I'd like to clear up some confusion about yesterday's posting on sending girls to seminary. First, the main purpose was to point out that seminary is a luxury, a highly expensive luxury, and in today's economic situation it is a luxury that needs to be done without. Sending girls to seminary, as the previous posting pointed out, was not because of some great outpouring of concern for the Jewish education of our daughters. The sudden rise in interest in girls seminaries coordinated with the "problem" of what to do with girls for that post high school year until they were ready to be pushed into the shidduch parsha. It was not my intention to leave the impression that only girl's seminaries should be considered as luxury items we need to do without now.
Let me be clear: in today's economic situation sending boys to Israel to learn for a year or more is also a luxury that should be foregone. And please let us not kid ourselves either. Many of those boys are not in Israel poring over their texts yomom v'loyloh. As is the case with many of the girls, many of the boys are there for the "fun" of it. Away from home, no supervision, all expenses paid--what's not to like?
A commenter yesterday raised a good point. She said that if you don't have the money to send your daughter to seminary in Israel then you should not be sending your son there. I agree. Today's parents don't look at the tuition bills for their daughters' schools and the bills for their sons' schools and say there is only money for one so our girls will not go to yeshiva. And the post high school years should be treated no differently. If I take my kids shopping and one buys an apple for 50 cents and one buys a banana for 45 cents I'm not going to be worried about parity, and my kids are not going to be worried that I'm showing favoritism. But if I buy one of the kids an apple for 50 cents and I buy the other child a Lexus for $33,000 then I am sending a message that one child is worth more to me than the other, that one child has higher value to me than the other one does. What a horrible message to be sending our children. Saying that you will find the money somehow to send your sons but saying that the money can't/won't be found for your daughters is to create two tiers of children, one more privileged than the other.
Let's keep this in mind: both seminary and yeshiva are luxuries--they are wants that need to be paid for. If money is tight, as it is for many people now, then it is common sense to say that the Israel year--both for the boys and for the girls--is off the table as a consideration. Even when money is more freely available I would question the real value of making the Israel year post high school a "requirement," particularly a requirement for a shidduch. For some students the year is a worthwhile one; for some students it is not. We need to look at that year as optional.
Common sense says that when money is short, rein in your spending. Common sense says that when money is short, skip luxuries and spend only on necessities. Common sense also says don't spend what you don't have. Seminary and yeshiva in Israel fall squarely in the column marked "Luxuries."
common sense is the least common of the senses...
I've been following the two postings and the comments. What you say makes sense. The cost of an Israel year is going to be too much for a lot of people to be able to pay right now. But because your advice is sensible doesn't mean it's going to get followed. Even if it's not 'fair' there are going to be plenty of rosh yeshivas who are going to say so don't send your daughters but you have to send your sons. They're going to say give up other things. They have too much invested in the system to let a small thing like a recession and less money get in the way.
"The sudden rise in interest in girls seminaries coordinated with the "problem" of what to do with girls for that post high school year until they were ready to be pushed into the shidduch parsha."
this doesn't explain the push for seminary in the MO world. parents who have no problem sending their girls to college for 4 years have no concern about what to do before the shidduch parsha.
I've had MO parents who told me that for them it was a question of giving the girls Israel experience, more of a zionist thing then a shidduch thing. But I'd also say that a higher percentage of MO parents over yeshivish parents may opt for Israel summer programs rather than seminary programs.
A commenter yesterday raised a good point. She said that if you don't have the money to send your daughter to seminary in Israel then you should not be sending your son there.
No question; such a decision should never be based on the child's gender.
However, the decision gets more complicated if, for example, one child in the family clearly would benefit from being in Israel for a year, (because s/he would study hard, and loves Israel, is highly motivated, and would clearly benefit from spending a year in Israel), while other children in the same family would fritter away their time there. Should the one child lose such a precious opportunity in the name of equality and fairness? Brings us back to not all of mankind being equal...
You are certainly right that parents need to look at their individual children and make decisions about what things might benefit one child that would not benefit another, and act as necessary. But when the granting of that item to one child comes at the cost of a family's going into debt, a debt that will adversely affect all members of the family, then you have a different dilemma. Child A may not need/want or benefit from what would be good for Child B, but do you take things away from Child A so that you can pay the extra for Child B?
"I'd also say that a higher percentage of MO parents over yeshivish parents may opt for Israel summer programs rather than seminary programs."
i don't know how it is now, but when i graduated HS i think a clear majority of the (religious ashkenazi) girls went to seminary. i don't know if this was indicative of other MO schools at the time.
This was pretty popular in the modern world as far back as the mid 1980s. I believe the chareidi girls actually did not start going until more recently.
Back when I was single I ran with a pretty much Bnei Akiva crowd and it wasn't seminary that the kids were going to--it was "hachsharah," hardly a year-long vacation. My Brooklyn cousins were going to seminary or 1/2 day seminary here for the most part, if they went at all. I can't find one person in my community that is my age that attended seminary in Israel. I do know of one girl who went to Switzerland, but her parents wanted her to have "European polish." I'd have to say that Tesyass is right that this all began somewhere in the middle to late 80s.
"Back when I was single I ran with a pretty much Bnei Akiva crowd"
it's a good thing you're anonymous, otherwise your grandkids might not get shiduchim
"it was 'hachsharah'"
bnei akiva still has hachshara from europe and latin america. or at least they did 10 years ago when my brother went.
Child A may not need/want or benefit from what would be good for Child B, but do you take things away from Child A so that you can pay the extra for Child B?
Prof K - I would love to follow my urge to respond immediately, "Certainly not! I wouldn't sacrifice one child's benefit for another's." But when I stop to think about it, I suspect that we all do this, in different ways, without acknowledging it -- especially during difficult times, when the need to triage comes up in so many budget categories, as you've been pointing out.
That said, there's no doubt about it, a year in Israel is a significant expense, which of course I would agree is not justifiable, if it were to adversely affect the rest of the family. (If the same family were able to allot that part of the budget not for one child for a year, but rather for a short family trip to Israel, then they could all enjoy time together in Israel, and this might be a more worthwhile use of the money).
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