Question: I am going to be a senior starting September, and as you know, this is the time you start applying to colleges and such. I come from a modern orthodox family, but I would love to go to a Yeshiva in Jerusalem. My only concern, is coming back “brainwashed” as some may say. Brainwashed meaning, stubbornness in my religion, and things that used to be important to me aren’t important anymore, and the only thing that is important to me is my religion. I would like to come back a little more religious than I am now, but I know that with my personality I get convinced really quickly, like if someone important tells me you cannot do this, I will never do it.
I just want to have the right mentality going into the seminary. Please let me know if there is any way you can help me with this. Thank you
Answer: I understand your concerns as people do tend to ‘flip out’ when going to Israel.
I am not sure though, that developing idealism is such a bad idea. When a person is young, they are not yet poisoned by the cynicism of the world and have the ability to become inspired. While it’s true that people may overdue things, that usually balances out when people enter the wider world. But you won’t have another chance to become idealistic, as you will have with a year in Israel.
A year in Israel is a great way to prepare yourself for life ahead, and some of the serious challenges of life come in the few years following high school graduation. I am a campus Rabbi at Rutgers and about 50% of Yeshiva HS graduates here do not remain religious, nor do they at any of the secular Universities such as Binghamton, Maryland, Brandeis, Penn, Etc.
Developing an ideal, even if it isn’t what you will live your life as, is still important, because it gives you something to strive for in your future life.
Try developing a relationship with a Rebbe or wise and caring older father type figure, who can guide you. Not every Rebbe is wise in the skills of life and human understanding so choose someone who you feel understands you and people in general. This is extremely important if you want to stay balanced.
Please feel free to contact me if you ever want to.
All the Best,
Rabbi Meir Goldberg,