Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jews, Jobs, and Education: A Philosophy that is Damning

Hat Tip: Rosie

I was sent a link to this article by my reader rosie last month and I didn't want to sit down and write any thoughts without taking time to digest the article. In the next week or so, I have two Guest Posts on Education and Jobs and the Orthodox community, as well as some thoughts of my own on subjects related to jobs and increasing income. I think this article gives me a nice place to start.

I think my long time readers know that I am most certainly a supporter of vocational education at the high school level. Not every child will find themselves successful in an advanced academic track, but that shouldn't preclude success. And, perhaps on a more practical level, we need to recognize that there are many families who simply need their children to graduate high school with marketable skills because it is downright necessary. Every reason why I support vocational education in public high school is equally applicable to why I (theoretically) support vocational education in Jewish high schools.

But note the word "theoretical" and read along with me as I highlight a few selections from the article:

Located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Ohr Chana was created as an alternative to the
traditional high school in which pressure for grades, competition, and acquisition of often irrelevant information outweigh the quest for knowledge or the thirst for Torah and spirituality.

Ohr Chana’s evolving curriculum of applied academics includes mathematics, language, history and science – with a twist. In addition to the basics, students learn how to use math as it apply in banking, budgeting and business… English used in
writing articles, letters to the editor, grant proposals and speeches
…. biology as it applies to health, nutrition and self care … and psychology in the context of marriage and child rearing.

Vocational training includes cosmetology, culinary arts, computer graphics, and information technology. Among the life skills on the program are time management, sewing, money management, crafts and music, in addition to knowledge related to running a Jewish home. One parent remarked that the personal skills curriculum reads like “everything I always wanted to do but never learned how.”

I was struck by the use of the word "irrelevant" because it is a very revealing word when used in the context of education, chinuch, and even vocation. If I felt compelled to seek out an alternative educational track for a child of mine that was within the kehilla (Lubavitch not being my kehilla, but I think this philosophy can be found in plenty of corners), and the director used such a term in regards to academics (either general or Judaic) or even extracurriculars, I think I would be compelled to exit stage left (and quickly)!

The only thing that might be "irrelevant" vis a vis the vast array of knowledge to be attained is what an educator declares "irrelevant." A child might need to pursue a different educational track for academic or practical reasons or a combination thereof, but that shouldn't be a commentary on the value or relevance of a liberal/classical education, Torah or general. Where it is, I worry that the children who fall under the tutelage those espousing such a philosophy will ultimately be shortchanged, and not just academically but likely vocationally too.

Further along in the article I note that the school intends to "apply" the academics. Of area of note is the application of English. Perhaps reading and comprehension were accidentally omitted from the summary of curriculum in the article, and I hope I am not reading into the article too much, but I have read a number of fascinating books citing (largely failed) educational movements of the modern era and I believe I recognize one here. But I won't get into a dissertation about the history of education in the modern era and why most high school graduates are such abysmal writers, except to say that I worry about a language program that begins with writing a letter to the editor, a grant proposal, or giving a speech. While I do not believe every student must be subjected to writing a thesis on an obscure theme in a Shakespeare play, I do believe that before you can "apply" your writing skills, you need to have something to write about and the prerequisite for writing something of value is a healthy dose of reading.

I once was handed some papers by a high school girls for whom I was friends with the entire family. She was enrolled in a high school where I believe that many books were off-limits. But that didn't preclude the class from writing. (Anyone want to venture a guess as to the subject matter of the papers? I will give the answer in the comments section. One hint: the English program was barely supervised, the teacher was non-Jewish, and reading was not exactly the emphasis of the curriculum).

As for the vocational programming, I'm not quite sure what vocational programming is most practical in today's day and age, but I don't think cosmetology wouldn't make my top 10 list for vocational programs I'd seek out if I were enrolling my own (Orthodox) daughter in a vocational high school. Culinary arts would also not make it into my top 10.

Readers, share your thoughts!


mother in israel said...

Judging by the number of ads in the local haredi paper, cosmetology courses abound. As do courses for reflexology, graphology, and the like.
The program makes it sound kind of like a finishing school.

Mikeage said...

I have no fundamental objections to the idea of a trade school [although it is a return to an earlier day where people were much less literate], but I hope that their graduates speak and write a better English than the one used on the site. Despite the site containing just a few hundred words, I found two grammatical mistakes.

I also hope their computer courses teach better design ;)

Anonymous said...

1. 80% is irrelevant-the problem is you can't tell until much later which 80% for you

2. once the barn door is open, many of those will "escape"

joel rich

Thinking said...

I am not sure I agree with their curriculum, but it could be that those topics cater to the clientèle they are looking to attract.
That being said, a good part of yeshiva secular education is based on legacy curricula and not particularly relevant. Elementary students are still given "computers" as a class once a week instead of every single class being taught with the use of computers. We are not educating these children for today, we are educating them for the future. They need to learn how to use the tools they will be expected to use when they graduate.

From 3rd grade on all written assignments and homework should be done on a pc, printed out and handed in. I laugh when I see how many papers, binders and folders my kids shlep around. I carry more info on my phone than they have in 20 lbs of materials they drag around! Since when was homework measured by weight? They need to learn how to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint and how to conduct research online.

High school classes, here in NY, are still focused on "passing the Regents" knowledge is irrelevant. Teachers are measured by how many students pass, how many AP's they take and what the scores are. The knowledge is irrelevant, the scores will hopefully get them into some higher education where they will acquire some knowledge.

Offwinger said...

Vocational school is a good idea for students not well-suited for an academic track, and even for some who are, but are more interestd in working with their hands or in a trade.

However, the point of a vocational track is to get a vocation. Since this is a girl's school, however, they are not being exposed to the more promising vocational tracks for parnassah - plumbing, electrical work, heating/cooling systems and other areas of construction or contracting.

Furthermore, if the goal is to have the girls become employable in these fields (sewing, costmetology, culinary arts, etc.), what they really need is instruction from and more importantly an apprenticeship with someone who is actually highly skilled in these fields. Otherwise, this just sounds like turning school into camp for girls who are not achievers in the classroom, not preparation for real life at all.

mother in israel said...

Thinking wrote:
From 3rd grade on all written assignments and homework should be done on a pc, printed out and handed in.

Printed? They should be sent by email!
As an aside, my daughter's first grade teacher is overly concerned with handwriting and perfect printing. It is stressing out my daughter, whose handwriting is more than legible. I hate to think of the kids who have trouble, especially boys whose fine motor skills lag at this age compared to girls. I learned to type quickly because my handwriting is so bad. Never hurt me any.

Larry Lennhoff said...

If culinary arts is meant to be a career track, I'm dubious about offering it to Orthodox students. The prohibitions on cooking or even deriving benefit from meat and milk mean that all the school's culinary arts graduates will be competing for positions in kosher and vegetarian restaurants. Any guess as to whether the course teaches specialty skills for thing like asian cooking, where vegetarian dishes are more common?

Ariella's blog said...

"Judging by the number of ads in the local haredi paper, cosmetology courses abound."
Ironic that they should offer cosmetology as a course of training for a job while seminaries are offering bribes to the girls NOT to wear makeup even at their own weddings. So where are the cosmetologists supposed to find employment?

Anonymous said...

I agree that for an educator to describe core educational subjects as "irrelevant" is troubling. Notwithstanding that, the concept is a good one. However, some of the subjects chosen for the vocational learning are questionable when considering the marketplace, supply and demand over the next several years. Like a prior commenter said, if you really want to teach vocational skills where there may be some continuing demand and decent wages without a college degree, albeit requiring some apprenticeship , as well as the opportunity to be self employed, consider teaching auto mechanics, plumbing, carpentry and electrical work. If these trades are considered too masculine and dirty, then tailoring holds some potential (it's always hard to find a tailor or seemstress), and there still is some demand for good secretaries/executive assistants and book keepers, although grammar, spelling and basic math must be learned.

Having said that, I wonder how a school can do a decent job in three diverse areas - secular studies, religious education and vocational education? We've seen how some schools have a hard enough time balancing secular and religious studies. What happens when vocational course are added? Will the time be taken out of the religious studies or just the secular to make room for the vocational classes?

Anonymous said...

SL, I'm one of your favorite homeschoolers. I personally think that all teenagers should enroll in some sort of a program that leads to productive employment. This does NOT mean leaving the frum world. My own daughter went through a registered veterinary technology program (low cost) at the local community college. As part of this program, she found employment (internship) paying above minimum wages. But better than the money were the other aspects of being employed: learning how to get along with all sorts of people, how to follow instructions, how to be professionally competent, etc. She racked up enough hours and oh yes, lots of $$$$$ to get into Veterinary School. But the experience was priceless. Having money gives one all sorts of GOOD things --- namely the power to change lives. There are lots of good high paying jobs that can be had with only a 2 yr. community college degree. Health care. EMT. Dental Hygiene, etc. Certainly far more practical for some that mastery of Talmud and esoterica. Cosmetology, auto mechanics, library aide, etc. are also fine things to do. YOu can always do them and be able to support yourself. I'm not strictly orthodox. I don't understand why being dependent on other financially is considered a blessing, long into adulthood. Study is fine. Yes, you can do it, too, while you're full-time employed.


Anonymous said...

Helene: You raise a lot of good points. Your daughter is lucky that she was from a family that did not discourage a secular ecudation at a community college -- all of which are co-ed. There are many terrific community college programs that can prepare someone for a good job at a relatively modest cost. A two-year community college degree should be an option for more people in the OJ community -- perhaps in lieu of the year in Israel.

I agree that there are many health care degrees that can be obtained from a two-year community college programs, including things like an-x-ray technician, a lab tech and an LPN. However, these classes are all co-ed and touching a member of the opposite sex is required, both during training and on the job. Does that limit OJ's or is there an exception for training for and working in healthcare?

BTW - I am puzzled by your statement that your daughter has enough credits and $$ to go to veterinary school after interning as a vet tech. I thought you needed to get a 4 year college degree (with lots of science) to apply for veterinary school and have heard that vet school is harder to get into than med school.

ProfK said...

Yes, I am in favor of vocational training programs and the idea of a vocational high school. Not everyone is academically inclined or capable of a rigorous academic education. We have done a big dissservice to those students who "can't make the grade" by not offering them a solid foundation of study/skills with which to earn a living. But if you are going to teach vocational skills why not pick those that are in demand right now, that have a future, that won't hit market saturation a few years after the program graduates its first group? Just how many cosmetologists does the world need? No, I am not particularly impressed with what I read about the program here.

The examples given for English left me open mouthed. Speech making? For a group of women in a community that doesn't encourage women to make speeches? Writing letters to the editor? I agree SL, where is the reading that forms the foundation for the writing?

Honestly? This sounds like high flown rhetoric to cover up the fact that not much that is going to be useful outside of making the beds is going to be taught.

And Mikeage, there were eight grammatical errors and two more that were in the iffy category.

Anonymous said...

ProfK: One has to wonder if the choice of vocational opportunities being offered is due to (i) staying within traditional femal jobs/roles like putting on makeup and cooking and/or (ii) the lack of frum women in this community to teach in some other subjects.

Miami Al said...

This doesn't seem vocational... It looks like one of those "alternative" high schools that calls itself vocational while teaching 20 year out of date skills. In addition, this feels like a debutante finishing school with a "Frummy" vibe of mother/wife instead of wife/homemaker.

I'll also second my concern at the sneering attitude towards an actual education doesn't seem good for a school.

Props for thinking that we need alternatives, but no points for execution.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this program sounds somewhat weak and this is not a true vocational school, but it's a good idea. Part of the reason this school may not provide strong programs is, by the looks of its website, is that it is quite tiny with a very limited faculty for the vocational training. It takes some critical mass to have the funds to run vocational programs. For example, a culinary arts program will often have a full commercial kitchen and run a small restaurant open, for example, for lunch at least three days a week. The staff will include people who have gone to a four year program and have worked as chefs. A cosmetology program will include a fully-equipped beauty shop and students will get to see their teachers work on volunteers and assist in the work.

Orthonomics said...

Public schools are rarely able to provide certain programs in individual schools and have vocational schools that cover the entire district. My own district was smaller and certain vocational classes were shared between the local high schools.

The Catholic Schools have an internship program (white collar jobs) called Christo Del Rey where they send students into the field to learn in industry and as compensation, their tuition is paid for.

I think there is a need for vocational education. But on a practical level, it is likely best provided by outsourcing much of the vocational education.

Outsourcing education wouldn't be popular where insularity is of utmost importance.

Anonymous said...

SL: You are correct. Where I live, often several towns pool resources to form a regional vocational/technical high school and students may come from a 20 or 30 mile radius. This model could work in some metropolitan areas with large OJ populations, but parents would have to be rather flexible on just which particular sect/philosophy is taught as part of the religious education. In the meantime, this type of school might not be a bad option for kids who are not academically inclined -- or who would rather be a mechanic, plumber hair dresser, etc. than a scholar -- however, further vocational training after high school will be necessary.

I also hope this type of school does not take the place schools that focus on good, secular education for those kids who don't do well in their religious studies in a yeshiva or day school, but could really thrive in secular subjects with the right teachers.

Miami Al said...

The real way to handle things too big for one "sect" is creativity, building sharing, and separation of the "secular" part that is integrated and the "religious" part that is not.

A single building could house 5 or 6 different 7 AM - 11 AM Torah study "schools" handling teachers of each persuasion, with the afternoon secular/vocational/whatever program running from 11 AM - 5 PM that includes lunch and the other component.

If you got really creative, you could have your secular prep school, vocational school, etc., all with religious studies "branches," so if you were enrolled in the Lubavicher/Standard track, you could transfer to the Lubavicher/Vocational or Lubavicher/Prep track, and your religious side would be transferring to the appropriate campus where you attended your afternoon studies, or bussed over if there weren't enough Lubavichers in your particular school.

That would involving separating the religious from the secular, which while a prime religious obligation that we talk about each week when we say the Havdalah prayer, clearly isn't valued in today's Orthodox world.

Bob Miller said...

This vocational training can be said to work if the graduates get decently paying jobs appropriate for a Jew. This means that the job market now and in the near future (at least) has to be studied and understood, so that the program can aim its students at it. Using subjective criteria to pick the occupations and curricula could insure that the effort is a waste of time, money, and expectations.

Dave said...

This vocational training can be said to work if the graduates get decently paying jobs appropriate for a Jew.

Define this, please.

As far as I can tell, if it is something you would consider it appropriate to pay someone else to do, it cannot be inappropriate for you to do it yourself.

You may not want to, you may hope to find more desireable employment, but that doesn't make it inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

Bob: What do you mean by "appropriate for a jew?" Apart from excluding something that is unsavory like porn or r rated movies, or where you can't get shabbat off, what would be inappropriate?

Anonymous said...

Bob, I agree that there should be some market research before deciding what trades to teach, but as a start this is probably better than nothing. At least these kids may actually understand that they will eventually have to earn a living and be thinking about what they are suited for and trying out a few things.

GilaB said...

So were the family friend's papers about movies?

rosie said...

The terms relevant and irrelevant refer to what is valuable in the Chabad community. Girls, or boys for that matter that can cook can open catering businesses or work in food service. Anyone who can sew can make money doing tailoring and alterations. I agree with Prof K that there are already too many cosmetologists but some of these do make extra dollars doing faces for simchas. Not everyone who trains in something in vocational school will be able to totally support themselves on what they study but at least they are acquiring a work ethic in a community where women were basically encouraged to become cheder teachers or marry men who would become shluchim to various communities. For these girls, studying English literature may not be directly relevant but learning to write well could also be marketable.
The other remarkable phenomenon is that vocational school used to be the avenue only for trouble makers and those who went were looked at as failures and now it is beginning to attract regular students who realize that they need some skills that they can make money on while raising children. Realize that Lubavitcher women are usually planning large families and many want to be SAHMs and need to make money from home. It only works, of course, if they marry a breadwinner.

Zach Kessin said...

Part of the problem seems to be that the community has decided that frum women can have about 6 professions, Cosmatologist, Pre-school teacher, speech therapist, cook.

As I see it there are 2 problems with this, 1 they all tend to be on the low end of the income scale, and 2 they all tend to have a very limited market within the community.

I mean unless you are going to go do makeup for TV/movies how many people can find employment doing makeup for simchas? At least to the level of supporting a family.

I would love to see a bit more variation in job training, and a bit more ambition.

Anonymous said...

Zach - more variation undoubtedly requires more secular education and for many jobs, at least a two year degree. Of the jobs on your list, only speech therapist requires a degree. Speech therapy requires at least a four-year degree, and often a masters. Until attitudes about education change, its hard to see that attitudes about jobs will change.

BTW -Cosmetology is not just putting on makeup. It includes all aspects of hair cutting, styling, coloring, etc. Some hair stylists can do quite well, earning up to $50,000/year with tips. However, since frum women cover their hair, there isn't much demand for hairstylists if people want to work within the frum community. To work at a non-jewish salon, you almost always need to be able to work on Saturdays.

Miami Al said...

Anonymous, you are probably wrong on a non-Jewish salon, people are surprisingly accommodating of all things IF YOU ARE GOOD and otherwise professional. IE, if you act like a the appropriate person for the organization, but happen to be a Shomer-Shabbat Jew, people will work around your "quirk." If you interview in a Salon dressed shabbily, act timid, and otherwise act like you don't belong there, you aren't going to get the gig, but you'll blame it on not working Saturdays. People also have to learn the difference between being "up front" about it, i.e. discussing before accepting an offer, and being "UP FRONT," where it is practically the first thing you mention in the interview.

The Salon work week of Tuesday - Saturday has been disappearing, and Sunday-Saturday is more the norm. Because of pay and tips depending on working, most people WANT to work the Friday/Saturday shifts in a Salon, someone that wants those off should have an easy time finding work.

This "work within the community" attitude is DEADLY. We send money out of the community, either for goods, services, or taxes, and we need more money coming in than going out.

Dependency on the Modern Orthodox world (services) and secular Jewish world (donations) is extremely problematic as the Chareidi and Hassidic communities are growing at a faster rate than the Jewish ones.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Interesting thread! My daughter happens to be profoundly and globally gifted, but yes, she did earn her B.S. degree before matriculating into Vet School. Vet School is EXTREMELY competitive. I'm not frum myself, but I know many many orthodox Jews. Many are physicians. The prohibition on "touching" members of the opposite sex, in a professional capacity is absurd. Yes, we all know that there are cases of inappropriate "activity" but to automatically assume that all contact between members of the opposite is terrible is a shonda. Only in this generation are Men and Women Doctors approaching parity. IN the previous generation, didn't all you women use male OB-GYN's? I'm sorry, I still think that there are great careers out there with high paying potential, that don't require a full university education. Dental Hygiene, for example is a great one. It's a perfect career for a Mommy. You can work all the hours you'd like and get paid $75 + for it.The DH program at our community college is harder to get into than Santa Clara U. Law School!!!!!! My daughter began working professionally at age 14 as a Vet Tech. Back then, she earned almost $15/hr. But more importantly, she learned more valuable middot tovot, and how to deal with people. She NEVER had to deal with inappropriate sexual activity. She worked with men and women and every critter under the sun, or so it seems. It is a great source of comfort to me that my daughter has the skills to take care of herself. She will NEVER have to be dependent on the State, her parents, or a husband. There's no shame in an honest day's work, of whatever sort. She had a boss who's husband was a plumber. He worked only enough to make the amount of $$$ he wanted that day and then he did his own thing for the rest of the time. Study for its own sake is indeed a wonderful thing, but not everyone is cut out for it. My daughter hopefully will be able to spend at least a year in Israel at some point in the near future. $$$$ opens up all sorts of possibilities. But I suspect the biggest cosmic joke is on me. I think my daughter is a hard core academic and will never leave the learning millieu. I'm the radical unschooler! But I encourage all those who are looking for a different route to consider vocational education. Health Care is THE up and coming field.
Be well,

rosie said...

Obviously most of these girls will have to learn in some sort of training program or college after high school to be totally self-supporting. Girls or boys who have skills such as carpentry, computers, plumbing, etc, can at least fix their own homes as well as being able to handle their own alterations, haircuts for the family, preparing simcha food, etc. Even if they don't sew for a living, it will still help them keep some of the money that they do earn. Probably most of the graduates will continue in something else.

sapkan said...

i think you should replace the term "cosmetologist" in this blog with the term "sheitelmacher".

2. lubavitch / chabad has a much different attitude towards the values of the general "charedi" world, so the values dont necessarily match.

3. nevertheless, the real jobs that the charedi world values for its young ladies is "wife" and nothing else. why, if the young lady is a somewhat capable teacher, she is right away hired away by a "shalom torah center" school to teach there, where they can pay slightly more than the poor old bais yaakov in lakewood, and the poor old bais yaakov students have to make do with an inferior education. but who cares? the rebbi still makes his respectable earning of "bupkis". and the "executive director" makes his six figures.

3. back to the "sheitelmacher". she is only learning that so that she can fix her sheitel when she fulfills her duty in life -- become a wife. anbd if she's a real "balabusta", she will fix / consult / suggest her friends sheitels (only proper rich friends, of course; not poor old chani who went with her to bais yaakov, and married some poor kita gimel rebbi, and earns, together with food stamps, etc, the grand sum of low five figures; at least the inferior bais yaakov tuition is paid (comped, i should have said) for her daughters, since her husband is a rebbi)

5. sewing! thats not allowed. throw it out and buy (in the fancy store, not in wal mart) a new one!

Anonymous said...

Is there a reason that we, as a community, have such an aversion to going to college and pursuing a career within mainstream commercial business? Perhaps a new approach would solve some of our old problems.

rosie said...

There is a reason for an aversion, in fact several reasons but as time goes on, more right wing frum people are attending college.

Anonymous said...

And what would that reason be? Why are we so afraid of the outside world, its influence and its thought-provocation, that we continually hide ourselves from it? Why is no one in the frum community willing to admit the the emperor has no clothes?

(And for that matter, is the state of our education such that few within the frum community will comprehend the aforementioned literary reference?)

Anonymous said...

Miami Al, I would say it's unlikely a frummy girl would interview timidly and dress shabbily ... sadly, she'd be more likely to be a diva, dressed much fancier than her clientele and expecting a top salary with no experience. (At least in the NY area). Don't you remember SephardiLady's post on the letter where the girl complained that the jobs she interviewed for got paid less than her family's cleaning lady?

rosie said...

There is always the possibility that someone will meet and marry someone from the college that the parents will not approve of. I have seen that happen. At least in that case both were Jewish but I have heard of frum kids meeting non-Jews and intermarrying.
There is also the possibility that the student's frumkeit will suffer due to peer pressure from non-religious or non-Jewish students. I have seen this happen as well.
Then there are the courses themselves. Some include literature that frum Jews usually reject or ideas that are considered at odds with Torah.
Cost is also a factor. Few frum families can put their kids through college. Paying back student loans can be difficult especially if the person has married and started a family.

rosie said...

sapkan, I sew.
Miami al, I agree with Tesyaa. I don't know any timid shabbily dressed frum girls. Most I know are very expensively dressed, manicured and pedicured.

Anonymous said...

Tessya: I wouldn't make those assumptions about a frum girl. Not all meet the stereotype. However, to work in a salon, you have to work your way up. When you are just starting out, you often have to work a while just doing the shampoos, assisting the stylists and sweeping and cleaning up after the more senior stylists. Definitely not a job for a prima donna.

Anonymous said...

Rosie: I agree that cost is a factor, but I don't think that is the deciding issue. Plenty of other kids from middle class and lower middle class families manage, sometimes by starting out at community college, going to lower priced state schools, working to pay some of the costs and taking out student loans. Of course, doing these things (i.e. fitting in college with work and religious oobligations) is also harder if you are married and starting a family by 20 or 21.

yaffa said...

Helene- why is it a 'shonda' that some of us don't shake hands with the opposite sex? I don't, and it has NEVER hurt me professionally- and the fact that I cover my hair with a scarf and not a wig has never hurt me either. If anything, people respect me more for holding true to the things that matter most to me.

I think we're making a little bit too big of a deal over the word 'irrelevant'- when I saw the ad, I read it as 'irrelevant' from the students' perspective. I've got news for everyone: no matter how much you value a secular education, some things are going to be irrelevant for you, especially those areas in which you're weak. True, something can be relevant even if it won't necessarily be useful (like, say, my English major), but when it is neither useful nor of interest, it seems rather silly to force it on unwilling students.

It seems this educational program is a step in the right direction. I don't see how college should even be an issue, because if we're dealing not-so-gifted students, then college might not be for them anyway. While discouraging college is a major problem with the chareidi community, pushing college for everyone no matter what is also a bad idea.

Miami Al said...

Yaffa, she said not touching, not not shaking hands. People respect it if you dress to match the part, nobody cares that people are religious, it's a "quirk." Not touching and not pointlessly touching is VERY different. i.e. not shaking hands (a "pointless" touch) is in keeping with certain interpretations. Refusing to touch them in a professional capacity is different. If a dental hygienist refuses to touch me because I'm male, and therefore won't work on my mouth, that's not Shomer Negiah, but would seem extremely Machmer to the uneducated masses.

Regarding the "well dressed" frum women... these are girls sent to the "vocational" school, probably not rich girls. And if how they show up down here is any indication, they are dressed expensively, not well.

rosie said...

Miami al, most medical professionals who are frum will touch the patients of the opposite gender in the rendering of medical care but won't shake hands with them! There is a difference.
In the frum world, vocational schools have more to do with what type of student that it is rather than the financial status of the parents. I agree with you that expensive and well dressed are not equal.

Anonymous said...

With all this talk about how girls dress, etc. in the comments, the main issue has been somewhat lost -- namely providing a good and useful education for frum girls who either are not academically inclined or who may be academically inclined but because college is not a viable option for them due to their families/communities need a way to earn a living after graduation without attending college. This school may be a start and may be terrific for some girls. However, I am concerned that some students will be sent to this school because they are mislabeled as not stellar students when its really the style of teaching and emphasis on religious education and skirt lengths that might have led to some of their problems in orthodox day school. I hate to see a child written off academics-wise at 13 or 14. I hope that before parents send their daughters to this school that they consider whether a different type of academic program than is available within the confines of orthodoxy is considered.

rosie said...

I don't think that the school short changes academics but I don't think that it is for the type of girl who wants to sit and learn all day either. I also think that some of them do go to college.

Anonymous said...

Rosie: The school's website does not suggest a robust academic program. They list a language arts and math teacher, but no literature, biology, chemistry, geology, creative writing, philosophy, world history, etc.

jewpublic club said...

NOT Thinking wrote:
From 3rd grade on all written assignments and homework should be done on a pc, printed out and handed in.

Printed? They should be sent by email!
As an aside, my daughter's first grade teacher is overly concerned with handwriting and perfect printing. It is stressing out my daughter, whose handwriting is more than legible. NOT Thinking Parent, you are a problem - challenging your kids is what gets their skills better! Not substituting your ability to write and count in your head with a bunch of machines, OR ARE you OK that your daughter will grow up lacking some motor skills? Or better yet kids should have to never walk to school or exercise in real life, instead just do on a video game. The point of education IS not only information, but the ability to use their brains, a therapy of sorts. The more machines do spelling checks for you the less you remember! The less YOU learn instead of your MACHINE! If you had your way, you'd not just retard your daughter but all kids in school! And besides, this is why our students even in public school did better than those who store information on machines instead of working their brains for it! Remember, brain is like muscle, you don't use it - you lose it and the ability to cope with stress IS an important exercise for brain as is stress on muscle. So please don't try to turn your daughter into mindless mule with only one skill in life of button pressing, lazy and unable to deal with stress, only to be able to store basic information, not earn or write herself any. While it is useful to have phone for storing information, be honest with yourself, how much wisdom have you learned from IM, or Google - a travel? A sale? A GOSSIP, yeah that is what it is good for - arguing with acquired knowledge or simply putting someone down, like I just did. Don't forget not everything is being put accurately on websites and it could also lead to ... So there goes my rant!

jewpublic club said...

About this vocational school - I don't quite like how it sounds for reasons given by Orthonomics.

rosie said...

I don't know how many haredi girls school have a geology course and as far as chemistry goes, many are missing labs. Creative writing may be included in their English courses and philosophy is also something that frum schools do not want taught to their students, any more than they want to teach reproductive biology. Frum colleges still take these kids as do community colleges.

Anonymous said...

Having four daughters, I find that advertisement demeaning. For sure, all honest work is holy, but what type of society encourages women to underachieve? These are matchbook cover jobs. If this is the best we can offer our daughters within a kosher, family friendly environment, the feminists of the 60s were right in their criticism.

And another thing....
Good writing and speaking skills are no less important than breathing.

Charlie Hall said...

"Does that limit OJ's or is there an exception for training for and working in healthcare? "

There are lots of exceptions for training and working in healthcare. My wife, a physician, was told by a posek that she could even train a medical resident in abortions because they are sometimes halachically required!

"frum women can have about 6 professions"

Three frum female doctors ate lunch in my sukkah on Shemini Atzeret. One is my wife. I did the cooking.

"Vet School is EXTREMELY competitive."

It is MUCH harder to get into Vet School than (human) Medical School. There are far fewer Vet Schools than Medical Schools. And the curriculum is more demanding. Congrats to your daughter!

(It is non-trivial to be a frum vet, as there is a prohibition against sterilizing animals. We know one frum vet to supervises the care of the lab rats for a medical school.)

'The prohibition on "touching" members of the opposite sex, in a professional capacity is absurd.'

There is no such prohibition for healthcare workers if the contact is needed for the care. And according to some opinions handshaking in professional settings is also mutar. (I myself received this psak.)

"where they can pay slightly more than the poor old bais yaakov in lakewood"

Modern orthodox schools pay much better -- but you need a Master's degree. And a lot of frum people teach in public schools because the pay is better still.

"Is there a reason that we, as a community, have such an aversion to going to college and pursuing a career within mainstream commercial business? Perhaps a new approach would solve some of our old problems."

It isn't a new approach. Jews attended university back in the time of the Rishonim -- in fact, at least two Rishonim, Rambam and Sforno, attended university. I've seen no rabbinic objection to universities prior to the 19th century. It wasn't just the Reform movement that was making up stuff back then!

"I don't know any timid shabbily dressed frum girls."

I don't know any timid shabbily dressed female physicians! I also have never seen a female physician dressed immodestly.

"I cover my hair with a scarf and not a wig has never hurt me either"

My wife also covers her hair with a scarf and not a wig, and it has never hurt her.

Charlie Hall said...

Maybe I'm an old conservative, but I still think that a broad liberal arts education with exposure to selections from the great works of literature, surveys of world and (in the US) American history, and science courses that can allow someone to understand an article at the level of *Scientific American* are not just ideal but essential to a modern society. You just can't have society run by ignoramuses and expect it to function.

An additional benefit to exposure to literature is that one of the greatest living rabbis today, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, has a PhD in English and makes liberal use of examples from literature and history to make Torah points. You won't understand his Torah if you've never heard of Milton, Blake, or Cardinal Newman. Those who can't access his work don't appreciate what they are missing.

Orthonomics said...

For my own children, a broad based classical education is my ideal. My own goals in education are to develop the mind and to develop the character. Where vocational studies are appropriate, I prefer broad based studies, rather than a niche field like cosmetology that is likely best outsourced.

Perhaps I will write more, but I don't particularly care for the idea of separating out students on a vocational track from other students. I'd rather see a vocational program shared between schools or added to the programming in an already existing school so that students have access to academics, co-curricular, and extra-curricular classes of varying levels. (I believe there was a girl in my AP Lit/Comp class that never made it beyond Algebra II, requiring her to take vocational courses. She was a talented English student and was selected for a high level creative writing course open to only a handful of students. I believe she was also involved in the school musical. What a different learning experience she would have if the school district decided that vocational students had to be in their own school).

Miami Al said...


"I don't know any timid shabbily dressed frum girls."

I don't know any timid shabbily dressed female physicians! I also have never seen a female physician dressed immodestly.

Correct, successful professionals dress the part. Poor appearance isn't conducive to success. The Hareidim I see floating around here (admittedly, most of them washed out of NY before coming down here, so it might just be getting the dregs in Miami) all dress horribly in the name of Tsnius. Not "overly modest," just poor, clothes that don't fit right, mismatched, etc.

If you are a normal successful person, nobody cares that you're religious. If you are a weirdo, people don't want you around, whether your "weirdo-ness" is "Frum Jew," "Body Odor Guy," or "obnoxious racist."

Everyone has their quirks, people are generally tolerant if you get the job done.

mother in israel said...

Jew Public club,
I was responding to "Thinking" so your insulting comments were meant for me.

Writing and composing are much higher-level skills than proper handwriting. Organization of thoughts, critical thinking, and development of vocabulary should be the focus. Of course children need to learn how to write and my daughter writes quite well, thank you very much. But the focus on perfect handwriting slows down her thought process and holds her back.
You don't need to worry, my school won't be giving every kid a PC anytime soon. However, like it or not, perfect handwriting is not an important skill in today's world. Some kids love it and enjoy it, but many get frustrated. Focus on academics, not handwriting. Use technology when it advances the goal.

Chaim said...

"Miami al, most medical professionals who are frum will touch the patients of the opposite gender in the rendering of medical care but won't shake hands with them! There is a difference."

Virtually all Orthodox doctors will shake hands with patients of the opposite gender. You just don't realize that, because we don't shake hands with *frum* patients of the opposite gender.

MiMedinat HaYam said...

My wife, a physician, was told by a posek that she could even train a medical resident in abortions because they are sometimes halachically required!
--charlie hall (dr)

actually, unless the patient prefers a non jewish dr, a jewish doctor should perform the abortion. assuming its permitted, a whole other issue.

a ben noach is forbidden to do abortion under any circumstances; a jewish doctor is (sometimes) permitted.

(we had this discussion once on hirhurim)

sapkan said...

the sewing is forbidden comment was sarcasm.

Lion of Zion said...

"Some hair stylists can do quite well, earning up to $50,000/year with tips."

last i checked $50k was not "quite well."

rosie said...

Sapkan, sewing used to be considered nebishy but I just saw an ad by a woman who is charging lots of money to custom make wardrobes and gowns for rich ladies! I think it is coming back in vogue.

Anonymous said...

Lion: If two earners in a family each make 50K, then the family is in the top 25% for household income. I don't consider that too shabby for a job that doesn't require a college degree. Cosmetologists can do even batter than that, particularly if they eventually open their own shop.

Anonymous said...

Rosie: You are correct. My DH just bought two suits (a great sale) but the tailor's fee for alterations was over $100.00 per suit. I don't know how much work is involved so I don't know what that comes out to per hour, but I'll bet this tailor is not starving.

Anonymous said...

LOZ, I'd bet that the $50K is for less than full time hours. A full time stylist (40 hours) would clear much more.

Orthonomics said...

the tailor's fee for alterations was over $100.00

I hope you were not taken! I can't imagine even getting that close based on our experiences.

Anonymous said...

I think jacket alterations are very expensive. It's a problem that men's suits are sold as sets, not separates. Many men have to get a jacket that is much too big to get pants that fit.

Miami Al said...

Tesyaa, when shopping for mens suiting, sizes are jacket sizes. You get the jacket that fits, then have the pants altered to fit.

If the pants are too small for the jacket that fits (despite being designed to be taken in several inches):
1) Lose a LOT of weight FAST -- you're in the impending doom category
2) Go find the right size, you need to be in the portly section

$100 for alterations? Jacket alterations? You were sold the wrong product.

JS said...

Definitely bought the wrong size or you're shopping in the wrong store. Also, many stores have free alterations in store when you buy the suit there.

And yes, you can buy men's suit separates - I've done it before.

The key to buying a man's suit is having the jacket fit properly at the shoulders, back, and when buttoned up. Doing alterations to a jacket is expensive. Alterations to pants are far cheaper since they are easier to do.

MiMedinat HaYam said...

Cosmetologists can do even batter than that, particularly if they eventually open their own shop.

October 14, 2009 6:39 PM

first -- that statistic refers to outside new york salaries.
second (quiet here) -- this is a cash business
third -- are you insinuating they should become entrepreneurs? (see following blog post)