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Guiding Our Girls

Riva Pomerantz

Besides being the name of a holiday, the word chanukah means inauguration — and is related to the word chinuch, education. In this roundtable discussion, we combine the two as we present you with the viewpoints of three singular individuals who are dedicated to their mission of educating today’s girls, preparing them for their initiation into the world of adulthood, where we hope they will “me’irim es ha’olam” — light up the world with Torah and good deeds.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

chalkboardAs much as I like the high standard of learning we have today, because quite honestly, it keeps the girls out of trouble, I think we may have gone overboard. With our fiercely academic curriculum, we’re missing the core reason why Bais Yaakov schools were established. Sarah Schenirer’s mission was to create a dor of yarei Shamayim, women who were going to be machshiv Torah and build a new generation of frum Yidden. But if we want to have such a high standard of learning we can get bogged down with the nitty-gritty of having to “cover ground.” The Chumash lesson may get robbed of its potential lessons in hashkafah, yiras Shamayim, and middos tovos because “We have to move ahead!” Again, I’m the first one to say, “Accomplish!” But there has to be a balance.

As with regards to school acceptance policies, if a school has certain standards and a mother doesn’t fit those criteria, then you’re taking a big risk by accepting her daughter, because as the child gets older, she’s going to bring what she sees at home into the school. However, I wouldn’t refuse admission to a child just because she wasn’t a good student or she didn’t have a great report card. If she needed special-ed, that’s fine. I don’t like the elitism — that I’ll only take in the “top notch.” But if the mother comes to the interview and her tzniyus is not b’seder, then you have a right to say No. Parents need to look for a place where they belong — you can’t have it both ways. If you belong to a certain community, you have to fit in and go according to their principles — you cannot blame the school for upholding the community’s principles.


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