What a Good Bais Yaakov Looks Like

I was happy to receive this email from Ruchama a few weeks ago. Consider it a template of sorts. 

Hi, I am a student  in a well known bais yaakov-type school. Although i enjoy your blog a lot, my high school experience has not been anything like yours. In the school I go to, pretty much any question is answered. The hanhala understands that as teenagers, we are bound to have questions, and our questions deserve answers.

While some might call my school “less yeshivish” in truth the hashkafos are the same as those of any bais yaakov — but they understand that in order to be mechanech today’s generation, some of their teaching methods need to be different. I never remember a teacher refusing to answer a question asked by one of her students (well, only once, but she made it very clear that there was nothing wrong with the question. She was just uncomfortable answering it, and encouraged the student to ask someone else).

Nothing is shoved down our throats, and we are made aware that there are many different ‘right’ ways of serving Hashem. I once spent an entire class period discussing the merits of modern orthodoxy with my historia teacher.  The whole kollel thing? Mentioned once throughout my entire high school career, and the teacher in question was telling us that we’re not all cut out for it.

The decision of college vs seminary is completely left up to us, though any teacher is ready and willing to discuss it. The school makes sure we are aware of all the different angles and considerations, then leaves us to make our own decisions. If we do decide to go to college, they suggest a few half day seminaries, but no pressure.
I only had one teacher who was a little much for us to handle, but no one paid her any attention anyways.
The school makes very clear to us the difference between tznius and school rules- buttoning your tznius button is a must, but tucking in your shirt is a little more negotiable. They understand that they can’t control what we do out of school, so they don’t try. Most girls don’t take advantage of this. The few who do, usually grow out of it.
The hands off approach used by my school really works. They don’t tell you to be someone you’re not, accept you for who you are, and encourage you to grow on your own.
Overall, my high school experience has been positive. I wish there were more high schools out there like mine, although it seems unlikely.
What a Good Bais Yaakov Looks Like

4 thoughts on “What a Good Bais Yaakov Looks Like

  1. 7KLT45 says:

    Then Ruchama’s school is an exception. I attended a few schools over my Jewish academic life and all of them fit the description that this blog gives of a Bais Yaakov. The last one that I attended, a high school, seems to be similar to Ruchamas. It’s considered “chill” and the teachers and students are pretty comfortable around each other and people aren’t pressured into doing things. But when asked questions, they either avoided the questions or gave inadequate responses. As far as I know, the combination of “chillness” and questions remaining unanswered has led to a few students leaving after a few years and no longer observing


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