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Sep 25, 2011

Where To Send To School?

A Guest Post by Yehuda Ilan


I am the father of a new family here in Israel and my wife and I are having an extremely difficult time navigating the politics and the school system(s) here in Ramat Beit Shemesh. In America, we were a frum/Orthodox family, but here we find that we have to be either Haredi, Torani, or Dati-Leumi. In truth, we find we are more Torani/Charda"l in our hashkafah, but we have been shocked at some of the problems with tzniut in the DL world. We are not judging, but a person has to make decisions. In addition, we hate having to choose a label...can't we just all be Jews who love Torah and HaShem?!

Anyway, we put our girls into a Haredi school and it has been a balagan. Beating up, tearing clothes, ridicule, and more happen almost daily now. In our previous community, our children were happy and had friends, and since we have put them in this school, they seem to be baraged with nonsense and disrespect.

My question to everyone out there is: "Which do we choose? Haredi, Torani, or Dati-Leumi?" Everyone here tells us that where we send our children to school will determine their entire lives here in Israel. It is such a big decision for us.

Any comments on whether a family of normal, Orthodox, (ex-)American Jews should go the "Haredi route," "Torani Route," or "Dati-Leumi route" would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance to all of you and to Rafi for allowing me to post.

Shanah Tovah,



  1. DL! DL! I can't imagine life w/out Yom Ha'atzmaut. :)

  2. If you are "we find we are more Torani/Charda"l in our hashkafah" then you are probably best off in a similar school like Orot or Ahavat Yisrael.

    I am not sure I understand what you are refering to by "we have been shocked at some of the problems with tzniut in the DL world". I am not convinced that any problems of however you define tzniyut don't exist in other places as well. In schools such as those I mentioned you would probably minimize those issues.

    I also think that your well-meaning friends who advised you that "where we send our children to school will determine their entire lives here in Israel" are a bit over-doing it. What will affect them is that if you send them to a Talmud Torah then they won't learn anything necessary to make a living when they grow up and they may be convinced of the lack of need to do their share of the Milhemet Mitzvah to defend the Jews of Israel.

    Finally, if I may respectfully comment that you appear to have already internalized a lot of the sectarian nonsense that you appear on the other hand to decry. You do not have to choose a route, you do not have to accept categorization and you can emposer your children to become part of a wider society, to mix and learn with people who you or they do not necessarily agree with and I (personally) am sure that they and the Jewish nation will be better off for it if you will dare.

  3. Ahavat Yisrael/Rappaport!!

    Torat Yisrael for Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael

    High level of tznius, kavod habrios, etc.

  4. I can't recommend where you should send your kids to school, as there is no right or wrong answer, depends on your available options and the personality and ages of the kids.

    However you should remember that there is no similarity between a typical Charedi School in Israel and what would be considered a Charedi School in most of North America.

    Most US Charedi Yeshivot include a full secular curriculum and children sit State-controlled exams.
    In Israel almost all Charedi schools provide zero secular studies (Math, English, Science), beyond a certain age.

    You should also remember that by and large "Dati Leumi" is different from American "Modern Orthodox", both in terms of halachic observance and world view.

  5. Michael: I thought the terms D-L and M-O were pretty much synonymous. What's the difference?

  6. Perhaps you should think about where you want to see your children when they finish school.
    there are clearly different paths.
    If you would like your children to grow up being part of the mainstream chareidi yeshiva world, then the chances of them getting there will be slim through the DL system.
    If you want to see your children going to the army either through regular service or through hesder, then they probably won't get there in the chareidi system.
    The same goes with the girls- do you want them to be like the sheirut leumi girls, or like the typical chareidi girls that marry full time learning guys with some morning job to help with the income?
    Of course there are exceptions in every system, but it would probably be better to aim for them to be in the system that the majority turns out the way you envision.

    AS far as the problems that your girls are experiencing, that doesn't seem to be a norm in the chareidi bais yaakov. although there deffinately are some toughies in the Israeli schools, however, your exeriences seems to be abnormal.
    Perhaps they are not in a regular mainsream chareidi girls school but rather one that the girls come from weaker families.
    alternatively there may be more of a serious problem that can be addressed through contacting the menahelet of the school.
    either way lots of luck

  7. Rafi S.,

    Thank you for your advice and sharing what you have found to be true. We appreciate it alot.

    As for "internalizing the sectarianism" that I "decry," I think you have read me all wrong. If you are referring to the comment about the tzniut in the DL world comment, then I think you are being unfair. Such comments are simply halakhically based. I am fully aware that in the Haredi world, there is the problem of high-heels, sexy sheitels, and tight skirts that only go the knees, and sparkly tights/socks, but you will never see the children (girls, in particluar) in shorts and t-shirts, the women exposing their hair, etc. This is what I was referring to, and it is one of the reasons (among many) I am uncomfortable in the Haredi "velt" as well.

    The truth is that we have friends from all over the spectrum: Haredi, Chassidic, Yeshivish, Litvish, Sepharadi, Yemenite, etc. and in America we were ALLOWED to do this, whereas here it is simply "not done" from what we are told by many. We encourage our children to love and respect all Jews (even the non-religious ones) while holding strongly to the Torah and Halakhah as they have been instructed to follow it.

    Also, with the Haredi chinukh, I end up paying tons more per month and getting nothing but laziness, a cruddy haskafah of elitism, an ingrained welfare mentality, and the need for tutors to pass grade schools exams. Whereas, in the Torani/Chardal system, you get everything you are paying for.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing and I look forward to more comments as well.

  8. Don't be afraid to be an idvidualist. There is a school in Romema in Yerushalyim which is a very good girl's High School called Tehila. We send our daughter there as well. I had blogged about this issue a couple of years ago you can ask Rafi G about it. You made the right decision in coming to Israel and GOd willing all your difficulties will work out they are not easy decisions but at the end of the day they will work out

  9. Almost two years ago, I discussed Torani communities here.

    B'hatzlachah with your decision!

  10. Rafi (S) -

    First, apologies for jumping in to answer your question to Michael.

    In Israel, Dati Le'umi spans a broad spectrum, ranging from those that keep Shabbat, Kashrut, and Taharat HaMishpacha, but are generally more "lenient" with respect to other issues - such as Kashrut standards, Tzniut standards (i.e., women wearing pants, shorts, short sleeves, not covering hair, etc.), to those that are highly stringent with respect to all Halachot, but still believe in the religious significance of Medinat Yisrael. The second group are generally referred to as Dati Le'umi "Torani", while the first is generally referred to as simply Dati Le'umi.

    In the US, most MO would likely be at least somewhat similar to the basic Dati Le'umi; however, you generally do not have many Torani individuals in the US - at least in part because to such individuals, living in Israel is a strong part of their religious identity, and they tend to take the requirements of such identity quite seriously.

    The so-called "American Yeshivish" that move to Israel often find that they have much more in common with this Torani population than with the Israeli Chareidi population, in that while they take their religious obligations quite seriously, they also take their requirement to support one's family seriously - they don't subscribe to the welfare mentality of the Israeli Chareidim, and don't have the knee-jerk reaction to any change the government proposes. I found that to be the case with me - that's why, while I sent my children to a Talmud Torah and a Beit Ya'akov for elementary school, the boys are going to Yeshivot Techoniot for high school, rather than a Yeshiva Ketana. If the kids turn out to be good, Frum, Jews who respect others, then I'll know I've done my job.

    Best of luck to you.

  11. Shalom, Michael.

    I appreciate your view about limudei chol and I feel that not only is it "not smart" (pun intended) to stop all secular studies after such a young age, but it is just plain irresponsible in our current age to do so.

    I do not know about you, but I have my suspicions that the dumbing down of Haredi youth is not just because of a lack of concern for future parnasah, etc. but is also agenda-driven. Haredim also teach their children things like "dinosaurs never existed" (or, my favorite, "Dinosaurs were invented by goyim"), and that outer space is impenetrable by humans, and vast array of other nonsense in order to maintain their dogmatic approach to the Talmud. If they actually give a secular education, the jig is up.

    In the Torani world, one is able to religiously hold such basic views without fear of being ostracized (at least I think so).

    Looking forward to more discussion. This is really helpful!


  12. Hi Yehuda,

    Mazal tov on your aliyah, and welcome to Ramat Bet Shemesh. I can totally empathize with your dilemmas; we have gone though similar deliberations ourselves. If I may, a few general notes, with a specific suggestion or two at the end.

    First, while being a maverick may sound ideal, I don't recommend it. Your kids will need to find a framework where they can have other role models and similar friends; many people who try to go it alone find that their children turn out to either be (a) snobby (because they're better than everyone else) or (b) totally OTD (because they have some natural rebellion against their parents but have already been taught that everything else is also treif).

    That said, there's no question that critical thinking results in a better life for both the parents and the children.

    I understand what you mean by tznius in the DL world... I'm going to make some enemies here by agreeing with you. It is a problem. But it's not universal, and every community has its own unique challenges.

    You may want to consider a shul like Ohr Shalom (R' Soloveichik) which is a DL shul with a very wide diversity among membership; regular attendees' attire range from dockers to suits, hats to small srugies (with a streimel or two thrown in), or R' Haber's KSY, which also has a eclectic mix of people led by a dynamic Rav who defies most stereotypes. Some place like Aish Kodesh may also have an appeal to you; personally I don't respond well to Chassidus, but I'm told that the Rav there is amazing and can connect to people from all different backgrounds.

    Regarding schools, Ahavat Yisrael is a good choice, as is Talmud Torah Moriah. All of my kids (of the right age) are in Moriah; the school is definitely Tzioni (with a strong focus on the derech of R' Kook), and the curriculum and attitudes are very serious. At least 75% of the day is limudei kodesh, but the kids are definitely not taught to mock or deride limudei chol; it seems like most of the boys are expected to continue and get a bagrut diploma (the girls' school only goes up to 6th grade so far, so their are no graduates yet..).

    If you'd like, I'll be happy to try and sell you on Moriah offline; also please feel free to be in touch regarding any other RBS issues. It may be a bit late, but we'd love to offer you an invite for a RH meal (our sukkah is a bit too small to accommodate more than a few guests; alternatively iy"H after the chaggim, we'd love to host you for a meal on Shabbos). B'Hatzlacha!

  13. If you're sending your girls to a charedi school, you'd better start saving up. They are going to want to marry a kollel guy, and you are going to be expected to pay for an apartment, write a monthly check, and eventually to subsidize their kids, too.

  14. "but the kids are definitely not taught to mock or deride limudei chol"

    I beg to differ. The principle of Moriah told me that he doesn't value limudei chol at all, and he teaches the bare minimum necessary to get the kids through exams.

  15. I am sorry to keep being so critical, but I really do think you have got the wrong end of the stick.

    What on earth do you mean by "The truth is that we have friends from all over the spectrum.... and in America we were ALLOWED to do this, whereas here it is simply "not done" from what we are told by many"?

    What kind of a community are you living in and what kind of people are you talking to? Do you understand what you're writing here? Are you letting your neighbors decide who your friends should be? Why do you seem to take this as a fact of life? I am sorry, but I am flabbergasted.

  16. Keeping way off topic... in response to Anonymous. I have lived in Israel for about 20 years and I think that your understanding of the term "dati leumi" is wrong "dati leumi" means that "dati" and "leumi". It doesn't mean "masorati" which is what you describe in different levels of shmirat shabbat, kashrut and taharat hasmishpacha.

  17. If your kids are being bullied and harassed then for heavens sake get them out NOW and into a new school after sukkot! Forget hashkafa for a minute and whether some mothers don't cover their hair and do what's good for your kids.

    I've seen enough people screwed up by their parents in the name of hashkafa (and in the name of aliya, but that's another issue).

  18. It is worth noting that there is no middle of the road hareidi educational system. Even is schools where they have secular subjects (say Maarava) due to their elitist bent they want virtually of their graduates to attend yeshivot kedoshot (cough, cough) and kollel.

    The upshot is that if you want your kids to share your values, then make them explicit. Instead you sound like someone who wants to join a community so that you can delegate that responsibility to an existing ideology.

    My suggestion: look at the families with older kids who have taken different paths: some went to the army, others to kollel, etc. In every case that I know you see 2 things: first, the parents care first and foremost about their kids over a particular hashkafa and put them in the schools that were best for them. Second, the parents were their own people as well. Maybe they were part of a hareidi community, maybe hardal, maybe D/L but in every case they stood out because they cared more about their kids and serving hashem and ultimately cared little what others thought.

  19. Anonymous, I don't know where you get your information, or anything else, but that's not exactly my experience. Nor do I want to turn this into a discussion about a particular school, but I do want to respond.

    The school is definitely not Torah UMadda, and doesn't value literature the way, say, R' Lichtenstein does. Perhaps Torah UParnassa is a better description.

    But in my experiences with the principal, teachers, and graduates, all have a positive attitude towards education and secular knowledge.

    If you're like to take this offline and put a name to your statements, I'd be happy to talk with you.

  20. So let me understand this, you expose your children to daily physical and mental abuse bc you think the DL are not tzanua. Despite the abuse you aren't sure if you should send them somewhere else. It seems to me that your current Haskafa is a perfect fit for the school that your kids currently go to. Weather it is good for your children I think the answer is pretty clear.

  21. Yehuda,

    We are a family that sent our kids to many different schools upon aliyah lfi "Chanoch l'naar..".

    As the needs of our children changed we moved some of them to different schools.

    B"H we look at our children today and each one is very different from one another.

    They all are wonderful ovdei HaShem..each in their own way.

    Our Shabbos table is beautiful symphony of Chardal, Chasidish, Torani,Litvish, etc.

    They all love HaShem, His Torah, His Land and.... one another.

    Most common denominator:
    Almost all of them are products of Ahavat Yisrael (Rappaport),Gila and Shaalei Torah.

  22. "in the haredi world...you will never see the children (girls, in particluar) in shorts and t-shirts, the women exposing their hair, etc."

    You are *very* naive, and perhaps have a problem with accepting the limits of even the best parenting if you think that sending yor children to certain schools will prevent them from behaving contrary to your hashkafa. They will figure out that other alternatives exist, even if you are completely consistent with your beliefs at home, and even if you convey those beliefs with love.

    Raising children is not like baking a cake; what comes out in the end is more than just the sum of the ingredients put in.

  23. Mikeage:

    my direct email is yboruch@gmail.com

    We are, in fact, open on the second night and day of RH.

    The only thing is that we don't eat meat out for various reasons, but we would love to come and eat challah and parves and meet you and your family!


  24. Mikeage:

    my direct email is yboruch@gmail.com

    We are, in fact, open on the second night and day of RH.

    The only thing is that we don't eat meat out for various reasons, but we would love to come and eat challah and parves and meet you and your family!


  25. To the "Anonymous" who likes to be dramatic and judgmental:

    I don't know where you get off saying that I "subject my children daily to...abuse" but you are way out of line.

    First of all, we all have standards. Those who hold by all standards don't have one. As a halakhic issue, tzniut is something that I as a Jew have the right (nay, duty) to discuss, research, learn about, consult rabbinic teachers about, and come to a halakhic conclusion for me and my family as to how we will conduct ourselves. This is called Yahadut.

    Second, if you imagine that I am at all like one of these people who is constantly judging people for what they wear (or don't wear), then I expect an apology from you before Yom HaKippurim.

    It is clear that the reason why you did not have the courage or maturity to put your name on your comments is because you yourself are just interested in hating "Haredim" or anyone who holds differently than you halakhically.

    Our family seeks to do the opposite of what you have assumed of us. We teach our children to love and respect every Jew - even the non-religious ones - and to show kindness to all, while doing our best to follow Torah and Halakhah as best as we understand them.

    It seems that you have simply committed the error that you impute to others, you judge anyone who says anything about DL. I have dealt with people like this. They are part of the problem, not the solution.

    The fact is that I have no desire to DL, Torani, Chardal, Haredi, or any of the other fake labels that we have used to make factions and divide our people. I just want to be a Jew, love HaShem and His Torah, live in the Land, and show love to ALL of my brothers and sisters. However, to daily put my children in an environment of a certain type or persuasion, I have the duty as a responsible Jewish parent to know what that environment includes.

    If you call having a standard, caring about my children, trying to be faithful to the Halakhah as written in the sources, and loving my Land and People "abuse" then I guess I will have to say a "mishe-berakh" for you over the chagim and hope that you will do teshuvah and come to be "dan kol adam l-khaf zekhut."

    Shanah Tovah,


  26. Rafi S.

    Please. I am begging you to understand what I am saying. Please.

    I am certainly NOT letting my neighbors determine my friends. Nor am I accepting some sort of legislated circle of associations from anyone, neither from Israelis or from Americans. At all.

    Rather, I am AGREEING with your sentiments, but you are not catching me correctly.

    What I am saying is that many in Israel act as if one has to choose a label, climb into a box, and the paths of different Jews can never cross. I was lamenting this situation by stating (slightly saracasticly) that getting along with all kinds of Jews is just "not done" (catch the sarcasm here) here in Israel. In other words, it used to be that in America when two Jews passed on the street, one in a kippah serugah and the other in streimel, that they would greet each other kindly with a smile and they did not care what was on each other's head. However, here in Israel, they are a great many who do not greet you unless you are like them (and yes, they are MANY exceptions to this).

    Do you understand me now?

    Everyone on here needs to relax. I am seeking information, not to be told off.

    Hineh mah tov u-mah naim, shevet achim gam yachad.

    Shanah Tovah,


  27. To MJ,

    Thank you so much for re-affirming our position in this. We also believe that what matters most is the home in raising children.

    We believe that parents, not institutions, should be raising children. Wherever they go, we will keep this at the forefront.

    Shanah Tovah and thanks for the good stuff.


  28. Like I said your a perfect fit.

  29. May all Yehudim come together and may all Israel become friends this Rosh HaShanah.

    Lots of love and blessings to everyone who took the time to comment. Believe it or not, I took from everyone and you were all helpful and important (yes, even you "Anonymous" - May HaShem bless you and bring you and your whole family everything good and may it continue throughout the year. I mean that.)

    Here's to a beautiful year,



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