Can You Navigate the Complexities of Yeshiva Application?


“The chinuch decision, as to where a bochur learns for Mesivta, is one of the most important chinuch decisions that a parent will make for their son.” Rabbi Gershon Avtzon shares timely advice for parents and hanhalla about navigating the complexities of Yeshiva application process.

By Rabbi Gershon Avtzon – Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati

We are quickly approaching the special day of Yud Shevat and Chassidim are all preparing themselves for Kabbalas Hanesuis. In addition, it is a time when most parents of Talmidim in the 8th grade are beginning to register their sons in Mesivta for the upcoming year. 

This chinuch decision, as to where a bochur learns for Mesivta, is one of the most important chinuch decisions that a parent will make for their son. If a boy learns in the Yeshiva that is right for him, and has a successful three years of Mesivta, he will have built very strong foundations for a life imbued with Torah and Chassidishe values. 

It all begins with the application process. While many of you have already gone through this process with your older children, this article is focused on those that are going through this process for the first time. You may have heard that it can be an aggravating and agonizing process, (and in all honesty; it must be said that for many it has been) so I am writing this – as someone that sits “at the other end of the table” – to help you navigate the process. I will not be speaking about, or rating, specific Yeshivos –  rather sharing some experience in this field and perspectives from the side of the Hanhalla. I will also share some points for Chavrei Hanhalla to consider.

What parents should do, know and understand:

1. The most important thing is to have open and honest conversations with people that know your son and know the different Yeshivos. There are many different Yeshivos – with different styles and catering to different levels and styles of Talmidim – and it really needs to be a shidduch. You should hear the perspectives of the teachers and principals of the school where your son is attending as well as any of the older bochurim (Shluchim, counselors and learning teachers) that have gotten to know your son in camp etc. You should then narrow it down to 2 (or three) places and apply. I would also suggest that when applying,  communicate that you did your research and explain why you feel that this is a good Shidduch for your son.

2. Do not make the mistake and put “all your eggs in one basket” and only apply to one place. You must understand that in most Yeshivos there is a limited amount of space (and that is a whole separate discussion) and an overload of applications. In many cases, the Yeshiva has previous commitments to certain families (They may be: 1) Local families 2) Families that already have had multiple sons in the Yeshiva 3) related or close friends to members of the Hanhalla 4) Supporters of the institution.) and that could make it very difficult for your son to be accepted. Don’t just assume that you have an automatic acceptance. Working on a few options from the very beginning will help you avoid being stuck at the end. 

    3. Be on top of filling out the necessary forms, application fees, and that the school sends in their necessary forms (report cards etc) in a very timely manner. There are so many times that a boy is unable to attend a Yeshiva because the Hahalla could not get through to the teacher or the school was uncooperative in the process. At the same time, do not expect – or pressure – the teacher to “bend the truth” in his report. His credibility – and thus his ability to get future talmidim into Yeshivos – is his biggest asset when dealing with the various Mesivtas.

    Being open and transparent: Being proactive – having people that know your son call on your behalf (and saying some Tehillim) – can help as well. There is nothing wrong with following up – in a respectful way – to ensure that your son’s application is getting the proper attention.

      [I would like to answer a question that I am often asked: Why do Yeshivos charge an application fee? Is it just another way to raise money for the Yeshiva?

      The answer is two-fold: 1) It is a sign to the Yeshiva that you are serious about the application. 2) Processing the application takes lots of extra time. It is time for the Chavrei Hanhalla that are doing the research and time for those which are giving the “farher”. These people need to be compensated for their time and it comes from the application fee.]

      What Chavrei Hanhalla need to understand:

      1. While the Yeshiva is not required to accept all applicants, they are responsible to treat all applicants with dignity and respect. Too many parents feel ignored and dismissed in the process. There are many times that parents are “left hanging” and thus lose out the opportunity to apply to other places. It is better a direct rejection than an unrealistic “maybe”. Being open and transparent saves much aggravation and resentment.

      2. It is important to remember the sources of information that was received about the potential Talmid. There is an expression that “first impressions can’t be made twice”. In many instances, information is heard from a bochur who – was definitely not an experienced Mechanech – was his counselor or learning teacher and they say something small which causes the Yeshiva to push away the application. 

      [These bochurim – who are often the best and most honest sources of information – should be aware of the effect that their words can have on the future of a Talmid.]

      3. Always remember that once you accept the Talmidim, their Hatzlacha is your channel of Hiskashrus to the Rebbe. To reference a story that the Frierdike Rebbe said (Sukkos 5705): “In the year 5672 (1912), my father was in Menton, and I was traveling on public business to Petersburg, Moscow, Vilna and Brisk, and also to Poland. That was a particularly difficult year. When I finally arrived at Menton, my father’s first question was: “How is your grandmother (Rebbitzin Rivkah) – my revered mother, and the family?” He then asked whether I had brought the list of the yeshivah students. When I answered in the negative, he replied, “In that case, for me you’re only half a guest….”

      Davening for the safety and security of Klal Yisroel and for the Hisgalus of Melech Hamoshiach.

      Please feel free to share your thoughts, on the above in the comments section or by sending me a personal email: [email protected]

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