Dear YWN Editor,
I just completed the last payment for my daughter’s upcoming seminary year, and like so many other parents in my predicament, I feel a serious need to vent.
Mindy is my second of four girls and is beaming with excitement at the opportunity to spend her post high school year learning and touring in Eretz Yisroel. My wife and I are also very excited about the opportunity to let her be on her own and grow and mature into a young woman who will IY”H look to get married upon her return. The experience of being in Eretz Yisroel for a year is truly something remarkable and something that I wouldn’t want to see her miss.
However, the question becomes at what expense? While on the one hand there is no doubt that it truly is an unbelievable experience. Where do we draw the line and say that the cost outweighs the “experience”? This year’s “Sem” bill will run me close to $25,000 after all is said and done (I get paid on the books which brings my pre tax bill close to $40,000). B”H, I am not complaining as I do relatively well, but with one daughter living in Lakewood ($$$) and another four tuitions, where do we draw the line? And of course, let’s not forget my ninth and eleventh grader who are also looking forward to their year in Eretz Yisroel.
When I say “we”, I am talking about us as a tzibur. I have many friends that tell me that no matter what, they are not letting their daughter go to seminary. Never never….Not me!!! That is until they have the daughter to say no to. How can you tell your daughter that you love so much, and would do anything for, that she cannot go to Eretz Yisroel because it is too expensive? How do you explain that she will be the one girl from her chevra that will be left behind? It is easy to insist that you are not going to be one of those parents, until you actually are one of them.
The problem is that our community is not a community. Knowing first hand the stress this puts on families (myself included), my tears welled up a few weeks ago when I was reading how the Chasidim approach their internal problems. It blew my mind to see the courage of the Gerrer Rebbe who told one wealthy chossid, that if he didn’t like the Rebbe’s takkana (about lavish weddings), he should go buy himself a new Rebbe. Or when he told the striemel manufacturer that if he didn’t lower prices so that people could afford them, the Rebbe himself would be the first person to put on a regular hat and assur striemels. That is true courage!
Do we have anyone that has the courage to get up and say that the strain and pain this puts on families is too much? People going into serious debt to pay for seminary so that they don’t have to break their daughter’s heart. I have no doubt that there are more serious and pressing issues for the tzibur to worry about, but if you speak to professionals they will tell you that the single biggest cause of sholom bayis problems is financial strain. If sholom bayis issues are not on the top of the list of things that we as a tzibur need to address, then I must be missing the bigger picture and I yield to the people who know better.
Thanks for allowing me to bring this important issue to your vast readership,
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