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amother




Olive


Post  Mon, Apr 09 2018, 12:56 pm
My son is in 7th grade at the largest Yeshiva in my town, A, which is located in the NY/NJ area. At this age, lots of boys are talking about where they'll attend Yeshiva, and the pluses and minuses of each choice. Our town has Yeshivos, but my son would like to attend a Yeshiva in nearby town B. The main reason for this is because he wants to attend a Yeshiva with a good secular program, which town B Yeshiva has but the Yeshivos in our town lack. Other boys in our town attend town B Yeshiva but most of these boys come from other Yeshivos in town.

What's bothering him is that some of his classmates denigrate town B yeshiva and other Jewish high schools or Yeshivos in the region, saying that they're not Jewish or that people who attend these schools are not interested in being Jewish. This bothers him because he knows it's not true, and because he has classmates who have brothers who are in town B Yeshiva and some of the other schools they make fun of.

The head of school, when explaining rules to the boys earlier this year, told them "We don't do this, because we're not like town B". And recently my son heard two boys talking about how bad town B Yeshiva is, and an administrator walking by laughed at their comment. So when he tried talking to his Rebbe about asking the boys not to make fun of other schools, his Rebbe denied there was a problem.

My son is B"H a good student and generally well-liked by his peers. But I am worried that this behavior from his classmates will make him feel like he doesn't belong. He usually prefers that I don't talk to teachers or the school administration on his behalf. Should I insist on doing it anyway? And if I do, how should I go about it?

I've tried to give as many relevant details as I can without giving away my location. If you figure it out please don't post it.
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amother




Orchid


Post  Mon, Apr 09 2018, 1:10 pm
So it seems like you're not asking if you should switch your yeshiva choice. You seem to be supportive of the choice to go for a better secular education. Great! You're on the same page as your son.

What's left is that you don't want him to be mocked for the rest of his 8th grade year, until he reaches the high school that presumably won't make fun of him for being there.

He's in 7th and 8th grade. He's a big boy. The administration, by your own admission, doesn't seem to really feel that your choice is a valid one. What is speaking to the rebbe going to do? This is entrenched behavior and values.

I think you need to discuss it with your son. Talk to him about inidividuality, about being calm and unruffled when defending one's position, about not getting into stupid fights, about using de-escalation words in confrontations like everybody has to do what's right for them... His friends will still like him! Your friends will still like you! You might get some stupid comments. Its ok. Everybody makes them and everybody gets them from time to time. Brush it off and move on.
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Chayalle




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Apr 09 2018, 1:12 pm
I can relate to what you write, because my daughters attend an excellent, warm high-school that some other schools like to put down (it basically boils down to "miskabed b'klon chaveiro" - those who foster an elitist attitude by denigrating others.....).

My daughters have experienced this at both their peer and staff level. A good friend of DD's who attends a different, more "elite" school told a teacher, who also teaches DD, that she is friends with DD, and the teacher made a disparaging remark about her school to her friend. A former elementary school classmate met DD and told her that her shoes are "so" her school's style, in a rather uncomplimentary tone (not sure what could be wrong with ordinary brown ballet flats....) Someone in shul said to DH that he is surprised we send our girls to....and we've heard from others who've experienced this as well, in ways that are really shocking.

The only advice I can give you, OP, is to have confidence in your choice, and pass that feeling on to your son. We looked into schools extensively when our DD was in upper elementary school, and we came away with the feeling that this school was the best match for our DD, and that the people that run it really get teenagers. We have never looked back. We've explained to our girls that there are people out there that are less confident about their own choices, and this is what leads them to make such stupid comments. With time, our girls are confident and happy (and they really like their school).

Keep your chin up, OP, and your son will pick that up from you.
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Fox




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Apr 09 2018, 1:24 pm
I'll echo what Chayalle said and add one additional suggestion.

While I wouldn't make a special point of calling or scheduling an appointment to discuss it, I would speak with the rebbe and/or the menahel the next time it's convenient and convey the following message:

"You know, this is the time when the boys are starting to think about mesivta. It's a long time until fahers and acceptances, though, and it might be a good idea to discourage the boys from talking too much about it amongst themselves. Some boys are going to be accepted to more prestigious places; some may go out of town; those who are weak students may not have as many options. It's important that they learn how to behave like mentchen as they approach this phase in their lives and avoid loshen hora and cruelty."

If possible, have your DH deliver the message. Rebbeim have a tendency to think that we moms are too soft and don't understand masculine give-and-take (they're frequently right!).

Beyond that, help your son pick out a few well-chosen phrases he can use when other boys insult his preferred high school choice, and teach him to rinse and repeat -- a skill that he will doubtless need in the future!

PS: Good for you and your family for making decisions based on what's best for your kids versus running toward whatever cliff the lemmings have chosen to launch themselves from this year!
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amother




Gold


Post  Mon, Apr 09 2018, 1:26 pm
He will have a tough time for a few months. In twenty years, the kids from his elementary school will be wishing they'd gotten a good education.

There's no point in speaking to the administration - clearly, they are in favor of putting down Jews outside their narrow world. The only thing you can do is send your younger sons, if you have any, to a school with greater ahavas yisroel.
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Chayalle




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Apr 09 2018, 1:31 pm
Excellent point, Fox.

When DD was in the 8th grade, her teacher told them that if anyone asks them which high school they are going to, they should give that person the type of look you'd give someone who suddenly spouted green horns on their head.

This effectively quieted the conversation about who's going where, and helped those students who were fortunate enough to be oldests in their respective families (a real liability, if you don't have automatic acceptance to your older sibling's school....) and were still working on their school options.
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amother




Bisque


Post  Mon, Apr 09 2018, 1:49 pm
Assuming this is the school I think it is the attitude that Yeshiva B is lesser than is coming straight from the hanhallah. They want their students to go to yeshivas that promote long term learning only. They won't see the comments it as a problem because to them, sending to Yeshiva B is the problem and they discourage students from going there. Just work on building your son up and supporting his decisions. If possible try connections him to boys from the other schools who will be going to high school with him.
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amother




Olive


Post  Mon, Apr 09 2018, 2:03 pm
OP here. Thanks for all the responses. He's in 7th grade, so he has more than a year to go at this Yeshiva.

I would like ideas for some things he can say when students say that Yeshiva B or other Jewish schools aren't Jewish.

But more so, I am concerned because he hears these comments, and sees that no one seems to care, and so is beginning to feel like the Yeshiva doesn't care about him. What can I do to help him with that?

We're not planning to move from town B, but do have close ties to their community, including friends and relatives who live there and another child who attends a girls' high school there.

(Please don't criticize me for sending him to this school. This problem came up a few months ago and I don't want to make him switch schools now.)
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amother




Gold


Post  Mon, Apr 09 2018, 2:15 pm
It's tough. I think you can tell him that you support him, and that sometimes people are threatened by what they don't know. They are misguided, not evil. And when anyone speaks negatively of his choice, he should simply say, I understand that is your opinion, but I don't share it and don't want to discuss it with you.
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amother




Olive


Post  Mon, Apr 09 2018, 2:17 pm
amother wrote:
Assuming this is the school I think it is the attitude that Yeshiva B is lesser than is coming straight from the hanhallah. They want their students to go to yeshivas that promote long term learning only. They won't see the comments it as a problem because to them, sending to Yeshiva B is the problem and they discourage students from going there. Just work on building your son up and supporting his decisions. If possible try connections him to boys from the other schools who will be going to high school with him.


OP here. Yes, Yeshiva B encourages post high-school learning and college. But even if my son attended Yeshiva in our community he would still want to go to college. And I'm sure the hanhallah realizes that.It's just that it would be harder for him to do it.

If he doesn't get into Yeshiva B we will consider another Yeshiva with a good secular studies program, but Yeshiva B is closer and I think would suit him better.
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amother




Orchid


Post  Mon, Apr 09 2018, 2:42 pm
My sons are in a Lakewood school and, among other "winning quips" have brought home comments from others that it is a school for "non jews." Oh, and it was rebbeim from another school who said so. So to be honest, your son might have been hearing such comments for quite some time. Now you're asking how I respond to that:

I gave my son a look and said okay, this is ridiculous and absurd. If I told you that you were a giraffe would you care? No! Because you know you're a human and not a giraffe! When you know something as a truth, you don't have to give credence to nonsensical comments. And obviously you are in a school with shomrei torah umitzvos learning torah!

I remind my son about his principal who he just loves and I say wouldn't you rather be in his school because of how much he cares about the boys, and how when he disciplines he's really fair. He would never say that, and neither would you. I'm so happy we're in that school! We call it Lakewood's hidden treasure! We feel bad for ppl who say things like that because those comments are wrong.

We talk about being okay with who we are, with being okay to be a little different, we talk about society and communal norms and halacha and how halacha must always be kept, and sometimes with society stuff you can quietly do your own thing without being in your face about it. We talk about how when you are young and in school, for better or worse, you have limitations in our society but when u are an adult there is greater leeway for personal preferences. Again, not right or wrong, but sometimes maturity is accepting hte way some things are and the associated limitations. We talk about how sometimes choices that may not be wrong halachically would not be the wisest move because of the fallout from the community and that must also be considered when making choices.

And (this has been a hard one for me I'll admit!) we trust. We learn to trust in ourselves and our decisions for our kids. We learn to trust our kids that they will be OK. That we will be OK. and we learn to trust in G-d that He has our back, you know?
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amother




Olive


Post  Sun, Dec 02 2018, 8:11 pm
OP here again with a bit of an update. My son figured out a way to handle the situation with the school administration that worked better than anything DH or I could have done. As a result most of the open criticism and mocking of Yeshiva B and other schools stopped, at least around my son. He is applying to Yeshiva B as well as another Yeshiva. His Rebbe and some boys in his class have expressed surprise that he isn't planning on attending one of the yeshivos that are popular here, but I think his Rebbe knows better than to try to push him. My son is generally happier in school than he was 8 months ago and I am hopeful that he will end 8th grade on a good note.

Thanks to all who responded. I am happy to read any more advice or ideas. If you do figure out my school/ community/ identity you can pm me but please don't post it here.
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amother




Powderblue


Post  Sun, Dec 02 2018, 8:18 pm
Olive: I'm so glad things worked out well for your son. I didn't write so at the time, but I was disgusted reading some of the things that other students said about Yeshiva B. To say that it is not Jewish is a terrible slander. Why do people who think they are "frummer" than others seem so often to do this terrible type of aveira!
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amother




Olive


Post  Tue, Jun 11 2019, 12:29 am
OP with another update. My son is graduating 8th grade soon and will G-d willing attend Yeshiva B in the fall. Unfortunately the hanhalah at his school made their dislike for Yeshiva B much more blatant, to the extent of telling some parents that their younger sons would not be welcome at the school if their older sons chose to attend Yeshiva B. My son lost some respect for the hanhalah as a result but this doesn't seem to have affected his eagerness to learn.
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amother




Babyblue


Post  Tue, Jun 11 2019, 12:49 am
I remember when I was in 12th grade and the entire hanhallah was down our backs constantly asking what we're planning for the next year. I just kept saying I haven't decided yet. I just didn't want them to breathe down my neck since I didn't want to attend seminary at all and to them that was a crime.
A friend of mine naively told them she got into a prestigious nursing school program and she was then pressured to reject her acceptance. Despicable.
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FranticFrummie




 
 
 


Post  Tue, Jun 11 2019, 5:44 am
OP, congratulation on raising a son with strong will, integrity, and determination in the face of so much pressure. You should be very proud of him, and yourself.

I am thoroughly convinced that there is a very special place in hell for so called "educators" who treat students so badly. The lack of Ahavas Isroel is appalling. I can only pray that this means we are one step closer to Moshiach, before all of our kids go OTD in frustration(CVS).

May your son go from strength to strength.
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southernbubby




 
 
 


Post  Tue, Jun 11 2019, 8:59 am
FranticFrummie wrote:
OP, congratulation on raising a son with strong will, integrity, and determination in the face of so much pressure. You should be very proud of him, and yourself.

I am thoroughly convinced that there is a very special place in hell for so called "educators" who treat students so badly. The lack of Ahavas Isroel is appalling. I can only pray that this means we are one step closer to Moshiach, before all of our kids go OTD in frustration(CVS).

May your son go from strength to strength.


From what it looks like to me, when we equate doing anything secular, including secular books and music, with being OTD, the kids give up on the mitzvahs that they were willing to observe. I know a woman who went OTD, probably due to growing up in a toxic environment, but before Yom Kippur, she went to shlug kapporis. Obviously some observances really were still important to her.

These educators who view anything secular as treif and treat them as such, risk turning off students to the mitzvahs that they can still find meaningful. Wouldn't it be better to have a frum person who has some secular interests than have the person give up frumkeit in frustration?
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amother




Wheat


Post  Tue, Jun 11 2019, 10:44 am
I know of a school that does this. I sent DS to the HS of his choice. The elementary school bans younger sons if they send there. It's ok if he has confidence and you have no younger sons.

You won't change anyone there because they want to move to the right.
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SixOfWands




 
 
 


Post  Tue, Jun 11 2019, 10:57 am
OP, kol hakavod to your son. He sounds like an amazing, strong young man. I can't wait to hear what he does with his life, given what he's doing at 14.

But I don't believe for a minute that the bullying has to do with any real belief that the school your DS will be attending is "less frum." Its fear, pure and simple. Fear that it will hurt the schools that they usually feed if kids go to other schools. Fear of losing whatever influence and kickbacks they get. Fear that people will find out that its fine to have a good secular education. And of course the school encourages students to act and talk that way ... it promotes the fear that they want.
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amother




Bisque


Post  Tue, Jun 11 2019, 11:06 am
amother [ Olive ] wrote:
OP with another update. My son is graduating 8th grade soon and will G-d willing attend Yeshiva B in the fall. Unfortunately the hanhalah at his school made their dislike for Yeshiva B much more blatant, to the extent of telling some parents that their younger sons would not be welcome at the school if their older sons chose to attend Yeshiva B. My son lost some respect for the hanhalah as a result but this doesn't seem to have affected his eagerness to learn.

Are you the same OP as the 'how much say does the principal' have thread? I was actually speaking to someone on Shabbos who mentioned that she's considering 'Yeshiva B' for her son and was shocked when I told her how strongly the school feels against it.
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