In Part One of “Anniversary Reflections,” I shared some of my family’s unmet or differently met expectations of our pilot trip, of housing and of our participation in the klal. In this second part, our children’s schooling is explored. My family’s anticipated results, as taken from statements we made six years ago on a posting we placed on an Israeli Anglo list serve of aliyah, are presented in italics and my family’s actualized results are given over in regular font.
IV. School Placements:
We have a 14 year-old daughter, going into 9th grade, who needs an academically rigorous girls'' school, that has some other Anglo students and that is Dati/Chardali hashkafically. She can commute to Tel Aviv or to Jerusalem.
Man plans. Hashem laughs. The entire six months before we knew we were making aliyah, we sweated high school interviews with that child and finally narrowed our efforts to two schools. Go figure; she attended neither since she merited, instead, to attend high school in Jerusalem.
As for the commute, the kid did her sherut leumi year in Jerusalem and is currently attending a girls’ college located here. She lives at home, B”H. Unlike in the New World, Old World, i.e. Israeli, kids need not travel far from home to receive an adequate or even an excellent education.
I’m glad she has been living at home. I’m already nuts taking preparedness actions for our next child’s, Older Dude’s stay, come August, in Maalot to attend hesder yeshiva there. I’m not in a hurry to empty my nest too quickly.
We have a 12 year-old son, going into 7th grade, who needs a boys'' school that has some other Anglo students, and that is Chardali hashkafically. Rigor is good for this child, too. He also needs to find a place to study martial arts. Both of his schools need to be in Beit Shemesh or Ramat Beit Shemesh. He will also need a Bar Mitzvah tutor if Ramat Beit Shemesh/Beit Shemesh proves to be too far for our family friend, attending The Mir Yeshiva, in Jerusalem, to travel.
As our rabbi teaches, parents can expose and habituate their children to Yiddishkeit, but as children become adults, they decide for themselves the flavor of their spirituality. Our soon-to-be gun wielding son is, at this threshold of his adulthood not Chardali in the least, but kippah sruga all the way.
What’s more, he didn’t study a simple strand of martial arts, upon arriving her, but took MMA classes. Yes, learning how to kill, or at least to maim, became an important part of his intermediate teenage years. May he never need those skills!
As per his Bar Mitzvah, he read from the Torah at the Kotel, on a Thursday, and then at our Shul on Shabbot. We feted him with a seudah in Jerusalem and with a kiddush in our shul. Relatives stayed for the celebration for long days and nights. If I had it to do over, I would have paid closer attention to his then soft child voice and made a simpler to do; we lavished too much attention on him for too long for his happiness. At least when his younger brother became Bar Mitzvah and requested “only” an aliyah and “only” a melaveh malkah at home, we honored him.
In addition to our two older children, we have a 9, almost 10 year-old daughter, going into 5th grade, who needs a girls'' school that has other Anglo students, and that is "Chardali Plus." (She is currently attending Beit Yaacov school). Rigor is good for her, too. Her school needs to be in Beit Shemesh or Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Sigh. Missy Younger no more needed to be under my thumb than did any other capable young Israeli need to be tied to her mother. Unlike her siblings, that daughter was eager to spend her first few Israeli summers in sleep away camps.
In addition, she was angry that we elected to send her to a Rav Kook school and not to a Beit Yaacov institute. Although we had been coached that American “yeshivish” and Israeli “Charadi” were not the same thing and although we wanted her to receive a teudat bagrut, all she understood, at her tender age, was that she and her camp friends went to different sorts of places.
Interestingly, that child, among all of the members of my family, currently leans the farthest, relatively speaking, to the left. She was the one who urged us to approach our rabbi for permission for her to wear nail polish and for permission for her and her siblings to listen to modern music. That child, too, along among her siblings, attends an external megama program, at a local university. A might mouse, that daughter has been teaching us about tolerance and about the need to research our beliefs. She has brought rigor into our Israeli lives at a time when we thought we couldn’t possibly be any more stretched in our growth.
We have a 7 year-old son needs a boys'' school that has other Anglo students, and that is Chardali hashkafically. Rigor is good for him, too. Maybe a Chassidishe cheder would suit him. He also needs to find a place to study martial arts. Both of his schools need to be in Beit Shemesh or Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Younger Dude, having not made a successful shidduch in the yeshiva system, currently attends an alternative school. There, his middot are cheered and his personal route to development is encouraged. At his present place of learning, he can work at his own rate, a scheme that suits a son, who both tries to pilfer his parents and older siblings’ books and who is uncertain as to whether or not he wants a teudat bagrut. At the moment, he is aiming for mechina after high school.
This atypical fellow, who is nearly as tall as his next older sibling and who is gaining ground on me, is the policeman of our family observance. He respectfully corrects us when we err on brachot. He instigates many of our acts of loving kindness. His sensitivity serves him and us well.
We will also need lots of hours of tutors for all four kids until they grow wings.
We spend thousands and thousands of dollars on tutors, using up the allowance from Computer Cowboy’s company, the funds granted to us by an olim organization, all of our spare cash and all of our savings on helping our kids bridge. In hindsight, we could have spent less.
There was too much for youngsters, only four years frum, to absorb by dint of tutors. If we could do over, maybe we would have hired Hebrew tutors. Yet, Missy Younger picked up Hebrew, sans accent, at her elementary school’s playground. Missy Older suffered a bit her first year of high school, but bulldogged through, nonetheless. Older Dude, three years later, finally (his parents being imperfect) attended Jerusalem’s teen ulpan and finished high school at an Anglo yeshiva. Younger Dude, our youngest, quickly made Israeli friends with whom he consorted daily, Shabbot and holidays included, but remained stymied by a combination of vision and hearing challenges that no social or linguistic bridge could have bettered.
Having looked at our children’s schooling, both at what we imagined would take place and at what actually occurred, in Part Two, it’s time to move, in Part Three, to my husband and my relative language acquisition and to the results of my job search. In those domains, as well, what my family anticipated differed from what actually occurred.