« Fire Destroys Postville Bakery, Apartments | Main | Chabad Sues Donor's Widow And Estate For $17.5 Million »

October 17, 2009

Modern Orthodox Rabbi: Don't Send Your Kids To Secular Colleges

Rabbi Reuven Spolter (hands) "The college campus promotes values antithetical to Orthodox Jewish life. Those are simply the facts, and we permit ourselves to pretend otherwise at the expense of our children’s spiritual well-being."

Opinion: The elephant in the room
The knock on secular college

By Rabbi Reuven Spolter • The Jewish Star

Your son is ecstatic. He just received a letter granting him admission to the summer program of his dreams; five weeks at the highly prestigious summer science learning program in Maine where he’ll study with noted experts in physics and chemistry; areas of particular interest to him. You’ve been encouraging him to expand his horizons; taking him to scientific competitions and lectures for years, so you find his enthusiasm encouraging.

Rabbi Reuven Spolter (hands)

What about kashrut? Shabbat? Sure, it might be challenging for him to deal with religious observance over the summer. But that’s what real life is about, isn’t it? But then your rabbi confronts you with a troubling statistic: 25 percent of all Orthodox attendees to the summer program drop their Orthodoxy. Despite your skepticism, the rabbi shows you the surveys and it’s true: one-quarter of all Orthodox camp participants abandon Orthodox practice.

Would you encourage your son to go? It’s my article so I can say it: I wouldn’t. After spending so much time, effort, blood, sweat, tears and money on conveying the importance of Jewish life to my children, how could I risk it all on one summer — no matter how enriching it may be?

If you haven’t realized it by now, I’m not writing about a summer program. No, I’m writing about attending secular college.

In a fascinating symposium published in a special education issue of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah’s Meorot Journal, Rabbi Todd Berman writes about preparing students to thrive in non-Orthodox environments, specifically secular colleges. His essay focuses on important ways to mitigate the effects of the pressures to abandon religious life on campus, like sending educators from high schools to visit kids on campus; helping students form critical social bonds within the Orthodox groups on campus; and offering valuable courses both in high school and in Israel to help prepare them for college life

All of these represent good ways to help our kids retain their connection to Orthodoxy on the college campus. And yet, I wonder. Rabbi Berman himself states the numbing numbers: “one-quarter of the students who come to college as Orthodox Jews…changed their denominational identity while at college.” (Avi Chai Foundation, “Particularism in the University: Realities and Opportunities for Jewish Life on Campus,” Report, Jan. 2006)

That’s right. One quarter. If twenty students graduated this past June from your local yeshiva high school and headed off to campus, five of them won’t consider themselves Orthodox in four years — after a full twelve years of intensive Orthodox education. What causes this drop off? It’s not the intellectual pressures, by and large. No, it’s the social environment.

The campus culture, while ostensibly “celebrating pluralism,” often lacks tolerance for what is seen as xenophobic tribalism. Orthodox students are sometimes made to feel odd for maintaining religious observance at the expense of partaking fully in the smorgasbord of offered cultural delicacies.

However, both of these issues, while not insignificant, pale in comparison to the social pressures and realities of campus life. As one junior put it, “it is hard to be ‘shomer negi`ah’ when a girl sits down on your lap during orientation.” From the promiscuous parties sponsored by the university to the open support of binge drinking, to the small things like the experience of living in an openly coed dormitory, students are made to feel, as one student told me, odd for not being sexually and socially active. A former student once remarked that just as the State of Israel lowered the red line on the Kinneret Sea, pretending that the water level had not yet declined to the danger zone, so do students redraw their own red lines, or even worse, forget why they were there in the first place. It is quite difficult to describe the tsunami of social-sexual pressure crashing down on the religiously oriented student. These social pressures, and not the academic or even the cultural, are the most difficult to withstand.

We often overlook this reality by telling ourselves that sooner or later our children will have to confront “real life.” I’m sorry, but the college campus does not represent “real life.” In “real life,” women don’t sit down on men’s laps. In a normal workplace, that would constitute an inappropriate sexual advance which would be addressed immediately. Binge drinking might happen after work hours, but no one forces you to join your coworkers at the bar. In “real life” you can choose your roommates and the values you wish to maintain in your home. Can you do that on campus? In “real life” Orthodox people have the ability to avoid many of these challenging situations — something they cannot do on the college campus, where the parties take place on your floor — and probably right in your room.

Still, we satisfy ourselves with platitudes: “no solution works for every student” and “Yeshiva University isn’t the answer for everyone.”

Of course that’s true. But we then use those platitudes to justify sending our children to terribly dangerous spiritual situations. There’s a world of difference between “perfect” — or a zero percent drop-off rate — and “exponentially better than twenty percent,” Rabbi Berman writes.

Without a doubt, Yeshiva University remains for many a safe haven; yet more and more yeshiva high school graduates are bound for secular campuses.
I have a simple question: If a “safe haven” exists, why do parents send “more and more” of their children to “unsafe” environments? In trying to offer solutions to a glaring problem, we’re avoiding the elephant in the room, and failing to state the obvious: Secular residential college — any secular residential college — presents a serious and even mortal danger to our childrens’ well-being. It’s just not worth the risk.

Sadly, while many in Jewish education agree with me, no Modern Orthodox educator or administrator can actually say this. Parents would never tolerate an educator who, in their minds, discouraged his or her students from attending college (which they would not be doing; they would only be discouraging them from attending a residential college. Plenty of yeshiva students — both male and female —  attend numerous secular colleges during the afternoons and evenings and seem to thrive both educationally and spiritually). Educators  do not tell the truth for fear of losing their positions. Even Rabbi Berman seems to play this game.

“It is incumbent upon the community to empower our students to succeed in the college environment,” he writes. “We can achieve this goal if we keep several issues in mind: the positive social networks in place in high school or Israeli yeshiva should be maintained through developing programs for our alumni, refocusing our expenditures of energy on what is happening on the campus, promoting key social networks in college, and being realistic about what we expect to accomplish.”

Which is it? Can we achieve this goal of empowering our students to succeed in the college environment? What then does it mean for us to be “realistic about what we expect to accomplish”? What’s a realistic drop-off rate for Orthodoxy? Fifteen percent? Ten percent?

It’s time for Jewish educators to start speaking the truth: We cannot “achieve this goal.” The college campus promotes values antithetical to Orthodox Jewish life. Those are simply the facts, and we permit ourselves to pretend otherwise at the expense of our children’s spiritual well-being.

So I’ll say it: Please do not send your child to a secular residential college — even one with a strong Hillel and Orthodox community on campus. It’s not worth the risk, and certainly not the benefits. The options truly abound. He or she can attend YU, or Lander — or even college in Israel; he or she can live at home or study in a yeshiva and attend college at night, and still gain admittance the most exclusive graduate schools in the world. Many, many Jewish kids have and continue to do just that.

And while the numbers aren’t perfect, the vast majority of them still consider themselves Orthodox today.

Who is Rabbi Spolter? He's a leading member of the RCA:


Rabbi Spolter -RCA


Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

There is some truth to what he says (i.e. Don't Send Your Kids To Secular Colleges - send to YU instead - if you can). My niece went off the derech after attending an out of state college despite her going to one of the best MO yeshivas and an excellent program in Israel.

My own daughter goes to Stern College and just loves it. Of course if it wasn't for the scholorship she wouldn't be there, instead she would be at Queens College and would be living at home.

"As one junior put it, “it is hard to be ‘shomer negi`ah’ when a girl sits down on your lap during orientation.” "
So? You would rather a guy sit on your lap like what happened to me in Touro College's orientation?

This is because "Modern Orthodoxy" isn't really modern at all. Further, it's changed into an increasingly isolated (as shown by this rabbi) Jewish experience rather than one in which people are taught it's possible to be a religious Jew and co-exist in a secular, non-Jewish world. Of course, that might involve things that have become written out of the thought process of "MO" Jews, including making kosher food selections at non-kosher-supervised places, shaking hands with women (without them sitting on your lap), and other very, very scary things.

It's good that this guy is laying it out on the table. It's time for religious Jews to wake up - those that haven't left screaming in frustration - and realize that "MO" rabbis have more in common with the charedim than we want to admit.

Eons ago, I once had a conversation with a Rav about my experience of attending a Technical College or Vocational school as these do not teach courses that such people would probably object to.

Speaking about college, on CNN's website today there is an article about the availability of free courses and lectures available on the web via iTunes and YouTube.

"Hundreds of universities, and a growing number of business schools, are making recordings of lectures, seminars and conferences available to the general public via Web sites such as iTunes and YouTube."

I was blown away as to the free offerings from schools like MIT and Stanford. I just downloaded some 60GB worth of lectures, Calculus, Physics, Theoretical Physics Quantum Entanglement, Circuit Design, Computer Language Engineering, Multicore Programming etc.

I would say that I have more than enough train reading (watching) material on my iPhone to keep me busy for a while!

http://www.cnn.com/2009/BUSINESS/10/16/online.university/index.html

harold,
thats great. now if you would only open your mind and study some archaeology, paleontology, astronomy, cosmology, embryology, genetics and bible criticism you might learn some uncomfortable truths.

"As one junior put it, “it is hard to be ‘shomer negi`ah’ when a girl sits down on your lap during orientation.” "

It's fun to be young and in college.

Well, he's a crook so he should fit right in there.

Hate to break it you, Rabbi:
Those 25% that left orthodoxy were probably going to do it whether they went to secular college or not. Also, there will always be challenges in life. You think once they get to the workplace some of the same challenges won't come up? what, then, they should only go to jobs where completee seperation of the sexes is guaranteed? You are no better than the Yeshivishe Rabbis who instead of telling their followers to develop a think skin and face their challenges in a mature fashion, tell them instead to hide under their beds and isolate themselves.

The rabbi makes a good point because there is no possible way to "empower students to succeed" at resisting a girl sitting on the lap or prancing around in skimpy outfits at the keg party. There might be a 1 in 100 male that can resist that stuff, but for the other 99, it's not humanly possible. First he'll attend the parties just to check it out, then he'll be curious and chat with some girls at a party, and it will go on from there....

++and it will go on from there....++

Posted by: nobody | October 17, 2009 at 10:55 PM


....if he's lucky.

I believe there was a Rabbi named Soloveitchick who went to the University of Berlin. He didn't seem to turn out to bad. Rabbi Hutner also went to the university of Berlin and Rabbi Svhneerson went to the Sorbonne. No risk, no reward. If God was not willing to risk, he would not have created the tree of knowledge in the first place. There is always risks with children no matter how you try to protect them.

The Rebbe went to the U of Berlin for less than 2 years. He never attended the Sorbonne as a registered student.

I went to secular college and although the person who goes off the derech at YU is in a much better place than a person who went off the derech in secular college, I know the statistics don't tell the whole story and are skewed. There is without a doubt a pre-disposition of people who tend to gravitate toward different environments. Many of the people who go off the derech in college have already made a decision to go off the derech (whether subconsciously or consciously). That does not give people permission in any way to place themselves in a bad environment. Bottom line parents must know their children and kids must be honest with themselves. If you give your child a solid foundation, and I don't just mean a student who knows a lot of torah, but a student who has a proper perspective on life a Judaism, you have a lot less to worry about. Jewush day school education is not going to cut it.

I think part of the problem is that some Jewish people always always think in terms of the "community this the community that".
IMHO, if your Mom and Dad don't teach you moral and spiritual ethics from a very very early age, and/ or you don't absorb it, there is not a lot a yeshiva can do. I am speaking especially to the issue of sexual promiscuity, but it goes for other things as well. Simply put, if by the age of 17, one has not developed an inbuilt sense of right and wrong, what is "tumah" and what is "tehorah", in its broadest sense, there's not a lot a yeshiva can do to stop one from "going off the derech".

One cousine of mine went to UCSB (number 9 on the top party school list

http://campuslife.suite101.com/article.cfm/top_party_schools_for_20082009)

and never got laid.

My other cousine went to lakewood and went of the derech (BMG is another kind of party school)

Rav Spolter came on aliya with his family a year ago and lives in Yad Binyamin, a neighbor of a good friend of mine, whom I've had the privilege to meet. In a community which does not lack for talmidei chchamim, he is widely respected and well liked, gives well-attended shiurim, and is all in all a highly valued member of the community.

Is the issue here that attending American universities involves leaving town, your ties to the Jewish community and family. Everyone (even King David) have or had these impulses or the need to be part of the group.
So he is making a valid point and anyone going to college should atleast be aware of what may happen so that you can handle the situation with some understanding of whats going on

look at it this way. At secular college, your kid will be hanging out in an environment that will either directly, or indirectly influence your child to break halachos that you want them to keep.
This is done either through social pressure, or by twisted educational method.
its not a conspiracy or anything silly like that. Its just normal society. teaching what it believes. and its compelling and effective. it moves kids. changes them. it asks questions that need to be asked. but the kid is unequipped to answer them, plus there is a hot thang sitting in his lap, so he throws out a few lines about dawkins, and honderick to anyone who cares enough to listen to his boring teenage drivel, thinks about how much more he loves himself now, how much he has found himself now, how little anyone understood him till now........... and then, justifies whatever he feels like doing.
the otd ers in the audience may not like me referring to college as twisted educational method, but my sense is that college educators rarely give real credibility to approaches that differ from their own, in the same way that yeshivas dont, even though they are more open than yeshivos. For sure this was my experience as a philosophy major.

Why dont parents send to YU etc. Well, many do. others cant afford it. Others dont realise how much weed and sex is a part of everyday life in college, and others think its fine to fool around a bit then get frum again later.

no serious parent that understands frumkeit, has some money and wants his kid to have a consistent, pure experience would send.

any of those things missing? kid will soon replace his values with relative morality (i cant believe people still fall for that relative shit.... its so 1990's), and its all moving away from judaism from theron in. whether they stay frum or not.

the question people should ask themselves is this:
would I prefer that my kid be an sidelocked, uneducated, socially awkward, slumlord Madoff scammer, who feels more comfortable with men sitting on his lap then women or alternatively would i prefer that my son get a full secular education which would ultimately lead him to reject all his ancestors traditions and rituals, a serial gentile shtupper who would be lost forever to yiddishkeit,.

I can understand Jewishs parent's reservations about sending their kids to a secular college when they have invested so much in their religious education. However, my first response to parents who are fretting about their grown children's poor choices regarding my own experience is; if you feel good about the foundation you have provided as they grew up, rest assured, they will not permanently abandon the most important of those values. They may investigate and experiment out of curiosity, but if you have done your job well, they will come back to their strongest embedded beliefs. There are exceptions of course, but we don't raise our kids to be little robots, at least most of us don't. Sometimes questioning what we have been raised to believe, can make those beliefs even stronger. There is a world beyond and some of it can be useful.

Yale aside, most universities have private dorms or private boarding houses where the residents can determine the rules, i.e., no smoking, no alcohol, no members of the opposite sex, dietary restrictions, etc.

There will always be temptations for one who goes looking for it no matter where you live. It is ridiculous to rob your child of a quality education. Plus, you may just make them so angry at you that they become secular to spite you.

Is Uni different in the US than the UK?
Most people attend University, except for the charedi crowd who don't believe in getting a proper job or believe the only place for a woman is in the kitchen.
But there is alot of stuff for Jewish students to get involved in and the ones that want to get involved will do and the ones that stray off the path of religion would have done so whether they attended University or not.
My children i hope will attend University and get decent jobs so they can support themselves when they are older.

The problem with YU that it has double curriculum that is very hard to manage. Stern college is not so hard and it is good for girls. They have to reduce talmud load in YU for boys to manageble levels.

I don't know about other cities but if you live in NY you can get laid if you want to. Also, my father, OH' who went to YU was a shomer shabos all his life. He had two classmates, who remained his friend and client, but were extremely estranged from all things Jewish, except for their donations to YU. So what does that mean? Nothing. My sons Rosh Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael went to Brandeis for undergrad and did graduate work at Oxford. One of the reasons I sent him there is I did not want him getting the only YU BS.

The Rabbi is stating an obvious observation. Please note that a few famous Rabbis did attend University, and apparently it was useful for them; and most importantly they were *already* married as far as I know. It seems that College should be fine for someone already married and therefore living off campus (this issue should be studied if we can obtain a large enough sample size of married frum students attending university)

Let's now distinguish between the college social experience and the college classroom education. I suspect it is only the social experience that is the problem. I have yet to meet anyone who actually had problems with Yiddishkeit that were purely intellectual (or even had any substantive intellectual component). I would love to meet such persons. Now *that* would be interesting. Real life "kids in trouble" seems mostly populated by the tough cases of those embittered by harsh experiences, drawn by the lure of natural human impulses, feelings of boredom or isolation, or repulsed by abusive situations. And a *tiny* bit of intellectual stultification mixed in.

Ironically, for intellectually inclined frum kids, who are having difficulty (ie. difficulty, but not really going way off the derech) for the issues that are purely Torah and intellectual issues, there was a series of books by none other than a specialist in this venue: Rabbi Nosson Slifkin. He was quite explicit this was his target audience, he wrote expressly for that audience, and he was very clear about his intents and purposes. btw: notice the thanks he got for his endeavors. (He made lengthy arguments that his approach was a valid Torah approach, albeit not the only one.)

I wonder what percentage of kids who don't go to college abandon orthodox life style? Is it more or less then 25% stated in this article statistics? My personal observation is that it is more the 25%.

Excellent point Ben. Even if there *is* a correlation of college and frei-ing out, one must do actual research to rule out all the other variables (maybe those who already want to frei out are attracted to college, or those who can afford College come from an afluent culture not favorable to continued Yiddishkeit.) How you going to do a panel study, perhaps with a group of kids who are similar in every way, but do not go to College and then compare their frei out rates? My *instinct* is that College social scenes are a makom sekanah, and that one who is wise will find alternate ways to obtain the necessary education. But the issue of how this affects the frei out rate should be a matter of research, and not jumping to a conclusion based on a single statistic for a single amorphous group of students.

Enough with the irresistable allure of shikses or scantily clad women. Maturity involves negotaiting and managing relationships and know how to repsectfully handle the pleasures of female company while maintaining boundaries. In the chassidish world, when the impusle control breaks down they go to pedophelia or prostitutes. When is some rav going to announce don't let your children near BMG or near satmar, because they are exposed to dangerous things. Moreover the rabbanim in that world are such koferim that they would sooner violate lo tachmod pikuach nefesh than save kids from terrible things.

When will they tell their kids to steer clear of all things from the treifah agudas yisroel which is more concerned about protecting its institutions from bad publicity and lawsuits than the din of biartem and harah (eliminate the evil).

If you can not train your kids to live in the world, then at least send your sons to YU that has a mashgiach who did public theshuvah for being fooled by Lanner and has gone on to teach halachah correctly (Assume someone who is molested will probably do it again and thus his a rodef (one who is chasing you to kill you) and go to the police. If you insist that it is too dangerous to exposde your kids to secular truths, at least protect them from pietistic frauds who misrepresent halachah and are more interested in establishing their absolute authority through a doctrine of daas torah (You cant disagree with us even on things that halachah does not speak to)

In truth, even in MO yeshivot the rabbanim subtly convey that you MOs are Judaism lite because real jews toe the line of daas torah and not surrendering to terrible things like movies, coed gatherings, ordinary haircuts, etc. To uphold orthodoxy when your genuinely appreciate many things about the secular world requires confidence not just that Judaisnm is your truth, but that you are a good Jew.

It is sadly like the girl who is molested and the family message is you are just not as pure any more, so she figures, I am a slut, lets see how much I can get out of being a slut.

No doubt that the modern ortho kids in college will definitely encounter awkward moments and may at times deviate from their old standards. In most cases they will self correct and come out stronger. Not just in kashrus, but in frumkeit, bidieved things are often batul b'shishim). But it is much harder if you think you arent really a good jew and it is all or nothing. That is why if I was going to send a boy to college I would buy him Nosson Kamanetzky's making of a gadol, and ban all art scroll biographies that portray perfect saints (i.e., they falsify the truth). Instead help then learn from the 75% who come out as the roll models suitable for them.

Those who believe otherwise probably have no bussiness being on the internet on a site that clearly is not das torah and sometimes includes true kefirah. So do you guys have a special heter for kiruv, or are you just on the slippery path to letting a kofer shiksa jump on your cyberspace lap. If so there are other sites that are more suitable.

ATTENTION GOYIM!

Don't send your sons and daughters to Brandeis. They will be corrupted by Jews.

What I am saying is that each child is an individual. Some will thrive at YU, some won't. Some will learn in a Yeshiva, some will waste time. Some will go frei at Brooklyn College, while living at home. Some will stay frum at Yale and Notre Dame. Every parent must know his own child and statistics are meaningless.

I think Brandeis is about 20% non-Jewish for undergrads (anyone with more accurate statistics?) The alumni I met who told me this estimate was a fundamentalist Xtian who went there. He enjoyed being a student there, and felt he had an interest in the Jewish social environment, and liked to absorb some of the culture. It would be neat to explore the reasons a non-Jewish student might attend such a school. I would like to think that some day Brandeis might be a favorable environment for all Jews.

They're so worried about their sons being "corrupted" by women at secular colleges but yet so many haredim and M.O.s (including married ones) frequent brothels. Maybe if they give their sons an allowance to do the same it would reduce the temptation they fear if the young men attend schools other than YU.

According to College Confidential, Brandeis is 57% Jewish. Other schools goyim need to steer clear of are Yale, the U. of Pennsylvania, Penn State (Abington Campus), Tulane, Queens College, Columbia, and SUNY Albany. All are at least one-third Jewish.

Interestingly, Syracuse U., which has long had a reputation as being a mecca (pun intended) for Jewish princesses and princesses, is only 17% Jewish.

MO and related sects that push the shomer negiah thing are really pushing an all male dancing and all male hugging etc schtick that most americans would just call gay. now MO leaders don't want their recruits to see MO lifestyle as gay (they say gay urges don't count etc). any normal college kids would immediately term the MO thing as gay, duh. Learning basic geochemistry is a threat too but a lesser one.

Brandex in Waltham did affirmative action a few years back to bring in more goyim. The had a President - not the current J. Reinharz, but the one before him - who said they could start serving pork in the cafeterias. Alumni giving went down, and they went back to that nebulous "kosher-style."

Ben wrote at 10:32am:
"The problem with YU that it has double curriculum that is very hard to manage. Stern college is not so hard and it is good for girls. They have to reduce talmud load in YU for boys to manageble levels."

That's true for a young man who is in MYP. However, that is not the only option. See: http://www.yu.edu/ujs/men/

Mamas don't send your babies to college they'll become goys...

Frat boys ain't easy to molest and they're harder to control.
They'd rather party than trade diamonds or gold.
Gone are t'fillin and old faded black suits,
And each night they study away.
If you don't understand them, cause they won't speak the mother tongue,
He'll prob'ly just assimilate away.

Mamas don't send your babies to college they'll become goys.
Don't let 'em pick Harvard or Stanford or such.
Let 'em be rabbis and tax cheats and schmucks.
Mamas don't send your babies to college they'll become goys.
'Cos they'll never stay home and they'll roam the dorms
till they find a shiksa to love.

Rabbis like steamy old pool mikvas and clear eyed boys,
Little warm bochurs and children and girls of the night.
Them that don't know daat torah won't like him and them that do,
Sometimes won't know how to take him.
He ain't holy, he's just a molester but his kehilla won't moser,
They lie to make you think he's right.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be rabbis.
Don't let 'em pick up boys or launder mob bucks.
Let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such.
Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be rabbis.
'Cos they'll never stay home and they'll always throw rocks.
Even at some fellow Jew.

I grew up Mo and went off the derech at a state university. Among the behavior I engaged in was participating in and later running an egalitarian minyan. I am grateful that I was in a place where my choices were orthodoxy or nothing, because I wasn't going to choose orthodoxy. I'm glad I was exposed to vibrant forms of non-orthodox judaism before I stopped caring.

Most of the issues brought up with living on campus can be avoided by simply getting an apartment. This also creates the opportunity to create whatever environment the students want (and to hang out with whoever they want). If that's not possible, there are plenty of schools with "substance-free" dorms or which allow students to create their own themed dorms (Jewish culture dorm?) Honestly, this is not that hard.

The frustrating thing about Rabbi Spolter's column is the impression that his real problem with college isn't that it's going to turn yeshiva bochurs into binge-drinking serial daters, but rather that they might-- heaven forbid-- come into situations that challenge previously-taught social values (or intellectual/spiritual ones) and actually have to make up their own minds about how to respond to them.

Rabbi Berman realizes that the legitimacy of Orthodoxy depends on its young people CHOOSING to believe in it and live their lives accordingly, which demands educating them in a manner that prepares them to deal with different approaches and values and stick to their own beliefs despite challenges. For engaging with the real world and encouraging Orthodox kids to be creative and informed about what they're going to be dealing with he should be commended.

Rabbi Spolter is essentially saying that this is too hard or too potentially dangerous and that it's better to keep Orthodox kids in a non-threatening bubble-- thereby demonstrating a dramatic lack of faith in Orthodoxy's ability to compete in the marketplace of ideas, or Orthodox kids to make honest or insightful decisions. Using his logic, there shouldn't be any Orthodox people in Israel since they're surrounded by so much secular temptation and social pressure to "fit in." Give me a break.

Just to use a single example: I attended a very secular, West-Coast, liberal arts college with a pronounced "work hard, play hard" reputation and had plenty of opportunities to drink heavily with my peers. In four years, I never did this, simply because I had no interest in doing so. Peer pressure and a relaxed "social atmosphere" is not the determinist be-all-and-end-all that Rabbi Spolter suggests.

It is indeed possible to attend a secular college without becoming an alcoholic, drug-addicted, atheist sex fiend. Give your kids a little credit, Rabbi Spolter.

Sarah, could you elaborate? I don't follow your train of thought: why were you glad of "orthodoxy or nothing"? How did an egalitarian minyan lead you to this? Why did you stop caring, yet be glad to be exposed to alternatives to Orthodoxy? I mean, if you like the egalitarian minyan...then why stop caring?

There is another difficulty in college to consider, and I'm surprised this isn't mentioned first: some colleges have incredible academic pressure. I mean it is challenging keeping Shabbos, and waiting till later Saturday nite to start working (and often by the time Shabbos ends one is tired) But consider the month we just got through..taking off 2 days for Rosh Hashonah, a day for Yom Kippur, 2 days for Sukkot, and 2 days for Shemini Atzeret. This year was fortunate that the Yomim Tovim fell on Shabbos and Sunday, which made it a bit easier. Now, in the work world this is pretty challenging too. But I really feel for what the students have to go through in Tishrei. At least at YU, the academic calendar will be in sync with the Jewish calendar. Personally I think the party issue is secondary the trauma of missing all this study time.

B"H

My kids prefer going to a secular school, and they are much MORE religious when they do so. It is hard to be religious around Jews who are more interested in whether you are dressed in a uniform than if you have good values, ethics, and keep the Torah.

The Headmasters don't care what the kids from "good families" do,they only care that they pay the huge sums required. It doesn't matter if those Penguin Jews are dealing drugs, lying, cheating, and having sex in bathrooms--they are from "good families."

But your kid, the one wearing the jeans with his hair a bit too long, the one who just went out to the Jewish Cemetery to lay flags on the graves of brave soldiers and learned Hatikvah on the piano right after studying this week's Parasha, he's trouble--and if they can't find something he ACTUALLY did, it's OK if they make it up.

Believe me, there is nothing that will turn a kid away from Torah faster than a bunch of hypocritical "Torah Jews" and their money grubbing headmasters.

M

DR DAVE- you get the Yochanan Levie award! Your parody was excellent!

As societies progress, dictatorships are replaced by representative governments. Power changes hands without bloodshed. Fanatical religions and extremist dogmas give way to free and critical thought processes. Tolerance and understanding replace turbans, mitres, and black hats.

America already went through this over the past 250 years. Mideastern countries are maybe starting to go through it now. Maybe it's time for orthodox Jews to join in.

No doubt that the modern ortho kids in college will definitely encounter awkward moments and may at times deviate from their old standards.

Those "standards" in the MO high school my kids attended include: more than half the older students dating each other at any given time, "hooking up" in various places in school, smoking (cigarettes and pot) outside during lunch, massive binge drinking parties at the houses of vacant (physically or mentally) parents, etc. I guess that's lightweight compared to most public schools - they didn't lose any girls in the class to pregnancy - but it's not exactly the picture of frum life that one might foolishly exists in the real MO world outside of a few intense urban centers. Sitting on each other's laps? Ha!

One supposes they had clothes on in the lap sitting instance mentioned here. In the M.O. H.S. my children and nieces and nephews went to all the students did not and didn't even have the common sense to use protection. The powers that be should add info about that to the curriculum instead of burying their heads in the sand or wherever if the parents won't take that responsibility. There was more than one pregnancy in that H.S. but those were terminated. And without the approval of the rabbis I would think. It's also amazing how some of the M.O. students drink more than the Chabadniks. Btw, since there's more than one Sarah here, I'll be Sarah K.

My kids all went to public high school. It was not a hotbed of evil, as some of you, who never attended public schools, are claiming.

As if often the case, orthodox Jews cannot accept the fact that the general nonJewish public is perhaps in a more advanced state of civilization than they are.

WSC, Public high school has its terrible influences but they are easy to avoid with a proper education from parents and kids with the right attitudes. Secular college is a completely different story, and that is what this story is about, NOT public high school. Have YOU been to a private college? The keg-party atmosphere really does exist, and it's really "fun" for kids that are 18-22 years old. This is not what high school was like, although times are certainly changing, and everything starts earlier nowadays...

ah-pee-chorus writes: "now if you would only open your mind and study some archaeology, paleontology, astronomy, cosmology, embryology, genetics and bible criticism you might learn some uncomfortable truths."

Which uncomfortable truths are those? And I do not believe that you studied all of these things at a "university", since some of the things you list would be advanced courses in different majors. Did you actually attend a university and go to graduate school? I've taught at least one of these areas at major medical schools and don't have any problems being MO.
So please tell us where you studied "paleontology" and "embryology". Did you also study symbology under Prof. Langston?


Nobody, I attended two state colleges, a private (nonJewish) college for graduate school, and another state university for a doctorate.

Bad influences are there if you want them. Good influences are there if you want them. There is free choice. As you stated, "...with a proper education from parents and kids with the right attitudes..."

A note about the Brandeis decision to allow pork and shellfish in non-kosher dining halls- in 1987, university president Evelyn Handler cleared the way for non-kosher foods to be served in some of the cafeterias. Previously, all meat coming to the campus had to be kosher, although it was okay to mix it with dairy products. In lieu of pork, dining halls served such classics as "Tham Hawaiian" made from turkey ham.

At the time, there was one kosher dining hall on campus, in the Sherman student center (the smaller of two student centers), and the kosher-eating constituency was quite small. The food was also notoriously bad.

That said, it was never the goal of Brandeis' founders to make an exclusively Jewish school. It was chartered as "Jewish-sponsored, non-sectarian" and boasted three chapels grouped in a small cluster- that were placed as to never cast a shadow on one another.

Basically, the school was founded as a world-class research, arts and humanities institution that accepted qualified Jews who often faced discrimination at other academically acclaimed universities, not as a bastion of kashrut.

Nobody-

Public high school has its terrible influences but they are easy to avoid with a proper education from parents and kids with the right attitudes. Secular college is a completely different story

That is simply not true. If you don't want to go to a frat party, stay home. If you don't want a drug user or keg-meister as a roommate, join a substance-free dorm or live off campus. Saying it is all-but-impossible to avoid drugs, alcohol and sex at college because some people around you are doing it is like saying it's impossible to live in San Francisco without become gay (I've tried both; for the record, neither are true).

The keg-party atmosphere really does exist, and it's really "fun" for kids that are 18-22 years old.

If keg parties are your kid's idea of fun, then they and you have a problem. The basic underlying problem will not change whether they are at a secular college or Yeshiva University. If their primary hobby is binge drinking, they need counseling and treatment options, not more opportunities for shiurim and middos talks.

If, on the other hand, your kid is aware of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, knows how to avoid and confront peer pressure, and has a strong support network including close relationships with parents and peers that share their values, there is no reason to assume that they are going to turn into John Belushi from Animal House the moment you drop them off at the dorms. What you do at college has far more to do with who you are before you go than what potential party opportunities exist there. An alcoholic teenager will find a way to get drunk no matter where they're studying.

NeoConservguy, you write:

Those "standards" in the MO high school my kids attended include: more than half the older students dating each other at any given time, "hooking up" in various places in school, smoking (cigarettes and pot) outside during lunch.

Damn, I actually had some say and went to a litvish chareidi HS where the wildest it got was during purim where I got to smoke one cigarette and have about three glasses of wine. Believe me with that wine there was no risk of alcoholism, just diabetes.

In my MO community, hot was holding hands for a few minutes, several times before I graduated HS. Oh, I just remembered there was also foreplay, like getting excited about which tie to wear to shabbos morning services so you could make a good impression on the girls during the round of social greetings between families after services. This became extended foreplay if there happened to be a good kidduss. The good news is the heat built up. The bad news, is that several years is a long time to be stuck in foreplay.

The other curse of chareidi boys education is the conviction that if rabbis are in charge because they know enough to talk down at us so long, that should be our method for seduction and foreplay.

In truth the other problem of yehiva education is the rabbinical role model of arrogrance, and supression of dissent. Or course they don't want you silent. But most of us learned that the Rabbi almost always had to win, because he was right. It took me a long time to learn not to do that to people. Sometimes that nasty old habit just reappears and makes my life harder.

But the good news is that there is life after HS.

rabbidw wrote:
"I believe there was a Rabbi named Soloveitchick who went to the University of Berlin. He didn't seem to turn out to bad. Rabbi Hutner also went to the university of Berlin and Rabbi Svhneerson went to the Sorbonne. No risk, no reward. If God was not willing to risk, he would not have created the tree of knowledge in the first place. There is always risks with children no matter how you try to protect them."

IIRC, the Rav already had semicha and was in his twenties when he went to Berlin to pursue a Ph.D. Big difference from an eighteen year old.

What, Alternative Childcare, make you such an expert on what courses A-P-C took while in college (or graduate school)? And why take such issue over it?

(Actually, A-P-C never said he took those courses himself; he just said it might be a good idea if Harold took them.)

Nevertheless, it's certainly possible to take a variety of courses while in college, including some beyond mere survey courses, while majoring in some entirely unrelated area.

Most of my friends who grew up orthodox, went to secular college, and are no longer orthodox went "off the derekh" after college!

When I was in college in New York the people bought their drugs from YU guys.

Im going to a secular college next year even though I am an orthodox girl. The next time I post on this chat will be to inform you all that I am still frum.

Orthodox girl - are you still frum? :) what college are you at?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

----------------------

FailedMessiah.com is a reader supported website.

Thank you for your generous support!

----------------------

----------------

----------------

Please Scroll Down Toward The Bottom Of This Page For More Search Options And For A List Of Recent Posts

Recent Posts

Audio: Rabbi Eliezer Silver on Child Sexual Abuse.

Do you need help leaving an ultra-Orthodox community or navigating life outside one? Call Footsteps.

Tip Jar

Gelt Is Good!

Tip Jar
Jibbadgefinalist

Tip Jar

Gelt Is Good!

Tip Jar

Comment Rules

  • 1. No anonymous comments.

    2. Use only one name or alias and stick with that.

    3. Do not use anyone else's name or alias.

    4. Do not sockpuppet.

    5. Try to argue using facts and logic.

    6. Do not lie.

    7. No name-calling, please.

    8. Do not post entire articles or long article excerpts.

    ***Violation of these rules may lead to the violator's comments being edited or his future comments being banned.***

Rubashkin Protest Gear

  • Rubashkin_parody_1

    Buy one of these and wear it to shul. Other Rubashkin gear as well. Protest!
  • Rubashkin_label_parody_1

    Wear this amazing T-shirt to your local supermarket. Better yet, buy a dozen and bring your friends – with signs! Available here!

Older Posts Complete Archives

Search FailedMessiah

Lijit Search

----------------------

FailedMessiah.com is a reader supported website.

Thank you for your generous support!

----------------------

----------------------

FailedMessiah.com in the Media

Tip Jar

Gelt Is Good!

Tip Jar

RSS Feed

Blog Widget by LinkWithin