My recent posting Mother of Hundreds brought out some comments about some boys living in yeshiva dorms not having the "right attitude" towards matters of personal hygiene. They don't have access to their parents who might straighten out any problems but can't because they don't see their sons often enough. Back in November of 2007 I posted on this topic of boys in dorms and offered what I thought was a good solution to the problem. If you missed the post, please go to
I thought it was a good solution then, and I still think so.
Why are so many boys in dorms? Is it a problem of not having enough yeshivas near their homes? Private school is expensive enough without also paying for room and board away from home? Why have children if you are going to send them away at such a young age?
Those living in the uber crowded frum areas like Brooklyn may have a choice of yeshivas without dorming. Some of us don't. The only high school within reasonable commuting distance to us is a mixed sex school. We want a single sex school. Our choice is either to commute our son about 2 hours each way or to have him dorm.
I hate the dorm idea but I also hate the idea of getting him up and out at around 5:30 in the morning and then having to pick him up at 8:00 and have a two hour ride home. That's four hours a day in the car. When is there time for homework or eating or plain relaxing? So he dorms. The stranger thing is that there are boys in his dorm whose families live locally and would have almost no commute to school.
Would I choose to have him dorm in high school if there was another alternative? I wouldn't. But we haven't got another alternative. Do I like the dorm idea? No. And please don't suggest that we move closer to his school so he wouldn't have to dorm. You can't always just pick up and move every four years.
I'd pick a dorm mother any time over the older boys who are the ones supervising the dorms. Not saying that they do bad things to the boys, just that they aren't parents. But I'll agree with someone on the original post who said it's never going to happen because dorm mothers are women. Which of the Brooklyn yeshivas can you see putting in a woman to live in the dorms and supervise them?
Simi: If they can't tolerate a "dorm mother," then what about "dorm parents"? Many non-jewish prep schools have dorm parents - A married couple who live in an apartment in the dorm to supervise and be surrogate parents. Sometimes the dorm parents are an older couple with no children at home, and sometimes they are a younger couple with children. Sometimes the "dorm dad" also teaches a few courses or holds an administrative position at the school. The dorm parents can be a terrific influence. Of course, that does add more to the yeshivas' payroll and they have to build a semi-decent apartment.
The principal of the school where my boys almost went refused to even consider a woman living in the dormitory, even if she was an older widow. He said it raised all kinds of tsnius questions and questions of yichud and it was inappropriate for yeshiva bochrim.
Of course this same principal also believed that until Bar Mitzvah parents should have the influence and after Bar Mitzvah the yeshiva should take over. So not for my wife and I and not for our kids. But I think the attitude is fairly typical for boys yeshivas.
Many non-jewish prep schools have dorm parents - A married couple who live in an apartment in the dorm to supervise and be surrogate parents.
I went to just such a prep school and we had teachers who lived in the dorms for just such things. There was a teacher on duty every night to make sure we did our homework and deal with any problems. Some lived in the dorm and some lived in houses around campus. But there were always teachers around if you needed them. Even if it was 3:00 am you could knock on their door if you needed them for something
So do any rabbis or teachers live in the dorms or have apartments attached to the dorms?
Are older students assigned to look after the younger ones?
Anonymous the Brooklyn dorm I was in had older bais medrash boys as the dorm counselors. There was one of the rabbaim who was called in charge of the dorm but he didn't live in and was there for the counselors to contact if they had to. Each floor of the dorm had one of the dorm counselors. Mostly their job was to make sure we made it to minyan and class on time. They were also supposed to do a room check every night to make sure we were in. One of these guys just used to ask whoever was at the door if we were all in. The front door of the dorm and the side door got locked at night. Big deal. The door opened from the inside and all you had to do was arrange with a friend to meet you at a certain time and open the door and let you in.
The worst was if you got sick. Not so sick that you needed a hospital or doctor but like with a cold. You had to hope your roommates would bring you tea or soup or something. I remember spending three days in bed and got no visit from the rabbi who headed the dorm and only one visit from the counselor who just wanted to make sure my roommates were bringing me stuff.
I was from oot and there was no high school in my town so there wasn't much choice of where to go but a dorm. This much I can tell you though. None of my boys are ever EVER going to a dorm in high school. B"H nothing bad ever happened to me in the dorm but it could have. And nothing good ever happened either.
You could just as easily ask where are the fathers. Why are there younger bochrim in charge of the dorm students instead of someone older with experience? Why isn't there at least one rabbi who has to live in the dorm with the students? Why aren't married couples in charge of the dorm?
In short, why are dorms run so poorly and supervised so poorly? There are lots of alternatives to the way they do it now--why aren't they being put into place?
And here's the question I really don't understand---Why are parents sending their boys to these dorms when the supervision so clearly is not good?
Seems to me that this all boils down to one thing. Frum Jews have gotten themselves used to paying and paying and paying without getting any input into what they are paying for. Yeshivas, dorms, shuls, community organizations--we get told to pay and we do without really asking any questions or saying Hold on a minute. We're so afraid of being looked at as different or yotzai min haklal that we shut up and don't ask the hard questions. We don't protest. We don't complain, except maybe online.
How come if we all know there are so many problems we don't get organized and make our complaints obvious to the people who could change things? How come we still keep opening our wallets and paying when we're not happy with what we are paying for?!
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