Tuesday, November 29, 2005

On Further Encroachment

Yeshiva Orthodoxy reports that Yeshiva Bais HaTorah in Lakewood sent a letter to all parents detailing their chinuch guidelines. As reported, the letter reads (in part):

General Chinuch Guidlines:

-- In compliance with the warnings of the gedolim about the dangers of the internet, it is prohibited to have internet in your home (even if you feel that you have safeguarded against access by children). In the event that internet access is a business necessity, the computer must have a password and be physically locked. Additionally, the Yeshiva must be told that you have internet in the home.

-- Non-Jewish magazines and periodicals are not permitted in the home.

-- Children should not listen to the radio. (It goes without saying that watching television, DVDs or videos is forbidden.)

-- Children may not visit the public library even with adult supervision.

-- Non-Jewish reading materials must be carefully screened by parents before being made available to talmidim.

-- Talmidim must refrain from following professional sports as it is not in the Torah spirit.

-- Talmidim should not play games on the computer or use a game boy.

-- Talmidim may not own palm pilots or cell phones.

-- Extreme caution must be exercised in relation to trips or visits to non-Jewish places.

While some of these restrictions make sense (hey, I'll give credit where it's due), others are a bit odd and open up the door to restricting just about anything and everything. Examples?

Playing Scrabble - forbidden. Not in the Torah spirit to play a meaningless game where one has to memorize and know obscure English words.

Going to a pet store - Use extreme caution - a non-Jewish place. In addition, there has long been a tradition against Jews having anything to do with dogs anyway.

Playing basketball - forbidden. Not in the Torah spirit, borders on Chukas HaAkum and may also lead one to start following professional sports.

Sending email to relatives in Israel (or elsewhere) - forbidden - Internet. In addition, who knows what materials they might receive from the relatives.

Family functions where non-frum relatives might be present - not relevant to our buchrim, of course - if you have a non-frum relative you wouldn't have been accepted into the yeshiva to begin with.

Visit to Museum - forbidden. We all know that dinosaurs were created by evil, atheist scientists solely to lead us astray.

Reading Magic School Bus books - forbidden. Contains magic. In addition, children will be told that the Earth revolves around the Sun instead of the other direction.

Visit to Zoo -- forbidden. Children may become interested in evolution, or even if not, it will surely be mentioned by some of the zoo guides. In addition, during the warmer months, there may be women dressed inappropriately.

Going to a Seforim store - forbidden. Children might see books by heretics whose books have not been removed from the shelves.

Except for maybe the last one (where I am exaggerating, but not by much), I can see all the above activities (and many other similar ones) being forbidden by schools based on the principles stated in the letter above. I'm left wondering why these schools don't just put out a list of accepted activities and say that children who do anything else will be punished.

The Wolf


... Is the Window to Our Soul said...

you forgot to add about visiting the zoo, that the children might see some obscene acts by the animals, like grooming each other (who knows where that licking might lead or where the tongue has been)or g-d forbid...MATING.

I truly don't get it. How is this any different from a cult?

Anonymous said...

Forbidden-Doctors reading the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, etc. Accountants are forbidden from reading Journal of Accountancy. Lawyers are forbidden from reading the IRS Code or a Bar Association Journal. Investors are forbidden from reading the Wal Street Journal.

Chas v'shalom anyone read such goyish materials and bring them in the home chas v'shalom.

As the rules say "Non-Jewish magazines and periodicals are not permitted in the home."

While I don't want to be rude, crude, or inappropriate, it seems to me that Lakewood is essentially forbidding anyone to take an interest in anything that might possibly enable them to pay tuition.

While I respect the right of PARENTS in Lakewood to raise their children as they see fit, don't come collecting at my door when more children are hurt by such rules than are helped by such rules.

Tova said...

Don't worry, Wolf, I'm sure they will send out a white list soon enough, since everything else is blacklisted. Sickening.

PsychoToddler said...

Ignorance is Truth.

War is Peace.

That's a good list of reasons why I won't send my children to that kind of school.

Vote with your tuition money, people.

Ezzie said...

Ignorance is bliss, which is why it's truth.

I really don't understand: In Israel, my charedi cousins may not have a lot of these "terrible" things, but they have some [Internet for a few, a couple GameBoys, play on computer...]. There's no "ban" there, at least not that I know of, in their schools. Yet, they're all turning out as well-adjusted frum adults. Perhaps schools should worry more about educating the children and less about restricting them.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone verify if this is really true at all? I had read something else that was similar to this, previously, that focus mostly on women. Is any of this for real?

Anonymous said...

Yes jamimele, this is real. The schools are taking more and more responsibility away from the parents as I type this.

And, b"h, they have found more people to pick on than just women.

Gil Student said...

Thankfully, neither of my children's schools have any of these wild rules. My sons' yeshiva has regular no-TV contests (rather than no-TV rules) and actually encourages the students to go to the library and play sports.

Rebeljew said...

I find that I spend much too much time cleaning up the messes that these yeshivas make. We have to start kiruv from square one with a person who is suspicious, rather than eager to learn. I greatly thank these overprotective "professionals" for the large number of frei 20 year olds that they produce. But what od they care. They can just deny their existence. And someone else will clean up the mess.

BrooklynWolf said...


My sons' school (as well as my daughter's) also has "No-TV" contests. My older son went several months without TV last year (I blogged about it a while back) and I think that that's great. Anything to discourage TV watching for the kids (while not outright banning it for the adults who are NOT under the yeshiva's mandate) is a good thing.

The Wolf

PsychoToddler said...

Ezzie: "Yet, they're all turning out as well-adjusted frum adults. "

Yes, and I shudder to thing about what these schools are turning out.

Tova said...

You know what these schools are turning out. People who say, "Of course the hurricanes were caused by znus in New Orleans." People who gasp if you read library books. People who pay $80+ per kid per outfit and live on WIC and welfare.

Anonymous said...

Right on, BrooklynWolf. Your post and the comments had me laughing out aloud. Unfortunately, it's a tragi-comic kind of laughter. Although I feel anger at hearing news of these bans, my main emotion is sadness. It's tragic that some parts of the frum world have fallen so far, and the poor kinderlach in Lakewood need our tefillos.

and so it shall be... said...

"While some of these restrictions make sense..."

Wolf -- plenty of these make sense on a micro level. But when dictated by an oligarch of community rabbonon under the threat of school expulsion and social exclusion you're entering into the realm of repressive, totalitarian states a la North Korea (admittedly, sans the torture and slave labor camps, so far).

There is just something wrong about all of this.