Principles of Education for Jewish Girls (Part 2)



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    הצלה 1290

    Principles of Education for Jewish Girls (Part 2)

    I was hired to develop a curriculum for our local Chabad girls high school. I have heard different things and I was searching for clarity (with sources) on these three questions: What is the Rebbe’s opinion about teaching girls: 1) Gemara 2) Chassidus 3) Limudei Chol (secular subjects)? Read More

    Question:

    I was hired to develop a curriculum for our local Chabad girls high school. I have heard different things and I was searching for clarity (with sources) on these three questions: What is the Rebbe’s opinion about teaching girls: 1) Gemara 2) Chassidus 3) Limudei Chol (secular subjects)?

    Answer:

    In our previous article, we discussed the first two parts of your question, namely, learning Gemara and Chassidus with girls. In this article, we will discuss the third — and very important and sensitive — part of your question: Limudei Chol (secular subjects) for girls. I would like to thank Beis Chaya Mushka of Crown Heights for making available and public much of the Rebbe’s positions on this topic.

    “Scared the Child will speak English with a Yiddish Accent”

    We all know (and we discussed this in article #11 of this series) that the Rebbe strongly advocated and campaigned for “Chinch Al Taharas Hakodesh” — void of any secular subjects. The following is an excerpt of the Farbrengen of Simchas Torah 5715:

    “Ideally, when a Jewish child walks in the street, people should be able to tell he is a Jew from a great distance away, for “Yisrael” is a term of distinction. Instead, however, people are ashamed of their identity. When the Jewish child becomes Bar Mitzvah and begins to put on tefillin — of which the Torah states “And all the people of the land shall see that the name of Hashem is called upon you, and they shall fear you,” and he has the power that the greatest of the gentiles shall be subservient to him — then, the parent takes the child and makes sure that the place on the head where the tefillin rests will be covered over with hair [imitating a gentile hairstyle]. Where is the fortitude and pride that a Jewish person should have? 

    “The parent is afraid that when the child walks in the street and has to ask for directions, he will speak English with a Yiddish accent and it will be noticeable that he is a Jew. And so, he teaches him English and all the other secular subjects, contaminating his young mind!

    “During the first three years that a child begins to learn—years that provide the foundation for all his future success—the parent takes the child and contaminates him with English, grammar, etc. It would be a good thing if the adults didn’t know about these things, certainly not the children until nine years old, until twelve years old, and I would like to say until even olde, but “one who gets too greedy ends up with nothing.”

    This Farbrengen was the impetus behind the founding of Oholei Torah by Reb Michoel Teitelbaum A”H.

    What About Girls?

    Our question is: does the above apply to girls as well or is it only about boys. The following are a few answers of the Rebbe:

    1. A little while after this Farbrengen, the legendary shliach to Pittsburgh Rabbi Sholom Posnerhad a Yechidus with the Rebbe. The following is what he shared from the Yechidus: “I asked the Rebbe Shlita: (a) If the above matters apply to Pittsburgh. (b) If they are also relevant to girls. The Rebbe answered that all claims to the contrary are the counsel of the evil inclination, and there is no difference between boys and girls, and between New York and Pittsburgh, etc.”
    2. It was heard that Rabbi Y. L. Zeitlinfrom Montreal asked the Rebbe Shlita if there is a difference between boys and girls in connection with being careful about learning secular studies. The Rebbe answered: “Even though there is a difference regarding the laws of Torah study [i.e., that girls don’t have an issue of bittul Torahwhen studying secular subjects], still, regarding the defilement of the mind with secular studies, there is no difference between boys and girls.
    3. In 5725, Rabbi Berel Shemtovשיחי’ (shliach to Detroit) spoke with the Rebbe during a yechidus. On that occasion he asked regarding his efforts to teach children only Jewish subjects: His question was: since he has two boys of three-years-old and a girl, of five-years-old, should he hire a tutor for half the day so that they won’t have to learn secular studies? The Rebbe answered affirmatively and added that certainly the students would increase, and “Though your beginning was small, your end will be greatly increased.” People will see you and will do the same. Rabbi Shemtov said that this began the Cheder Oholei Yosef Yitzchok in Detroit.

    Considering these stories and many more, I think the answer to your question is clear.

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    Principles of Education for Jewish Girls (Part 2)



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