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Monday, August 09, 2010

Public Service Annoucement: New Los Angeles Yeshiva Trade School

I have been notified that Rabbi Steinberg, one of the founders of Yeshivas Ohev Shalom, a low cost Yeshiva alternative in Los Angeles, has now founded a new Yeshiva Trade-School under the name Yeshivas Ohr Chadash. Like the first low cost Yeshiva, this Yeshiva Trade School will include public funded portions of the education. The announcement follows:

Another New Yeshiva in L.A.? Who needs it? Won't it add to the economic crisis?

Not this one! Yeshivas Ohr Chadash is a Yeshiva Trade-School. Get used to the phrase I have a feeling we will be hearing it more often. The previous idea of Yeshiva life and direction is changing to meet reality. According to HaRav Chaim Avrohom Horowitz, HaLevi, Shlita, (a.k.a. the Bostoner Rebbe) the Yeshiva system in the U.S. was established to a large extent by Rav Aharon Kotler to re-establish and insure an authentic Jewish life. However, according to the Rebbe (a Talmid and a Musmach of Rav Aharon), Rav Ahaon Kotler never intended that over 100,000 Talmidim would be sitting in Batei Medrashim and Kollelim throughout the U.S. and world-wide.

Now that we have rebuilt our Yeshiva after the decimation of the holocaust its time to get back to the educating and teaching trades. This is the way we, as Jews, have survived throughout the millennium. Ohr Chadash is a Yeshiva that will attempt to normalize and mainstream solid Yeshiva learning and vocational training. This is not a Yeshiva for troubled students. It is a Yeshiva for young men with a realistic plan.

It has the endorsement of the Bostoner Rebbe, Shlita, and the Jewish Educational Leadership in the Los Angeles community. The Founder and Dean is Rabbi Rachmiel Steinberg, formerly Mashgiach of Yavneh Hebrew Academy, Headmaster of JETS (Jewish Educational Trade School), and Educational Director of Yeshivas Ohev Shalom. For more information call: 323-228-9915


Miami Al said...

That's wonderful. Skilled vocational work is a path to a solid middle class life in America. It might not be the upper middle class, lower upper class lifestyle that the MO Jews are shooting for, but it's a HUGE step up from the poverty levels that the Yeshiva world has been hovering in.

Quite frankly, many vocational "blue collar" trades pay substantially better than higher status but low paying "white collar" careers.

Plumbers/Electricians/Auto Mechanics make more money than most computer programmers/graphic designers/high school teachers, for example.

Lion of Zion said...

the article you quote goes too far in idealizing the trade shool concept. it's true that the conventional college-to-white collar path is not for everyone, but neither is trade school/blue collar. i sense an anti-academic undercurrent. also, the article says, "its time to get back to the educating and teaching trades. This is the way we, as Jews, have survived throughout the millennium." we need to respect the trade of the plumber and electrician, but there is no reason to glorify it with ridiculous claims of historical precedence. (and what about all the medieval jewish physicians?)

people should do what they can do best (and of course what makes the most money!). i'm not sure someone who has the capacity to be an interventional radiologist should be tuning up my engine.

in any case, i do think this is a great idea and i wish them much luck! there is certainly nothing wrong with blue collar work. it can be lucrative, practical and rewarding.

incidentally, my most recent blog post mentions jacob landau, an unknown retired electrician and clock maker-turned bar tender in bogota, NJ who despite his blue collar background maintained a decade-long scholarly correspondence with none other than edmund wilson.

tesyaa said...

LoZ, thanks for the heads up that you're baaack.

JS said...

"Plumbers/Electricians/Auto Mechanics make more money than most computer programmers/graphic designers/high school teachers, for example."

And they don't require expensive college and graduate programs. A person could easily spend $40k/year on 4 years of college and 3 years of law school, for example, and only come away with a job that pays $45k. That's potentially $280k of debt for likely less than an apprentice plumber could be making starting out.

JS said...


I agree with your point. I'd add that I think this is an important first step. I think of my own immigrant parents and grandparents. My grandparents had blue collar jobs - they took whatever they could to provide for their kids a college education and an opportunity to better their lives. My parents have lower-end white collar jobs. Me and my siblings have, on the whole, higher-end white collar jobs. It's a progression.

I would hope that getting people over to the blue collar jobs is a first step. Let them get respectable, good paying jobs. Likely their kids will see that model and want to emulate it or improve it. It's the American way.

Mike S. said...

I think this is a very good thing. Not because it is important to have proper respect for physical work, although that is important. Not because for many people the trades offer better opportunities than white collar work, although that is also true. Not even because it represents at least a minor return by the Chareidi world to the observance of the Torah requirement to teach boys to earn a living, although that is also a very good thing. But mainly because it is a step toward recognizing that, while we all have to observe the same Torah, we do not all have to have the same professions, uniforms and the like. May this be a first step toward abolishing the crushing demands for social conformity outside the halacha in the Chareidi world.

tdr said...

Isn't there a Yeshiva in PA that teaches building trades? I believe it is in Lancaster or Allentown or something like that.

D said...

Sorry Mike S but I am haredi and I have no idea what you mean by "crushing demands for social conformity outside the halacha in the Chareidi world", certainly not in LA or Miami or Cleveland or anywhere outside the tri-state area.

I believe that a lot of MOs in the NY area draw their conclusions based on a small subset of haredim.

You ought to look outside your communities to see that plenty of haredim have college degrees and support their families legally and respectfully.

The dress code, for a lot of us, is voluntary and a source of satisfaction. And yes we know that it's not a halacha reqm't to dress black and white....

Just because you don't see as much diversity in fashion and lifestyle, it does not mean there's anything "crushing" about it, since many (or most of us) have consciously chosen this way of life.

If anything, I'd say that the MO lifestyle imposes "crushing" demands, by requiring you to have an enormous salary and/or 2-3 kids in order to make ends meet.

tesyaa said...

D - the RW Jews in the NY area are not a "small subset" of chareidim. Probably 90% of American chareidim are concentrated in NY and Baltimore. You are the lucky exception.

Anyway, the dress code is the least of the conformity problems. IThings people do for shidduchim are really damaging psychologically, emotionally, and financially.

Not to mention things people do to their kids - trying to fit square pegs into round holes. While I can understand that some high school boys are willing and able to learn gemara 6 hours a day, it's folly to assume that every boy, or even most can. Yet 95% of boys in the chareidi world are forced to do so (and the rest are considered bad kids).

A girl who doesn't go to seminary? Must have problems with religious commitment.

A boy who doesn't want to learn full time after high school? Again, a bad seed.

Those are the true conformity problems - not eating certain hechsherim only or dressing in black & white.

Anonymous said...

This is a great start. Hopefully there will also be trade schools for women since not every Jewish girl is cut out for college. And no, I'm not just talking about learning to become hairdresses and caterers. Young women should be given the opportunity to learn trades like carpentry and auto mechanics if they are interested.

Lion of Zion said...


"many (or most of us) have consciously chosen this way of life."

consciously does not mean voluntarily. and in any case, how and when is it exactly that FFBs "choose" this lifestyle?

and the NY haredi world is not the "subset"

on the other hand, MIKE:

in the non-haredi world we have our own conformity issues to deal with too.


it's interesting that you mention "progression," because many of these kids with little or no real scholastic (or other) preparation for the working world have parents (or at least grandparents) who were college educated professionals, etc.

tesyaa said...

My daughter's HS does have a class in automotive tech - it's more geared for the students to learn how cars work so that they won't get ripped off when they get their own (future) cars serviced. It's not vocational, and I can't imagine frum families encouraging their maidlach to become auto mechanics.

What about certificate programs like phlebotomist, ultrasound tech, home health aide and licensed practical nurse? Not every girl can be a teacher or a teaching assistant, and there aren't enough jobs in our community to support every girl being a teacher or a secretary in a yeshiva.

Lion of Zion said...


i'd love for my kids to have a real automotive shop class, but even the one you describe sounds like a good idea

Anonymous said...

Tessya: Home health aid is a very low paying job, and phlebotomist is not much better. That's why girls should have the opportunity to become carpenters and mechanics and plumbers -- jobs that not only have good earnings potential but where you can also have your own small business. LPN is generally a two year full-time program after getting a high school degree, although there is some prep work you can do in high school. I'm not sure about ultrasound technicians, but many of the health care fields that are above the three-month certificate CNA or medical assistant programs often require a two-year degree. Community colleges often provide those programs at low cost.

tesyaa said...

Home health aide is low-paying, but so is yeshiva assistant. At least being a home health aide gives the opportunity for a job with benefits (which most yeshiva jobs don't offer) - plus it brings in money from outside the community.

I had a female cousin who was a carpenter in the 70s, and she made good money at the time. But realistically, I don't see the right wing endorsing plumbing and carpentry as career choices for young Jewish women. I can't imagine it being sanctioned at all.

HHA and phlebotomist were just ideas off the top of my head. If anyone can think of more, just post them here.

Anonymous said...

Here's another idea -- tailor and seamstress. It is very hard to find people to fill these jobs, and you can also have your own alterations/tailoring business. And I am talking about this as a career option for both men and women. Remember when there used to be a lot of jewish tailors? My own grandfather was a tailor. It also looks like many men could use a good a good tailor to make sure their suits fit properly.

A vocational school can also teach secretarial skills. While its true that because of voicmail, email and computers, secretaries are not as much in demand, but there still is a demand for really good secretaries. A crackerjack legal secretary for example can make 70K in a large firm with good benefits.

Northwards said...

The book ( Working With Torah ) tried to get a conversation going about possible careers for frum kids but never got it going...possibly because no mainstream publisher would touch it :)

Lion of Zion said...


" It also looks like many men could use a good a good tailor to make sure their suits fit properly. "

perhaps then personal trainer is more appropriate than tailor :)

(i'd say phys ed teachers, but of course our schools only care about the neshama and not the guf)

D said...

You seem to assume that all haredim need to conform to certain standards, when the haredi society (outside Lakewood, BP, etc) is quite open and understanding.
1) I know many Bais Yaakov girls who have married men from non-traditional backgrounds and they are not viewed as losers in any way.
2) There are plenty of yeshivas were the learning of gemara is very "light" and still it's not considered a "bad" yeshiva, and the boys dont suffer any kind of trauma. I know many of these boys personally.
3) The same applies to girls who don't go to seminary and boys who don't want to learn full time. Yes, that's not the norm but there are plenty of exceptions and most turn out just fine.
Again, I can't speak for the tri-state area (I'm not saying it's much different there, I just dont have much knowledge about it as a whole).
But I think that perhaps you and certainly many others have created an image of haredim in your head that is not true and as a result of this false image you are unable to approach a haredi shul or school and draw the conclusions by yourself.
Is it really better to send your kids to a public school then to a haredi one?
If you could just put aside your preconceived notions and the myriad of articles that you have read describing the shmutz of the haredi world* you'll likely find a haredi congregation that's overwhelmingly honest, spiritual, kind and with affordable tuition.
If you don't, let me know. I can introduce you to a few.

*Yes, the shmutz might be true, but 90% of haredim have nothing to do with it and are as appalled by it as everyone else. Don't blame me for what's written in the Yated. Most haredim dont buy the yated for the op-eds...

tesyaa said...

I haven't created a picture in my head that is not based on reality that I see every day. Yes, there are many, many chareidim who are lovely people - probably most.

But it's still not normal for the mother of a 20 year old girl to walk around with the weight of the world on her shoulders, looking for all the world as if she'd just suffered a tragedy, when the reason for her anguish is that her daughter has been back from seminary for one year and is still not engaged. I see this every day!

It's not normal for middle school boys to be expected to handle a school day from 7:35 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. And the boys who can't handle it ARE labeled.

It's not normal to teach secular studies 2 years behind an average public school. Can't chareidi kids keep up with average public school curricula?

It's not normal to teach boys that they will be an "exception" if they choose to take on the task of supporting their future families.

Can't you admit that what you see in your community might just be the exception, not the rule??

Anonymous said...

The trade school in PA is Lancaster Yeshiva Center;

D said...

Hi tesyaa,

I think that my community is representative of out of town communities, while yours might be representative of certain NY communities.

Despite being haredi, I don't see what you describe.

In any case, I guess people need to come out and see what the haredi lifestyle is out here...

Anonymous said...


Where do you live? If you don't mind.

Dave said...


I suspect you are correct. However, the overwhelming bulk of the Haredi population in America is in New York.

D said...

I'm in Cleveland.

RAM said...

When we lived in Metro Detroit, our electrician, auto mechanic, handyman, and washing machine repairman were all Jewish. The last was a rabbi and musician, too!

Recently, I visited my younger son and his family in Lakewood. A Jewish neighbor on the block was an electrical contractor.

Fruma Sara said...

Chareidi life offers great warmth and sense of community in exchange for one's individuality. I grew up in a chareidi community and our religious teachers definitely discouraged intellectual inquiry beyond certain carefully drawn boundaries. Our opinion on all religious matters was set out for us by our high school teachers, and we were not free to question. Read Rebecca Goldstein Neuberger's book on Spinoza for a typical late 1960s Jewish history class. Just like mine! And our teacher was very intellectually aware - only we were not allowed to have views contrary to the prescribed ideology of frumkeit. There were "Torah True" views, and the ideology was subtly but severely enforced. But most of our teachers were concerned with external observance such as skirt and sleeve lengths. One teacher (she was my teacher in the late 1960's) wrote in our alumni newsletter recently that many girls at that time wore their sleeves above their elbows. And that today such matters are no longer a problem in the school. Religious conformity is much stricter nowadays, in other words. Nowadays also the prevailing attitude is to support your husband for at least the first five years of kollel - only then does the husband reluctantly and slowly think about parnassa, and undertake a 5 year program of study. This places a great financial burden on families and on the community. The families are usually lovely - but you will not meet families who are struggling under financial burdens, because they do not have the energy for guests. And those who do have you as a guest will often serve vegetarian Shabbos meals when they are not vegetarians - in other words, they don't have the money for chicken on Shabbos. Quite a change also from my childhood, when we always had chicken on Shabbos and roast beef, too. Of course, my father always worked.

Born in the USA said...

Sure there are problems with the frum world, but it still beats the alternative. (Much like getting old.)

I do have one bone to pick with the Rebbe though. There were yeshivas in the US (Torah Vodaas, RJJ) before Reb Aaron came. Reb Aaron may have built the concept of Kollel (and we can hope that he never meant for it to become what it is today) but Rav Medelovitz built the concept of Yeshiva education for all (including Day Schools for the less RW). And NO ONE was ever turned away due to non-payment of tuition.

Avi said...

Personally, I'd be thrilled if my daughter (now 5) wanted to be an auto mechanic, because it's an honest living and who doesn't love cars and electronics (cars are half full of PCs these days)? However, I've worked in auto shops (put myself through college selling tires) and it isn't a... good environment. Now, that could mean there's a terrific business opportunity for someone to build an auto shop that's as "clean" on the back end as well as the front. Some upscale car dealers are moving in this direction, but I wouldn't overly fault charedim for discouraging their girls - or boys - from choosing this as a career.

D said...

Fruma Sara,
Sorry to hear about your experiences. You should see how haredi communities are outside of NY...nothing like you describe.

megapixel said...

For anyone interested, there is also a similar program now in Lakewood NJ. Yes, Lakewood! it is called Chavrei HaKollel and includes first seder learning, second seder vocational skills - building, computers and business courses, and night seder learning.

as far as the above conversation, I believe in the truth of what I call "the Shidduch Driven Society" in which many of the choices made are based on how it will affect future shidduchim. within that framework, you have people who are obssesive about sticking to the "program" and then others that range all the way to "dont really care"
example: my sister in law was once having a conversation with me at a vort. She interupted me to tell me to smile. Since the topic wasnt at all humorous, I asked her why. she told me that if someone is looking at us, they will see that we are smiling at each other.

anyway, it can also be used as a handy excuse as in my son(17), who refused to wear the baby carrier on a recent hiking trip, because he still needs a shidduch.

Anonymous said...

I'm always a bit troubled when these Yeshiva-based trade-school or college programs are introduced to the community and are presented in somewhat of an apologetic way as if they are a "b'dieved" for those "who are not ready for full-time learning....". The fact is that these are not "new" or "innovative" per se, as this was quite the norm 30+ years ago. And, it was the norm for individuals who had the potential to become Rabbanim or Rabbeim, or other Torah Scholars. The sense of and financial and community responsibility was just a more compelling component of the culture at that time. Maybe someday that norm will make a comeback.

But, when a new Yeshiva opens, it is framed as a great thing because "Kinas Sofrim tarbeh chachma". In reality, the "need" is often to provide people with jobs as Rabbeim and Roshei Kollel. The prevailing administrative and infrastructure costs just add to the overall financial burden of the community.

Rabbi Rachmiel Steinberg said...

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts regarding Yeshivas Ohr Chodosh. I have taking many of them to under consideration and I am looking into some of the vocations you have suggested.

Additionally, the Yeshiva is off to a fine start with 6 full-time students and 4 part-time students. Our ages range from 16 to 29. I have discovered that many people in our community needed to change careers as they were laid off a prior job, etc...

A K'siva V'Chasima Tova To you all.

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