I need your advice. I am writing this, but really this is the story of many 12th graders every year. I did well all through my years in school. I am involved in lots of extra- curricular programs. I am popular enough. I am a ‘good girl.’
I spent my summers in Lubavitch sleep-away camps, as a camper then staff member, and a summer at an out of town Chabad Gan Izzy. I followed the ‘system’, as it was laid out for me. And then it came to seminaries. All my life, the system has subliminally encouraged me to want to go davka to Israel for sem. Through all the years, I have been programmed to want to go to Israel for this year after high school.
I applied to 2 seminaries in Israel that I thought would best match what I was hoping to accomplish during the sem year. I was not accepted ‘because there is not enough room for all who applied’, and received their standard brachos for hatzlacha, etc.
And now, I feel that the system has thrown me out – to fend for myself, in an unknown world. And I am a good girl. I wanted to follow the system. So, what do I do next?
Oh, don’t get me wrong. My self-esteem is intact. I know that I was not accepted because there is no room. I understand that. And I don’t even ask ‘why not me?’. But none of my upbeat attitude about the reality gets me into a program in Israel. So, my parents began the ‘beg and wait’ game, to try to push me into a sem. We tried pulling all the protektsia (connections) we know. We called the principals, the directors, the secretaries. Often, but not too nudgingly. Nothing doing.
I know there are other seminaries, other good seminaries, that are not in Israel. All Lubavitch seminaries have great learning programs, amazing teachers, interesting farbrengens. But they don’t have the Israel experience. Going for a trip to Israel – even for 2 months – is not the same as being there for the year. It is not the tourist places that I want to see. I can do that in a several week trip.
Beyond the classroom learning and farbrengens that I can get in any of the fine seminaries anywhere in the world, I want to learn and grow from the experience, from the people I will meet, from the local families with whom I would spend Shabbos, from the atmosphere in Eretz Yisrael around every holiday. I believe I will benefit and grow as a person from living in Israel for an extended period of time. That is why I hope to go to Israel for a year of sem. And I know that I will never have the opportunity again at any point in my life to go to Israel for a year of learning, growing, experiencing. It’s this year … or never.
Now, as it gets closer to the new school year, I am faced with the big question: What to do next year? Should I go to Israel, but not a Chabad program? Should I go to Touro in Israel, and join some Chabad shiurim as I can? Should I look for a volunteer/ work opportunity and join shiurim as I can? Is there anything else I can do in Israel for a year? Should I give up on Israel, and just go to work at home or in New York? Should I go to a sem in Crown Heights, even though it does not seem to be what I am seeking for this year after high school? Should I go to work on Shlichus – but I am not really so interested in teaching? I did speak to my mashpia, my teachers, my parents, older siblings and other relatives. They have all told me to weigh the pros and cons of all options.
The point of this piece is three-fold.
1. Most immediate: To seek advice from others who have insight from which I can benefit.
2. To bring the awareness of the graveness of this situation to those who can make a difference. It is simply wrong to have a system which encourages the girls to want to go to sem in Israel (even if it is only subconsciously), but does not have enough spaces for all girls who want to go.
3. To give the current 11th graders a heads-up. Some of you will not be accepted into the schools of choice. Be proactive and do something (I’m just not sure what.)
Looking forward to your advice, and some change in this system.
12th grader in a quandary