Refund For Seminaries Due To COVID-19

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    The Parisian

    For who had a daughter in seminary in Israel this year, is there a general policy regarding reimbursement for the tuition of the last two month (that got canceled due to covid19)?
    What is your experience?


    It’s not just seminaries… boys in yeshiva as well. My husband got a call from a yeshiva he often helps and they don’t know how they will pay their rebeim until yeshiva reopens September. The people paying monthly have stopped. My daughters seminary friends are doing a few hours daily of phone conferencing.


    The Yeshivos and seminaries in Eretz Yisroel would be following the same general policies on this matter as the Yeshivos and seminaries in America and the UK.

    There’s no reason it would be any different based on where they’re located.


    The yeshivos, seminaries and just about any private school with a limited endowment generally continue to incur most of the same costs today as they did prior to the shutdown. They still pay the same mortgage/rent for the school buildings and dorms, most have continued to pay their administrative staff (along with most of their rebbeim and moros), utility bills may be slightly lower with the lights out but that’s not a big percentage of costs). At the same time, most have incurred a big loss in revenues (both tuition and charitable donations). Even those with endowments, may have legal constraints on using those funds for current operating costs. In simple terms, they have no money to pay refunds, even if logically the are not providing the services parents have paid for.


    In simple terms, they have no money to pay refunds, even if logically the are not providing the services parents have paid for. Does the previously paid money at that point in time, change from being “Tuition” to being “Charity” & then become eligible for being part of מעשר? and for being tax-deductible?


    147: Very good question. I believe a good case could be made that the tuition for the period where no instruction was provided could be treated as a donation to a charitable entity. However, I think there will probably have to be some IRS ruling confirming that view. For example, the mosdos may have to go through the motions of “offering refunds, albeit over an extended period of time” or allowing parents to forego their rights to a refund and consent to the treatment of the relevant amounts as “donations” to the school.
    Do we have a tax lawyer here to comment?


    The Jewish school administrators and staff have to understand that it’s not just their institutions that are suffering – many of the parents and benefactors who used to pay them tuition and donations have also lost their jobs or huge percentages of their finances. It’s sad that this has happened, but private schools are not entitled to money for services not granted just like the parents are not entitled to salaries from the employers that furloughed them. Why shouldn’t teachers and administrators file for unemployment just like everyone else? They should offer refunds to families who request them, as those families also have to put food on the table.


    Dear 147
    Furthermore, tuition can be considered ma’aser money.
    Three, most major poskim (including Rav Shlomo Zalman zt”l, Rav Elyashiv zt”l and Rav Ovadiah zt”l (and others) held that ma’aser b’zman hazeh is a minhag only. Important, but only a minhag.


    The Yeshivos and Beis Yaakov’s are NOT CLOSED. They are still teaching remotely. The teachers are working and being paid for that. The parents still must pay tuition.

    Reb Eliezer

    The Shach’s view is that you are only suppose to support your children until age 6.

    Reb Eliezer

    Look at the Yechaveh Daas (3,76) from Rav Ovadyah Josef.


    So until age 6 it isn’t maaser, since its your duty. After age 6 it is maaser, since you’re not required to give that support.

    Reb Eliezer

    People might not have the above sefer so I am stating his conclusion as follows:

    שו”ת יחוה דעת חלק ג סימן עו
    בסיכום: הנוהג להפריש מעות מעשר ממשכורתו, ומכל רווחיו, רשאי לנכות מדמי המעשר, דמי פרנסת וכלכלת בניו ובנותיו הגדולים היתרים על גיל שש שנים, ואפילו הם סמוכים על שלחנו. וכן רשאי לסייע ממעות מעשר בהוצאות נישואי בניו ובנותיו, כגון לצורך דירה ורהיטים וכיוצא בזה, כדי שיוכלו לבנות את ביתם. וכל שכן כשבניו ממשיכים לעסוק בתורה בכוללים הרבים אשר נתברכנו בהם, וכן כשבנותיו נישאות לתלמידי חכמים השוקדים באהלה של תורה, שמצוה גדולה היא לפרנסם בכבוד, וצדקה גדולה היא, והקרוב קרוב קודם. (וראה באור זרוע הלכות צדקה סימן כ”ב, כ”ג, כ”ו). ומה טוב ומה נעים שהרוצה להפריש מעשר מכל רווחיו, וממשכורתו, יתנה מראש במפורש לפני שיבוא לו הריוח או המשכורת, שיוכל לעשות במעות המעשר כל מצוה שירצה כפי ראות עיניו. ואם לא התנה כן בפירוש, יעשה התרה בפני שלשה על שלא אמר שהוא מפריש המעשר בלי נדר, ואחר שיתירו לו, יתנה התנאי הנ”ל. ואם שעתו דחוקה מבחינה כלכלית, ואין ידו משגת לנהוג מעשר כספים מכל משכורתו או רווחיו, יתנה מראש שיתן המעשר רק לאחר ניכוי הוצאות ביתו. אבל מי שחננו ה’ בעושר, וידו משגת, יאחז צדיק דרכו לתת כל המעשר לעניים ולאביונים ולעמלי תורה ולישיבות הקדושות. ועץ חיים היא למחזיקים
    .בה ותומכיה מאושר


    Joseph:The OP’s question is regarding seminaries (and some have added on the boys yeshivos in EY. Are they still teaching?


    As to whether you could write off the tuition paid to a now closed seminary as a charitable tax deduction.

    If you are American and the seminary is in Israel.
    #1 you paid the seminary directly…NOT deductible under any circumstances
    #2 you paid “the American Friends of Seminary XXXX” would be deductible if the American group is a registered 501c3 charity

    Donations to foreign charities are deductible on US income tax returns, which is why all these American Friends of 5013cs were created.

    Shimon Nodel

    I don’t know the halacha, but I think it’s right to keep paying yeshivos if one can afford it. I’m not sure I feel the same way about seminaries


    Israel is different than the US because the kids who went to Israel for a year were basically sent home and told not to expect to come back. There is no remote learning with these kids and I hate to say it, but many of these places cater to Americans as sort of a Jobs program


    Sorry If you expecting a refund from any yeshiva/ sem./ cheder I have a bridge to sell you



    Deductions to charities in certain foreign nations are deductible up to a certain percentage of income. It’s based on various agreements between the companies.

    “ American Friends of “ charities are not foreign charities. They are US charities. That is the whole purpose of setting them up.

    The question may be if the seminary is considered a charity. That it is in Israel is not really the issue.


    FWIW, the secular colleges and universities are not giving refunds as a result of the changes caused by the coronavirus.

    anonymous Jew

    Since when are non Jewish institutions our role model?

    Besides, there have been a number of class action and individual lawsuits already or waiting to be filed against American universities. I personally don’t understand why institutional endowments ( Harvard $40 Billion , Princeton $26 Billion ) are tax exempt.if they can charge $70,000 tuition , then they should pay taxes


    AJ: Did you miss the “FWIW”?


    Re colleges. Because the governor in NJ required colleges to clear out the dorms the college I’m in offered students a prorated refund for dorm, dining, and parking charges so they did give somewhat of a refund.


    YM: Right. Refund for the dorm but not for tuition.

    The little I know

    This subject is quite complex. The yeshiva or seminary continues to have expenses. It would be nice if they could meet them and avoid potentially serious consequences. Yet, the services they sell to bring in money to cover those expenses are no longer being sold. I am excluding those that continue to conduct classes via phone, zoom, etc. It is of questionable morality to be able to charge for services not being provided.

    This pandemic has caught us all by surprise, and no one had a mechanism in place to cope with it. It is not just the schools that are being hit, but the parents are also, to some degree, affected by loss of job or income. Now with these families grappling to find a way to make their day to day bills, we have no hesitation to insist they fund yeshivos that are not teaching their children? It is similarly painful to see the flood of fundraisers in the news pages of this site and others. They are among the disruptive popups, and are also emails and similar requests. It is sad to note that there appears to be a contest who can make their fundraising ad more pitiful to direct tzedokoh funds there. Even sadder is that there are so many families thrust into poverty, with jobs lost, parents niftarim, with yesomim all over. This is a troubling time for Klal Yisroel. And no one will jump in to help address the financial part besides Acheinu Bais Yisroel. But I wish those doing this fund raising would realize that the people they are addressing and begging no longer have the resources to help much. Yes, the desperation increases, but applying pressure on those who also don’t have is not the answer.

    We all want our mosdos to remain open, and to return to their holy tafkid of harbotzas Torah. Our aniyei amcho share that desire, without the means. The pressure needs to be directed elsewhere.


    TLIK: Virtually all Yeshivos and Beis Yaakovs are conducting remote learning.

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