The Two Earner Family & The Yeshiva System An Open Letter to Yeshiva Administrators

(Thursday, October 4th, 2012)

Dear Yeshiva Administrators,

This letter has been long in coming. I have a daughter in one of your schools and I pay full tuition. Paying full tuition doesn’t make me better than parents who may not be able to afford your tuition, but the way I earn the money to pay you may be different. You see, both myself and my wife have full time jobs. I have noticed among my peers that we are the minority. Many of the other mothers stay home to raise their children – and let me tell you, I envy them. I would give anything to have my wife home raising our newborn, but financially we cannot. We need to work two jobs in order to give our children what they need – food, clothing and a Jewish education. In fact, my wife and I work additional jobs to make ends meet.

Here is the straw that broke the camel’s back. On the schedule you sent out this year, you listed October 10th (Isru Chag) as a late start day – fine, I accepted that. Then you had the sheer audacity to send a letter home with my daughter the day before the break stating Isru Chag will now be a day off. Here is the problem. Because we both have to work on Chol Homoed we are forced to pay for babysitting for our kids, which comes to a sizable amount of cash output. Additionally, planning babysitting for these days requires a good amount of time and legwork. So, your “surprise” day off not only completely undermines our plans, but it also requires more money to pay for babysitting.

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Let me ask you this question. Why does anyone require late start or days off for Isru Chag anyway? The Chofetz Chaim has ruled that the minhag of Isru Chag is to generally forbid fasting on Isru Chag, except in instances when as a result of great distress the community synagogue decrees it. The Rema has stated in his notes on the Orach Chaim, “And we have the custom to eat and drink a little more on the day after the holiday – and that is the day known as “bind the festival.” I am not a Rabbi so my logic may be flawed here… but with no basis in halacha for any necessity for time off, why do you burden the parents with additional costs? Yom Tov is expensive enough, we don’t need to add to our debt.

With that said, I ask you to realize that the frum family structure has changed over the years; it appears to me that many more families are two earner families. Every time the school is closed, we have to reach deeper and deeper into our pockets for childcare. There is no argument over the fact that most parents have trouble paying the extremely high cost of yeshiva tuition. In fact, I have heard from a number of my friends that they will not be having more than 1-3 children simply because of yeshiva tuition! That’s right, fewer Jewish children will be born because of the price to educate them!

So here I am, paying FULL tuition, literally working night and day to pay the tuition on which you refuse to give me a break. I’ve just emptied my bank account making Yom Tov, and you just gave another day off.

Thanks again for all of your continued help,
A Two Earner Family

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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61 Comments

  1. shazam says:

    Many Yeshivas have a similar poor track record when it comes to taking into account working parents’ schedules.

    And when, bli ayin hora, parents have multiple children in different yeshivas – and these yeshivas don’t coordinate their calendars – it is especially hard.

  2. laizerwolf says:

    What’s even sadder is the average Yeshiva Student or Bais Yaakov Student is not even passing the New York state standard for Math,English,
    and other necessity subjects.

  3. groissechuchum says:

    my sentiments exactly! let the yeshivas open their books to public inspection – then they can demand so much tuition!

  4. 2qwerty says:

    Maybe yeshivahs should charge per day so if they decide to have an additional day off they should refund some money.
    Otherwise isn’t there a problem with gezel?

  5. ajewfrommonsey says:

    the main reason why schools are off on isru chag is beacause many rabbeim and students are away for yomtov and wouldn’t be back for the next day.

  6. I always thought of isru chag as a “travel day” for those who spend Yom Tov away from home.

    That being said, the author makes some very good points, and if the school is going to give the day off, there should be more advance notice.

  7. DaasYochid says:

    I can understand your frustration, but the day off is not for halachic reasons, it’s because the kids act wacko when they come in on Isru Chag.

  8. crisisoftheweek says:

    The only way to effect change to a broken system is to vote with your feet.

    Given that most institutions take for granted their paying customers, the only real choice is either home schooling or non denominational private school.

  9. For_real says:

    I agree 100% with this entire letter. My wife and I both work full time. I do not pay full tuition, but only by a little. And I had to fight for those few dollars off. We are struggling with Chol Hamoed since we both need to work, and Isru Chag as well…… Whatever. I will not be ranting here, even though I have a LOT to say, because I do not want o sully this pointed, well-written letter. It won’t be listened to, obviously, but well done anyway.

  10. BTMODAD says:

    You are parent asking for respect, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

  11. seagul47 says:

    silly you,

    Don’t you realize that in the yeshiva world, they travel for yom tov, so why should they be back at their jobs the day later–after all it’s a long drive from Lakewood to Brooklyn or whatever.

    When the teachers find out that in the real world Isru Chag is a regular workday.

    Our son-in-law has to take yom tovim as his vacation days with the result that our daughter and her children cannot visit this year (or next, for that matter, everything but Yom Kippur is during the week–12 days) because there are no spare days to travel.

    Sorry to rant like this but Yeshiva/Bais Yaakov teachers want the best of all worlds–including looking down on poshut ba’labatim who commit the cardinal sin of working on Chol Hamo’ed etc.

  12. MorahRach says:

    My heart goes out to this family. BH I am home now with my first child, what a bracha. I hope I will be able to stay home with all of my kids, but I am aware of the financial stress my staying at home puts on my husband. As a teacher I know about the frustration parents feel when we have so many days off on top of yuntif. However, teachers are more often than not parents too, and when their kids have off it is very difficult for them to be working. I wish this family hatzlacha and much parnassa in the future.

  13. kitzur_dot_net says:

    Simple answer: move to Eretz Yisroel, where tuition is a fraction of what is in America.

  14. zionflag says:

    You are RIGHT!!!! 100% correct.

    Frum families in AMERICA are working families and the majority do not have Chinuch positions. We are 9 to 5, five days a week, including summer months. Bein Hazamanim does not apply to most of us regarding schooling, day care, vacations, etc.

  15. H.P.O. says:

    this guy has a valid point (about the children that is)

  16. flatbusher says:

    I agree with the letter writer; the days off are not called for unless the teachers themselves requested them, or if large numbers of students have traveled long distances that makes it impossible for them to return on time for school. We also pay full tuition, and when extra days are off, in effect the yeshiva is cheating us for not providing what they promise in terms of school days. The kids are always better off in school.

    If the schools want to deprive the kids of education, let them take it off the tuition–at least for those who pay full. If that ever became policy, I suspect the days off would be carefully selected

  17. shimen says:

    maybe no children at all then you’ll really enjoy life,less problems with at risk, fall thru cracks etc etc

  18. Mosh3 says:

    whomever wrote this letter is absolutely RIGHT!!!! most of us do pay full tuition, even the parents who have special needs children and send their kids to private jewish schools, which cost a lot, $75,000 a year, and why do the children have to have vacation every time we turn around? is that right, never mind they are losing precious time from teaching, it isnt right for the parents who struggle to work, must have at least 2-3 jobs to make ends meet but also pay for extra babysitting so they can pay the yeshiva the tuition? what is going on here, is this what we have become? how are is moshiach supposed to come if we are so entrenched in tumah that it has to come to this, that people dont want to have more than 2 or 3 children because its too expensive, unbelievable!!!!

  19. elisheva reitman says:

    I always thought they didn’t have school on Isru Chag because the teachers didn’t want (or couldn’t) handle classrooms full of over-tired children. That being said, I am also part of a two income household and it is *very* hard to find childcare for all the days the kids are off from school. I do believe it’s a relatively small window…those ages when the kids are already in school but not already old enough to stay home on their own while their parents are at work. But this is the window I’m in and I know i can’t be the only one.

    I believe that the resolution to this issue requires the schools to recognize and acknowledge the challenges faced by families with two working parents. Because there are changes or resolutions that can be developed which will benefit both the parents and the schools. For instance, look at all the days that the school is closed. Why can’t the schools run some sort of childcare option for those days? Let the Parent Association be involved. Have parent volunteers to supervise, pay teenagers to run activities or arrange games with the kids, charge the parents a reasonable hourly rate. Everyone would benefit. Parents would have a viable option for their kids on days when there’s no school, kids would be busy with fun activities, and the schools would benefit by the goodwill and by making it a real option for mothers to take jobs, which will end up equaling more tuition being paid to the schools.

    I feel that until this point, a family with two working parents was unusual. But it’s not going to stay that way. Why can’t we set things up so that schools can support the parents, who in turn can then get jobs to support the school?

  20. The little I know says:

    The issue is not Isru Chag or days off. I don’t think it is about tuition either. The issue is the freedom that yeshiva administrators take without regard to the expense or hardship to others. I do not envy the position of these administrators, having the financial crunches that mosdos have today. They can only bleed the parents to give more, and appear mostly oblivious that those parents also have less. Regardless, decisions need to have the participation of a parent representative so that these issues and concerns are at the very least part of the deliberation before decisions such as this are made.

    Having noted this, it is worth recognizing something that is quite painful. Our yeshivos are private businesses, not community organizations. They are in competition with each other, and they feel fully in the right to hold children hostage to the financial dilemmas they face inthe office. Behind on tuition, disallow the child entry to class. Behind on tuition, no report card. Behind on tuition, shame the child in front of the class or the rest of the school. They then blame the parents for exposing their child to this abuse. Ho hum. No one listening.

  21. computerbubby says:

    Bravo to the writer. I can’t add another word, he says it how it is and he is 1000% right.

    One suggestion: pro-rate all these extra unexpected days off & deduct the cost from your tuition. It’s fair.

  22. bigkhuna says:

    When I was child my family lived upstate. My parents taught in the local Day School. For Yom Tov we would visit my grandparents in New York. When matzai yom tov came we packed up and went back home because my parents had to be back at work the next day (Isru Chag). Motzai Yom Tov should be enough time for teachers to get back to work.

  23. Gadolhadorah says:

    The arguments that some teachers might be travelling isru chag or that the kids are a bit wild are absurd excuses to keep the schools closed an extra day. On pesach last year, our kids’ yeshiva closed an extra day before yom tove and after yom tov and gave the excuse that the teachers (mainly women) needed the extra time to make pesach and put the dishes away after yom tov. I’m not sure there is any chiyuv to close for chol ha’moed but certainly before an after yom tov is sheer selfishness and laziness on the teachers’ part and needs to stop.

  24. Hotstick says:

    I think many of you are missing the point. Me and my spouse work full time full week too. Yes! I agree it’s tough but we were both teachers at one point too. We juggled hard. In the younger yrs we travelled overseas to our parents and had to get subs for the isru chag day at school. This was tough and the children would mostly either miss that day or come late, as they were jet lagged from Yom Tov schedule.
    The result? Some schools decided on a day off. Worked better for students and employees. Most parents are understanding and say nothing. This particular letter writer seems a grump about life. As a two parent hard worker, nothing will happen if one parent takes one more day off to give quality time to kids. (Do you have the same energy on a regular work day?? Chances are no!) We do that and it works wonders.

    Also the point you bring about your friends having 1-3 kids cuz of education prices is a very immature and invalid point. Have a little emunah and bitachon, Hashem provides all our needs.

    we just said on Rosh hashana Hashem decides how much parnoso we need.
    the mosdos will not lower tuition cuz they see a decline in growth of generations. They’re only threatening themselves.

  25. leftbrooklyn says:

    Maybe the school should have subs if the teachers cannot come in on isru chag

  26. nullman says:

    While I understand your frustration with school being closed for isru chag at the last minute,many schools have it as a day off on their yearly calendars. It does not seem that anyone who commented understands at all what it is like to be in a classroom the day after Yom Tov. The kids are still on a crazy schedule and many are not up to concentrating for a full day of learning. As teachers, we cannot just simply walk into a classroom. Our lessons have to be well planned and prepared, or we will surely lose our students with their lack of sleep. There are otherjobs that require home preparation but not in the same way as teaching. Additionally, as is well known teachers and Rebbeim are underpaid. Having off erev Yom Tov and isru chag happens to be one of the fringe benefits of teaching in the yeshiva system.

  27. Git Meshige says:

    I wonder if the letter writer gives Chanuka Gelt to the teachers and rabeim of his children as a token of appreciation for being mechanech his kids. I also wonder if the letter writer understands the fact that a Rebbe and a teacher probably make a fraction of the income he and she makes. Its also probable that a vast number of teachers, rebbes and pupils go away for yom tov and it would be irresponsible to have school in session when half the student body and melamdim would be a no show. So taken all those facts into consideration, it makes perfect sense for the school not to be in session on isru chag, the way it has been done for decades. Between you and me, he knows it and chooses to pick a bone with the yeshiva, after all criticism is a lot easier than compliments.

  28. forty something says:

    This letter is exactly what I have been saying for years. My husband and I have been working all these years while raising our six children. We never got off Isrug Chag or chol hamoed. We go to different cities for Yomim Tovim but we drive thru the night or come back late so we would be in work the next day.
    We need to work to pay tuition!
    Instead the children are off and we have to pay babysitting.
    What also bothers me so much is when they schedule a preschool play, graduation, 3,4,5,6,7,8 grade “production” or “dance” MID MORNING for 45 minutes and mothers have to come because “all mothers do” which means 1 1/2- 2 hours out of work and loss of income if you work by the hour. But we still have to pay tuition.

  29. Ms. Critique who may always know the answers correctly says:

    How true this is. In our family, Chal Hamoed was a work day too because of the area of business. Yet, i never understood why yeshivos had a half day the day before Erev Succos. The answer i got was that the Rebbes need to build their suucos. What about the other men with other jobs, do they get the day off to build their Succos. Yes, there is alot of improvement such as the one the letter writer address. There are plenty of unemployed capable people who are ready to do the job and work Isru Chag and other days given as an off day on the cheshbon of others….and then we cry kids at risk when they are being put at risk.

  30. BoroPark man says:

    #14, You have some nerve. I guess life is good right now and you can afford to move, but my dear the wheels keep turning and you never know when you will be on the bottom of the wheel.

    That is the best answer to such a heart-warming letter, move to Israel? The man hardly pushes through his life and asks for nothing except to get his moneys worth and you say Move to Israel?

    And we wonder why Moshiach is not here yet? perfect example.

    May hashem help you that you should never have to move to Israel for problems like this, doctor problems, or similar, but be mispallel for it because you are not guaranteed

  31. RABBAIM says:

    IN many schools over 30 percent of the students are away form home for the major Yamim Tovim, many with grandparents who live quite a distance away. Even iof its form Lakewood to Bklyn or reverse……. if YT ends with Havdalah at 8pm or so, leave a total mess behind for the parents, pack fast and run out you will not leave before 9pm. In lkwd by 10:20 or so, unpack put kids in to sleep at 11 or later?????? How will they be in class the next day?
    30% did not make it in, 60% cannot keep their eyes open especially after Simchas Torah. does it make sense to schedule school when it will be a very trying, negative experience??? Not wise!
    Factor in Monsey. or Baltimore…….. or helping mom or shvigger clean up or put away Pesach…….
    Not too practical……

  32. HappyYid says:

    As an Administrator i would like to clarify a few things. 1) i deffinitaley share in your tough economic situation but i dont think you begin to grasp the economic short fall for our mosdos today. We are not hording the tuitions or driving fancy cars. Make no mistake your hard earned tuition ia greatly appreciated that your investing in your children we are doing a great service to our communitys by opening and running schools. I dont get paid a salary untill the rebbeim and teachers are paid first and that the tuitiouns cover only 60% roughly which the remainder is our headache. Why dont you consider opening a school im sure you can figure the easy free way out. Now some of the reasons why schools dont have school is because the parents dont have money to pay for yomtov so they enjoy it by their parents and inlaws it takes a day to get back. If your looking to find fault i can assist if you looking to appreciate you have a long way ahead. We are all strugling i wish everything is free but we may have to give up a little more on our own gasmiyos to pay for something that should be the most important investment, our zisse kinderlach.

  33. facts1 says:

    My daughters school has been slacking off the last 6 yrs with not paying their teachers on time, but they keep on raising tuition, coming up with all different charges like, transportation (800 per kid), insurance, lunch, book fee, lice checking fee, trip fee and what not.

    What is tuition for? Soon, they’ll charge me a janitor fee and administrators vacation fee.

    Chutzpah!They tell me that private schools (non Jewish) charge double. Well of course, they pay their teachers on time and have a track record of teaching their students, not pushing time. My daughter is way behind her peers in those schools.

  34. yet says:

    this letter is entirely justified. and why is it that USA is the only country that has a TEN WEEK school break for the summer. My wife works too, and the amount of aggravation and cost spent during the summer vacation, let alone during work hours, is one ot the appalling crazes USA education has. ought to be rectified fast.

  35. chareidirbs says:

    I say that the letter writer should deduct the amount of money that babysitting costs from the next tuition check. It does not matter how late you come home from your destination. The school should be open. Late is one thing but not open altogether is ridiculous. For the commenter who asked if the writer gives chanuka gelt.. maybe if the writer wasn’t paying babysitting fees on the days off he would. Money doesn’t grow on trees..

  36. dounome says:

    words that are well said and way toooo long overdue!!!!!!!
    perhaps there should be a deductable amount for babysitting from the tuition bill to accommodate these things – we will see how important “isru chag” is then!!!!the only good part of this is that the teachers that don’t get paid (in time at least) get a “free day off”! this is the cloud with the silver lining

  37. jewishflorida says:

    When did we become like the goyim. Lehavdil to the secular new year or thanksgiving, do we really need a day after a yomtov to let go of the “hangover”. I don’t know about most of the posters here but I attend shacharis bright and early the day after a very long summer shabbos or long yomtov. I don’t believe in “taking a break” or “taking it easy” because maybe I got drunk off havdolah wine the previous night.

    Think of it this way, picture the waste of Torah that occurs when the day is spent idly. I suggest cancelling mishmar or after school activities, but to cancel the whole day?! Let the kids skip a yeshiva minyan! Absurb!

  38. student says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this letter. Times have changed and the schools must accomodate working parents. If you choose to travel and can’t be back on time, then your child will miss a day of school- that’s the choice you make. If you are a rebbe, then use it as a sick day. And to Hotstick – you say to take off one more day to spend quality time with my kids. While I would certainly love to do that – how many days off do you think I have. I use thirteen of my 15 days off for yom tov, and take plenty of unpaid days off when my kids get sick or have school events.
    To Git Meshuge – whats with your condescending attitude. I agree with this letter writer and yes I give Chanukah gelt to rebbeim and Morahs. I appreciate thier hard work. But what does this have to do with the issue on hand? Working parents are now the norm and must be accommodated!!! If I lose my job because of excessive time off – how will I pay tuition???

  39. avi732 says:

    Wow, you sure touched a raw nerve. Did we all forget back when we were kids? Did we want school Isru Chag? Not me.

  40. zed says:

    If commenter no. 3 is correct, that is the most disturbing bit of information in this story and the comments. And it will prolong the problem of Jewish education costs, because if yeshiva grads have substandard educations and skills, they will wind up with substandard incomes, and that will only worsen the problem.

  41. bklynmom says:

    MY husband the menahel lets Rebbaim and teachers know that they will be docked pay if they are not in classrooms the day before or after Yom Tov vacation. Those mechanchim arrange for subs, or get back in time. The Issur Chag return day is a lighter schedule of learning with extended programs, music, arts mixed with learning.
    Schools need to be parent-accomodating as well as teacher oriented without either suffering because of the other. It is difficult to pack, travel and regroup after a Yom Tov yet very POSSIBLE>

  42. wijnstokken says:

    At whom is the letter writer actually angry?

    It’s hard for many of us.

    The schools are our choice, and the many comments here highlight the tight positions they find themselves.

    We expect top notch Rebbeim and teachers, personalized education, up to date books and facilities and a bigger discount as well.

    It’s extremely generous of those who donate, sponsor and otherwise help the schools beyond the “full tuition”.

    At the end of the day, we want a quality product which has a cost. There’s a reason why we don’t send to free public schools.

    Disclosure: We are a two income family that pays a very large percentage of our earnings in full tuition.

  43. sparkyjr says:

    very well written, i wish that it would be heard by the higher ups, what really hurts most of all is when my kids ask me “WHY DO YOU HAVE TO WORK ON CHOL HAMOED, WHY CAN’T YOU BE LIKE EVERY OTHER FATHER WHO DOESN’T WORK ON CHOL HAMOED?”

  44. mommamia22 says:

    #33
    I was happy to hear from an administrator until you talked about how parents need to save on yom tov costs by visiting their own parents (delaying return travel).
    You presented an opinion based on a really narrow segment of the population. Pretty much every one I know who have children in yeshivos stayed home and were forced to fund their own yom tov expenses. This really made me feel that you are out of touch with the needs of a large portion of families.

    Personally, I think the schools should allow parents more of a say in the calendar and days off. I think yeshivos push the limits with too many pre chag vacation days off.
    What are these days to our children??
    What are they experiencing and learning?
    The values of a babysitter?? Financial and erev yom tov stresses?? Doesn’t it make more sense to offer even a modified learning program, where perhaps, classes of ages which are close together are consolidated? Let them offer treats, prizes, to make the learning and being in school more fun, and those who miss school will simply be marked absent without missing crucial learning. Perhaps teachers can share the work days, so that everyone gets some time off to take care of their own yom tov preparations.

    To the woman who suggested organizing an in school program on days off and charging for it:
    A primary concern of the author was paying for child care in lieu of a regular school day (that was already paid for). Your suggestion merely substitutes one expense for another.

  45. Canadian Guy says:

    The inital writer’s main point cannot be denied: it lacks consideration for parents to change a schedule at the last minute. A school should not make assumptions about parents – asking parents to attend multiple events during business hours, or assuming one parent will be home. I would submit the administrators are not clinically insensitive. Rather, they are submerged in a world where things are done a certain way and they drift into thinking these patterns apply universally. I look forward to the age of digital surveys where schools can understand better what parents are thinking.

  46. Furhatone says:

    My wife has taught for 33 years – while I am a ‘regular’ working guy – I am glad to see her have the day off – to get everything back in place. I thought the writer was going to complain about his sacrifice by both parents working – and other families – where the mother does not and so their income is lower and so they qualify for lower tuition. I am proud of my wife’s teaching – but I wish she would have stayed home to raise our kids – while she shlepped out – other ladies took their walks – nails – took their younger kids to baby sitters etc – while our tuition was taken out of her check – and she basically came home with nothing for many years. I agree with those who say to open the books of the school – there are some very high paid principals/administrators – while teachers go without benefits – pensions etc.

  47. seagul47 says:

    many missed something in the original letter–

    “Here is the straw that broke the camel’s back. On the schedule you sent out this year, you listed October 10th (Isru Chag) as a late start day – fine, I accepted that. Then you had the sheer audacity to send a letter home with my daughter the day before the break stating Isru Chag will now be a day off.”

    If a parent knows in advance fine, there can be no complaint–but it is the last minute changes that irk parents.

    and for the teachers who are making the comments, they seem to feel that taking extra days off is a perk. The same goes when a Yeshiva rebbe takes off to go for a wedding. Even if there is a substitute, it is disruptive.

    The basic letter is a criticism to the teachers and administrators who have a total disregard for parents. And the letters from teachers commenting about having to travel on Motza’ei Yom Tov etc. You chose the vocation knowing full well what was in store!

    Instead of being defensive about what you perceive to be your “right” and “privilege”–which you seem to assume, put yourself in the place of the parents.

    You chose the profession, which admittedly doesn’t exactly have high salaried expectations, but has perks–e.g., 10 weeks in the summer, which often are spent working in camps, all the yom tovim, automatic reductions in tuition fees, etc.

  48. Whiteberry says:

    I’m a parent in a 2 working parent home. I disagree with all points in this letter except for one. The last minute change is not fair. All others days off are on the calendar with plenty of advance notice. It is par for the course of being a parent. Why is it imperative to hire a babysitter? In my neighborhood different parents rotate on taking the days off and watch each others kids. A little out of the box thinking is not difficult. It sure beats whining or writing anonymous “open letters” that accomplish nothing. The amount of tuition one does or does not pay is also quite irrelevent to the discussion, as are how many days off teachers do or do not get. This letter reads nothing more than, whine, whine, boo hoo.

  49. anonymrs says:

    wow, everyone totally missed the point….
    go back and read the letter again. he said that at the beginning of the year they knew about the days off and it is what it is, what can he do. but then, his daughter came home with a letter EREV YOM TOV saying that isru chag was becoming another day off. THAT was the main gripe- that there was no advanced notice for this change, which ut him into a very tough position.
    ive never been in the position of having to work when my kids were off, so im not getting involved in that debate.

  50. ChanieE says:

    This is a huge issue for so many people, but can we please try to keep this civil?

    1. FACT: In many families, both parents work and they often do not have enough vacation days to cover even yom tov, let alone erev yom tov, isru chag, half day off for PTA, a morning off for the production, etc., and forget about sick days for themselves or their children. Additionally, many businesses will not allow employees to take unpaid time off for any old reason, so forget about lost income, many parents simply cannot be available as much as they would like.

    2. FACT: Teachers are overworked and underpaid. I have no idea how to make the economics work but I feel terrible that the people who are giving my children so much are paid so little. Long vacations (including erev yom tov and isru chag) are one way to make their lives at least a little easier.

    3. FACT: Many families go away for yom tov (let’s say they visit family – this does not have to be about extravagant vacations) and, as other posters have noted, the kids will not have a good night’s sleep if you help clean up after yom tov and then drive home. This is not to say that they shouldn’t go to school the next day, but let’s recognize that it’s challenging for a teacher to control a class full of overtired kids.

    So, what to do about this? The first thing is to recognize that it’s not so simple! Both parents and schools have valid points and the name calling doesn’t help anyone! We working mothers feel bad enough without being told that we should just take off from work and enjoy our kinderlach.

    I have been incredibly fortunate that I’ve had very flexible jobs and I’ve been able to either bring my children to work with me or work from home occasionally. Not everyone is this lucky, and even this comes at a price because I can’t be fully productive with one eye on the kids so I end up putting in extra time late at night.

    For parents who don’t have this option, finding childcare is very tough and paying for it, on top of tuition, is difficult. If you don’t have a regular childcare plan, where do you think you’re going to find someone who is available on the handful of days you need them? You juggle and hope not to drop anything, or anyone! Sometimes you can arrange for a child to spend the day at a friend’s house, sometimes you can find a high school girl who is also off, sometimes you leave the kids home alone and hope they’re OK.

    Another poster suggested organizing childcare at the schools. I’m sure there are insurance issues, but that sounds fantastic if it could be worked out!

  51. facts1 says:

    #33

    Bais Sarah in BP, a privately held schools somehow manages to charge less then $3000.00 per child, has excellent teachers and has never missed a paycheck. No, the owner is not a millionaire or a good fundraiser, he doesnt fund-raise at all.

    Schools can cover themselves if they just manage their books properly and follow the money trail.

    FACT! Many administrators or higher ups do tend to live lavish lifestyles.

  52. eman says:

    I am a working person and I have business requirements deliverable by Monday. I was 4 hours away from home on the first days yet we drove back on Tuesday night.

  53. hendoner says:

    From what I understand from this excellent letter is that whereas the writer is paying full tuition, others are not. Effectively therefore, his payment is going towards the unpaid tuition of others. It is therefore a Tzedokoh contribution and part of his tuition payments should be allowable when he comes to calculate his Tzedokoh payments.

  54. computerbubby says:

    To number 33, you must be the exception. The administrators I know personally (& I’m related to some!) DO drive fancy new cars (as do their wives & kids) their homes (all of them, summer, winter & in Florida & Israel) are magnificent. Should I continue? Don’t insult us with the “poor me, I suffer too” response. We may be long suffering and unable to change the system but we aren’t stupid.

  55. ChanieE says:

    A follow-up about arranging childcare at school …

    Yes, paying for babysitting on top of paying tuition is hard, but my experience has been that just finding a caregiver is even harder. I don’t know of a babysitter who is sitting around waiting for you to call her on an as-needed basis. For a while I had arrangements for the school bus to drop off at a babysitter straight from school, but this woman did not take in other kids when her own children had off so here I was, with a system in place, but I still had no coverage for erev yom tov, isru chag, mid-winter vacation, snow days or the weeks between school and day camp. I managed because I have been incredibly fortunate to have a lot of flexibility in my jobs, but many parents don’t have that.

    Where are we supposed to FIND appropriate childcare for all this time off? And the letter writer is 100% correct that the last-minute decision not have school throws everyone for a loop.

  56. Gadolhadorah says:

    I think the vast majority of posters agree that this isru chag “day off” meshugaas has to end and hopefully soon. Some of the rather bizarre arguments only reinforce the notion that this is simply a way of giving more perks to menahallim and teachers. Since when is there a “special cost” to yom tov that requires yidden to go their parents’ homes? Last time I checked, making yom tov cost no more or less than making shabbos and you simply adjust your budget to your income. If you cannot afford prime rib every night for dinner, get by with flanken, chicken or Tofu. why do teachers need a special day off before or after yom tov to build a succah, change the dishes for pesach etc. So do ALL OF US who work, and we don’t get a paid day off to do so. Why are your kids “crazy” mozti yom tov?? If you cannot control them, them you have bigger problems but not a reason to close the schools?

    Pleeeeese, enough with these rather silly reasons for a day off from work.

  57. abcd2 says:

    along this line of thought:
    A) I do not understand why all yeshivas cannot get together and make a standard week for winter vacation.(I am not saying that they should all give the same amount of time off but at least during the same week.) It sometimes means killing two weeks at work. I really do think that this is something that parents if organized in a letter writing campaign can demand from our schools.

    B) Why do most preschools end between 2-3:30 pm? And even during the summer months almost all yeshivas prek-mesivta end bet 12-1 pm Erev Shabbos?How are we expected to pay tuition if school hours make it hard to find decent work or a huge chunk of salary goes to a babysitter. There is no reason why prek should end before 4pm.If certain kids might be tired at that time of day so use it as free play and arts and craft time. Most people are working dual incomes just to pay tuition. The schools should give parents that extra hour a day.

    I think the realization about a connection between parents working = teachers getting paid is sometimes lost in the collective conscious of parents and teachers alike.

    With my above suggestion I would ask a typical pre-school teacher to look at it from an objective perspective. In a full month (a rarity except for cheshvan due to the nature of our calendar)you work between 92-110(5-6 hours mon-thurs, fridays 3-3.5 hours) hours. 9-4 is still not full-time and of course there are summers, Fridays, winter and yom tov vacations etc…
    Additionally, we must lobby our schools that on friday Yeshiva for all grades should not end earlier then 1pm. In the spring after we change the clock there is between 6-8 hours after dismissal to get ready for Shabbos. Why are we dismissing are kids from Torah Learning and a safe environment before it is even Chatzos Hayom? It does not make any sense!

    These minimally longer hours would be most beneficial to the under age 40 crowd in the school who are the ones with the most kids in pre-k-middle grades and struggle most with balancing tuition needs and family.(I write balancing tuition needs and family as opposed to work and family as 90% of the time most mothers are working as much as they do or undertake post grad education solely for tuition)

    The short extra time the schools give can only help the tuition crisis, and might even better enable parents to pay more regularly or to have less parents dependent upon scholarships.

  58. SIZ says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WRITING THIS IMPORTANT LETTER. THANK YOU. And the point about people feeling concerned about having more children as the tuition is too expensive to afford is absolutely true. Readers, you can judge it all you want, but it is a fact, and as a community, it this issue must be addressed.

  59. Dr. E says:

    The writer is spot-on. It shows a disconnect between Yeshivos/Bais Yaakovs and the real world in America. Yes, in Israel Succos is a national holiday that is a fixture in the calendar. But that is not the case here. I think that many import this mindset from Israel. (the truth being that there, there is always one less day of Yom Tov). This whole notion of the bloated “Bein Hazemanim” in the Yeshiva World is based on a time in Europe when the travel itself back to Yeshiva by horse-and-buggy took a week-and-a-half! I’m glad that this letter writer is taking them to task.

    The retail tuition rates are set towards dual-income families. Yet, the school calendar is skewed away from working parents, who are taken for granted. It is quite common for not only Isru Chag to be off l’chatchila. Also take a look at the week before Pesach, when instead of the cleaning/cooking help that mothers need, it is a week of clothes shopping, pizza shops and ice cream. For those who go away to family and hotels, this exacerbates the total bittul zman being created.

    Come Thanksgiving and the end of December, when most parents are off and would not mind having their kids home and vacation-eligible at that time, the Yeshivos are stuck in their ideological stances that they must remain open, lest the world think that they are following the Umois Haoilam. To that I say, grow up and get over it! Your kid will still find a shidduch even if he attended a school that gave off on Thanksgiving!

    The kids being off-the-wall on Isru Chag is merely a red herring that is a weak rationalization for keeping the school closed. Any half-way decent teacher will be able to be creative.

    Let’s just be honest about this. School Administrators want a “travel day” for both themselves as well as their traveling Koillel kids and eniklach.

    Let there be more dual-earner couples bringing in income to the community and then we can pay the teachers more, including the expectation that they will be back at work the day after YT like the rest of America.

  60. mytake says:

    Just wanted to comment on the line that “fewer children will be born because of the price to educate them”. That’s not true. Maybe fewer children will be born because parents forget that tuition money comes from Hashem and He can handle the costs of educating three children just as easily as that of seven.

    I’m not defending the cost of tuition. Just making a point about this particular line.

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