Sending a Child to a School Where She’s Not Wanted

Rafi left the following comment on the story of the principal from Beit Shemesh who threatened a student with social isolation:

It is sad that this is happening, and I don’t understand why the parents insist on sending the kid to this school that doesn’t want her. Whatever the reason is, right or wrong, why not just send to another school? There are so many, why davka (specifically) the one that refuses to take you?

I don’t blame the kid, and the school’s behavior is revolting, but some blame must be laid at the feet of the parents as well. Maybe it really is not the right school for this kid and they are simply insisting for stupid reasons.

Parents have all kinds of reasons to send to a particular school. The argument—that parents should not send a child to a school where she is not wanted—must be rejected out of hand. If we accepted this logic then American public schools would still be segregated. Children with physical and mental disabilities would never go to a school with “normal” children. And so on and so on.

Let’s give these parents the benefit of the doubt and assume they considered all their options. Let us also assume they are prepared to give her the emotional support she needs to deal with the situation. After all, who is to say she wouldn’t face a similar attitude in any haredi school she tries to attend? From what I recall of the story, the girl was rejected from several schools. This one is her neighborhood school, which is why it was instructed to take her. Perhaps the parents don’t want to make her travel.

Even if my assumptions are incorrect, what about the next child who receives an unjust rejection? Should her parents also slink away and find another school?

Accusing parents of harming their children, making trouble, or not knowing their place, are classic methods of diverting attention from the issue at hand. Note how the principal blames the mother for the whole situation, including the strike, and asks twice, “What kind of mother [are you]?”

Anything is “kosher” as long as it gets parents to back off.


  1. I agree with you but I wouldn’t want my daughter to be the korban that will start the changes.
    You need to understand that no matter how loving and accepting and whatever the parents are, the daughter will feel the discrimination and suffer because of it. I guess i’m not a leader

  2. i wonder if there has been any type of study done on the very first black kids to experience desegregation and how they were affected by attending schools that didn’t want them. i can actually see it going both ways. the child can suffer psychologically from being in environment that doesn’t want him. or it can teach him important lessons about coping with adversity in general and standing up for one’s self in specific.

    anyway, to ensure that the bet shemesh girl is not completely alienated in a hostile school as per the isolation threats, the proper midah ke-neged midah response by the court should have been to force the school to send out acceptance letters to *all* the sephardi girls it had rejected.
    rafi (i guess i have to disagree with him once a year)


    maybe it really isn’t the right school for this kids. but the pattern of rejections makes one suspect that that this was not the reason for all the rejections.

  3. Rachel Q, I can’t say that I would do it. But I would certainly consider it.
    LOZ, I was thinking that too (about the first integrated kids). In the end, parents have to live with their decisions. They have to sleep at night and there are two ways to look at every decision.
    And I also usually agree with Rafi. 🙂

  4. LOZ and Mother in Israel,

    RE: first black kids to integrate American schools – you can hear the the students who integrated Little Rock, Arkansas tell their stories in the first person if you visit the American Civil Rights museum in Memphis, Tennessee. (The exhibit is both horrific and inspiring.) If you ever find yourself in the Memphis area, do consider it. (The music scene isn’t so bad there, either 😉

    And Mother in Israel, thank you for explaining the reason why Sephardim may be considered undesirable by the parents in this school…very interesting. The Ashkenazi parents should rest assured, though – their children are unlikely to be “influenced”. More likely the Sephardi girl will pick up the mores, speech, etc. of her Ashkenazi classmates.

  5. Ms. K,

    I am a native Memphian and I appreciate the plug for the National Civil Rights Museum here. It indeed is very powerful. You are correct about the music scene as well. While we’re on the subject, some other places a visitor may want to check out would be (and I won’t mention Graceland

    Rock’n’Soul Museum (affiliated with the Smithsonian)
    Stax Museum of American Soul Music
    The Peabody (hotel–famous for the “Duck Walk”)
    Mud Island River Park (interesting for history museum–and a model of the lower Mississippi River!)
    Pink Palace Museum (originally the mansion of the founder of Piggly Wiggly stores–never lived there)
    Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
    Dixon Gallery and Gardens
    Lichterman Nature Center
    Shelby Farms (one of the largest urban parks in the country)

    Enough of the commercial 🙂

    Regarding the Little Rock Nine, Little Rock is only 140 miles from Memphis, and the original Central High School is part of a National Park dedicated to the events surrounding the desegregation of the school. Lots to do in the area…

    Sheldon Dan (sheldan)

  6. Ms. Krieger says

    Sheldan – Yes, I went to Memphis on a lark one Martin Luther King weekend when another vacation fell thru. Ended up staying at the Peabody Hotel. I did not get to explore the local Jewish community there, but I have heard that both Memphis and Nashville have relatively large Jewish populations proportionate to their size. Someday I shall return. Memphis is wonderful!