By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish HomeJoin our WhatsApp group
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There has been a dramatic sea-change in Chinuch institutions for American/Yeshiva families that have moved or are contemplating a move to Eretz Yisroel. The landscape is now vastly different than it was a mere twenty years ago. Chinuch mosdos have now entered a phase of “Chinuch For Olim by Olim.”
And many are extremely satisfied.
Back in the late 1990’s and early ought years of the new millennia, there were essentially three main issues that the Yeshiva/like Olim families had:
- American parents enjoy a lot of input in their schools and they like having it and exercising it. Israeli schools, however, are run differently. “Geveret, I am the menahel here – if you do not like it, you can try to find another mossad,” was a refrain that was often heard back then.
- The second issue was that the attitude of the hanhallah of the Yeshivos was not to intervene – “Just leave him alone and he will be fine.” In other words, menahelim and Rebbeim had a hands off approach to issues and or potential problems. American parents are not on-board with this.
- The third issue was that limudei chol was taken far less seriously by the mosdos than their current counterparts.
THE LARGER ANGLO COMMUNITIES
Now, however, there is a wide variety of mosdos that are available – at least in the largest of the Anglo neighborhoods. Those communities include Ramat Beit Shemesh, Ramot Bet in Jerusalem, Ramat Shlomo in Jerusalem and Rechovot – about 35 minutes from Jerusalem, among others.
Ramat Eshkol, Sanhedria HaMurchevet, Maalot Dafne, Arzei haBirah and French Hill also have large Anglo communities. Many in these areas are Kollel couples in their first one to three years of marriage. Now, however, even the landscape in Yerushalayim education is changing (but more on that in future articles, be”h.) When these couples do eventually look for schools, many of them switch their residence to places like Ramat Beit Shemesh. In this article, we will begin the focus b’ezras Hashem, on the Mosdos in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
[For those who wish to avoid those larger communities, for one reason or another, they may opt to educate in a Chareidi Dati Le’umi school – even though they may not be the best fit for their child. Some, however, have made enormous strides in those schools. Even in the communities around the country, including regular Israeli communities, there are Olim that choose to go there and join the regular Israeli schools. Afula and Karmiel have received a number of Olim of late, and, to some extent, these communities have an infrastructure. The real estate there is more affordable too.]
What the American/Yeshiva families have done in Ramat Beit Shemesh is that they have essentially developed “Open Bubble Communities” that are also relatively “soft-landings” for the Olim. They are all taught in Hebrew, and the catch-up time is generally between five and six months to acclimate to Hebrew but they have American Yeshiva values. With an estimated population of 152,000 plus residents, there are some 66 different boys’ Yeshivos in Ramat Beit Shemesh, and there will probably be another half dozen more that will open up shortly.
These Yeshivos have been enormously successful. Rabbi Lavey Friedman, (founder and director) the menahel of Darchei Noam remarked, “Last year, we had five new seventh graders, and they are doing fabulously well.”
THE PILOT TRIP
Potential new Olim usually make a “Pilot Trip” to check out the educational possibilities for their children. In this pilot trip, each family should do their due diligence and homework as to where each of their children belong. A mistake can be very costly, because switching schools midstream can be detrimental to a child, who has already left both home and community.
There are mosdos that are similar to schools such as Southshore, there are mosdos that are similar to a Siach Yitzchok, some similar to a Yeshiva Darchei Torah, and there are some that are similar to Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island. Some of the Yeshivos [we are using the term Yeshiva in the American sense – PreK to 8th grade] are more like a Lakewood Cheider as well. Of course, there is certainly crossover and Mosdos vying for the same families – just like schools in the United States. Most of the bigger schools are in Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph.
The schools that more closely resemble a Yeshiva Darchei Torah are Darchei Noam, Mogain Avot, and Torat Moshe. Those that are slightly more to the right are Torat Shalom Mem Shalosh (a sub-neighborhood of RBS Aleph) and Beit Eliyahu. VeZos LiYehudah is located in Ramat Beit Shemesh Gimel and not Aleph. If someone has a Lakewood-type family they would be more comfortable in Beit Eliyahu and VeZos LiYehudah.
As far as girls’ schools are concerned, Beis Yaakovs in general are not private schools but are government funded through the Chinuch Atzmai. Ramat Beit Shemesh, however, has a number of private Beis Yaakov type students. (By the way, these schools are run as a private model but in reality they belong to Mayach Chinuch Bnei Yosef- the sefardic version of Chinuch Atzmai.) How did they start? Once again, the theme of “By Olim and for Olim” comes through. It was the parents who launched the private schools.
Bais Yaakov Mogain Avot is a private school. Bnos Malka is also a private girls school with excellent Chinuch. Beit Yaakov HaRamah is often the school where sisters of Torat Moshe boys attend. (But this comparison can be tricky since RBS can have siblings in various schools as well.) Beit Yaakov HaRamah, Magen Avot and Toras Moshe originally offered remarkable Aliyah coordinator. And now numerous schools offer good Alyah coordinators as well, Twenty years ago, this term didn’t even exist in reference to schools!
The high schools educate toward passing and even excelling at the Bagrut tests – equivalent to the NY State Regents. Psychometry, by the way is equivalent to SAT or ACT’s in the United States.
Rabbi Shmuel Zalman Eidensohn, the Menahel of Toras Moshe, of Ramat Beit Shemesh Aleph remarks, “20 years ago, it was quite challenging. There was only one Yeshiva, Magen Avot, and it was a one size fits all. The Rabbonim felt that there was a need and the three Rabbonim decided that something had to be done. They are Elimelech Kornfeld, head of Kehilas HaGra, son-in-law of Rav Aharon Feldman of Ner Yisroel, and Rav Tzvi HaKohen Dovidovitch (a nephew of the famous sofer), and lehavdil bain chaim l’chaim, Rav Malinowitz zt”l from Artscroll.”
It was on account of the three Rabbonim that schools first opened at different levels. Each school, of course, has their own unique style. This all came about because the parents demanded it and the regular steady growth of Ramat Beit Shemesh allowed them to do it..
The downside to having so many schools is that it is very challenging for the hanhallah. Their budgets are typically, one third government funding, one third fund-raising, and one third from the tuitions.
Toras Moshe is from ages 3 to 14. The graduates are generally split 3 ways: One third go on to a Torah only Yeshiva Gedolah (again, we refer to high school). One third go on to Mesivta, a high school in Ramat Beit Shemesh which opened about ten years ago. One third will go to Maarava, Rabbi Boruch Chait’s Yeshiva.
What all this means is that there are options – finally. If parents want to eventually send their children to a high school where they become fully proficient in every Rav Boruch Ber, the Yeshiva Ketana system in Ramat Beit Shemesh can handle it. If parents want full integration in existing Israeli schools, they can – with a full bagrut diploma, and yet maintaining Yeshiva and full Torah hashkafos.
Olim should also be aware of the significant contrast in tuition payments between the US and Eretz Yisroel. An average Bais Yaakov tuition in Eretz Yisroel a mere few hundred NIS a year. The so-called private schools will charge 2-3 thousand NIS a year (around 200-300 NIS a month) and the chadarim can charge a bit more, a few thousand NIS a year, depending on the type of cheder, but this is a mere drop in the bucket compared to American tuitions. Olim should keep in mind, however, that, depending upon age and the type of child- they may be in for a big tutoring bill.
These schools enable chareidi families from NY, Baltimore, Monsey Passaic, Toronto, London, you name it – to not just make it, but to truly thrive in Eretz Yisroel.
The author can be reached at [email protected]