December 23: Either one fits

Dictionary definition of “segregate": 1. to set apart from the rest or from each other; 2. to separate along racial, sexual or religious lines.

Either one fits
Sir, – Regarding the letter from reader Yossi Blasbalg (“Not segregation,” December 21), the dictionary definition of “segregate” is 1. to set apart from the rest or from each other; 2. to separate along racial, sexual or religious lines.
The word originates from the Latin segregare, or separate from the flock.
As I see it, the situation of haredi women on these buses fits either definition.
Sir, – I heartily disagree with Yossi Blasbalg. Why does he think separation fits what haredi men are doing? Nobody asks the women. Is this what they want – to sit at the back of the bus like second-class citizens?
Party’s over
Sir, – The phenomenon of gap-year yeshivot for modern Orthodox American teens is long overdue for scrutiny and reevaluation (“An unorthodox bid,” December 18).
While several of these programs are adjuncts to real yeshivot with serious learning, the majority are private businesses run by haredi opportunists who cash in on warehousing immature adolescents for princely sums while delivering little in return. The curriculum and academic expectations are dumbed down to keep the children happy, and supervision off-campus is non-existent. The kids are cast adrift on weekends and holidays.
Worst of all, the owners of these yeshivot are mostly non-Zionist; hence they do not teach their students to appreciate Israel and respect Israeli peers who are in uniform and putting their lives on the line.
American parents should keep their $25,000 and have their children enlist in the IDF for the 14-month Machal program. Not only would they save a bundle, but their child would return home with a maturity, self-respect and seriousness of purpose that none of these questionable academies can ever nurture.
J.J. GROSS Jerusalem
Sir, – Anna Wexler predicts the likely “unhappy” reaction of Orthodox parents to her film’s portrayal of gap year teens, a seeming “Jerusalem-on-the-Jersey Shore” description of “nightly debauchery” and “pounding back beers and smoking tobacco in nargilas (and other substances) into the wee hours.”
As a student currently studying in a yeshiva in Israel, I am not going to deny what everyone knows happens on Thursday nights in the holy city.
But it would be false to assume there is something inherently more rebellious in American Orthodox teens who find themselves suddenly able to use their (legitimate) IDs to legally purchase alcohol and rebel against whatever values their parents have attempted to instill. The same phenomenon, if not worse, occurs with college freshmen. This happens to nearly any teenager living on his or her own for the first time.
I would argue that instead of fulfilling Wexler’s prediction, our parents should be thankful that we are in a structure and culture that revolves around Torah and should support us for the first time we live alone and assert our independence. Once the novelty of independence and legal status wears off – and trust me, it does – these “yeshiva boys gone wild” stay in on Thursday nights to learn Torah into the wee hours.
Orthodox teens studying in Israel are like all other teenagers. So were their parents when they lived alone for the first time in Israel or college.
So please, Mom and Dad, don’t freak out.
The writer is a student at Yeshivat Ma’ale Gilboa More Hoffman
Sir, – I have been remiss in not writing sooner to compliment Gil Hoffman on his insightful, logical and immensely readable articles. My only complaint is that there aren’t more of them.