"Any parent planning on making a Bar Mitzvah Simcha must speak to me first before any plans are made."
"Any boy caught going to a movie theathre will be expelled from the Yeshiva."
These are just some of the tidbits that came along with the rules and regulations for my sons' Yeshiva. I suppose I shouldn't complain... I haven't been forced to sign a contract that states that I don't have a TV or that my wife and I keep separate beds or that we only use Chassideshe schita meats.
I find it amazing how much of our personal lives we cede when we send our kids to Yeshiva. I'm not talking about things like dress codes. I'm talking about clauses that regulate how *parents* behave in their homes, such as requiring that parents not even own a television or go to the movies (regardless of whether or not the kids are involved). Of course, one can simply lie to the yeshiva, but that really sidesteps the issue - that a yeshiva feels that they can make this sort of demand on parents in the first place.
Of course, I realize that a yeshiva is a private institution and, as a private institution, from a legal standpoint, can make any rule it wishes. If they wanted to, they could mandate that my wife and I go around in bumblebee costumes all the time and, if we want our kids to attend, we have to comply or leave the yeshiva.
I'm curious as to why we allow our kids' yeshivos to assume this kind of authority over our lives. My guess would be that it is due to the lack of competition among yeshivos. While it is true that there are umpteen yeshivos in Brooklyn, the reality is that, for any individual household, there are probably only two or three that they would really consider sending their kids to. The rest are just about as foreign (and possibly even more so) than a public school would be. For example, I would never send my kids to a Satmar yeshiva, nor would I send them to a co-ed school like Yeshiva of Flatbush. My gut feeling is that most families also have their "type" where they will send their kids and would not consider any other except in the most unusual of circumstances.
I'm wondering if this can also help explain the tuition situation. The fact is that schools know that there are only so many other places where you'll send your kid, and so they don't see a real need to "compete" against each other for kids.
I've long been curious about the requirement in my kids' school to see the Menahel before Bar Mitzvah plans are drawn up. What are they going to require? Are *they* going to decide whether or not my son lains his Bar Mitzvah parsha? (As an aside, I've been teaching Bar Mitzvah bachurim to lain for fifteen years. I have a *very* good idea which kids are capable of laining a parsha and which are better suited spending their time learning a Mesechta or Seder of Mishnayos for their Bar Mitzvah.) I think that this is a decision that should be made by the parents, the Bar Mitzvah boy and his teachers. In fact, I can't think of one decision that should be made by the yeshiva. So, what do they need to meet with parents for? Has anyone been through this before?