Saturday, January 02, 2010

What An Interesting Concept... An Open Minded School

Eeees and I have an 8th grader, who, for blogging purposes, is named George. As you can imagine, we've been looking at various high schools for George. Usually, George accompanied us to these open houses so that he could see what the school was like, but there was one open house to which we did not take him. Sadly, George was sick that day.

As it turned out, Eeees and I were somewhat impressed with what we saw that day. We were a bit sad that George missed the open house as it seemed like the type of school that would be just right for him.

Fortunately, the school held a "Spend the Day" program this past week for potential incoming students. And so, I drove George to the school for Shacharis that morning. Since I was in the neighborhood, I also stuck around for davening as well.

While I watched the students enter the shul and get ready for davening, I noticed something very interesting -- the lack of uniformity among the kids. Some wore hats and jackets with white shirts. Others wore hats or jackets. Some didn't wear either. Some kids had the big black velvet yarmulkes. Some had leather yarmulkes. Some had knitted. One kid had the large knitted cap that some sephardim wear. While all the boys wore button-down shirts, some wore white, while other wore colored shirts. Some even had stripes (sometimes of numerous colors).

I found it very interesting that this school is willing to accept (and seemingly embraces) kids from a wide variety of derachim (paths). In addition, it seems that they are willing to let each kid be who he is and not try to force him into a mold that he might not be comfortable with.

Quite refreshing to see. I think we might have a winner here.*

The Wolf

*Not for that reason alone, of course... but the seeming open-mindedness was a nice surprise.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

A school that doesn't require hats and jackets? Es pas nisht.
But seriously, it's impressive that high schoolers who aren't required wear them.

Devorah said...

Sounds like a school I'd like too. No such option here in Sydney, unfortunately....

Asher said...

I'm glad you found such a place. It reminds me of being at the kotel years ago and seeing some men in hats and jackets, others with plain clothes and knitted yarmulkes, and yet others in army fatigues - all davening to Hashem. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful sight.

ProfK said...

Sounds like a school where achdus may actually be a governing principle. Unusual to say the least.

Aaron S. said...

An Open Minded School? Sounds like Open Orthodoxy. Is Avi Weiss involved?

I trust one of the wide variety of derachim they are open minded about is the Reform and Conservative derech.

BrooklynWolf said...

Aaron,

It is an *Orthodox* school. Likewise, it's a boys school, and as such they aren't so "open minded" to allow girls.

The Wolf

Aaron S. said...

Avi also calls his denomination *Orthodox*.

Besides, you are aren't a close-minded right-winger hypocritically opposed to the Reform and Conservative derachim, while demanding "tolerance" for all forms of derachim that claim the Orthodox banner.

Right?

BrooklynWolf said...

Aaron,

I know next to nothing ab out Avi Weiss and Open Orthodoxy, so I can't really comment on that one way or the other.

Nonetheless, if a school bills itself as an Orthodox school, then I don't see why it's hypocritical to reject non-Orthodox. It's no different than a Satmar school opening for Satmar kids only.

If the school billed itself as openly accepting all Jews and then only accepted Orthodox, I could see your point. But the school makes it plain that it is affiliated with the Orthodox movement, I don't have a problem with them restricting acceptance to those of that affiliation.

The Wolf

Aaron S. said...

>>"Nonetheless, if a school bills itself as an Orthodox school, then I don't see why it's hypocritical to reject non-Orthodox."

>>"If the school billed itself as openly accepting all Jews and then only accepted Orthodox, I could see your point. But the school makes it plain that it is affiliated with the Orthodox movement, I don't have a problem with them restricting acceptance to those of that affiliation."

And if a school bills itself as a black hat/white shirt school, then you do have a problem with them restricting acceptance to those of that affiliation?

P.S. Satmar accepts non-Satmar - including non-Chasidic - children. Often, tuition-free.

BrooklynWolf said...

Aaron,

Do I have a problem with them restricting admission based on those terms? No, I don't have a problem. But I won't send my kid there, becuase I don't want a "mold" kid -- but for those who do, fine.

And I thank you for setting the record straight on Satmar. I was not aware of that.

The Wolf

Ariella said...

Hatzlacha with the school. I think I know which one it is, but as you did not name it, I won't hazard to guess it here.

Lion of Zion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lion of Zion said...

i worked in satmar's boro park elementary school in college (worst experience of my life). student body was definately not all satmar. of course no srugies, but different hasidic groups.

interesting that you hone in on students' dress as a measure of the school's openess. i think it's important, but i'd be even more interested in diversity among the teachers/administrators (e.g., are they all RW kollelniks) and diverstity among post HS choices (does the school push yeshiva in israel cum yu/touro). i look at my son's elementary school. while the students are diverse, the teachers are RW.

"the school makes it plain that it is affiliated with the Orthodox movement, I don't have a problem with them restricting acceptance to those of that affiliation."

it's easier to keep non-orthos on the margins of the jewish world and to continue looking down on them than to accept them and be mekarev them to yiddishkeit. (i'm *not* saying this is your attitude, but i find this to be a very common "not in my backyard" attitude among orthos)

best of luck with wherever george goes.

Jonathan said...

Is there a reason you won't tell us which school it is?

Lion of Zion said...

if it's in brooklyn, i'm also curious which school. i'll be looking for one in 7 years. (if they'll take my ilk.)

also, what's the tuition like?

BrooklynWolf said...

Jonathan & Ariella,

Email me.

LOZ,

Sadly, it's not in Brooklyn. Tuition is high, but I don't know what the "final number" will be yet until we go through the process.

The Wolf

Lion of Zion said...

good luck. personally i'm a big believer that you get what you pay for in life, including education.

Jewish Atheist said...

LOL. I'm sorry I have to laugh at what you consider "open-minded." Why not send your son to a non-denominational school that has Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and even some secular students? Some of them still exist.

Or does your open-mindedness only apply to those on your right? :-)

BrooklynWolf said...

JA,

Fair enough. You're entitled to laugh.

Nonetheless, we want him to have an Orthodox education, so that's the minimum standard we're willing to consider.

The Wolf

Dave said...

Why seek based on your "minimum standard" rather than your maximum standard/potential?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you found a school you like. However, it's curious that you don't know what the tuition is. Isn't there a stated tuition and then a determination as to how much scholarship you might be eligible for?

JRS said...

wow. tough crowd! Wolf made an innocuous, positive-sounding statement about a school appearing to have an open-minded approach, as evidenced by the varied clothing of the students---and we all know how much importance is placed on that these days, right or wrong, so the apparent liberal attitude toward dress mode says a lot---and the crowd goes wild, faulting his post for failing to adequately stress religious diversity to the nth degree... to the suspicious fact that he didn't yet know the precise tuition amount!

Jewish Atheist said...

First time on the internet, JRS? ;-)

JRS said...

"First time on the internet, JRS? ;-) "

cute. but no, it just struck me anew in this case, where, in spite of it all, I thought, what could someone *possibly* find in this post to kvetch about? (other than the shocking notion of a broad-minded yeshiva)