What Parents Need To Know Before Sending Girls to the Meisels Seminaries

No Accreditation

Rabbi Moshe Krupka, Executive VP, Touro College

Rabbi Moshe Krupka,
Executive VP, Touro College

As of last week, Touro College (and its affiliate, Hebrew Theological College) still hasn’t restored accreditation to the four seminaries, Pninim, Chedvas, Keser Chaya, and Binas. According to a source who spoke to Executive VP, Rabbi Moshe Krupka, Touro is waiting for proof that Elimelech Meisels, no longer has ANY possible control over the seminaries. Without accreditation, your daughter won’t qualify for FASAP grants and loans or college credits.

According to Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn, Touro is also demanding that a staff member be fired (probably the principal of Binas, Hindy Ullman). This would be consistent with the statement by the Special Beis Din of Chicago (CBD) in September:

Gedalia Dov Schwartz at Nefesh Chicago Sex Abuse Conference 2011

Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz NYT 2012 Senior Dayan, Special Beis Din, Chicago (aka CBD)

Staff members who knew of Meisels’ misconduct, yet did nothing to stop it, violated their most fundamental responsibility-protecting the bnos yisroel entrusted to their care. Absent extraordinary circumstances, such persons must be removed from the seminaries, just as any reasonable person would insist upon removal of a mashgiach who knowingly permitted a cook to serve treif food to consumers.

Refund Problems

Those who now control the seminaries continue to refuse to give refunds to parents who withdrew their students for the 2014-2015 year. The parents involved either get no answers or they get sent running from one party to another. The only parents who got refunds were those who joined a lawsuit. If an individual seminary decides to close shop because enrollment is too low, don’t count on getting your tuition deposits back. Even if you are willing to sue, there may be no assets to back up a judgment. Officially, the seminary does not own real estate. They rent, according to their Israeli amutah reports on Guidestar.

Meisels Still Controls the Seminaries

Nobody has confirmed in writing that Meisels has given up control of the seminaries. In September, the CBD wrote:

Elimelech Meisels Purim Punk Pninim Rabbi watermarked finMeisels’ control of staff members’ livelihoods necessarily would have been a factor in their unwillingness to confront him… In a July 30 conference call, Rabbis Tzvi Gartner and Chaim Malinowitz stated to the [Chicago] Beis Din that the publicly-reported purchase of the seminaries was subject to as-yet unfulfilled contingencies, including enrollment targets and financing.

Translated into English, there is a “catch 22.” Meisels would like the full business value of the seminaries. The buyer, Mr. Yaakov Yarmush, wouldn’t commit to that because there are unpredictable financial issues. No one knows whether enough students will enroll. No one can be sure of how many more alumni will sue the seminaries because they were sexually assaulted as two already have (alleging rape and attempted rape). It seems the deal is structured so that Meisels gets his money if the seminaries succeed in meeting the financial goals. But if they don’t, the seminaries go back to Meisels. The deal could have been structured differently, but I believe Meisels is determined to eventually get back into the seminary business.

Misleading Safety Statements

Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz

Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz

A lot of paper has been issued claiming the seminaries are now safe. All of them have problems. When the CBD declared the seminaries were not safe on Thursday, July 10th, the Israeli Beis Din (IBD) or Rabbis Shafran, Gartner and Malinowitz issued a statement on Sunday, July 13 saying the seminaries were safe. They said that even before Meisels sold the seminaries to Mr. Yarmush.

The Moetzes (Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel of America) never took a position on the safety of the seminaries. Instead a letter was signed by five members but Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky, the Moetzes member most involved in issues of sex abuse, never agreed to sign that statement. Ask yourself why? Surely they would have wanted his signature on such an issue. The letter by the Moetzes members was in part instigated by R. Avrohom Chaim Levin (RY Telz-Chicago). But R. Levin is nogeih bidavar (has a conflict of interest) arising from his close personal friendships and marriage connections to the two generations of the Meisels family. That is why he recused himself from participating in a Beis Din hearing charges against Meisels.

Avrohom Chaim LevinYou have been told that there is a supervising committee (vaad) headed by the Rosh Yeshiva Asher Weiss. But when asked, R. Weiss says he only agreed to answer shailos (Jewish law questions). Rebitzin Birnbaum has been talked about as the spiritual principal (מנהלת רוחני) but she has no direct authority over staff. The principals that ignored the grooming and abuse are still in charge.

Do you want to risk the safety of your daughters relying on the same people who failed under Meisels? Do you want to hope that they have all been adequately retrained? Do you want to gamble on the seminary getting accreditation? Do you want to risk the seminaries closing and not getting a refund? I think, not.

Postscript – No One Has Exonerated Meisels

Elimelech Meisels

Elimelech Meisels

Rumors are circulating that Meisels was exonerated. However, the Chicago Beis Din still stands by its conclusion that Meisels engaged in unwanted sexual contact with students and “sexual violence.” Together with the IBD under the leadership of Rav Eliezer Brudny, they have issued a statement allowing the schools to recruit, but they are still finalizing a longer statement (supposedly 4-5 pages) which is expected to deal some more with the previous failings. The Chicago Beis Din is expecting Touro to do the job of either getting persistent problems solved or forcing the failure of the seminaries by denying them accreditation. This is nice for staff eager to save their jobs. But why should you risk your daughter’s future on seminaries that may go bankrupt.

I repeat, in spite of rumors, no one can show you a single signed piece of paper stating Meisels was exonerated. All the battei din accept the guilty verdict of the Chicago Beis Din which conducted an extensive investigation. The issue is now being downplayed to save jobs and businesses. But as parents, you should be more concerned about your daughter’s wellbeing than about the jobs of others. Why be strict about hashgachos but lenient about the safety of your daughters?

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71 thoughts on “What Parents Need To Know Before Sending Girls to the Meisels Seminaries

    • because many rely on their local HS staff and rabbonim. Many of them are either ignorant or lying and claiming everything is OK (and either Meisels is completely out or exonerated). The reason I suspect lying in some cases is that while they will say it on the phone they won’t put it in writing. Many are politically allied to key actors invested in these seminaries. Forget all the talk about torah, etc. The frum worlds leadership is deeply connected to a network of businesses (otherwise know as yeshivas and seminaries). Nobody is objective when they have financial interests.

    • Social pressure and family ties are complex. Many of the bais yaakov high school principals that guide the girls in choosing which seminary to attend have either close friendships or family ties with the female (and male) principals and staff of the Meisles schools. On a certain level they don’t want to accept the truth. I can see it in their faces when I pass them on the street. On one hand they are ashamed of what happened, but on the other hand they don’t want to cross their friends or harm their friends livelihood and they don’t want to believe the truth because it’s painful.

      • Well said. Hence the whispered claims that Meisels is totally out while refusing to speak about why he should be out. Moreover, they understand that their friends, the teachers and principals are culpable for enabling and overlooking. so they invent the myth that that the other staff could not have known. This leads them to minimize the misconduct, culminating in the claim, “It was just a few hugs.” By sending out the same messages to alumni and current students they are creating a climate where future victims of another abuser will fear they will not be validated if they come forward.

        The fact that the seminaries have never issued any apologies to any of the victims, publicly or privately, suggests they have still not learned, really learned, what went wrong.

  1. Please post the name of any US school guidance counselor who suggests sending students to Meisels seminary. I will follow up with them – because they and the schools they work for have liability.

  2. The response from the other side will be all too predictable. At this point, we can hope that the issues have had a chance to air out in public, which really hasn’t happened before. There have been few, if any cases like this in the past. I really hope that most normal people out there, the people with regular frum families who just want to send their kids for a decent year in Eretz Yisroel, think just like the first poster, Ms. Dot. I have spoken to a lot of people about this case (granted, I’m in Chicago), and there’s not one single person who doesn’t think like Ms. Dot.

    The ironic thing here for Meisels is that if he would have just come clean at the beginning, he would have been able to sever ties, get out, and have new management/ownership make any and all necessary changes. Then, enrollment would have been fine, and he would have been able to recoup the full value that he now seeks.

    But a narcissist just doesn’t think that way. IMO, he wants both. He wants to still be thought of as a persecuted tzaddik, and at the very same time, keep all existing staff, and still get full market value for his sems. He his being hoisted on his own stinky petard.

      • Totally agree. I have said the very same thing here. But a return is a lot harder without any seminaries up and running.

  3. Yerachmiel – very important to keep the pressure on so parents get real time information NOT to apply to these schools. I sincerely hope that the new seminaries that are cropping up for next year do not hire the enablers that taught in Meisels schools.

  4. Everyone wants meisels punished. The best way to punish him is to NOT send your daughter to his school. Then he has no school, nor a school with any value to sell. I’ve written this before. This is the way to hurt Meisels. No one will pay money for a school if there won’t be students there. Also parents need to be vocal that they won’t send their daughters where Kahane and Ullman are employed. they won’t get jobs other places. Let them work in some other field. Are their more that should be punished? Speak up. And listen to Avid Observer too. Find out if your daughter’s principal or guidance councilor is recommending a meisels school. If yes, then make a stink. Speak to the board of your local BY. Or whoever has influence. And if that doesn’t work then put it on this wonderful website. We do not know if Meisels deserves prison. But we can ensure that he doesn’t make one more penny from these schools!!

    • Shining a bright light on the enablers will disinfect the seminaries. The FF police (we can act at the enforcers) will make sure that any guidance counselor in any school who recommends a Meisels seminary will be outed for providing that insane ‘guidance’.
      We have resources if you think about it – it starts with opening your mouth and not allowing this behavior to continue.

  5. Thank you Yerachmiel for this important post. Parents need to look out for their children and not assume that the “herd” will keep their kids safe. It wont. When the going gets rough it’s every man/woman for himself/herself. A parents’ role is to protect their children until those children can protect themselves. Giving in to peer pressure or herd mentality or false piety (Hashem will protect her) is not doing one’s hishtadlus – being proactive – to protect one’s child. Hashem didn’t help the many girls that Meisels took sexual advantage of. You need to do everything you can to make sure your daughter is as far away from such a fate as possible. The risk of sexual abuse is NOT WORTH a lifetime of extraordinary emotional pain, major mental health issues, major probability of marriage issues, work issues, and issues extending to every relationship. It’s just not worth it. ANY girl’s future will be better off if she stays home in the USA rather than going to one of the Meisels seminaries for the coming year. Don’t give in to the peer pressure and to your child’s hysterics. YOU are the adult in the room. One day, that girl who is hysterical now that you’re ruining her life, will thank you for protecting her. It may take 20 years, but she will realize it (and probably a lot sooner than 20 years).

    • Very well put, Seriously?. The parent must be willing to be “the bad guy”. when the stakes are this high. The more “gvuradik” parent must prevail over the super “chessedik” parent. She may scream rant and cry. and make you feel like an axe murderer. Don’t let rigshei rachmonas override your parental imperative….protection at all costs.

      • Just to be clear, are you talking about not sending girls to any seminary in Israel, or are you limiting your discussion to Meisels’ sems? I made the mistake of sending one daughter to sem in Israel, she wasn’t hurt in any way and she loved it. But she came home saying she wanted to marry a serious learner who would not seek employment for many years after marriage. This contradicts everything I had been trying to drill into her head for the first 18 years of her life. I have been arguing with my younger daughters that I will not be making the same mistake again, and they should not expect to go to Israel for sem.

          • It may be too late though. I know a family that did keep the younger kids home as Sheri intends, but by then the younger kids were so intent on emulating the older one (and probably annoyed at the parents for changing course on seminary midstream) that they married learners anyway.

            it’s just amazing to me how much brainwashing can take place in one year.

            • A kid cannot marry a learner if a parent doesn’t want them to. You want to marry a long term learner? Okay, see how easy it is to get dates with learners while I’m not willing to support. Then do your own “research” on the boys, date the ones willing to go out with you, and raise the funds to make your own wedding, and I’ll be glad to attend. It’s a tough stance to take, and some kids pull it off by getting a wealthy relative involved, but it has prevented other kids from marrying kollel.

              “it’s just amazing to me how much brainwashing can take place in one year.”

              It’s classic cult brainwashing techniques. You sequester the subjects into an environment where they are ONLY amongst other cult members who keep repeating the cult mantras. That is exactly what they do with Seminary girls and Yeshivish boys. And they’re doing it with late adolescents, not even adults as cults do where they live only amongst themselves. Scientific research shows that our minds are not fully developed until about 21-22 years old. These kids are not only not capable of making fully rational decisions, but their minds are still malleable and HIGHLY impressionable. The Israeli army will not take boys for basic training over a certain age for this very reason. After a certain age the boys/men will not follow orders unquestioningly unless they were trained to do so before that age.

              I am sure that girls who go to American Seminaries and live at home, and boys who live at home and not in Yeshiva dorms, would not choose kollel as quickly if they got to spend more time at home or even (God forbid) working or volunteering part time in the world out there. But the kids will still be hammered in school with the “Kollel” drumbeats and messages, because the teachers are paid to teach them that, and the teachers are all in those kollel worlds themselves, even in MO schools.

            • You are right that parents could use their power of the purse to seriously reduce the likelihood their kids will enter the lifetime-kollel system. But then parents could further reduce that likelihood by sending them to different schools with a stronger emphasis on a variety of role models of success and much higher valuing and training for careers requiring secular education. But many parents surrender to social pressures. Moreover, lay people seem to have lost control of the curriculum and messages of their schools, outside of a select few modern orthodox schools. Even many MO schools are affected by rebbes who push kollel (though have to compete against other messages and models).

            • It’s not only social pressures that parents surrender to. Kollel has become the Status Symbol de Jour (of the day), and that is something that adults always fall for. It’s no longer the bragging of “My son is a doctor” that gets status nowadays, but rather “I support my son-in-law in Kollel for X number of years” that gets admiration and respect. Meanwhile, if someone would say “I am enabling the crippling of a grown man in his future ability to support his own family, while he and my daughter milk the government for every program they could away with, so that when my son-in-law is 35-40 years old and has to think about marrying off his own children, he will have no job prospects and I will be retiring, financially drained and not be able to help him anymore, leaving my daughter and grandchildren with no choice but to scam any available system, or to lie, cheat and steal from credit card or other financial scams, or to live on communal tzedakah” – nobody would really admire that kind of bragging. But for some reason saying that you are “Supporting a son-in-law in “Koyllel” learning “Toyrah” – THAT garners status and creates others trying to show off that they support MORE son-in-laws learning than YOU do or for more years. It’s as shallow and meaningless as an Izod shirt, but worse because an Izod shirt at least fuels the economy, while a kollel family drains the economy and drains our communal resources (middle income working families have to pay yeshiva tuition to make up for the Kollel families who aren’t expected to pay full tuition, and the myriad other ways in which it drains our communal resources). Kollel is now a status symbol has nothing at all to do with Torah. Oh, the guy may learn a little Gemara here and there, but more often he’s the one taking the kids to the doctor, driving the car pool, and coming up with the latest easy-money-making-scheme. Besides, the boys with exceptional middos who are also exceptional learners are not the majority of the ones being supported in learning in Kollel because they are not competitive enough and back stabbing enough to get that status. They are too honest and humble and socially awkward or shy and just do their own thing, which usually includes supporting their families, instead of competing for the wealthiest father-in-law.

              Kollel is now a status symbol, and people don’t want to say no to their kids, and kids are getting brainwashed, and together with social pressure and “the Gedolim” pushing the system and calling it Torah, it’s a nice big Perfect Storm.

  6. I don’t understand why people are afraid to post here. Afraid of what? Someone will figure out your Identity? If Bill Cosby Meisels was takeh such a genius he wouldn’t be sitting like a shmegegi in a har Nof Bais medresh every morning these days. He would be in his office with a new crop of innocents to choose for grooming.
    Don’t be afraid to post – help Klal Yisroel end the threat to innocent Bnos Yisroel.

  7. I send to Binas it is an outstanding seminary my daughter has never seen meisels I would advise girls to attend they will not be sorry. It is the best seminary.

  8. Exactly what young man wants to marry a girl whose family will send them to a seminary where they know they will sleep with the Rabbonim?

    I can’t imagine any single girl who went to a Meisel’s seminary being marriage material.

    • @boca jew: your way of expressing yourself betrays a strange view on women and marriage. According to you, some girls are not “marriage matierial”, virginity above all.

      It sounds as if to you, women/wives were simple objects. You seem to have no respect for them as human beings. Marriage does not seem to jjoin two human beings who want to be together, but two objects that were checked for quality, spots, etc…

      Unfortunately, this kind of attitude seems quite widespread in the jewish orthodox or hareidi world.

      • The girls who go to these skills are haredim. The haredi world has very strict rules. Slept with Rabbis at the seminary does not look very good on the resume.

        In the haredi world it is mandatory the boys rule out any girl who has moved even one iota of the frum road.

        As one Chofeitz Chaim Rabbi told me, any suspicion a girl may not be a virgin must be reported to a potential chatan so he can immediately end the dating process.

    • What the heck are u talking about??? I went to Pninim and I came out totally fine..there should be a general rule for this blog, that whoever doesnt know Meisels or Pninim or anything about his other seminaries, dont comment!! Keep your stupid opinions to yourself!!!

      • Another graceful, charming comment by a pninim alumn illustrating the midos they acquired there. Lovely eneding: “Keep your stupid opinions to yourself!!!”

        By the way, incurious, there is a difference between how you came out and the overall effect on most students, or even a significant but smaller group who were badly harmed. Don’t be so self centered.

        • I happen to know more about this whole situation then you do, and i am not belittling anyone or anything but i think at this point you are better off finding something else to write about

          • Please, enlighten us with what you know. And also, why suggest writing about something else? Recruitment season is in full swing, and Touro hasn’t given accreditation. These things are very important. But if you have something to add because you know something we would love to hear it.

        • The guardian dogs of democracy barking again against an innocent comment. There are many ‘stupid’ comments here, Curious is not one of them. It can be unbelievably hard to see the white elephant here, Yerachmiel.

      • Madame Curious: You may have come out fine but others have been molested and raped. Why do you care only about yourself? You should be ashamed of yourself for writing such a selfish and discusting comment.

      • Such a fine aidel maidel! Your parents must be proud. Well, if not, they’re still around $26K lighter, so at least they have something to show for a year of seminary. Let me ask you something: did you put on makeup whenever you went to Meisels’ class? Did you notice the other girls putting on makeup? Did you ever wonder why there was so much competition for a few moments of his attention?

  9. This entire discussion should be irrelevant.
    I have sent three of my daughters to seminary in EY and can tell you that the benefit of a year in EY was not worth the investment (seminary + airfare x2+ trip to EY with spouse= $26,000.00)
    There were positives ,but they could have been achieved during a 6 week summer trip.
    Stopping the seminary mishagas must be priority one. Beginning with the applications and fees theroff, the intense competition and the emotional highs and lows of getting into ones seminary of choice dominate your life for a year.
    My children attended BJJ and Bnos Chava the crème de la crème of seminaries. Other than a line on a shidduch resume (another rant for another time) there was no tangible benefit.
    Keep our girls in the states. The girls high schools must have some incentive to push seminary as hard as they do.
    The cynic in me has this figured out, the Torah Jew will not voice it verbally.

    • please explain why the high schools push seminaries in Israel. I cannot – for the life of me – understand why.

        • Do you seriously think any teacher is going to tell you the under-the-table and off-the-books cash payments they get from the Seminaries, besides for the free trips to Israel the teachers get from the seminaries, free room and board while in Israel, free taxi services to take them around to the seminaries. Each High School has at least one teacher whose job it is to “Advise” the girls on what seminary is best for them. These Seminaries court these high school “Seminary Advisors” like the drug companies court doctors (which is illegal, of course). There is nothing above board, it’s all under the table. The “Seminary Advisors” as well as other teachers, get to run around visiting their relatives in Israel once a year, and it’s all paid for by the Seminaries which are scrambling for girls to go.

          Please tell me what teacher who is getting a free ticket to Israel on a yearly basis, together with cash under the table to feed their hungry family, is going to advise girls NOT to go for a year of Seminary? These are women who started out as the most idealistic of the bunch, and became teachers, and now can’t put food on the table or pay their mortgage. They’re not saying no to any offers of assistance, and will rationalize it all away as “An opportunity for a beautiful year full of ruchniyus in Eretz Hakedosha.”

          When will people wake up and realize that it’s all a business – Yeshivos, Elementary Schools, High Schools, Beis Medrash, Kollel, Seminaries, Kashrus Organizations, Tzedakah Organizations – all are businesses that use Torah as a “Kardom lachpor bo.” And because we need these businesses as part of our Torah life, we look the other way and assume that the holy rabbanim are running them with our benefit in mind and with Torah values. But unfortunately, they are not. Not only that, but they are CREATING need in order to create more business opportunities for themselves. Every chumra creates a new business opportunity. Bug checking lights, hechsherim on vegetables, the “need” for seminary for girls, water filters, kollel, mashgichim for every stupid little thing when a frum person owns a food business and the mashgichim are nowhere to be found except when a payment is being doled out for the approval letter. it’s scamming and marketing and pulling one over on the customer 101. Make them believe they need this thing and then they will have to buy it. Except instead of it being a new phone, it’s a new mitzvah or new chumra or new aveira that has to be avoided. Zu Torah? Seriously?

          • And I wont even get started on Kiruv Rechokim organizations – massive amounts of money spent on recruiting when we can’t afford to support our own basic institutions and feed our own children. Did you get your Oorah auction booklet in the mail yet? How many of you wont give because it’s all just marketing brilliance and our own communities – our own children – need the funds more than recruiting secular Jews, 99% of whom never become frum or go off the derech once they realize they’ve been lied to about so many things that “kiruv professionals” lie about in order to get people to change their entire lives around?

          • I have heard what you allege. I would just be careful not to accuse all the advisors. Some are clean and careful about taking freebies that could compromise them. Some are true believers. At some point you want to rationalize and justify your choices as the best for everyone.

            Also, don’t underestimate social influence. People have friends and relatives and want to believe the best of people they like with whom they have had nothing but good experiences.

            However, in spite of those qualifiers I offer, an question remains. Is advice to students and parents based on the best future interests of students or the ideologies and personal relationships of those advising.

            • Granted. There are probably those who are very clean. I am sorry for accusing all, when there are probably some who wont take anything, even preferential treatment for their children or relatives.

              And there are surely those who are true believers and who have convinced themselves that they are advising girls without negiyos influencing them in any way.

            • When it gets to relatives it is hard to be objective and hard to say no. The strength of the frum world, its close tight networks, is also its weakness. Effusive praise covers up the fact that often the best candidates lose out to those with more yichus and wealth or just better connections. That is part of the obsession with the best possible shiduch. It isn’t necessarily about the best match for the happiness of the proposed couple. It is about the most status, influence, and jobs for relatives.

              If you have relatives who can turn on the spigot of daas torah endorsements, you really have hit gold. Because they too cannot be objective about their own families, but the myth of daas torah infallibility obscures that reality.

              I sometimes think the most offensive aspect of my blog is not that it shines a spotlight on sex offenders, but that it critiques the crass politics of leadership and unmasks the pretension that this is about Torah.

    • Your answer comes with your mention of the particular seminaries you sent your girls to. They are profoundly BY seminaries and of course cater to the broader BY world which insists on the seminary credentials for shidduch purposes. Frankly, Both schools are only considered “creme de la creme” for that exact reason. BJJ is more intensely BY and charedi but just as much as I think BY high schools are a waste of 4 years of a girls life, so too are the BY seminaries. You want to come back to the USA and be a teacher and have the “Ivy League” BJJ on your resume .. so what .. those girls are a dime a dozen. There is nothing else that makes these schools into anything remotely reputable. I don’t think going to any seminary should be an automatic “given”. It depends on the girl and it depends on the seminary .. but there does exist a multitude of seminaries that offer girls so much more than either of the two schools you mentioned. Although they are typically attended by girls who don’t buy into all the other “system failures” so they have less to worry about when they return home.

  10. There is a story the veracity of which I will not vouch to, but it sounds like if it didn’t happen it should have happened.
    A local Bais Yakov elementary school found themselves in dire straits. Donations had dried up and expenses were up.
    While this school (as opposed to more mercenary ones) had always had a very lax policy when collecting tuitions, circumstances had driven them to a breaking point. They sent out notices to all the parents that had past due accounts telling them that if their children would not be allowed to return to school if the accounts were not settled.
    The next day a mother of four young girls walked into the office of the school executive. She said as follows.” I went to this school and I attended your high school and seminary as well. You impressed upon us the need to marry bnei Torah and to raise a family in that environment. I took what you said to heart and I married a Kollel yunger mann. And now by sending me this letter you are punishing me for listening to you.”

    • I have heard this from the mouths of many women who were brainwashed by the system, and deeply regret it, yet are beholden to that system because every tzedakah organization in the neighborhood supports their household. They cannot speak out against it because they need every rabbi to vouch for them so that communal tzedakah funds can go to pay their mortgage so they don’t loose their house which they couldn’t afford to begin with, to put food on their Shabbos and Yom Tov tables, to pay for some kids clothing come Yom Tov, etc. They are STUCK. And this is how the system gets people.

      The Chassidish world has this method perfected to a tee. They marry the kids off at 18 – boys and girls – and by the time they are old enough to think independently, they have a household of kids. They have no marketable skills and the boys can barely speak English. If they speak out against any communal norms they will not be supported by the community and will be ostracized and can’t survive on their own. Additionally, if one spouse wants to leave the fold – even go to Modern Orthodoxy – all communal resources will be put behind the spouse who stays in the fold, and deprive the parent who leaves of their children. It is heartbreaking.

      But there are many women I have spoken to over the years who resent what the system did to brainwash them into a lifestyle they can’t live with, and then abuse them for funds which they couldn’t possibly have.

      Add to this the fact that a generation ago it was “Assur” for the girls to get any professional education. They were all told that the “Gedolim” said they have to be teachers. Eventually they realized that it was necessary for the girls to get professional degrees in order to even have a snowball’s chance in hell of supporting a family with a husband learning full time in Kollel, so a whole bunch of girls-only college programs opened up, allowing girls to get a professional degree without going to get educated in the very Tumadike secular colleges. THOSE women are especially resentful as only a few years after they graduated seminary, all of a sudden it wasn’t “Assur” anymore for girls to get professional degrees. Yet they were stuck with a house full of children and only a measly teacher’s salary and a husband in Kollel who would earn less money working than he would on gov’t entitlement programs. Again, because they are so dependent upon the system, they are stuck and have to stay in it, and so it gets perpetuated with their children.

      • Although many of these women are stuck, and a number of them have confessed their resentments to me, most will not speak about it publically because they are afraid. Furthermore, many are both so desperate for communal approval and so stuck that there is nothing they can do to break free, that they will move to denial of the problem. Denial is a powerful psychological protective mechanism that the mind uses to protect itself from self-destructing (i.e., going crazy, have a real meltdown, or a nervous breakdown, in medical terms known as a “psychotic break”). Many people who are stuck in the system will go into denial of there being a problem with the system, and just keep talking about how “beautiful” the Torah lifestyle is. Then they will go to great lengths to defend it. It’s all games their minds are playing on themselves. But it’s powerful stuff.

  11. To clarify,
    I personally have to issue with the BY educational system itself. While a year in EY may not have been money spent wisely, my girls came back and attended ( and are attending) “bona fide” institutions of higher education with degrees in the sciences.
    The work ethic instilled in them by the BY school they attended served them well and at no time was this endeavor discouraged or denigrated. It is in fact encouraged (supporting a kollel life can be expensive).
    What is objectionable is the not so subtle hint that lack of a seminary year, will adversely affect shidduchim. ( and here I thought that this was G-d’s domain)
    When I hear stories of how students with a less than stellar HS experience have been accepted in elite seminaries while others with more impressive credentials are relegated to the lower tier, a surface scratch is sufficient to elicit the truth
    In a quote attributed to Deep Throat in the movie All The Presidents Men, “follow the money.”
    It is regrettable that you can use this quote at very many levels of Jewish and yet this is not a conversation anyone wants to have…

    • On that note, I am always impressed when a yeshiva takes the courageous step of disciplining the son of a wealthy parent. It occurs rarely, but when it does, I can only imagine the pressure brought to bear.

    • I believe this trend will change soon. I have daughters in the Bais Yakov system, and there is substantial talk about many girls finding alternatives. If anything, the Meisels affair (or maybe affairs?) revealed that the seminaries are a for-profit system that benefits the owners.

      • That seminaries are for-profit institutions was never a secret. On the one hand I think it’s sweet that people only think the best about those involved in “klei kodesh”, on the other hand, it’s dangerously naive.

        • On the other hand, every Yeshiva that I’ve dealt with has had amazing staff that sacrificed immensely in some way. I could tell you about the Rosh Yeshiva who paid personally for things that certain boys needed, or about the start-up Yeshiva where the community literally fed the boys. I could go on and on. Maybe it’s just my experience, and maybe because we have so many options for boys, but I have never dealt with a Yeshiva where there was a selfish Rebbi, Rosh Yeshiva, or anyone else (well, there was a certain President of a certain Chicago-area institution from the 80’s, but that was mostly ego. I don’t think he enriched himself in any way).

          This is what makes me so upset about the Meisels affair. Not only was he making tons of money, but he also acted like an animal. So very much the opposite of everything that I have experienced.

          • There are true, self-sacrificing staff. But at the end of the day, or by the next generation, a yeshiva is a profitable business. If nothing else it becomes a family employment agency.

            In fact that is the crux of the issue with the Meisels seminaries. If they go out of business, other seminaries will pick up the slack and hire teachers and principals. It is just a question of who will get the jobs, not whether the number of jobs will shrink. Since the best jobs are often reserved for friends and family, some of the better paid Meisels employees might be out of work.

            For the life of me, I cannot understand why so many important rabbis are exerting themselves to save the jobs of particular individuals or their higher pay. They are functioning more like unions protecting seniority than communal stewards. I have no objection to the private sector. But the worst of all worlds is private profit shielded from competition. You get all the liabilities of private business with none of the advantages of competition and market discipline.

            • The whispered conversations are all about how many mouths have to be fed and how shutting the seminaries leave so many families destitute. So, covering up rape and assault to protect the kollel husbands of the seminary teachers from having to suffer the indignity of cashing a paycheck. HaShem yeraichaim.

          • Sure, there are idealistic people doing “amazing” things in various communities. (Although the overuse of the word “amazing”, with all its hyperbole, is rampant in our community, and often signifies emotion taking the place of common sense). The experience the girls had at the Meisels seminaries was described as “amazing”, too. Baruch Lanner was an “amazing” guy, an “amazing” talmid chacham and a brilliant physicist (at least in his own world of PR), who also paid for things kids couldn’t afford and took young ladies into his house as boarders so they could attend Jewish schools.

            • @Penelope
              Isn’t it ironic that Meisels himself could have avoided that by getting out immediately? The morons over at DT accuse the people here of wanting to close down the sems which is a stupid claim, as parents simply want safe sems. But Meisels himself prevented that by maintaining control for as long as possible. If he had relinquished control, there would be no discussion at all of lost jobs.

  12. Everything now depends on Rabbi Krupka of Touro College. Can someone send him a copy of the book “profiles in courage” so he can be inspired?

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