July 18, 2024
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July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Often on various local Listserv groups people post requests for suggestions of where to send their 2- or 3-year-olds to play group or nursery schools. Already in this past month of September there were queries about day camps for the Summer 2018. Some we realize are interested in registering early in order to avail themselves of “early bird discounts.” As young parents, so much goes into the decision-making process as to what is best for our little ones.

As children become older the proper choice of school is also first and foremost on parents’ minds. Aside from the astronomical cost, there is the consideration of the hashkafa of the school, the type of parent body and many other concerns. In the very end of the process we all hope and pray that we have made the correct choices. Usually, from what we have observed, the choice of school is positive if the child is doing well, and when the child exhibits problems the school is the first one to be blamed.

The next step of high school becomes slightly less difficult for some because in many cases the students choose to go where their friends are gravitating to. It takes a brave young woman or man who decides to go to a school where none of their classmates will be attending.

The Israel (gap year) and or college choice probably depends most on one’s academic achievements as well as where the flock is going. We are impressed to learn of someone choosing to go to a school that is not on the beaten track of where most of his friends are going. When someone chooses to go to McGill we are excited with the knowledge that they have chosen a warm (despite the weather) school community where in most cases parents are able to save quite a bit of money in tuition. Someone going to Harvard obviously has the intellect and ability to do well in such an environment.

Recently we were thinking about and speaking with individuals whose children are in more “yeshivish” environments and we found out that their choices of which yeshiva the student will attend following high school is totally up to the recommendation of the “rebbe.” Parents know little of the place where the children are going. Total trust is put into the hands of the rebbe. There is little discussion. Whatever Lola wants (we mean the rebbe) is what will happen. It is as if parents have given up the right to participate in their children’s future. The rebbe makes the declaration and the puppets follow. Forgive us for feeling sarcastic about this approach but we are thinking back to the nursery school choices and the elementary school choices that we worked so hard to find the right fit for. Suddenly our children’s lives are in the hands of not those who weaned them, dressed them, loved them daily, cared for their every need, but those who spend a few years with them in the classroom and have taken over decisions that will shape their entire lives in the future. We wonder how many of these rebbeim have ever discussed with their high school students, as they get ready to move on to the next step, what their responsibility will be one day for supporting a family. How many have mentioned the importance of learning something other than gemara in order to widen their horizons and join the world at large as a major contributor to being an example of fine midot while pursuing a vocation and being able to afford to live a decent lifestyle? How many of them are encouraging their students to one day break away from their parents’ apron strings and become financially independent? Frequently we are silent amongst conversations taking place with parents of children who are sitting and learning and it amazes us how many of them feel as though they are in a total bind. They know that the system cannot go on forever. In many cases they are afraid to tell their children. Is it true that there are 2,000 talmidim learning in the Mir Yeshiva? Can they all be such masmidim that they should be sitting there for years on end? That there are thousands in Lakewood that are also such masmidim baffles us. During the days that we were in yeshiva the masmidim were well known. It was widely recognized that the life of sitting and learning was not meant for everyone. Today that lifestyle seems to be encouraged for an overwhelming number of young men. Or, please forgive us, is it a postponement of the decision to join the world?

These are the same grown children who while of nursery school age kept parents awake until all hours pondering what the best school would be for their 3-year-olds. When did they lose their involvement and when did they give the role of shaping their children’s futures to their teachers?

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

 

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