Sunday, April 6, 2008


The other day I was at a friends wedding. Many girls I haven't seen from HS were there, and they did the typical "OMG, I haven't seen you in the longest time! What are you doing with your life?"

When the question is addressed to me I always answer "I'm in college and I work."

Then they ask "Really, OMG, thats soooooo nice, what's your major, what do you work as, where?"

And so I answer "I'm majoring in Philosophy and Law and I work for rent managment."

Most of the time I pretend to care about what they're doing and I say something like "So, what are you doing?"

And, I always know what to expect, either a) education b) some sort of therapy c) accounting or d) psychology - social work.

It has always bothered me how completely uniform the yeshiva system makes this girl out to be. These girls cannot, and do not know how to think for themselves. Yes, there are a few girls that would actually really love education or social work, or being therapists or accountants but I'm pretty sure I'm safe in saying that a majority go into these fields because they're the "in" thing to do.

Its one thing to straighten your hair because its a trend (doesn't lead to any long term damage), but to go and allow a "trend" to decide your future seems absolutely ludicrous to me. Its ridiculous that when I go to a wedding I hear these girls who are all in either Touro or Brooklyn literally going for the same things.

I almost always have someone tell me "wow, you have a unique major" though I am in a sort of predicament because I do not know what I'm going to do with my major, I feel a sense of pride that I am unique. I feel special that I'm not "typical." Because, not only is my major unique, but so is the job I currently have. No girl I know has anything to do with real-estate. Most have jobs as "assistant Morahs" and over the summer they work at a camp, where they're lucky if they don't have to pay to work!!

The yeshivish system is ridiculous. Everything is "typical." I'm sick of typical. I'm so sick of everyone being the same. The few people I keep in touch with from my public school days are all going for something different. Sure there's a speech therapist and accountant, but EVERY person is doing something else. Something I cannot say for my frummy friends. Throughout history Jews have been persecuted and not given the liberty to work at whatever job they wanted. They had no choices but to remain in business and usury (something the goyim absolutely hated us for). But now that we have all the choices that we can ever need, we're remaining with the same mentality we had when we didn't have them.

Shame on us for remaining "typical" and not using our yiddishe kop for creative purposes.

Shame on us for being proud that we're "typical"

Shame on us for conforming too much...there's only so much conformity necessary in a society, and it usually doesn't exceed speaking the common language and wearing clothes (general, as in not walking around naked. I didn't mean one has to wear the 'trendy' ugly masculine looking suit on shabbos)


Child Ish Behavior said...

You have just read my post "To be Normal" and really agreed. I couldn't have said it better myself.

outaline said...

I decided to major in graphic design after taking photoshop in high school and then a basic course after graduation. I absolutely loved every minute of my graphics classes and still love this job even after doing it for five years now. I don't see myself ever regretting choosing what I do. I don't know how I'd manage if I didn't love what I do and I can never understand those people who went to college for 5 years yet hate the field they chose. (shouldn't they have figured that out when they were taking the classes.)
I completely agree with you being typical and doing what everyone else does is not what makes someone happy. It's being a unique individual and using the special talents g-d gives us that will keep a person fulfilled.

Jessica said...

I agree with you on that good feeling you get after telling someone you're a philosophy major. Feels good to know that we're doing something out of the ordinary. As for why frummies major in what they do, I think it has more to do with them thinking they have no other options, than with them doing it because its the trendy thing to do at the moment. In BY we're not really taught how to think outside the box. Any major that doesn't have an obviously practical outcome probably just seems stupid to that type of girl.

frumpunk said...

You're independent minded and capable of making your own decisions without worrying what others think. Welcome to punkhood. Against the grain, and thats where we'll stay.

bankman said...

these careers that you label "typical" are extremely conducive for childreering, etc. many of these girls, i'm sure, long for the day to be married and start raising a family, while still being able to have a job, or something to do outside the house. These jobs that you mention are generally speaking very flexible in terms of the hours, etc. which make them very favorable for the lifestyle they choose to live. makes sense to me!

frumskeptic said...


-education is not that flexible. Maybe its more flexible than some other position in the corporate world, but working as a union member,and constant criticism of your position. Just cuz they work only 10 months out of a year, does not make it flexible on the days you ARE working. There's a lot of bureaucratic crap teachers gotta put up with.

And if you're talking about yeshiva teachers, they don't get paid anything...its almost stupid to actually spend time in college for that. May as well fill out surveys on line. I have friend who refuses to work in a coed Yeshiva out or principle! (and those are the ones that -usually- tend to pay well!!)

- SOrry to burst your bubble but in order for "some sort of therapy" to be flexible you have to either have experience or get paid pretty crappy amounts. My moms cousin is a chiropractor. Flexible schedule and such, gets $60,000/yr. Now, I highly doubt an ordinary speech therapist gets that amount! Especially since there are a tremendous amount of speech therapists leaving college each year. If theres more suppply then there is demand= low salary...sometimes following the trend isn't so good

- HOw is accounting any more flexible than any other corporte job? Same thing 9-5, 3 weeks of vacation (if you're lucky), a few sick/personal days. You get a cubical and you work alongside the other employees.

Same as therapy, how is social work or psychology "flexible?" You have to be really good to open your own practice, and working for someone else you're stuck by their hours until you have enough experience for them to trust you to make your own. If you have a job that allows you to make your own hours, you're probably not getting paid as much as you could.

Again...these girls aren't going for "flexible" reasons, because if they were there are plenty of positions that are equally as 'flexible'. And with enough experience and talent you'll end up with flexible hours no matter which position you choose.

and, how many of them CHOOSE to live this lifestyle, and aren't just taught to "choose" it since birth since its a "trend" to get married and attempt to be the "senior kallah"? or be the first out of seminary ...would you like me to share stories of how some of my friends got married? I bet most of those marriages weren't by choice!

Moshe said...

Outaline, do you do web design?

Frumskeptic, you forgot one crucial point. How many of those girls actually get a job in their field or even get a job at all?

jewandme said...

I so agree.

bankman said...

i disagree. education is very flexible. 1) summer. 2) half days are normal (especially in jewish schools) - either english or hebrew studies. 3) many schools allow teachers to actually bring their young children with them and put them in a class or babysitting service and most importantly 4) TUITION BREAKS (if one ends up working in the school that their kids attend!) - this more than offsets the "they don't get paid anything" argument (and its PRETAX too!)

i disagree with you therapy too. many of these jobs pay by the hour - so that if one chooses to work 20 hours per week, it can be done very easily. plus, i know this may burst your bubble, but this can be a very rewarding job as well - and believe it or not some people actually take jobs that they ENJOY - and not just for the money . so "getting paid pretty crappy amounts" may not allow this family to buy corned beef every shabbat, but they could probably make it with a turkey-salami sandwitch!

regarding accounting, the accouting needs in this economy are so vast, especially during tax season - that many firms allow professionals to work flexible hours - they need all the help they can get! and even work from home. I know many who work in the evenings AT THEIR HOME (another benefit) for accounting firms and especially in todays tech world, computers allow us to be "virtually" there.

i agree with you on the "taught to choose" comment - but that is the brain-dead world we live in. I was just trying to point out some of the benefits of these positions that i am familiar with first hand.

abandoning eden said...

yep. I feel like the therapy can be further broken down into a) occupational therapy b) physical therapy or c) social work. No jewish women I know are actually getting thier phd or psyd in psychology so that they can be a licensed psychologist.

Not that I'm religious or anything, but I grew up in the same environment you did, and right now I'm in my 4th year of a phd program (in sociology) and working as an adjunct instructor. :) When I find HS people on facebook they are inevitably either shocked or amazed or confused by my career path.

oh and you forgot the most frequent career- housewife. Well maybe that's among the people I went to HS with (who were more modern and generally didn't marry learning guys- so they can afford to not work).

abandoning eden said...

oh and I gotta add that anyone who thinks the education profession only involves the hours that someone spends in a classroom (like half days) is totally off. I teach a college class, and I'm only actually teaching the class for 3 hours a week, but I spend around 20 hours a week on class prep, grading, meeting with students, etc. I can't even imagine how much more work a hs or elementry school teacher must have, when they teach 5 days a week (so have to do lesson planning for 5 days a week) and have to grade frequent HW assignments!

frumskeptic said...

Bankman: Almost every profession these days has a few companies that allow you to work from go and say accounting is flexible because of a few cases of people you know, is not fair.
Plus, judging by my parents (who are both programmers), working from home, literally means WORKING from home. So just cuz you may not need to pay for the sitter that day, your kid is not getting alot of attention. Because physically being at home is totaly different when you're mentally at work.

"plus, i know this may burst your bubble, but this can be a very rewarding job as well - and believe it or not some people actually take jobs that they ENJOY - and not just for the money"

No, you didnt burst my bubble, I had that in there ... exact qoute:

"Yes, there are a few girls that would actually really love education or social work, or being therapists or accountants but I'm pretty sure I'm safe in saying that a majority go into these fields because they're the "in" thing to do."

And I'm still sticking to that. Im sure I'm safe insaying the majority that go into these fields are doing it cuz of the trend.

Education: Just because the teachers have flexibilty during the summer, doesnt mean they have flexibility during the school year any more than any other profession does. I haven't seen too many of my teachers during my Public School years bring their kids. Its happened once or twice, but just as often as my parents would bring me or my sister to work with them. Really if mommy isn't at home, unless she runs a daycare, the kids really arent that much better off.

frumskeptic said...

ae: I happen to really respect professors, but when I think of regular teachers in HS or JHS i very much go by the saying "Those who don't know teach"

Maybe in the frum world, its more like "those who dont feel like thinking of a career teach", but generally, I don't see how its hard to teach.
In my PS i remember, teachers had to be in teh classroom for 5 periods. the day had 8 periods. They had 3 periods of "free/teacher time" where they hung out in the lounge or whatever. The good teachers (and us students always knew who those were) would grade the test papers during those 3 periods, the not-so good, or the lazy would do them at home, and then complain how much it sux to be a teacher.

About making lesson plans...YOu see, for a professor, you constantly have to do research, and pick out books and all that for the students. Keep them interested. THe college, if htey give you a curriculum, give it to you vaguely, whereas in HS they are very particular about what the kid needs to learn. Majority of the stuff does not change from year to year, and the teachers tend to use the EXACT same material for it. They may change around the questions to the test or the wording of the questions. Or assign one extra essay or one less essay, but the bulk of HS is repetive crap year after year for each teacher.

I happen to think that hebrew teachers actually have to learn to teach. But judging by NY state regents and such (which are EXACTLY the same), i highly doubt the "secular" subject teachers have to do much more than skim the previous years lesson plans.

Moshe said...

I work from home and the benefit of that is that my son can wake up whenever he wants and nobody rushes him or yells at him. However, when he's home, I can't work. Anyone who thinks they can work from home and take care of their kids at the same time, is mistaken. When my son was one and now that he's two plus years old, he's not gonna sit and play by himself, he wants attention. He also needs to be fed.
Working from home allows you to cook for shabbat and do your shopping when the store is more or less empty. It also lets your kids have a less hectic life.

Holy Hyrax said...

I understand what you are saying about conformity. Its one of the biggest problems out there. But let me make a couple of points.

1) I come for a secular background. Most of my friends are secular. All of them do the same exact thing. Its either doctors, lawyers accounts and anything that has big money trail to it. There is a reason stereotypes exist. Whatever the "in" thing is, it us usually everywhere and most people don't become botonists or artists etc. This has nothing to do with secular vs. frum. I know MANY MANY secular women out there that go for psychology.

2) AE is right about the sub-groups in psychology which they try to go in. My wife tried for OP. The reason for this is because for many, a career is secondary to a family. They don't want to spend many years and long hours doing research. With social work and OP, you get your license and you are done. And the pay is enough for them. So I don't think its about "flexible hours" of work, but more of how much is spent on a certain field

I would also like to add, something interesting that I see here. It used to be that frum woman basically did nothing. There was uproar about that. Now, frum women are out in the work place and getting higher education. But no, now we find some other particular thing to pick at.

Cynicism is bad disease. It just grows and grows. Take it from a person that has been blogging for a few years now and I have had to deal with it myself.

outaline said...

Blogger Moshe said...

Outaline, do you do web design?

Sorry no. I did take a web design class in college but I really didn't enjoy it so I didn't pursue it further. Although I have been debating learning it more in depth now because it's becoming a more necessary skill. I'll have to see, you know what they say Jack of all trades master of none. I might be better off just specializing in print design.

Orthoprax said...

"YOu see, for a professor, you constantly have to do research, and pick out books and all that for the students. Keep them interested."

Huh? What kinds of goofy courses have you taken? My courses in college were almost entirely pre-structured with formalized material. The same books were assigned every semester and the same material lectured on. You just don't have much leeway for stuff like biochemistry.

Orthoprax said...

For the record, I'm a Jewish man going into medicine. Shockingly cliche.

frumskeptic said...

Orthoprax: maybe for biochem. lol.
I mean, we use the same books, cuz we need to cover Aristotle and Locke and Marx, just that the professors are constantly lecturing on things OUTSIDE the book. Like things they found from newspapers, magazine articles. The quote books they've read.

Its really intersting. In HS we didnt have teachers that did that, excpet for in Hebrew subjects and they had articles of "proof" that Gd exists, like how eating milk & meat together is bad for the stomach and can be cancerous, or s/t like that. Oh, and I had one teacher (who I happened to love) who was constantly criticing the feminist movement, and she brought in an article about how the UN wanted to ban mothers day or s/t.

frumskeptic said...

ohh...and for some reason men being "cliche" doesnt seem to irk me so much as it does girls being cliche.

Maybe its a double standard.

Or maybe its just that men doing things that are typical doesnt really affect me.

Holy Hyrax said...

ohh...and for some reason men being "cliche" doesnt seem to irk me so much as it does girls being cliche.

Maybe its a double standard.

Or maybe its just that men doing things that are typical doesnt really affect me.

Then what was all that about shame on us JEWS for conforming?

frumskeptic said...

holy hyrax:

Because it still irks me. Just not as much.

Orthoprax said...

A difference is that Jews in medicine is a standard that has been true for centuries and is a natural extension of basic Jewish teachings. The stuff modern yeshivish girls go into are purposefully pushed by the schooling system which simply encourages conformity.

I just can't imagine little girls dreaming about being speech therapists.

frumskeptic said...


" A difference is that Jews in medicine is a standard that has been true for centuries and is a natural extension of basic Jewish teachings"

I was actually just thinking something similar. Except that people who choose to become doctors or lawyers (the "standard" make mom proud jobs for Jewish boys) usually are REALLLY committed to it. Like my cousin always dreamt about being a doctor, then when he got older he realized how much schooling was involved, so he decided against it. So the ones that are willing to go through with it, are probably not doing it as a trend. And if they are, its not as obvious.

OH...and about girls dreaming about becomming speech therapists, I'm sure there are a few weirdo's. lol.

Orthoprax said...

Feh, law. What is that, like three years? And you can take whatever you want in college? :P

I'm still looking at another decade or so until I finish my residency.

mlevin said...

orthoprax - you can't compare law and medicine. Totally different fields. To be a doctor, you don't even need a college degree (yes, I checked, half of colleges including Yale do not require it.) Although you need certain 5 colledge classes taken and MCATS. Then there is medical school and residency.

But to be a lawyer one needs 4 years of college or internship which is almost impossible to get. Followed by 3 years of law school and then there is a choice of working for an established firm, government jobs, or private practice. Private practice takes years befores one acquires stable clients. Government jobs are just that government=low pay many hours. When you get hired by an established firm it is expected that for the first 5-10 years you would be putting in an average of 80 hours per week.

Orthoprax said...


"To be a doctor, you don't even need a college degree (yes, I checked, half of colleges including Yale do not require it.)"

LOL, ok. Just because they don't require a degree to apply doesn't mean you have a snowball's chance in hell of getting accepted. Heh, theoretically you can be a lawyer without ever even going to law school!

My sister is a lawyer and I'm in medical school. I know what's involved fairly well for both fields. She graduated college in three years, intentionally majored in a miniscule subject and took easy classes to ensure a high gpa.

She got a couple of nice internships while in college and was accepted into law school. I know she worked very hard the next three years, but she got through it, passed the bar and then went to work in a private firm. Since then she's had a baby and has gone into private practice - and because she knows a good number of people in the field she gets a solid number of referrals which keeps her busy while giving her the flexibility to also care for the baby.

I, on the other hand, had to take grueling classes in college and to be at all competitive a degree is expected, as well as some scientific research time and a well-rounded extracurricular experience. Med school is four years long. And after you graduate (and pass the USMLE - which is three separate exams) - you still cannot legally practice medicine without getting through a residency which is ~3-7 years long. If you want to go into a subspecialty, that can be another year or two in a fellowship. And since I'm personally aiming for surgery, that tilts it to around the seven year area.

And frankly, as a resident, they just legally reduced the maximum time a doctor can work to 80 hrs/wk because the norm was previously ~120 hrs/wk. But everyone in the field knows that you have to stick around to finish your work whether it's over 80 hours or not. Proper patient care just can't wait 'till tomorrow.

Listen, I know being a lawyer can be difficult, but it just doesn't stack up to what I have in front of me.

mlevin said...

Orthopax - one cannot be a lawyer without going to law school. Lawyering is a large private club in order to get admitted you must follow the rules. If they don't like you for any reason they will take away that membership.

With medicine it is a totally different ball game...

But as long as you in agreement that it's not easy to become a lawyer it's ok with me.

Honestly, it is difficult with any proffession. I am a programmer. Although actual schooling time is minimal, the prooving yourself time and effort are not. And in addition the higher up you go the more headaches you get. I am literally on call 24/7. On Shabbos I just don't pick up the phone. It's all part of a job.

Orthoprax said...

" one cannot be a lawyer without going to law school."

Sure you can. You can work in a law office for five years or so, get them to sign off on you then take the bar and poof you're a lawyer. You don't need to even go to college.

"With medicine it is a totally different ball game..."

Yes, they tend to weed out those guys before med school. The road is too long and too difficult for the system to invest in people who'll flake out.

"But as long as you in agreement that it's not easy to become a lawyer it's ok with me."

Perhaps in absolute terms, but relatively easy with a tiny lead-time and a narrow follow up. And many of those people don't even end up practicing law. Why? Because lots of people go to law school as a stepping stone to other fields. You just don't get that in medicine.

Orthoprax said...

Furthermore, there's a difference to being an arbitrarily successful lawyer or programmer which requires you to work arbitrary amounts of time. You may be less successful, work much less hard and still practice law and make a living. One could possibly be a rodeo clown and work 25 hours a day too.

But one cannot practice medicine without going through the whole long process I discussed previously.

Moshe said...

mlevin: Although actual schooling time is minimal, the prooving yourself time and effort are not.

I find it to be quiet the opposite. There's new stuff every year that you gotta familiarize yourself with. As far as proving yourself, never had a problem with that. Don't know what specific field you're in and what languages you use. I'm a web developer, dba, tech support, network tech, and anything else IT. One of the companies I'm working for right now, sent them one page of code, hired.

abandoning eden said...


in the hard sciences that's probably more true than in the social sciences (or humanities). Especially in my field, sociology, information is constantly going out of date, new studies come out every year, etc. I've taught the same class for the past two semesters (and will teach it again next semester), and each semester I change about 20%-30% of the syllabus- taking off readings that I think are out of date, or that the student didn't really connect with, and adding new readings that have come out or that I've personally discovered since the last time I taught the class.

Now part of that is that I'm new to teaching, and I'm experimenting with what works well in my class. But part of that is that I care about teaching. I've had profs who used data from the 1970s as examples in their class, and had overhead slides probably from the 70s as well. Those people also were terrible teachers, and the fact that they didn't bother to update their lesson plans for 30 years was a reflection of that. Any good professor in a field that lends itself to revision will revise their syllabus each semester, which means redoing lesson plans.

mlevin said...

Moshe - I thing you misunderstood me. By actual schooling, I meant schooling before you start making money. But, yes with programming you have to be on top of new releases and stuff or you'll fall behind.

By proving yourself I mean a name. After a certain amount of time in this field knowing how to code is just a small section of your abilities. You must also know about business you are supporting and all government regulations/legalities that pertain to that business.

As a saying goes "coders are a dime a dozen..."

If you never progress beyond coding you will end up a low pay programmer.

mlevin said...

Orthopax - there are very few lawyers who can work 25 hours per week. As a rule lawyers keep a grueling schedule.

Anonymous said...

Here's an exception that proves your rule.

A young girl in out neighberhood graduated Bais Yaakov, went to one of the acceptably frum programs in Isreal, came home and became an...electrician, with a utility belt strapped around her waist.
Her parents weren't nuts about it but they're good people and let her do it.

Moshe said...

No way! Something that cool, not gonna believe it.

frumskeptic said...


Electrician BY girl?!

Has gotta be a BT or daughter or BT...GOTTA BE!!

thats awesome!