I’ve been meaning to update here with what’s going on with ds17, but I’ve been waiting for something definite to share, which hasn’t happened.
Here’s the story: ds thought he was going to a yeshiva in CT, and was already telling people that’s where he was going. When he went there at the end of May (or was it the beginning of June?), he didn’t find it the environment he was looking for, and I was extremely disturbed at the lack of organization shown by the administration, which was literally incomprehensible to me. I’ve debated whether to describe what happened during his trip or not, but I’ve decided to leave it at that. I spoke to key people there afterward to let them know they lost a great young man as a result of their disinterested approach to his visit. I had one particularly long and interesting in which I was told “wake up and smell the coffee”, that my son is unusual because he’s so sheltered and I’m not going to find a place that meets my criteria. (My unrealistic criteria: a place where most of the young men attending are serious about Torah learning, not into shtick, and a supportive and warm environment where each person is treated as an individual. Also wanted a place that was accredited and could grant college credits.) They were very nice but it wasn’t what we were looking for.
Then I decided to forget about warm and supportive, and just go for a strong learning environment. Off we went to Ner Israel in Baltimore (I mentioned that we had sent in the application). Everyone who knows ds and the institution had absolutely no doubt he’d be accepted. It took three weeks to get an answer, and I was finally told “We have an arrangement with our high school that we do not accept students who have not had the equivalent of 12 years of a normal limudei kodesh background, under normal circumstances.” The suggestion was made that “After completing the equivalent of the 12th grade limudei kodesh in a yeshiva high school, could he be considered for admission to the beis medrash for the following year.”
This response didn’t bring a smile to my face (actually, it raised my hackles). I responded that ds had a normal Judaic background, under the tutelage of his father rather than school administrators. I mentioned that after ten years in kollel (full time Torah study for married men) at well-known and respected institutions that included the Mir and Lakewood, dh was certainly capable of overseeing this and I found it incomprehensible that my son had the same status as someone who was coming from public school might. Since I was told in that same email that exceptions are only made for students who are head and shoulders above their same age peers (why would he want to attend this institution if he were way above their level?), or those who returned to Judaism at a later age. I asked if they’d be willing to considered him a year from now when he is officially the same age as most other high school graduates (18) if he doesn’t attend high school for an additional year, and inquired how many years it would take before my son would have the same enrollment status as those older returnees. No answer.
Well. It may be a fine institution but they’ve made it crystal clear that dealing with each person as an individual isn’t their strength. I think of it like this, and ds feels the same way: We weren’t told ‘no’. We were told, ‘There’s something much better coming soon.’ I’m so glad to have been clearly shown why this wasn’t the right place for ds. There is an option we’re looking into now, and assuming the application process goes smoothly, he’ll travel to NY for his interview on Aug. 10. (These travel costs and application fees have been putting a serious dent in our budget!) Ds has a very good feeling about this yeshiva, and for a number of reasons, so do I. I’ll let you know what happens on that front once we have some closure!