By the Grace of G‑d
4th Day of Chanukah 5715 [December 26, 1954]
Brooklyn, N.Y.


Greeting and Blessing:

I was pleased to receive your letter of December 7th, and to note in it your interest in the Yeshiva, your joy at acquiring a suitable new home for it, and your hopes for its further growth.

White the external problems connected with the Yeshivah's housing etc. at the moment hold your chief attention, it is an auspicious occasion to reflect upon the character and inner aspects of this institution. There can be no doubt that external conditions have their effect on general development of an institution, but one should never lose sight of the proper perspective as to what is essential and what is superficial.

The essential aspect of any educational institution, and of a Yeshiva especially, is its Intel spiritual character.

It is the spiritual character of the yeshiva in ... that take this opportunity to dwell on. For a better appreciation of my observations I find it necessary to make some preface even at the risk of going over well-known ground.

As you know, the Lubavitcher Yeshivah of ... was founded by my father-in-law of saintly memory. Like all his other public works, it entailed considerable personal sacrifice, but self-sacrifice characterized his whole life and work, from the beginning, under Bolshevik and Communist Russia, to his last day in this free America. Undaunted by the real danger to his person in those days of Bolshevik Russia, he spread Jewish education, based in every detail on our holy Torah, throughout the length and breadth of Russia. You know, or course, that the relentless persecution he suffered as a result of this work culminated in his arrest and death sentence. But by G‑d's grace the sentence was commuted to exile and eventually he was able to leave Russia, continuing his work in Latvia and Poland.

Arriving in this country in 1940, he completely disregarded his health, which had been undermined by his experiences and shattered by the war, and immediately applied himself, body and soul, to the task of spreading Torah-true education in this country. In those days it was real pioneer work, but the many institutions he founded with blood, sweat and toil, and with the fire of his soul, were bound to, and did flourish, with G‑d's help. The Lubavitcher Yeshiva of ... was one of these institutions.

All religious people, and Jews especially, firmly believe in the eternity of the soul It therefore goes without saying, that as the Yeshiva in ... was closely bound up with his saintly soul, and he desires the Yeshiva to be conducted true to its innermost character as he had originally founded envisaged it.

After the above preface, you can well appreciate the inner pain and anxiety which have been caused by the reported changes which have been introduced in the character of the Yeshiva in recent years, changes which are inimical to the character of the Yeshiva and harmful to its students. I shall mention but several of the more grievous ones:

(1) The purpose of Chinuch (Jewish education) is to bring up the Jewish child, boy or girl, to a life of the utmost possible degree of perfection, religiously as well as morally and ethically. Co-education is not conducive to the attainment of this end; on the contrary, it is a sure step in the opposite direction. The state of morality of present day you is too painful a subject to dwell upon. Even non-Jewish educator have largely come to realize the harmful effects of co-education. Statistics, by no means complete, since for obvious, reasons they are not fully reported or even recorded, reveal the state of moral depravity to which co-education leads.

(2) It has therefore been one of the cardinal and basic principles of our educational institutions not to permit co-education at all costs and it grieves me very much to hear that the Yeshiva in N.H. has not abided by this principle. It has thus taken upon itself the responsibility for a breach in the fortress of chastity and morality of young children, a terrible mistake which if not quickly rectified is likely to bring irreparable harm, G‑d forbid.

Needless to say, the financial argument that it is more expensive to run separate classes for boys and girls, is no argument at all, as the matter vitally concerns the future of many children, and even if the future of a single child were involved, money could be no consideration, as our Sages say, 'He who saves one life is deemed to have saved a whole world'.

I am also aware of the argument that other institutions permit co-education, or that some Rabbinical authorities have not openly objected to it, etc. These arguments are not convincing even to those who offer it, and certainly will be of no avail years hence, when some young man or woman, products of this co-ed system, come forward with an accusing finger and soul-stirring cry, Why did you ruin my life? Even if this would be an isolated case, there would be no justification or excuse, but the chances are that such would not be an isolated case, judging by present day statistics.

(3) It is also self evident that one of the main purposes of the Yeshiva is to prepare the Jewish child for life in an environment in which Jews form a minority. Jews have always been 'the smallest among the nations,' but our strength does not lie in numbers. It is the Jewish acting to be 'a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,' Living according to our holy Torah -Torath Chayyim, the Law of our life, adhering to a practicing the high standards of our Mitzvoth in our every-day life, has made us 'different', but herein lies our strength, and this is what has preserved us through the ages. This Jewish consciousness and rightful pride in our destiny has to be implanted in our children from their earliest formative years and the vital importance of it cannot be overemphasized. The fact that we live in a democratic country, with a full measure of freedom, makes such Jewish consciousness even more imperative, for being a small percentage of the total population, the forces of assimilation assert themselves more strongly than elsewhere. It is the duty of the Yeshiva to remove from the child any vestige of inferiority complex about his Jewishness in a predominately non-Jewish environment, until he grows up to understand that democracy and freedom are not a cauldron of assimilation, but rather the contrary; they offer the possibility for every one to have, his place, enjoy his rights, and live according to his faith 100%, and the opportunity of the Jew to fulfill his life's destiny. (Incidentally, this is also a better way to win the respect of the gentile neighbors than by attempts to emulate him and invade his privacy, his religious, customs, etc.)

With the above truth in mind, it has been a basic principle in all institutions founded by my father-in-law of saintly memory, and in others to which his influence extended, to set up a system whereby the sacred Jewish subjects are taught is the morning, and the English department in the afternoon. Apart from the fact that the child's mind is more receptive and retentive in the morning, there is the basic principle of impressing upon the child the order of importance of these two departments, namely that the Torah and Jewish way of life come first and foremost. Only in this way could he be brought up to properly appreciate his great Jewish Heritage, and with pride and fortitude face any challenge he may encounter as a Jew.

It is therefore very painful to learn that the Yeshiva of ... has disregarded this vital principle, and that in certain classes, at any rate, the order has been reversed.

(4) It is unnecessary to emphasize how limited, and therefore how precious, the time is during which the child can devote himself to the Jewish studies. This makes it imperative that every moment that the child is at the yeshiva be utilized to the fullest capacity and efficiency, and anything, that causes less of teaching time should have no place in the Yeshiva. Were it only a loss of time which could perhaps be somehow made up at a later age, it would be regrettable enough. Unfortunately, it is more than that, for the loss of this precious time will leave a gap in the child's knowledge and upbringing, not likely ever to be filled.

I refer to the method of 'Ivris b'Ivris,' i.e. using Hebrew as the medium of instruction, and the consequent loss of time and energy.

The method of 'Ivris b'Ivris' has its origin in the anti-religious drive inaugurated by the so-called Haskalah ('Enlightenment') movement, many years ago, which paved the way to mass assimilation. The original ambitions and motivations of this method have long been discredited. Even non-orthodox educators recognize the great loss of time involved in this method, which is prepared to sacrifice the child's time and education for the sake of teaching him a few phrases in Hebrew, or a Hebrew speech, which the child will anyway forget eventually. Yet, blinded by considerations which are certainly not in the interests of the child's Jewish education, some circles still cling to this method.

Hence, you can well imagine how painful it is to hear that this 'method' has been adopted in certain classes of the Yeshivah of ...

There are other points which call for correction, but the above three should suffice to induce some self searching and reflection on the vital issue at stake. Again, I repeat, I am aware of the usual arguments purporting to 'justify' the above defects, and even call them advantages. The actual harm, however, is not minimized thereby. The best of educators cannot always fully estimate the lasting imprint of what appears as small and unimportant in the child's education. The child in his tender years has well been likened to a seed, or young plant, upon which the slightest scratch may grow to unforeseen proportions and crippling effects. By the same token, every effort to correct even the smallest defect in the child's education is inestimable in value. Great are the opportunities of those whom Divine Providence has given influence over an educational institution, especially one founded by the saintly leader of Israel. Theirs is the privilege and Zechus to ensure that the Yeshivah fulfills its purpose, upon which not only the future of hundreds of public is dependent, but also of an equal number of Jewish homes; to ensure their true happiness, both materially and spiritually.

In conclusion let me say, that this is not a question of imposing certain ideas, or policy upon a community, or using it to follow my guidance, or anybody else's.

I have been impelled to call your attention to the above out of a sense of duty, in view of the fact that the matter vitally affects the lives of hundreds, possibly thousands, of my brothers; and out of a sense of conviction based on many years of experience and association with the work of my father-in-law, of saintly memory. I know everything can be corrected, and it only is a question of will and determination. The loss of the past is regrettable indeed, but as the saying goes, "It's no use crying over the past". But the future is in the hands of those whom Divine Providence has given the responsibility and privilege to take care of the Yeshivah's destiny. It is my sincere and fervent hope that no time will be lost to correct all that requires correction, especially in the three areas which I pointed out in this letter I shall be grateful if you will gladden my heart with good tidings concerning the above, and the gratifications that it will bring to the saintly soul of the Founder, of blessed memory, will surely bring you and all concerned in the welfare of the Yeshivah much joy and happiness and success in your personal affairs, materially and spiritually.

With blessing,