Letter: Who Needs This Mishegas?

I grew up in Flatbush, attending Yeshiva Torah Temimah. There was no such concept as midwinter vacation for boys in that world. Even us balabatishe kids understood that the limud hatorah of tinokos shel bais rabon was paramount; hence “midwinter” was for the girls’ schools – not for yeshivos. It was also for our “out of town” friends from camp. The ones that had to travel in from Cleveland/LA/Chicago etc. to 13th Avenue to purchase clothing and visit their grandparents. They needed a midwinter break. Oh… and also for the college kids who had breaks between semesters.

Even the girls – their midwinter vacation consisted of traveling to PA for snow-tubing and going out with friends. That was it. Travel to Miami was really the exception – not the norm – you know… the same families that made weekend bar mitzvas in the Waldorf.

Fast forward a quarter of a century to my experience as a parent in Lakewood. My son’s yeshiva gives off. Why?

My daughter’s school gives three days off. Why? At least growing up in Brooklyn, many girls schools had school on Sunday. My sister’s had a full day, including secular studies, every Friday, getting home close to 2PM. My daughters, on the other hand, are home by 11:23 every Friday morning! (definitely another topic we need to discuss).

Does a four day school week from 9-4 really wear down our girls that much? Let’s be real, Chanuka vacation was barely four weeks ago. Purim is five weeks away. Let’s man up a bit…

This whole vacation creates a financial burden that is totally superfluous. My shul was empty on Shabbos, due to a huge percentage of families departing to hotels for Shabbos. I know that many of them cannot afford the $4-$6,000 for the Shabbos, but they need to do “something” because it is midwinter vacation. Why?

It feels like hundreds of girls are going to Florida, some alone and some with their mothers, leaving the dads home with the boys. I even saw a group of mesivta bochurim gather to a central location for a bacurim Shabbos since their families were all away. Why?

What about the empty batei medrash, usually full with balabatim spending Sundays learning, but empty because of midwinter vacation. Why? 

Who needs this midwinter mishegas??? We have beautiful Yomim Tovim, Chol HaMoed, Chanukka, Summer break etc. Do we really need this extra weekend?

Lakewood is a very efficient society that does not hesistate to adapt with the times. I would love to see The Scoop run a survey polling the parents to see how many people would love to abolish this anachronism of midwinter vacation.

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  1. Very sad that the scoop is posting this letter for clicks.
    The kids need this, it’s good for them and good for the Rabbeim.
    No one asked you to spend 4-5k.
    Relax Mr. Balabatish, Its just an off shabbos with a Monday “man up” as you say and spend some time with your kids.

    • You fell for the pressure. You think it’s normal because everyone is doing it. Whoever wrote this, I went to the same yeshiva in ny and sisters probably went to the same schools also. He’s 100% right and I wouldn’t change a thing he said. This generation is so spoiled and you are feeding into it.

      • spoiled for getting 3 days off of school? sorry today’s kids are treated better than you were. It comes off as quite selfish. I know plenty of families that spend midwinter at home just enjoying sleeping in and spending time together. Not everyone gives into the notion to go on some extravagant vacation, and those who do have no one to blame but peer
        pressure that they’re too weak to resist.

  2. Well said. When’s the last anybody heard their 3rd grader come home one day and say I need a break.it’s a joke an embarrassment to all parents to feel the pressure and do something that the kids don’t need at all

    • When’s the last time your kid came home and said I need a shot in my arm. They are kids they don’t know what they need. Their parents should.

  3. what about just extending the chanuka vacation to an extra day, like thursday , friday and monday, and then no midwinter? would make a lot more sense .
    Then we don’t need a break a few weeks later.!!
    and its a yom tov, when even the boys have off, so spend family time then.

  4. Also grew up in Flatbush, now in Lakewood. NEVER went out of town during the breaks, most we ever did was the Catskills for a couple of days in July. Now, the best part about Lakewood? There really isn’t a summer vacation. Kids have a very short break where they basically have Yeshiva with some hiking and no secular studies. Agreed on the silly breaks – they don’t even have time to settle back in after Hanukkah break and boom, it’s Purim and then off for Pesach.

  5. I can’t believe I’m writing in… but I love mid winter break and spending time with my kids out of the day to day school schedule. I’m so surprised with all of the strong reactions

  6. I have my opinion about midwinter but definitely don’t understand the hyperbole that goes along with the opinions. Why can’t you disagree with something without going crazy?

    • Agreed. People get way to inflamed with other people when expressing their opinions. Ahavas Yisroel is still a chiyuv when commenting on online forums.

  7. I recall in Brooklyn in the 70’s having midwinter vacation after midterms. But it consisted of not having secular studies that week, only limudei kodesh till 3pm so we called it “half days”.
    I think it was done then, because in those days most teachers were public school teachers who taught in yeshivahs in the afternoon. So since they were off that week in the morning they didn’t want to have to come in to work in the afternoon just for those 2-3 hours.
    In those days, at least in my yeshiva, secular studies was 315pm to 530pm or some years till 600pm.

  8. Who the heck asked you to spend $4-6k? You can go to Miami and stay in the mid-tier hotel for about 200 a night. Tickets cost about $150 round trip. These reasonable prices are easily obtained as long as you book well in advance, don’t wait till last minute.

    • So 2 heilige parents and 4 tayereh yiddishe kinderlach
      at your rate 900 for flights
      And 2 rooms for 5 nights for 2000
      (Maybe a third room)
      Ubers or rental with parking and gas another 250-500
      A little bit food for Yeshiva week and shabbos in Miami
      Probably eat out a few times
      And a few activities and entertainment
      Top it off with a little shopping
      And bobs your uncle
      R’ David it’s time to check your credit card bill

  9. In lakewood there is barely any family time possible. So mid winter for both would be perfect. But it is only for girls. So defeats the purpose. Make summer vacation shorter and mid winter longer. Spend what you can afford..

  10. Reporting from the trenches: I am a Rebbi who just spent Friday and Sunday in a Lakewood classroom (no MWV in this moisad). We had 85% attendance. The ruach was upbeat, and the expression “MidWinter Vacation” was NOT MENTIONED ONCE by a single Talmid. The uncomfortable truth is that in general Talmidim and Rebbeim do NOT need it, and the Rebbi who does need it can take a day or two off at his convenience.

  11. As a teacher, the break means nothing if I am busy making my kids happy…I don’t get a break ..and my best part today as an English teacher in a Monsey boys school was that I had school and my kids were home..so I got out and they fended for themselves

  12. $200 a night for hotel is for ONE room. If you have more than 2 kids you’re going to need a second or third room. And then you also need to pay for activities once there. You’re not just going to sit in the hotel all day, unless you plan on sitting on the beach all day. Then you have a whole new set of issues..

  13. The school hanhala need to be able to relax in Florida for a weekend, that’s also why they banned their students from going to Florida, don’t want them to see their Rebbi and/or Menahel in their speedos.

  14. Wow! Not one comment on the HALACHA the shulchan aruch dictates the schedule of boys learning. I’m sure some can come up with creative solutions for that but no comment at all ?!!! WOW

  15. There are so many different ways I could answer the letter writer:
    I will do my best Beh.
    מה טובו אהלך יעקב
    It is the beauty of the people of Yaakov that we don’t look at what other people do. Everyone has their cheshbon.
    Do we know what that family is going through?
    That their child is recovering from Cancer and the family needed that vacation?
    Or the grandmother is a holocaust survivor and this may be the last time the children see them?
    Or the mother had a miss and she so desperately needed this break?
    Or the older single who needed some sunshine in her life?Or the family was going through a separation and needed this vacation?
    I could go on and on.
    We are all Bnei Torah .
    We each have our das Torah and each family has to do what they see best for their family.(what happened to הוי דן לכף זכות?)
    Now to compare our generation with 30 years ago is night and day.
    First off everyone was poor then.
    Secondly the prices of flying was so expensive! Also the nisyonos of our generation is very different than those days, some families were severely damaged by Covid (mind you I lived in Miami back then and every single hotel was a Kosher Hotel with food and a minyan ) and thousands came even back then .
    And we still called it “Yeshiva Week” even then.

    There are some kids who live a much simpler home and don’t need a vacation .
    And there are those that do.

    It’s time we stop these conversations already.

    There are so many other topics we could talk about.
    The youth crisis
    The housing crisis
    The shidduch crisis (which has many layers )

    Etc etc.
    To be quite frank, I’m a little naushed out from all this Mid- winter talk .
    Everyone should just kind their own business and do what you feel is best for your family.

  16. We are a 2 parent working family. I need my days off to prepare for Pesach, when the kids have off between camp and school and for my personal very needed mental health days. During mid winter vacation, my kids get bounced around from house to house because I can’t take off. I’m sure I’m not the only working parent in this boat. I would love to have more days off but mid winter vacation really only works for working teachers that have off that can spend time with their kids because they are also off. For working office mothers, this is an unnecessary added stress as the kids are not needing these mental health days so soon after Chanuka vacation.

  17. to all the new york chvra. if things were so great in ny, why did you leave? maybe we in lakewood dont want to be like ny. did you ever think of that? And yes there are many people who dont want to live like new yorkers

  18. Stupid comment, Lakewood IS NY. The vast majority of Torah Temima talmidim are currently living in Lakewood. The old Lakewood is long gone, move to S. Falsburg, maybe you will find it there. They didn’t leave they just all came here because of the cheap housing, and they were mostly in BMG. The only way to bring Lakewood to what is was would be if BMG would be selective and only take those that fit the yeshivishe mold, which Rav Shneur didn’t believe in doing.

  19. Most ppl that go to Florida and such type of places , are spending money that don’t have and are doing it just to keep up with the social pressure

  20. I don’t think it’s a mishegas for the girls – and the girls will be very upset if it got taken away from them (my girls school already took away the Tuesday it used to give years ago) the Mishegas is the peer pressure that became to fly somewhere or go somewhere extravagant instead of using the time to relax and possibly shop. The schools should give some kind of extra credit or the like for those that stayed local. That way everyone will do whatever they want/can afford… and at least some kids would want to stay local. Truthfully I stayed here in Lakewood and was glad that most of you left – or there would have been too much traffic and impossible to get into any stores with everyone here. It’s a matter of Chinuch – bring up your kids to be sameach bchelko and give them happiness without having what the Jones’ have.

  21. There is a girls’ school that abolished midwinter vacation this year right here in Lakewood. Some parents are upset about it and are making a hullaballoo but most parents are thrilled.

  22. My daughter’s school started MWV on Thursday and school resumes tomorrow on Wed. That’s some vacation. Also, why is MWV called suddenly Yeshiva week?

  23. Like all things, the children copy the parents. Your parents didn’t run all over the world and I don’t know if you do or not. But a lot of people in Lakewood are. Same thing with smartphones and most other things. Be an example for your kids. That’s #1

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