Tikvah: The Distaff Side
In a manner reminiscent of the way a woman takes over all the space in the closet once a guy gets married, the women have taken over the TikvahYeshiva website. Which is a good thing. If you check, you will see that Tikvah literally lost no time at all in making sure there was a quality program for women to complement the one it is running for men. In fact, the women’s program begins at the same location on the very day that the men pull out – hopefully intellectually supercharged after their week. It unfortunately usually takes much longer in our community for people to provide separate-and-not-equal opportunities for frum women. The rapidity with which they put together a quality program gives testimony to Tikvah’s investment in the haredi community.
The focus is slightly different – the role of political theory and practice in Orthodox life – and the length of the seminar is shorter, reflecting the reality that more men can get away from their families than women! The women’s seminar is equally star-studded, though. I’m not complaining about my faculty, but I wouldn’t mind hearing from Ruth Wisse of Harvard.
The deadline for applications to the women’s program is July 7th. The men’s program was swamped with applications, well in excess of our expectations. It will be interesting to see if anything near the amount of intellectual curiosity that we found among ordinary yeshiva men exists among products of Bais Yaakov and the like.
I excitedly applied for the TYF for men (& am even a finalist) and really hope I get the chance to participate but I don’t think my wife will apply. She doesn’t have the same curiosity as I do (unless it pertains to classroom teaching). I am curious to know if other Lakewood women are the same.
Rabbi Adlerstein, I always enjoy your writing – both the tone and the content – but I was somewhat offended by what I perceived as the tone of your last sentence – “It will be interesting to see if anything near the amount of intellectual curiosity that we found among ordinary yeshiva men exists among products of Bais Yaakov and the like.”
You seem to be equating the number of applications received with the amount of intellectual curiosity that exists among a group of people. There is a huge problem with this assumption IMHO as there are many other significant variables that may affect whether or not someone chooses to apply to this program.
In many frum families (and most non-frum or non-Jewish as well) women bare more of the responsibility for raising the next generation. While this is actually a great reason why a program like this Should target female participants, it also makes it extremely difficulty for women to be able to attend such a program. I live in Baltimore, MD and would love to attend; however, I am not sure how I would be able to since I have a 4 year old and 4-month old (who is still nursing) at home. I imagine that many frum women between the ages of 20 and 30 will have a similar issue, but the program information does not address how they will accommodate women with young children (if at all).
Similarly, many of my female peers (at least in this age range) are primary or secondary breadwinners for their family. It is not as difficult for men currently learning in yeshiva to attend a program like this one (especially if it falls out during bein hazmanim), but for women who are professionals taking off two days can be difficult. Unfortunately, this is another reason why I would have difficulty attending. I work full days on both Monday and Tuesday and have no vacation time left since I had to use all of it when I had a baby 4-months ago.
These are just two reasons why less applicants may have nothing to do with intellectual ability or interest. If you and/or Tikvah have any ideas on how to address these obstacles to women’s attendance, please let me know! I am still open to attending if there were some way to address these issues.
I actually think it is amazing the amount of women who ARE intellectually curious despite the education of women in our community which often discourages “intellectual curiosity” by discouraging probing questions (often because the teachers do not have answers – not because they don’t exist) and by presenting Torah as dry and irrelevant. Of course, there are wonderful girls’ schools and teachers as well, but from what I have seen they are the exception and not the rule.
And of course, as mentioned above, women often find themselves doing the majority of the child rearing, cooking, cleaning, etc. in the home (often in addition to working outside of the home), which can also can stifle intellectual curiosity because of the nature of the work and just the fact that it is so time consuming!
Bracha, don’t worry, yeshiva mens’ education also discourages intellectual curiosity. 🙂