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MODERN ORTHODOXY-----coed schools

btysrl86 Posted - 30 December 2001 22:24

Dear moderator,

No, I don’t go to a coed school but I was wondering:

If Jewish girls and boys aren’t supposed to have relationships until their married, then aren’t coed schools a pretty bad idea?

Why are they still around if this is the case? I mean I don’t have anything against coed schools really but I don’t know how I could ever attend one and not be able to talk to guys-and that would probably be hard for a lot of ppl, don’t you think?

MODERATOR Posted - 31 December 2001 0:09

Yeah, coed schools are a bad idea. They’re around because people don't care.

For Kiruv purposes, like for non-religious Jews who would be "mixed" anyway, a coed school may sometimes be justified, but that’s not what were talking about here. It's simply a matter of doing what the population wants regardless of whether it is proper or not.

thinking Jewish teen Posted - 18 January 2002 16:49

Wouldn’t it be better for a Jewish kid to go to a coed Jewish school rather than a public school?

MODERATOR Posted - 22 January 2002 17:05

Yes, but kids in coed schools are not only those who would go to public school otherwise.

nechy Posted - 18 June 2006 13:08

I respectfully disagree, Reb Mod, as to the reason there are coed schools. Actually not so much the reason they exist today, but the rationale for starting the first frum coed school.

In Boston, in the 1930's (when it was founded) the Jewish population in Brookline was made up predominantly of families who wished their children to go to Ivy League schools. They felt that the only way their kids could get in was to prepare them properly by sending them to preparatory school, i.e. Catholic prep schools.

At that point, Rav Soloveitchik wished to open a Jewish school for these kids. The way he had learned the halacha was that the reason coed schools would be assur is because of the issur of hirhur, which only applies to boys. Since they were already in a situation conducive to hirhur, and there was no real way around that, he felt that at least they should be getting a Jewish education.

He could not start separate schools because the community would not support it. This of course was only for this particular situation, and those who just used this example as their own heter did not have any real basis to do so. I just wanted to clarify that.

Just one other point - as far as coed elementary schools go - Rav Moshe wrote a tshuva about an out-of-town community which could not (not would not) support separate schools. He said that until the age of 9 or 10 it was ok (b'dieved), and after that it was assur. The interesting question which then arises is that depending on what the issur is, the halacha could differ l'maaseh.

If the halacha is that boys and girls may not be together, then it's assur to send any children to such schools. However, if the halacha I that such schools are assur because of the issur of hirhur, then in certain situations it may not be assur to send a girl to such a school (if it may be the best place for her), since it exists already, and the situation is already there.

MODERATOR Posted - 18 June 2006 15:19

First, women are included in the prohibition of hirhurim, since hirhurim are prohibited by a laav - lo sasuru acharei einechem - and women are commanded in all laavim, just like men.

Secondly, if you are talking about the Maimonides school, founded in '37, the problem is, it still exists even today, 70 years later and there was never a psak or directive from its founder that it should close because its "situation" no longer applies.

Nor was there ever any requirement to limit enrollment to those who would otherwise go to public school. The "conditions" of its founding were sufficiently ambiguous and unimposed upon it such that it led to not only others opening such schools, but that school itself becoming nothing but a plain coed school, K thru 12th grade. With no indication at all that it is anything but ideal.

Hora'as shaah - even when it is justified - must be 1000% crystal clear that it is anything but an emergency measure, otherwise it will assumed to be ideal.

In addition, the poskim who permitted coed schools - such as the Rav Moshe that you cited, as well as others (see Teshuvos Yechave Daas 4:46 for a list) - only permitted for very young students, where the Yetzer Horah is not a factor. Older students together is not allowed.

The most blatant problem with coed schools is that they have been institutionalized, made into a legitimate form of education. Tolerating an aveirah to save Jews from worse aveiros - and even encouraging them to do an aveirah to save them from a worse aveirah - is sometimes permitted, but never, ever are we allowed to institutionalize these one-time emergency tactics, because then you are not just violating the Torah but changing it.

In regard to our educational methods, this idea is explicit in the Teshuvos Chavtzeles Hasharon (I:12), but is most well known because of its explication by the Akeidas Yitzchok in Vayera, which is quoted several places on this site. The aveirah of institutionalizing coed schools is worse than the hirhurim themselves.

And for the record, it is quite naive to believe that the worst that is probable in coed schools (in the HS level) is Hirhurim. Maybe in 1937 - I wasn’t around then - but nowadays? No way.

MODERATOR Posted - 18 June 2006 16:24


Coed schools are still wrong, because they’re against the Halachah (except of course in certain Kiruv cases as per above). Nobody is saying that they’re full of wild animals and their students cannot behave nicely on a trip. Nor does any of this reflect on the character of any of the students in those coed schools.

The question is the concept of coed schools in general. The answer is, in a narrow set of circumstances because of Kiruv reasons, or perhaps other extenuating circumstances they are permitted, but in general, they are not. And to make them into an acceptable, institutionalized method of education is even worse.


I don’t see that Rav Moshe gives specific ages in his teshuva regarding until when the coed classes would be permitted. He just says "very young".

seven Posted - 18 June 2006 17:13

Maybe coed schools aren’t a good idea, but to say that they are wrong?? What kind of message is that?

MODERATOR Posted - 18 June 2006 17:15

Don’t kill the messenger, seven. I don’t make the halachah. Look up any of those Teshuvos cited above.

taon Posted - 25 June 2006 17:27

Let's say they weren't forbidden, but just wrong, as you suggested. then what would happen? how many people would say that if it isn't forbidden it's okay or it's wrong means "frummies" shouldn't do it, but it doesn't matter to anyone else?

seven Posted - 25 June 2006 19:30

I don’t know how to look up that stuff

MODERATOR Posted - 25 June 2006 19:32

Well in short, they say that boys and girls shouldn’t be together in the same classroom. for kiruv purposes we sometimes make allowances.

seven Posted - 04 July 2006 11:51

All coed schools have separate Hebrew classes, and some have separate English classes too

MODERATOR Posted - 04 July 2006 12:09

That’s true, and it helps, and some (well at least one I know of) has separate floors as well. But the English classes are often mixed, and other activities as well. And even when all classes are separate there’s in general sufficient interaction for them to become friends, which is prohibited (even if they do not violate negiyah). Again, in Kiruv situations, it may be a different story.

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