Seminary Challenges: Shabbos Meals and More


shabbosThe following is the first in a series of articles presented by with Seminary and Beyond aimed at providing guidance to girls studying in seminary in Eretz Yisroel:

Shabbosim are often the highlight of the seminary experience. Your seminary will probably have shabbatonim and/or “in Shabbosim” once or twice a month. The other weeks you are on your own to find places to go. Don’t be embarrassed to invite yourself to a family for Shabbos. It may be awkward the first few times you do it but it is worth it!

You can learn a tremendous amount from the families that you go to, and it is a good way to get to know a lot of very interesting people. Don’t only go to English-speaking Americans. Go to different types of communities and families and always keep an open mind. Try to think about where someone else is coming from and not to judge people who seem different than you.

Everyone in Israel has a story. Ask your hosts about their lives, and you will learn a lot. Observe how your hosts treat their guests, raise their children, and live their lives. It is a good idea to keep a notebook in which you can write down different things that you learned from the families you visited for Shabbos.

The hachnosas orchim in Eretz Yisroel is absolutely amazing! There are families that have over fifty guests every week, families who are completely destitute and save all of their money to buy chicken for their Shabbos guests, and families who will take in unexpected guests just minutes before Shabbos. Compared to that, seminary girls inviting themselves is nothing! (And if they don’t want to have you, they can always say no.)*

Start working on Shabbos plans early in the week. Understandably, most people do not appreciate being called Thursday night or Friday. Offer to bring your own bed linen, so that your host will not have to wash yours. Also, remember to ask your host for their address and what time you should come to their house. If you need any special accommodations or have food allergies, it is important that you let your host know that in advance.

You should always bring a nice gift to someone who is hosting you for a meal or for Shabbos. If you are not sure what to bring, it is perfectly appropriate to ask your host what they would like. However, if they say that no gift is necessary, you should generally still bring them something.

Some ideas for gifts: Wine – you can purchase wine at reasonable prices in many grocery stores. The Moscato by Golan is one popular wine.

Rugelach or candy – you can buy this in Geulah. Make sure that it has a hashgacha on it that will be acceptable to your hosts (such as Badatz Eida Hachareidis). If you go to one of the smaller, lesser-known bakeries, the rugelach will usually be less expensive.

A netilas yedayim towel or something nice for their home – you can find these gifts in Geulah, as well.

Something handmade – if you are creative, you can make something yourself that your hosts will appreciate. For example, you can put together your own candy platter, instead of buying one.

If you are going to a family with a few other girls, chip in together to get something a little more expensive. If you have met the family before, try to think about what they would find useful. You are buying them something anyway; you might as well get something that they will appreciate. For example, if you notice that their washing cup is slightly cracked, buy them a new one when you next visit.

As a guest, help set and clear the table. In addition, help the women of the house serve the meal. A really nice gesture is to offer to help cook on Thursday night or Friday morning (assuming you do not have class). It is also really thoughtful to write a note or leave a card in the room you stay in thanking them for their generosity and hospitality.

There is an organization in Israel called “Anywhere in Israel” that will find you a place for Shabbos anywhere in Israel, according to your kashrus level. You can find them on the web at or you can call 02-994-5326. Please have your request in by Tuesday at noon. Another resource is See You On Shabbos/, a website that connects those who want to host guests for Shabbos with those who are looking for a place to stay or just a meal. While the website features families all over the world, there are many hosts located in Israel. *While many families in Israel would love to have you as a guest for Shabbos, there are also families that may not be able to host seminary girls for Shabbos for various reasons. Use your discretion when calling families to invite yourself and be respectful and understanding if someone cannot have you.

Seminary and Beyond is an online community for high-school, seminary and post-seminary young women who are serious about personal and spiritual growth.

Seminary & Beyond aims to provide high-school girls of all ages with a forum to discuss real issues and ideas that are important to them, give high school seniors information and support on how to choose a seminary that will help them develop and grow personally and spiritually, provide girls who are already in seminary with practical and spiritual advice that will help them maximize their seminary experience, and help post-seminary young women integrate back into the community while continuing their own personal and spiritual growth.

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  1. the first sentence is completely untrue. Most Bais Yaakov stlye seminaries offer shabbos meals in the dorm every week. only occasionally is there an “in-shabbos” where everyone stays. on most shabbosim, the girls enjoy going to other places, but it is false that you are on your own. if you have nowhere to go, you can always stay “home” in the dorm for shabbos.

  2. Wow… and I remember those good old days when we didn’t need a website to “provide guidance” to our sem daughters. We as parents taught them simple mentschlichkeit ourselves!

    This post shows how we continue to dumb down our children by assuming they wouldn’t do all that is written here, on their own.

    So silly…. nebbech on us.

  3. The whole Seminary meals and Yomtovim ‘off shabbosim’ is a money maker. The seminaries that offer all shabbos meals and yom tovim (pesach included) are FEW and INBETWEEN.

    QUESTION: Who is pocketing all the dough? Parents are paying thru their noses and nonsense reasons are given for ‘out’ shabbosim.

  4. This is a CHUTZPA on top of CHUTZPA! The Sem’s are ripping off fellow Bnos Yisroel with the tuition they charge. The Sem’s can’t afford to give Shabbos meals to their students? They want them to eat by strangers who’s Hashkafa is not what a Baas Yisroel should be? They want them mingling with boys? Are the Sem’s in Israel a hefker velt? My wife went to Sem right here in NY and turned out B”H, to be a Yoreh Shomayim & Baal Midos Tovos. My 3 daughters will IY”H, when the time comes, be going to Sem right here in the US. Once they graduate and want to go visit Eretz Yisroel, gezunte heyt.

  5. Spending many thousands to send a daughter for the year and not having Shabbos meals included? I can understand having the girls be exposed to Israeli life once in a while, but on a consistent basis? Many girls are very stressed worrying over where their next Shabbos meal will take place. The boys. on the other hand have every meal taken care of by their yeshiva for many thousands less. Something doesn’t add up.

  6. “You can learn a tremendous amount from the families that you go to, and it is a good way to get to know a lot of very interesting people.”

    Girls belong at their fathers’ Shabbos tables where they could and should learn a “tremendous amount”. Help your own mothers cook and serve.

    The whole seminary experience is a modern money making scam. What a hefkairus! Yiddishkeit has been turned into a BT experience for everybody.

  7. Young ladies, leave Yerushalayim and come out to the other kehillas in Eretz Yisroel. Go to Telshe Stone, Efrat, Raanana, Rechovot, Petech Tikvah, Shilo…such exceptional people in all these areas.

    My daughters loved going to the Yishuvim, there are many Anglos living there. The shuls are gorgeous and kehillo so welcoming.

  8. amazing! just amazing! where else do you find such people who open their homes to strangers on any level. what a Kiddush Hashem.

    its time we brought this to the USA-in every jewish community-& anywhere else in the world.

  9. What a ridiculous idea! You pay a fortune for seminary and then your daughter has to shnor a meal for Shabbos. Totally ridiculous!!

  10. Please make sure not to sponge off of very poor Yerushalmi families unless you are willing to somehow help them make ends meet as gratitude for their generosity

  11. My daughter stays in seminary almost every Shabbos and even had a Pesach kitchen to bake Pesach food.
    And she is part of a very ‘chareidi’ seminary. The only reason I’m not listing the name of the seminary here is because people look to bash everything and if I write the name down I’m sure someone will find loshon hara to say about it. My daughter loves it there and I appreciate it very much that they take wonderful care of her.

  12. This “Israel Experience” lishem “experience” is kineged Hatorah! Let’s face it, these girls are going to “Israel” for one reason & one reason only! Shiduchim shiduchim shiduchim. If you go to Sem in America, you’re considered a loser & you will only get a 2nd rate chosson! That is what the corrupt Shadchanim are pushing! It’s the same thing with the Boys! If they come to EY and don’t go to “Brisk” (anyone of them is fine), they’re not gonna get that “good” Shiduch! This is all FAKE FAKE FAKE! Rav Avigdor Miller ZT”L was AGAINST sending one’s children to “Israel”!!! But today, these immature parents, know better!

  13. #4 calm down!! Girls are not sent to homes where the hashkafa is not up to par; obviously you have no knowledge on how this works…My daughter went to BJJ & every home was screened carefully before they were allowed to go…& mingling with boys?!! where do you have the “chutzpah” (as you said) to assume that the girls who go to ehrlich, Chareidi homes are socializing…My sons who live in E>Y> have either all bochurim for Shabbosim & absolutely no girls or vice versa…
    Worry about what goes on with girls who “stay home” & parents who are out to lunch as far as internet use etc…
    Kol Tuv!

  14. Maybe it is different for bachurim, but when I was a bachur learning in Eretz Yisrael, and to a lesser extent in America, Shabbos meals out were probably the most important and formative aspect of my time in Yeshivah. I think I gained more from the experience of going to homes for Shabbos than I did from the time in Yeshivah. I never liked in Shabbosim anyway. It seemed so cold and I didn’t much like the dry zemiros. Going out to homes of all types of people, famous people and hidden tzaddikim, gedolim and pashuter yidden, Ashkenazim and Sefardim, Haredim and Modern Orthodox, Chassidish and Litvish, Admorim and Roshei Yeshivah, older families and young couples, big meals and small meals. To lock up bachurim in yeshivah every Shabbos and not to allow them to see the family dynamics and receive Torah and exposure to various chatzeiros and hanhagos of Klal Yisrael robs them of the Eretz Yisrael experience. For this, they could better stay in the US and learn. I assume the same could be said of girls, but I have no idea what goes on there, and perhaps gidrei tznius could make a difference. But I know as a man, I am who I am today from the out shabbosim I experienced throughout the Holy Land and elsewhere in the Jewish world.

  15. Moscato by Golan is not Badatz. best to stick with badatz eida charedis hechsher.
    also: DON’T make a platter of candy. Dumb idea. People like to see things in the original packaging.
    Yes this article is typical of the “dumb it down generation.”
    it’s assur to go to someone who doesn’t have money. there’s no teshuva for this. Think about that.

  16. It turns out there are many fine bnei Torah in the US and Sem’s too.
    There is nothing in the above letter that can not be accomplished in the US. Don’t fool yourself!!

  17. why is it ok to bash seminaries?
    Is it not loshon hora? They are doing a wonderful job. No one is forcing anyone to send there. My 3rd daughter is there now and I am thrilled they had such wonderful experiences. No one forced me to send them. I did not do it for shidduchim but because it meant a lot to my daughters. It is mesirus nefesh to come up with the money although the seminaries worked with us on that. They are willing to compromise and work out deals with the money if you need.
    My daughters gained tremendously from the seminaries and please stop bashing them!!!!
    I assume those who bash the most are because they have sour grapes.
    Why is it ok to bash everything?
    If you don’t like seminaries, so keep your daughter home. that’s fine, just don’t stop others from sending.
    I’m already making plans for my 4th daughter to go soon IY”H. I hope all my daughters can get to go!!!

  18. I can’t believe this article mentions the term “Israel”. It’s been long established by our gedolim that the government of “Israel” is anti-Torah anti-HaShem anti-yeshiva anti-kollel anti-yIddishkeit in general. It’s horrible that we send our daughters to a land where women dress with nothing. Our daughters shouldn’t learn from or see these shiksas. Ben the so called “modern orthodox” women dress inappropriately and are all sonei HaShem. Keep your girls at home if you want them to have middos Tovos and Yarei shamayim. Every dollar you spend in “Israel” supports shgutzim who hate us.

  19. The article said, “If you are going to a family with a few other girls” then buy a nicer gift than if you go alone.
    Why on earth would you be going with a crowd? People in Israel don’t have lots of space/money/beds. If a sem girl is a guest, fine, if she is invited to bring A friend so she has someone to giggle with/travel with, fine. But girls who invite themselves to a family and bring a crowd are not acting appropriately, no matter how polite their hostess pretends to be about it.

  20. Rebbetzen Esther Jungreis dealt with this issue beautifully about 15 or maybe 17 years ago in her column in the Jewish Press. If anyone remembers or can share her wise words, they are still applicable today. She was responding to a father who asked about his (Sem age )daughter spending Shabbasim by poor Israeli families.

  21. This article contains very seriously outdated information.
    I’ve had three daughters in seminary over the past 10 years and none of them had to fend for themselves. Two of them attended Seminar Yerushalaim which offers Shabbos meals every single week and has done so for more than 15 years to my knowledge. The other seminary did not do so [which is why I’m leaving out the name] but they DID always offer to find the students a place and not leave them to fend for themselves. I believe many seminaries now offer the girls to stay in the seminary for Shabbos.

  22. #19 is it possible you’re generalizing? calling women ‘sonei Hashem”?! thank you for your sinas chinam. you can proudly say that you are the very reason that moshiach hasn’t yet arrived…drink an extra lchayim tonight