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Growing Pains

Zehava Kaner

Your daughter flies off to seminary in Israel for the year … and returns a changed woman. She dresses differently, won’t eat certain hechsherim, and davens for hours. How to tell if the changes in her behavior are healthy, tips on diffusing any tension, plus ways to make her homecoming a smooth one.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

family with daughter head in bubble“I was a pretty typical teenager,” says Adina Schwartz, who grew up in a frum community in the US. “Most of my goals were concerned with looking good and doing well at whatever I was talented at, keeping up with society. I didn’t really have spiritual goals.”

Then she went to seminary in Israel for a year. “It changed my life completely,” says the now 22-year-old. “I realized that life is much more than the fancy car, the nice house, the well-paying job, the weekly manicure. Seminary taught me to reach for so much more.”

While Adina was undergoing a spiritual transformation in Eretz Yisrael, her parents were left largely in the dark. “We would speak to her on the phone and everything sounded status quo,” says Adina’s mother. “I was expecting my daughter to change while she was at seminary. A year away should change a child. But when she came home, we had a real shock.”

To start with, Adina went through all the books and DVDs on the shelves and got rid of anything that she didn’t deem appropriate to be in a Jewish home. Then she took the texting feature off her phone without telling her mother. “I use texting a lot to keep tabs on the kids,” says Mrs. Schwartz. “I most definitely didn’t like that. And I’ll be honest, the way she dressed when she came back embarrassed me. Here she was, in shidduchim, and she didn’t give a hoot how she looked!”

Traversing the slippery slopes of life at home after seminary can be perilous. Indeed, the homecoming is often anticipated — but also dreaded — by both the girl and her parents. 


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