A Response: Schools Should Not Begin Until Each Child is In School

In response to the letter from the mother of a 7-year-old boy who is not in school, I have the following suggestion.

Why don’t we go back to the days when the schools didn’t open unless all children in Lakewood had a school?

I don’t know the specifics of this case, but I did hear there are still several children who are not in school, and more who were not in school when the school year began.

The idea I believe was started by the Mashgiach, but somehow the initiative fizzled out.

In a show of Achdus and care, it’s time all schools banded together and decided not to begin the school year until every child is in school.

Say no to Neshamos left behind.

A parent who cares about a single Neshama.

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  1. While I am not taking away from the tragedy and I don’t know what to do. I think that for such a suggestion you need somebody at least as big as the Mashgiach to make (If I am not mistaking before the Mashgiach did he consulted with the gedolim in Eretz Yisroel) did he also do it for boys or just girls there is a lot at steak (this child not being in school is at stake) the Torah of all the children that are in school are at stake this is a real Daas Torah question. I don’t think that this a forum for people to say opinions about such a thing or even comment the tragedy is great but not for us simple people to comment on suggestions…

    • How about no one should go to work until every child has a school! How can you go earn a living while a child is left at home without a school?
      It’s not the local school’s responsibility to ensure every child has a slot in the limited slots there are. It’s the responsibility of the community as a whole & the parents of the child to educate our children. I’m not sure why people blame the schools for not doubling in size to accomodate all the people moving to Lakewood or even the natural growth.
      If an individual decided to open a school does that mean that he’s the caretaker of Lakewood & must now put 40 children in a class or build another building to house more classes?
      The founders of the schools never took upon themselves this responsibility.
      As far as the administration being selective about who they take in, they are beholden to a large extent to the existing parent body. There are no empty seats in our schools to my knowledge, there is a certain similiarity of background you will find in the schools.
      Would we blame the bakery if all the bread sold out? Are they responsible to ensure the need for bread never runs out? Of course not! Our schools have limited space which cannot be easily increased. Our Rabbonim, Roshei Yeshiva, & Askonim need to come up with a solution. I don’t think the existing mosdos are responsible for this.
      One solution could be if the Schools would convert their chasunah halls to classrooms & the Township would set aside land for other halls to be built. The schools have gone into the catering business leaving up to a 1/3 of their buildings for this purpose. You could fit 100’s of classrooms in the current Yeshiva halls. This would solve this problem if someone would off to replace the income they would lose.

    • Why is it the responsibly of BMG? And then when the BMG Roesy Yeshiva or poskim will try to make some other takana in town everyone on line will scream “how dare they tell us what to do…we have our own rabbis…and worse.

      How about not allowing any to redo or buy a house until there are more schools ? That would solve the problem just as quickly.

  2. In large part the reason this practice was discontinued, is that parents began to use it as a manipulation tactic.
    Ie. “I know that if I don’t agree to go to my second choice school no school will be able to open, so I refuse to go to any school but the specific one I want.”
    Many of the issues we have today stem from that mindset.

  3. We shouldn’t be solving a terrible problem with a terrible solution. The main driver of the Chasidic movement was the distaste with the elitism that plagued the Litvish world. We need to fix this before we destroy ourselves.
    An OOT Chaver should me a video of his son’s school Bar Mitzvah boys. At Davening there are a nice mix of boys with no hat or jacket, jacket no hat, & hat & jacket. Or knit yarmulke & velvet yarmulke, no Peyos & Chasidish Peyos. No one is trying to convert the others or say they’re better. (Never got a good answer why) but many will say those different types of boys can’t go to school together. But here it’s much more narrowly sliced. Why can’t boy from similar backgrounds go to school together without slicing your piece razor thin.

  4. Bill ill tell you why.
    Oot it’s very easy to tell your child we don’t do x or y because we hold differently… The “frummer” kids understand that and appreciate it.
    In town it’s harder because everyone is the same. A relative told me that she moved to an area where she had to worry about what was happening in the neighbors houses but she couldn’t tell her children that they couldn’t go…
    It’s harder.

  5. Unfortunately our system is about looks!!
    Every school/Yeshiva in Lakewood at least, reserve the right to be selective and choose the type of parent body that will give the school/yeshiva a good name and not a bad name. They don’t really look into the kids potential, they main focus is more into the family style, looks and background.
    The Question here is: Is Hashem is happy with this “SELECTION“ that all the principals make with Yiddishe neshamos?
    I wouldn’t wanna be on the principal’s shoes , I think every Jewish neshama deserves to be accepted and have a Jewish education!!!
    Who is taking responsibility for all the pain and rejection that many many yiddishe kids and families have to go through every year! It’s time to change and improve our system. Where are our anzkanim! Our kids are getting hurt!

  6. As someone who has been involved with helping place children in school. I would like to point out that although there’s a lot of blame to go around, before you judge here are some questions to ask. 1) were they accepted into any school? How many schools did you apply to?. People often feel entitled to demand to be accepted into a specific School\crowd, despite that they themselves turn down a specific School / crowd. How hypocritical!
    Is there any reason why you were not accepted? Often times people want to get accepted in a school, but they don’t want to keep to the standards / rules of the school. Schools are entitled to have standards and rules. I’ve had success in getting children accepted just by taking responsibility that the parents will keep the rules. Sadly I’ve been burnt too…. Keeping everybody out of school till everybody’s accepted might be fair, but it does not put any pressure on parents to conform to rules or standards. There needs to be pressure on parents too for the sake of their own children.

  7. The situation in Lakewood is a mess and beyond repair. There is no reason that 70 years after the holocaust we are rejecting jewish children that want to go to a jewish school. This is a disgrace and I hope and daven that this whole system falls apart so we can start from scratch. This is not working at all. We jews are the biggest racist hiw dare we cry anti semitism when we are our own worst enemies.

    • A Institution that accepts anyone and anybody has no standards at all. The situation is far more nuanced, it’s whom they accept and why they accept. And there is an entire angle of parents who toot their own tune and expect the children to get in regardless of their upbringing at home. This makes an impossible situation for the teachers to manage. If you want to begin fixing the problem if it’s fixable at all you need to take a better look . it’s far more complicated then you seem to realize.

      • You can have standards that are not unlimited. You can have a school where things like shirt color, style, beard, Yeshiva, Shul, etc. Don’t matter cuz everyone values the “Limited” Diversity.

      • Nonsense it’s not an impossible situation for the parents. There are countless schools out of town that accept every Jewish child and yet provide An amazing Jewish education. No child should suffer bwcuase of what their parents are doing. Every Jewish child deserves to he an a school period. It should not be thay nuanced to understand thaybthis system is completely broken when so many parents and children are suffering.

        • It’s definitely not nuanced that it’s broken, and no it’s not difficult for the parents. it’s the teachers will carry the burden of having children Which haven’t been trained at home to follow instructions and all rules in school because parents don’t feel like they need to enforce it because they don’t believe in it. Perhaps if parents realize that despite the fact Of what they believe is correct they need to follow the rules in order not to make other people’s lives difficult.basic mentchlichkeit!
          Maybe out of town schools can deal with these issues easier since people don’t have that much attitude and think about others, (Yes out of town people seem to be nicer we all know that) so even if they’re different they can work together. In Lakewood it is a big struggle.

  8. Of course, Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Lazeh and we must to everything in our power to help every yid. However, I am so upset by the letters that are painting our amazing community in such a horrible light. First of all, how incredible is it that there are so many thousands of children who ARE in schools, who are successful and thriving and learning and are happy? No one in the times of the Holocaust would even dare imagine such a thing! And if you ask an average parent in any school they will tell you about the caring teachers, principals, rabbeim and all the other chinuch staff. These people are doing an amazing job. In addition, most schools are doing that at a packed capacity- with more than the number of kids in a class then should be properly allowed. So yes, are there some people who, for various reasons (and most of them have real reasons) or for no good reason at all have nowhere to send their child? YES! But why are people painting our schools in such a horrible light? Are there times when a school has one more slot and they choose someone who has made a donation and showed support vs an unknown child in the community? Of course! But that’s not a “broken system”. That’s the reality of having not enough space and such a huge communal growth rate, and schools making a practical decision. I think those who say these things about our schools owe a big apology to every devoted principal and menahel out there. It is true that some people are in a difficult situation and we need to help them. But slandering is not the way to go.

    • Talk is easy when your children are In schools. The fact of the matter us that the system is causing allot of pain for yiden. A system that causes such an amount of pain to klal yisroel is not worth anything. I can promise u that u would sing a whole different song have you experienced the pain that many parents experience in this dysfunctional lakewood system.

    • Mobile talk is easy . I am sure ur talojg thay way because ur children are in school and u dodnt feel another jews pain. People like you are part of the problem because you lack real ahavas yisroel. If the whole community would have had real ahavas yisroel we would not have such a dysfunctional system

      • I’m sorry that you misunderstood. All I was saying was that, although it is a problem, solutions cannot be found unless people involve themselves in understanding every aspect of the problem. Throwing stones at schools is the path of least resistance, but not helpful. Those who care get involved (not just point an accusatory finger, without real knowledge). There are those tzadikim who are involved in a big way and are busy a whole day with this. I am not one of them. But, I have spent many hours helping get individual children into school (not related to me, nor those I need a favor from). Oftentimes, I really understood why the school was hesitant and sometimes, I was not successful. Other times, the children were accepted and I was overwhelmed by the tzidkus of the school, because they had real reasons not to take and taking the children just created a big headache for them. My point is, it’s easy to point fingers, but to actually change the problem you claim to care so much about requires real effort. Although I most definitely can do more, I have spent countless hours on this – in one case over four months – and a lot of smoothing over was required. those that didn’t know the story couldn’t understand why the school didn’t take them in, because the school was professional and refused to disclose any info.
        While I agree with you that I do have to work on my ahavas yisroel – what have you done to help someone?

  9. The issue is a numbers game. Classes are full to capacity plus plus. Simple. Tons of people have moved and the schools cannot keep up with the growth. Brooklyn has hundreds of empty classrooms. Really really people need to understand it’s math and math only. When the kid is rejected it’s because the schools are full. Period. Now there is the option of going to a less popular or outwardly desirable school. This would solve a lot of problems. But to Stam make a cholent out of every school also doesn’t work. So Klal Yisroel is amazing and loves all the kids but the schools are 100% plus full to capacity.

  10. If not for R Yeboshua ben Gamla nishtachka Torah m’Yisroel. If we don’t care about every single kid’s chelek in Torah and we deprive him of that opportunity we will be causing all.of Torah to be lost from all of us. We can already see the beginnings of this. True learners and yodei Torah and diminishing rapidly over the last 50 years. We have become the opposite of R Shraga Feivel begging people to send their kids to a day school to chasing them away. If not caring about orphans would have caused all of Torah to become forgotten then kal vechomer to when we push children away who want to grow and shteig in limud hatorah. We cannot claim yadeinu lo shafcu… we created the loss of Torah to the world by displacing and refusing those who want to learn. Close all the schools until we value every child’s connection to Torah and afford him the opportunity to learn, lest we lose it all.

    • There are bais yaakovs in New York that cater to all children and yet are very successful. So this model of accepting everyone is very successful in almost every out of town community and still very successful in New York city.

  11. Let’s pretend you are a Rosh Mosad with ideals, here’s how it goes down:

    You start a mosad accepting every family who wants to come, because they are Yiddishe neshamos. The word gets out that you are taking ‘that’ crowd, and your regular base dwindles. After a few years you are left with a school comprised of all the fringes (I’m not saying they are all negative, but they all have their challenges): less frum, broken homes, dysfunctional homes etc. The challenge of putting all these boys or girls together makes the chinuch even harder. You have trouble getting rebbeim, because they’d rather teach in a school where they would put there children in. You have trouble raising money because you are the ‘fringe’ school. You can’t pay enough, get poor quality staff (and are short-staffed), the challenges among the students grow, etc. etc. Maybe you even have a nervous breakdown dealing with all the pressures…

    You are a tzaddik and an idealist, but now you’ve failed those you set out to serve.

    • You mean unless of course you have money, then all of sudden very frum people will allow your kids into the general population independent of how typical they are.
      Anyway, if it doesn’t work for everyone then it doesn’t work for anyone. Shut it all down. Virtually all the gedolim of yesteryear and older ones of today, in this country, went to a day school with children not very frum and maybe not even shomer shabbos (maybe even ruba d’ruba of the class) and they still became gedolei hador. R Yehoshua ben Gamla taught us if we don’t enable every kid a connection to grow in Torah we will lose it all.

  12. Idealist your not correct there are many schools in new york thay cater to all children and are extremely successful, almost every out of town school caters to the whole community and they are all very successful. For some reason lakewood is the only place that can’t embrace every jew. It’s a disgrace and dodnt try to sugar code it to make you feel better about yourself. The unfortunate reality is that it won’t change becuase the wealthy people are buying their slots so they get there children into schools. It’s only the poor people thay can’t buy a slot that are left out to rot.

    • Hey Mark, how did you develop your pristine Ahavas Yisroel while the rest of us Lakewooder’s don’t get it?
      Why do we have so many tzedakah & chessed organizations here in Lakewood if we have no Ahavas Yisroel?
      Don’t be holier than thou & blame an entire community for a problem that’s much more complicated. While 50 years ago the dayschools were a mixed crowd, today the risks are much higher to run a school like that. Just like the standards of kashrus, tznius, & shmiras halacha have gone up, the standards of who we want our children to associate with has gone up. The non yeshivish group is a mix of very ehrlich people but also people that don’t restrict the use of technology in the home. One such child brought in an unfiltered smartphone to my son’s class & the worst imagery was shown to the other children. I wouldn’t be surprised if that menahel is more selective the next time a parent shows up to enroll & the mother is dressed without tznius.

      • What is interesting is that many rosh yeshivas and big rabbonim have their children in rehab centers around the country. So these ostensibly great people have issues with their kids and their kids went to the very best schools- ele mai even the top notch schools that are very selective have a significant miyuta of kids falling by the wayside. Just because kids come the homes of big rosh yeshivas doesn’t mean that they aren’t the negative influence on the class. Maybe talk to rosh mosdos and menahalim in oot communities, where the day school has a real mix of kids, and you may be surprised to find out that the kids that are kicked out of class/suspended/expelled most often (leaving aside kids from troubled homes or anti religious parents) are kids whose parents are in klei kodesh- we can speculate as to why but after to talking to a number of them at Torah Umesoeah conventions those have been the facts told to me.

      • Seichel-at this point heavy technology use is rampant, even in the most holiest lakewood homes. So while initially your line of reasoning sounds correct…no longer. I doubt you can name even one lakewood school that the children don’t have internet or technology access. Maybe 10 years ago. So please don’t holier than thou. There is maybe a very very small subset of the real old time yeshivish people that shun the latest fashions, technologies etc. You no longer find (excuse my language-just trying to bring the point across) the ultra greasy yeshivish “nebs” that used to exist. All the “yeshivish” people are now fancy, updated with the latest and greatest clothes, accessories, iPhone (with a filter).

    • After reading a number of your comments on this thread its pretty clear that you simply have an agenda to bash the system without fully understanding the reasons behind why schools are forced to reject certain students… SAD!
      You keep on repeating the same point that there are some schools that except everyone…
      And you keep on avoiding everyone’s explanations as to why certain children aren’t being excepted into certain schools!

      Some examples why a school may feel that your child is not the right fit for their school (which you don’t seem to have any objections to) are:

      1. The Parents are refusing to cooperate with and follow the school rules (and yes this is a valid reason to decline a child as a school needs to have rules in order to function and when people flagrantly break those rules it simply stops the school from being able to function properly causing everyone in that particular school to suffer)

      2. Some schools cater to a higher level of education then the child is on, and if they would accept your child the child will simply be unable to keep up with everyone else and will Ultimately get more damaged because of this

      3. Some schools would love to have your child however due to lack of physical space simply cannot accept them. You can’t demand that a school with only 30 available slots take your child who was the 500th application!

      And there are many more very valid reasons why a school decides that their school is not the best place for your child.

      But this in no way means that lakewood doesn’t care about you or your child it simply means that because they care about your child they are telling you that their school is not the best place for them!

      I have yet to find or hear of any child that got rejected from every single school in the entire lakewood community, especially if the parents were happy to work together with the schools, and the reason for this is simple, cause there are schools out there for every child!

      I personally know many schools that except every single child so long as the child and parents are willing to work together with the school as one team.

      This entails paying for tutoring if needed, paying for shadows if needed, aderhing to the school rules if needed etc… so long as you are willing to work together with the school and accept a school that may not be on your personal wish list, there is a school in lakewood waiting for you.

      • No one is saying that every school has to accept every child, farkert not every school is appropriate for every child’s development. The point is that every school is responsible to make sure that ever single jewish boy is placed in a school that is appropriate for him. Of the parents are stubborn fine, ain hacha nami. But if the schools say that a pretty typical child should be in an extremely remedial school, l’moshal then the onus isn’t on the parents but on the schools for not providing a reasonable placement. The point is one mosad can’t just reject a child because he lacks money or protectica- it has to be because they can’t help him and secondly it is the responsibility of every mosad to make sure that every jewish boy has a reasonably adequate placement in a Jewish day school lest Torah become lost to all the Jewish people. If the parents refuse then they are the ones who must say yadenu shafcu hadam hazeh. But 1 school can’t just say it’s not my problem this Jewish boy has no opportunity to learn, it is definitely there are problem and they must propose adequate alternatives. Just like when the Alter of Slobodka would kick a boy out of his yeshiva but would make sure that he found another Yeshiva that would take him if he would so choose to go there.

  13. @mark Stein is 100% correct. I live out of town the schools are thriving. All families and all children from all walks of learn side by side along with parents who all get along very well and the kids go to top yeshivas and the kids are very normal.

  14. There are unique challenges raising children out of town as well as being the black sheep of an elite Rabbonishe, or Rosh yeshiva family. Overall, the children raised in pure Toradiga homes locally in Lakewood, at least during the elementary years are doing well. The children exposed to smartphones & non Jewish movies are being ruined by their parents.

  15. The schools definitely are responsible. Each school feels it is not them. But in reality collectively they are responsible because chinuch is their thing. We need a real strong Rabbi to deal with this. Unfortunately the masgiach got sick. I wouldn’t be surprised if this issue was a contributing factor. He lived with a lot of aggravation from the schools. Because the schools were not really interested in listening to him. They just used him for their benefit. Same old problem and it wont be solved unless the agudah and moetzes. Get involved. Perhaps they should bring it up this shabbos at the convention. Look Recnitz tried we blew it for getting upset at him. Go and listen to the recording of his speech. He was spot on. The almighty should protect us all.

  16. In the span of 10 years I was personally involved in starting 2 sperate schools (yes, they had proper funding, staff, and rabbinical oversight) who were willing to accommodate different backgrounds etc… It took about 4 years for word to get out that we were not an exclusive school and all the people that are having a hard time getting into other schools ( usually for a reason) did not want to look at us anymore.

    • So in short, you are saying that at least a portion of the blame goes to the parents.
      No surprise there, but there is no representative body for us to bash for that.
      I think we’ll just stick to the tried and true bashing of those who have dedicated themselves to building Yeshiva’s and Bais Yakovs.

    • I think the key is to market it as exclusive, everyone will flock to it, and shalom al Yisrael. As long as people think it’s exclusive, it’s a surefire way to fill it up.

  17. No in short it’s our sick mentality that we can’t send to a school that accommodates people thatvare not as frum as we are. This is a lakewood machle.

  18. I come from a “chusuv” family. My parents had no problem getting me into school, hey, they work for one! The way I was mechanaich at home left of with CPTSD. My high school rebuilt me and saved my life. But a school can only help so many children like me before it starts to buckle. I’ve seen that happen to schools. And it’s impossible for teachers to reach every child in a class of more than 30. My sons have huge classes. The Rebbi and teacher keep calling to apologize that my son never gets to see their face because his desk is up against the board. Over filling schools isn’t the answer. The same way developers build a shul in each development they should be required to do an escrow towards schools. At least some of the cost of continued Frum life should be built into the building of more houses… This won’t help for people buying in surrounding towns who intend to send their kids to Lakewood, I don’t have an solution to that.

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