Thursday, March 09, 2006


Supposedly, a link to my blog was sent to some administrators at Rambam, and they felt that a comment left by one of their students, who is a buddy of mine, is "bad PR" for the school. Therefore, I have removed his comment from the comments section. His comment, essentially, was that he believes the "hooking-up" rate to be higher at Y-Rambam than at the other schools in the community. My question is: If Rambam really is trying to segregate their curriculum and take a small turn to the right, aren't they buying into this notion as well? I assume they are - although, maybe they don't want one of their students coming out and letting everyone know that. I have spoken with many people and received confirmed and unconfirmed reports that the rate of "hooking up" (and worse) in Baltimore's Jewish schools is equal or greater to that of at YRambam.

I agree with a commenter on a previous post who says that, while he is not opposed to the impeding changes, he believes the whole "co-ed schooling hock" is blown way out of proportion. I certainly hope that this is the case, as I want my children to have interactions with girls (whether that be in a co-ed school, or youth groups - B'nei Akiva). I understand this view to be a minority in the Jewish Blogosphere, however, I guess I am not far enough removed from my public high school days - where I learned healthy, normal interactions with girls, blacks, rednecks, etc.

The bottom line is that I want my children, one day, to be serious about: Torah, education, Israel, middos, and normalcy. I hope all of these things aren't too much to ask - if they aren't, my children will be going to the school that most adequately emphasizes all of these things - co-ed or not.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay -there is a problem when you are posting at 4:30 a.m.

7:43 AM, March 09, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Rambam teach about Negiah or Yichud ect? Sorry for my naivety - but I don't believe Bais Yaakov did - although things were different in my day. What about the other schools? Is this issue addressed? I think it is more relevant in a co-ed school. For example, if a teacher in Rambam saw students of the opposite gender causally touching each other - ie. a pat on the back - is this commented on? What about hugging?

7:50 AM, March 09, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Thanks for your comment...more fun if we know who you are though. That is a good question you bring up...I will check with some people and see if that is taught there and I will follow up. As an interesting aside, my Rosh Yeshiva in Israel had a bad taste in his mouth for YU because when he attended college there as a Ba'al Teshuva, they never taught him about Shomer Negiah and never knew it existed until after his YU days.

8:07 AM, March 09, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Oh, and when one commutes to Bethesda it is advisable to wake up early to beat rush hour

8:08 AM, March 09, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get waking up early to commute - but having time to post at 4 a.m. seems a bit insane - no?

8:24 AM, March 09, 2006

Anonymous DM said...

I am glad that you "learned healthy normal interactions with girls, blacks, rednecks, etc."

When you find the Jewish school that offers all of these, let me know.

I think you are picking one aspect of public school life (that you probably enjoyed the most) as your focus. In fact you seem obsessed. Maybe your outlook isn't healthy and those who believe that more separation between the sexes is what is most healthy for kids and teens.

Just playing Devil's advocate, kind of.

9:36 AM, March 09, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...


Obviously, when I said "I hope all of these things aren't too much to ask" - I wasn't referring to the interactions with blacks and rednecks, I was referring to having children with good middos, love for Torah, etc.

Am I obsessed with the fact that I learned to interact with all types of people, when alot of frum people wouldn't know what to do if a black man had something to them (much like Jewboy's encounter with a frum women at R' Bergers)? Maybe.

You make it sound like there is one "right way" to do things. I want my children to embue all of the things discussed in the post...if that's most feasible in a co-ed school, I'm all for it - if it's most feasible in Ner Yisrael, I'm all for that as well.

For the sake of this discussion, what other part of my public school past is of any relevence?

Just playing devils advocate, of course. :)

9:44 AM, March 09, 2006

Anonymous Greg said...

I can't believe you buckled under the pressure and removed the comment (although I like that you posted about it, so no harm, no foul).

I, for one, anxiously await the Jewish school that offers my child exposure to blacks, rednecks, etc. Until then, there's always Wellwood Little League.

11:55 AM, March 09, 2006

Blogger The Mink said...

Does any one know how I should go about getting a job compiling these "hooking-up rate" statistics?....I wonder if these statisicians stake out lockers and parking lots and record their findings.....Seems like it could be quite a thrill!

12:00 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

As I'm sure you're aware, a common strategy in debating is first conceding something, and then stating your arguments. So, I agreed to their request to remove the comment, and then one-upped them by commenting on the fact they were lame for doing so.

12:03 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger Jewboy said...

I'm happy to see that Alanlaz's blog has moved up the chain of command at Rambam. It seems that our little blogging community is doing a good job raising Baltimore issues.

The coed issue is a loaded one. The discussion of teaching shomer negiah is also an interesting one. My high school in Atlanta could be described as very coed. A lot of kids did not come from Orthodox homes and had no concept of being shomer negiah. Needless to say, the "hooking up" rate was high. At one point there were too many public displays of affection in the hallways, so the school made a rule that negiah infractions would incur a suspension. I don't think the rule was very well enforced, however. I guess my point is, while not being pro or anti coed schools, is that even if one is pro coed there are a lot of complicated issues that have to be treated carefuly. To gloss them over would be a mistake.

12:11 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger Shua said...


The way you want your kids brought up ("Torah, education, Israel, middos, and normalcy) are basically the same criteria I use to choose which school I send my children to. Rambam is about as close to this criteria as you'll find in ANY CITY. I WISH I could have gone to a school like Rambam growing up, and our community is so lucky to have this unique school in our backyard.
Based on my observations over the last 7 years living in this town, there are many parents who don't send their kids to Rambam, who in reality, would be so happy at Rambam if they were to simply do 3 things:
1) Actually speak to people who send their kids there--see how satisfied they are
2) Visit the school for themselves
3) Stop worrying about what others will say about them if they should "G-D Forbid" send their kids to Rambam.
#3 above, is probably the hardest for most Baltimore-bred people, as the whole concept of a school such as Rambam is so foreign them, compared to what they grew up with here. Compound this with the pressure they receive from friends and parents to conform to what is in Baltimore, more "mainstream" Orthodox institutions (while in other cities, the reverse would be true), and I really do understand what they (and Rambam) are up against.
I actually know several couples who admit that they hated the school they went to growing up in Balt., yet they will continue to send their kids to those same institutions. Again, Rambam is NOT for everyone, but it is closer to what some people say they want, if they can bring themselves to give it serious consideration. Based on what I know of you (met you a few times) and what I've read, you are SOOO Rambam, you just don't know it yet.

I'll save you a spot in my carpool:)


1:02 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger Shua said...


Based on my conversations with insiders at Rambam, Negiyah issues ARE addressed and discussed with the students by the faculty and administration. While I agree that all schools should be reinforcing the Halachot on these issues, I'm not quite sure that simply educating kids about these issues will cure the issues (most middle/high school kids don't really care what Halacha says). Parents need to be involved in speaking to their kids about these things, and sometimes we need to simply give them practical reasons why it is not beneficial for the kids to engage in non-platonic relationships (waste of time, feelings get hurt, self-esteem issues). I'm not suggesting that these strategies will eliminate the issues, I just think that the issues we have can be better addressed by dealing with the reasons why these behaviors are engaged in, rather than simply quoting Halacha. Think about when you were a teenager. Did you care about what Halacha said? I can honestly say that I cared very little about it.

1:30 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Thanks again for your comments. I am interested to see what the schooling options are like when Fetuslaz (read prior posts and their comments)grows up.

I've always been obsessed with halacha...I wasn't always obsessed with putting it in practice though.

1:38 PM, March 09, 2006

Anonymous Erica said...


You said

"sometimes we need to simply give them practical reasons why it is not beneficial for the kids to engage in non-platonic relationships (waste of time, feelings get hurt, self-esteem issues). "

If you feel that it isn't beneficial to have non-platonic relationships then why would you send you child to a school where there is a much greater chance of that happening?

2:34 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

I think if you were asking me that question (which I know you're not), my response would be something like the following: I'm going to send my kid to the best school possible. If a child can get just as good of a Jewish education, and an even better secular education at a co-ed school, that's where my kid's going. At that point it would make sense to teach children why platonic relationships aren't all they're cracked up to be.

3:14 PM, March 09, 2006

Anonymous Erica said...


I will agree with that. If a person feels that the best option is a co-ed school then yes, it is the parents responsibility to explain the issues to their kids.

However, I do not think that the ""co-ed schooling hock" is blown way out of proportion." There obviously are many benefits to having kids in separate gender schools, a person just has to decide which is more important to them - the overall education or the co-ed part (assuming of course that there is no school who can provide the best of both of these - which is what I think you are arguing).

4:12 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger Jewboy said...

Shua makes some good points. Simply quoting halacha doesn't always work. Saying "Thou shalt not touch girls/boys" doesn't work so well with most teenagers. Discussion is necessary. Too many schools and teachers in Jewish institutions have problems with the fact that they simply lecture to kids without relating to the students and allowing the students to express themselves. Harld line measures don't work nowadays, for the most part. Tell a kid,"Don't talk to girls" and he'll say, "The heck with you" and go talk to girls.

Erica- Especially in our day and age, even kids who go to separate schools will have non-platonic relationships if they want to. I've seen plenty of it at the hallowed Ner Yisroel high school. I don't mean to necessarily advocate for mixed schools, but teenagers who want to interact with the opposite sex will find a way, whether in school or not.

4:32 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger Zazy said...

It came as a shoock to me when i was told to remove my opinion or at least my identity. I still wonder who would send this to a school administrator and why the school would care about a student's opinion on a post (No Offense Al, keep up the good work).
My point simply was that Rambam, because it gives more exposure to the opposite gender can be more of a problem, but these kids r better fitted for the world, b/c theyve had that initial exposure and are better prepared to work through it, then say, someone who hasn't had that. In addition, co-ed students have more exposure to professional intergender situations and are better equipped to deal with the oppostie gender, while kids in single gender schools probably have had most of their intergender experiences in unsupervised and social situations.

5:03 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Personally, I think the overall education takes precendence over the co-ed issue. I am not well versed in the arguments - what are the benefits (aside from the potential boy/girl mingling) to separate gender schools besides "that is simply what is done". There certainly is something to be said for tradition and the way things have/are done, but I am curious what the other issues are. I have heard research that boys learn better when put with only other boys...etc etc, but I'm talking in a case where the co-ed school has a superior education to that of a same sex school (not saying that Rambam necessarily has a superior education - I do not know these facts).

Zazi - agreed.

5:27 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger Opinions said...

If separate gender schooling was only a halachik issue non-jewish would never do it. Obviously there is more to it then that.
Separate classes will (all else being equal) be a better learning environment.

This is all missing the point (IMHO). Rambam and those who founded it would agree that separate is better as I have spoken to many founders and they all agree that it was founded with a goal of being separate. The only reason some classes were not separate was the ability to have AP, honors, etc if the classes were separate.

6:08 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...


That is what I originally thought as well. However, I have spoken to children of two founding mothers who claim that this was not the case - it was not founded on condition to become separate. What the truth is remains a mystery.

6:31 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger Shua said...

Alan and Jewboy kind of summed up what I was going to respond. That is, there's the potential for kids at ANY school to do inappropriate things. I don't believe that the Rambam kids are doing anything worse (some say in fact they are doing less inappropriate things) than the kids in other schools, with regard to boy/girl interactions. Please see my previous post from Alan's Feb. 27th blog titled "Things Change, Dude" (look at the end).
In addition, as I stated earlier, I believe (and this will be controversial) that by sending my kids to Rambam, there is a close to 100% chance that they will remain Orthodox. I don't think that is true of the other schools, where too often we see many kids who "go off the derech".
To reiterate, it is my assertion that co-ed "issues" are overblown, as evidenced by the quality kids that Rambam is producing (and the love for Torah, Mitzvot, and Israel that they have). I am honestly surprised at the number of people for whom co-ed is a make-it-or-break-it issue, and who admittedly compromise education and/or hashkafah just to satisfy this one criteria.

7:01 PM, March 09, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to say that I think some of you are fooling yourself. The "hooking up" or not is not the only problem. I have seen YR kids at a local public swimming pool (let's not even get into the tznius issue of bikinis and mixed swimming) but the socializing and lack of being shomer negiah is just shocking!!
Shua says "I don't think that is true of the other schools, where too often we see many kids who "go off the derech"."
I don't think this is the point, whether kids in TA or Bais Yaakov go off the derech - I'm not concerned that YR kids are going off the derech, more of how they are interacting inappropriately, (and in public- and if this is how they act in public what's going on elsewhere?) and second of all, did anyone conduct a survey of the TA and Bais Yaakov graduates or are we just throwing out random thoughts because we know of one or two "stories".
And for my last point Shua says "I actually know several couples who admit that they hated the school they went to growing up in Balt., yet they will continue to send their kids to those same institutions." Okay, how many teenagers out there loved their high school - or loved everything about it. Maybe you liked the teachers, hated the principal, maybe you had no friends, maybe you were popular but couldn't keep up academically - Life is not a bowl of cherries and although my schooling experience was not perfect, I am choosing a school based on the hashkafas I hold dear. And my kids are not me - not the same generation or teachers or obviously parents, so their experience will not be the same as mine, but the school still has the same torah hashkafa. So I do not find it shocking that people send back to the school they attended, after all we turned out all right - didn't we (even tho the "going off the derech" rate is so high)?

8:22 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger Jack Davidov said...

Two points:

- I went to public school. Most kids did not have healthy attitude about male/female relationships. Whether the kids were socially awkward nerds and couldn't even talk to girls, or if they were predatorial players and saw girls as objects, being in that environment didn't necessarily create a healthy outlook.

- There is no such thing as a very close "platonic relationship" for teenagers (and probably for adults). Generally, one of the two kids has something beyond friendship on their mind.

To be honest, I would probably send my (future) kids to Rambam - and I am happy about the changes. However, I don't buy into a lot of the claims about co-education in this discussion. I would want my kids to get the best possible education, but I don't value co-education as a priority. Co-ed schools are not necessarily going to create healthy relationships.

9:26 PM, March 09, 2006

Anonymous Erica said...

Shua and Jewboy,

I am fully aware that the boy girl issues can happen to any kids that go to any school. I think that parents of kids that go to ANY school, be it TA, Bais Yaakov, Rambam, Yeshiva, Hebrew Academy etc., have to educate their kids about platonic or non-platonic relationships.

My point was that if it's important to you that your kids don't get involved in these relationships, why are you going to put your kid in a situation where it might be harder for them to stay out of the situation.

For example, lets say you don't want your kid to eat grapes and you put them in a vineyard and say "don't eat grapes" - they are surrounded by the grapes so it's much harder for them than, say, if you put them in an apple orchard. Yes, they could go out of the orchard to a vineyard but at least they aren't surrounded by the grapes.

I know we should have faith in how we teach our kids and hope that if we explain to them why not to do something, they will not do it. But, if we can keep them farther away from something we don't want them to do, I think it's a good back-up.


I don't have specifics on the benefits of separate gender classes. I do know that I did hear that female students speak up and participate more in classrooms without males, something about them feeling more confident since there used to be a whole stigma of men being worldly and smart and women being "stupid homemakers" who had to rely on men.

I also tend to think that it makes sense to have separate schools bc in Judaism each gender has a totally different role and, as such, the chinuch should be different for boys and girls. It might be easier to focus on the chinuch of each gender if the schools are separate. Just a thought.

All that being said, I am not ashamed to say that iy'h I will be sending my kids to non co-ed schools. I do not judge people for sending kids to co-ed schools and whatever works for different families is good for them - obviously it works for many people since both Rambam and Hebrew Academy are popular and wonderful schools - and I am not saying one is better than the other. I am saying that for my family, we will look for the best of a non co-ed school and I am hoping that will be best for us - look me up in 14 years when my kids need to go to high school...

9:51 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger Jack Davidov said...

Erica - was that a Mesillas Yesharim reference?

10:34 PM, March 09, 2006

Anonymous Erica said...


Your guess is as good as mine...

10:39 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger Shua said...


I appreciate your feedback and sincerity. To address your points:

Point 1:
I'm not sure why you say that kids going astray is not the point. Why not? You say that you turned out alright, but what about these other kids? What about the poor kids today who don't "fit in" and rebel and not only hate Judaism, but have major relationship issues with their parents? I hope you are NOT saying that mixed swimming is worse than turning kids off to Judaism (not that I necessarily want my kids to swim mixed). I really don't want this to be a "I saw BY kids doing so-and-so" or "I saw TA kids doing so-and-so" Some of the things I've observed and heard about kids from schools other than Rambam, are FAR worse than mixed swimming. Also, the fact that they do it in public means that "what you see is what you get". Meaning, I completely diasgree with your assertion that these kids are doing worse things in private. I would say just the opposite...I contend that some kids who are not swimming in public (basically, not swimming at places that OTHER JEWS frequent) are still swimming mixed, but at public beaches, away from other Jews (apparently, G-d doesn't exist if other Jews are not around). It is naive to think that the things you are NOT seeing with your own eyes, are not occurring by kids at all schools. I contend the element of "sneaking around" is much higher outside of the Rambam community (because for the most part, the parents at Rambam do not prohibit the boys from talking to girls). Therefore, what you end up seeing in "public" is Rambam kids in general. If you're against boys+girls socializing and you're kids know it, than do you think they'll do it in public, or sneak around and do it when you're not looking?
Point 2: I don't have any "stats" on how many kids are not religious anymore from the other schools. That was my opinion, and you're more than entitled to disagree. However, I wasn't sure whether you really disagreed, or where I came up with that opinion. I bet you can't think of one YRambam kid who has totally rebelled against Orthodoxy. My point here again, is that Rambam must be doing SOMETHING right, and that co-ed is NOT the end of the world.
Point 4: Regarding parents who went to a certain school, had a bad experience, but still send their kids there: I am not shocked by the fact that they continue to send their kids there at all. My point is simply that there are more options these days, and it never hurts to be open-minded about things. Also, schools have changed tremendously over the last 10-15 years, and the school that had a certain Hashkafa years ago, has most likely shifted (usually, to the right), which depending on your view, can be positive or negative. For example, although I subscribe fully to Rambam's Hashkafah, if in 10-20 years, they are not Torah-Ummadah, or the kids are not turning out good, or the parents have shifted too far left or right, I may have to consider another option.

I would love to take this discussion off-line if you'd like to discuss this further. I've taken take up too much of Laz's blog space.

11:08 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger Shua said...


First, YRambam recognizes that there should be some separation, and that socialization should be within the realm of what is permissible.
Second, why would I put them in that situation? Because they'll have to end up speaking to girls in some fashion later on in life.
Third, sometimes saying "no-no-no" backfires, and your kids end up worse off.
I think there should be a balance, but I don't feel total isolation from each other is healthy.

11:18 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

I didn't say that co-ed school kids have a healthy attitude towards male/female relationships...I think they have healthy attitudes toward male/female interactions...there is a difference. Furthermore, I think guys and girls can be strictly friends, I really do.

11:30 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Wow, I just checked the referring URL's (web pages that people were on that linked to my blog) and one of them was a web e-mail account. Crazy...

11:46 PM, March 09, 2006

Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

" I want my children to have interactions with girls"
y'know, alan, you may end up with FEMALE children. it happens to the best of us.

12:37 AM, March 10, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

It has been well established on t his blog that I will not be having girls...and that's that.

4:34 AM, March 10, 2006

Blogger Jewboy said...

alanlaz- Don't be so sure. I think you may have some future women's softball stars as your progeny.

Erica- I don't entirely disagree with you. However, I also think that Shua has some good points, especially about how saying no, no, no to your kids can really backfire these days. I think I'll write on my blog about this. I don't intend to come out for or against coed schools, but merely to show that teenageres will be tempted no matter what kind of school they go to.

8:11 AM, March 10, 2006

Anonymous Erica said...

We all said we would have to educate our kids about platonic relationships. Everyone educates their kids in their own way. If you try to advise against these relationships then I don't see how putting a kid in a separate school is the same thing as saying "no no no" it's just reinforcing what you are teaching at home. If you say "no no no" at home, yes that can backfire.

I'm saying we have to educate our kids in our own way that we feel will work for them while re-inforcing our chinuch by choosing a school that supports our own ideals.

I also think people can learn healthy male/female interactions without going to a co-ed school. It's not a make it or break it thing. At a point when people to out into the world and must have male / female interactions, I'm sure they can develop these in a healthy way - despite the fact that they didn't go to a co-ed high school.

8:37 AM, March 10, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...


Agreed. I don't think co-ed schools are the only place to foster normal male/female interactions. But, if the best choice of schools for my child is a co-ed one, they will also gain these interactions. If, however, the best option is a single sex school, then I would want my child involved in some sort of youth group (not NCSY) like Bnei Akiva to gain these interactions.

8:40 AM, March 10, 2006

Blogger Lanie said...

Let's not all forget the famous "Chanoch L'Naar Al Pi Darco" (or however that transliterates). I think that we should all just be open minded in terms of recognizing that one day our kids might have different needs than what we envision for them. Shua, Alanlaz - what if one of your boys really wanted to go to Ner Israel for high school, or for whatever reason needed to go that route? Or, what if those of us who ultimately envison having our kids in a non-coed environment have a kid that for whatever reason will thrive best in a school that has boys and girls? We need to be careful to remember to have flexibility with our kids to ensure that they are happy, healthy individuals. I'm talking from both ends of the spectrum here.

8:53 AM, March 10, 2006

Blogger AlanLaz said...

Good point. I guess I am talking about in a case where my children would fall into the regular, average Joe kid category. Obviously, if it is obvious the kid is a huge masmid from a young age, and that he is going to spend his life in Torah, Ner may be the best option. That being said, I will do my darndest to see that my child is the first masmid from Ner to have smicha from the rosh yeshiva and play professional THAT'S nachas.

9:04 AM, March 10, 2006

Anonymous J said...

Jack Davidov said...
Erica - was that a Mesillas Yesharim reference?

Erica said...
Your guess is as good as mine...

I have nothing pertinent to add on the co-ed/non-co-ed subject, but here you are thinking of the Gemara in Shabbos 13a:

'Ulla, on his return from the college, used to kiss his sisters on their bosoms; others say, on their hands. But he is self-contradictory, for 'Ulla said, Even any form of intimacy is forbidden, because we say, 'Take a circuitous route, O nazirite, but do not approach the vineyard.'

9:16 AM, March 10, 2006

Blogger Shua said...


I agree with a lot of what you're saying. Of course we need to stay flexible and open-minded (both ways). If my kid wanted to go to Ner Israel, I'd need to understand why, though. If it is simply that he'll do better with JUST boys around, I'll try and find a school that has my Hashkafah, but in a single-sex enviornment (not Ner Israel). I'd need to know the following: What does Ner Israel provide that they're not receiving at their current school? Why are they not happy where they're at? What is it that they're truly lacking? I need understand the motivation and the real reason behind the desire. If it is simply to rebel against me, then I have more serious issues to deal with than just a school choice decision. Also, some kids see the inconsistencies in their parents religious behaviors, and therefore want something more "real". Whether that means a kid who comes from parents who consider themselves Modern Orthodox but don't practice much that is orthodox, or kids whose parents consider themselves Yeshivish, but don't do much that is Orthodox.

Again, good points Lanie. Luckily, there are good parents out there who really do try and raise each kid according to their "nature/style".

9:39 AM, March 10, 2006

Anonymous Erica said...


Obviously I agree with you. Each kid is different. Indeed I know plenty of families where some kids go to Rambam while some go to Bais Yaakov or some go to Hebrew Academy while some go to Yeshiva. It depends on your kids, I think I left that out of my previous comment. I will be looking for the best of a non-co-ed school, unless of course one of my children has some other sort of specific need to go to a co-ed school.

10:02 AM, March 10, 2006

Blogger Shua said...


I appreciate your feedback.

My point about saying "don't do this, don't do that" was that using Halachik arguments to convince teens not to do something, is not very effective. I don't think I implied/did not mean to imply that putting your kids in a non-coed school has anything to do with that issue at all (for the record, I am not pro-coed or against it).
Would you agree with the following: The main differences we have is that my first priority is Hashkafah, and yours is whether it is co-ed or not. It IS a make or break it issue for you, and it is not for me.

10:24 AM, March 10, 2006

Anonymous Another option said...

10:44 AM, March 10, 2006

Blogger Shua said...

Another Option,

Beth Tefillah produces many wonderful students. While I don't forsee sending my kids there (more than happy to give you the reasons why), I am very quick to defend BT to others who look down on it.
Being a Rambam supporter, I know too well what it is like to be viewed as "less than optimal" or "less than religious" by some in the Orthodox community.

11:32 AM, March 10, 2006

Anonymous Erica said...


When I said "make it or break it" I was referring to the fact that people can learn healthy male/female interactions without having to go to a co-ed high school.

L'chatchila, I will be looking for a non-co ed school - if it doesn't have the best secular education, I'm fine with that. If that means it's "make it or break it" for me than so be it. I think that if I look for a school with my "hashkafa" it will probably be a non co-ed school.

If for some reason one of my kids needs a different mahalach and must go to a co-ed school, I will look into co-ed options.

Additionally, I think there was some mis-understanding with the "no no no" thing because I 100% agree that you cannot teach children in this way. You have to teach by example first and foremost so that you can minimize the amount of "no no no" that you have to do.

1:05 PM, March 10, 2006

Blogger Shua said...


I'm still not quite clear what your #1 priority is...Hashkafah and co-ed are two different things. For example, Rambam's Hashkafah is NOT co-ed. Their Hashkafah is Torah U'Maddah and it just HAPPENS to be co-ed (for why they are-separate issue, dealing with financial constraints). My #1 priority is Torah U'Maddah. As long as that institution follows those philosophies and the kids are turning out great, anything else is a non-issue for me.

You said: "I think that if I look for a school with my "hashkafa" it will probably be a non co-ed school." I'm not sure what that means. Are you saying that Co-ed IS a Hashkafa? (it is not). Or, are you saying that you DO subscribe to Torah U'Maddah, but that you are willing to compromise that in order to avoid the co-ed issues (which is fine by me--some people feel that way.) Or do you NOT subscribe to Torah U'Maddah at all?
Please understand that I do NOT intend to offend you by asking you these questions, just trying to understand your position.

1:30 PM, March 10, 2006

Blogger Shua said...

As a clarification -- I suppose one could argue that technically speaking CO-ED is a Hashkafah, what I meant is that within the realm of the major Orthodox Hashkafah movements (Torah Im Derech Eretz, Torah U'Maddah, Chassidut, Yeshiva, etc.) CO-ED is not a Hashkafah movement.

1:39 PM, March 10, 2006

Anonymous Erica said...

I'm not offended, we obviously just have two different hashkafos. I mean I'm all for Torah U'maddah, I went to Stern, if that means Torah im Derech Eretz, people having a parnasah and a love for Eretz Yisroel. But, I value non co-education as a part of my hashkafa as well.

I also think that certain parts of the Torah U'maddah hashkafah are not my thing for example in the Rambam handbook, which you can read at, it says that on Yom Yerushalyim, Yom HaAtzmaut, and Yom HaZikaron "Boys should wear navy blue pants and white shirts; girls should wear navy blue skirts and white blouses." I'm all for Israel but I really don't see it neccessary to wear blue and white. This must be important to the school if they put it in their handbook. On the other hand, they also list in their dress code for girls that "short sleeve, (closer to the elbow)" is acceptable. To me wearing sleeves covering the elbow is more important than wearing blue and white on yom yerushalyim. I hope you will see my point.

Anyway I really don't think it benefits anyone to know what my personal hashkafa is because it doesn't really matter. We are all different with different hashkafos and that is why there are a million different schools. I think we will all agree, though, that we want to produce healthy, "normal" kids who stay on the derech and have a mutual respect for all Jews, no matter what the hashkafa.

2:21 PM, March 10, 2006

Blogger Shua said...


Thanks for your explanation. As an aside, I wasn't asking for your Hashkafah because I need to know what your Hashkafah is, rather I was interested in gauging how much importance you place on Hashkafah in general, when choosing a school. Also, I was trying to clarify that CO-ED is NOT a Hashkafah movement, nor is it part of the Torah U'Maddah Hashkafah.
As far as the Rambam manual goes, personally, I'm not a stickler on the details. Close to the elbow, above the elbow, whatever. Blue shirts, white shirts, whatever. Call me a heretic, but, elbow covering is overrated, as you can cover your elbows and still be wearing the tighest shirt and skirt possible. I do agree with you that NO school should be prioritizing ideology before Halacha. However, in my opinion I don't think overall YRambam does. I do see how you can get that impression, though.

I also agree that we all want normal, open-minded children, who love all Jews (not just Orthodox). Unfortunately, this is becoming harder and harder with the extent of the polarization of the Jewish community at large.

I actually don't think we're that different Hashkafically, just have some different opinions on what's important to us.

I very much enjoyed the dialogue.

Laz, my sincere apologies for taking up so much space on your blog the last couple of days.

3:17 PM, March 10, 2006

Anonymous Devorah said...

I have great admiration for all Jewish Day Schools as each one serves an important role in communities they serve. The next comment could likely come from another alternative like the Cardin School and that would be great also. This JT article as wonderful as it is all about pluralism in the way of loving and working with your fellow Jew which is what I hope everyone in this blog considers important and not about issues of halacha. In fact the TA, BY, and Rambams all do this in their own differing ways. Certainly the Yeshiva University Torah U'Mada philosophy which Rambam was founded on is all about this BUT it first and foremost all must start within a guiding light of Halacha and Torah and the secular world is a part of this but cannot play the #1 leading role. It might sound like semantics to some but it is so much more deep philosophically and religiously. In no way though is this a knock on anyone else as all Jewish Schools are essential and serve important roles and serve unique constituencies.

Back to this topic about boys and s according to halacha and all the ramifications is this blogs theme. So far the people within these blogs, no matter what schools they would send their kids to, all believe that boys and girls if they are together need to follow halacha as halacha is #1. Concepts such as yichud, negiah, and tznius are just one small halachic topic of so many that are #1 in these parents and schools minds. The question is methods of teaching that correspond to a parallel teaching of parents. No matter the school, where you do not have the same halachic messages coming from both the schools (during the school day) and the parents (after the school day), you will have confused kids. It makes no difference whether it is a TA saying a boy must wear a white shirt or black hat in school everyday and the child sits at his shabbos table and his parents make fun of it or condemn their principal or vaad hachinuch in front of his kids OR at Rambam when teachers teach tzniut, yichud, and negiah but parents allow their daughter to go with a friend (boy) to a movie, their basements, or other private areas, while dressed in what even the most open minded Orthodox person would admit
was not "exactly tznuis clothing".

Conflicting messages from a school (you name it) and its parents will turn a kid inside out. If only many parents in all these schools who are so willing to blame their schools, their rebbe's, their principals, their vaad hachinuch, etc.. see and accept the damage they do themselves. That would go along way to making for healthier and halachically understanding and well rounded kids.

4:39 PM, March 10, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to comment myself on a few things that have been bothering me, reading these comments:

shua- You seem very intent on saying that by sending your children to YR, they will almost definitely turn out to be good, frum Jews, while one cannot say that about other schools. That is quite an unfair comparison, I feel-while, thank G-d, YR has had all of 5 graduating classes, TA has had about 80 and BY has had abt 50. Just according to simple logistics, of course there will be a greater number of kids who went off the derech from those schools- not to mention the greater size of the classes in TA and BY (at least in BY, maybe not so much TA). also, the way some kids turn out has nothing to due with their MS, HS education. a really yeshivish kid could have had abusive parents and obviously been turned off, regardless of what his school was like, while a MO kid teetering on the edge of orthodoxy in HS could have had an amazing year in Israel and become a Chosid or something. blaming/crediting schools for the way the graduates turn out is not always sensical.

anyway, on the general gist of this thread, YR is not changing as much as everyone makes it out to be. As alanlaz mentioned, they are only separating shabbatons, lunch periods, and a couple more classes-the majority were separate already. regardless, I don't think the changes are enough to change others in Baltimores' mind abt the school. so fine, your girlfriend is in class down the hall and you'll see her walking to your next class in five minutes, as opposed to sitting next to her in class........ does it make that much of a difference? I feel like boys, and to a lesser degree girls as well, are much better off separate during school, as they can get so much more out their learning and activites with rebbeim/teachers when not distracted by the opposite gender. If someone tells you that theyre desensitized to having girls/guys in school, so it doesn't make a difference, they probably never had a chance to be in a single sex environment for school and don't know what they're missing.

9:59 PM, March 12, 2006

Anonymous Devorah said...


Sorry have got to side more on Shua on this one. It is not about size of schools and percentages, it is methods and styles of teaching (in addition to as you said parenting issues). Facts are that the large Orthodox Teens at Risk problem are not coming from the Rambam type schools. Not percentages in these cases but certain schools only.

As to the boy/girl changes at Rambam you are looking at it I think simplisticly. It is not the actual steps that Rambam looks like it is changing but the interaction intensity mindset they are changing to their students and parents. That can be viewed as a major change as the school need not have done it. I have heard that those parents who like that intensity are not happy. Can't be so insignificant if a percentage of Rambam families are unhappy and willing to share that unhappiness.

Rambam should be applauded for taking such a stance which many people feel are in their students and future students best interests and better fulfills a Yeshiva Day School's role.

11:05 PM, March 12, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was only making a point that it is unfair to flat out compare graduates of their respective schools, without any regard for logistics. While you are correct i saying that there are more "at risk" problems coming from certain schools more than others, I do think that there may be other problems that graduates coming from a Rambam type school may have-not everything is perfect and rose colored just because it doesn't come from BY or TA ( I will G-d willing soon be a graduate of YR, so I do have some basis for these opinions).
I may be looking at the boy girl issue from a biased viewpoint- your point about what really is bothering the parents that are unhappy is correct. however, I still do not that think that most parents that sent their children to other schools will suddenly change their minds about YR because a few more things are separate. While the changes are certainly affecting YR parents a lot, I think that the typical BY/TA parents will be affected very little. While I GREATLY admire YR for taking these steps, I don't think it will help their rep in the community as much as they would like.

2:00 PM, March 13, 2006


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