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Starting a seminary - what's involved?
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amother




OP
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 10:11 am
So...some of you may have seen my earlier posts about trying to find a seminary in Queens and not having much mazal in doing so. There just isn't much out here outside of individual shiurim or a couple of classes offered by one of the Jewish clubs at Queens College.

It's not just my daughter - my family knows of other girls who are also still hunting because while they'd love to go to seminary, they would rather not travel all the way into Brooklyn daily for classes (by car it might not be so bad, but anyone going by public transportation would be looking at a hour and a half to two hour commute each way).

So now I'm wondering - how crazy would it be to start a program? What's involved, outside of the obvious parts, like finding a place to have it, someone to teach classes and getting students? I have a couple of ideas of places that might be able to house it, especially as it would probably just require one classroom or someone's living room/basement to start. As for students, as I already mentioned, I have at least some names to start with, and I'm sure other schools must have other students still looking as well.

Right now I'm just wondering what would be involved or if this is even feasible. Realistically, if I'm trying to do this for the coming school year, I'd need to have some idea of what I'm doing within the next month or so, so that there's enough time to advertise and get everything in place by September.

Thoughts/ideas/comments/suggestions anyone?

TIA
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amother




Seafoam
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 10:12 am
MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! money money money money
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amother




OP
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 10:23 am
amother [ Seafoam ] wrote:
MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! money money money money


Ummm...

Do you mean to pay teachers, rent classroom space, that sort of thing, or something else?

I figured the girls would have to pay tuition to cover those things.
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amother




Seafoam
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 10:33 am
amother [ OP ] wrote:
Ummm...

Do you mean to pay teachers, rent classroom space, that sort of thing, or something else?

I figured the girls would have to pay tuition to cover those things.


Well yes, but you're also going to need quite a bit of initial capital
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amother




Salmon
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 10:39 am
amother [ Seafoam ] wrote:
MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! money money money money


Yup, lots and lots of money. Tuition will not cover all expenses, especially if you don't have a lot of students.
You need to work out legal issues.
You need amazing teachers and an amazing program to get students to be interested in coming.
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gdgirl




 
 
 
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 10:41 am
What about the seminary in the five towns?
I don't know much about starting seminaries but I imagine that you wouldn't have enough time to plan and register enough students at this point without a solid game plan. and without enough students, you'd have trouble covering costs... which is where the $$$ issue comes in.
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amother




OP
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 10:43 am
gdgirl wrote:
What about the seminary in the five towns?
I don't know much about starting seminaries but I imagine that you wouldn't have enough time to plan and register enough students at this point without a solid game plan. and without enough students, you'd have trouble covering costs... which is where the $$$ issue comes in.


From what I understand, the one in the Five Towns closed down :-(
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Elfrida




 
 
 
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 10:43 am
Most of your initial expenses, like advertising will take place before you have any tuition coming in.

You'll probably need to employ a secretary (at least part time) while you are still in the planning stages. Basic facilities like tables, chairs, sefarim, a computer, coffee(!) will take quite a lot out of your initial budget. You need to make sure you can cover that and still pay rent and salaries. Bear in mind that the first year you might not have too many girls. (And some of them may be asking for help paying tuition.)
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amother




OP
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 10:48 am
amother [ Salmon ] wrote:

You need to work out legal issues.


What legal issues are you referring to? If I was going to offer college credits (wasn't planning to), I assume the paperwork would be a nightmare. I'm not sure what would be involved legally if it was just a religious program. Maybe liability insurance in case anyone got hurt while on the premises, but what else are you thinking of?
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amother




OP
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 10:54 am
Elfrida wrote:
Most of your initial expenses, like advertising will take place before you have any tuition coming in.

You'll probably need to employ a secretary (at least part time) while you are still in the planning stages. Basic facilities like tables, chairs, sefarim, a computer, coffee(!) will take quite a lot out of your initial budget. You need to make sure you can cover that and still pay rent and salaries. Bear in mind that the first year you might not have too many girls. (And some of them may be asking for help paying tuition.)


Honestly, I assumed I would land up doing most of the secretary/paperwork stuff myself, at least for the pre-planning (and most likely for at least the first year or two). Computer would be my home one, table and chairs would depend on where we set up (meaning, if we rented a classroom in a school/shul, I would try to have that be included). If it's in someone's home, I would also try to see if that could be included in whatever we pay that person, though we may have to get some more folding chairs. Coffee? Ummm...hadn't thought of that, but yes, caffeine is a good thing. Sefarim? I think when I went to seminary most girls bought their own.

What else am I missing?
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amother




Seafoam
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 10:54 am
amother [ OP ] wrote:
What legal issues are you referring to? If I was going to offer college credits (wasn't planning to), I assume the paperwork would be a nightmare. I'm not sure what would be involved legally if it was just a religious program. Maybe liability insurance in case anyone got hurt while on the premises, but what else are you thinking of?

If you're planning on paying your teachers you'll have to register as some kind of business- maybe an educational nonprofit?
I'm not sure on this though, maybe someone else can confirm
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watergirl




 
 
 
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 11:04 am
amother [ OP ] wrote:
Honestly, I assumed I would land up doing most of the secretary/paperwork stuff myself, at least for the pre-planning (and most likely for at least the first year or two). Computer would be my home one, table and chairs would depend on where we set up (meaning, if we rented a classroom in a school/shul, I would try to have that be included). If it's in someone's home, I would also try to see if that could be included in whatever we pay that person, though we may have to get some more folding chairs. Coffee? Ummm...hadn't thought of that, but yes, caffeine is a good thing. Sefarim? I think when I went to seminary most girls bought their own.

What else am I missing?


Potential legal issues (and I am not a lawyer):
- zoning for a classroom
- Making the school a LLC or non-profit and obtaining tax exemption status
- insurance for different things, including liability and more
- licensing to operate, which alone takes time to obtain.
- licensing for the premises itself

And you need money for these things and more that I am not thinking of:
- marketing to attract students
- supplies
- Heating/cooling/energy bill
- food/drinks/water bill
- salaries
- rent
- trips if that applies

You said you imagined the tuition would cover these things. So lets say you have an incredible enrollment for a first year seminary - lets say you get 10 girls. You would have to have them pay at least $20,000 just to pay for the most basic things. Rent, etc in Queens is not cheap. Why would a girl chose your seminary to sit around a dining room table when she can commute to Lakewood, Brooklyn, etc, and have a real classroom? What are you offering that no one else is, other than convenience? These are all things to think about.

I hope you can get this off the ground! More options would be an amazing thing. I would recommend you find someone to consult with who has done this before. Try getting a meeting with Rebbitzen Feiner who was the founder of the seminary in the Five Towns.
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Elfrida




 
 
 
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 11:09 am
I think girls do bring their own sefarim, but you still need to have some kind of library available.

If you have time for your own family, teaching, programme planning, advertising, budgeting, and general administration all by yourself, either you are superwoman or it is a very small programme.
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gdgirl




 
 
 
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 11:12 am
Yes, I with definitely second contacting Rebbetzin Feiner. It would be important to determine if/ why they are closing and how that would affect the possibility of your potential program being successful. For example, if they couldn't manage financially or didn't have enough students enrolled, that would indicate to me that it isnt likely to be a good idea to pursue
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notshanarishona




 
 
 
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 11:16 am
First of all- this is very late in the game and I can't imagine you will get many girls.
Besides for teachers, you need a principal /someone to run it unless you are an experienced educator .
In my experience most seminary girls want college credits and if you don't offer that you are seriously limiting the amount of girls you will get .
If you are just taking people based on location and not having a place to go yet you are asking for trouble and will probably have a wide range of learning levels / hashkafas which will make it very hard go meet all the girls needs .
Personally I would think it's a bad idea to go into something like this hapharzadly . If you want to do it-- do it right.
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Notsobusy




 
 
 
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 12:37 pm
There are a few Brooklyn seminaries who recently opened branches in Lakewood. Maybe if you call them and let them know there is a demand they would do something similar in Queens.

Opening a new branch is much easier and cheaper than starting from scratch.

These are the ones I can think of:
Sara Schenirer
Rebbetzin Bulka/ the new seminary
TTI
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amother




OP
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 12:53 pm
watergirl wrote:


Rent, etc in Queens is not cheap. Why would a girl chose your seminary to sit around a dining room table when she can commute to Lakewood, Brooklyn, etc, and have a real classroom? What are you offering that no one else is, other than convenience?


I agree on rent being expensive, which is why I'm hoping (theoretically) that we can just set up in someone's house/shul/school. Yes, there would still be rental costs, but not as high as if we were to have our own building (which I can't imagine needing in the first year or two).

As far as convenience - yes, that would probably be the big selling point, at least at first. Some girls want a small program where they could have a warm cozy atmosphere, so that may work in our favor as well. Commuting out to Brooklyn would be about 45 minutes minimum each way by car, with it being much longer in rush hour. By public transportation, you're looking at more like 90 minutes to 2 hours each way. Lakewood, I believe, clocks in at 2 and a 1/2 hours (again, each way) so most girls from around here don't go that route (actually, I don't know of any, but it could be that some girls dorm).

I'm actually really surprised there isn't something in Queens already. There are plenty of learning opportunities in Queens for post high school boys, but not much of anything for the girls :-(

Getting something up and running that could work for girls post Israel too would be great. It would allow for more students (a financial plus) , but that would have to be balanced against any potential negative impact that might have (I can't think of any, but I'm sure someone can...)
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amother




OP
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 12:59 pm
Elfrida wrote:
I think girls do bring their own sefarim, but you still need to have some kind of library available.

If you have time for your own family, teaching, programme planning, advertising, budgeting, and general administration all by yourself, either you are superwoman or it is a very small programme.


LOL - I must have left my cape in my other jacket ;-)

Yes to looking realistically for this to be fairly small at first. If we ever got big I would be looking for others to help carry the load. No to the teaching - I don't think that would be within my skill set, at least not if I want it done well. Also, I'm not sure how my daughter would take to the idea of mommy coming to school with her everyday. Kids seem to like the idea when they're four, not sure how much they would at 18,19 or 20 ;-)
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watergirl




 
 
 
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 1:02 pm
amother [ OP ] wrote:
I agree on rent being expensive, which is why I'm hoping (theoretically) that we can just set up in someone's house/shul/school. Yes, there would still be rental costs, but not as high as if we were to have our own building (which I can't imagine needing in the first year or two).

As far as convenience - yes, that would probably be the big selling point, at least at first. Some girls want a small program where they could have a warm cozy atmosphere, so that may work in our favor as well. Commuting out to Brooklyn would be about 45 minutes minimum each way by car, with it being much longer in rush hour. By public transportation, you're looking at more like 90 minutes to 2 hours each way. Lakewood, I believe, clocks in at 2 and a 1/2 hours (again, each way) so most girls from around here don't go that route (actually, I don't know of any, but it could be that some girls dorm).

I'm actually really surprised there isn't something in Queens already. There are plenty of learning opportunities in Queens for post high school boys, but not much of anything for the girls :-(

Getting something up and running that could work for girls post Israel too would be great. It would allow for more students (a financial plus) , but that would have to be balanced against any potential negative impact that might have (I can't think of any, but I'm sure someone can...)


You keep mentioning using someone's house/shul. I don't know if you realize that there are real risks here for the home owner or shul. If the home/shul is not zoned for a school, you have a real risk here. Even a small one classroom school - you really have to be above board. There is a lot of red tape here. Think of what a small in-home daycare has to go through to open legally - you would have to do those things also for the most part. That costs a lot of money. I think you are under the assumption that this would be far more simple than it really is.

Maybe start with Touro/Landers or Chofetz Chaim. They already have a presence in KGH and a name recognized internationally. Can you approach them and see what you can do as a partner? They both have the buildings and the legal issues hammered out. Also the name. Maybe they would welcome you under their umbrella?
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amother




OP
 

Post  Wed, Feb 05 2020, 1:04 pm
Notsobusy wrote:
There are a few Brooklyn seminaries who recently opened branches in Lakewood. Maybe if you call them and let them know there is a demand they would do something similar in Queens.

Opening a new branch is much easier and cheaper than starting from scratch.

These are the ones I can think of:
Sara Schenirer
Rebbetzin Bulka/ the new seminary
TTI


Thanks for the idea - I hadn't thought of that. I will check with my daughter's high school and see if they can whisper in a few ears at the seminary level and see what happens. I have to assume though, that even if they are willing to consider the possibility, they would probably also have trouble getting it going for the Fall. It may be that they can pull it off for a future group of kids. Certainly worth a few emails/phone calls - thanks!
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