July 19, 2024
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Suggestions For a Revised Yeshiva Curriculum

There is an ongoing raging debate whether our contemporary educational system is adequately preparing our children for life. Many of the skills necessary for success in school are simply not so important in life, and vice versa. The question thus becomes how we can best utilize our children’s formative years to give them practical tools and knowledge that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.

Personally, I have a few propositions for topics and classes that I believe our yeshivot should be adopting. I, for one, would have had an easier time if I was better trained in these areas. Following are just a few of my suggestions:

“Jewelry and Sheitels 101”—No, a little bracelet from the quarter machine outside ShopRite is not a good-enough gift for your wife (even as a joke). As ancient wisdom teaches, if you want to remember your anniversary, just forget it once! My mother once quipped to me that she could buy four women’s hats for the price of one of my hats. I responded that I could buy five expensive hats for the price of her cheapest sheitel. Part of the class should include a field trip to a local jewelry store. The students should look at all of the various types of jewelry and at the price tags. Then, when they get back from the store their rebbeim should convince them that they still must get married.

“Vegetables and Grocery Shopping 102”—Have you ever seen a man shopping without holding a cell phone? Yes, women talk on their phones too while they are shopping, but their conversations are about everything and anything under the sun. A man’s shopping conversation, however, is centered around trying to figure out: which brand, which aisle and how many?

Truthfully, how is a former yeshiva bochur supposed to know what a parsnip looks like? The first time my wife told me to bring home parsnip I brought home horseradish. [I was wondering why she was putting fresh maror in the chicken soup…] She still loves to tell that story over. Now when I shop I often ask a passing female shopper about certain vegetables. When the woman invariably laughs at the question, I reply that the Gemara doesn’t discuss what a scallion looks like.

“Flowers 103”—Before getting married, yeshiva guys have to realize that flour is not only the stuff that goes into cake and kugel. The first time I walked into a florist after I got married (which incidentally was the first time I walked into a florist in my life) and the florist asked me what I wanted, I replied that I wanted to buy flowers. When she asked me what kind, I told her the ones that go in a vase and die two days later. Boy, would it have saved me some embarrassment if I knew the difference between a rose, a hydrangea and a cactus.

After our eldest was born, I went to my usual florist to purchase Shabbos flowers. She asked me if I wanted baby’s breath as filler, but I replied that, thank God, we now had our own source of baby’s breath (and crying) at home.

If our yeshivot gave these three classes it would tremendously help our young men prepare for life. But good luck finding male teachers to teach the classes.

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW is the rabbi of Kehillat New Hempstead, as well as guidance counselor and fifth grade rebbe in ASHAR, and principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor, and a division head at Camp Dora Golding. He also presents parenting classes based on the acclaimed Love and Logic methods. His email address is: [email protected]. His website is: www.stamtorah.info.

By Rabbi Dani Staum

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