Jerusalem – Like a broken record, the scene repeats itself every year in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak — during the months after Pesach, over two thousand eighth grade girls apply to the high schools they want to study in the next year. Due to the stiff competition to maintain the best name and get the best girls, the schools have “spies” working in cahoots with elementary school principals and eighth grade teachers who find out who are the best prospects and often decide in advance who they want to take even before interviewing the girls.
This tragic situation began to occur every year beginning over 10 years ago. When the chareidi community was small, Chassidim, Litvaks and Sephardim constituted approximately a third each of each class in the Bais Yaakov high school in Jerusalem run by Rav Levine, a Gerrer chassid. Beginning twenty years ago, as the religious community grew and the religious landscape changed, high schools began to open every year to handle the exponentially increasing number of frum high schools girls.
The different chassidic groups began to open their own school systems for their girls. Under the completely understandable reason that they wanted their daughters to receive an education schooled in their particular values, they also solved the problem of removing unwanted influences from their daughters.
But once the chassidim pulled out of the general school system, that left the Litvish school system deluged with Sephardim. Since many of the Sephardim were from working class homes that were Oriental in attitudes, dress and behavior, Litvish parents were unhappy. They feared that their daughters would be exposed to negative influences in the pivotal years of their adolescent. Responding to pressure from parents, high schools began to compete for the best girls and those who weren’t from the “wrong” kind of homes.
Without anyone wanting it, a tragic situation developed. Every year, during the months when eighth grade girls are accepted to high school, between 100-200 girls were rejected by every high school. At first, most of the girls were Sephardic or daughters of baalei tshuva; afterwards, Ashkenazic girls with less than sterling names and daughters of chutznik families who didn’t always understand the local stringent standards of dress and behavior, were left out. Quotas were secretly instituted by each institution.
One desperate Sephardic father who tried to push his daughter into an Ashkenazic school was told bluntly by the principal, “We both agree that there should be a limit on how many Sephardim attend the school. The only difference between me and you is which Sephardim to take. You want your daughter in and I don’t.”
The innocent rejects suffered a trauma equal to being booted out of the chareidi community, sometimes for nothing other than their surname. The rejected girls remained devastated at home for months, while their friends cheerfully attended class. The extent of the pain was multiplied by the months it took to find a solution for her. When a rejected girl was finally admitted by a school, she crawled in, feeling like a leper.
In the meantime, the chareidi press was full of angst articles by parents of rejected girls, as well as critiques of the latest attempts to solve the problem. The secular press was also full of articles about the racist and cruel chareidim, sneering at their claims of being a community steeped in chesed and charity.
A few disgusted Sephardim decided to take the system by the horns and sue schools in court or prevail about the Education Ministry to withhold funds.
Gedolim and community askanim were deeply disturbed by the situation, and tried various solutions, none of which fixed the problem — despite many of their children and grandchildren holding high-ranking positions in the educational system. A rabbinical committee headed by Rav Rafael Reichman was in charge of forcing high schools to accept rejected girls. It sweated and begged schools for months into the new school year until all girls were placed. In some cases, the larger high schools agreed to open a special class for these girls, which wasn’t allowed to integrate with other classes.
The high schools’ rejections had immense ramifications in the chareidi community. When registration season came around, the heads of high schools were pounded by desperate parents willing to do anything to ensure their daughter was accepted. Parents were willing to suffer any humiliation to ensure their daughter was accepted, especially to their preferred school. Dozens of family members and friends were conscripted for the project, which became immensely difficult if the daughter had done the slightest thing to sully her name.
Despite the fierce pressure from parents who want to get their daughter in, high schools are equally fierce in rejecting girls who they feel might taint their names in any way. Complicating matters considerably was the fact that high schools are partially independent and charge monthly fees, so the courts cannot force them to accept girls they don’t want. Due to parents’ fussiness about the spiritual and educational quality of the school, many girls study in high schools remote from their homes as long as the school has the education line which parents seek.
The impossible situation has, over the years, forced the creation of a number of Sephardic high schools, as the Sephardim are finally fed up of begging the Ashkenazim to take their children into their schools. In the new Sephardic high schools, any Sephardic family who applies after they were rejected at an Ashkenazic school, is not accepted either.
But now — a new development! Rav Yitzchak Pindrus, who is in charge of the Chareidi Education Dept. in the Jerusalem municipality has innovated the idea of paying a high school 150,000 NIS ($35,000) grant if they agree to open a class taking in girls who are high candidates to be rejected. He believes that a part of the problem is the lack of classrooms, since the chareidi community has grown so rapidly in the past years.
Mayor Barkat says he is studying the proposal and the city’s finance department is looking it over.
Rabbi Pindrus believes there is a good chance that the proposal will go through and will solve the problem.
Will money overcome honor and a good name? In the chareidi community? Don’t bet on it!
Money trumps everything
Vihakesef yaaneh es hakol.
Thank you Rav Pindrus for giving a minute of thought to this annual anguish situation of female rejection (which is even worse among the males for Yeshiva ketana spots), sorry that your money grant is a swell idea BUT will not work……
One of the most disgusting stories I read… Whatever happened to Am Echad under one Elokim?
I guess the chuchma is to reject girls because they are not perfect enough for your school, but we don’t care if they fall off the derech.
Absolutely disgusting and a Chilul Hashem. Now I am glad i live in america and not in Israel.
this is a serious problem. dont believe that money will solve the problem. the money will be taken and the kids still out of the system. what i dont understand is why the sefardim dont open thier own schools. most anyway have different hashkafas.
I have seenthis same situation in the last few years with family members in Monsey and Lakewood. I have never, and i repeat never, bashed the rabbonim, but I gotta tell you, onthis matter they have totally blown it. girls taking interviews and paying application fees when ahead of time the schools know they won’t accept them! isn’t that just plain stealing. I have a friend whose daughter went throught this- every girl in her class was accepted except theirs. Its makes them feel like a piese of dirt. I can GUARANTEE you thats why we have some many kids going off the derech, as they think “you may make me feel like a piece of******* know, but in a coule of years I wont have to listen to any of you”.Personnaly, when i hear this happening at a school, I put them on my “list” to never ever donate to them whether its because of a friend being honored for a dinner or a chinese auction.
just my 2 cents
I don’t understand why an 8th grade girl is considered to be “problem.” At 14, there is so much still to be developed, and they are just entering adolescence, so they probably, for the most part, have not gotten into any real trouble. The whole thing is so ridiculous and even tragic. A divorce in the family, a cousin who is not frum.. all of these are excuses why a child should not be accepted in to a school. Many of these girls who are rejected go off the derech, even if they were fine. This system of vetting the students appears to be based on rechilis and loshon hara, and if that’s how a school operates, I am actually happy to be raising my children in NY.
Same around the world. Lehavdil any college university with a decent name is “choosey”
This article is almost too painful to read. I can’t even comment because I’m so upset by this. I’ll just utter one word: hypocrites!
This article makes this seem like a sephardic problem. Reading the article you would assume that this is nothing more thab racism at play, but that is not the case at all.
There are in reality two problems. One is the sephardim looking to get accepted to ashkenazi schools, which is no different than a man looking to get into a all girl school. Its the wrong school for their child, and that’s why they are being rejected. The sephardim and “chitzonim-outsider (whatever that means)” should open schools that are acclaimed to their culture, the same way the chasidim have done.
There is however another abd more serious problem. Girls that are applying to culturally appropriate schools are being rejected for not bein “perfect”. Such a situation is more troublesome and painful, and one that no govt money can solve. This problem is prevalent in Brooklyn, Lakewood, and Monsey as well.
This happened to my daughter in America. Something must be done to improve the system and accept all kids. I do believe that much of this can be resolved by expanding our schools and making extra classrooms. Money, Money, Money. But who will step up to the plate?
My heart cries for these girls.
This happens here in America, especially in Lakewood. I understand the why a school wont want sfardim, they are different, but why Askanazim. I think that each ethnic group is entitled to their own school, but what should the Askanazim do.
On the other hand, lets grow up and learn to accept people for Jews and lets have the system accomidate different groups and it will also increase understanding, it’s good for education as well. Do we want to continue the result of exile or can we move ahead to redemption when there are no Sfardim or Ashkanzim, there are Israelies.
One more thought. People need to try and respect the community they live and its colture. you cant laugh at what the leaders in th ecommunity tell you, looking right and left for comfort, and than shout why am I being left out. You do it to yourself. Try to be part of your community and you have more of being chances of being accepted.
to all those complaining here- what do you suggest that should be done? all the schools are full to the brim and don’t have extra places around. do you people think that schools should just take girls on a first come first served basis? would you want to send your girls to such a school?
there are a need for more schools but nobody wants to open a third rate school and nobody wants to donate to a third rate school so maybe instead of bashing, put yourselves in the principals; shoes and make valid suggestions
it is a terrible problem but with a silver lining- this has grown from our quest for good the sports leagues ion the modern orthodox yeshivas also fight to be on the team
there will always be competition & if you were the principal there would also be some boys or girls that you would NOT accept the point of disagreement is “exactly where you draw the line &wherever the line is there are some on the wrong side
one final point , without passing judgement on holy or not : QUESTION :IF A PARENT WANTS BETTER OR FRUMMER FOR THEIR CHILD BUT THEY THEMSELVES ARE NOT LIVING THAT KIND OF LIFESTYLE ,WHAT SHOULD THE YESHIVA DO ( im not talking about people on the way up)should a chassidish yeshiva accept a child whos parents WERE brought up chassidish , but for now have dropped some parts be it in dress ….or other, one can argue that boruch hashem they want better for their children or ….
Good job, in the name of hashem you are throwing innocent teens to the street then your gonna cry “Help! we need an organization to deal with teen drug use or teen pregnancy or teen suicides, shame on you…. All of you in brooklyn, lakewood, monsey, Israel, wherever you are shame on you. Get out of your little bubble and take you head out of your a$$e$, because all you care about is $$$ its never about the chinuch its all about the kavod and greed
Just because she is sephardy or because a girl was not blessed with the sharpest head you dump her? This is what the charedi education system got to, they don’t care about yiddishket! all they care about is there name and scores= GAVAH. give it a few years history will repeat itself, take note of those communities now, slowly but surely they will go of the derech, like the communities in Europe prewar.
In America the saying goes “innocent until proven guilty”, Yidden used to have a cheskes kashrus.
In Monsey the charedi system works, “it’s not what you know it’s who you know” that gets your kid in to a school or on the street.
I dont recall this mishegas in europr or even after the war. On the contrary, if you come from a weaker home we have more of an obligation to fill your desire to become better and stronger. Lets not judge the child by her parents, let her stand alone.
only way to stop this shanda is for the local government to completely remove funding and remove the licence of the school to operate and revote the principles license. this will work like a charm . works every time
There is a Major Disconnect in ALL of us between the Heart and the Brain. It occurs at the very vulnerable neck. Cause, ” Amalek’ spreading Coldness and Doubt!!!! There are so many among us FULL of Torah in this Tragic Disconnect Mode that are unable to connect to the WARMTH of the Heart, thereby creating a HORRIBLE Lack of Ahavas Yisroel and just simple sensitivity to others. The ugly snakelike EGO has reared its Ugly head
my relative lives in Israel and told me of a 9th grader who just roams the street since she wasnt accepted to any school. let’s just say — it only breeds more trouble. upstairs, as they say, the schools will be held responsible. i would not want to be in their shoes
Here in the USA, there are many wonderful Beis Yakov’s that are out of town, located in smaller cities. Their graduates are accepted at the best seminaries. Since they are smaller, the girls get a lot more attention. I know, my daughters attented one of these Beis Yakovs. Something has happenned to our hashgofas that we must attend the “best” high schools and yeshivas and the Beis Yakovs and Yeshivas only want the best. I agree with what was said above and I do not give my money to those schools. They have turned frum into Krum. The problem is the same in Israel. It is not only Sefardim, and by the way, there is no reason to separate due to ethnicity, but it is also happening to “fine” kollelnicks who come from the USA. In the end, it is the height of Geiva!! The heads of the schools here and there don’t listen to Gedolim. What ever happenned to Daas Torah. I guess it’s only good when it’s not their “ox that’s being Gored”. Then they teach “DAAS TORAH” you shouldn’t do this or that. Hypocrites!!
can u believe your eyes reading the comments ” I can understand the sephardic every “”ethnic”” group” a yid should write like that how riboine she oilem have we become such racist haven’t we suffered the most from racism GEVALD!!!!! HASHEM YISHMEREINI
To post #2 , you have no idea how this effects girls in our America communities. This year in Monsey, a school that every year, preselects girls before even interviewing them, asked the highest price for appplication/exams. The estimate was somewhere around $20,000.00 that they made on entrance exams and they knew beforehand that there were only approximately 7 slots available. I actulally wonder if people could file a class action suit on this school. But this will never end because every one will still apply next year to that school even though they are money hungry and very snotty as to whom they deem good enough for them. I am sure that this misleading must have some sort of issur. This school has a history of basing their acceptance or nonacceptace of girls on Loshson Horah and not researching the facts. I have heard directly from people who were lead to believe that their daughters were accepted and then flatly changing their minds and not accepting these girls with no explanation at all. One girl and her family were actually grilled because her parents did not have the bracha of having a large family. The ridiculed them and and made them feel terrible at their interview. I could go on, and on and on. Unfortunately there are somewhere in the number of 30 girls who are not accepted into Monsey high schools the last I heard. And unfortunately, there is no Rav Matisyahu here in Monsey to say, “no school will open till every girl is accepted”. This an enormous problem. Funny, but I never hear about this happening in Brooklyn. Boruch Hashem, my daughter is in a solid Bais Yakov in Monsey who accepted her for who she was, not who her parents, grandparents or siblings were.
This is the reason moshiach is still not here. This goes against everything Jewish stands for. To breed such xenophobia in our young is a disgrace. Feh. I’m disgusted.
This kind of thing causes terrorist attacks lo alienu
The problem is lack of parental empowerment. Parents should not have to beg to secure an education for their children. They can simply eschew the school system and do it themselves. It is called “homeschooling” and it works! If enough parents simply walked away from the system, then you would see the so called educators singing a different tune!
This is so remenicient of the Nazis. This girl to the right and this girl to the left. Line up for inspection to see who goes off to the gas chamber and who can continue to work. Oh you can sew?, Ok you will be spared and sent for slave labor, you are useful Jew.
You don’t look well, to the infirmary with you for an injection of phenol in your heart.
Really this is outrageous and demonstrates that we as a people have not learned much from the Holocaust. Perhaps if Holocaust education was mandatory for Charedi leaders they would behave differently. instead I am sure they will blame this one on the zionists and secular influences as well.
And one final question. Where are the leaders and the Daas Torah, or is this indeed Daas Torah?
I am sorry but this is making me sick.
I assume it has to do with so called “ir hatorah” Bnei brak, Lakewood , Monsey all the same story. Please remember “koach hapeil be’nephil” if they wouldn’t accept your kids because you’re not good enough don’t support any of their institutions financially. For their good!
I can understand if you don’t live by standers similar of that school they can reject you. nevertheless rejection for being shphartic or not having top scores?. Are these chinuch institutions or universities?
stop government aid! It won’t take long they will collapse, we can all use a fresh start.
No 15 – your arguments are nothing but thinly disguised racism. The same arguments were used (cultural differences, etc.) to try to support segregation in the u.s.
And people wonder why kids go OTD. They don’t go — they are pushed by schools/people like these.
There are plenty of Sephardim who are not very different at all in hashkafos and attitude, but are still rejected. For anyone to say it’s ok to reject them on such a basis is total rishus. I’m glad I don’t live in Eretz Yisroel because the sinas chinom is so terrible there. I just hope they have enough zechuyos after this terrible aveira to protect them from the latest negotiations of a divided Jerusalem, but I don’t think so. This will be a great kitrug on them and the gedolim there who can speak up against this behavior and don’t. I just feel bad for the Sephardim who will be caught up in this mess through the fault of these Ashkenazim.
Good luck, you’re gonna need it!
The Chareidi schools are basically admitting failure and that their hashkafas are too bankrupt to compete. They realize that if girl A from a modern home and girl B from a Chareidi home are put into a room, the Chareidi girl will always fall under the terrible influence of the modern girl, and has no chance of motivating the modern girl to become Chareidi.
What a sad disgrace for klal yisroel and the Torah. Why is Torah not being taught with ahavas yisroel so that all girls are motivated to grow?
Can I understand? What’s the problem with the Sefardim? Why don’t we hear that Ashkenaizim are not being accepted in Sefardic schools? Why don’t they have the same senses as Litvaks have not even to try to send their kids to Chasidic schools? Should we say its racism? Not at all! Its simply a different upbringing and use your common sense!
It is the same in Lakewood trying to get into BMG, I got in as a bochur 9 years ago through pull (it’s the only way) I have always maintained that the fact that only a 10th of those who apply to BMG get in, is a large contributor to the shidduch crisis.
Since all girls, or their fathers, want a bochur from BMG, the fact that there are so little of these guys really hurts their chances. Meantime, there are so many very good bochurim who are forced to go to other Yeshivos and then are not read the same good girls as their former chavrusahs from the same EY yeshivos who did get in to BMG through protexia. I do understand having learned there, that there is a lack of dorm space but the BMG bochur idea is so overrated and people feel that if they are not getting a guy from BMG they are losing out! So if more guys would get accepted then the pool would be much more and help the shiduch crisis!
I know im dreaming…..
Parents send their girls to school, that their daughters shall be formed with chinuch and proper Jewish education, If a girl is “NOT FIT” that means that the school did not do a good job, why blame the girl for a school error. In Lakewood I believe that no school may open for class till all girls are placed inside a program. If this will be Enforced in Israel as well, and the Rabonim will cooperate. then it will be a smashing success.
P.S. When we moved our kids from “top” reputations schools to Chabad, which is really tops in our opinion, we had other reasons as well. I’m clarifying this for the sake of emes – ahavas Yisroel was a huge factor, but not the only factor.
AVROHOM WAS THE SON OF A OIVED AVOIDE ZORO ESOW BELONGED IN THIS SCHOOL
and we wonder why the bais hamikdosh has not been built, not to accept sepharadim just cause they’re sepharadim, and to reject 14 year old girls form any background cause they don’t ,eet the criteria, what is this criteria pray tell??? How sad for us…
Seems like everyone on this site agrees how disgraceful this article is in theory. Has anyone here done anything about it other than complain anonymously on this site?
The more I read posts on this site, it seems to me that intellectually people know what is right, but I don’t see anyone doing anything different publicly….. can we act on what we know is right? Do all of you writing how shocking this article is act in similar ways when it comes to shidduchim? Judging different communities?
P.S. When we moved our kids from “top” reputations schools to Chabad, which is really tops in our opinion, we had other reasons as well. I’m clarifying this for the sake of emes – ahavas Yisroel was a huge factor, but not the only factor.
WE USED TO PRIDE OUTSELVES IN THE TALMIDOS WE PRODUCED NOW WE PRIDE OURSELVES IN THE STUDENTS WE ACCEPT.
if the girls were perfect they would not need your school.!
Is she mature responsible independent exemplery middos shomer hazman.yodeah sefer, committed to supporting a husband in Kolel many years to come. Works well under pressure, not influenced by other
No!!!!! she is all of 17
I am a baalat teshuva. My daughter is the sweetest child and very smart too. We live in Lakewood and were rejected from all schools. I called the Rebetzin of one of the schools and asked her why my daughter was rejected. She stated that “I have to learn that sometimes no means no.” She also stated that she had just finished one book of tehillim and that she was going back to the second when she was done speaking to me. I so badly wanted to say, you know that book that you just read, well Hashem said no. But I kept my mouth shut and took it as a kapara. She told me that I should go to the other schools that I applied to. She was so rude! It worries me that the administration, which is the models for the schools have no middhos. What does that mean for what my daughter could become?? It’s amazing how there are so many kiruv organizations with very great tzadikim that bring non-frum yidden into frumkeit yet when it comes to accepting your children in the schools they deny you. If I would have known this back then, I’m not so sure I would have jumped into yiddishkeit thinking that these are people that are rachmanim and people that are so special because they are always working on themselves to be closer to hakadosh baruchu. I cry inside thinking about what Hashem thinks everyday about his children and how far away they are. We wonder why Moshiach has not come yet. Hashem has so much rachamim on us because he is still waiting for his children to return to him and he is so patient. All we can do is daven and do chesed and hope for the best. Hopefully when he comes, we will deserve it and not have to suffer!!
I appreciated all your comments here, but note that very few really understand the forces causing the situation.
The chareidim have many values. The rule is that the more complex and numerous your values are, the great numbers of people will fail to live up to them. That is the factor behind the unspoken but real “class” system which exists in our society where some are worth more and some are worth less. It happens with shidduchim all the time. Is anyone bothered when yachsonim parents turn down a shidduch with a non-yachson ben Torah? Everyone understands that he doesn’t have the all-important yachson criteria important to the girl’s family.
Second, every aspect of our life is precious to us, from our minhagim, to our style of dress to the kind of cholent we make. Anyone who doesn’t fit all these criteria is not hated, but not the company we prefer to associate with. This situation goes back to our very origins in the Desert, when we lived separately as 12 tribes instead of one, and weren’t allow them to intermarry those 40 years. Again, most of us are understanding when chassidim prefer to associate with their own group rather than with Litvaks, Bukharians, Syrians, etc. and vice versa.
Third, if you can’t set up your own decent system that competes with the other, you really are inferior. In the case of the Sephardim, if they can’t establish their own quality yeshivos and are always going to the Litvish ones, what does that say about them? You don’t get a good name for whining or playing the racist card, only for showing you can perform as well as the next guy. The chassidim have no problem with attending their own schools, even if the quality is not as high as some Litvish schools. Why isn’t it the same with the Sephardim?
Fourth, in today’s hedonistic climate, parents are hysterical about keeping their kids away from negative influences. Anyone who is perceived to be a negative or even not positive influence — whether because of their behavior or the behavior of their wide social group — is kept at an arm’s length.
Fifth, it is the parents who are fault for the situation more than the yeshiva administration. Any seminary or yeshiva that starts accepting a larger number of “weaker” girls will soon find himself losing all the stronger girls and ending up with a bankrupt school. What administrator can take that chance? They are forced to act as they do because of parents’ demands. They are not arrogant, supercilious people aimed at filling their pockets. They have to look out for the school’s interest and the interest of most parents who send their kids to the school.
The situation is tragic because the parents and administrators have understandable reasons for acting the way they do — but unfortunately, it is innocent youths who are the victims. Neither is there any easy solution because parents will always think in terms of their personal interests — they want the best peer group for their children and a better name for shidduchim — which forces the administration to remain choosy to retain their good name.
Until we understand the true underlying issues instead of superficially blaming the situation on sinas chinom, brinkmanship, or selfish and cruel administrators, there is no possibility of a solution.
in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s all sfardim came to CHABAD schools and chabad was open to evry JEW in the later years thy wanna be litvish so to be litvish you have to pay the price
This cycle should break.
First, these chinuch institutions have a business interest in instilling the perception among parents that their schools are the only acceptable path for the kids’ future. Then the duped girls and parents will put their lives to get this standard of acceptance.
The more intelligent parents should eventually revolt. Find a different school, or discover homeschooling (beware: hard to blame anybody’s bad influence but your own). After all, the system itself has as bad an influence as any number of “bad” girls can possibly inflict.
Yeshiva, by definition, is a place where Jews are taught Torah.
Any institution that puts its own reputation and well being above the holy task of spreading Torah in Isroel, should not be classified as a Yeshiva.
Unfortunately, this situation is not limited to Eretz Isroel; you can’t get to a get to a good yeshiva school in Brooklyn without money or connections.
Just think, a precious Jewish child is denied light of Torah because of some silly “reputation” reason.
VELO YOLEIF KATALA CHAYOV (words of Hillel in 1st perek Avos) – RASHI explains: one who refuses to TEACH Torah deserves death.
What a horror we are living in, that even the institutions that are supposed to our fortresses, are not interested in spreading the light.
such hyprocrites!!!!!!! these so called mosdos that are meant to be teaching hashkafo,mussar,middos toivos etc… are just a mokom of sinas chinom what lessons are they teaching the girls=–shoychad grabbers for themselves these principals are putting the bribes in their back pocket..i have a neice who went thru such a trauma –so i know exactly whats going on …refusing girls because they are SEPHARDI let these so called RABBIS close their gemmora ,rambam shulchan aruch rif rosh to quote just a few of the great works written by our SEPHARDI CHACHAMIM (they all had mothers)