretty big part, so why shouldn’t the girls take that into consideration?

    As far as getting into trouble, I had the same questions and that’s pretty much why I stayed out of that kind of trouble. I guess all it takes is a “friend” who knows stuff and is willing to “help” you.

  6. In my class there were a couple of girls who i know for a fact went to their prospective seminaries based on shidduch reasons.

    it was funny at the time but now i realize how sad it i, and mind you, most of these girls aren’t married yet and we’re 3 years out of sem…

  7. Take a deep breath because I’m mad: (Forgive my spelling and grammar as I am ranting without double-checking)

    Seminary doesn’t mean nada! It’s become the popular, “IN” thing to do in the last few years because it’s ‘shtikky’. There. I said it. Nebach on the boys who have mothers who wouldn’t consider a girl based on seminary. Does learning more chumash and navi mean she’ll be a better mother to her children?! Don’t give me the BS about the “seminary” hashkafah, it’s all about wasting $24,000 of your papa’s hard earned money (yes, times are very tough these days) and having fun doing who-knows-what thousands of miles away without necessary supervision. Lofty hashkafah experience? My eye! This is the problem with our fake society and all the crap that comes along with it.

    Am I the only person out there who values TRUE ehrlichkeit rather than these lies that lead to marriage? This is not only about seminary, take the “learning” boy for example: 85% don’t have the zitsfleish or are simply not cut out for learning in kollel 24/7 yet there is an ‘accepted’ number of years he must do so in order to make a decent shidduch (less than 1 year of learning means the boys a bum. period. if a boy doesn’t know how to learn he’s automatically tossed aside). The mothers are running around telling other folks (shadchanim, friends etc) about what a HUGE learner their boychik is because she’s scared he won’t make a good shidduch if Yanke’la doesnt have the name-tag of a massive learner….then this guy gets married to a BY girl who’s been brainwashed by teachers her entire life about how IMPERATIVE a kollel lifestyle is. Yes, most of these teachers truly live the kollel lifestyle and are willing to really sacrifice to have a husband learn in kollel versus most of us who are not. That’s the simple truth. So the good girl, which most BY girls are (I don’t mean that sarcastically, there are far more good girls than there are good boys) gets engaged to this fellow who she thinks is thrilled to enter the kollel life and he, on the hand, feels just the opposite but is forced to learn because that’s how the shidduch was presented.

    Does this make sense to you? OUR PRIORITIES ARE SCREWED UP! What about the important stuff we should be looking for? Such as ’emes’diga character, bayn adom l’chavayro, aidelkeit, mentchlichkeit or has SEMINARY/KOLLEL become the determining factor?!

    “lo hamedrish ha’ikar ella ha’meisah”

    Our system is extremely flawed and off base. Many people end up having to suffer because of our FAKE society. We must put a stop to this before it gets even more out of hand.

    SAD. SAD. SAD.

  8. I totally agree with Fed Up. That is why I didn’t go to seminary here or in Israel. If a guy wouldn’t go out with me because I went to college instead of 13th grade, he wouldn’t be the right guy for me anyway.

    My friend ended up setting me up with a friend of her future chosson…and I was 22 when we got married over a decade ago.

  9. Fed Up -who here are you ranting against? I don’t think anyone here advocated, or even intimated approving of, anything close to the situation you’re presenting. Some people said seminary choice matters not a whit, and some said it matters just a little. That’s pretty much the gamut of opinion in this particular thread – nobody has said anything about the kollel lifestyle, or seminary being the one important factor in determining a girl’s (woman’s) character, or “massive learner” being the only determinanat of a guy’s. So are you attempting to converse with someone in particular, or saw an opportunity to plunk down your soapbox, so you took it?

    And clearly you are the only one “out there” who values TRUE ehrlichkeit, while you can’t even be bothered to watch your mouth.

  10. I am also baffled by how much trouble it is to get into trouble. I went through all of both high school and college secular, and I have never been offered drugs, at a party with drugs, and was only at 2 student-hosted parties with alcohol before I was 21. On the other hand, my boyfriend used cocaine during college, did tshuva from that just before his 20th birthday, and hasn’t touched anything stronger than grape juice or coffee since then, which made this year’s charoset less interesting.

    Finding a decent guy to date is easy, even off the internet, though it requires shy people to pretend not to be shy, and eventually pretending gets easier. Finding one you want to date is the hard part, but the world is filled with decent guys. On the Israeli TV show Srugim, the woman who went OTD met her chiloni boyfriend on the bus on her way to university, and he turned out to be a professor.

  11. male:

    My comment is my personal opinion of seminary. As you state: “some people said seminary choice matters not a whit, and some said it matters just a little.” I’m saying it doesn’t matter at all.

    Everybody in this thread has an opinion, why can’t I?

  12. Fed Up – You obviously can indeed have an opinion, but don’t you think your intimation that you are the “only” person who seems to care about what really matters might indicate that you think the others on this thread are not only wrong, but dead wrong? And you then go on to say what you seem to think is the reason you’re right and everyone else is wrong, and your whole second and third paragraphs – kollel, what we should be really be looking for, etc. – has nothing (or, at the very most, very little) to do with the discussion at hand; hence, my “soapbox” comment.

  13. Also, Fed Up – not to mention that you seem to think there is absolutely no value, ever, in even attending seminary – that it’s just because of shtick. As for that argument: I’m a guy, so I’ve never been and therefore can’t judge – now what makes you think that you can conclusively state that?

    What I can say, though, is that I gained more from my time in yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael than only the, let’s call it “quantifiable” gain of “improving in learning” (which remains, obviously, a key part of one’s time in yeshiva). I think simply being away from home, left “more on my own” to think a little bit more about things (hashkafah, dedication to Torah and Am Yisrael, my role, etc. etc.), was definitely a big part of my growth. Sometimes simply being somewhere out of your usual place can help that. Note that this is not to say the home is not a hashkafically fitting/appropriate place – simply that being away from home can help you come to realizations on your own, and those realizations can be (and usually are) very nicely compatible with the ideals that have been in the home all along. I don’t see why that experience is limited to boys – can’t girls improve in their yiras shamayim? Can’t girls think? Isn’t it – to a great extent – the mother that instills chashivus ha’Torah and yiras shamayim in her children? In which case, doesn’t it make make sense to allow girls the opportunity to develop a deeper appreciation for these things? Doesn’t allowing them to spend a year in a slightly more independent environment, focusing on hashkafah, middos, and actually sitting down and learning some Torah, contribute to this cause? Can I possibly ask more rhetorical questions? Should I stop now?

    Look, I’m not saying that all girls who go to seminary benefit like that. I’m just saying that it’s unfair to say that seminary is just a shtick.

    Yes, a lot of the positives that I’ve suggested can happen in a place a bit closer to home (read: cheaper), and, yes, if it simply doesn’t make a bit of financial sense, people would do well to reconsider. However, I very much think it is important to be far enough from home that you’re not going home every night, or every week. Also, there’s something about being in Eretz Yisrael…

    [Also: can someone who is, y’know, female, and actually been to seminary and felt like she gained from it, please let me know if I am close, or totally off base, with my assumptions of what there is to be gained from seminary?]

  14. Pingback: You Got Me « Bad for Shidduchim

  15. Male – Lets address your comment 13 first:

    “You obviously can indeed have an opinion”

    – why thanks for the permission! I’m glad we got that clarified.

    “but don’t you think your intimation that you are the “only” person who seems to care about what really matters might indicate that you think the others on this thread are not only wrong, but dead wrong?”

    – Whoa! Where do you come up with this stuff? Your vocab is ultra cool and all but where in my comment do I write that other commentators are wrong? You are purposefully taking my comment out of context and exaggerating. I know I’m not the only one who thinks of the system as such, I was only trying to bring across a point where I feel as if I were in the minority vs. the majority. Forgive me father for I have sinned.

    “And you then go on to say what you seem to think is the reason you’re right and everyone else is wrong, and your whole second and third paragraphs – kollel, what we should be really be looking for, etc. – has nothing (or, at the very most, very little) to do with the discussion at hand; hence, my “soapbox” comment.”

    – Again, I dont get what your problem is. You can interpret what I wrote any which way you wish but that doesn’t make it fact. Your aim is to attack my comment but all you can truly accuse me of is bluntness. I did not, never even once, knock anybody else’s comment on this thread. And hello! Are you punishing me for commenting on two similar topics? Are you hired to monitor this blog cuz last I checked that was Ms. Bad4’s job.

    I beg to differ with your next comment. Look, I’m a single girl and can tell you first hand that seminary is more hype than its cut out to be. Again, this is just my own individual opinion. What I find troublesome is when seminary becomes a serious issue, even a reason to say no to a shidduch! There are other far more important things to be considered, your young and naive to to be thinking otherwise. Also, you cant compare yeshiva to sem so dont even try. And since when does running away from home for a year help ones hashkafah?

    Yes, seminary is pretty much shtik albeit the 7% of the real serious girls who genuinely mean it and come out of it with a lot.

  16. Fed Up:

    where in my comment do I write that other commentators are wrong? You are purposefully taking my comment out of context and exaggerating. I know I’m not the only one…

    I did not, never even once, knock anybody else’s comment on this thread.

    Generally, saying “Am I the only one…?” means, you know, that you think you’re the only one. Just sayin’.

    What I find troublesome is when seminary becomes a serious issue, even a reason to say no to a shidduch! There are other far more important things to be considered, your young and naive to to be thinking otherwise.

    Excuse me, but when did I say I think otherwise? All I said was “it matters a little” to me. And how do you know how old I am?

    And since when does running away from home for a year help ones hashkafah?

    Yeah, because that was clearly what I was saying.

  17. We can keep going back and forth but what it all comes down to is a very strong difference of opinion. nothing more.

    thanks for the fun

  18. The premise that the seminary says something about the girls is based on how good the selection criteria for the seminary is. For instance, if a seminary is known to brainwash girls and turn them into yeshivish-automatons, they probably have a pretty good selection rate as to be able to pick out the girls who don’t/won’t think for themselves. If a seminary is known to have a mixture of girls haskafically, then the criteria for acceptance would be likely be based on intelligence.

    In every group of girls there are the anomalies, the ones who went to more average seminaries who were above average, and there are the girls who went to the frummer seminaries who didn’t live to those standards. The fact is that many seminaries are known to take-in and output certain specific models and if observing the results is an indicator, you can presume (assume?) that she follows that model. Of course you may want to look into her individually to make sure that you aren’t throwing away a gem of a girl, but there is also ‘gaavah’ involved in marrying from certain educational backgrounds.

  19. Fed up– why are you so angry? it’s interesting that you’re so concerned about people make snap judgments in our community, when here you are ranting on a public forum, judging the thousands and thousands of Jewish boys and girls who make the decision to go to yeshiva/sem post-h.s. how could you possibly know that *everyone* is going for superficial reasons– have you done a poll?

    when i was going to seminary 10 years ago, the most common reason that girls wanted to go (and in my high school it was not considered automatic– only about half the grade went to Israel) was “to grow”– and i know that at least some of us meant it. i did. and that was before I even went and it turned out that seminary absolutely and completely changed my way of thinking about Hashem and Yiddishkeit 180 degrees. and no, i’m not a flipped out girl from a modern background– i went to bais yaakov schools since 5 years old and i had never learned the very basics about how and why to love our way of life, what the real meaning of it all is, etc, etc, the way i did in seminary. i truly feel sorry for girls who had to miss out on that experience, because without seminary i would have been living a second-rate existence.

    i cant speak for boys in yeshiva, but the Chachamim seem to think learning Torah is pretty important, so I don’t feel i need to really add my endorsement.

    so you don’t think a woman *needs* these essential life lessons to be a good wife/mother? just think she’s there to change the kids diapers and not to impart a love and respect of Hashem and Torah to her family (let alone have the philosophy of why its so important and valuable that she’s working so hard to raise a family) ? then why even get married– just hire a nanny.

  20. Only about 5% of my high school class (graduating in 1999) who didn’t go to Israel for the year. I managed to get married anyway (though at the terribly old age of 25, which didn’t bother me in the least), and once I was past 23 or so, people mostly stopped asking me to justify my decision not to go. I hated being interrogated about not spending the year in seminary, as though this was an impossibly strange thing to have done. The honest answer was two-fold: I left high school after 11th grade for college (after taking many of my English subjects with the grade ahead of me, I’d run out) and was already in a different place in life than many of my age-peers, and none of the seminaries I looked at particularly interested me. There are programs now that might have appealed to me then, but they didn’t exist yet. I don’t think that either of these facts makes me less religious now than peers who spent the year in Israel a decade ago.

    As a larger rule, as MCP said, where someone went to seminary/yeshiva frequently says a lot about what they thought important when they were 17 or so. It says much less about them even a few years later.

  21. To add to what Fed Up and GilaB have to say, the decision to go to seminary also points to the fact that you or your parents had $20,000+ available to spend (or were willing to borrow it).

  22. You got it the wrong way around: it’s not you who finds trouble, it’s trouble that finds you (by way of falling in with wrong friends, etc.).

  23. A few comments:
    1) Why are we picking on girls about choosing to go to seminary so that they can get a shidduch? When I was dating 10 years ago, it was well known that many boys were sitting and learning because they felt they wouldn’t/couldn’t get a shidduch if they were “only” working. I doubt that the situation has changed much — how many tuimes have I heard that boys “have to” sit and learn for X number of years, at least through a few years of marriage, otherwise they will not have a torahdik house?
    2) They idea of some girls picking a seminary based on how it will affect their shidduch chances is also not new. When I went to the BY Convention in 12th grade, one principal from LA told a story about how a student (and that student’s parent) insisted that she had to go to a particular seminary or else she would never get a shidduch (the student, by the way, married the principal’s nephew, who had never heard of that well-known seminary).
    3) I had no idea seminary had gotten so expensive — when I went it was under $10,000, including a round-trip ticket on El-Al, and many of my friends (myself included) were paying any spending money from baby-sitting savings. In fact, I know of someone who said that it was [then] cheaper to send her daughter to Israel for the year than it was to pay for a year in high school.

  24. NYM – and when I went it was about $6,000 including airfare and expenses. When my daughter’s school recently sent home a list of seminaries, the cheapest was $17,500 and the most expensive was about $25,000. Not including airfare.

    When my neighbor told me her granddaughter was going to Michlalah, I casually said that I don’t have $20,000 lying around. She said “who does? She’s borrowing it [through a student loan program] and doesn’t have to pay it back for 4 years.”

    Seminary is great if you want to be a Limudai Kodesh teacher. If it’s mainly a sign that you are a good dating candidate, it’s awfully expensive.

  25. Reading your opinion/comment/post, FedUp, made me want to raise my hands to the heavens and say “AMEN, sista!”

    I have no idea what “growth” means, except a weird lump that shows up on side of the neck. If becoming a better person can only happen across the ocean on someone else’s tab, I doubt that’s “growth.” Parents work hard, and they should not be held hostage for the high expenses of current trends. And if one says that the girl worked hard and paid for seminary herself, I know of a few gals who wish they had that money now.

    Seminary and such, historically speaking, is a recent phenomenon. To say that our generation needs or requires it? No, not really.

    In the end, when someone reaches a certain age, they have to get real with how the world works, and learn how to function within it as a observant Jew. If girls straight out of high school went to work instead of seminary, maybe they wouldn’t be so keen on having a learning boy. Work can be hard, and satisfaction can be found in it (that goes for the males and females). However, a girl should not have to feel that she has to be the breadwinner. She should have options without being viewed as irreligious.

    Girls have come home after being in a strictly spiritual realm and forget things, like respecting their parents’ mesorah by questioning their religion. In the end, my parents are the ones responsible for my Yiddishkeit, not teachers who belittle them (I was in BY, and it has happened).

    Is Male going to hit me?

  26. I’m not one to do things b/c they’re normal or expected of me, I went to work straight out of High School and I’ve never been to Israel. Most of the girls I’ve dated went to seminary in America or not at all, none of them were less frum than a typical BY girl who did go to seminary in Israel. Money was definitely a big part of their decision. That said, if you do go to seminary, of course you’re going to be judged on which one you went to, just like if you go to college you’ll be judged on which one you go to. It’s not the most important thing, at least not to me, but it makes sense that if a girl goes to a party school, people are going to assume she’s a party girl, no?

  27. C’mon, Princess Lea, where’d you get that impression? I was upset more by Fed Up’s tone than her content.

    And I don’t disagree that girls don’t NEED to go to seminary; I never said “our generation needs or requires it.” I was merely pointing out that to say there’s no value in it at all, or even that there’s only very minimal value, is unfair. And I’ve already said that if it doesn’t make financial sense, it pays (get it?!?) to reconsider. And I agree with the whole learner thing – not everyone in the world can sit in kollel their whole lives, and not every woman should be expected to be the breadwinner. I have no arguments with that. (In fact, I myself plan on working, and not learning all day.)

    And if your seminary experience involved teachers belittling your parents, I’m sorry. That was certainly not my yeshiva experience – and, I would hope, not the expereince of most seminary attendees.

  28. Actually, money wasn’t part of my decision. I viewed graduation of high school = light at the end of the tunnel. I was tired of people attempting to tell me what to think, and what they said religion was. If anything, going to college taught me to think, to appreciate being a religious Jew all the more when others despise you for it (including professors).

    Let’s see here: some girls go to seminary to learn about religion to ensure shidduch chances. Doesn’t show much emunah, don’t you think? If one believes in the Eibishter, who makes all shidduchim, how can one say I must do this and this because it’s the current trend in order to get married? I choose to believe in Hashem. And I did not go to seminary.

  29. Hey, I’m not arguing with that – doing something simply because it’ll improve your shidduch chances, and not because you actually want to do it, isn’t the way to go about your life, no matter how you slice it.

    And, sorry: I interpreted your “…I was in BY, and it has happened” to mean you’ve had seminary teachers make fun of your parents, as that seemed to be the topic of discussion.

  30. Oops, male, comment #37 wasn’t meant for you. You must have posted yours while I was typing mine (which was in response to others’ opinions), and I hadn’t seen yours.

    So we’re all in agreement then. Kinda.

  31. I do not why everyone is being so negative about the seminary experience. I went to seminary in Israel and shidduchim had no part in my decision to go, nor was it a factor in any of my friends minds. Nor did I go (solely) for an extra year of hebrew classes. Instead I went for the experience of spending a year away from home, in an amazing country. Did I love EVERY second of it? No, but nor do I regret it. I grew a lot that year- not just in my hashkafas (I did not flip out or anything to the extreme) but in my maturity and my independence. And $20,000 may seem expensive but when you think of all that it covers- room and board, 3 meals a day, several trips that included hotel stays, classes, speeches and 30 college credits- I think its worth it. Had I stayed home I would have (or to be more honest- my parents would have) spent nearly as much paying solely for the 30 credits earned at Touro.

  32. I may have been a drop too flippant in my post. :-/
    I would say most high school grads who go to seminary do it sincerely believing that it will help them develop as people and become stronger in their religious observance. I’m sure a number even do. Personally, I had the same experience as Sarah – most of what made an impression on me was part of being independent, traveling, and meeting people from different backgrounds. That couldn’t have happened at home.

    It could have happened without paying a seminary. For example, Best4 would have been very happy to have me as a live-in nanny for the year. But what parent is going to let their baby girl run off to Israel to work for ten months, completely unsupervised? (Talk about bad for shidduchim![ Joking!]) Not mine, anyway. Most of the people I know who stayed on in Israel on their own did it simply by threatening to never come home after seminary. So they pay $20k for the illusion of someone looking after their darling, making sure she always has a place to sleep and food to eat and someone to tuck her in at night if she so chooses. And also spiritual classes to keep her on the right path. The truth is, most parents don’t have a heckuva lot of faith in the good judgment of their post-high-school daughters. (And I assume that if they had the option, they wouldn’t trust their sons either. But for some reason everyone is overprotective of a girl. It’s something I still run into as a bona fide grown up.)

    Whoa, that was a post in itself.

  33. I’ve got some news for you – parents can get overprotective of their post-high school sons as well. As long as I’m single, I’m helpless. I know you’ve written extensively about how it’s like that for girls (women), but it’s like that for some of us too, albeit most probably to a lesser extent.

  34. The key thing about the year in Israel is that it is a year in ISRAEL. Israel, or Eretz Yisrael to satisfy everyone, is the center of our tradition and is part and parcel to yiddishkeit. For me, spending a year in Israel was the opportunity to live, even for a short time, in the place that Hashem gave US.

  35. It sounds like all the people who are bashing the value of sem haven’t even gone to seminary. so how can you possibly know what goes on there for people who did go? presumably the “growth” spoken of is in terms of intellectual understandanding and internalizing into one’s middos (and Princess Lea, i challenge you to find a sem geared for girl who are going to “flip out” that doesn’t spend an inordinate amt of time of focusing on how to respectfully incorporate change in your lifestyle without dissing your parents), so I’m sure none of you posters who are so focused on the “internal” vs the superficial would presume to be able to measure the value of a girl’s sem experience just by observation. if so many girls who were actually there say it changed their life, why do you assume you know better? and for the record, my sem experiences were not all rosey- some were actually pretty difficult (to put it mildly), plus i went to sem both in Israel and in America, and grew from both experiences. (and for those who don’t know what growth means aside from the cancerous kind, i recommend reading the extensive psychological literature about internal growth; it’s not a quasi-religious new age psychobabble term.)

    Also Princess Lea, I’m sorry you felt that people in religious schools were telling you what to think. truthfully i got a lot of that myself, and thankfully in seminary it was the first time i learned WHY the Torah guides us to live our lives the way we do, not just people ordering me to do so out of blind faith. and i think it’s sad to have to learn to appreciate being Jewish by process of being discriminated against, e.g. by professors (and yes, I’ve gotten that, too); wouldn’t it be more valuable to learn about it from the positive angle of seeing the beauty in Judaism. cuz again, that’s something I only began to appreciate by taking time off to focus exclusively on my religious education. that was finally the first time i was doing it for ME so i was able to really internalize it. i’m not saying you can’t get all that without sem– you can choose to learn on your own, go to shiurim, etc (which i have to do now in the “real world”, but seminary is certainly geared almost exclusively to help you if that’s your goal

  36. Had I stayed home I would have (or to be more honest- my parents would have) spent nearly as much paying solely for the 30 credits earned at Touro.

    Yes – but Touro is an expensive college, not a great value for the money.

  37. The professors that discriminated against me were Jewish, so I would think of the sadness that they were so bitter against the positivity of Judaism. It wasn’t negative; I had a minister professor who went on a half hour soliloquy how Jews are awesome. I had to glue my jaw back on. Of course I appreciated being a Jew before college; I just was now able to see my position in the greater world, in how others’ view us, and on the importance of comporting yourself properly (like not shrieking on a cell in public, but that’s another rant).

    I knew how Torah and lifestyle fit together in high school; that’s why teachers couldn’t stand me, even though I was the good kid who never gave them any anguish. I had parents who explained things to me, the differences between halacha and chumra and narishkeit. I assume (perhaps wrongly?) that other people’s parents can provide the same service.

    In the end, whatever benefits of seminary may be, I just don’t think it’s right for parents to be in hock for it. They have had to pay a fortune in frum education as it is, and now more?(I’ve actually noticed a current trend amongst my more wealthy neighbors, for whom such tuition is not a problem, in that their daughters are not going to sem. Interesting).

    When one is 30, did the fact that they went to seminary really matter? Would they have been a different person? Or would they have arrived at that same point anyway?

  38. Princess Lea –

    I’ve had that pro-Jewish / pro-frum expereince from non-Jewish / non-frum (respectively) professors, and that’s always awesome to hear (granted, it was in YU, but still).

    And as far as your last question goes: while it’s a good one, I highly doubt that there’s really ever going to be a way for us to gauge that. Getting an answer in the affirmative is sometimes possible – for example, I’m pretty confident I wouldn’t be the person I am today without going to yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael between high school and YU – but not always, and it’s probably never possible to definitely conclude in the negative.

  39. Ah, but what if you had gone to a yeshiva in the States? Was the location the yeshiva the issue? Or was it the yeshiva itself?

  40. Going in the States would’ve made a difference, for sure. I’ve already said my piece about being away from home (commenr #14), and also I definitely gained an appreciation for Eretz Yisrael from actually being there for a couple of years instead of a couple of weeks.

    As for your last question, do you mean “yeshiva itself” as opposed to not going to yeshiva at all? Because if that’s the question, I will unequivocally state that it’s made a significant difference in my life.

  41. Pingback: Link: So Glad That’s Not My Mother « Bad for Shidduchim

  42. Of course you were going to yeshiva. If you had gone to an amazing yeshiva in the States (which would cost parents significantly less), I am sure you would have made the same progress as if you had been in Israel.

    As for learning to be on one’s own, in a community where marriage at 20 is the norm, having parents pay for a year of “independence” seems a bit much (especially since many married couples need parental financial assistance for quite some time). Independence means on one’s own tab.

  43. That’s not true. While granted there are the occasional students from wealthy families who go to israel with a 5 figure expense account and an apartment, and tuition is generally covered by parents, you will find that most spending money comes out of the students’ pockets.

    Either way, independence is not just about supporting yourself- it’s about spending a year or two without your mommy and daddy breathing down your back, telling you where to be and when. It’s about, to a certain extent, making your own decisions. It’s about learning to do the right thing when there isn’t really clear accountability to someone.

    People don’t spend a year abroad to show/grow in their financial independence.

  44. Parents who are concerned about where their children are not necessarily “breathing down your back.” I’m not talking about casual spending money. I’m talking about tuition, traveling expenses (for the yomim tovim students tend to come home for). That’s actual money. “Spending money” on pizza and such is nothing in comparison to that.

    Being independently minded is a separate entity then being on one’s own. One can possess their own opinions while still be subject to “It’s 10pm. Do you know where your children are?” Slavishly following society’s expectations without any thought is such an example, which occurs in 40 year old people who went to Israel.

    If one is living at home, one does not really learn how to do the right thing? I don’t mean that you’re chained to the couch! Get out and goof up. Learn from experience.

    Of course no one goes to Israel for financial independence! They go – if they are remotely honest about it like bad4 and my sister-in-law are – for a year off. If one did so, or for other more matrimonial reasons, then at least admit it instead of trying to justify it with terms like “independence.” It would be incredibly easy for me to spend someone else’s money on tuition and plane fare. Does that make me independent? It makes me a lottery winner.

  45. Princess Lea –

    My remarks in comment #14 aren’t about “learning to be on one’s own.” I’m not going to repeat them, but my arguments there still stand.

    And while you are correct that I could’ve been far from home – say, in a yeshiva on the West Coast (even if we make the unlikely assumption that any single yeshiva in the States would be both “an amazing yeshiva” and compatible to the person I was when I finished high school) – I would still opine that Eretz Yisrael itself can be a very important factor. It certainly was for me, which is why I’d still contend that I would not be the person I am today were it not for the exact yeshiva experience that I had.

  46. For some parents the only way to let their children goof up is when they don’t know about it. Why would you want to watch your child suffer through a mistake you could have prevented? Even though in the long run it may be better for him/her, parents don’t see that aspect, besides for the fact that there is no guarantee that goofing up will result in a positive outcome.

    When I went to Israel for yeshiva, I went to get a year off, away from my parents and all the rules and restrictions that living at home entailed, 100% I am not denying that. And you are correct- there is no reason my parents had to spend $20,000 for me to party for a year. The independent growth is not something that I, or presumably most 17 and 18 year olds, are aiming for during the year away. But that growth is what makes it worth it for my parents to shell out that kind of money.

    I can’t say that had I stayed home and gone to Yeshiva in America I would have been worse off, but since the year in Israel was successful, it appears that the money was worth it.

    Obviously, people have a tendency to justify their history, no matter who’s decision it was that caused said history to become a part of their life. Not having been to Israel, you can’t understand why Male and I feel it is worth it, and not having stayed home that year, we will never say that it was a waste.

  47. Again, my dear Male, that aspect of #55 was targeted toward MCP. Perhaps I should start being more specific in my responses. Regarding “being the person you are today” – I take it you mean in terms of spirituality. Granted, you could have been on a different level – maybe even higher – even if you had not gone to Israel.

    MCP: That’s a new parenting method. In terms of “suffering” – what was so horrible that you could have done on your own that warranted that sort of torturous emotion? What DID you do in Israel? Did you find that elusive “trouble” that bad4 mentioned. I would suggest that the strong parent stays present during their kids’ goof ups to provide the support needed.

    Is that what your parents say? That the money was for your growth? As they paid for it, I’m curious as to what their view is.

    If my folks have 25 grand available, I’d rather have a down payment for a house.

  48. Princess Lea: Do you ever regret not going to seminary in Israel? If money wasn’t an option, having been through whatever you’ve experienced since High School, would you make the same choice again regarding seminary?

    I didn’t go to yeshiva in Israel for two reasons; I had enough of school and I was anxious to start working and making my own money and I thought that guys learning in Israel were really sitting and learning all day, every day. Now that years have passed, I see that my friends and relatives who did learn in Israel at their parents expense are not much worse off than me financially (some of them are better off b/c their parents still pay for e/t they need). I also realized that many of them just partied for a year or more (some did occasionally learn). I sometimes wish I had gone and taken a years vacation, even if I would have had to sit through a shiur most days, with someone else paying my bills. Also, being from OOT, I wish I had taken advantage of that opportunity, for the sake of making new friends, there’s really not many ppl here I want to be friends with.

  49. Sorry, Princess Lea, didn’t realize. Also, I’m not sure what you mean by “Granted, you could have been on a different level – maybe even higher – even if you had not gone to Israel.”

  50. Princess- While not every goof up is huge, it does happen occasionally that these goof ups cause suffering. Take, for example, my friend who died last year of an overdose. If by goof up you mean chas vishalom my daughter wants to talk to my neighbors son, then im with you (not that i consider that a goof up) that the parents should be there to support their child. Doing drugs is not a minor goof up that can be tallied as “oh it was a learning experience so it was ok”

    Personally, i never did any sort of drugs, but still had my parents known what i was up to in Israel there is not a snowball’s chance in hell that they would have let me go. My parents sent me because they thought that a) it would be a valuable experience (it was) b) i was going to learn (i did get a nice amount of learning done in between partying) and c) they knew it would make me happy, and had they not sent me, there would have been massive resentment issues. But yes, i did find some of that “trouble” that Bad4 mentioned (no boyfriends tho ;))and i regret most of it now. In the end, the overall experience was good for me, so i have no right to complain, and looking back, i think it was very worth the money my parents spent. I could have made better usage of my time there though….too bad.

  51. MCP, sorry to say it, but you’re really not putting the best argument forward for sending girls to Israel for a year.

  52. MCP – I’ve just developed a tic.

    I’m not exactly sure what your reasoning is. And I did not mean talking with the neighbor’s daughter. I was talking about something serious – like a youngster ODing. I would think parents would want to be around for that.

    Money was not the issue. My parents could have sent me – except they don’t believe in it. My sister didn’t go – supposedly because the Gulf War broke out – but my mother says she wouldn’t have let her go anyway. My brothers did not go to Israel for the year. To my folks, if something doesn’t make sense to them, they don’t do it – even if there is money to spare.

    Male – I’m sorry, I didn’t express myself properly. It’s just that I like to think that bechira to become a more spritual person is not dependant on location or finances. My grandfather said that if one wants to go to Israel, they go there to live (his brother did and lived the hard life without support). In the end, if one becomes greater, it should not be because of the yeshiva or location. It should be a choice, and acting upon that choice.

  53. Obviously anything someone accomplishes is based on bechira. All I’m saying is it’s quite possible that going to Eretz Yisrael for yeshiva is something that nudged me (and others) on the way to making more of the right choices that otherwise I might not have made.

  54. Goodness, bad4, you really hit a nerve with this one, judging by the comments. And as someone who went to seminary in Israel, I have to say the picture an outsider would get from reading all those comments has nothing to do with what the experience is actually like for most people. Yes, it’s expensive- scholarships are available, by the way- but its NOT just an excuse to let teens run wild for a year before getting hit with the responsibilities of college. I’m not just talking about the serious seminaries where everyone knows the girls are really learning something- even the more lightweight ones have an effect on their students.

    I remember talking to one girl near the end of her year in sem, I knew her pretty well and I know she’d spent quite a lot of her time at Ben Yehuda- but she said something along the lines of how she was surprised, but this was the first time she was really able to take spirituality seriously. That she would even consider living in Israel, something that had never occurred to her before as a real option. Some of her teachers had really impressed her and it made her think about her Judaism in a new light. I know so many other people that their year in sem made a big difference for. It definitely made a big difference for me.

    It’s not just the independence, but the other girls you meet (maybe even from other seminaries, not just yours) the teachers, the classes, and the learning you do on your own. Even the people you meet on buses and the people who take you in for shabbos- the hachnasat orchim people show you as a seminary girl is a lesson in itself. I could really go on but I won’t now. I do recognize it isn’t for everyone, but for a lot of people its transformative whether subtly or in the famous “flipping out” way. I just wanted to stick up for the sem experience. and I am sorry for the people who did try it and for whom it didn’t work out, that’s really too bad.

    That said, I think exactly when people only consider superficial factors like some vague prospect of “shidduchim” that’s when it all goes wrong. If someone goes to a seminary that isn’t what they need bc they want to go somewhere with a better reputation, they really can’t claim to be surprised if they have a terrible experience.

  55. Princess Lea, I think the Michtav Me’Eliyahu talks about the idea that if a person makes one choice, e.g. going to Yeshiva, that subsequently makes future spiritual choices “easier”, they still get all the credit for that initial act of bechira. In other words, if someone makes the decision to take time off to work on learning and growing spiritually, that is the bechira itself that will ultimately contribute to their development. From what you said, it sounds like you weren’t socialized to believing in the value of goint to learn in Israel, which is fine, but no reason to doubt all the other people who may have very good reasons to believe in it, right?

  56. There’s an aspect here that I think no one has really talked about yet and that’s related to bad4’s original point- is the seminary a good indicator of the person you are now. I think the answer is definitely yes, but not directly. It’s already been mentioned that the seminary someone picked shows more about what the girl thought about herself at age 17 than how she is today at age 23 or 35 or 60, but on the other hand, every choice we make helps shape us and ready us for the next step, our next choice. Where I went to high school shows my (and my parents’) state of mind when I was 13, judging me now based on who I was at 13 would be silly. But where I went to high school definitely affected what type of seminary I chose and the seminary I chose definitely contributed to me choosing to stay in Israel and going to college here, which led me to meeting my husband, and finding my job, and making me into the person I am today. If i hadn’t gone to seminary I would almost definitely be a very different person today. Better, worse, who knows? How can we judge that sort of thing? But yes, seminary, like every other choice we make at any age, affects the person we turn out to be. To argue that you can be the “same” if you don’t go to seminary is ridiculous. This does not mean you “need” to go to seminary, maybe the choice not to go started you on the path that turned you into the wonderful person you are today, but you have to give some credit to the person that did go, that seminary contributed to making her who she is today.

  57. When Tehila mentions the families who take you in for Shabbos, I recall a post on Orthonomics a while ago. It’s actually a hardship for many of these families to take in girls who are not needy themselves – given the fact that their families can afford seminary, I’d say they’re not needy.

    Kind of disturbing that these expensive seminaries don’t provide Shabbos meals and atmosphere.

  58. I didn’t even know they don’t feed you on Shabbos. Brrrrr.

    “Growing” is very difficult. In the end, going to a school and learning does not compare to doing. The OU motivational speaker Charlie Harari talks of becoming great in terms of killing oneself, twisting the kishkos to DO the right thing, in active work that will bring one to greater heights, in forgiving others, in holding back loshon hara, in respecting parents as they should be honored (no matter what their flaws, “opressive” or otherwise).

    We’ve all seen the graduates from Israel who don’t quite qualify – the ones truly reformed for the better are a handful. Those few, in the end, do not justify and entire system.

  59. Princess Lea, you really think that only a handful of girls actually benefit from seminary in Eretz Yisrael?

    Granted, you and I might move in different circles, and I don’t know too many girls, but that’s not the impression I’ve gotten…

  60. I don’t know about drugs but regarding boyfriends, it’s really easy to get one. All you have to do is decide you want to. There are men everywhere who will be more than willing to strike up a conversation with you if you seem receptive.

    Which reminds me of when I was in seminary, how I’d often meet guys, nice yeshiva guys some of them even, and I’d give them the dirtiest brushoffs as if they were rapist. They’re likely married now of course (maybe even twice…)

  61. Seminary is ridiculous unless you are planning to live in Israel anyway. In which case it might be a safe segue from which to check future options out… although university would be infinitely better.

    Otherwise I can think of no positive benefit from seminary. None whatsoever.

    1. Learning? I don’t know that the level of learning is so high as they make it sound.
    2. Fun? So go to summer camp.
    3. Learning to be independent? Not at a beis yacov school.
    4. Exposure to Israel? Not superior to birthright.
    5. Learning hebrew? most seminaries are in an american cocoon.

    Seminary exists to promote the system. Which is why its good for shidduchim, if you want to marry w/in the system.

  62. Seriously, kisarita?

    1. But some people who’ve experienced it do (claim to) know. And you yourself admit you don’t even know.
    2. Doesn’t need to be addressed, as I doubt that’s anybody’s prime reason to go. At least, it shouldn’t be.
    3. I think Bad4 would disagree (that is, if she went to a BY place; I don’t know). Also, condemning seminary in general because of BY places? That’s not very nice.
    4. Birthright trips are how long – two weeks, a month? And how “frum” are they? And how much learning do they have? Puh-lease.
    5. If you (a) want to learn Hebrew, (b) are in Israel and (c) are willing to make even a little effort, it’s easy – just talk to any Israeli you meet in Hebrew (even if you’re spending most of your time in an American cocoon, you get out enough to meet some Israelis). That’s how I did it.

    And even if my responses were all invalid, your reasons don’t work b’tzeiruf. You can’t get all of those things in any one place besides seminary in Israel, even if you can take care of one or the other by going on Birthright, or taking an ulpan, or going to the seminary around the corner from your house.

  63. It seems like people who didn’t go to sem are trying to justify their decision by bashing the whole sem system (and i’m sure you’d counter by saying people who went are trying to justify the money spent- still, they obviously know more about it than you do!). sure, it’s your choice whether or not to go, but you can’t make such broad judgments without in-depth analyses, studying a variety of seminaries/yeshivas, polling kids and their parents before and after, etc. Making flippant remarks about the supposed percentage of people who benefit just based on defensive suppositions without doing any kind of research is silly and disturbing. plus, how is actually getting up to leave your comfortable home to tough it out in Israel in order to learn more about your heritage and religion for a year LESS “doing” than the alternatives mentioned above? Those who are doing the bashing would do well to speak to people who actually went to sem before making broad statements based on ignorance of what actually goes on there. Just as you do not want people to judge you for not going to Israel, please don’t judge the thousands and thousands of Jews, who you never met and could never know what they gained, who did make the decision and commitment to learn Torah for a year in Israel. No matter what you come up with in opposition, to argue AGAINST learning Torah for a period of time ANYWHERE, let alone in our holy land, seems antithetical to our way of life.

  64. Of course, I’m so isolated I never came across other girls who went to seminary (eye roll). Some have spoken of the waste, of the frustration that they could have finished school before marriage and children if they had not gone.

    Do you know what sitting and learning used to involve not so long ago? Boys (as girls didn’t do such things) would sit in freezing rooms, no food, sleeping on benches, walking hours in the wet and cold to get to their destinations, without a dry pair of socks. You don’t want to know what the bathroom was like. If sleeping in comfortable dorms (yes, I will say comfortable, considering the alternative)is toughing it out, don’t make me laugh. We’ve also heard enough about partying and “recreational” activities to remove any other hardship aspect.

    If someone goes to learn Torah with true mesiras nefesh, not on the significant dime of others, not requiring another country to do so, and truly with their nose to the grindstone, then I would not object to such learning.

  65. Princess Lea, I don’t see your point. If that’s your baseline of judgement here, then no boys should be going to yeshivas either because we have it considerably more comfortable than back in the day, and our parents are paying for it to boot. And who said anything about considering what we do nowadays to be “toughing it out?”

    And once again, we’ve explained the possible benefits of being in Eretz Yisrael numerous times. Just because you don’t get it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. I hear your point about the money, but please stop trying to trivialize what you don’t understand.

  66. “If someone goes to learn Torah with true mesiras nefesh, not on the significant dime of others, not requiring another country to do so, and truly with their nose to the grindstone, then I would not object to such learning.

    Princess Leah, “Not requiring another country to do so?” I am sorry but I beg to differ. We are not talking about just another country. We are talking about Eretz Yisrael.

  67. Mea culpa, Princess Lea – I see that former semgirl indeed used the language of “tough it out.” But the rest of my comment still stands, aside from that one sentence.

  68. I really hope that nothing I write is taken the wrong way but I think it has to be said.
    Anyone who has not gone to yeshiva/seminary for the year in Israel cannot possibly know what it is like. It is the combination of everything mentioned before: the learning, the freedom, the environment, the being in Israel. If you remove any of those aspects it is no longer the same as the Israel experience. For example, a neighbor (in his mid-40s) of mine never understood my love for eretz yisrael. Last summer he went for the first time and the moment he came back he told me how wrong he was, and this was just a 2 week vacation.
    I come from a more modern background where most people were not so religious, but after a year in Israel many of those people became very religious. Had they gone straight from high school to their respective secular colleges there is no way they would be as religious as they are now. In fact many of them did not end up going to the college they got into after high school.
    On the flip side you do hear a few stories about people who did bad things in Israel, but these people were the minority. And guess what, if they did it in Israel they would have done it in college also, so it is not being in Israel that changed them.
    As far of as the large costs of the experience, I think it is worth $20,000 for a larger portion in olam haba. I am in no way saying that going to Israel gives you a larger portion in olam haba (unless you follow the Ramban who says that all mitzvot out of Israel are just for practice, in which case that is what I would be saying…) but I am saying that for many people it makes them more religious.
    Of course as the years pass after going to yeshiva/seminary the impact of yeshiva/seminary becomes less. As time passes other experiences you have change you. Therefore, the level of religiousness you are at 19 is completely different from you religiousness at 25. This is because a change in environment effects your personality, so after going to college you may still be just as religious as when you got back from Israel but it will be a different type of religious.
    As far as the difference between being in Israel and being in America for the year after high school this also makes a huge difference. If you are in Israel you are constantly surrounded by the rabbis and the yeshiva and the Jewishness of Israel.

  69. But when you are in America you will go home for shabbat and for the Yom Tovim. By doing this you loss the whole atmosphere of yeshiva/seminary.

    I hope nothing I said was taken negatively.

  70. As far of as the large costs of the experience, I think it is worth $20,000 for a larger portion in olam haba.

    Azriel, did you pay with your own money? If so, kol hakavod. If you think it is worth $20,000 of a family’s savings (possibly resulting in hardship for younger children or the parents’ retirement), I heartily disagree with you. It’s easy to say something is worth it if you are not working hard to pay for it yourself.

  71. Well, being told that I am a different form of religious than seminary kids wasn’t exactly meant as a compliment, was it?

    Being familiar with the Rambam, the epitome of rationality, logic, and choice, I doubt he would back you up on that point.

    I have been to Eretz Yisroel. I adore it. I love it. There’s only one Israel. It not just another country, that is not what I was saying, as I am frustratingly finding that my words are being misconstrued, repeatedly.

    Quality vs. quantity. The age of discipline in the past is, for the most part, blown to the winds, but that discipline is what made Torah learning what it was – special, for how it was pursued in early mornings (I mean pre-dawn), in discomfort, in blue fingers, with no wife and no home (R’ Akiva is but one example). That sacrifice showed the highest level of commitment. How many would be willing to do that today, and so what sort of quality is that “full-time” learning, when ben hazmanim = fun? How many stay with the sefer on their “time off”? Go to the early minyan? My mother kicked my brothers out of bed – “I didn’t invent the rooster.” Discipline is what is lacking.

    If children were in college at home, at least they have parents nearby to get a hold of the situation. If one goes to to seminary and has family in Israel who truly, deeply, care about them, who can guide them back if they veer, that’s one thing. But others end up in the ditch.

    I know others who have been seminary, so, well, yeah, I may not “get it,” I have not accused anyone else here of not being “it-getters” – unless I’m given something more concrete than a “she don’t get it,” I’m not likely to change my view anytime soon.

  72. But others end up in the ditch.

    I think this is our main point of dispute – you seem to think that only a handful benefit. Most of us would argue with that.

    unless I’m given something more concrete than a “she don’t get it,” I’m not likely to change my view anytime soon.

    We’ve tried explaining it. Plenty of times. I’m not asking you to change your view to mine; I’m asking you to change your view from “it’s mostly pointless” to “you know what, I don’t really get what you guys are talking about, and my limited experience and acquaintances aren’t enough to pass judgement, so maybe I’ll just be an agnostic about it.” Because, yeah, “she don’t get it” clearly still applies here.

  73. I agree with the person who commented on how the experience brings you a greater appreciation for Israel. My seminary year was not my first time in Israel but it was not until seminary that I really began to love the country and WANTED to return.
    For everyone harping on the expense- do you ever consider that some parents are HAPPY to pay the $20,000? Parents, after all, love their children and want to do what’s best for them. Therefore, Tesyaa, I do not see why it matters if Azriel paid for the experience out of pocket or not. Most parents would jump at the chance to ensure their children a larger portion in olam haba. And yes, even if most people do not “flip out”, there is usually some level of religious growth. Spending most of your day in class learning religious subjects, being surrounded with influential people and just being in ISRAEL will do that.
    As I said before, for a Bais Yaakov family from Flatbush who would not dream of sending their child to a secular college (for religious, and yes- even shidduchim purposes), it is not really as great of an expense as it sounds, taking into account the college credits for Touro.I even know people who went to Brooklyn College and had come of their credits transfer over.
    All in all, I think it is worth it. There experiences, the country, the classes- there is something for everyone. Majority of my grade went to seminary (and most are not so well off that the expense didn’t have a factor in their decision- but their parents thought it was worth it)and so did all of my friends from camp, and friends and relatives both older and younger than me. I have yet to hear someone, or their parents, say that they regret it.

  74. Most parents would jump at the chance to ensure their children a larger portion in olam haba.

    Sarah, spending $20,000+ is not a magic bullet for olam haba for a child. Using the word “ensure” is ridiculous. Who knows what will increase one’s chances for olam haba? Maybe staying in New York and spending the year working in a soup kitchen would do more to enhance a girl’s olam haba than a year in seminary, even if less Torah was learned in that year.

    And it makes a big difference if a child pays his or her own way or at least contributes significantly to the cost. You surely appreciate something more if you worked hard to buy it yourself than if someone else bought it for you.

    To take a totally silly example, a girl who is showered with luxuries might not appreciate another Coach handbag, while a hard-working businesswoman who built up her career from nothing would take very good care of the leather briefcase that she saved for and bought with her earnings.

  75. tesyaa, you’re right about the olam habba comment, but that’s a nitpick. As for the rest of your comment, I’m not sure where you’re going with that – Sarah’s point is that most families, in her opinion, think the benefit worth the expense. You claim things in general are valued more if you yourself pay for them – so what?

  76. Speaking of nitpicking . . .

    I would tie in Tesyaa’s comment to mine about discipline – and quality. Working to be able to learn and learning with support are two different animals.

    Male – I don’t have very high expectations about converting anyone here. That’s not my agenda. But quite a few comments in response to mine begin with “she’s not an it-getter.” I’m not going to seminary just so I can respond accordingly.

    Enough people, kids and parents, are driven to go or send their children away for that year for less than noble intentions, mostly spawned by peer pressure. The ones in the ditch tend to be victims of such a fear of exclusion. I’d like to see more bitachon out there – and rabbeim and morahs thinking it’s okay if their students don’t go (my principal turned purple).

  77. Okay, so maybe “ensure” isn’t the right word- but you got what I meant. And while I don’t disagree about the whole- if you pay for it more, you’ll appreciate it more” point- I just don’t see where it fits in. Are you admitting that seminary IS a good experience- one that would be even MORE enjoyable, beneficial etc. if one would be able to pay for it without the aid of their parents? Because that is all true. It, however, does not prove why the seminary experience is pointless. And I would think that if one was offered a fully paid (by their parents or whomever) year in seminary they would grab it, even if technically the experience would be sweeter if they paid for it themselves.

  78. I don’t have very high expectations about converting anyone here. That’s not my agenda. But quite a few comments in response to mine begin with “she’s not an it-getter.” I’m not going to seminary just so I can respond accordingly.

    I’m not talking about you trying to convert anyone. I’m talking about you not dismissing the value of seminary (and, for that matter, yeshiva) in Eretz Yisrael based on a lack of a notion of its value. That’s why we are responding to you by telling you you’re not an “it-getter” – you’re the one dismissing something we find valuable, not vice versa. I’m not trying to convert you into a believer-in-the-value-of-going-to-seminary-in-Israel (once we’re doing hyphenated phrases, might as well have some fun, right?), just trying to tell you that without understanding something, you can’t dismiss the value of it. If you’ve never learned to appreciate a nice dry wine, you can’t dismiss it as bad because you can’t imagine liking it yourself (not a 100% accurate mashal, I’ll admit, but it gets the point across).

  79. K i have missed waaaay too much to really get back in the thick of things, but sof kol sof, its good for some, its bad for others, but the positives outweigh the negatives. princess- you made a choice not to go, thats fine, but there is no denying the growth that others have come back with. Its not 100% foolproof, and under certain circumstances its even a bad idea, but for all those who are saying it is a complete waste of money, thats not remotely true. Yes it is exorbitantly priced, both seminary and yeshiva, but don’t bash it till youve tried it. And even if you went and hated it, guess what, you are the exception.

  80. Have to agree with Male 10:34 am – I learned Hebrew by going to Israelis for Shabbos and by speaking to them on the street. You *can* stay in an American cocoon, but you don’t *have* to. Independence? I suppose so. It’s really not that hard to learn – just 24/7 responsibility for yourself. By taking long trips I guess we learned that.

  81. I’m no oenophile, in any case – wine in any shape or form makes me gag.

    Positives outweigh the negatives? That is a matter of opinion, along with this long debate. Be leery of terms such as “true” and such – truth and falsehood are not a matter of opinion, whilst good and bad are.

    In any case, “bashing until I’ve tried it” can go the other way – I don’t have to do/try something just to know it’s not good. I have attempted to prove my position, finding my major points ignored while side points are addressed. That does not put forward a successful debate.

    I am not conceding defeat – but in the spirit of Tisha B’Av, the “non it-getter” shall wave the white flag, and propose a cessation of hostilities, as continuing this battle is fruitless. I withdraw, with no intentions of immediate return to the field.

    An easy fast, all.

  82. Lea, I hate to LOL on Tisha B’av, but on Sunday I was mildly chastised when I wished someone an “easy fast”. He said that his daughters taught him to say “have a meaningful fast” instead, an expression they learned IN SEMINARY and brought home to him. So clearly you did not learn the proper Tisha B’av expression because you did not go to seminary!

  83. In any case, “bashing until I’ve tried it” can go the other way – I don’t have to do/try something just to know it’s not good. I have attempted to prove my position, finding my major points ignored while side points are addressed. That does not put forward a successful debate.

    Because I am petty (and bored at work), I will attempt to get the last word. I’m not sure why you say you don’t have to try something to know it’s not good. I’m not telling you to drop everything and go to seminary in Israel, but I am saying that you don’t have the right to bash it until you’ve tried it.

    I’m also not sure which of your major points were ignored. And isn’t the pot calling the kettle black? I have yet to see any real response to my (ahem, ahem) impassioned defense of seminary in comment #14 aside from “meh, I don’t see it, and I know a few people who said it was a waste for them.”

  84. Male – even if seminary is not “no good”, it’s disingenuous to claim it’s a necessity, which many commenters here are basically claiming. I love all the comments saying “parents love their kids and want to do what’s best for them and of course they’re happy to spend $20K.” How many of those commenters have children of their own? I love my children; I know some things are good for them; I know some things AREN’t good for them; I know some things MIGHT BE good for them but are not necessities; and I don’t think a $20K year of seminary is a necessity.

    Even some things that are good for my children, I might not give them even if I could afford it, if I thought they weren’t ready for it or wouldn’t appreciate it enough. Let’s not forget that some parents might think that seminary is not the best choice for their family (because of finances, or because the kid is not ready), but feel pressured to do it because everyone else is.

    It’s tough to be a good parent and to make the unpopular decisions. Please check back in in 15-20 years or so when you have teenagers and let us know if you’ve changed your mind about ANYTHING you are so sure of today.

  85. tesyaa –

    Male – even if seminary is not “no good”, it’s disingenuous to claim it’s a necessity, which many commenters here are basically claiming.


    My only beef (mmm….beef…I’m hungry) is with people who’ll condemn seminary by claiming it’s pointless for the majority of people. I have no problem with any of your comment, except that hopefully in 15-20 years hopefully we’ll all be in Eretz Yisrael, and this debate wil be rendered mostly moot.

  86. I don’t think anyone is claiming that seminary is a “necessity”. The only point I was trying to make, in any case, that seminary can (more often than not) be a good thing and therefore there is no reason to bash it. If people make the decision to spend the money and send their child to seminary, good for them, and there is no reason why people should ridicule that decision ESPECIALLY if one has not gone to seminary and can not speak from experience why it would be a WASTE of money. In other words, seminary falls into the category of “nice to have” (or I guess “nice to do”) not “need to have” but certainly not a “why would you ever in your right mind do that?”

  87. I just want to weigh in, as someone who is afflicted by my choice in seminary. Unlike my friends, I chose the seminary that best suited my intellect and thought ‘to be damned’ with everything else. Seminary is supposed to be a time that you take to learn and not to up your prospects in the shidduch world. In fact, a teacher told me when I was making my decision in seminary to forgo my first, (and only choice), school because it would ruin all my chances of getting married. No joke, those were the words straight out of her mouth. Not that the school was too left win or that bad girls went there, but that I would never get married. I did not really care at the time what it would do to my chances, so I went to the school where I thought I would grow the most, even if it meant I would “never get married,” whatever that means. I hate to say they were right, but maybe they were. I have had too many guys say no to me because of my seminary to think that there is no connection at all between where you go to seminary and your chances of getting married to a good, frum guy. Just saying, that my friends who chose strategically where to go to seminary based on their shidduch prospects are all married…

  88. Princess Lea–I would like to put aside my disagreements with you for a moment and compliment you on your writing. I just read the whole thread through and I kept noting how you are a really amazing writer!

    May we all unite in Yerushalayim SOON and in our day. ( We can continue this argument there 😉 ).

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