Are Rebbeim getting paid enough?

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    I personally know two talented, popular Rebbeim, who are really excellent at what they do, who are resigning at the end of the school year. The cause? Because they simply could not make ends meet on the meager salary that they were earning, forcing them to take their talents elsewhere.

    If we want to retain talented individuals as our children’s Rebbeim, don’t we need to compensate them accordingly?


    Yes, we certainly must raise the bar for salaries for rebbeim.

    mw13, what jobs are those two taking after their resignation?


    Talented rebbeim should be paid a living wage. Where will the money come from?

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Unfortunately, chinuch is not a parnassah.


    1. Most rabbeim are not interested in other lines of work, which is why they except low pay.
    2. If the pay was too low, there would be a shortage of persons looking for jobs as rebbeim.
    3. If rabbeim were better paid, tuition would rise, forcing more families to either home school or to send their children to public schools (the former might work if the community embraced it, the latter was tried in the 20th century and resulted in mass assimilation, i.e. very few Jewish kids who went to public schools remained frum).


    if they start to get a hire pay then the money will be coming out of YOUR pockets with a rise in tuition rates

    catch yourself

    @ Akuperma –
    1. True. Most Rebbeim recognize the supreme privilege of their vocation.
    2. False. It isn’t about the money, and many people prefer to be מלמד תורה than to do anything else (as you yourself pointed out). There does, however, come a time for many where they are forced to change jobs for financial reasons (living gets more expensive as time goes on and families grow and get older). This is what the OP is talking about.
    3. True, in the current model. I don’t know what the solution is, but I worry about the sustainability of the system as it now stands.


    The most talented rabbeim will find their ways in to the top yeshivot where the compensation is higher. Chinuch is a free market. No one forces a Rav to teach for a non-compensatory wage. He can move on to another school if he feels he is not earning enough for his family. This is not a unique problem Public school teachers are also complaining that society doesn’t value their work correctly and in some cities, the trash collectors earn more than the teachers.


    The law of supply and demand works regardless of what anyone attempts. Given that there is no shortage of candidates for jobs, it seems the wage is at a correct level. By comparison to college teachers, there is a tremendous oversupply of qualified applicants (sometimes hundreds of applicants for a single position), suggesting that their wages are too high. At present the supply and demand for teachers of Torah studies seems to be roughly at an equilibrium suggest the wages are neither too high nor too low.

    One should note that teachers in Jewish schools get many benefits that make the low salaries more tolerable, such as being free from the discrimination anyone frum encounters working in the well-paid outside world. For most Torah teachers, switching to a better paying career would mean giving up much Yiddishkeit.

    The little I know

    There is nothing to this subject that is pleasant discussion. Rebbeim are often not earning a decent income. This is coupled with the financial woes that yeshivos often carry, resulting in few raises that can offset the deficit that the average rebbe experiences.

    The trend of yungerleit staying in kollel, then hunting for employment in the chinuch system keeps the supply far greater than the demand, thus the low cost of a rebbe.

    But there are other angles, all equally as uncomfortable as topics for discussion. The first question is, how many rebbeim are expert enough in what they do to deserve extra pay? Plenty, who are otherwise wonderful people, and mediocre in the classroom. Being minimally adequate, they are often kept on the job, but without reason to raise their pay. They are easily replaceable if one looks for the same level of skill. It is becoming more common that a rebbe has undergone training of some sort before applying for a job. But this blink of optimism is minimized by the fact that the percentage of applicants for chinuch jobs who have such training is still quite low. And there are opportunities to get the training.

    Second question is, the time in kollel is often considered a preparation for chinuch. I disagree with that. It might be a useful part of training for rabbonus, or for teaching in a yeshiva gedola. But elementary and even high school demands a different set of skills (way beyond the knowledge of Torah material). Kollel rarely, if ever, has such a focus.

    Third question is, the motive for going into chinuch is a critical issue. It is often that it is not the love of bringing children to launch their lives in an environment of Ahavas Hatorah. More often, it is the belief that entry into the work environment that is not “klei kodesh” is somehow a treif thing to do, and that by default, one must turn to chinuch.

    A fourth question concerns the understanding of what comprises the job. Most enter the system believing that they need to prepare a lesson, enter the classroom, and deliver it. It is only after having taken the plunge that one recognizes that the task is many times greater than that. Preparation demands quite a bit, but the need for attention to each talmid is completely overwhelming. The good rebbe, worth every dime, has learned to master this. The mediocre ones look for all kinds of ways to avoid this huge investment of time and effort. Among these, we have the disciplinarians, who are obsessed with the talmidim’s compliance, at the severe expense of generating the passion for Torah and Mitzvos. I know there is a whole lot of generalization here, but these are the kinds of questions we need to entertain when we wish to discuss the rebbe’s pay.

    We need to identify chinuch as a profession, meaning that it requires training and a proper match of someone’s nature and skills to the type of employment. As such, it should be reimbursed at an appropriate level. This at least provides a challenging dent to the trend of sitting in kollel, and then, with the strokes of a pen on an application, walking into a classroom of children.

    In direct response to the question of the OP, most Rebbeim are underpaid. But way too few have the qualifications to deserve the better pay. This is pessimistic, and things have improved over the past years. But there is a long way to go.


    The same proliferation of educators was a problem in the public sector in the 80’s and 90’s where kids who had no clue what they wanted to do when they graduated college became “education” majors. The teacher pipeline was flooded with mediocre teaching grads and compensation was flat or went down. Only when other lines of work became more attractive did the pipeline slow and the laws of supply/demand pushed up salaries (along with powerful teachers’ unions in some states). For a kollel yungerleit who wants to study full time for several years and then go out and work to start a family, chinuch is likely the only real option in many areas, given their lack of secular job skills. Its not clear the really top student want to go into chinuch. Most prefer to stay and learn 24×7 and in some cases, will find financial sponsors if they are truly the top 1 percent. Most roshei yeshivos do not have programs to systematically evaluate their yungerleit to determine which ones will make the best teachers. A top learner is not necessarily a top teacher.


    There is an old adage: ‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.’
    In the 1980s we pulled our 3 oldest kids out of a local day school because the quality of the rebbeim was so poor. Each one was married to a daughter of the headmaster and guaranteed employment for his life. After the headmaster passed away and his youngest son took over, the brothers-in-law were pushed out and competent staff hires. We had no problem sending 5 grandchildren there.
    Positions should not be for life. Parents must demand quality educators for their tuition dollars.


    CTL, where’d you send them after pulling them out?

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