The Holocaust and Girls’ Seminaries

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(11th in a series)

By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA

Author of The Second World War and Jewish Education in America: The Fall and Rise of Orthodoxy

Over the past weeks, following the various articles I have written here on about the shidduch crisis and how it ties in with sending frum girls to post-high school seminaries in Israel, many people have asked me to explain my positions and points of view. This has been a very good thing, because it has made me think even deeper and arrive at more profound understandings of the subject at hand.

We live in good times. Very good times. Halevai veiter. Even with all the troubles, these are still good times for us. We live in nice, comfortable homes. We have at our disposal all the luxuries and conveniences of modern life. Hakadosh Boruch Hu is being very, very good to us. We have nice jobs, beautiful families, good chinuch, wonderful summer camps, the best clothes, and the finest foods, with the absolutely best hechsherim. Our homes, shuls, yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs are all fully air-conditioned during the summers and have great heating during the winters.

We now have new generations being born into this kind of amazing and wonderful lifestyle. Not so long ago, from 1939 to 1945, there was a terrible churban known as World War II, which wiped out the majority of holy Yidden who lived in Europe. Yeshivos and kehillos were exterminated to the last man, woman and child by the evil Nazis and their partners in crime.

After the war, the situation was terrible. While America became the next great haven for Jews, right after the war, in 1945, there was no real strong Torah Judaism to be found in America. The gedolim and Torah pioneers who came here from Europe had to start from scratch. It is hard for us to imagine that while today, Lakewood is now a huge community with Bais Medrash Govoah at its heart, with tens of thousands of young frum families living there and shteiging in Torah, it was not always like that.

When Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l went to build Torah in Lakewood, he started with a handful of talmidim, a minyan or two or three. And it was like that everywhere. It was an emergency situation, and they had to rebuild Torah. Men and youths had to delay marriage in order to rebuild a community of true lomdim. It has succeeded and today we cannot even imagine the mesirus nefesh of what Rav Kotler and his band of learners had to go through to get going. But today we all see the results.

The same thing – in my opinion – happened with the chinuch of girls. There were very few good frum Bais Yaakov-type schools in those days. Just as boys were called upon to learn for many years and postpone marriage to save Torah, likewise, girls needed a richer chinuch, and that, in my view, is one reason seminaries in Israel were created – to give the girls a higher Torah education to be on the level of the frum boys learning in the yeshivos. Boruch Hashem, that, too, has succeeded, and just as the boys’ yeshivos are now putting out tens of thousands of good talmidim, the Bais Yaakovs are putting out tens of thousands of good talmidos.

Today, the average Bais Yaakov girl, when she graduates high school, has already learned everything she will need to know to be an aishes chayil and eim habanim. Today, seminaries are not as critical as they were when they started cropping up in the 1970s and onwards, when going to Israel was indeed very vital and powerful in inspiring the girls to an even greater Torah direction.

In the past, girls’ seminaries in Israel were vital to conquer the deficits that the lingering consequences of the Holocaust caused. Times have changed and there are huge kehillos in America today, with hundreds of thousands of frum Jews, that are thriving. That is why in the Chassidic circles, they simply do not bother sending their daughters to Israel, because it is just not needed and it does not solve any problems, such as lack of an intense chinuch, because the girls get it at home, in their Bais Yaakovs and in the communities. Thus, going to seminaries in Israel would do nothing practical for their education, in my opinion.

Among the yeshiva circles, and in Modern Orthodox circles, people are still living with a vision of the past that going to seminaries in Israel are as vital as air and water for the Jewish people, when that may have been true about 50 years ago but not today.

I have also heard many arguments about going to Eretz Yisroel relating to making aliyah and helping the girls Love Eretz Yisroel and becoming pro-Israel, but that is not the purpose of the Torah seminaries. Each person is free to make aliyah, but the job of Torah chinuch is to inculcate Torah values first and foremost.

To be continued…

Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin lives in Flatbush and is the Director of the Jewish Professionals Institute ( He and his wife Zahava, although they are not shadchanim, have counseled many in the area of shidduchim and dating. He can be reached at [email protected] or 718 382 5610 and 718 382 8058.



  1. While I appreciate and wish all of us success in your efforts to help alleviate the ‘Shidduch-crisis’, I must respectfully disagree with the notion of a one-size-fits-all solution (i.e. no Israel seminaries). I believe that true leadership, whether here or elsewhere, specifically calls for empathy, clear and honest communications as well as openness towards other approaches. Nowhere, is this more pertinent than the highly complex, multi-faceted, no-easy and/or simple-single-solution issue than this one. I wonder if the evolution of the Shidduch-resume with all of its beyond-normal probing is not also another complicit and significant factor. I also wonder if the general movement away from meaningful Midos education in both grade and high schools isn’t another complicit/significant factor.

  2. “right after the war, in 1945, there was no real strong Torah Judaism to be found in America. The gedolim and Torah pioneers who came here from Europe had to start from scratch. ”

    Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, Rav Yitzchok Hutner, Rav Ruderman, Rav Dr. Breuer, Mattesdorfer Rav, Rav Mordechai Pinchas Teitz, R. Mendlowitz of Torah Vodaas, Rav Avigdor Miller, Rav Shmidman, Rav Leibowitz, and many others, don’t qualify as “strong Torah Judaism”for you? On the Chasidic side, Bostoner Rebbes, Lubavitcher Rebbe, Tzeilemer Rav, Monastritchter Rebbe, Trisker Rebbe, Rebbes of Ruzhin, and various others.

    They gedolim that came to the USA post WWII did not start from scratch at all. They built on an earlier foundation, the product of many years of hard work by the Torah pioneers who preceded them.

    I know that you are from South Africa, so maybe don’t know the USA Jewish history so well, but the facts must be set straight for the record.

    A retraction and apology is in order. Please be more careful with your language, and do not discount the work of American Torah pioneers.

    • In a brief article it is impossible, and very stupid, to put in lists of every last great rabbi. No insult was said or meant. I know the AMERICAN history of that period very well. I have lived in the USA for 40 years! I spent years researching this topic and it took me over a year to write my MA Thesis on this very topic, please take the time to read it BEFORE you attack me, it is listed on the top of this article as well so there is no excuse for attacking my HISTORICAL knowledge on this very point. See it for yourself, it is a long read and I went to the trouble of publishing online: The Second World War and Jewish education in AMERICA: The Fall and Rise of Orthodoxy (1983, Columbia University, NEW YORK CITY).

      Please do not be so narrow. The Gedolim you mention basically came, and or got going, in the 1930s which is the period prior directly connected to World War Two since Hitler Y”SH rose to full power in 1933 in Germany and that is the TRUE start of all the troubles that then became a full blown world war six years later in 1939.

      The Gedolim you cite who came in the 1930s were basically stuck in the mud, it had to take the shock of the death of over 6,000,000 Jews and their Kiddush HaShem and spilled blood became the Zechusim for the miracles that started to REALLY happen once the World War Two ended in 1945.

      Also the Gedolim who came to America DURING and after the Holocaust were burning with FIRE and they were super Gedolim, such as the Satmar Rebbe Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, Rav Aron Kotler, both the 6th and 7th Lubavitcher Rebbes came during the war years. Rav Bloch and Rav Katz built Telz that for many decades was a huge Litvish Yeshiva. The Bobover Rebbe Rav Shlomo Halberstam, these men came with a different PASSION and urgency and they INSPIRED and pole-vaulted those who were already in America since the 1930s who came mainly because they saw that Europe was about to go up in flames so they are part of that pre-Holocaust period that then escalated and blew up once the war broke up and the horror of the Holocaust set in.

      Seems you have never studied history because you reveal a total lack of any sense of history and how it is to be understood and studied.

      Thank you. By the way, yes I lived in South Africa from 1960 to 1976 as a younster, I was not born there, my place of birth and true home is Israel. I am very proud to be a naturalized citizen of the United States of America since 1986! I even fly an American flag in front of my house. I put it up after all my kids got married because my wife was worried it would hurt, what else? our kids Shidduchim! She actually found the flag in a garbage can in front of a Frum person’s house and said it would be a Chillul HaShem if the garbage men would see it and say look at these Jews how they treat the US flag! So I said, okay, let’s put it up, she said no, it may hurt the kids’ Shidduchim. So the day after our last kid got married I put up the USA flag in front of my house where it flutters very proudly to this day!! It is a beautiful flag, the USA gives us all the freedoms to be Frum and practice all the Yiddishkeit we want. A true Malchus Shel Chesede, B”H.

      P.S. You left out Rav Leizer Silver who founded Agudas Yisroel and Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik who was originally on the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah and then left to do his work with the RCA rabbis.

      Yitschak Rudomin.

      • “The Gedolim you mention basically came, and or got going, in the 1930s ”

        That just isn’t accurate. Rav Miller was born in America. Rabbi Silver arrived in 1907, Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz in 1913, the first Bostoner Rebbe in 1915, Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin in 1922, and Rav Soloveitchik in 1932. All before the Nazis. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein arrived in 1936 but he was fleeing Communists, not Nazis. All were very active in America before World War II. Nazis had nothing to do with any of these gedolim coming to America.

        “you cite who came in the 1930s were basically stuck in the mud”

        Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Soloveitchik were stuck in the mud??? I would NEVER say anything like that. Just to give one example, Rav Soloveitchik founded the Maimonides School in 1937!

  3. “Today, the average Bais Yaakov girl, when she graduates high school, has already learned everything she will need to know to be an aishes chayil and eim habanim.”

    If only that were the case. Sadly, as someone who has taught in quite a few seminaries in Eretz Yisroel, a great number of the students have not managed to learn even the basics of yiddishkeit. They are sorely lacking in basic skills, yedios, and inspiration. There are many reasons for this – and the fault is not always/only the high schools they’ve attended – but it’s a reality that is not debatable to one who is aware of the facts.

    Of course, many of them will depart seminary without those same critical yedios, but they will many young ladies do take the opportunity that seminary affords them and they do learn a lot that they haven’t learned before.

    • You are making the classical mistake of saying that marriage requires an “intellectual education” when it is just the opposite. Of course girls are not scholars when they graduate high school Bais Yaakov, of course they could go on to study all sorts of things forever and never get married. But, and it’s a big but, the Ikkar is the Ma’aseh!

      We have taken on the non-Jewish perspective that girls need a “higher education” before they can be wives and mothers in the Torah world yet! What nonsense is that? Are you now saying like all those misguided secular parents in America that every boy and girl needs “four years of college life” Lehavdil? Just instead of “college” you use the words “seminaries” as if that is something “holy” — when get this: There is NOTHING “holy” about seminaries in Israel, they are just money-makers for the owners and they do not teach any real practical knowledge. They may even be harming the girls who need to be guided to the Chupa by their parents like Chasidim do and Charedim in Eretz Yisroel at an early age. To send them off for “study” is to cheat them of their best years to be dating.

      I am sorry. I feel very strongly about this. Either we want to solve the Shidduch Crisis or we want to come up with all sorts of creative ways to spin our wheels and keep the girls on ice and teach all sorts of fancy philosophies that have no practical use in marriage, mothering, home-making and home-building in short how to be a real and practical Bnos Yisroel, Eishes Chayil and good Yiddisha Mamas to nice Yiddisher Kinderlach that need real mothers and not “professors of Hashkofa” and whatnot!!

      Wake Up!!

      Yitschak Rudomin

    • What?

      Please explain yourself, I cannot read your mind or finish your sentences for you! Did you go to seminary? Didn’t they teach you how to discuss things? Maybe you should ask for a FULL refund ;-}


      Yitschak Rudomin.

      • Apologies.
        Let me try again.
        Would you say that seminary is an unnecessary use of time and money altogether, or just the Israeli ones?
        I include
        – night schools.
        – schools with dorm facilities for out of town girls who don’t have a cohesive program in their town.
        – anything else I may have forgotten.

        (My parents paid for seminary. I think that they were happy. Perhaps you can reframe your sentence. I will not stoop to say that your parents should ask the same of the yeshivos you went to ;-D)

        • No need for apologies we are having a discussion.

          Seminaries are good things, obviously! It is a matter of personal choice. No one can tell people what to do.

          Of course there should be seminaries everywhere to give girls the options to keep studying if that is what they wish to do.

          It is just that going to Seminary in Israel has become a craze and, here I am going to take a risk but I will say it, that in this day and age most of the girls who are sent to Israel could live very nicely without it. They could stay home, date right out of high school, go to a local seminary full-time or part-time, they could take college courses if they wanted, and they could get jobs, part time or full time depending on what they prefer and need. Minus the going to college part, this is what the girls from Chasidic homes in America re doing and they are very PRACTICAL! They may decide to work and date right out of high school while there PARENTS work on getting them married off, they may go to a seminary full-time or part time, but they do not go to Israel and they start getting engaged by 18 and 19 and by 20 most are married. That is the right and normal Torah way.

          While the American Yeshiva type girls go off to Israel and have fun much more than really learn anything.

          The ONLY reason I am writing about this is because we have a full-blown Shidduch Crisis on the go right now in the Yeshiva world and people are at a loss what to do. They spout statistics and give opinions, while they fail to notice that right on their doorstep the girls from Boro Park, Williamsburg, Monsey, Monroe, are busy as bees and beavers getting on with the job of finding husbands — done by their PARENTS for them — and they never lose that focus, they do not fly off to Israel and they do not live in dreamland, and they are showing us the way if we want to know what the Torahdikka thing is to do.

          Sure, if you want to study for years, to have time to develop and self-discover yourself feel free but please do not come back and say you want Shidduchim served up right away, it does not work that way.


          Yitschak Rudomin.

  4. We need Lawyers, medical specialists, successful business executives and similar from within the Torah Community both women and men

  5. Why have you arbitrarily decided that just because there are now more jews learning and more communities that going to Israel for a year isn’t beneficial for anyone. For some or may be the best for them as they can continue to be in a Jewish environment learning important information while getting college credits, I believe that is important for people to have an education which they can use to work to support thier families, it seems as though you are saying get married right away have no job or education and who is going to support the Jewish people if there are no professionals both men AND women, as we have seen all throughout history.
    Its sad you think this way.


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