Monday, June 11, 2012

An open letter to Bnos Yaakov of Lakewood: Doing More Harm Than Good

“The only thing good about blaming all our problems on the Internet today, is it replaced all the blaming on tznius!” BY girl.
Like most decent people, I was deeply disturbed by the letter that was sent out from your school. I would rather not re-post the details of the letter because I’m concerned of the nightmares it might cause to those unfamiliar with this kind of rhetoric, and besides, I'm pretty sure the parental settings installed on most computers will filter out this kind of speech anyhow. But to summarize, your letter was a psychological scare tactic to make girls dress tznius (modestly) or they will boil their children in hot soup. It took me a full week to recover from reading it and to verify that not only is this letter real but it is a common way of chinuch in some ultra-orthodox circles. This must be stopped.

I believe you are doing way more harm than good with this method of chinuch and I would like you to take a minute and read my story below. Unlike your improbable story, my story is based on true facts. Unlike your story my story happens all the time. But most importantly, unlike your story, my story needs to be told.
It was a few years ago that we received an interesting application for our S’dei Chemed Girls program. After checking with her references we were told she is a top student in every regard, with wonderful character traits. Therefore, it was strange, when after we sent out the tznius rules, I was told she would not be able to comply. We have girls from many backgrounds, it's what we pride ourselves on, but because we keep our tznius rules to the basics we never get complaints, even from the most modern of families. So when this Bais Yaakov girl requested that she wear only skirts above the knees, you can image how strange it seemed. It took some convincing, as we explained it wasn't so much about tznius as it was a camp rule. I guess because a summer in Israel is irresistible, she agreed to our terms.

This girl was one of the sweetest and well-behaved girls you can find, and so of course, all we could think about throughout the summer was why would she not have wanted to dress modesty. Something just didn't seem right. 

The riddle was explained on the last night of camp, when during the banquet the girls open their hearts and tell us the private journeys of their lives. This is understandably an emotional time, but her story left everyone teary eyed. It goes back to the time just after her bas mitzvah. During a summer break she got into a major accident where she almost lost her life. Happy to be alive, in the hospital she was told she might not have use of her legs anymore. As she sat in the hospital bed and visitors came by, she promised Hashem that she would do whatever He wants if he would give her the use of her legs again. That she would use them only for doing good things and nothing else. At this point, you could just imagine how strange it was to us that it was this very girl who was unwilling to dress modestly. That's because of what happened next.

A rabbi of hers came to visit and sat down next to her. He began by telling her how she should accept Hashem’s will no matter what. He explained that it was her legs that were no good and that Hashem was sending her a message. She must have used her legs for some un-tznius reason or maybe some yeshiva boy was staring at her legs and causing him improper thoughts. Now, it may very well be that this rabbi meant well, but this girl was destroyed. I cannot imagine the mental and spiritual damage that was done. It bothered her more than the physical damage of her legs. Now she wasn't just a cripple, but she was responsible for it too. She was so appalled and disgusted at what this rabbi told her that she made one more promise. She told herself that whether she regains her legs or not, during summer vacation they will remain uncovered. B”H she did recover and she kept her promises. She kept all of them. She now displayed her legs so that everyone could see. She even believed she was doing the right thing, as she was showing the world the very miracle legs that G-D gave back to her, but maybe it was more about sticking it to the the rabbi that told her those awful words on her hospital bed. 

She took back the promise that night and said she will once again put a long skirt on because she believed she has grown up and moved on. She said that this decision was the hardest one to make, but the new counselors and rabbis she met during the summer in Sdei Chemed showed her that there is another kind of Judaism that exists. One of love and kindness.

We make it our habit to not give any tznius speeches in Sdei Chemed. We address modest behavior but never speak about the dress code. Evidence has shown us that the more tznius speeches you give, the more they resent it. They tend to go in one ear and out the other.

The words “Kol Kevuda Bas Melech Penima” is not allowed to be mentioned in our camp. The Gemara explains those words to mean that the woman should stay home with her family and not parade outside into the work force, but like so many divrei chazal it has been twisted and modernized to refer to the girl’s dress code. Of course girls need to dress modestly but this can only happen when they develop self-worth.

Your methods are the opposite of that. Your speeches remove their self-worth and the more you shut them down the more they want to be heard. My story, thank G-D, has a happy ending. Your letter might force some girls into wearing a longer skirt, but they will be doing it out of hate and intimidation, and once they get older and you have no more control over them, their skirts are going to get shorter, and maybe even come off all together.

I know it takes longer to teach children to be religious and do mitzvos out of love and a sense of duty than it does to threaten them with Gehinnom, but that is no excuse. I believe this method of education should be banned. I believe we need to filter what we teach our girls so we don't continue to damage our innocent children. Otherwise we are heading down a road of disaster. Please take this as constructive criticism.

Our wonderful and diverse group of Camp Sdei Chemed Girls


Suggested reading on this topic:
Why I love Sdei Chemed by Bracha Shadrouz
An open letter to my S'dei Chemed Campers. Regarding Tznius in Eretz Yisroel.
Been There, Done That: Why Being Frum Is So Boring,
Rabbi Yitzchok Feigenbaum, Principal of Tiferes Bais Yaakov High School in TorontoD’var Torah Parshas Sh’lach - The Sad Results of Half-Truths and Scare Tactics.


79 comments:

  1. This horrific letter undermines the entire ideal of what makes a Frum home: the mother

    I just shudder to think about a girl who comes home, and finds that her mother, as usual, has bought her summer clothing which are "acceptable" according to Halacha, but may not be what her school wants.
    Keeping the story in mind, she would ask for more "full" clothing.
    Her mother, of course, knowing that what she bought was Halachically acceptable, refuses, since she has perfectly good clothing.
    The girl now sees her OWN MOTHER as a child abusing, girl burning, horrific mother.

    What girl would trust her mother in matters of Tznius after reading that letter?

    Bais Yaakov of Lakewood: Through your stupidity, you have released a letter that destroys the confidence children have in their mothers, in matters that they need them most.

    You are destroying families.

    For the sake of Hashem, STOP!!!

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  2. Wow. I literally had tears in my eyes. I also experienced this kind of education and as parents we shouldnt accept it. Kol Hakovod.

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  3. I do not send my child to a BY and do not know the letter you are talking about but the girl you mention at your camp, is a real bat melech! Thank you for treating her (and all girls) with the respect they deserve.

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  4. From personal experience I can tell you how true your words are. I myself went through something very similar and all I can say is that it turned me off completely from frumkiet.
    A friend of mine teenage daughter told me over Shabbat what mechon Hs recently told there girls, that any girl who rolls up her sleeve (even till the elbow) is considered an "of the Derech girl" and a day later in a speech against the internet told the girls that any girl who shops online or has internet or knows anyone with one will not be able to make a shidduch. My friends daughter response to that was, if I'm anyhow considered OTD and I can't make a shidduch I might as well put on pants and a tank top......

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  5. I agree with you 100%. The problem is, the Taliban leaders in Lakewood WANT to undermine the home. They WANT to have nothing but complete psychological control over the children to make more sheep and lemmings that will continue to follow them blindly.

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  6. It is vicious religious snobbery such as this that I didn't realize I was subjecting my little girl to when I sent her to the local day school. I always suspected that it was another family member that was allowing her to be as rebellious & irreligious as she wanted - it never occurred to me that it might be the very place I was sending her to that was the trouble. She has only confessed it to me recently, now that the damage is done, why she hates the very thought of "being religious". I hope people like this are proud of themselves - they'll be answering for it, later.

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  7. Every tisha bav for the last 15 years right b4 it starts, after I finish my eggs with ashes, I sit on the floor singing "vezocher" and I cry.....
    There is so much heartzig in that song....I think bak to sitting outside in camp in Netanya at that moment and singing with a 100 kids....and I cry.
    My kids look at me and wonder...I can't explain...

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  8. Every tisha bav for the last 15 years right b4 it starts, after I finish my eggs with ashes, I sit on the floor singing "vezocher" and I cry.....
    There is so much heartzig in that song....I think bak to sitting outside in camp in Netanya at that moment and singing with a 100 kids....and I cry.
    My kids look at me and wonder...I can't explain...

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  9. Thanks for bringing back some great memories.

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  10. I just want to correct you. The name of the school is Bnos Yaakov, not Bais Yaakov.

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  11. Wow, that was such a powerful post (probably the best one I've ever seen posted on your blog). I've experienced my fair share of this kind of rhetoric (not about tznius per se, since I'm male, but about many other things) and it has left me disenfranchised with religion as a young adult.

    When my mother was deathly ill with leukemia, she had a visitor tell her something to the effect of "You must have done something to deserve this." Whether you believe in God or not, the kind of arrogance that engenders this sort of rhetoric is absolutely intolerable and unacceptable.

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  12. woops. thanks. I made the change

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  13. Great post. Just last week I was given a paper about a segulah to study hilchos tznius. Another woman looked at it and said "Why do we have to learn about it...why don't we just DO it." Tznius isn't taught, it is modeled.


    A few quibbles: 1. As someone else noted, this came from Bnos Yaakov, not Bais Yaakov. It's only fair to BY of Lakewood to correct it. 2. Do you really think the picture you've shown displays diversity? 3. As a product of BY (albeit 10+ years ago), I will say that while I heard these stories (and some of them are gemaras (?)...where's the safety pin story from?), I never rebelled against the system because of them. So while the original story is a scare tactic, in a way so is yours.

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  14. The clothing many women and girls in monsey wear are appalling. I believe it is a response to the overbearing rules they are subjected to in the schools, from the tasteless hideous uniforms to the crazy emphasis on tznius standards. Even the uniforms are made with crazy tznius standards. The first thing many of the kids do when they get home is rip the uniform off. It makes them sick. The problem is that the uniform taught no lesson about tasteful dressing that is tznius as well. The young adults have been pushing the envelope. Married women are seen with clothing that without question in any halachic opinion would be wrong. This is a rebellion of the system they've been fed. The educators need to wake up before the next generation is lost.

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  15. I couldn't agree more. It has nothing to do with monsey, its in all communities. They never learnt the sensitivities of tznius. Like the expression, they throw out the baby with the bathwater and they dont even see whats wrong with it. Sad

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  16. Very true. Once had a convo on twitter where I said something about the sad state of tznius, and immediate retort from a young married woman in her 20s was something to the effect of "I can wear what I want!"....she equated tznius with authority and once she was free, she can do what she wants.

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  17. "Evidence has shown us that the more tznius speeches you give, the more they resent it."
    In other words, evidence has shown us that the typical girl in Williamsburg, Kiryas Yoel and Lakewood dresses less tzniyusdige than the typical Sdei Chemed camper.
    Errrrr, maybe not...

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  18. You call yourself Mit-Seichel. Errrrr maybe not.

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  19. More like Kein-Seichel!

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  20. obsession with tzniusJune 11, 2012 at 11:20 PM

    There is now an obsession with tznius in our schools. If you want to go to an extreme, then yes, just tell girls to wear burkas. Or maybe, just maybe, you could trust women to have a little judgment and give men a teensy weensy bit of responsibility and pretend that they have a little bit of self-control in order to keep themselves from imagining mounting a woman on the street due to her lack of tznius. I mean, honestly, don't men see this as demeaning at all, that they can't be trusted to see a modestly dressed girl? If you say that humans are absolute animals and have zero control over themselve, then say so. But I do believe the Torah says that we are human and we have the power to act above the level of animals. And we should trust that Hashem knew what he was doing when He made us that way.

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  21. I added a beautiful photo of my Grandamother Rebitzen Teitelbaum and family to another post. According to today's Bais Yaakov standards of Tzinuas my Grandmothers V-neck would not not allow her to attend their schools. And according to this letter out of lakewood my Grandmother is now being burnt in some kind of pot. I'm sorry that I cant allow myself to believe that. My grandfather was known to keep every halacha to it's fullest, and my grandmother the same. Someone is planing games with our mesorah and I'm sorry that you bought into it. Have a look. A Kosher Alternative By: Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum Z"L
    Read more: http://dteitelbaum.blogspot.com/2012/06/kosher-alternative-by-rabbi-eli.html#ixzz1xXuIGJuQ

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  22. This is a fantastic piece. Thank you for sharing a true story that inspires believing in the concept of tznius as well as demonstrating the vast harm that can be done for those who attempt to control and influence others unjustly in the name of halacha.

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  23. I believe that tsniut is about respecting your body, and drawing attention to your face rather than your body. I've seen women in jeans and a t-shirt who are modest, and women who are covered elbow to mid-calf who look like they're ready to peddle their wares. Instead of threatening girls, we need to teach them about respecting themselves and demanding respect from those around them. Hilary Clinton's pant suits command respect even if you can see that she has 2 legs.

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  24. your message is beautiful, thank you for making this point. We really have to come together and make it known that Judaism is a way of life that is about love and acceptance.

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  25. This school is full of MORONS. You are absolutely correct, they are raising a group of girls who are going to come out with no respect for their bodies, and certainly no sense of modesty. Any educator, and any halfway decent parent, knows that you don't parent out of fear. G-d being the ultimate Father figure is probably downright NAUSEATED by the actions of some very naive and thick skulled IDIOTS (and my language is not harsh, it is FACTUAL). The bottom line is, teaching out of fear will cause tenuous relationships with G-d, and those teachings will quickly unravel. We are meant to teach our children to serve H"S with love, and respect, for themselves as well as G-d. I honestly would never send my kids to a school like this, these schools shouldn't even exist!! These people have no business teaching children, this is how you end up with a generation abandoning the faith!!

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  26. I was raised as an active participant within the Reform movement. Temple on Friday nights, shabbat dinner at home (before heading out with friends for the evening.)


    You are told how to think (politically progressive), who to vote for, and how to be a Jew (pay Temple dues, send kids to Hebrew school, youth groups, and summer camp.) You don't have to think about anything. You don't dare question any of it, because, you know....people talk..... It's an easy enough religion to follow.

    It just isn't Judaism.
    This is what has been created in the Charedi / yeshivish enclaves. The same demands are made: give us your money, send us your children (except the brainwash is all day every day, not just twice a week), we will tell you how to think, who to vote for, and how to be a Jew. They don't dare question any of it, because, you know.....


    Charedism is also an easy enough religion to follow.


    It just isn't Judaism.




    The only difference is, while Reform keeps its members in the pen through derision (only an idiot would think differently!), Charedism keeps its members in line through fear (Hashem will punish you in Olam Haba - here, this story that exists nowhere in Tanakh, Shas, or Poskim proves it!)


    Observant Jews need to stop funding Charedism. We have validated their lifestyle as "frum, but a little intense" for far too long. What they teach is not Judaism.


    Of course, the people themselves are still Jews (which is more than can be said for many Reform members). On an individual level, we have an obligation to m'karev them to a life of shmirat hamitzvot.


    On an institutional level, however, we must make a clear stance. No more giving to Charedi schnorrers. If you need money that badly, sell your $500 hat, or your wife's $5,000 sheitel. Or, here's a thought: get a job.


    Yes, that is a splendid idea. Let's collect all of the money that we observant Jews would have given to the Charedi schnorrers that bother us during tefilah. Let's then use that money to offer free vocational training for Charedi / yeshivish men. If they want to become shomrei mitzvot, great. If not, that's their decision; but if we continue to fund their errant lifestyle, we have a share in their transgressions.

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  27. I'll never forget a conversation I overheard a number of years ago. I was working at a kosher hotel, and some teenaged day camp counselors were shmoozing in the other room. One of them told a story about how she and several classmates were kept after school one day for the unspeakable crime of wearing clear nail polish to school. The principal yelled and screamed at them how un-tznius they were, and how they were lucky not to get kicked out of school.

    Meanwhile, just down the hall, several other girls were hanging out in the restroom smoking pot. The smell was clearly noticeable in the principal's office.

    I think there are some mechanchim out there - men and women - who are incredibly clueless. And they have Jewish blood on their hands. Maybe they're spending their afterlife hanging out with all their talmidim and/or talmidos that they turned off of yiddishkeit - along with their OTD families and future generations. Maybe they could turn THAT into a ghost story and tell it at all the seminaries.

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  28. This story breaks my heart because tznius is my biggest and most constant struggle. Yes, I can promise that growing up in the same community this is exactly how tznius was taught-using fear and intimidation. I remember a teacher of mine talking about the boiling oil that will be poured on us and our children every day in the next world if we are not perfectly tznius to ridiculous standards. I feel very strongly that the very reason the level of tznius has gone down so much in the frum circles is because of this. There is no respect or validation for a girls natural and normal desire to look good and feel pretty. Girls are taught that if they do look good and feel pretty they are filling their pot in the next world with boiling oil. When you tell a girl that if her skirt is not 4 inches below her knee she is not a worthy person anyway and she feels that right then she simply cannot wear the skirt 4 inches below her knee, then what should make her keep it below her knee at all? we can all agree that on most people a skirt that is 4 inches below the knee doesn't look good. Period. Nothing to argue there. So girls, including myself, are being told too bad that is what you must do-if you don't remember the oil...Now nowhere in the torah does it say that a skirt needs to be 4 inches below the knee, yes the knee has to be covered. if a girl can do it with half an inch below let her. When you tell her its wrong, there is nothing to stop her from wearing a skirt above her knee because either way-half an inch above or below makes her a bad person so may as well look a little better if you're going straight to hell anyway. THIS IS WRONG. When you tell people they need to wear 30-60 denier stockings in the summer which ruin they way every outfit looks, and are mighty uncomfortable, and you tell them that wearing 10 denier is like wearing nothing at all, then WHY SHOULDN'T"T THEY JUST WEAR NOTHING AT ALL. Simple, if I'm bad either way 10 denier or nothing I may as well be comfortable and look better. Simple logic. Nowhere does it say that the legs need to be covered with a thick covering so why are we being taught that they do. I am a married woman now, and yes I try really hard to be tznius I struggle to put on stockings in the morning, yes they are 10 denier, and I struggle to keep my skirt below my knee. But I do it out of fear, when I want to be doing it out of love. There is no appreciation for tznius today and the only way to ever change that is to stop preaching, stop making up rules that todays girls cannot follow, stop intimidating young precious souls. Life is a growth process, and tznius should be just that, a growth process. Hashem doesn't expect us to be perfect in tznius at a young age so why do you teachers. Let me and all the other wonderful girls grow into it, teach us how to appreciate it, and work on the goal that by the time we leave this world we have bettered ourselves in this area. Working on issues takes a lifetime, and to take girls modes of dress, which is so vitally important to them, and intimidate them out of it will not help anyone work on tznius.

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  29. survivor-by-choiceJune 12, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    you forget that it's not just about dress. it's about loving what you do and not doing it because otherwide you'll "burn in hell". That was the origin of chasidut and that is not what it is today, unfortunately. If you can implant such a love in your children that they will dress like williamsburg, kiryas yoel or lakewood by choice, because they respect themselves and Hashem, and their body enough to want to go way beyond the letter of the law , kol hakavod. As long as they know where the law meets the extra. If not, you will be adding mitsvot to the torah, which is assur diorayta.

    When you focus entirely on the dress, you are going against religion, which is an internal thing.

    And don't forget, Derech Eretz comes before anything else. I have yet to see that in any of the aforementioned communities.

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  30. I make it a personal rule to not give money to anyone who bothers me during davening, with the exception of those who are obviously collecting for themselves. If any of these chassidish/charedi collectors want money from me, they need to have a signed teudah from the vaad of my community.
    I do try and support the local tomchei shabbos; I prefer to know that my money is actually going to tzeddakah.

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  31. All of you respondents still have not come up with a single rebuttal to my original point. I don't believe that the chinuch in the communities I mentioned is perfect and cannot use some tweaks, but the FACT that the tzniyus of their girls and women are, for the most part (Yes, I know there are exceptions), heads and shoulders ahead of the tzniyus in communities that take a vastly different chinuch approach proves that it is still far superior in the broader context. To quote Winston Churchill, "Capitalism is the worst economic system, except for all others."

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  32. You havent explained what is more tznius about them. Do you consider berka's to be more tznius?

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  33. I have been to all of those communities many times and I have yet to see a single frum woman wearing a burka. If I need to "explain" why they appear more tzniyusdig than in so many other communities, I believe that all explanations will be futile...

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  34. That wasn't my point. I don't find them to be dressing more modest that's all. I haven't checked out the woman in every neighborhood maybe you can put some kind of rating system

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  35. No rating system is necessary. To quote a famous Supreme Court justice, "I know it when I see it."

    You don't see it. That's fine with me too.

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  36. don't send your kids thereJune 12, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Many responses that I've seen to this alarming story went along these lines: If you don't like the educational message BY sends off, don't send your kids there.
    This response fails to take into account the communal aspect of Judaism. By having one faction of Judaism educate in such a disturbing way, the rest of Judaism suffers. When I put my kippah on my head and my tzitzit on my torso, there is no distinction between me and other Jews.
    Aside from the obvious implications, this also means we are all held accountable for the psychological damage these girls went through and are going through.
    Let us not have a generation of Jewish women conditioned through tactics of fear and negative reinforcement (which have been proven to be much less effective than positive reinforcement).

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  37. I went to Bnos Yaakov for elementary school and those were the best 9 years of my life. The love and warmth shown to me there were truly remarkable. Although I do not come from a typical Lakewood home, they were completely welcoming to me and my family. When I went to high school, my happy, innocent world came tumbling down - Every time I left the house, my principals would get phone calls from 'helpful' neighbors regarding my tznius. I was forced to sign a tznius contract, signing that I would cover my collar bone, elbows, and knees with 4 inches at all times. I was crushed - all the love and beauty of judaism taught to me in Bnos Yaakov was completely lost and forgotten. When something as beautiful as modesty must be contracted.. and lectured about time and time again, it loses all meaning. Today, I am happy to say I'm on the right track but it took me a while to get here. I can honestly say that if not for the strong foundation that Bnos Yaakov gave me, the high school I went to would have destroyed me completely. Is there a problem with tznius and the way that it is taught? ABSOLUTELY, but Bnos Yaakov is not the problem here.. its every bais yaakov school, tznius is turned into an awful rule, something forced upon girls. If only they could stop lecturing about it and just teach by example - I think its safe to say we all know the halachos!

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  38. Thanks for your comments. How do you explain that Bnos Yaakov sent out such a letter?

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  39. Teitelbaum is so desperate to get comments on his blog that he's willing to use sdei chemed girls pics to attract commenters to post here. Can't believe any of those girls would want to go to a camp under his leadership. Or maybe it is understandable........wink wink

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  40. Are you really that bored???

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  41. I have heard that story before - and agree that it is not a story young girls should ever hear - but it is told in all schools to all ages and I think that stories like these have (unfortunately) become the norm. I am not saying that it is okay for BY or any other school to put out stories to scare girls off but its done so often - maybe its just a matter of losing sensitivity.
    A while ago, a girl in Lakewood got very sick and was in a coma. Someone made a shiur in her zechus and said that it was because of the tznius of Lakewood girls that she was sick. I was extremely angry to hear this but I realized, he wasnt trying to scare girls off. He was at a loss and was grasping for anything to help her! He shouldnt have spoken at all.. he should have kept it to himself but he didnt. We just have to remember, he is only human and humans dont know everything - even if they call themselves rabbanim.

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  42. I'm sorry but what he said is hurtful to the girls family and motzei shemra on the Lakewood community. I don't see how he has a right to say such thinks. I would have stood up and told them off. Just saying.

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  43. Agreed - now I just know not go to to his shiurim.. live and learn..

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  44. You write - “Kol Kevuda Bas Melech Penima”
    The Gemara explains those words to mean that the woman should stay home with her family and not parade outside into the work force," Of course, they couldn't say that. Then how could the girls work as speech therapists and teachers to support their husbands who are learning or failed to educate themselves properly to adequately support their families. The girls work like dogs and the boys barely have any pressure. The tznius thing is another representation of a Taliban like mentality.

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  45. That is a really big issue that is not being addressed at all. The Lakewood mother is stressed out way beyond anything a normal mother can deal with. I know there are many that can handle it, but what about the many that can't and need to conform?

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  46. The world exists because of those who learn torah. You want everyone to go out and get jobs? So when the world falls apart - we will have you and your splendid idea to blame. Maybe you can put some thought into the rest of your 'splendid' ideas.

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  47. I used to work in a very right wing school in Monsey. After a few years, I became so turned off by the tsnius scare tactics, I had to leave. They would have me checking if certain "at risk" girls had their tsnius button buttoned and report back to the main office. I always said they did, without checking. These girls were going thru enough hell in school. In addition, my own daughter was picked on by the high school principle. She has naturally pink lips and she would wear vaseline all winter to keep them moist. The principle would constantly call her in to the office to ask her about her lip gloss! In addition, other parents would call in and report to the school if a mother was seen shopping with too long of a sheitel, only a tichel, too long of earrings or skirt, too short of a skirt, too much makeup, etc, etc. I can hardly believe I used to buy in to all of this crap!!! Thank Hashem I woke up in time to save my kids from going off the derech! We are looked at as modern now but I don't care, I feel sorry for all these people.

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  48. You people are seriously illJune 12, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    It's a very sick mind that would present such a story to children. Torah is beautiful and Hashem is a loving, not a vengeful G-d. The frum world is becoming like the Southern Baptist bible thumpers of the South- always preaching the wrath of G-d and going to hell.
    Instead of yeshivsh men thinking of naked girls (as in this story), and needing Internet blocks (because they are drawn to porn and if they can't get it on the Internet, they will get it elsewhere), and trying to get divorced women into bed (as I have endured because if I'm divorced so they assume I'm fair game), these men are the problem.
    The more you obsess over such issues, the more you become enthralled with them. I loved the one about banning little girls from wearing patent leather shoes because it reflects what's up their skirts. The yeshiva world is full of pedophiles!!!!

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  49. Your original pt dissents with the claim that "Evidence has shown us that the more tznius speeches you give, the more they resent it." However your counterpoint, that the typical girl in Williamsburg, Kiryas Yoel and Lakewood dresses more tzniusly than the typical Sdei Chemed camper, does not address the original point-which was making a claim about the RESENTMENT such an education engenders in girls, not about how tzniusly they dress per se.

    With regard to your point that the average girl in these communities, having received this education, nonetheless dresses more tzniusly than do girls outside of these communities-I concede that this is absolutely true. However, two pts to ponder:
    Firstly, how many girls are being turned off to dressing super tzniusly in these communities as a result of such an education, and as such are migrating to other communities, such as, say, Monsey where, as discussed, the standard is much lower?
    Secondly, of course there will be super high levels of conformity in more closely knit insulated communities when it comes to things like tznius, and correspondingly, because such communities tend to foster/promote much more conformist and unoriginal thinking -so basically, this education may well work for the average girl in such a community, who doesn't really question very much (yes, this a giant generalization), but it will consequently turn off the girls who DO think-and losing thinkers is rarely a good thing, in my opinion.

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  50. Burka is spelled as such-and honestly, though it may be difficult to quantify, he's right about the level of tznius, but the more important question you raised (in my view) is 1. is tznius really the most important thing to be concerned about right now? (when there are much larger problems out there) and 2. what are the communal costs due to the frum community's intense focus on it?

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  51. Your response is the first balanced, intellectually honest response to my post on this blog. Congrats for that. Nevertheless, it is based largely on the assumption that the resentment that (no doubt) exists in these communities is very widespread. The resenters will always make more noise and headlines that those who are happy and proud to live their lifestyle, and based on everything I know about these communities (I'm intimately familiar with all of them), those who are happy by far outnumber those who are not. Should there be special vehicles to deal with girls who aren't truly receptive to their chinuch? Yes. And to whatever degree this issue hasn't been addressed in these communities, it should. However, at the end of the day, they've still been far more successful overall in inculcating tzniyus. And yes, I'm sorry to say, the more open minded "tolerant" communities have plenty of teens at risk and others who resent whatever level of Yiddishkeit they were taught as well.

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  52. Sorry but from MY experience you are mistaken. The girls from more "tolerent" communities don't have nearly the same kind of resentment. And the fact most of us are happy is a bad excuse not to do anything about it. Why should we be satisfied by the fact that most of us are ok. We should be concerned with the many who have been hurt. There is no excuse for it. Teach with love not hate, its that simple. Just my opinion.

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  53. What have Jews become? Communists? Taliban? What happened to Judaism? A threatening religion?!
    These are not real Jews. This will just cause other Jews to stray farther away from the Torah and Hashem, not bring them closer. This will scare women into being Tzniut, which is very very wrong. We are supposed to love Hakadosh Baruch Hu and serve him with joy and happiness, not with fear and through threat.
    This is extremely wrong - this is a Chilul Hashem and this is a terrible example that was set for women and girls. These schools are extremely wrong, and are presenting extreme and shocking things to these girls.
    You should be ashamed of yourselves.

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  54. @Mit-Seichel "I know it when I see it."



    So now we know what you are looking at .....

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  55. Correction. The mIshna is referring to those who study Torah LISHMA.
    "Rabbi Meir said: Anyone who
    engages in Torah study for its own sake ('lishma') merits many things. Not only
    that, but the entire world is worthwhile for him alone. He is called 'friend'
    and 'beloved,' he loves G-d, he loves man, he brings joy to G-d, he brings joy
    to man. It [the Torah] clothes him in humility and fear. It enables him to be
    righteous, pious, upright, and faithful. It distances him from sin and brings
    him to merit. [Others] benefit from him advice and wisdom, understanding and strength,
    as it says, 'To me is advice and wisdom, I am understanding, and strength is
    mine' (Proverbs 8:14). It gives him kingship, dominion and analytical judgment.
    It reveals to him the secrets of the Torah. He becomes as an increasing stream
    and an unceasing river. He becomes modest, slow to anger, and forgiving of the
    wrongs done to him. It makes him great and exalted above all of creation."In addition, if you are a Torah learner it would behoove you to remember that, "derech eretz kadma l'Torah."

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  56. Thanks for the quote. But I don't think he really cares what the mishna says. His opinion is more important.

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  57. "YOUR" experience notwithstanding, there is unfortunately no shortage of at-risk, OTD and very-weak-in-Yiddishkeit youth in more modern communities. This is a fact that I've consistently heard from independent people in the chinuch and OTD fields who deal with these communities. There are plenty of people there who don't adopt the idyllic chinuch you seem to believe they receive. You can call it resentment or a sense of "freedom" and hefkeirus or whatever else you want, but the bottom line is the same.

    I never said that we should be satisfied that most are ok in the more stringent communities, and shouldn't make improvements. If you'd read all my comments, you'd see that I actually clearly said otherwise. I am just comparing the rhetoric found on this site to the reality on the ground.

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  58. 1. I made the correction
    2. I was careful what photo to use here but if you want to see the rest of the diverse girls we have you can use this link https://picasaweb.google.com/102049749654020350053/Girls20102011SelectedPhotos
    3. Not every agaditah gemara is supposed to be taught
    4. Just because you didnt rebel doesnt mean other girls dont. If you just look at the comments here you will see many girls do get turned off by these letters.

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  59. Why cant we just forget about more modern or more yeshivash and bring children up the way they should. We have halacha, why the need for stringency, I dont get it. Sorry

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  60. pinchosbenelazarbenaronhakohenJune 12, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    just wanna get my post up on top. the letter says the men ran out "one by one" I would imagine when seeing such a scene they would all run like "hell" XD

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  61. i think your reply is very rude. i understand both of your points, and while i agree with you, and raise my children that way, i think 'mit -seichel' has some valid points (made in the later comments) and am saddened that you answered her in a disrespectful way.

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  62. Time for you to use Hebrew terms correctly:

    The topic is indeed "tzniut/tznius".


    However, a person does not tznius"; the proper term is "tzanu`a".

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  63. "Why can't we just forget about more modern or more yeshivash"

    Am I the one who started a blog or were you? I'm into living my own life and raising my children according to the mesorah I have from my parents and gedolim. I'm not preoccupied with other communities. I only get into this stuff when the more charedi communities are bashed in the media, and I want to lend a voice of defense.

    We have halacha and we also have mesorah, the linchpin of Yiddishkeit. All the gedolim in both the Yeshiva and chassidishe worlds throughout recent generations have encouraged a lifestyle of chumra in certain areas. Some focused on kashrus, some on levush, some on limud haTorah, etc.

    I am proud to follow my mesorah. If these gedolim saw the "need" to recommend such a lifestyle, I'm comfortable following their advice. And perhaps you should follow your own advice and stop being so busy looking for things that everyone else is doing wrong, and work to improve yourself according to your mesorah.

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  64. I'm sorry but I do feel an obligation when I see girls being turned off from judiusm because of it. Hence my story I posted. And it seems from the comments and feedback that most girls are turned away from this kind of education. Kol Yisroel....

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  65. Ok. So 60 or so comments on your blog (from far fewer commentERS) represents what "most girls" feel. If that's what you're left with as an argument, keep on blogging and stop working on yourself...

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  66. I'm think 10000 hits in one day and not one opposing view except for you says something. But you are free to keep your head in the sand and ignore them all because you believe otherwise.

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  67. morris,
    just go away. you really have serious issues

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  68. No, he should stay. People need to hear how these kinds of guys think.

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  69. true that! they tell us:if you wear a skirt that doesn't properly cover your knees-u may as well be wearing pants. oh, yeah? can you just imagine what would happen if i walked out of my house in skinny jeans or shorty shorts?!?!? still the same thing????? And if it is, lemee know- cuz i'd prefer wearing that to a skirt anyday.

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  70. all this is 100% true. unfortunately, i go to that hell hole of a school & ALL this was very much said!!!! and you know what???? Most girls are saying exactly what that girl said (she's probably a friend of mine), if i'm anyways considered bad, i may as well be bad all the way & live the life. why should i bother following the rules & being a good girl if after all this they tell me that im bad & i won't be able to get married & im considered OTD??? i may as well do all the stuff i wanna do, cuz hey, I am bad. aren't I? at least thats what i keep hearing in this school of mine....

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  71. First off I went to bais yaakov and became non religious. I recently went to aish hatorah. You cant judge jewdaism by its participants. That is your special relationship between you and god. And you have never walkef a mile in someone elses shoes, so therefore you may not judge. Every sect has good and bad in it, but as adults we need to sift out the good from the bad. And its not that god wants you to dress tznius, its what we should desire to adpire to reach, we are princesses and princes would we remove our crown because its to hot. Also we are punished and rewarded at our own levels. So you migjt not get punished for something and I wiill.

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  72. I really find it hard to believe that the story is real and that a Bais Yaakov would put such a thing in a newsletter. And if they did, I would report it to the Board of Jewish Education, Torah Mesorah and any other respected educational organization as well as gathering the parent body (and any teachers who want to) and call the hanhala to task for this. As a group they should call for resignation of the deicision makers behind this, refusing to pay any more tuition until those people are gone

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  73. Seems like the Jewish press picked it up.....

    http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/lakewood-girls-school-under-attack-for-controversial-letter-on-modesty/2012/06/14/

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  74. R' Dovid, there have always been:
    1) Kanoim who are tzadikim since their actions are prompted by sincere fear of G-d.
    2) Kanoim who are reshaim since their actions are prompted by gayvah and other negative traits. 3) "Center" who have a mesorah and minhagim, and were raised by a warm, loving, and stable home.
    Why focus on group 2? Why not focus on groups 1 and 3? They are the one's who are open to logic and common sense, unlike those in group 2.
    And perhaps try not to overstate facts when you display your arguments, it weakens your position.

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  75. And yet there is no issue with a group of men watching a young lady being dressed, albeit in uncomfortable fashion?

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  76. I'm a parent there. I thought this was the dumbest, most destructive, story ever, and I made my views known. It's not the first time something stupid like this has been said, but it's outweighed in my mind by a lot of encouraging talk about the beauty of tznius. Although I think the whole topic should be given a rest for a while. The kids are all tznius'ed out. Overall, it's a very good school, and the message they put out is mostly a very healthy one. I have gripes, but I've never yet had a kid in a school without gripes. It's par for the course.
    I should say too that another parent called the school's Vaad HaChinuch about the story and they were appalled. They must have said something to the principal (who is a very fine person who happened to do something dumb here), b/c the story was not included in the end of year collection (or so I am told).

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  77. Dovid, beautiful. Thank you.

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  78. I agree and disagree. Words that come from the heart go to the heart and when i was becomming frum i chose to belong to a group that believes in asei tov not sur mae ra (excuse my spelling) i have had the chutzpah to tell tznius shuirim organizers that their tactics are backfiring. And i will never use such tactics on my daughters. They are princesses and we look through catalogs to get ideas of how to put together princess garments. If they complain about tights i try to get them soft ones. I allow for differences in opinion about style. But the overall look is imp. I do not agree that the tznius rules should be shelved completely. I recently went to a Williamsburg wedding and i wanted to cry as this is the way things were 17 years ago when i became frum- the quiet elegance - not the skin tight sequins and the hooker heels and the waist length shaitels. Of course then women wouldn't sit outside with their neighbor's husband chatting or worse. I was studying to be a model- a gorgeous body where brain and feelings were irrelevant. This was 20 years ago. When i see daughters of the king dressed as i did then with maybe a skintight kikiriki in addition i feel sorry for them. Rabbis do have the right to tell communities to improve their tznius or any other mitzvah in order to get heavenly mercy. But to tell someone their avera must have caused a tragedy- i don't think my Rebbe would agree.

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  79. I agree and disagree. Words that come from the heart go to the heart and when i was becomming frum i chose to belong to a group that believes in asei tov not sur mae ra (excuse my spelling) i have had the chutzpah to tell tznius shuirim organizers that their tactics are backfiring. And i will never use such tactics on my daughters. They are princesses and we look through catalogs to get ideas of how to put together princess garments. If they complain about tights i try to get them soft ones. I allow for differences in opinion about style. But the overall look is imp. I do not agree that the tznius rules should be shelved completely. I recently went to a Williamsburg wedding and i wanted to cry as this is the way things were 17 years ago when i became frum- the quiet elegance - not the skin tight sequins and the hooker heels and the waist length shaitels. Of course then women wouldn't sit outside with their neighbor's husband chatting or worse. I was studying to be a model- a gorgeous body where brain and feelings were irrelevant. This was 20 years ago. When i see daughters of the king dressed as i did then with maybe a skintight kikiriki in addition i feel sorry for them. Rabbis do have the right to tell communities to improve their tznius or any other mitzvah in order to get heavenly mercy. But to tell someone their avera must have caused a tragedy- i don't think my Rebbe would agree.

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