The Cost of Being Orthodox
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- This topic has 53 replies, 22 voices, and was last updated 9 years, 11 months ago by yehudayona.
June 18, 2013 1:39 am at 1:39 am #609695
An article in the Forward on this topic and the subsequent comments provoked some thought among my circle of friends on the expenses associated with living an Orthodox lifestyle. What are suggestions you all would have on keeping costs down?
a) Food: Kosher food is expensive. The article pointed out also that preparing for shabbat each week is akin to making a Thanksgiving dinner each week, especially when meat is involved. Also, concerns over the number of sets of dishes and cookware you need were raised, as well. Pesah requires brand-new purchases of oils, spices, condiments, cake meal, potato starch, and for us Sepharadim, Pesah rice is far more costly than year-round rice. In addition, Ppesah desserts are an arm and a leg, and even making cakes from scratch is costly, since every recipe calls for about a dozen eggs.
b) Communal fees: Especially in the MO community, shul membership is not cheap. It is also fashionable and socially acceptable to join several shuls in the community and circulate among different shuls. These dues add up, especially since many shuls also add on a building fund fee or other costs. Mikvaot charge fees for usage, and using the mikvah weekly (as a man) adds up, as well, since more hygenic mikvaot are not cheap.
c) Ritual needs: Candles, including nerot for shabbat, yom tov, and Hanukkah, a yom tov candle, yahrtzeit candles, kippot, bobby pins, mitpachatot and hats for women, tzitzit, the cost of having tefillin and mezuzot inspected, the cost of purchasing audio shiurim, sefarim, attending classes, and day school and beit midrash tuition for children adds up (on top of parents’ student loan expenses). Likewise, buying flowers le kavod shabbat and following the halakha of purchasing gifts for one’s children and kallah for yom tov adds up, and social expenses, like attending yeshiva and shul dinners, parlor meetings, etc. also add up.
d) Clothing: Maintaining a wardrobe of white shirts, suits, ties, slacks, blazers, etc. requires dry cleaning almost weekly. Not to mention the fact that such clothes are more expensive than jeans and t-shirts. In addition, frum men have to take haircuts more frequently than other men, and that adds up.
Not springing for a lot of these things can be detrimental for one’s social life. Not being fully immersed in community life, not dressing the right way, etc. can be almost suicidal. And for the single man in NYC, let’s say, not living in the right areas (Washington Heights or the UWS) and not taking shidduch dates to the right places (such as Le Marais, Mike’s, Solo, etc.) can also be socially-suicidal.
I fear that with a salary under $200K, it would be enormously difficult to survive, short of sticking to the most meager of meals possible, living in backwater, yennevelt communities, dressing shlubby, and not being mehudar various mitzvot.June 18, 2013 3:14 am at 3:14 am #960347VogueMember
1. how many white shirts do you really need, you probably need ten at most including three for shabbos. eight slacks and three blazers.
2. you only need to get a haircut every seven weeks.
3.you only need one shul membership.
4. if you really cant afford many of your essentials then you should go to a gemach.
estimated savings: about thirty thousand dollars.June 18, 2013 3:56 am at 3:56 am #960348VogueMember
oh and also ties dont need to be so expensive and can be bought at target or h and m mens section or other cheaper places. you need eight ties to start and only one new tie a season after that and if you dont wear ties every day only start with five or six. estimated savings $200 a year or more.June 18, 2013 4:28 am at 4:28 am #960349
200k is a gross exaggeration, unless you’re counting tuition for a large family.June 18, 2013 6:00 am at 6:00 am #960350
You forgot the biggest expense and the one that is impossible to “skimp” on: day school!
Regarding the others: you make many valid points. Here are some suggestions:
Unless you want fancy china, which is really unnecessary, at most you need three sets of dishes– milchig, fleishig, and Pesachdik. Weekday/shabbos is not a necessity, particularly since many families a) use paper during the week anyway or b) generally eat milchig during the week and fleishig on shabbos. If neither of these applies to you and you want to make a weekday/shabbos distinction with table settings in addition to food, you can get a few nice serving platters or a crystal pitcher. No need for an entire set of new dishes. For Pesach, you can again use paper, but if you’d rather not do that, get a cheap set of Corelle (my husband and I brought a set of Corelle to Vegas because it’s just for the summer; kal v’chomer Pesach which is only one week). Corelle also stores well and doesn’t break (great for little kids who like to “help”).
As far as Pesach food, yes you need to buy all new stuff, but anything nonperishable CAN BE REUSED year to year if you store it properly and have the space. This is a huge money saver. Also, if you stockpile nonperishable Pesach food, you will have access to a wider variety of spices. It’s so annoying to only buy a handful of spices because it’s “only for Pesach” and then integrate them into your chametz stock, and really how many jars of cinnamon and garlic powder does a person need? Just be very careful when you are putting them away so that the lids close tightly and make sure your family knows not to touch it year round. Ideally, it should be stored somewhere that’s out of the way so no one will accidentally contaminate it. Also keep in mind in terms of stockpiling food that the grocery stores will run a huge sale on Pesach products the day after Pesach ends. Buy everything half price and put it away for next year. You must be careful though if you have already changed over your kitchen that you put it away IMMEDIATELY and do not let it get contaminated.
Regarding desserts, Pesach desserts are so not worth the money and/or effort anyway. Just serve fresh fruit, Elite chocolate bars, marshmallow twists/fruit jells if you like that stuff (I don’t, but many people go crazy over it), macaroons, etc. You can also make a KFP cheesecake with crushed almonds, macaroons, cereal, or cake meal for the crust, or chocolate pudding or chocolate mousse. Be creative. Pesach “cake” is disgusting.
Kosher food in general can get expensive, but it depends on how you eat and how you shop. Limiting meat and fish consumption is helpful, as is buying national brands that are kosher certified rather than frum brands (if you really want to support the frum brands, go ahead, but this will bulk up your grocery bill significantly).
Prepared kosher food is expensive, as are kosher restaurants, for a lesser quality than treif prepared and restaurant food (both my father and my husband were baalei teshuvah and could attest to this personally). Making food from scratch wherever possible will cut down on this cost. If time is a concern, cook in bulk and freeze things. Also avoid kosher frozen products, which can get SUPER expensive. It’s not worth the tradeoff in convenience.
Make friends with the reduced produce section and clearance shelf of your supermarket. You’ll have to plan meals accordingly so that the produce doesn’t spoil before you get a chance to use it, but it’s well worth the savings.
If you live near a co-op, join! Or get a Costco membership, or make friends with someone who has one and go with them.
Watch out for good deals on nonperishable food on Amazon (crazy, I know, but they have an extensive grocery selection which often runs really good deals). If you are willing to buy in bulk and buy when the sale is and keep it around until you need it, you will save a bundle. I have a case of almond milk sitting in my mother’s basement waiting until we settle down somewhere and can take it with us. I use almond milk a lot and got a REALLY good price on Amazon, and it’s shelf stable.
Find a blog or website that tracks sales and follow it. I like Kosher on a Budget. You can also just check the Amazon Gold Box page on a daily basis.
Just a few thoughts from a newlywed who’s starting to get a sense of how to run a household. Taking a break from the Internet now; will return shortly to post more.June 18, 2013 6:11 am at 6:11 am #960351playtimeMember
The coat for being MO is more expensive, because theater night and cable aren’t cheapJune 18, 2013 6:39 am at 6:39 am #960352
Also, MO tuition is much higher.June 18, 2013 7:32 am at 7:32 am #960353
However, MO families have fewer children.June 18, 2013 7:57 am at 7:57 am #960354
You can certainly “shul-hop” without having multiple shul memberships. Pick one shul as your “primary shul” and pay a membership fee there. If you feel guilty about utilizing other shuls without paying membership, make occasional donations to those shuls. I will also add that as a young single person, nobody expects you to pay a membership fee anyway.
I do not know many men who visit the mikvah weekly. Kudos to you. This will, obviously, be an additional expense that most families do not have. Mikvah fees can be as low as $12 or as high as $36, and when i”yh you are married you will have to multiply that by five instead of one per month. However, many mikvaot have sliding scale payment policies. I do not know about for men, but certainly for women nobody will be turned away for lack of money. I would assume the same for men. But if you are so needy that you cannot afford to pay the mikvah fee, while it is certainly commendable to visit the mikvah on erev shabbos, I would consider whether or not you want the community to support that minhag when you don’t have a chiyuv for it.June 18, 2013 8:49 am at 8:49 am #960355
I apologize. I just noticed that you did in fact mention day school tuition in your original post. Somehow I missed it.
Continued: Ritual Needs
Some of the expenses in this category are non-negotiable. Others can be mitigated.
Shabbos and yuntif candles can be purchased in bulk. As for Yahrzeit candles, you need a long-burning candle, but it is not necessary to buy candles specifically marketed as Yahrzeit candles. I wait for the large scented candles to go on clearance and then stock up on them.
Bobby pins are inexpensive and a negligible expense. They are not necessarily a “frum” expense either, since many women, including goyim and non-frum women, use them in their hair. Kippot can be expensive but do not have to be! If you must wear black velvet, order online rather than in a sefarim store and you will save (but buy other things you need at the same time to offset the cost of shipping). If you will wear a crocheted kippah, you can buy a cheap one at a sefarim store or pay a little more to buy from someone who makes them by hand (my mother does this). It will pay off because the handmade ones are better quality and will last longer. My brother has had some of his since before his Bar Mitzvah and they are holding up great.
As for women’s head coverings, you don’t mention shaitels, which are a huge expense but cannot be scrimped away. Hats, however, can be bought cheaply. While I was engaged, I spent a grand total of $13 on three hats on clearance: one at TJ Maxx ($4), one at Sears ($7), and one at Claire’s ($2). I wear each of them with my fall, which incidentally was free with purchase of a shaitel. I have a few hats for shabbos that are more expensive, but everyday hats absolutely do not have to cost a fortune. Tichels are significantly cheaper in Israel than in the United States. I asked my brother to bring me back some from Israel when he went a few months ago. Obviously he did not know exactly what colors and styles I would want, but he spent very little and brought me back a nice starting stock of tichels. One of my cousins, knowing that they are cheaper in Israel, bought some for herself while in seminary knowing that she would eventually need them. May she find her bashert soon!
Inspecting tefillin and mezuzot is an expense that cannot be avoided. Sefarim are very costly and also cannot be avoided, although I have been shocked to see how many households do not even spend on a basic Shas. No matter how tight money is, one should always have a sefarim budget, even a small one. I do wish that those who run sefarim stores would be a little more polite because I think some people are turned off by the rudeness and abruptness (I’m sure there are multiple exceptions to this, but it’s a trend I have noticed among different communities). Anyway, that’s a topic for another time.
Audio shiurim are free online, and many communities have a Torah tape gemach. Classes are also generally free. I know there are many that cost money, but with so many high-quality ones available that are free, why spend the money when you don’t have to?
The cost of tzitzis adds up if you don’t care for them well and have to keep replacing them. Place them in a mesh bag before you wash them and put the laundry machine on the delicates cycle. They will last longer this way.
As noted, day school/yeshiva tuition is a huge expense. I was fortunate to attend a day school with a tremendous commitment to scholarship that does everything in its power to attract talmidim whose families cannot afford “sticker price”. However, not all schools are like this. Many will expect a family to pay 20% of its income to the school. Sibling discounts are a joke. I am not familiar with the cost of tuition for the children of day school teachers– perhaps they offer a more substantial discount– but day school teachers get paid next to nothing, so even if so it’s a wash. This is the primary reason why the incremental cost of each additional child is so high. Clothing can be handed down and cooking for say, seven is not significantly different than cooking for six. But tuition is a real concern.
Student loans are not a “frum” expense and can be avoided if you attend a state school, are gifted enough to earn a full ride to college, and/or your parents have money in the bank.
Flowers for shabbos can add up. Try artificial flowers or set the table differently, e.g. use cloth napkins with decorative napkin holders, “charger” plates underneath each setting, artistic name tags for each family member and guest. Anything that is an investment rather than a repeat expense week after week will save you a bundle and achieve the same effect l’kavod shabbos.
Gifts for your wife and children for yuntif do not have to be expensive. Was it the rambam who said you should give nuts and dried fruit to your children? My husband is sleeping, so I can’t ask him.
My parents never attended yeshiva meetings and shul dinners. Unless you have a personal kesher to someone who is being honored at one of these events, it is not necessary. Once you have paid your basic membership dues and tuition, the shuls and schools will continue to ask you for more money. Review your finances and treat this additional money as tzedakah. Give appropriately for your situation. It is not socially necessary to sit through the dinners and listen to the speeches when you could be learning Torah or spending time with your family. (By the way, unless I missed it, which is quite possible, you don’t mention tzedakah as an expense. Don’t forget to factor that in to your budget).June 18, 2013 9:08 am at 9:08 am #960356
Why do frum men need haircuts more often than goyim or non-frum men? Is there something obvious that I’m missing?
I can’t yet comment on the cost of cleaning men’s clothing, having only been married a few weeks. I do know that for buying it in the first place, you can find inexpensive white shirts, black pants, and ties at TJ Maxx. They do not sell suits or blazers. For that, my husband likes Joseph A. Bank, which is high quality and often has good sales.
You mention that dressing the “right way” and taking shidduch dates to the “right places” can be social suicide. I have to say that if your friends expect you to spend money on these things, you’re in the wrong circles. Find a community that won’t judge you for economizing. Much of my clothing comes from hand me downs, secondhand stores, and discount stores. My first date with my husband was a stroll around a college campus (free). I think our second date was July 4 fireworks (also free). Dates do not have to involve food and certainly do not require full meals. I’ve had a number of shidduch dates in coffee shops and ice cream shops. Any girl who needs you to spend lots of money on her is not worth marrying.
$200K? Maybe. I don’t know what the number is. I do know that there are resources in the community to support you when you are struggling. There are gemachs for everything under the sun. Shuls, schools, mikvahs, etc. will often accept “whatever you can pay” if you explain your situation. Your local federation will offer job search assistance and resume review for free. And if you are truly needy, c”v, there are many frum organizations that will discreetly help out with cash and food.
You can save money on food and clothing without feeling in want. As far as hiddur mitzvah, consider how you can be mehudar in small but noticeable ways. If you are being supported by family or the community, consider whether now is the time to spend on extravagant hiddur mitzvah which is not, after all, halacha.
As far as “backwater, yennevelt communities”: New York is not the be-all, end-all. If you live out of town, so to speak, you will save a bundle on rent and can use that money for other expenses and “extras” that you would otherwise not be able to afford. You will also have a larger tzedakah budget. I am not suggesting that you move to Montana (I don’t think there is even a Chabad there) but you will be surprised by the vigor and beauty of smaller communities if you give them a chance. My husband and I are investigating several smaller communities to settle down in when he finishes law school. It requires a lot of research. Call rabbis, ask around, do a Google search. The cost of living is significantly cheaper. What will you be missing out on? The smoke, the noise, the horrendous commute, the sky-high rent, the even higher crime rate? Listen, I know New York has its perks. That’s why I like to visit. But do your homework before you call a smaller community “backwater”.June 18, 2013 9:16 am at 9:16 am #960357takahmamashParticipant
oh and also ties dont need to be so expensive and can be bought at target or h and m mens section or other cheaper places. you need eight ties to start and only one new tie a season after that and if you dont wear ties every day only start with five or six. estimated savings $200 a year or more.
Why not skip the ties completely? There is no halachic reason to wear a tie; in fact, you could say it’s chukat hagoyim.June 18, 2013 9:29 am at 9:29 am #960358haifagirlParticipant
I was appalled by rebdoniel’s post about all the “necessary” expenses.
jewishfeminist02, you did a wonderful job of explaining how to cut costs easily.
Sometimes I read what New Yorkers consider necessary and I thank Hashem (yet again) that I never lived there.June 18, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am #960359
Even with all of rebdoniel’s “necessities”, 200k is a ridiculous number.June 18, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am #960360NaftushMember
Move to Israel. Crocheted kippot for $3.00. White shirts for $10.00 or less. Suit and tie unnecessary, except maybe at your wedding. Kosher food standard. Religious public schools more-or-less free, semi-private ones $2000 extra. All the rest — optional or negotiable.June 18, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm #960361
$200,000 is not so ridiculus
You can only live in certain areas which tend to be more expensive. You almost have to live in the NYC area rather than cheaper parts of the US like Texas or TN.
Yeshiva tutions can really eat up your salaries.
Food Chumras can cost alot more. Only eating Hemish brand and shopping at Hemish stores cost more than shopping at Waldbaums and buying empire chicken there. Chalov Yisroel does cost more than Chalav Stam especially Cheese and Ice Cream.
A 15 Passenger van for your children, Which arent cheap and they get terrible gas mileageJune 18, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm #960362danielaParticipant
I actually misread your quote. Only when I saw DY’s post calling your figure ridiculous, did I realize you wrote 200K per year ie about 17K per month.June 18, 2013 1:01 pm at 1:01 pm #960363
$200,000 is not so ridiculus…
Yeshiva tutions can really eat up your salaries.
You probably missed where I said it’s ridiculous if you don’t count tuition for a large family.June 18, 2013 1:09 pm at 1:09 pm #960364
What are suggestions you all would have on keeping costs down?
The first thing I would cut out is my subscription to the Forward.June 18, 2013 1:56 pm at 1:56 pm #960365writersoulParticipant
“I am not suggesting that you move to Montana (I don’t think there is even a Chabad there)”
There’s one in Bozeman, if anyone’s ever interested.June 18, 2013 2:13 pm at 2:13 pm #960366
I don’t wear kippot serugot, which are more expensive than suede or velvet kippot, so there’s a savings.
My tayna against small communities is that they lack the same standard of living I am used to in NYC. I like the ability to buy kosher food at Goldberg’s at 2 am, and the freedom to learn daf yomi and shiurim with any host of great gaonim, including Rabbi Belsky, Rabbi Ralbag, Rabbi Boruch Simon, etc. OOT life is better suited for others, but I am born and raised in NYC. People are even slower outside NYC.
I’m still figuring out how to make a cheaper Pesah. The cost of the seudot and everything else came to over $900 for a family of 3, with our hosting a hakham for the last days.June 18, 2013 2:17 pm at 2:17 pm #960367
If you make aliyah, groceries will be significantly cheaper but your salary will be tiny and your tax bill will be huge. It depends on your earning capacity in this country. If you don’t make much here, make aliyah to lower your expenses.June 18, 2013 2:20 pm at 2:20 pm #960368
zahavasdad, why do you “have to” live in NYC rather than Texas or Tennessee? We are considering both Dallas and Memphis, which have sizable frum communities. I am sure no frum person who lives there feels deprived that they don’t live in NYC. In Dallas you can afford a nice big house and the day school is amazing. The Memphis community has a lot of money, so if you don’t make very much you don’t have to worry about getting turned down for a scholarship. Both communities are warm and friendly. Also, Texas is conservative-minded, which is a better environment for frum people than the liberal bastion of NYC.June 18, 2013 2:57 pm at 2:57 pm #960369oomisParticipant
it’s “only for Pesach” and then integrate them into your chametz stock, and really how many jars of cinnamon and garlic powder does a person need”
True, and I actually do that. But certain spices really lose their potency and flavor relatively quickly, and are just not worth saving from year to year. i do save most, though.
My greatest expense was ALWAYS the yeshivah tution. Bar none.June 18, 2013 3:02 pm at 3:02 pm #960370
The first thing I would cut out is my subscription to the Forward.
The Forward doesnt have much of a subscriber base. It isnt even the largest English jewish newspaper, the Jewish press isJune 18, 2013 3:06 pm at 3:06 pm #960371
A family of 3? Did your sister move out?
Yes, the pace of life is slower outside of NYC. Is this supposed to be a bad thing? I can’t stand all the crowds, noise, pushing and shoving, with everyone in a hurry to go nowhere!
In NYC you can buy kosher food at 2 A.M. and learn with geonim. But once you have a family and are working full time, I doubt you will be making after midnight excursions to restaurants anyway, and with the modern age of technology you can access any shiur you want online or on tape. Are those things really worth the tens of thousands of dollars difference per year in cost of living? Think about it.June 18, 2013 3:18 pm at 3:18 pm #960372red sockParticipant
What percentage of frum families make over 200k yearly?June 18, 2013 3:18 pm at 3:18 pm #960373
No but its worth having a great selection of Kosher food, i can pretty much find anything Kosher (That could possible be kosher) without much difficulty
There is a much greater selection of Schools to send your kids
Your kids will more likely have frum kids to play with
Employers are much more knowledgeable of jewish holidays and customs than they would be elsewhere
You get what you pay forJune 18, 2013 3:21 pm at 3:21 pm #960374🍫Syag LchochmaParticipant
I always get rattled when someone writes things about their own daled amos and pretends they are general to the klal. The rest of this thread’s title should be: . . .if you insist on living the specific lifestyle that I would like to be living. As many here are trying to point out, your issues have less to do with being orthodox, and more to do with what you think is important in life.June 18, 2013 3:35 pm at 3:35 pm #960375danielaParticipant
You can buy kosher food at 2am in any town which has shops open at 2am (even the pharmacy or the gas station, if it comes to that). How much more so if one avails themselves of all the leniences you accustomed us all to.
Now, if someone wants to buy *meat* and *wine* at 2am, that is a different story. I am, however, not sure where in the Torah it is advised as necessary, or even as healthy, to do so daily or twice a day during the week. Let alone do that regularly in the middle of the night.
Would be interesting if you posted a similar discussion “The cost of having a computer”.June 18, 2013 3:38 pm at 3:38 pm #960376
NY is also one of the few places where you can walk down the street on Shabbos is see mos of the stores closed.
Yes there are shuls and communities OOT, but the shopping strips are still open (for the most part) and you dont get the same feelingJune 18, 2013 4:02 pm at 4:02 pm #960377bp27Participant
As someone who pays 5 tuitions, plus camps, I wish my biggest worry was the cost of the mikvah Friday afternoon.
In Boro Park it costs $3.00.June 18, 2013 5:30 pm at 5:30 pm #960378
The Forward is available free online. The only things I subscribe to are the RJJ Journal, the NY Times, the Jewish Press, the Yated, and the Hamodia.
Most Anglos who make aliyah end up depleting their savings within 15-20 years of living in Israel, according to an article I read a while back.
I’m pragmatic and realistic. Living a relatively Modern Orthodox lifestyle unfortunately is not cheap, and the social expectations that accompany life in our communities don’t shtim well with lower salaries.
People say that the internet, pedophilia, and feminism are the 3 most issues impacting the community. I’d say that economics is definitely the most important matter of them all; in a capitalistic society, economics are of crucial importance, and given the expenses that living a Torah lifestyle here requires, there is a need for creative solutions to these problems, especially without compromising hiddurim and halakhic standards.
I’ll ignore comments on the politics of NYC versus out of town communities; while many Orthodox Jews vote Republican, the level of antisemitism and prejudice in backwater places is startling. Most people in places like Texas are probably antisemitic, as they’ve probably not even seen, let alone dealt with, too many Jews in their lives. I love the fact that in NYC, I can walk down Madison Avenue and see lots of people in sheitels, kippot, and black hats, and never feel at risk because of wearing a kippa. I spent a shabbat in Austin and felt a lot safer wearing a baseball hat over my kippa. Perhaps I have a negative/dim view of human nature, but I try to look at things realistically.June 18, 2013 7:21 pm at 7:21 pm #960379
Okay, I’ll respond to everything in order.
Selection of kosher food– yes, it is sometimes difficult to find kosher bread in smaller communities, but even that is not impossible to find. You would be surprised at the ease of finding other kosher foods. Las Vegas has a huge selection of kosher wines, including many labels I have never heard of before. We have kosher balsamic vinegar, kosher ramen noodles, kosher gummi bears, and lots of specialty products that are hard to find kosher. I even purchased, from the kosher section of a stam grocery store, a blue set of large spoons and spatulas marked DAIRY and a green vegetable peeler marked PAREVE. No labeling necessary! Who would have thought you could find these things in Vegas, and in a stam grocery store? It’s incredible.
Selection of schools– yes, you will have more to choose from in NYC. But you only need one school for each child, and unless you have children with learning disabilities or some other extenuating circumstances, choose a community that has a school that you like and you will be fine. Obviously you must research the school first, visit, find out if it will be a good fit. But do not be scared that there are two schools and not twenty if one of those two is a good quality school.
Frum kids to play with– you will of course live within the eruv. All the frum families will be concentrated in one area. You can decide how many friends you need your children to have. Even in a small community, you will not necessarily know every single person. Barring really tiny communities or really picky and asocial children, this should not be a concern.
Employers– I am not sure it is true that in NYC your employers will be more understanding. Being more knowledgeable about frum people will not necessarily work in your favor. Rebdoniel, this speaks to your comment about anti-Semitism as well. New York area employers will, for instance, have heard about all the chilul Hashem news stories (murder of Leiby Kletzky, the infants who died from herpes when a mohel practiced metzitzah, etc). You may in fact be better off in a small community where, by the way, the employers may be religious Christians and will totally respect your religious needs as opposed to in NYC where the employers are more likely to be atheists.
Seeing stores closed on shabbos– Okay, you won’t get much of that outside of New York. But in frum neighborhoods out of town, you can still walk in the middle of the street on shabbos. I don’t know about you, but that’s enough to give me “that feeling”.
Making aliyah can work either way economically. It obviously depends on your situation. If you have a career that will transition well to an Israeli market, and if you speak Hebrew passably well, you’re in much better shape than if your Hebrew is rusty and your career is distinctively American. If you eat a lot of produce, you will save more as an oleh than if you eat a more meat and potatoes diet. It just depends on what your lifestyle is. There are many factors to consider when discussing aliyah.
If you feel that social expectations are crimping your wallet, get out of your community. I’m completely serious. If shidduch dates at steakhouses and name brand clothing are values that you personally feel strongly about, go ahead. But if you’re only doing it to satisfy expectations? Don’t! There is no need! Find a community that comports well with your values. They do exist elsewhere in the New York area, if you really do not want to leave. Try Queens, Long Island, or New Jersey. Teaneck and Lakewood are obvious choices, but you might also consider Highland Park/Edison, Paramus, and Passaic.
“creative solutions to these problems…without compromising hiddurim and halakhic standards” See above. I wrote you a whole megillah.
You say that most people in “places like Texas” are “probably antisemitic [sic]”. Try visiting and then tell me what you think. Many goyim in what you deign to call “backwater places” are warm and friendly to everyone, including frum people, and will even ask you all kinds of questions about your frumkeit out of a genuine sense of curiosity and interest. Compare that to New Yorkers, who are rude and abrupt. I don’t know anything about Austin, but you would be completely safe in Dallas and Memphis, plus any number of other communities (I’ll give more examples if you want; I have a whole laundry list).
As for realism, everything I’ve said is completely grounded in reality and based on extensive research that my husband and I have done for the sake of deciding where we want to settle in a few years. We have visited many of these places already, called up rebbeim, and spoken to friends who live there.June 18, 2013 8:14 pm at 8:14 pm #960380
ZD and RD, it was a joke.June 18, 2013 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm #960381
I actually find Oberlander’s cookies for Pesah to be tastier than year-round ones, due to the copious use of almond flour. I love anything with marzipan, so Pesah almond-based desserts are right up my alley, including my Syrian family’s Pesah pistachio cookies.June 19, 2013 6:13 pm at 6:13 pm #960382
Well, you made a few great points, it is definitely costly to live a frum lifestyle, but there are a lot of changes you can make that won’t really hurt you, ie all those subscriptions you have, completely unnecessary (even hamodia) if you’d really like, just keep 1 or 2 of them. Mikvah is about $5 max Erev Shabbat. As aforementioned, you don’t need to “join” numerous shuls. The haircut thing, I agree with I get a haircut every 3 weeks (that’s only bc it’s expensive otherwise I’d do it every 2 weeks) and counting the cost and tip, that’s about $12 every time for me. You can go to Century 21 for really nice ties for a fraction of the price, I get ties there for only about $13-$18 (brand name ones too). Zara has a great selection of suits that if bought at the right time, will only cost you a little over $120 for a full suit! Shirts, that can be a problem, you want good quality shirts so they easily go above $30 so yeah. However, I am a very strong believer in the notion that anything that’s done l’kvod Shabbos/Yom Tov is not on your cheshbon, so I’d take that out of my list too.June 19, 2013 6:15 pm at 6:15 pm #960383
Oh and to those that say you can just as well get the great quality shiurim online, there is a HUGE difference hearing it live and recorded, you see the Rabbi’s facial expressions and body movements, what bothers him and what gets him excited, that’s part of the Mesorah.June 19, 2013 6:55 pm at 6:55 pm #960384Oh Shreck!Participant
I don’t know (never made a budget, frightening activity), I just think of ???? ???? ??. All the financial goodies, actually everything, comes from HaShem, we “return” to HaShem from His very own hand. Ours?!? Only the good-will, the ratzon, the bechira, nothing else.June 19, 2013 6:56 pm at 6:56 pm #960385
You get your hair cut every 2-3 weeks? What, do you have a buzz cut? Or does your hair magically grow in overnight like Harry Potter’s? I get mine cut every 6-8 weeks and that’s considered frequent. Hair only grows an average of about 1/2 inch per month.
Expenses that are incurred l’kvod shabbos and yom tov may be justified expenses and we may decide to spend more on them than we would on others. That does not mean that they don’t cost money. It may be well worth the money, but it would be irresponsible to not include that in a cheshbon whatsoever. You’re just shooting yourself in the foot that way by keeping inaccurate financial records.
If it matters to you to go to a shiur in person, do so. But almost all of them are free, unless you count gas money.June 19, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm #960386unforgettableidMember
I thank you all for your excellent posts, especially jewishfeminist02. Let me add a few things on various subjects.
About used clothing and safety:
Personally, I live in Toronto. Here, the local Jewish children’s aid society runs a thrift store in the frum neighborhood. Its selection of black dress pants and black suits isn’t bad. White shirts, you may have to buy brand-new though.
About used sefarim:
Some cities, like Lakewood and New York City, boast second-hand sefarim stores. Toronto doesn’t. I suppose I could order used sefarim online, but have never bothered trying.
About hair clippers:
I own a Wahl electric hair clipper. I got it for $20 at the local off-price department store. I use it to cut my own hair, any day, any time. For free. With no lineups. Quite nice.June 20, 2013 7:20 pm at 7:20 pm #960387
Well, I don’t get a buzz cut, but I am very makpid on the way I look and present myself, so hair definitely plays a big role in that. (thus I also can’t cut my own hair bc it won’t be perfect, and as my SN clearly states, I’m Rabbi Perfect lol)June 20, 2013 7:46 pm at 7:46 pm #960388
I trim my husband’s beard with scissors! He says I do just as good of a job as a professional barber 🙂 Now, haircuts are another story. I definitely don’t trust myself with that.June 20, 2013 8:00 pm at 8:00 pm #960389akupermaParticipant
Food: so eat less meat, it’s healthier that way — kosher vegetarians don’t have a significant economic penalty
Clothes: probably costs less to be well dressed – no need for $1000 suits except maybe on Shabbos – fashions change very slowly – if you were respectable in Boro Park 30 years ago, you can still go out in public in the same clothes
Communal fees: they are all need adjusted — most shuls don’t charge unless you want to reserve a specific seat for three days a year, and the fees are tiny compared to Reform and Conservative
THE BIG COST: is the “opportunity costs” of spending time learning instead of making money, and being limited to Shabbos-friendly job, of inability to take advantage of most non-need based scholarships (which it turns out are tied to athletics or military service), having to live in a city with at least basic Jewish services (kosher food, mikva, shul)
The also the expense of having children — Secular Jews have few if any. We spend most of our discretionary income on the kids. They have poodles, we have kinderloch. Fair choice. And I’ve yet to hear about a poodle taking care of you in old age.June 21, 2013 12:07 am at 12:07 am #960390
We only do 3 red meat meals a week, including shabbat dafina/hamin and Friday night dinner, so we generally only do one non-shabbat meat meal per week. Sometimes, we’ll do a fourth meal of just poultry, and I’d prefer to keep this up when I am married.
I think most Jewish families end up having 2-4 kids. I wouldn’t want any more than 4 kids, partially due to costs associated with education, but also I’d like the ability to be able to spend time with my kids, play with them, take them fishing, to ball games, to see rabbanim, to learn with them, do homework with them, help them study, etc.
Most shul memberships are around $1000 a family, from what I see.June 21, 2013 6:49 am at 6:49 am #960391
2-4 children per Jewish family? Where did you get that stat? And what do you mean by a “Jewish family”?
Modern Orthodox families typically have 3-4 children; yeshivish families have 7-8. Of course you have your 12s and 2s, but it averages out. My husband wants 3; I want 4; of course it is ultimately in Hashem’s hands! We will have as many children as He blesses us with, i”yh.
Shul membership fees can vary widely. $1000 is, I think, on the high end of the standard range. But no shul will turn you away if you really cannot afford the full fee. I know they have special arrangements with families that need it. And you can certainly help out the shul in other ways as a volunteer. My home shul, for instance, has a policy that each adult member must sponsor Kiddush once a year (this means twice a year for a married couple), but if there are financial issues, the shul will pay for it. They just want families to “sponsor” by shopping for the food and helping to set up/clean up the Kiddush so that the burden doesn’t fall on the same people to set up and clean up week after week.
We stayed with a Chabad family for Shabbos recently that has eleven children ranging in age from three months to 18 years. The rebbetzin told me she has seen so many women come to her and say they wish they had had more children and that from her perspective, you just have to have the children and the parnassah will come. I thought that was very brave and although I’m not sure I could handle a family of 13, I admire her for it.June 21, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am #960392haifagirlParticipant
I wouldn’t want any more than 4 kids, partially due to costs associated with education, but also I’d like the ability to be able to spend time with my kids, play with them, take them fishing, to ball games, to see rabbanim, to learn with them, do homework with them, help them study, etc.
That is so wonderful of you. Since you want only 4, please don’t stop. Keep going. There are more childless couples than will be able to take all your “extras.”June 21, 2013 2:43 pm at 2:43 pm #960393yytzParticipant
The Gemara says that one should only eat meat once a week, on Shabbos night. (Chulin 84a). Given the story in the Gemara about the son who told his mother his father wanted peas when he really wanted lentils and vice versa in order to preserve shalom bayis (Yevamos 63a), it seems that people then got most of their protein through legumes. If people did that today they would save a lot of money, and enjoy better health to boot.
Regarding jewishfeminist’s comment about having kids and the parnassah following, many people believe very strongly in that teaching. The idea is that each child has a source of parnassah that actually comes with it into the world. I don’t know the source, but I’ve read things by rabbis who discuss and endorse it (such as Rav Shalom Arush). In my own family we did not wait until we had a good income before we had children.
It’s true that being Orthodox is expensive, at least in the US. I don’t know how people with average incomes manage to get by AND consistently save money for retirement. But with G-d’s help and good planning, I’m sure it can be done.June 21, 2013 5:12 pm at 5:12 pm #960394
There is such a concept as family planning. The idea that “G-d will provide” reflects mystical and magical thinking and a lack of hishtadlut. Humans are endowed with the ability to make wise and responsible decisions and choices, and there is a lot of truth behind the idea that siyata de shmaya comes to those who help themselves.
The idea of volunteering in lieu of paying dues is something I wish more shuls did. There was a discussion about that I had with some rabbanim in the social justice sector last week.
Most families I know that are Reform or Conservative have 2-4 children.
And as far as meat goes, I find that I can get meat at prices not much higher than treif meat by shopping around at the right places in Brooklyn and Queens. I’ve done shabbat (2 meals) for around $50 many times, one meat and one dairy meal (wine from Trader Joe’s, hallah, a hearty vegetable soup for Friday night, salatim, pickles, olives, gefilte fish with chrein, kugels, roasted vegetables, chicken, steak, parve desserts, and for lunch, egg salad, cole slaw, potato salad, vegetarian chulent with kishka, halavi lokshen kugel, green salad, roasted vegetables, and dairy desserts).June 21, 2013 6:36 pm at 6:36 pm #960395
Trader Joe’s has kosher wine?
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