Our shared goal is to provide the best possible religious, educational, and social-emotional experience for all of our students. The formative years of high school provide an important setting for our adolescents to grow in each of these areas by taking full advantage of the holistic high school experience provided in our yeshiva high schools. With the distractions and challenges in society, providing the appropriate environment that supports the growth of each student requires careful thought and reflection. With the goal of providing a healthy, supportive, engaging and spiritually nurturing environment, we have been reflecting on appropriate cell phone policies that recognize the benefits and reality of mobile phone use, along with its distractions, literally and figuratively. Some of the concerns that have come up among high school educators are:
Students spend much of their free time in yeshiva and on trips focused on their phones instead of the in-person interactions that are important for social development. The instinct to grab their phones as soon as there is a break creates an addiction and an unhealthy escape from their social environment.
Students are less mentally present. This limits and interferes with their ability to take advantage of the full high school experience. This is manifested in many different ways, but has significantly impacted their ability to fully grow during high school.
Students have a harder time focusing on shiurim and classes due to the constant distraction of their cell phones.
Bullying, social pressure and anxiety have risen due to the increased usage of mobile phones.
Exposure to images and content that is not consistent with our shared values is a constant struggle when students spend an unhealthy amount of time on their cell phones.
Each of our schools has discussed this with parents and students and experimented with various cell phone policies and are collaborating together to advance a policy and an initiative to provide our students with the opportunity to engage more completely at our yeshiva high schools. While the exact details of the policies at each school may vary, all of our schools are committed to making our classrooms and most of our school days smartphone free.
May our increased awareness of this challenge, working together to address it, and our encouragement of the healthy growth and development of our students help make this year one of success for our students religiously, academically, socially and emotionally.
Sincerely,Rabbi Jeffrey Beer, Westchester Hebrew High School, WestchesterRabbi Joseph Beyda, Yeshivah of Flatbush High School, BrooklynJonathan Cannon, Ramaz Upper School, New YorkRabbi Eli Ciner, Yeshivat Frisch, ParamusBluma Drebin, Elisheva Kaminetsky, SKA, Hewlett, New YorkRabbi Michoel Druin, Ivdu Schools, BrooklynRabbi Josh Grajower, Ohr Hatorah, Hollywood, FloridaRabbi Seth Grauer, Bnei Akiva Schools, Toronto, CanadaRabbi Josh Kahn, MTA, New YorkRabbi Dr. Jeff Kobrin, North Shore Hebrew Academy High School, Great NeckRabbi Jon Kroll, SAR High School, RiverdaleRabbi Dovid Kupchik, Fasman Yeshiva High School, Skokie, IllinoisRabbi Yisroel Kaminetsky, DRS, Woodmere, New YorkDeena Kobre, Naaleh, Fair LawnRabbi Avi Levitt, Katz Yeshiva High School, Boca Raton, FloridaNaomi Lippman, HAFTR High School, Cedarhurst, New YorkCB Neugroschl, Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School, TeaneckRabbi Ami Neuman, JEC, ElizabethBracha Rutner, Central, QueensRabbi Sion Setton, Yeshiva Prep High School, BrooklynSara Munk, Shulamith, Woodmere, New YorkRabbi Eli Slomnicki, HANC High School, Uniondale, New YorkRabbi Aryeh Stechler, Heichal Hatorah, TeaneckRabbi Shlomo Stochel, TABC, TeaneckBethany Strulowitz, Bruriah, Elizabeth