Sep 17, 2014
Living It Up In the Seminary Years

From the COLlive inbox: A Chabad mother now looks back at her seminary years in Israel and see one aspect in a whole new light.

I had a most wonderful year of learning and growing when I was in seminary in Eretz Yisrael, a number of years ago. We had some amazing teachers. Made deep friendships. Got to know the places and faces of Israel.

But perhaps most exciting was Shabbos. Mostly, I enjoyed the off-Shabbosim, when we got to meet new families, see new places, have interesting experiences.

It started with the phone calls to potential hosts. Some families are known to be amazing hosts or live in more exotic locales. Those had to be called way in advance. And there were some weeks that we had no place to go. We frantically made calls to random strangers from the Dapei Chabad, asking for a place to stay. Sometimes, it was Thursday night and we still had no place to go. Eventually, we figured something out. But sometimes it was awkward. Sometimes scary.

Weíd show up at their homes with a gift Ė the bottle of wine or rugelach from Marzipan or whatever. Not that we really expected to be treated royally, we just were so self absorbed in having seminary experiences that we didnít really think about the host and their family.

We didnít realize that we had displaced 4 little kids so we could have their bedroom. We didnít realize that coming an hour before Shabbos and expecting all of us sem girls to take a shower was more than a bit chutzpadik. We didnít fully understand that they had gone beyond their budget to feed us. We were thinking about ourselves. And what we could tell the others after Shabbos.

Well, now I live in Eretz Yisrael. With my little family. And the phone calls have started. The seminary girls are back in town.

Now I do know how inconvenient it is to move kids from their bedroom. I do know that an hour before Shabbos is chaos time and bathtime, and there really isnít time for the girls to take a shower. Now I do really appreciate how much food costs. Now I do understand that while hosting is wonderful it is also exhausting.

The girls really do gain from their Shabbos adventures. They get to meet all kinds of different inspirational people. People who deal with all sorts of challenges, come from different backgrounds. Itís part of their growth in seminary.

But somehow, we - my Anglo friends and I, and even some Israelis - feel that the burden of those experiences falls on us.

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Opinions and Comments
Who are you addressing?
Who are you trying to reach with this letter? Many of the girls do NOT enjoy having to scramble for a place and live with strangers every Shabbos. And given how much the parents are paying - close to $20,000!! - there is no reason for the seminaries not to provide meals for Shabbos every single week. You and your friends should take this up with the seminaries. It's not something the girls have any control over. Most of them would PREFER not to burden you.
(9/17/2014 10:15:16 PM)
Point being?
What is the point of the author here. What is the logical conclusion that she demands?

That seminaries fund these shabbos adventures? That parents do?

It is not that hard to point out flaws in the manner in which people behave themselves. When one takes to the keyboard to bring light to a concern, it is done with the hope that the publication of their thoughts will lead to a betterment of the current situation.

I did not see or "smell" any type of conclusion of this article. It broadly mentioned several ongoing problems, and while I may identify as much as I can with this author - of whom it may be said is an amazing hostess - no direction or clue is given as to how to rectify this.
(9/17/2014 10:16:58 PM)
understood 100%
so what should seminary girls do ?
(9/17/2014 10:21:08 PM)
girls need a course in sem
Part of the classes should be how to be a mentch when be a host. to take you out of being so self absorbed and making you realize others are going out of their way for you, financially, emotionally...and with the sem getting $18,000 tuition from the americans, if I was you ithe anglo israeli, I would ask the school to help cover some of the costs. When the girls have an off shabbos it cost the sem nothing which is wrong!!!
(9/17/2014 10:29:03 PM)
Yes girls have to appreciate appreciate and appreciate !!!
(9/17/2014 10:36:56 PM)
happens in camp too
counselors don't see those things either. They are so self absorbed in having "a great time ", they don't stop to think for 1 minute the burden and toll it takes on the shluchim
(9/17/2014 10:37:53 PM)
umm, what about the crown heightsers?
what about us here in crown heights who host the israeli girls year after year every Tishrei. The moving out of bedrooms, the shower line, the flooded basements, the extra expense for food....been there, done that!
(9/17/2014 10:50:09 PM)
I Don't Think You Changed
It was what's in it for you.

Now that you have your own Family. You don't really want to be the host. you want to avoid it

please Explain??
(9/17/2014 11:17:34 PM)
# 4
what are you talking about ..that is the most ridiculous thing - really ?!? soo offensive must think you are better than us ..where does that attitude come from
(9/17/2014 11:26:34 PM)
Before you start bashing!!
My daughter is now in one of these Sems and was told by her hanholo .. Sem does not close down for Shabbos.. One may always stay and they will arrange all her Shabbis needs.. So don't bash the Sems... It's a peer pressure thing to go to families on an off Shabbos...
(9/17/2014 11:34:30 PM)
I can relate...
As a camp counselor we totally used to show up late to suppers- hours late! Sometimes cancelled a few hrs later too... Totally didnt realize or apreciate the work that was put into hosting us. Only yrs later after starting my own family did i look back in horror about my lack of menchlichkeit back then- and i wish someone who have pointed it out and taught me back then- we were a group of normal , good girls - yet we somehow lacked this basic respect in this area.
(9/17/2014 11:54:22 PM)
Simple simon
Each group should bring a check from the seminary to the host family.
By the way look what the girls do for the families.
Help with children read books ect. They are not coming for a free ride. The girls are not selfish. They are a big help to the families they go to. Kol hakavod. The girls are great
(9/18/2014 12:26:34 AM)
Nobody here seems to understand the stresses of raising a family on Israel. It is quite strange that the seminaries expect girls to arrange their own shabbosos, and the host families have to cover the costs. As they stay how do you live in Israel with $100,00? Come with $1M
(9/18/2014 1:03:55 AM)
Well thanks for nothing!
As a mother of one of the girls in seminary in Israel this year, I am thankful that I gave her a list of relatives and close family freinds to tap into! With there family's on the other side of the world, most of these girls away from home for such a long period of time, for the first time in their lives, and this is the welcome to Eretz Yisroel they get!!!! U did it, the class befor u did it and the class after these girls will do it!!! If u can't greet them with open arms and a genuine smile DON'T! They feel it and see it in your actions! It is hard enough for them to make the phone calls don't make it uncomfortable for them to enjoy the peaceful shabbos that they r looking forward to spending and experiencing with a new family in a new place, this is there adventure! Don't ruin it for them! I hope u have a change of heart, remember u were on the other end of the phone not that long ago. And yes they should appreciate and yes they should get up and help, and they will we hope, but until then smile and take a deep breath:-) And I want to thank U ahead of time from the bottom of my heart, that if my daughter is the one to call you for a place to eat or sleep or both, remember that if it was your daughter what would U want someone else to do? Have a safe and peaceful shabbos and a gut g'benched yur.
(9/18/2014 1:23:03 AM)
Above and Beyond
The hachnosas orchim of crown-heightsers year round, Israelis, and many others is truly amazing!! It is a great form of tzedakah and ahavas chinam. May Hashem bentch every one of you hostesses and hosts with brochos ad bli dai! Gedola Tzedaka shemikareves es hageula
(9/18/2014 1:34:30 AM)
you have learn only part of the lesson
I live in Eretz Isroel and have seminary girls coming to us for shabes for over 15 years, besides eveything you wrote, there are three more points that are very important:
1) usually the girls call and ask for 2 girls to come, and then they call again and ask if they can add another 2, and some times until friday it happends that they appear with up to 10 girls.
2) most of the girls (over 60%) do not lift a finger to help not even take her own plate from the table. Some of them while we are in the kitchen preparing salads etc, they sit at the chair with their feet up having a great time talking!
3) they are very chassidish girls, they bring with them the weekly Dvar Malchus and other publications that they bring back from shul, but dont bother to take it back with them when they leave, so my mitsva from Hachnossas Orchim is extended until sunday when i have to take it all to the Gniza.

Chassidus teaches us to do Mitsvos not because is a pleasure but only because we have to do Hashem's will, thanks to this girls, we are merit to do hachnossas orchim as real chassidim, not because its a pleasure, but only because it's Hashem's will.
(9/18/2014 1:55:28 AM)
The Point
The point is, have some mentschlichkeit and respect. Don't call on Thursday, call on Sunday. Say thank you, offer to help, speak with respect when asking on the phone.


"Hey, so a bunch of my friends and I need a place to crash..."

"I know its last minute but could I stay for shabbos, Oh great so im gonna bring a friend too"... followed by a call half hour later "so my friends heard I found a place and they are gonna eat with us by you, that's fine right?"

The argument of "they pay $18,000, take it up with the seminary" is irrelevant, its not about the money. Its the attitude. BH we also get calls from many NON LUBAVITCH seminary girls, who only speak with utmost respect (dont call me and are eager to help.
(9/18/2014 2:28:36 AM)
Is the SEMINARY at all being questioned on this?? Parents are you there??
I am involved in one of the Moisdos in Israel and the 18,000.00 dollar cost for seminary amounts to approx. 336.00 shekel a day for each girl!
(Calculation based on actual months in the Seminary if they would actually be there for a full 7 days each week. )
At that exorbitant fee, how is it that the Sem. is not providing the best of the best in room and board every single day including Shabbos so that the girls are not in this awkward situation and as well imposing on families who are themselves struggling day to day?
We here in Israel know that it does not ever cost 336 shekel a day per girl in Sem. by any stretch of the imagination in all cases, and if the Sem. is not fully transparent and not giving a "din v'chesbon" for this (it is Erev Rosh Hashana too), the big question then is to the Parents!
Would you ever think of paying such amounts to your local moisdos?
What kind of message are we sending to our girls?
In the name of CHINUCH? Is this what our Rebbe wants? Can you imagine what the more openly honest Moisdos in your hometown would do with even a fraction of that money per day?
I don't know if this is sad or funny but do you really think that when you put your daughter on a plane to Israel, her daily consumption and needs change so drastically and cost a hotel rate of close to 100 dollars a day?
And as a result does the same sensitive daughter you raised at home suddenly become undiscerning and insensitive when coming for a year of Sem.?
All this is NOT what the Rebbe had in mind when encouraging Seminary Education for girls!
The Rebbe cared about real chinuch and preparation of future Imahot, the Rebbe was concerned about careful responsibility and honesty in regards to money, (as well he always advised individuals not to go into "choivos" and impossible loans/interest etc.), and the Rebbe wanted everything to always be with a true Kiddush Shem Shomayim, Simcha, respect, consideration, and Ahavas Yisroel in every way for all involved.
Please tune in and take to heart for our children's sake and for a better future. They are as well also the future leaders and the ones that will be heading the Moisdos in years to come.
We want them to be kind, sensitive, honest, humble, and true future role models in every way.
Ksiva V'Chasima Tova
May we merit the Geulah HoAmitis V'HaShleima with the coming of MOSHIACH TZIDKEINU NOW!
(9/18/2014 5:46:47 AM)
missing the point
The author is saying that as a married person the tables are turned. She now realises what a challenge it was to be a guest at someones place. She only now has an appreciation of what a hostess goes through. I do not think she is saying this in a resentful manner.
(9/18/2014 6:00:03 AM)
Good of you for all you do! But we also learn when it is not with a full heart....... is it the full Mitzvah? Your also allowed with kind words to ask the girls to help you. We are all responsible to be Mechanech them.
(9/18/2014 7:32:29 AM)
This would be a good time
to discuss the way Israeli's treat us when they come for Tishrei!
(9/18/2014 8:03:33 AM)
The seminaries must take over responsibility for Shabbosos. Either pay the hosting families or require the girls to stay home. It's one thing to have guests for a meal, but to sleep over, in tiny Israeli apartments? Wow
(9/18/2014 8:30:15 AM)
my daughter just came back
in other seminaries in Israel it is the same problem finding a place for shabbos and yomtov BUT the dorms and kitchen never closes and the girls have the option of staying in the sem to eat even on yomtov and PESACH, except they like to go out to see families.
(9/18/2014 8:36:41 AM)
Love when girls come.
Usually they offer to make the salads which is a tremendous help cuz me and daughters are worn out by friday night.
I stopped making their beds. They put the sheets on and strip them motzei shabbos. That took off a big stress! You can even ask them to bring their own and you won't have extra laundry.
Often they do the dishes and we feel like we are the guests.
Once a girl polished my silver!!!
You have to learn to accept their help or ask for it.
Sometime you just can't have guests. Thats fine. So say no! But dont blame them for asking!
Gutten erev Shabbos!
(9/18/2014 9:04:19 AM)
Truth is..
Going to seminary is the stage in life when girls begin to grow out of their self-absorbed years as a child. It's the natural process. Some more and some less but that's the reality. It's part of growing up.
And like every situation, until we experience it ourselves, we don't really get it.
Like you said, only now do you understand the other side of the picture, and they will too one day.
Regarding doing things with resentment, no one appreciates your actions because your resentment is felt by the recipient.
If you're not able to host. Say no. If girls don't think to help, sweetly ask for a little help. It's part of their chinuch. If you can have 2 girls and not 4, say so. If showering last minute doesn't work for you, ask them to come showered.
Be open, they'll appreciate it.
No one wants a favor from someone harboring resentment.
And if you are able to host, enjoy the mitzvah of hachnosas orchim.
(9/18/2014 9:33:34 AM)
The whole Israel seminary thing is out of control
They DO NOT turn out:
-More responsible.
-Hard working


This year takes nice girls and turns them into selfish brats; even their ''chasidishkeit' is selfish.

Its basically a year of adventure on their parents back and the back of these weekend hosts in Israel.

It teaches an 'es kumt mir' attitude, does not help engender fiscal responsibility, kindness or self-reliance. They become good travelers and excellent moochers.

Thank G-d, my husband had the sense to resist this trend and my daughters studied and grew in seminaries that were cheaper, closer and fostered more responsibility and independence. They are solid wonderful girls and asset to their husbands and chabad houses.

This seminary in Israel thing is equivalent to the American College Experience which is about having fun, pushing boundaries and being totally spoiled and unprepared for life.
If I lived in Israel, I would not force my kids out of their beds for ungrateful, spoiled US kids, who think they have everything coming. I would save that for true hachnosas orchim. Let the seminaries pay for shabbos or let the girls give back to the families. It would be better for their own self development.

How is a year of mooching off your parents and strangers a good preparation for marriage? Maybe that's why there is so much shalom bayis issues with young couples today? Their 'education' trained them to look out for no. 1, to always expect a good time, without having to do anything in return.

Time to wake up.
(9/18/2014 9:53:40 AM)
Don't agree
I too live in Israel and have seminary girls at our house. (this week for example.) we always love hosting and the girls are always appreciative.
(9/18/2014 10:14:27 AM)
I don't get it
Is this entire article about asking girls not to shower an hour before shabbos?
(9/18/2014 10:56:47 AM)
Well, I am glad that I sent my daughter to Melbourne for Sem. She came to town without knowing a soul there. No relatives etc.. However, she grew close to many families and had more invitations for Shabbos & Yom Tov than she could accept.
(9/18/2014 11:16:39 AM)
No need to judge or ridicule those who find it difficult....
I doubt it is a lack of Hachnossas Orchim or that people do not want to grab every chance to do a Mitzvah - People are sometimes quietly extending themselves in so many ways while going through many unseen challenges...
The point is really as stated over and over again - besides the fact that the girls should definitely be sensitive, polite, appreciative, and helpful - what is going on with our chinuch and value system?
Good to read the above comments # 18 (and 26 even if a bit blunt - the truth sometimes is harder to face...)
(9/18/2014 11:57:15 AM)
(9/18/2014 12:14:38 PM)
This is for the parents of sem girls...
Am I the only one who understood that this article is addressed to the mothers and fathers, asking them to explain to their daughters what being a good guest means? Money, help, and hot water are in short supply almost everywhere. Asking to bring an entire crew of friends along is impolite. The article is quite helpful as a teaching tool.
(9/18/2014 12:55:22 PM)
Nothing to do with seminary
The author is pointing out the behavior of girls these days. I am running a day camp for over 25 years. The "me" generation gets worse each year. It is not even totally their fault. They are so engrossed in themselves and making sure to have a great time so they can tell all their friends , that they simply are not looking at reality! I do not pity myself , I pity them. They will be so shocked when they EY"H get married and raise a family. That is what the author is saying.
(9/18/2014 1:15:57 PM)
Ask for help
Something I learned from being a guest and from hosting.
It may be uncomfortable to help the guest, you don't know the language, you afraid to do it wrong, etc. etc. I have been on that end. BUT as a host, in order to enjoy myself and not feel taken advantage of and resentful, if they ask what they can do, I TELL THEM exactly how I can use their help.

When you clear the table, ask for two girls to help you clear. Gently make them aware that you need their help. They will happily help.
(9/18/2014 1:59:18 PM)
ask for help
as a crown heighters who has lots of guests often, and bein young so no kids to help me,
ive learned toask and accept eh guests help. so i enjoy them, adn they enjoy coming.
no need to feel resentful (although i dont think the author did)
its training the boys mostly-- to help out
(9/18/2014 2:37:01 PM)
you decide
Maybe when it gets too much for you, say no. Speak to your husband or mashpia and come up with a plan like having girls every second week or once a month etc, when you actually able to enjoy their company. They should not come before you taking care of your own family, and yourself of course so you will be a better giver.
I dont think the girls mean to put extra stress on families so you are not doing them a favor by sayingyes when you are not up to it.
(9/18/2014 7:00:50 PM)
Stranded on shabbos in sem
I was in seminary in Lod a few years ago and we were absolutely NOT ALLOWED to stay in seminary over shabbos. It was incredibly stressful if you didn't have family or close friends you could go to. We often ended up crashing in nice single girls apts and buying our own food just because we couldn't find families to go to, and because it was also incredibly awkward to ask strangers to host us. We did bring gifts, and help etc. but it was awful being desperate as the end of the week came closer and you didn't have plans. Not only did the seminary not help us find places to go or allow us to stay at sem, but we could easily get in trouble if we stayed somewhere that wasn't up to their standards. Over sukkot, we had to find places to stay for over a week. Sem was not an option. After sukkot, we came back to sem and were interrogated by the hanhallah about where everyone had spent sukkot and was it appropriate etc. Seminary was an incredible waste of time and money.
(9/18/2014 9:16:44 PM)
Say no!
I grew up in an open house ... Guests all the time . As the dear in my family I had to help out a lot. It was very hard work . Now I'm married and I so no to guests . I'm burnt out. My husband is also the oldest of a very large family so he had similar experience to me. We are so glad to be on the same page and sit around the shabbos yom tov table just us and our kids.

Living in CH people really put the pressure on us and try to put us on a guilt trip but it doesn't work for us so I simply say no.
(9/18/2014 9:40:57 PM)
You Do NOT need to say yes
If you choose to be a host, you know what it comes with

Just say NO if it is inconvienient!

As for shluchim& day camp:
Counselors are very often treated like slave need to feed these girls/boys on shabbos! The chutzpah is of the shluchim not to take care of their staff & rely on the community!

(9/18/2014 11:17:15 PM)
How Ironic!
Not that the author is wrong however I do find it ironic coming from an "Israeli" being that the tides have turned so did the attitude.
I think as Crown Heighters, we all know the expense, exhaustion and hassle that comes with guest especially tishrei, (yet the amount of chessed that goes into is something that always amazes me.) Lets not forget all that comes with opening your home and life to total strangers. Even though many guest who at times feel it is owed to them. Now I still feel its a great mitzva and amazing thing that happens in our community, however it just shocks me when you hear people, especially "Israelis", whom many do take it for granted when coming to CH, but complain when someone comes to them, to their house etc. Not as welcoming as they make themselves by others. Many times those people that complain, in that very same conversation, you mention CH, and they'll tell you that CH is different. "There its OK"..
I guess there "its OK" to crash someones house, use their showers, move entire families around on the floor, giving up their beds and adding the large expense of just trying to survive.

Again no one is forced to open their homes, (you can always say no) and the ones that do, do not deserve to be stepped on or be unappreciated...its just hearing an "Israeli" saying how, basically "American girls" are rude unappreciative, add to such financial burden....etc just doesn't sit right...How about keep it in mind when the "American" boys or girls come to your part of town.
(9/19/2014 12:23:00 AM)
It's up to the Parents and the Sem/Yeshiva
Tell your kids to be polite, bring something (even 20 NIS worth of flowers) as a token of appreciation, be helpful and be neat.
Most students in Eretz Yisrael like the opportunity of going away once in a while - THE SEM/YESHIVA SHOULD BE OPEN AND HAVE FOOD EVERY SHABBOS because it isn't always easy for the kids to find places to go so often and/or for so long (Sukkos!!). Parents can help with the phone calls from a distance if you have friends/relatives, and there are also many affordable gift delivery places (flowers/chocolate) in Israel that you can call from the States and have delivered to the host.
Girls should definitely shower in advance. I'd rather shower in my own bathroom Thursday night, than Friday in some stranger's.....

Re: CH hosts. Yes we host but we are not necessarily hosting the children of the same family our kids may be going to in Israel for Shabbos. I once had 12 boys sleeping by us for 2 weeks during Tishrei. Only 1 mother called from Israel (Tzfat) to express her appreciation. I did not know any of these kids. She took the time to get my number from her son.
We once had a 15 yr old whose glasses broke on the plane. He arrived to CH dizzy, not able to see clearly, and with no place to stay besides 770 benches. A bochur who had already "taken up residence" at our house brought him over. My husband gave him money for glasses and directed him to See View. The boy thanked us - but B"H he has parents!?
When parents send their kids overseas - it is our job as parents to also thank the people who host and help our kids feel comfortable.
(9/19/2014 2:35:15 AM)
Well, then
you and your friends were kind of selfish. Because I also live in Israel, and I also learned here in seminary, and we ALWAYS asked our hosts what time would be convenient for us to come. We also tried to shower before we came, and if it was a long trip we asked the hosts if we should shower before we came or if we could shower there.
They always gave honest answers.
We did bring the standard gifts, because we didn't really know what else to bring, and we felt bad for displacing the kids, if we weren't sharing the room with them.

What can I say...
I guess you and your friends were kind of spoiled. And the best part of my seminary experience was that I gained a rav, who I introduced to my husband, and he happens to be a former teacher of my husband's former rav. And gave my husband a heter hora'a.
I also did a lot of independent learning that year and learned how to get along with JAPs.
So those were probably the best parts of my seminary experience.

Would I do seminary again? Nope.
Was it good for me? Yep.

And we just signed up on AnywhereInIsrael - because we don't have enough guests and we finally have a budget to feed them.
(9/19/2014 10:00:17 AM)
Are you a yeras shemayim
If you believe in g-d you wouldn't worry about the money aspect He pays you back for anything spent lekavod shabbos
(9/21/2014 12:28:40 AM)
To #43
You don't know halacha - asei shabatcha kchol v'al titztarech el habriyot.
Plus take a look in hilchot tzedaka and the Magen Avraham on Orach Chaim 242.
There are only very specific circumstances where you rely on Hashem paying you back for what you spend lekavod Shabbat, and also there has to be HOW Hashem can pay you back b'derech hateva. If you want to be mechabed Shabbat but you are short on money then it's already in the geder of l'hamit b'chol kdei l'chabed et hashabbat.
(9/21/2014 2:44:46 AM)
my daughter was unique
When she was in Tsfat she noted the poverty and organized a drive to buy beds and basics for the families that she was asdigned to do chesed with. Train your children to look out for someone in pain or need and reach out and make a real difference even if it is not the norm.
(9/21/2014 9:16:51 PM)
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