Monday, June 06, 2005

While I know that there are a handful of people reading this, I generally don't get too many comments, and typically I'd respond to them in the comments section. However,ChaimW posted this comment the other day, and I think it needs to be addressed here on the blog, because I want to use it to illustrate a specific point:

Chaim Wrote:
You want your kids to go to Yeshivah and think for themselves? My daughter's morah told her that the public library is off limits because of boys and books filled with avodah zorah. Good Luck!

Chaim raises a very vaid point. As many of my fellow orthodox parents know, one of the hardest decisions you will make in life is picking the Yeshiva(s) (Jewish Parochial School) that your children will attend. And if that wasn't hard enough, when you finally find the right school, you will need to worry that your child will have teachers who will incourage him or her to learn and grow, who care about your child and his or her development. Unfortunately for every good teacher I can remember in my youth, that gave specific grade years a positive experience, I also remember having to endure 2-3 really bad years between each one of those where I needed to endure a teacher who was 'holier than thou', indifferent, or just plain unqualified.

But add to that a different problem - teachers who believe that parents do not do a good enough job of setting a positive religious example at home, so that they take it upon themselves to frumify (make more religious) your kids. Unfortunately, for many of these people the concept of frumkeit (religiousness/piety) has become narishkeit (stupidity). These are people who focus too much on the negative aspect of everything and are quick to ban things, but never in a million years see the upside in these things and their benefits.

Not knowing where Chaim lives, I am wanton to make the assumption that he is from the NY area - because this could be expected in a community where people have taken the concept of Frumkeit to the point where they will not greet a fellow Jew with a 'Good Shabbos' unless they have some sort of familial or social relation

For example, I am sure if no Yeshiva is doing it yet, it is only a matter of time before the same Yeshivot who ask if you have a TV in your house will also ask if you have an internet connection. These are people who are probably willing to ostracize you if you knew that you were reading this. Sure there are bad things one can pick up at the library - but what about all of the good things that they can learn there? Books by the dozens that will help them in school, work and life, and understand the world around them. Hopefully, you will accompany them to the library if they are really young, and if there are people or things you want them to avoid, you can and should not only make them avoid those things, but also explain to them why.

IMVHO, I think that there are two main things plauging the relationship between the Morot and Rebbiem (Teachers) in the orthodox world and the parents of their students. One of them is trust. They don't trust that parents can adequately educate their kids in the appropriate manner to communicate and interact with the non-jewish world. The other is conformity. While they might understand that little David's parents have a different worldview, if the vast majority of little David's classmates parents' don't want their kids to go to the library it is problematic when David becomes the exception.

This is one of the many reasons why I moved out of Brooklyn. I went to a very restrictive school growing up that probably was concerned just as much about what you did from 4:30 (dissmissal time) to 9 the next morning, than they were about what you did from 9 to 4:30. And I didn't want that for my kids.

Suffice it to say that I don't think that Chaim wanted this for his kids either, but maybe he doesn't have much of a choice of schools for his kids where he lives.

Chaim, please let me give you some advice, if I may be so bold - regardless of what the school teaches your kids, use your own judgement and reasoning to explain to them when and why a teacher is wrong.

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