Feb 20, 2007

Men running an all-girls school

This morning I was leaving shul and I saw a sight that struck me as wrong.

Across the street was an all-girls seminary waiting for buses to head out on a tiyul. I do not know for how long the tiyul is - one day or a sleepover two-three day tiyul. The girls looked pretty heavily laden, so it struck me as being for longer than one day, but maybe not.

That is besides the point anyway. The head of the seminary was there. He is an acquiantance of mine, so I knew who it was. With him were some other adults, I assume various teachers and madrichim, both male and female. They were all waiting for the bus to go on the tiyul.

I find it highly inappropriate that men are running all-girls schools. My friend running this school is a wonderful person and I would trust him with my life. he has complete integrity and I would never suspect him of anything.

We in the orthodox world are so concerned with separation of the sexes, rightly or wrongly, that it seems a bit hypocritical to have male principals and teachers of an all-girls seminary/school.

Are there not enough qualified and educated women who can run these schools? Must we have men running womens institutions? When climbing up a mountain, will all the girls stay perfectly tzanua that the male principal will not be put in a situation of compromising his standards of tznius. That could then lead to improper thoughts at other times, which could lead to any myriad of "michsholim" that would be inappropriate.

Again, I do not suspect this fellow in the slightest. I am using this as an example because seeing it this morning made me think about the issue a bit.

People are human. If we are really so concerned about separation of the sexes so that no hanky panky should occur, there is no reason to assume that principals and teachers are any better and above such concerns. They are human and can fall to the same urges as anybody else. This is especially true when the teachers and principal are young, as is common in today's seminary world. When older, the concern might exist, but I would think it would be less. With young teachers and principals as is fairly common, the age of the teacher might be just a few years older than the young women he is teaching. There is no reason to create such a combustible situation. there are fine women who are educated and qualified to run the schools and teach in them and they should be the ones doing so.

And if not, and if we are not concerned about teachers and principals being in these situations, than we should not be so paranoid about separation of the sexes among us regular people either.


  1. I once mentioned to my daughter that one of my Rebbeim in high school had said something and she was in uter shock that a man taught girls - in her bais yakov world - there are no men - not in elementary and not in seminar - not sure what kind of wchool you were referring to.

  2. this school was your typical American seminary in israel. As far as I know they are all run by males (maybe there are exceptions that I am not aware of, but the staandard is being run by men..). These schools have 18 year old girls frmo America being run and taught by guys anywhere from 25 to 50 years old...

  3. Rafi -

    It's my impression that in the MO post high school yeshiva scene, there simply aren't enough highly educated women (in the way the MO schools require)

  4. hmmmm I wonder how that can be checked. Especially in the MO world I would question such a statement. Aren't the MO more "educated" than in other communities?

    Regardless, the same phenomenon is true no matter how ultra or less than ultra orthodox the seminary gets, along with all the high school sin the US that are mostly run by and taught in by men.

  5. In israel - with the israeli schools - that is not the case - by women for women...

  6. Hmm never thought of that interesting. If I think of every sem I know they are all run by men. Must be some reason....

  7. It's so the men can control the flow of information to women, and prevent them from developing the hinking tools needed to challenge the patriarchy.

    Funny V-word: kppotl

  8. interesting theory Sholom. What is a v-word and what is kpottl?

  9. Israeli Bet Yaakov seminars from 9th grade and up, even those with the most stringent tznius dress codes are also all run by men, but teachers are generally women.
    I think that the reason is because the job requires a lot of wheeling and dealing with local authorities, meetings with rabbonim, etc. and they dont want women to deal with these things.

  10. than we should not be so paranoid about separation of the sexes among us regular people either.

    That is my school of thought, but that is just me.

  11. There are a few theories:

    1. Some men unfortunately dont make it to the elevated Rosh Yeshiva status so they can settle for second best - brainwashing naive teenagers.

    2. Women dont get enough support to run institutions, especially in Israel.

    3. The frum world in Israel will be in turmoil if men are not involved in key educational posts - they will have to deal with sensible, down-to-earth education.

  12. Rafi, I've made this point already on a number of occasions, and have been (no surprise!) summarily ignored.

    The point: In a patriarchal religious system (i.e. a religious system which leaves all of the power, control, leadership, and decision-making in the hands of those with penises between their legs), women are not given the opportunity to develop their mental faculties. In other words, the system as a whole has a vested interest in keeping the vaginally-equipped individuals stupid.
    Case in point, my mother.

    A verification word is one of those random strings of letters that I need to type in when I leave a comment. For instance, this comment's nonsensical word is "foflmnf".
    Go ahead, say it out loud in the presence of a child. I promise you'll get a giggle in return.

  13. "the system as a whole has a vested interest in keeping the vaginally-equipped individuals stupid. Case in point, my mother."

    If people that are against the current system can write like Sholom, that is already enough reason to be in favor of preserving the system.

  14. sholom - your mother? that's funny but pretty rude...

  15. I've wondered this for the past 13+ years, since I attended a progressive women's institution in J-m in the early nineties. It was, of course, run by a man and on top of that, the second in command, who was indeed a woman, was basically a dishrag. I'm sure she was very competent, but there was a weird dynamic of domineering male dean and wishy washy female assistant dean.

    Great role models for modern women.


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