In response to this Facebook post by Sarah Bronson, decrying that girls in sems are directed to fundraise for a charity that helps funds weddings.
Sarah's complaint was that by encouraging the girls to fundraise dafka for a charity which funds weddings, organizations like the OU and Yeshiva University are subtly pushing the message that what matters for girls is marriage.
It's a good point. Of course it could have come about in an innocent way (maybe the wife of a high OU exec runs the charity, for example?). My issue goes a bit further - not they are fundraising for this charity while the boys fundraise for another, but why are they fundraising and the boys are not?
When I was in sem (midreshet lindembaum), I once went with a friend for a Shabbat meal at the home of some relative of hers. This relative asked us a lot about what chessed programs we were involved in that year, & then expressed his disappointment that lindenbaum neglects to train girls in doing chessed enough. I no longer remember his exact words, but he was very clear that the priority for girls is to do chessed. The priority fir boys is to learn.
We were all rather offended. Of course chessed is a priority, but it should be a priority for both sexes. And this year was our year to immerse ourselves in Torah learning before we become swept away with the myriad distractions and responsibilities of life. Why should we be spending it scrubbing floors or caring for children - or fundraising for anything?
Boys in yeshivah programs are expected to focus on learning. The emphasis is on making the most of this one, two, or however many years in the cocoon of yeshivah to absorb as much Torah as you can before moving on. No one seems to worry that boys might, as a result, choose not to marry. Or that they might never do chessed. So why are girls given the message that they have dedicate learning time to choir competitions and fundraising and chessed projects, rather than to actually learning Torah?
(NB. Look, I'm not saying chessed isn't important. It is. But how do you weight your message in what for girls is almost always the one year of high-intensity torah learning? Do we want to give them message that Torah learning is what they are here for and what they should concentrate on, or that Torah learning is just one of the many things they could be involved in during their gap year before college?)