Letter: Is this just me – or half of Lakewood?

I would like to classify myself as a normal, frum, working Lakewood family. I grew up here, went to school here, married and settled down here. My oldest child, a boy, is happily settled and thriving in a wonderful cheder in Lakewood. And now it’s time to send my second child, a girl,to primary. After much research, I have applied to 5 schools which sound like a good fit for my daughter, and into which our family will fit in well. I sent out my application right after Sukkos in hopes to hear back shortly.

Of course, I didn’t just leave it at that. After submitting my application, I reached out to close acquaintances who are known to have “pull” in the school that appealed to me the most, who graciously agreed to help. I patiently waited at the phone each day in the for an interview (I was under the naive impression that one gets interviewed wherever they apply…I have learned the brutal truth the hard way, and it baffles me). It is now November 30 and I still haven’t heard from that school, let alone a single school to which I applied. I called each school myself and they said they will contact me when applicable.

I called my “pull” contacts again. They all said that they have spoken to the principal in the school but s/he has no say. It is the owner who makes the decisions in that school. My contacts told me that they have given over very good information about me and my family, yet the principal is not in a position to utilize that position as according to them, it is beyond their power to intervene.

One of my contacts was straightforward with the principal and bluntly asked whether I should apply elsewhere. The response: “That would be a good idea, as my school is focused this year on taking in BMG families only.”

I then looked into another school that I applied to and I got the very same response.

And, apparently, that is why I am still waiting by the phone and davening for at least one interview, somewhere, somehow.

To all the schools ‘focusing on a BMG-only parent body’, I’d like to say this:

My husband learns every single morning and almost the entire Sunday. This is besides for having a demanding full time weekday job. He gets up before davening each Shabbos morning to put in some learning as well. He is in shul learning at every opportunity that comes his way. But because we have to work to pay our bills (and B”H full tuition, on time….) my sweet four-year-old daughter can’t get into school. I’m up at night and can’t focus during the day because who knows where my daughter will be going next year.

I have heard that its possible to get placed into schools where I didn’t apply, and where the chinuch isn’t what I envision, nor what is appropriate for my family. Why should an upstanding, Torah-centered working family have to compromise on their chinuch values because they don’t fit into the BMG mold, or don’t have the right strings to pull (this description probably applies to 50% of the Lakewood population)? This is such a painful process! I prefer not to have to wait until school starts to get my daughter a place in an appropriate school.

But I’m simply not sure what else I can do, and it’s terrifying to think of how many mothers are in the same place as me with absolutely no recourse.

Editor’s Note: Attention school owners: If you’d like to get in touch with this family, please let us know.

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28 COMMENTS

  1. I feel so sorry for this family and it is terrible that this is what it comes to. The only thing I can say is that it is Zos Chanukah tonight, a very special time for tefillah. Pour out your heart and hopefully you will see a Yeshuah!

  2. My heart goes out to this family. Been there, done that. My relatives have been there.
    There is one piece here that just doesn’t fit, and I’ll say it straight. I have a hard time believing the “bmg” part. Everyone knows Lakewood is not BMG anymore, and not only that – Lakewood doesn’t even accommodate BMG. At all. The proof is in the pudding. BMG yugeleit have nowhere to live, nowhere to send their kids, no hope in this town that should rightfully be their oyster. No, their kids are not getting into schools either. That’s a fact. They have no housing. the only ones who have this town in the palms of their hands are the NY expats who have the $$$$$$$$$$$ to turn it into their own town. So while my heart breaks for you, I just don’t buy the BMG thing. I don’t mean to be harsh, but you’ll have to blame your problem on a different demographic, not on the one that has the biggest tzaros of all these days in this town.

  3. We feel your pain but unfortunately this is not news. There is no single particular person or entity who can be blamed or who can solve this situation. Keep on davening and have Emunah, which will help you grow from this challenge.

  4. To the mother who wrote this letter:
    I was in a very similar position a few years ago. One school I applied to would not accept us because my husband was working. In the end, our daughter was accepted into a wonderful school, and in hindsight it is a much better fit. I hope your story has a good ending. You sound like a good person who does the right things! Best of luck!

  5. I wanted to comment on the following statement that you made.
    “I heard it’s possible to get into schools where I didn’t apply and where the Chinuch isn’t what I envision.”
    I have a funny feeling that if we do some research, we will find out that many Gedolim, maybe Rabbi Moshe Feinstien, Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky, The Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Orbach, May all their memories be blessed, maybe they went to the schools that you thought that their level of Chinuch was not so great. I have a funny feeling that I am right. Also we have to be extremely careful on the words that we choose to use. If a person speaks even a drop negative about a whole school, that is a scary gamble.

  6. Been there, done that. I remember marveling how we were a house with no internet, I dressed with tznius and my husband learnt every spare minute that he had. But we weren’t a kollel family and couldn’t get into our school of choice. It’s now 8 years later and I’ve learned a thing or 2. Firstly, let go of your ego. We wound up in a school that had only opened 1 year earlier. We were of course hesitant but realized we had no choice. Now we are extremely happy. In fact our school is now known as a top notch elementary school. Secondly, take a step back and realize you are not in control. You have to do your hishtadlus but all the pull in the world won’t get u into a school that your daughter is not meant to be in. Daven that it all be for the good and take a step back. You will look back at this tekufa and realize that your daughter wound up in the exact place she was meant to be! Hatzlocha rabba

  7. I don’t have kids in school anymore, but, I believe that any school that is opening up will try their best to give kids the proper chinuch. No one wants to open a school that isn’t top notch.

  8. I have numerous friends that were told by certain girl schools that they were only taking BMG families. Maybe it was just a “polite” way of rejecting them but I 100% believe that they were told this.

    We had a similar situation with our son. Bh it worked out- not the school we envisioned but MUCH better than where we had wanted. I daven the same happens for you!

  9. Why not just open another seminary
    From what I understand they charge a fortune of money in tuition
    So it must be a good money maker
    Every one is looking to open a Successful business and earn money.
    So go open your own Seminary and not only will you have a place for your daughter to go
    You will also have Good Parnasa and get a Chosheva name as being the owner of a Seminary and become a rich person
    And people will be calling you to get their daughters into your seminary instead of you calling them

  10. Agreed with Tzvi. I wonder what schools you applied to. There are so so many good schools in lakewood. Did you apply to the one that’s a good fit for you?

  11. All the schools offer the same chinuch. The difference is the crowd. Parents like you decided that chinuch level is based on social circle. So schools follow this and are selective. You can’t have it both ways. Demand only specific schools and then expect them to accept everyone. If parents would be more accepting so would schools. This is an issue created by parents demands that their schools are exclusive so that they can feel they got the “best chinuch” by sending their kids to an exclusive school. So if that’s what you want, that is the community you will have to live with.

  12. It’s definitely you. You can also apply to Brooklyn schools and move back if your daughter is accepted to a school there. What I’m saying is don’t put all your eggs in 1 basket.

  13. I am so sorry for what you are going through. My daughter’s school closed down and she did not have a place until chanukah. I was told to go to schools which absolutely did not meet my chinuch standards…both myself and my wife work.

    SADLY, I KNOW ITS A CLICHE TO SAY THIS THESE DAYS, BUT NEVER LET UP ON YOUR DAVENING…NEVER! MY DAUGHTER EVENTUALLY GOT INTO ONE OF THE BEST SCHOOLS IN LAKEWOOD! THEY ALL JUST HAVE TO PLAY THE POLITICAL GAME.

    It is likely true that schools are focusing on a more “yeshivish” crowd this year. Other years are focused on working families. But know this, even yeshivish families suffer. The school owners do their research VERY WELL on each family to see if there is money…trust fund, grand parents, kollel yungerlite who have ownership in successful real estate or whose wives own succesfull buisnesses… everyone who does not have money suffers here. This problem has stricken all types of yidden.

  14. I understand how you feel I have an older son that I was trying to get into mesivta
    we tried different yeshivas and finally a day before yeshiva started he got accepted into a yeshiva that was perfect for him
    we davened really hard the whole time and we saw the yad of Hashem helping us at the end
    I wish you much hatzlocha

  15. @ Brooklyn observer – the letter writer clearly stated that they grew up in lakewood

    I wanted to point out something else that I learned from the school application process. Often a school has an amazing name and everyone starts pushing like crazy to get in. But really that school is just like every other school with its positive qualities and flaws. There’s a certain peer pressure to get in there for whatever the reason is but it’s all a bunch of fluff

  16. Frankly there’s a lot of blame to go around starting from the good hearted people who pull and make the owners of the school feel like they have all the power in the world maybe if people would stop pulling it would become a buyer’s market.
    The movers and shakers in town who support opening new schools because it’s necessary, might have to be more astute and picky who they choose to promote opening schools some of these owners are not exactly the highest caliber of people.
    Lastly to all parents take a long-term view how will your child look when he or she graduates rather than looking where the crowd is running to, the flavor of the moment, if you have a Long view you’ll be happy going to a school who wants you because at the end of the day your child will be educated the way you want him to be. When all of us will realize that we are all to blame even though only some of us get hurt, each and every one of us contributes just a little bit to this fiasco it’s time for all of us to wake up.

  17. What goes around comes around. You rejected perfectly good schools in Lakewood because in your opinion they are not a “good fit” for you. Well, guess what. The schools you applied to think the exact same about you.

    If you humble yourself and apply to “second tier” schools as well you might be surprised that you might get excepted by one of your first picks, and even if not you might just be surprised that you will turn out delighted with the “second tier” school.

  18. Oh please!

    Mesivtas come a Dime a Dozen
    Every 39 year old in Lakewood wants to become a Rosh Yeshiva and so at least 10 new Mesivtas open in Lakewood every year with additional Mesivtas opening out of Lakewood and Monsey

    A number of these Mesivtas close after a few years because they cannot find enough Bochurim to fill their Mesivtas

    So there should be no problem getting your son into a Mesivta or Bais Medrash

    There are literally hundreds of them between Lakewood Monsey and Brooklyn and beyond

  19. this is awful how schools pick and choose. if you are wealthy we will accept your kids if not do not even apply. seems to me they are all in it first for the money. what happened to schools were places to learn and not how rich or popular you were or associated with a particular group. maybe you need to re-evaluate and move to where you would be accepted on who you are and not by who you know or how rich you are. good luck getting your child into the school of your choice

  20. If you are non a BMG family, then why in the world would you feel the need to push your daughter into a school that wants only BMG families? Being that Lakewood now has many choshuve citizens who are not necessarily BMG families, so wouldn’t you be a better fit in the school where these choshuve citizens send their own daughters? I’m sure that there are a number of them. Why write into the Lakewood Scoop complaining about a problem that is solely of your own contrivance, which only causes people to badmouth the Mosdos and also the “BMG families”? And unlike the schools that our gedolim attended, there is a tremendous emphasis on gashmius which these parents have the right to eschew. I’m sure that R Shlomo Zalman Aurbach’s parents didn’t have to contend with the issues of other kids in his class talking about Teslas and wearing skinny pants. They were all of the same social class. Not the same as in Lakewood.

    • I read your comment very carefully.
      Nice comment by the way.
      The writer of this letter did not mention issues pertaining to modern technology and internet and etc.

  21. To Z’s. Regardless of where the letter writer grew up, she’s still putting all her eggs in 1 basket and is not willing to branch out. She’s going to need to expand her horizons a bit even if if means applying to a Brooklyn school. Not to worry, though. Bore’ Olam will help.

  22. This is nothing new. It happens to us 15 yers ago as well. The only advice I will give you is to calm downand don’t take it personally..
    there are people who are always victims of circumstances, and this tome ist you. Just stay calm. She will not stay home for her school years. Things will develop with time and it may be super close to the first day of the year, but take it all in stride. Anxiety doesn’t help anything. Hatzlocha and hopefully you’ll get in somewhere before august.

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