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Sunday, May 30, 2010


If you read my post "To the Exclusion of All Else", you will see there is a thread of relation between this post and that one.

I personally cannot relate to this constant push for more and more programming for children. Granted I am not yeshivish, but be it Torah or more hours dedicate to in classroom general studies, or additional extracurricular programming, I object to the idea that we need to occupy every moment of the lives of children and teenagers with scheduled programming. Ultimately increased learning of Torah or any other subject or increased performance in music, the arts, or sports has to come from internal motivation. I'm very taken by people who develop a skill and take it to a very high level. For the most part, I don't believe that the development of such a skill is increased because of mandatory scheduled programming. Additionally I worry about the lack of time for families to enjoy quantity time together.

Unfortunately the following excerpt from this week's Yated reinforces a gut feeling I have that there is a mistrust (by some in the education field) of parents and the children themselves. Additionally, I think it naive to believe that children will always make the choices we'd like them to make even if we attempt to occupy their every making moment. In fact, I think such can backfire because they will miss opportunities to discover areas of interest and occupy themselves in their interest, something best done outside of a large group of peers.

These great strides [institution of Sunday programming for boys], however, do not absolve us from seeking further improvement. It has been repeatedly pointed out that, thus far, there has been one group that has, by and large, been excluded from the newer, more spiritual Sunday group. That group is our school-aged girls. It is common knowledge that girls, unlike boys, do not have a mitzvas asei to learn Torah at every spare moment. Therefore, the thinking goes, they do not need school on Sunday. From a pure halachic perspective, that is true. However, the more pressing question arises: What do they do with their time when they are not in school?

School, besides its primary focus of educating girls, also provides a Torah-true atmosphere where girls can interact and grow together spiritually. What about Sunday, when there is no
school? Many a mother will relate how difficult it is to keep their daughters happily occupied in an atmosphere that does not contradict the values that the home and the school seek to inculcate. Boruch Hashem, there are schools that have implemented some form of class on Sundays. The majority, however, still has not.

Many educators have complained that on Sundays, the malls, the main shopping areas and the eateries, as well as questionable venues of entertainment, are disproportionately filled with girls from our best Bais Yaakovs.

Of course, there is a need for shopping, but this steady exposure to questionable places of entertainment or shopping can have a corrosive effect on our daughters, the future mothers of Klal Yisroel.

The Gemara explains that idleness brings to foolishness and immorality. One full weekday of idleness each week can have truly troubling consequences.

Of course, girls deserve some time for themselves and mothers deserve, and should have, their daughters available to help them at times. Still, an entire Sunday is not the solution. If help is the issue, Friday would be a much better choice for a day off. If the issue is the need for time for themselves, perhaps Sunday afternoons could be given off.

Certainly, it is high time that our girls are constructively occupied on Sunday in a spiritually conducive atmosphere that will prepare them for their future roles as the mothers of Klal Yisroel.


Bklynmom said...

I think families enjoying time together is indeed the issue for these people. If they don't intervene, families may expose their children to museums. Or libraries. Or bookstores. Or businesses owned by non-Jews. Or non-Jews. Or people with manners. Or people who are not exactly like everyone else on their block.

tesyaa said...

The rabbis/schools want to maximize their influence on the girls. Like they don't already have enough influence. It's crazy that 14 year olds at the local bais yaakov are already planning their careers so they can support their husbands.

ProfK said...

Gee, what's next? High school dormitories for girls so that they won't possibly be exposed to questionable ideas outside of school?

This type of attitude is fast reducing parents to nothing but biological necessities. I've often asked "Whose children are they? The school's or the parents'?" School on Sunday for any of our children--male and female--is merely another blow in the war over our children. And before anyone is quick to say that boys are achiv to study Torah every day and school on Sunday maximizes that, a commenter on my blog pointed out that those same yeshivas which espouse this for their boys have no problem in giving at least one 1-2 week break during the school year.

$200k Chump said...

What a sick world we live in. Happy to be MO living in Bergen County. Well maybe not happy due to the high cost of yeshiva tuition, but I'd rather that than dealing with the sickos who think it is the end of the world if their daughters go to a mall on a Sunday.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing that these schools don't trust the parents with their own kids even though those parents are products of the same school system. The schools also don't trust their own teaching methods because obviously 5 days a week of school indoctrination is not enough to keep these kids in line.

Anonymous said...

I love it. It's ok to give girls some time off from school so they can help their mothers, but there is no mention of the same for boys. How are boys going to learn to care for themselves and help around the house if they are always in school. These boys are going to be marrying women who will have to work. They better learn some basic skills too.

Anonymous said...

The same arguments for extending the school week for girls can be made to extend the school experience for girls well past their marriage. The precedent has already been set by the boys. All that is needed is a little more support from parents, a little more welfare, and more collecting. There, the problem of outside influences is solved.

Anonymous said...

This makes perfect sense... keep the kids controlled, separate them from parents. Encourage the children to rat out their parents if they stray from the party line. Encourage the kids to rat each other out if they are talking to someone on the outside.

Prohibit outside information. Spiritual death for the Internet.

Revisionist history: this is the way things have always been, etc.

The only question is: is this a Charedi Jewish community, or the Soviet Union under Stalinism. I think it's pretty clear who the REAL Rebbe of this movement is, and while he DOES come from Russia, it isn't the pale of settlement...

Anonymous said...

BTW: the reason that authoritarian societies use "rape rooms" is not because raping a woman is particularly vicious, though it is, it is because a rape victim cannot get married in these societies. When a complete emphasis is placed upon virginity, then a rape victim has brought shame on their family.

Rape rooms, and the threat of not getting married, is NOT designed to control women, it is designed to control men, for fear of something horrible happening to their daughter or sister, they NEVER threaten to rape a person's wife, always daughter/sister.

A shidduch system that punishes women for a brother/cousin going OTD, or a mother for not dressing the way the leaders want, or a brother going to an unapproved college...

It may not be a physical rape room, but it's a spiritual one.

Tamiri said...

In Israel, many children go to school 6 days a week and there is nothing wrong with that. If they go to school 5 days a week, then the day off is Friday which is an excellent day to be home and helping with Shabbat preps etc.
I don't see Sunday school as something so awful. The writer may have a point.

Anonymous said...

Anon: 10:13 - The Yated crowd is not reading orthonomics or other MO blogs. The best you can do is to be vigilant for totalitarianism and extremism in your community and to speak out if it starts sneaking up and teach your Children to do the same.

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous-It is true that my readership is not the same, but I know educators in Modern schools who share the same belief that children (both genders) are not in school enough hours. I think most children in this generation, Jewish or non-Jewish religious or not, spend inordinate amounts of time outside of their parent's sphere of influence. I think it weakens parental authority, which is ultimately to the benefit of educators in terms of discipline, and it weakens very important family influences which can help keep kids on the straight and narrow.

I've been through the generation of the latch key kid and I see some parallels.

Anonymous said...

SL: That is true. Some of it is following a larger societal trend. Many kids are overprogrammed, having nothing to do with religion, and there are many secular parents who would like longer school days, although they would riot over taking away a weekend day.

Lion of Zion said...


and who is going to pay for extending the school week to sundays?

"It is common knowledge that girls, unlike boys, do
not have a mitzvas asei to learn Torah at every spare moment."

i understand that boys have sunday school because they can't skip a day without learning torah. but why are they suddently patur a week before pesahc, at the end of january, during chanukah, isru thanksgiving, etc.


"In Israel, many children go to school 6 days a week and there is nothing wrong with that."

a) sunday is a regular work day in israel
b) in general the school day is much shorter

Upper West Side Mom said...

The Yeshivish community tends to have larger families but they also tend to get them out of the house ASAP. First at a gan or day care, then to a very long school day and then they send the boys of to Yeshiva at 14. It's sad that they feel like they have to get rid of them so quickly. It makes me wonder if it's a good idea to have children if you plan to just pawn them off on someone else as soon as you can.

I could not imagine sending my 14 year old away next year for multiple reasons. One of the biggies is because both my husband and I want to be a big part of his life right now and be the ones who are in charge of helping him become a mentch and productive adult. We have no desire to leave this important work to someone else.

Anonymous said...

Maybe its precisely because of the large families (and smaller homes/apartments) that there is a perceived need to get some of them out of the house.

Anon1 said...

In MO circles, the overscheduling is often called enrichment. Whether parents or educators mainly promote this, it's still the same idea.

Many people are terrified that kids left to their own devices will misbehave instead of playing like normal kids should. While this seems far-fetched, consider how the general society around us has degenerated, especially in recent decades, and consider the strength of its allure.

tesyaa said...

Anon1 - I'm not sure that most people are worried that their kids will misbehave when unscheduled. I think the worry is more that they will fall behind other kids, and not have certain skills/attributes that other kids have. In more modern (and secular) circles, people want to make sure that their kids have plenty of extracurriculars that look good for college. In right wing circles, the concern is that girls won't get shidduchim. So if the question is asked "What did Rochele do on Sundays?", it's better for shidduchim to say she was at school than at the mall.

megapixel said...

thinking that the schools want to "take the kids away from their parents" sounds like a conspiracy theory.

it is utterly ridiculous.
not to mention all the vacation this blog was complaining about just a couple of weeks ago.

tesyaa said...

Megapixel - on Sundays, the parents are HOME from work and have the opportunity to spend time with their children. The vacation issue is the many, many days off on WORKDAYS that the parents either have to pay extra for childcare or take off from work, using their very few vacation days (after yom tov) or get their pay docked.

Do you agree with the letter that school every Sunday will make the daughters better as "future mothers of klal yisrael" or whatever the language used was?

anon426 said...

While I don't agree with sending kids to school on Sundays (my boys don't go either), I object to the cynicism and implication that there is some "conspiracy" behind the suggestion that kids need more time in school.

Whatever happened to being "dan le chaf zchus"? The yated writer strikes me as sincere.

Different strokes for different folks.

When my son was going into 2nd grade and was about to start Sunday school I mentioned to another parent -- a chassidish neighbor -- how sad I was that he would have to be going to school Sunday mornings. She replied that she was happy about it as Sunday morning playtime constituted bitul torah. She was sincere, but it was not something I could relate to AT ALL.

My son lasted 2 more years in that school and now I am SO HAPPY he doesn't have school on national holidays or Sundays AND he doesn't stay until 4:30 every day. That's one reason we chose a different school.

Anonymous said...


Oh, they absolutely are sincere, they really do believe that, that's what makes fear based totalitarian societies so damned effective. People start to believe it.

Kids playing on Sunday is "Bitul Torah." How silly is that? In an agrarian society, Jewish boys and girls would work with their parents every day, except resting for Shabbat. The idea that boys being kids is bitul Torah is part of a twisted brainwashed culture that this system is designed to reinforce with fear.

I'm sure that she was absolutely sincere in her feelings, because they have created a cultural paranoia about downtime, relaxation, and socialization. This makes it easier to control people, but saps them of their creativity and their love of life.

Again, back to the same points as before, the Yeshiva is open the same 180 (or whatever number required in your state) days regardless of the schedule. Being open on Sundays, and closed for made up breaks, results in the SAME "Bitul Torah" nonense, yet the schools choose to be in session when the parents are home, and the schools choose to be closed when the parents will have to make childcare arrangements.

If that isn't a conscious attempt to keep the children away from working parents, it certainly accomplishes the goal.

The parents here are systematically kept from having a major influence on their children, by minimizing the time that they spend with them and separating them for the formative years. Summer pushes for day camp are total tragedies. I understand parents that want a break, but the pressure to do it means the one time families can spend time together (business is a little slower in the summer, days are longer) on a regular basis, they are pressured to not use a local child care option (day camp), but rather send them to a total immersion situation.

It's not a conspiracy, it's a culture organized around control and fear.

(The previously anonymous poster here 10:02/10:13)

Orthonomics said...

I don't believe there is a particular conspiracy. I do believe some educators place less value than many parents on downtime and family time. One reader wrote me to say that in a meeting regarding the schedule, the principal said "family time is overrated." I believe there is also a mistrust of parents and I even believe that parents have bought into it as they have been stripped of power. Some don't trust themselves either.

Sometimes when you hand a person more responsibility and authority, they come through. Rarely when you give them less.

And perhaps that mistrust is even "deserved". I also don't think hanging out in shopping in malls is at all desirable pasttime. But I fail to see how taking the kids away from them in the short term will result in better pasttimes in the future when they have little time to develop their own interests.

Well, as soon as my husband and kids are home from minyan, off we go on this Memorial Day for a outing that does NOT involve a shopping mall.

RivkA with a capital A said...

That's the ticket! Let them learn at a young age that women should have no time to themselves and should just be taking care of others!

Sundays should be filled with classes about building a Jewish home: cooking, sewing, baking, cleaning.

Let's get those girls involved in avodat kodesh!!

If we don't provide the right stimulation for them, they might (God forbid) want to learn Torah like the boys....

Lion of Zion said...

"the Yeshiva is open the same 180 (or whatever number required in your state) days regardless of the schedule"

in NY (i don't know about elsewhere) private schools are not required to have 180 days (except for UPK)

my son's pre-school graduation is next week at 9:30am . . . followed by (very) early dismissal. apparently the impossibility of dealing with a few crying kids who would have preferred to go home with their families is a good reason to end school at 10:30 in the morning.

Lion of Zion said...

"the Yeshiva is open the same 180 (or whatever number required in your state) days regardless of the schedule"

in NY (i don't know about elsewhere) private schools are not required to have 180 days (except for UPK)

my son's school had 161 days last year and i think it is 163 this year. this includes early fridays throughout the year (even when shabbat starts at 8) and early dismissal for fast days, graduations, chanukah plays, etc.

Anonymous said...

Rivka: What's wrong with that. Girls should learn their place from a young age. Its the same reason girls are bundled up in tights, long skirts and long sleeves from the age of 3 when their brothers are running around in shorts and tee shirts. We don't want girls to get used to being comfortable.

chani said...

check this out

JS said...

I see yated posts like this one and it just makes me sad. People can reassure themselves that "Oh, well, I'm MO, thank God I don't have to deal with this nonsense," but what they don't realize is that the same attitude permeates all of Orthodoxy, from the left to the right. Even in MO communities, there has been a trend towards exerting more influence on children to the exclusion of parents. The children are separated from the parents in the name of Torah and the parents (the men in particular) are encouraged to separate from their families to attend shiur after shiur, also in the name of Torah. The overall goal, I believe, is to create complete and total uniformity and conformity. Everyone has identical experiences at the same yeshivas and summer camps for example. It becomes a self-perpetuating system of peer pressure and social influence to do the same that everyone else is doing.

This is why people are so afraid to pull out of the local schools. Forget about sending to public school, people are terrified of sending to JFS which is just a bus ride away. Everyone must do exactly the same thing that everyone else is doing.

What's ironic is that it seems to me that the more Torah injected or force fed into children, the more worry there is that they will go off the derech. If Sunday school were implemented, we'd start to worry about Shabbat. If there were mandatory sessions on Shabbat, we'd worry about the bus ride itself and insist that the bus driver pump torah tapes over the bus intercom. It never ends. In MO communities, you have to go to the same yeshiva as everyone else, the same yeshivas in Israel as everyone else for at least 1 year, maybe 2, and then YU/Stern, just like every one else. Then you have to get married and move to the same community as everyone else and have kids immediately just like everyone else. Maybe then, hopefully, you'll be so locked into frumkeit even if you hate it you'll be stuck.

What a society we're creating.

Mark said...


You are getting alot of shout-outs over at Chump's blog. Thought you might want to know.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Anon -- that's the point: teach them early to be embarrassed and uncomfortable with their bodies.....

Of course, the proper lenght of your sleeves, and the thickness of your stockings is far more important than addressing anything as trivial as protecting our children from the sexual predators who have become so pervasive in our frum community....

We have to make sure that our values are all in order and our daughters know to keep their heads down and their mouths shut....

RivkA with a capital A said...

Chani -- I love that video -- you can find the words on line (in English and Hebrew)

I drove my kids crazy listening to it so much!!

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