Thursday, August 30, 2012

How Bais Yaakov ALMOST Ruined My Life

It started when I was in first grade. I was an active kid with bright orange curls, and I'd never sit in one place long enough for my mother to even attempt to brush my hair. I was six years old, the youngest in my class, when my teacher called me to the front of the room. "This", she informed the rest of the class, "is what a Bas Yisrael does NOT look like." She then proceeded to braid my hair in front of everyone else as I did my best to hold back my tears.

That was the first time I realized that I was not going to fit in. That there was an "us" and a "them", and "they" were not to be trusted.

I attended Bais Yaakov for ten years. I participated in their day camp every summer. All of my friends were from school. This was my whole world, and I was prepared to be an outsider for a long, long time.

As we got older, we were split into two classes. The "high" class and the "low" class. Premeditated or not, the "high" class all had fathers in Kollel and lived in the same religiously insulated community. My daddy was a doctor, and it didn't matter that he finished all of Shas and had a chavrusah every night. My house was a mere ten minute walk from the neighborhood the other girls lived in, but that didn't make a difference. I wasn't "Bais Yaakov" and that was it. I pretended to own it - yeah, I was a rebel - but the truth is that everyone just wants to be accepted. I tried, but it was clear that I was never going to be. I wasn't a bad kid. I never did drugs and I didn't drink, I hardly talked to boys and I dressed more or less the way I was supposed to. It was other things. It was the fact that I'd go bike riding with my family, that we listened to the radio in the car, that I was a dramatic, sensitive kid who just couldn't accept religion the way it was given to me. I always needed to understand why, why I had to keep Shabbat, why the boys had to put on tefillin but I didn't, why saying Shema at night would protect me from all the evil in the world. I needed to know why, and the only answer I ever received from my teachers was "because Hashem said so". I would get frustrated and angry every time I hit that wall, and at some point they stopped calling on me and I stopped caring. Clearly, I was too dumb and too unconnected to understand what everyone else seemed to accept. Clearly, I was just bad at being religious.

I have ADD to an insane degree, and davening was basically impossible for me. I had a system with my friends where we would all leave at different points and meet up in the bathroom until it was over. We got caught a few times, but no one ever spoke to me to find out why I was skipping it. I just got in trouble over and over, reinforcing in my mind the idea that there was something wrong with me. I just wasn't ever going to be good at being religious.

In Bais Yaakov, you were either they way they wanted you to be, or you were wrong. Until I left the school - until I was sixteen years old - I actually thought that wearing short sleeves meant that you were irreligious. I thought that by skipping davening, I was "off the derech". The girls who were wearing nail polish, jeans, even sandals - they were either already a lost cause or close to it. It took me a long long time to break out of that mindset, to realize all of the colors and shades and layers there are in Judaism.

Now, thank God, I've left that world behind me. The only valuable lessons I've taken from those years are memories of all of the things that I will never tell my children, memories of feelings I will never allow them to feel.

I feel lucky that I refound Judaism in my own way, lucky that I can have a genuine relationship with Hashem. However, there are still some parts of my education that stick with me. Still a judgmental voice in my head telling me that I haven't gotten there yet. That I'm still not good enough, not religious enough. That if I can only conquer tzniut, if I can just daven mincha every single day, that THEN I'll be done. Then I'll be really religious. It's a perception I wish I could get rid of, but ten years of education is hard to unteach.

I'm not writing this to spread hate or to speak lashon hara. The Bais Yaakov system works for some people, and I'm glad it exists. But I wish that when I was growing up, there was someone telling me what Judaism is really like. Someone to tell me that Hashem loves us regardless of nail polish. That texting a boy doesn't mean cutting yourself off from religion. That wanting to express yourself and asking questions is a positive thing, something to be encouraged. I wish someone had been there to tell me all of the things I know now.

I can't change the way Jewish education is run. I can't change the way teachers will answer questions or the way kids will slowly stop asking them. What I can change is the way they feel about themselves, the way they see themselves inside of Judaism.

I'm writing this because I want to make a change. Because Judaism is too beautiful to reduce to skirt lengths and how long your shemoneh esrei is. Because someone has to tell a little six year old girl that no matter what her hair looks like, she will always be a Bas Yisrael, always be a princess of Hashem.

51 comments:

  1. Hey-Nice article and well articulated. I highly suggest learning some Chassidus. Thank Gd it helped me find my path. I studied with Chabad and they really showed me the beauty of everything and that we can all grow at our own pace, no pressure, no rush, just take it slow and do what you can do. You do not have to do EVERYTHING at once-that is dangerous. I say brachos everyday, but don't daven the full Shachris (I try)-and they encouraged me and pointed out the important things to say. I studied in a Chabad Baal Teshuva seminary which changed my life and showed me how to keep my head on and be focused, while maintaining my identity and not driving myself crazy all at the same time. Hatzlacha with your journey and you sound like you're on the right path more than ever!

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    1. very cool-id like to hear ur story!

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    2. Maybe so Anonymous, but when your dd grows up and goes thru the system you think it will be different for her? Chabad is exactly the same. And if you don't see it or know of it yet that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

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    3. To another mother-You are right it can happen anywhere in any community for sure. That is why I plan on raising my kids with the loving welcome open-minded way that Chabad showed me. I am not going to shove things down their throat. Everyone has their own journey and has to find the path for themself. Of course I will educate them the proper way and hope they follow these ways, but at the same time allow space for personal growth and decisions. :) Good Shabbos

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    4. I was raised Chabad, and a lot of what they did is much worse than this. Please don't think that Chabad is different, and if your children show any sparks of originality or critical thinking, keep them far away.

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  2. This is so well-thought out and beautiful and expressive Shev!!. You inspired me!
    You are such a colorful and vibrant personality with a constant smile on your face and you reflect such happiness and warmth that noone would ever guess you went through a rigid education system. I am in awe - it's amazing that you pushed past it and found your own emes.

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  3. Shev, this is beautifully written.
    Just know that anyone who really knows you sees you as an inspiration in their lives as a person, as a woman, and as a Jew.
    We love you very much. Don't let those voices in your head get you down.
    xo

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  4. You absolutely CAN change the way Jewish education is run! Im Tirtzu...!!

    Very well written Shev. I kinda went through a similar experience in elementary school, and I too am glad that I refound something.

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  5. I'm with Josh. You can definitely change the way things are. In fact, knowing you, I'd be surprised if you didn't.

    Love you and here for you always :)

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  6. The Title is misleading and accusatory. Unless I missed something from your article, your parents have the role of education and guidance. Your life will be a "success", once you understand that H' put you exactly where you were at each moment and all was for your good. All the best to you.

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  7. Maybe you should rename this to "How Bais Yaakov ALMOST Ruined My Life". B"H, your positive outlook on life is what saved you. Some who have been through this experience play the blame game, remain bitter, and completely stop searching for the truth. Fortunate are those who, despite the personal fears and disappointments can still rise every morning and recognize that HK"B creates and runs everything in the Universe.

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  8. Your words reflect the mindest of thousands upon thousands of Jewish kids and adults who went through the same system. So many of us were turned off or are not accepted. It's why I believe the system CAN and should change---so many parents feel as you do. We are trying to raise our children differently then we have been raised and look for alternative schooling then we had. There is hope. Thank you for blogging this piece--fantastic and to the point.

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  9. They didn't ruin your life. Even if they didn't teach Shakespeare, you had enough inner conviction to know "Above all, to thine own self be true". Wishing you every success in contributing to bringing about change!

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  10. Whilst the teacher was 100% wrong and there are problems with the educational system.
    1. Why did you not share the problem with your parents? If you did why did they not change your school?
    2. Beis Yackov Schools are for people who(parents) want that upbringing. If that is what you signed up for, that is what you get.

    There are problems with the school system and especially the teacher you mentioned.
    Well done to you for coming out succesful and a good Jew, but althought I don't know the circumstances, I believe the fault lies with your parents if you told them.

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    1. What if she did tell her parents but that is the system they wanted her in and felt was emes? Then what? It's great parents who can listen to their kids even if that means going against the whole system. But, even that comes with a price. Unless you live it or experienced how it works its hard to really understand. And too simplistic to assume changing schools is the answer for these parents. Most simply won't and then you have the otd epidemic we see today.

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    2. Hi Anonymous -

      As a 6 year old, I didn't tell my parents what had happened because I thought I had done something wrong and would get into trouble. After 10th grade, they did take me out and I graduated from a different high school. In my city, they felt that Bais Yaakov was the best available option.
      My parents are wonderful people and I can give a lot of credit them now for the fact that I am religious today.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

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    3. What do you mean "Bais Yaakov schools are for people who want that upbringing"???
      If I remember correctly, and I believe I do, Sarah Schenierer began Bais Yaakov for the entire community, regardless of who they were, because there was a fear that the girls would go off the derech. Bais Yaakov has taken Sarah Schenierer's fine work and dragged it through the mud. It is a shadow of the glory it used to be and if she would see what her precious vision has become she would cry for the Jewish people. How many more Jewish souls have to be lost in order for the "Rebbeim" and "Rebbetzins" to "get it"? That what they are doing is wrong, plain and simple. It has been reduced to institution status, no different than any other out there and all they want is your kishkes and your money.

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  11. I was just saying that the entire fault doesn't stay with the Beis Yackov school system. Beis Yackov is for parents who want to bring their children up in a certain way. This is similar to a Chiluni school or a gentile school. If you send your children to a school, that is what you will get. You get bad teachers in every school! when they are religious, we believe it to be worse! But to blame all Beis Yaackov Schools is wrong, or the education they receive. I believe parents have the ultimate respsonsibilty for their children. If the child does not fit into the system they believe in, maybe they need to change.

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    1. I would reserve judgement if you aren't familiar with the specific Bais Yaakov, as well as the community it is based in. In my community, it is very common for families who do not subscribe to the typical Bais Yaakov hashkafa to send their daughters to Bais Yaakov, and Bais Yaakov is well aware of the difference in backgrounds among the girls. Sensitivity and compassion are integral parts of anyone's education, and it is a shame these traits were lacking in an Orthodox school. Especially towards children from families who are different, but so strongly committed to a Torah lifestyle.

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  12. Hi Shev,
    Beautiful piece. I wanted to cry, thinking about that innocent, beautiful little girl whose neshama was so bruised by stupidity. It obviously has taken years and years to heal, but you have risen well above that and have become a stronger, more spiritual and sensitive woman who can now articulate on behalf of those who cannot. Who knows, perhaps this piece may prevent the same experience from ruining the lives of other young people. How wise is the way of 'H. So often, Jews who have no yiddishkeit in their lives, point to people such as the ignorant witch of a teacher that you had as a young child, or a Rabbi whose ego is bigger than his spirituality and judge all Frum Jews and Orthodoxy in general by them. So sad and so tragic for the young neshamas they destroyed or prevented from developing and blossoming as they might have. But fortunately, that's not the outcome for you. There was no way that your parents would let that happen. You come from a very special family who have worked very hard over the years to nurture and appreciate the uniqueness of each of their children. They are role models to the community of what a Bayit Yisroel should be. You are a perfet example of how our beautiful religion is one of intimacy with 'H and now you can advocate on behalf of others. As a mature woman, you have come to understand how essential it is for us not to judge each other because truly, what each of us chooses to do in our lives is our own business. There is only One Judge and whatever we do is between us and 'H. You have paved your own path and, B.'H., have developed your own very special relationship with 'H. That's all that matters. As for the community, only those who know you and love you and accept you as the beautiful person you are matter. Your message is so timely in the month of Elul. Why did you write this now? Perhaps you have been chosen by The Holy One, Blessed be He, to spread this important message. May the path you have worked so hard to smooth guide others with much less trauma and much greater ease to a comfortabe, warm and special intimacy with 'H.

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  13. Thank God I am an ATHEIST. You religious people are so screwed with your BS even when you begin to realize its BS and the harm it causes you, your only reaction is to restructure the BS thinking you will get different results. Jewish Christian Muslim your all the same BS. You and you fairytales and whose fairytale is better is what is destroying this world. GIve up the fairytales for the sake of the world

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    1. There are many forums available for you to argue your theological views. This is not one of them. This is a story of a girl who, whether you accept it or not, has found her truth and not without asking many, many insightful and intellectual questions. It is an insult to her intellect for you to think that one bitter comment, completely void of any rational argument, is going to invalidate a 21 year search. Many religious people, despite what you may think, are not robots or sponges, soaking up and believing all we are told (as is evidenced in the above blogpost). Many of us ask the same questions that you have (although I really should not assume you have voiced your questions in a manner that invited thoughtful answers) and simply do not STOP asking, reading, researching until we find truths with which we are satisfied. Truths, which are so solid, sound and logical that no atheist pronouncing them "fairytales" or "BS" is going to put a dent in our belief in them. I suggest you find a more feeble minded audience.

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    2. Pay no attention to the attention-seeking Troll. He's always looking to start a fight with anyone and everyone, because he lacks a life. Perhaps if he had God in his life, he wouldn't feel the need to suck the life out of everyone around him.
      The problem with atheists is that they're not satisfied being self-destructive, no, they have to pull down everyone else with them.
      So, again, I say: Do not feed this Troll with attention, or arguments or even sympathy of any kind. Simply ignore him, and he, too, will wither away and die just like the mind he so desperately clings to in attempt to make sense of this life he's been given by the Creator.

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    3. The point of believing in something, in anything, is precisely that... When all else fails, you have G-d to help you, that the world doesn't just run itself, and when bad comes, there is no hope beyond what we know

      It's sad it doesn't always work that way, but if you have a problem, please do not prove your point by defacing someones blog with profanity.

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  14. I am 100% with u! i also am a "bais yaakov" girl but questions were not encouraged and everything i know and believe today i had to get there myself by asking outside sources who would actually answer my questions and i always did everything i was supposed to i know Hashem exists i know He created the world but i didn tknow why i believed until i went to a kiruv seminar that ended up being more for me then for me to teach other ppl! i was like wow i never knew that before and they would never teach stuff like that in bais yaakov! i am a proud Jew today but i had to get there myself!

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  15. I am the head of an orthodox girls school in the UK. The girls know that my motto is ask ask ask. As long as everyone finds what works for them and they are able to experience a genuine kind of Judaism thayt works for them and being tolerant of others who choose an alternative path then that is fine. One harsh word can last a lifetime - especially with girls.

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  16. There's no ONE RIGHT WAY of Judaism. If you ask yourself what H'shem really expects from YOU... some always answer "to be most religous" . NO! It's not to bring RELIGION into YOU. Its to bring the unique quality of YOU into the religion. Everyone carries something special and different and its why u were brought up in your unique environment. You carry a special derech that will bring together all the others that feel the same as you. H'shem wants you to find your balance in life and religion. But in all, He wants you to do so with the utmost CONNECTION to him as possible. It's not a RELIGION... its ur individual connection and love for H'shem. Keep growing and be YOU! Hotzlacha rabbah!

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  17. thank you for writing this! I experienced a similar story, only I was a baal t'shuva when I entered bais yaacov. I never fit in, in any society no matter how hard I tried. I am no longer religious in the traditional sense, but I do still believe in god and I still uphold a lot of the values and teachings that Judaism brought into my life. I feel like it makes so much sense to me to come to god on my own terms, no matter what the "Jewish system" dictates. Besides, so much of our culture has changed and adapted according to our geographical history...it's unfair to determine why we can't fit in if we don't follow the regimen we've been dictated to follow.
    I still believe in god before religious practice, and I still believe that there is so much more to spirituality than what we can percieve, and so I spend as much time as possible working with my fears and guilty feelings so that I can come to terms with myself and my relationship with religion.
    Thank you again from my heart. This is profoundly helpful.

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    1. Visit KosherWoman.com. It's for the non-observant to the most observant. And it's not what you'd expect.
      Health, Nutrition, Diet & Exercise are there along with Travel, Kitchen, Lifestyle & Prayer. It's not a preachy site!

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  18. I'm not sure how blogs work. I tried sending a comment a few minutes ago but I can't see how it showed up on your blog. Where are they? In case you didn't get the 1st comment...Your story belongs on KosherWoman.com in the INSPIRATION section. We are seeking Jewish women who have overcome challenges. Your story is a perfect fit. Check out KosherWoman.com & click on INSPIRATION & then KOSHER WOMAN SPOTLIGHT. Look at the Agunah story. That's the best example of how we have you tell your story. KosherWoman.com is for the non-observant to the most observant & for young adults to seniors. We don't do long articles - all info is in bullets, short paragraphs or charts or a combination of 2-3 of these styles.

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  19. There's absolutely nothing wrong with questioning in Judaism, and anyone who thinks so, is just not educated. We have a whole holiday dedicated to asking questions, teaching us to question why. It's called Pesach (Passover). Why do we do half the things we do? To get the children to ask! And it's not like we're hiding things, and if we are, then we shouldn't be. We have answers.

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  20. Shev, as many here wrote before me - you have so much power in your writing! I went through similar experiences, but with me it was also at home - my father was a Baal teshuva who took religion very extreme and demanded the same from us. It took me many years to think and decide and overcome feelings and emotions to be able to reach the right balance FOR ME in Jewdaism, and to be happy with the way I live, not letting those inner voices put me down. I'm a scientist. Physicist. And the more science I study, the more I realise how truthful and solid our religion is. I send my girls to a religious school which is NOT Beis Yaakov and they learn to LOVE every part of jewdaism rather than feel they HAVE TO keep it! I keep thinking how different my life would have been had I learnt in that school myself... But my happiness is to correct it for the next generation and have the best possible childhood for my girls. I appreciate your understanding. You are the only one who expressed what I feel the best way. Most people who went through similar experiences are full of hatred to the system or self hatered and can't look at religion objectively. Understanding where the problems came from and that the teacher or my father do not reflect the whole religion, requires maturity and self honesty. Good luck with the daily nisyonot!

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  21. I'm still in high school. I go to a school that likes to call itself a bais yaakov, but is very mixed. We have kids who wear pants and have boyfriends to kids that all bais yaakovy wearing blouses and thick tights. I really love my school because they really encourage you to ask. Many times the teachers don't know the answers, so they would always ask a Rabbi. We often just have random discussions during class about anything and everything. I'm not saying my school is perfect, but I really admire my school for that.

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  22. Shev, wanna send a fellow frum questioner an email? starofdavida@gmail.com

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  23. Hiya Shev,
    Thank you for articulating the way so many of us feel! Like so many others, I was so turned off by the Bais Yaakov that I attended--NOT turned off from Judaism, thanks to my amazing family, but turned off from them. Its so easy for people to make a comment thinking that they are helping, but doing so much damage. I always took pride in my long curly fiery red hair. It was my personality, in hair! One of my teachers told me to dye it dark, so I could find a Shidduch, because no good frum boy would want to marry someone with such bright hair. The head of the school told me to stop wearing my hair out, it looked like I had just rolled out of bed with a guy. MIND YOU I am so happily married now, to a guy who LOVES my bright red hair. I was told in school that the amount of Chessed that I did, the amount of people that I was helping, was pulling me in the wrong direction and not allowing me to focus on school. They said the fact that the Cancer patients that I was looking after were dying, was distracting me from whats REALLY important. aha... so helping young girls and boys who are dealing with the worst fate ISNT important..rather, being able to focus in class was.

    Anyway, my point is, that I understand how you felt. And I thank you for putting it into words.

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    1. Wow. Ur last line made me cry.

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  24. Pure awesomeness!! I feel the same way and I just went to religious schools....not even a bais yaakov!

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  25. Your blog post was part of what inspired me to write this:

    http://popchassid.com/jewish-popularity-contest/

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  26. Shev, your particular Bais Yaakov was started by Rabbayim who were trying to rescue the generation of Jewish children after the war. I went to their afternoon school, but I remember the kindness of those Rebbayim and their wives... the songs and stories, the love they showed for that generation of precious kids because of all the children who died in the Holocaust. Their priorities were different; all children were precious, whether they fit in or not. The girls of that Bais Yaakov were noted for their kindness and spirit, not conformity or academic skills or even Torah knowledge. The focus was not one of exclusiveness but of outreach, of saving that generation with loving the girls who would be the mothers of the next generation. Somehow, our priorities got skewed by the time our kids had to go to school. Even though my children didn't fit in, somehow they are still Shomer Mitzvot and are noted for their Achdus, loving all Jews. This I credit to those Rabbayim and their love for my husband and myself, two who didn't fit the mold, but were accepted anyway. Stay strong and hopefully we (G-d Forbid) will not have to lose a generation of children to realize how precious every child is! BA

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  27. I am pretty moved by your statements, and i can really relate, but I don't think every school is the same. I went to two 'bais yaakov' schools in different states one was good for me and one wasn't. There are really other factors that contribute, how well a school can cater towards different learning strengths, and also how to be able to learn with half a day religious half a day general studies is a lot for a child. Public schools are general studies a whole day. Also, teacher compatibility, cultural norms, what is accepted in a community. I learned that this is the key. Most of what made me not fit in in one school was because the system wasn't right but the community was also very narrow minded, and became even more. I have found chabad as my safety net, for years since I left high school. I didn't consistently stay on the path since then, but I always wanted to be in the community, accepted. I allienated myself in psychological feelings that were never dealt with. I married a ex-chassidsh guy from satmar who is similar in my veiw of community's not giving what we need in this modern world. Chabad, breslov, it spoke to us, because its welcome for all. But I believe all communities should be this way, and to join together in bringing this idea will bring moshiach.
    Good year to you an thanks for doing this article.

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  28. hey- someone fwded me the link to this blog because they thought i should read this. i am right now IN the bais yaakov system and actually the same school shev went to. it has changed dramatically but not enough. i hate school because i have always felt like an outsider. everything shev said rings true with me except unfortunately my parents agree with the bais yaakov philosophy and sometimes when im around them i feel like im "off the derech." theyre not accepting of the choices i make and say that im "against the torah and halacha" It hasnt made my life easier by far and as much as i know Hashems out there im still looking where i belong because i dont know..all ive felt since ever is that i just DONT belong and im the "bad one." i have asked my parents to let me change schools for five years now but they refuse. i hope that one day when im out of here i will be able to find myself and where i belong in Judaism. thank u so much for posting this!!

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    1. Sweetheart, I too remember bing in Bais Yaakov with a lot of heartache, actually, being bullied mercilessly in elementary school by my classmates. Teachers/principals did nothing of course, because their parents were wealthy...
      It gets easier. Don't lose faith. There is only one goal in Yiddishkeit, despite what any Rav or Rebbetzin will claim: D'veikus BaHashem. Connecting in every way you can to Hashem. The Torah is the directions of how to do that. Get yourself one mentor, one older, wiser woman who is kindhearted and special to you, someone you trust and ask her questions, learn with her, speak to her about what's bothering you. You'll find that alone makes life easier.

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  29. I had very similar situations. I was always in the Orthodox school system and had an Orthodox family. However, my school still rejected me and teachers resented me causing me to resent them. I had learning disabilities when I was younger. Mostly in second languages which was Hebrew and I was the only person in the low class. As I got older, I started talking to boys more (this was before Bat Mitzvah) and wore pants and developed faster and more maturely than any girl in my class. Once I reached middle school, I was threatened suspension and expulsion because of these things and because I dyed my hair frequently. Even though I followed the dress code of covering my collar bone, elbows and knees, my outfit was still deemed inappropriate. Finally, my middle school rejected me when I applied for their high school. Once I went to my high school, the teachers there looked down on me as well to the point of one telling me that I had sold my soul to the devil, was going to hell and was a prostitute. Word. For. Word. Another time, I was standing by my locker talking to a girl and we were wearing the same skirt and similar tops. However, I got in trouble/detention because I was taller so the skirt was shorter and curvier so the shirt was below my collarbone. I tried fighting it but no body listened.

    Bottom line: School's need to stop and/or realize just what they are saying to the students who attend and it's impact.

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  30. Wow Wow Wow Wow!!!!!! I'm close to tears. So many of us went through the same tough years. And most of you simply took the words out of my mouth. I went on with life, I looked past those people I grew up with. I have a close relationship with God. Yet every time I see someone from my past, I feel like I want to rebel all over again. A deep hatred forms inside me. Will I live with that hatred forever?

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  31. sadly it hasnt changed enough... its like your telling my story ... i never realized that the bathroom daveners was always a thing and that most of us were more antsy then anti davening... wish the teachers could see this

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  32. I also went through the "Bais Yaakov system" There are many things that i can say about it. but i think that when it comes down to it, Its not only B.Y that we are talking about. There is an elitist mentality that is so hard to get around. If you're a certain child from a certain family than you are accepted (for whatever reasons govern these decisions) but then there are the nuances of the outsider. Im not quite sure what it is that makes one "frum" and "shayach" and what makes someone "frum" but not "shayach" there are no clear guidelines. I bless the teachers that believed in me and it is to their credit that i returned to yiddishkeit at a certain point in my life. When i look back at the teachers who did snub me, i just think, how narrow minded. I was just a kid. Today, i still have a bit of a chip on my shoulder with regard to frum ppl. feeling better then others, but when all is said and done, B.Y was just part of my journey and does not define the person who I am today. We can gain so much from past experiences and imbue our children with love and confidence when we too are confident in our identity and we can always find friends within the many ranks of the jewish community. if someone snubs you in a B.Y environment well, then they didn't quite deserve to have you around in the first place and Im sure that you have so much more to offer anywhere else that you may go.
    Thanks for your article.

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  33. yes, it's unfortunately quite true that a chabad girl going through the system will not necessarily have the wonderfully positive experience offered to the BT and yes, the chabad schools have similar faults (including practically shoving the dress code down the girls throats) and their own drop-outs, but at the very least I can say that they don't make these mistakes:

    *the teacher won't embarrass a girl in front of the class
    *they never profess to have "gotten" to full religiosity; we're all works in progress

    I'm glad that you at least have found your own way in Judaism and hope and pray that all your classmates have as well.


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  34. oh yes - and there is no class distinction at all in school between girls of different backgrounds.

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  35. "'This', she informed the rest of the class, 'is what a Bas Yisrael does NOT look like.'"

    But I assume the teacher, being a good, frum woman, knew to first leap into a burning furnace first, right?

    "memories of all of the things that I will never tell my children"

    No, but you should tell your children about the things which happened to you. First, if these are errors your teachers and community made, then they are errors which came from somewhere, and unless we explicitly acknowledge them, they are bound to be repeated. Whatever gave rise to them in the first place, will continue to do so, unless we explicitly confront them. Secondly, your children will better appreciate everything you do for them, which is always a good thing.

    My mother's parents made many serious mistakes in raising her, because both were abused by their parents in various ways. So my mother's parents, while not malicious, simply did not know how to be good parents. My mother will often tell me of all the things they ever did, and why she has made sure never to do those same things to me and to my brother. So from this, I not only learn to appreciate more whatever my mother has ever done for me, but also, I learn something for myself about how I ought to raise my children. If these are errors that my mother's parents made, then they are errors I could just as easily make myself, if I do not know any better. So I would suggest you do tell your children all about your experiences growing up, so that they can learn from them as much as you have.

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  36. I am a mature eighth grade girl considering to apply to Bais Yaackov precisely because it is strict; they won't let things like t.v. slide by the same way my school does. it's not so much the school but the girls, but...

    I have had a very hard time finding information. What else can you tell me, that isn't lashon harah, but might help a frum but not bais yaakov girl (not that i believe in stereotyping like that)understand more of the pros and cons?

    I can say more if need be. Thanks

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  37. We don't need to defile a school just because of a bad experience. Not trying to put down what happened, Shev and the rest of you, but this is sinat chinam. Not all bais yaakov, everywhere, is wrong, and dragging it 'through the mud' won't change anything. Yes, there are problems, but this... please be careful when you comment

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