Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Neve Bitch


Jerusalem consists of people from all over the world. It is not always easy to get along due to all these different mentalities.

One large group you cannot overlook anymore are the newly religious girls from abroad coming to Jerusalem for one year and studying Yiddishkeit at frum seminaries. One of the biggest seminaries is "Neve Yerushalaim" in the ultra - orthodox Har Nof neighbourhood. Neve Yerushalaim doesn't do much advertising for its several programmes but works due to mouth to mouth advertising. Neve girls recommend it to their friends and so on.

No doubt, one has to be the type for Neve. I was once studying at the Mechinah (preparation course) for three days and fell asleep. It wasn't my cup of tea. Not only because they didn't teach Gemara to girls but also many girls turned out to be real bitches. I have no idea if this had been the case before they entered Neve or whether they had only developed such a messed up mentality while studying there.

To make it clear: Not every Neve girl is like that and their programmes in Hebrew, Russian and French are very different to begin with. However, Anglo Neve Baalei Teshuva can turn out nasty. If you don't function, as you have been taught by your teachers, other girls don't hesitate turning you in. Even when you mention that there exist also other opinions on this and that subject.

Until today, I keep on meeting many Neve girls (I am sooo glad to be here) and those drop - outs who hated it and left (I am still recovering). If I had a daughter and she came home with the plan to study at Neve, I would jump up the roof. First of all, young adults should have different choices in their frum directions but what the English courses at Neve don't offer is using your brain too much. Of course, Neve Yerushalaim does offer academic classes but on what level ?

It is hard to describe the Neve mentality. Friends told me that it doesn't matter too much anyway. Why using a brain when you get married off to another Baal Teshuva who is probably not much smarter (not because he is a BT but in general). Why bother with a Neve girl who likes this way of life ?

I don't bother but still think it is funny when other frum seminaries in Har Hof tell their students: "We are not at Neve here where girls don't use a brain".


  1. The Curmudgeonly Israeli Giyoret says:

    Wow, that is pretty extreme coming from you, Miriam. I wonder who or what you ran into that led you to feel this way.

    Neve is a BIG place, and like any big place, there will be a certain percentage of b*t**** among the bts, if you know what I mean.

    My limited experience with Neve was so long ago as not to be relevant, but it seems that what makes them seem cut and dried sometimes is that they will take women with no background whatsoever, and that they "advance" students in class levels that seem very rigid to me. Like Red Cross swimming lessons or Girl Scout merit badges. I don't think learning, let alone spiritual advancement, happens that way.

    They have a vast array of teachers, though, whether there is pressure on the student to conform to a certain ideal or not.

  2. B"H

    To tell you the truth:
    I have never had such bad experiences as with a certain type of Neve girls. And those certain girls should ask themselves whether they are really religious. From what I saw, they rather turn other people away from religion.

    You are totally right: Neve yerushalaim does accept girls with no background whatsoever. However, once I heard from a Harvard student entering Neve and she may have been at the wrong place.:-))))

    It is this certain type of bitchy behaviour of some girls. I have never seen this anywhere else. Not at Nishmat, not at Shearim and not at Midreshet Rachel ! And this behaviour just drives me nuts.

  3. The Curmudgeonly Israeli Giyoret says:

    " have never had such bad experiences as with a certain type of Neve girls."

    Well, it must have been pretty bad. You seem very accepting of a wide array of religious types as long as they behave like menschen. Maybe it's a middle/upper-middle class American thing? Some of these girls may be spiritually thirsty, but they are not used to lives of any depth or self-sacrifice before they come here. The shift in perspective may take some time.

    "Once I heard from a Harvard student entering Neve and she may have been at the wrong place.:-))))"

    Oh, I can believe THAT. Neve aims at a middle ground, and that might well not suit someone who has been accustomed to a certain level of intellectual rigor. But intellectual rigor is not everyone's cup of tea, and maybe that's a good thing too.

    Neve is not big on individuality or flexibility, which can be a problem for those of us who need that, or who have been accustomed to a wider variety of frumkeit than Neve serves up. Nishmat prides itself on exceptionalism--lomdus and gemara for women aren't mainstream.

    Also, it may be harder to get away with being bitchy at a small school. Midreshet Rachel and Nishmat are more like the two-room schoolhouse of days gone by--not too much specialization, and you have to work at getting along with everybody because you can't avoid anybody.

    Again, Neve is a very big place, and they really do have some All Star teachers, particularly Rbtzn, Heller and Rav Leff, neither of whom have anything against individuality or intellectuality, and who teach Torah with derech eretz, common sense, and tact that is rare today.

    Neve was not the place for me, but they do fit a certain market. My machetaynesteh was in their Israeli program years ago, and she is an exemplar of the fully-integrated haredi BT vatika.

    Although as I implied before, Israeli BT women are rarely "bitchy".

  4. B"H

    As a matter of fact, everyone can be bitchy but I have noticed a real high concentration at Neve girls.:-)
    One of the reasons may be that many of their BT girls want to be so perfect as soon as they finish the Mechinah. Or already during the Mechinah. Getting blown away by some facts and sometimes immediately entering the main studies (after the Mechinah). Changing their way of clothing and even talking in a special (Neve) way. Even smiling in a Neve way.

    They do have very good teachers though: Rabbi Marcus or Rabbi Kleman, for instance, but I do think that the girls push each other. Especially those who have been there for a while.

    It definitely does fit some girls. Not everyone needs the intellect but many only want a basic Jewish education in order to get married and build a family life. On the other hand, the Neve teachers hold a great resposibility for those newcomer girls and should keep on going telling the BTs to take it slowly. It looks like some students get so carried away that they don't see anything else besides the Neve way.

  5. "One of the reasons may be that many of their BT girls want to be so perfect as soon as they finish the Mechinah."

    For sure, but that's a BT thing, not necessarily a Neve thing. And I bet the teachrs DO tell the girls to take it slow, but there are some girls who won't listen. As soon as they take out their tongue piercings (yes, really) they want to become "just like" their teachers.

    Those of us who were brought up pretty "square" already are at an advantage in this, as there was not such a vast difference between our secular lives and our frum ones.

    Israeli women secular women are at an advantage because they have more of an intuitive sense of what is "Jewish" (even those who don't recognize a spice box) and because they are less further removed from those who do. Plus, of course, they have the advantage of Hebrew as a mother tongue, and some sense of what it means to be part of a klal.

    European Jewish women grew up with antisemitism and a strong sense of what Jewish is NOT, and that brings a certain maturity. Especially the Russians, who come from a culture that tried to innoculate them from a belief in G-d and any kind of spirituality. They know what they're NOT choosing.

    American girls, nebech, come from a culture that is maybe too accepting, and an erroneous (Christian) concept of spirituality. American spirituality is all about me, me me, and Judaism is all about my obligations. It's a big change of mindset, and a lot of people don't negotiate it well at first.

    As a convert, I was really put off by women who had no idea what it meant to pay a price for their choice, and who were used to people running after them begging them to be Jewish. Many of my BT peers seemed awfully jelly-like--and awfully Christian--to me. It takes time for things to settle in.

    I was always awfully proud that other Israeli parents were surprised to find that my kids had American parents. I was under the misconception that there was something intrinsically wrong with frum Jews who were not Israeli. I like to think I've outgrown that, but I still find Hebrew a more Jewish language and American frum can be hard for me to take.

    On the "plus" side, my kids have the kind of familiarity with Nach that puts me in awe of Israeli ulpana graduates. It more than makes up for the Hebrew grammar in their "English".

  6. WOW. i must say i'm ABSOLUTLY discusted by this.

    I am a neve girl. I was there for 2 1/2 years in various levels (btwn 2008-2010, minus 6 months). And I can assure you that the marjority of the women there are not who you say we are.

    Like in every seminary/ college/ or dorming situation (or any situation for that matter, where have to interact with many people) there will be a select few people you don't like for what ever the reason. And don't get me wrong I've had my select few NEVE bitch encounters as well. but most of the girls are normal women in the 20s and 30s. My closest friends are from neve.

    If you are dealing girls that are 19,20 that are still in the partying state of mind you'll most likly get the girls that think they are better then you, or go behind your back, or whatever, b/c thats where they are holding, but the girls that are into their yiddishkeit and are true bat torah (which is a good precentage of the student body) chances are the experience you had would be few a far between.

    Take it from me, i met alot of different girls ( i wouldn't be suprised if i met over 1000) and believe me, there were girls I didn't like very much, but you know what? I realized, ok this girl is not someone I want to associate with, and I stayed civil with her, while focusing on friendships that were my caliber.

    With over 700 girls at any given time, there will be girls that are bitches, there will be girls that are untrustworthy, there will be girls that are load and abnoxious. THESE GIRLS HAVE YET TO MATURE! But there will also be girls that are amazing, that are sweet, caring, generous, baal chessed, bas torah, and host of other great things. THESE ARE THE GIRLS TO BE FRIENDS WITH. And you know what while being at neve for 2 1/2 years I found these negative and positive characteristics among the Baalei Teshuvah, and the frum from birth crowd. IT'S everywhere, it all depends on what you want to do with it. Neve is not a place for every BT and thats ok. But to completly bash an entire institution where anyone can come across it, is not ok!!

  7. B"H

    I did not condemn the entire institution, and as we both argeed, one has to be the type for Neve. Baalei Teshuva can turn out bitchy anywhere but most of such cases I met where davka from Neve.

    Don't you think that the girls among each other can be too pushy ? Especially when you finish the Mechinah and enter the real studies.