Tuesday, May 31, 2005

All Honor Ateres

A letter from Monsey

Dear DovBear:

Aters Bes Yaakov is one of our neighborhood schools for girls, in Monsey, NY. It is the only girl's school in town with no uniform policy. The dress code is very strict, but students can choose their own clothing. The thinking is that girls need to express their individuality and they need to learn how to dress according to halacha. When you wear a uniform, your individuality is stifled, and you never learn how to make kosher choices.

This Spring, that policy almost changed. A right-wing element within the parent body pressured the administration to implement a uniform policy, and last week, the school had it's first uniform fair (Fittings, and the paying of deposits)

Dov, it was a disaster. The uniforms, like all uniforms were ugly and uncomfortable. The girls were miserable. And we were so disappointed that the school had, seemingly, sacrificed it's principles on the later of conformity.

Thank god we were wrong. The very next day after the uniform fair, the principle sent home a letter canceling the uniform policy! In a nutshell, she said, "we were wrong." Isn't that amazing? After accepting deposits, and after selling the new policy over the course of many months, the school still had the integrity and the self-awareness and the bravery - at the very last minute - to say: This is wrong. We're not doing this.

After reading so many stories on DovBear about gutless, close-minded Jewish institutions, I know you'll be happy to see that in Monsey, at least, there's hope.

What a great story! And for the record, I've confirmed the account with my Rockland County sources and it's all true: A group of fundies pushed the school's administration to the brink, singing all the toneless songs about "What all the other frum schools do." They almost won. But at the last second, the school pushed back, and said: "Not in our house. We don't care what they do at other frum schools. We're not insecure. We can't be bullied. We have principles, principles that are perfectly in keeping with Jewish law, even if other Jewish schools don't share them, and those principles matter. "

Well done Ateres Bes Yaakov!