Out Of The Mailbag – To YW Editor (Tuition Woes)

103

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yw logo4.jpgIs Tuition the Problem?

The many “crises” of our day are in large part due to the exponential growth of our Klal, kein yirbu. Many of the calculations and methods that previously worked for the masses have become archaic. There was a time when mosdos (educational institutions) operated on a budget of $500,000 per year. Today, as many administrators will emphatically point out, the average yeshiva will forecast a budget five to ten times that amount. Additionally, other major costs of religious society for an average family are daunting: weddings, seminary, kollel support, Pesach costs, health care, etc…. It is apparent that we do not have a tuition crisis as much as we are experiencing a financial crisis! The unavoidable expenses of living as a Torah Jew in the twenty-first century are overwhelming. Large families bring high costs and tremendous financial outlays. But above all expenditures, a great percentage or perhaps the largest portion of a working man’s annual salary will go towards his children’s education. And therein lays our problem. Our cost of living is simply too expensive.

The Rat Race

Our schools are valiantly doing the job of accomplishing more with less. Sadly though, the average Joe cannot pay his dizzying bills, and to him, irrespective of the actual cost of educating his child, tuition is the makeh bepatish – the final straw. Many parents cannot keep pace with rising expenses. This winter, heating bills are expected to double in price. So far, the early part of winter has been unseasonably warm. Yet, we can venture to guess that few are running to their children’s yeshivos to catch up on their tuition bills with this “extra money.” Money has become so tight that if it is not being allocated for heat, our master-juggler baal habayis is paying off another debt, such as the rising home equity credit line that he took out to make a chasuna for a child, or for the home addition for his growing mishpacha (or both).

For a family that operates within tight financial constraints, inflation forces the serious dilemma of “how can we make ends meet?” Something has to give. Fixed expenditures such as the mortgage, rent, and utilities will not be ignored for fear of cut-off or foreclosure. Food and clothing are absolute essentials. So once again, we are looking squarely in the face of our community yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs to absorb this burden. Unfairly, yes; but reality, nonetheless.

Equal Partners?

The Yeshiva

The question is often posed, are schools being administered responsibly? Overwhelmingly, the answer is yes. Some have suggested that professional comptrollers or accounting experts be brought in to audit the schools’ finances. Brief, unscientific research shows that, absent evidence of malfeasance, professionals are already very much involved. Furthermore, many renowned institutions today are being managed by well known askanim and titans of business. Additionally, government funding  requires mosdos to comply with regulations. On the whole, yeshivos have become very creative and entrepreneurial in finding ways to close their budget gaps.

To an honest and realistic person, our school administrator knows his business very well. He has been successful in steering the ship through very choppy waters. This same executive director or administrator has become so talented at balancing the budget, his skills match those of any corporate CFO. The fact that he stays at the yeshiva is in itself real mesiras nefesh.

Respected administrators will rightfully say that Rabbeim and teachers are even worse off; vacations are nonexistent, and salaries in some institutions are not being paid on time. Without the Gruss Foundations and dedicated individuals, life insurance would be non-existent. As Rabbi Moshe Sherer Z”TL often said, “Rabbeim and teachers are overworked and underpaid.” This is not the environment to attract and retain our most important workforce, the educators of our children. Our Rabbeim and teachers deserve the best, not the bare minimum.

Parents

In NYC 2007, large homes, Catskills residences, luxury automobiles, and mid-winter Orlando vacations are commonplace. In contrast, as a board member of a renowned community-based tzeddaka organization, Keren Aniyim, it is sad to report that among the tree-lines streets of our million dollar neighborhoods, multiple heart-breaking requests for desperate financial aid are common occurrence. Families are begging for assistance.

So let us return our focus to the struggling family.  Imagine if a child rachmana litzlan has a comprehension problem or a learning disability that requires significant tutoring. The emotional stress on parents is exhausting, compounded by an inability to pay huge tuition obligations and many other debts, and families are in real trouble. This burden can – and often does – lead to significant shalom bayis problems and other socio-economic issues, and we now have an agenda full of crisis conferences.

Furthermore, after exhaustingly paying multiples of thousands of dollars in tuition and still finding himself terminally in arrears, a downtrodden layman parent must be made to feel that he is appreciated and not abandoned. At all costs, we must spare his children the indignity of the dreaded “no entrance card.” On the whole, the mesiras nefesh of our average parents to faithfully pay what they can legitimately afford to, places them on equal footing with the mesiras nefesh of the mosad. Parents are not shirking their duty.

Impasse

Parents have heroically accepted financial hardships to provide the best for their kids, and that certainly includes education. Both fathers and mothers are working full-time to put bread on the table. Parents are already overextended. Rising tuition commitments become back-breaking for some. Tuition contract increases, mandatory annual dinner obligations, and the random everyday extras, such as class trips, compound this unsettling process. Without a doubt, school operating costs are sky rocketing, but to our Joe, who has not gotten a raise this year, his feeling is one of helplessness.

It is clearly apparent that the yeshiva is not living in a vacuum and clearly understands the financial strain on parents. Unless we are dealing in an extreme situation, yeshivos are begrudgingly accommodating the financial realities of parents every day, though with negative consequences: a small strain in the relationship. The precious partnership between home and school slowly becomes frayed and disintegrates. The yeshiva has undeservingly become yet another bill collector. Children intuitively sense this estrangement.

In the best of circumstances, school and parents must be on the same page at all times. Financial issues have been allowed to encroach on this relationship, and this is unacceptable.

A Failure to Communicate

Problem: An obvious disconnect is occurring between school and home. Many parents do not comprehend their role in the school budget. It is also apparent that they do not understand the method of individual tuition bills or the formula of government funding. Impossible as it may be, parents fail to recognize that they are the significant financial underwriter in the business of education. This lack of clarity culminates with questions like, “How much does it really cost to educate a child? Are ‘their’ numbers accurate, and do ‘they’ really need ‘my’ maaser money?” Parents are apprehensive because, as it is, they are buckling under the intense pressure of paying what they already do.

Solution: Select philanthropic families have always risen to the challenges faced by our mosdos, and their benevolence alleviates a tremendous burden. Average parents, though, must be made to know that their largesse and personal involvement will also be of significance.

Yeshivos have the obligation to educate their parent bodies to the inner workings of a school budget. Regardless of whether the desire is there, parents are obligated to be amenable and responsive to stark realities. Mandatory financial open houses have been suggested, to educate parents regarding the structure of a school budget and their primary role in it. Convention round tables, focus groups, school executives and parents reveal  that financial transparency is vital to mutual understanding and common ground. Our mosdos are worth this effort.  [Only then this essential partnership can succeed.]

A Change in the Status Quo

Problem: It appears that the haves are being forced to pick up the slack for the have-nots. A segment of parents pay the full tuition that is asked, while a large segment are unable to do so. Large kollel and chinuch families are our greatest source of nachas, but how can these essential families be expected to positively contribute in a meaningful financial way? The current recipe does not bode well for financial stability in any business model. Yeshivos are clearly operating under difficult conditions. How can we convince parents who have the potential ability to pay a full tuition to actually make it a reality? Creative ideas and methods are required if we are to tackle this crisis.

Solutions:  As parents surely know, tuition is not tax-deductible.  In the current tax equation, parochial school students are at significant financial disadvantage vis-à-vis their public school counterparts. Hard-earned tax dollars are collected for a public school education that is simply not being received. If a percentage of these dollars qualified as a legitimate tax deduction, parents may potentially find the extra money for full tuition payment. Our families are being dealt an unfair hand, and the political climate may be ready to correct this inequity. Political allies must be enlisted. Regardless of political persuasion, school-tuition assistance must become our issue.

Additionally, greater concentration on endowments will produce much needed sources of funding. Secular institutions and universities place significant effort in reaching out to alumni and corporations. To a potential benefactor, there may be no sweeter sound in the world than Yiddishe kinder singing words of Torah. Our mosdos are positioned and ripe to receive philanthropic endowments, if only school directors had the time and resources to attract capable donors. Accounting experts and legal professionals must be consulted to advise and coordinate strategy for moving forward. 

Parents, School, and the Klal Can Make the Difference

Government sponsored tuition relief is a prodigious issue worthy of our valuable resources and time. Shtadlanus and implementation will only come from a collective effort. What we must do at the outset is strongly support organizations like Agudath Israel, whose efforts to obtain school vouchers for parochial schools require the vocal public support of the unified masses. Anything less is self-defeating. An unprecedented window of opportunity has been opened by former Governor Pataki, and  Governor Elliot Spitzer has indicated a willingness to explore other means of similar financial government assistance. Now is the time to seize the moment.

In 1961, the legendary Rabbi Moshe Sherer ZT”L testified before the U.S. Congress and  President John F. Kennedy on behalf of  government aid to parochial schools. That groundbreaking effort produced millions and millions of dollars for all yeshivos. The considerable needs of our thriving communities obligate us all to build on that legacy.  One can be confident that Rabbi Sherer would have agreed that future government tuition assistance in the form of vouchers or tax credits is a natural outgrowth of his lifetime of labor on behalf of all tinokos shel beis rabban.  Current challenges facing our institutions implore us to maximize this new potential. School leaders, askanim and regular Joes, who wax nostalgic for the days of old, must rise to this historic challenge and rally the collective klal behind this cause. Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel and other lay leaders need the unanimous, unwavering support of the united Jewish community to make our case in the halls of government.

All available political and governmental connections must be tapped into to ensure this effort. All school principals will acknowledge that hundreds of yeshivos, chadarim, and day schools across the religious spectrum benefit from Aguda’s ongoing efforts. What we can accomplish together now will dictate  the future costs of chinuch on our children and grandchildren. To successfully fight this battle requires strength in numbers. Tuition relief is of such importance to our future that it must transcend the many different religious ideologies that otherwise divide us.  For the sake of our children, the collective Orthodox community must unite and vote. Our astonishing growth is not reflected in our voting numbers, and in the age of computers the politicians have taken notice.

The Time Has Come

The driving spirit of the previous generation is waning. Our parents and grandparents constructed a new chinuch system from scratch. We seem to have lost the blueprints. Let us use our avos as a moral compass to regain our direction and focus. Use the past to forge our future. We must approach this crisis like our future depends on it, because it does.

(NOTE: This article was written, and submitted to Yeshivaworld by R’ Chatskel Bennett. It was previously published in the Jewish Observer)


103 COMMENTS

  1. This issue is at the heart of Jewish continuity and public support from Jews within the U.S. for Israel. The worse the Jewish educational system gets, the greater the problem will grow.

    Schools are expensive. While the charedi yeshivas in Brooklyn are somewhat less than the much higher priced modern orthodox schools like Flatbush, Ramaz, MDS and SAR etc. This is only in NY. The problems exist far beyond NY too, where attachment to Jewish life is even more scarce. The average cost of Jewish day school and high school is about $10K per kid (Ramaz and Heschel nearing $20K and true yeshivas being nearer to $10K) and Jews need to really believe in the cause to spend that kind of money on education.

    Take a parent in some LI suberb like Great Neck, and we won’t even talk about places like Wisconsin, Arizona, Atlanta and others place Jews live. Great Neck North and Great Neck South are pretty good schools as far as public school goes. Why would a parent making $150K a year before taxes, who may not have such a connection to Jewish life, choose HANC, or Yeshiva of South Shore, and give up vacations or that newer car?

    After all, we live in a fairly materialistic world – just look at the mansions in Teaneck and the Five Towns to know that Jews are no less transparent and materialistic than everyone else.

    The problem is twofold; One is the commitment of the parents who with each generation move further away from traditional Judaism, even to embracing religious neutrality as an identity, and Two is the Jewish organizational world and the people who traditionally support them.

    Let’s go to Two because it is easier to tackle One after Two is settled. The UJA, UJC, the Met Council, the Federation world, some of the largest money makers in the non profit world, mostly support elder care and Israel. Why, the people who donate want to be sure that they have care as they age and more readily identify with that era, and Israel is a universal goal, rather than having to choose which stream of Judaism they want to send educational dollars to, and within the streams, there are even more subdivisions, like Black Hat, Modern, Chasidic, and the non Orthodox like right wing Conservative or left leaning, bordering on Reconstructionist and Reform.

    Jews can’t agree on the levels and validity of streams, so few organizations choose to battle for education or, spread the money out too thinly to everyone.

    I venture that any Jewish education is better for identity than none at all, but I suspect that I am in the minority.

    Then we have a brilliant idea put forth by Lev Leviav, who wants to fund Jewish education for anyone who wants it. It is ambitious, and will cost a mere $95m per year. Sounds high? Consider that the UJA alone pulls in over $400 million, and the others combined probably bring total Jewish philanthropy to somewhere in the $1.3B range.

    $95M is a small price to pay to ensure that Jews remain Jews and care about other Jewish causes well into the day Moshiach arrives.

  2. Great Article.
    The main point is, the people that have the money, [and there are many many of them], should pay “full” tution, since they can afford it,and that would solve all schools headaches.
    And paying tution should be on top of their list before many other expenditures.
    And a word to the “poor”, paying full tuition will pay you big divedends!
    The Father of Rabbi Yeruchom and Rabbi Aba Ulshin two great rosh yeshivas, when asked why he was zoche to two great children, he answered “he never bargined on tuition!”
    [p.s. is this article about getting us to pay tuiton, or a plea to vote for vouchers?]

  3. The whole kollel movement of today makes no financial sense. It also runs on miracles. There is no one answer to all of this except that after all the shtadlanus each person has to daven to Hashem that He should continue to help. And He does!

  4. A point about the opening up of the article. Yes the community B”h is growing
    but so is the list of gevirem
    15 year ago how many frum milloniares where there?
    Today I can count a long list of frum “billonaires”, besides thouhsands of millionares.
    so thats a very lame excuse for not having money.

  5. Quick comment: the elderly, whose children have long since graduated from public schools, and the childless surely have as much of an argument that they are entitled to property tax reduction/rebate/credit, whatever you call it. And they make that argument all the time. Are governments going to give up tax dollars for special interest groups (of which we are just one of many)? I don’t think so! Respectfully,

  6. The bottom line is the only ones who suffer are the people making between $80,000.00 and $100,000.00. The poor pay almost nothing ,the rich can afford the $10,000.00 per child and the shrinking middle class is getting killed.

  7. Is there government address we can be linked to in order to deal with the issue? I would love to send in letters on behalf of Klal Yisrael suffering from this nisayon.

    I was recently speaking to a father who had been forced to take a lower paying salary in chinuch.

    When I mentioned to him about a possible expense to add to his existing expenses he told me that he was making what sounds like at least some money however due to the bills of everyday living and supporting as best as he can some of the necesseties of his married children, he was not even covering the bills besides the tuition.

    Yes, he gets some tuition breaks but he is busy draining his lifetime savings and is scared how he will marry off his kids because the salary and savings are just not making it. This is a common story! I work in the chinuch world myself and see what the school financial sitch is!!

    And the government doesnt really feel so bad cuz “we can just send our kids to public school!” We need to tell them that public school is not an option. Klal Yisrael is a known force is the gov. and we deserve to have our high taxes cover for us too!

    Please anyone who has a link to government offices and officials post it up for us to petition. And not just for NY and NJ cuz it’s a US problem (and I’m sure beyond.)

  8. Mr. Harry, your absolutely right!! B’H there are more and more Frum millionaires / billionaires! And That’s G-Ds plan, to give the rich money to HELP their less fortunate brothers and sisters, NOT to donate millions generously to Hillary’s political campaign!!

  9. Another issue on this topic is the spending. Why are we buying and building million dollar homes? Why are we spending the extra money on the nicer cars?

    If we built and bought homes that cost less money to maintain and pay mortgages/taxes on, if we bought cheaper cars, if we spent less money on the gashmius, we would have more (although not enough) money on the ruchnius.

  10. I want to know why my friend whose husband is a Rabbi gets a break on tuition even though she bought her house all cash and put in over $100K with no mortgage, her kids walk around in over $100 in clothing every shabbos she spends $75 a kid for each pair of shoes. While I who has to struggle every month to cover my bills and i shop for my kids at the likes of target and payless and I have to negotiate for my tuition? This isn’t right if someone has this kind of money and can go on a mini vacation everytime the kids are off why can’t they pay full tuition while those of us who work a non chinuch job can’t get a break?

  11. This article takes a very narrow view of the situation.

    There are many communities, i.e. Lakewood, where not many people spend money so freely as described in the article. Yet, people can still not pay tuition.

    The fact is that many schools are run as businesses, with the higher-ups making alot of money and buying up property in the school’s name even when not for school purposes in any way.

    If people would pool all their resources together, and keep the money within the community, things would be better off.

    One need not look any further than last week’s bash in Lakewood, where tens of wealthy people spent thousands upon thousands of dollars at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton.

    Keep in mind that Lakewood is a community where hundreds of families subside only on Tzedakah. BMG is a yeshiva where kollel checks are a thing of the past. There are hundreds of yungelite with 4-5 children still not recieving any stipend.

    And those that receive the measly stipend can hope to cover their costs of bread for the year, and even that isn’t simple.

    Let’s keep the money amongst ourselves and all of us, rich and poor, schools and individuals will be better off.

    May Hashem help us make clear-headed and correct decisions in life.

  12. Dear Rabbi Bennett,
    YES, you are absolutely correct when you said “To successfully fight this battle requires strength in numbers”, however its not working!! The ONLY WAY I see it will work si if there’s ONE organization, say the Agudah, who will use their precise coordination talents into having EVERY (litvish, chasidish, modern etc.) FRUM FAMILY (say in the tri-state area) to CALL UP their LOCAL board of education, and REGISTEIR THEIR ENTIRE FAMILY into public school. When WE AS A KLAL jam the phone lines and start registering 5-10 kids into public school for the September 09 year, then government officials WILL HAVE NO CHOICE to drastically support our mosdos financially.

    WE NEED MEN WITH COURAGE TO ORGANIZE THIS, BUT IT’S GUARANTEED TO WORK!!!!

  13. And That’s G-Ds plan, to give the rich money to HELP their less fortunate brothers and sisters

    Do you have pull upstairs? Wow, this is special. Please enlighten us to what else is in God’s plan. I, for one, am all ears.

  14. Another issue on this topic is the spending. Why are we buying and building million dollar homes? Why are we spending the extra money on the nicer cars?

    We? If you’re doing it and have a problem with it, you should probably stop. Don’t assume you know what’s going on in other people’s bank accounts. You don’t know how much they pay.

  15. I do not understand why tuition is so high. let us assume their are 25 children in a class. If each child paid only $4,000, that translated into $100,000. for teachers salaries. Yes, I am aware that there are costs for the building and for the administration, insurance and heat and air conditioning, but tuition at my son’s school is $16,000. per year. Yes, I get a scholarship, but my family cannot afford health insurance, even so. I think the Yeshivot should be open about the amount they pay for insurance, mortgage and heat and a/c. These should not be top secret. If Moshe Rabbeinu could take a parsha of the Torah, to give an accounting of expenses, the Yeshiva should be able to open its books as well.

  16. iknowit:

    You need much more than 80-100k if you have a 4 or 5 children going to yeshiva. People making 150k with a reasonably large family are not getting by.

    For the group as a whole, is the frum community willing to make tuition relief the number one issue that we lobby for with politicians? Are we going to support candidates, such as Mrs. Clinton, who will never support tuition vouchers?

  17. There is a huge financial crisis looming the Orthodox world. Middle class families, those with gross income of between $80,000.00-$175,000.00, are literally getting killed. They are too “rich” to qualify for financial aid fromt the yeshivot, but too “poor” to be able to really afford private school tuition. Remember private school tuition comes from post tax dollars. There is little doubt in my mind that this crunch will result in the end of Jewish education as we know it. Within a generation or sooner, some graduate student in education will write a serious content intensive afternoon talmud Torah curriculum to be used by Orthodox schuls in their Hebrew schools. It won’t first be used in NYC and its enviorns, but rather in more outlaying places. But if that curriculum proves sucessful, Orthodox schuls in the NYC area will eventually adopt it. Parents will be more than happy to not have to support an additional building. It’s coming and you heard it here first.

  18. I have been both the benefactor and beneficiary of tuition scholarships. The problem is one of perspective. In many instances, bubby and zaidy have decided that they will buy the kids a house and pay for vacations and perhaps seminaries, but it is the community’s problem to cover tuition. If they only considered that accepting tuition scholarships is no different than receiving tomchei shabbos packages, they might react differently. At the end of the day, someone has to write a check to subsidize the education.

    Should the needy accept the subsidy? Of course. They are obligated to. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t recognize the seriousness of taking from the public coffers. And the obligation to repay schools doesn’t end when the children graduate. I know a man who pays old tuition bills from his social security checks.

    Finally, those in kollel who cannot cover their expenses and expect someone else to cover their children’s tuition (a/k/a give them tzedakah)should consider what a chilul hashem they create and how much more difficult they have made it for people who are actually mishtadlim to cover their costs.

  19. The points above are all very true. However, regarding the notion that parents do not realize the role they play in the budget, I honestly think that it depends on how much the tuition is. When tuition is between $4000 and $5500, like most schools in Boro Park and Lakewood, everyone realizes that the amount being asked is very reasonable and probably doesn’t cover the basic costs. However, those in Flatbush, Far Rockaway, etc. who pay $12,000 per kid probably have the right to wonder, and therefore not realize the role they play in the school’s budget.

  20. #15 BLUE PINKY:

    Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh (commentary to Exodus 22:24) elaborates on this subject and makes it clear that any extra money which a rich man has beyond his actual needs is definitely not his own and was not given to him to hoard and save. This money belongs to the poor and the Almighty has merely accorded him the privilege to be His agent to disburse the money to those who need it and ‘own’ it. God did not give the money to the pauper directly because he is being punished for his misconduct; he must suffer the degradation and deprivation which is the lot of the poor. Thus, the concept of charity has two benefits: It brings merits to the rich and effects atonement for the poor.

    ALSO The Tur writes in his introduction to the Laws of Tzedakah (Yoreh Deah 247): Never allow your mind to entertain the perverse thought, ‘I can’t afford to give charity to others, it will diminish what I have for myself!’ Because one must never forget that his money does not belong to him in the first place – it all belongs to God, Who has temporarily deposited His money with you for safekeeping. When a poor person asks for help it is as if God is requesting you to pay out His money into the hand of this needy representative. Indeed, the most precious part of your wealth is what you give to the poor, as it says (Isaiah 58:8): And your charity shall go before you [to your eternal reward].

  21. The problem is that we seem to have the mentality that the way things should work is that a rich people should pay the tuitions of poor people. That should be done, but too much of it means tuition prices won’t be kept down because the poor pay nothing and the rich can afford it, leaving the huge expense to everyone in the middle.

    The whole kollel/chosen unemployment lifestyle that has become more popular is meant to increase Torah learning, but it in fact puts more barriers up to chinuch because tuitions and teachers need to be paid. It is therefore often a shortsighted lifestyle.

  22. Mr. Harry:

    There may be many people who can afford full tuition but there are many more who cannot. How many people can afford $30-50k a year in tuition, which is paid in after tax dollars? You don’t need that many children to get to that number in regular yeshivos and bais yaacov’s. I am not talking about fancy schools in manhattan and long island.

    What about the wealthy jews? First, there needs to be a change in attitude so that the wealthy realize that they are responsible for the chinuch of those who have less. In the defense of the wealthy, the wealthy in American are supporting many tzedakos here and in Eretz Yisroel. There is a lot of Tzedakah being given, but the needs are even greater. Perhaps the wealthy should be told that supporting chinuch is a higher priority tzedakah than certain other tzedakos, but that kind of hadrachah needs to come from the Gedolim.

  23. cant take it anymore:

    I am not qualified to pasken on this, but it seems to me that it is a chilul hashem chas v’sholom to register our children in public schools, even if it is only to force them to help support our mosdos.

  24. #14

    Lets get the machers to threaten such a move and if the klal doesnt get tax credits or deductions – then we will register and the govt will be forced to spend the money!!!

  25. Another issue is whose obligation is it to educate our children?

    Yes its the father

    BUT since R Yehoshua Ben Gamla it is the obligation of the community!!

    When will executive dirsectors accept this?? Since when is Yeshiva education a Private School, with its high tuition?

    Yeshivas are Jewish schools for the Jewish public – not private schools. The obligation is on the community – not just on parents who just finished school or are in kollel themselves!

    Perhaps if IRS or whatever taxing authority would understand that we send our children to yeshiva for total religious instruction then tuition would at least be tax deductable. Tax experts – any comments?

  26. #16 – you can not bluff what you can not do! they know that we will not send our kids there, all that would happen is that they would raise our taxes to meet the new demand. and if we did this insane bluff, and backed out as the last minute, any public school funding that was going to private schools will be cut to cover the extra expenses that were incurred due to the bluff. I for one am tired of this comment.

    #18 – not 100% sure but I think that not-for profits need to keep an accurate auditable set of books. Additionally, it is my understanding that the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, although geared primarily to public companies does have some impact on not-for-profits especially regarding fraud based risks and controls and other entity level controls (whistle blower protection etc.). With that said, I am not sure too what level that is going to go – major orgs or also to private not-for religious based profit schools.

  27. Why not consider re-intoducing the old system of Jewish education that thrived in “Der Alter heim”–Europe.

    Our grandparents were very poor, yet they built world-class Torah institutions.

    Get rid of all the frills; forget about lunchrooms and kitchens and buses. Just have the children bring a brown-bag lunch and walk to a simple Cheder.

    We want all the modern conforts and frills, and then we complain that we can’t afford it!

  28. What is the answer to this mess? How should people in the middle class feel towards those who are in kollel, etc? it seems like nobody really has a good answer. I fear the day when I begin to pay tuition for my kids. Its not too far, how will I make my ends meet? I welcome any feedback from those of you already in the situation.

  29. Ontario just had an election where funding for religious schools dominated the election campaign. Both the frum and non-frum community put out major campaigns urging the community to vote for the political party supporting equal funding. Nevertheless, the general public overwhelming rejected this and the “good” party was defeated. Religious funding is just not popular to the public unless it applies to you.

    Incidentally, although we (in Ontario) have absolutely no public funding for our schools, we do receive a taxable charitable receipt for most of the tuition paid.

  30. If every parent would write down their total gross income from all sources and compare it to what our Rebbeim, Teachers and Principles are earning, you would actually see how underpaid our michanchim for our children are.

    “Tuition Woes”, It is very easy for Parents to complain. Hoewver the ones really suffering are our Rebbeim.

  31. Hey #5 Mr. Harry – Where can I find this so-called “long list of frum billionares”? I’d like to see that. Please name me 3.

    And on the topic of public school – A good portion of frum ‘out of town’ Jews enroll in public school. They give a good education, and contrary to popular belief, one will not necessarily go off the derech just becuase they go to school with non-jews. The Limudei Kodesh can be taught in the house, where it should be.

    And according to this article, Rabbis are worse off?? Much of their salary is not taxable and they receive free education for their kids. That amounts to a $50,000 salary for a Rebbe comparable to a worker making $90,000 who has to give 1/3 of that to taxes and spend another $20000 of it on tuitions.

  32. SORRY TO SAY THE BOTTOM LINE is that the materialism in the frum community is totally out of control.
    We worship money,money and again money and look up to anyone with money-that is the truth. Have the rabbonim not tried to limit wedding and other expenses?? And do you think it worked???
    NOOOOOO because the people with money will not follow the guidelines AND the frum community worships anyone with money so everyone will try to imitate them as much as possible.People with money need million dollar home in the Catskills, and ten thousand dollar vacations, and super expensive simchas??????? Well if the rich dont cut back and most people in the frum community try to imitate them regardless of ability, this problem will not be solved. Unfortunatey we worship the golden calf with all our hearts.
    Have you seen what goes on in the shidduchim scene??? The number one requirement for a good shidduch is not yiras shomayim or middos tovos…it is money.
    If this mind-set does not change money will not be available for tuition and for basics, because we are rat-racing ourselves to death. Hashem Ya-azor that this gold worshipping and worshipping the rich change. AMEN

  33. #35 wrote: “If every parent would write down their total gross income from all sources…” From all sources?!?!?!? what is this supposed to mean?

    Why is there always this suspicion that when we list our income and show our tax returns to the schools, we our hiding “other” sources of secret income?

    I hesitated submitting this post this after previous threads accusing certain segments of our community to be thiefs – I hope this discussion does not lead to this.

  34. jf891:

    I think the Chassidim do it by havning the wealthy chassidim in a given Chassidus support their own mosdos before giving money elsewhere. Outside the Chassidishe world, we don’t have that type of community and we therefore give money to all types of worthy organizations even though they are not close to home.

    We also tend to undersupport our Yeshivos and Bais Yaacov’s because we assume that everyone should pay their own tuition, when in fact most cannot do so.

    The people of each community need to realize that as a community they have an obligation to pay for the chinuch of those who can’t and that it has priority over tzedakos outside their community. Middle Class people who can’t afford to pay tuition are also aniyim and aniyei ircha kodem.

  35. Yosher:

    Even if the government understood our children were sent to yeshivas purely for religious education, the tuition would not be tax deductible. A few years ago, Agudas Yisroel asked some of the best tax lawyers in the country to see if they could come up with a way of making all or part of yeshiva tax deductible, but they could find no basis for such a position.

  36. Years ago, practically every yeshiva was a legitimate not-for-profit kehilla yeshiva where it was unheard of that a child would be turned away because of tuition. Parents who didn’t pay full tuition would be asked to “volunteer” and help out at yeshiva functions, melave malkas, dinners, bazaars, even bingo. Those that were in the trades would help out with electrical work, changing lightbulbs, etc.. Mothers would be asked to help out in the lunchroom. Nowadays, there are many yeshivas that will say they have a vaad/Board that runs the school but in fact are for-profit enterprises where the primary individual(s) will have family members either in the administrative office and/or in the hanhala and all are well paid.
    While this may not be wrong in itself, however, when these institutions then turn away children either for financial reasons or because they are not the cream of the crop and chas v’sholom their institution’s precious reputation will be tarnished by accepting such a child and this will affect them financially, there is a big problem.
    I know of cases and I’m sure others do as well where yeshivas have said “it’s not our responsibility to take in this child” and the child has ended up in public school simply because they couldn’t afford tuition.
    In the secular world, the salaries of heads of not-for-profit organizations are reported and monitored. Nepotism is frowned upon and there is real accountability to Boards. Yeshivas, especially those that are asking financial help from the community, should be required to report to the public what the top adminstration make in salary or perks and how many family members are employed by the yeshiva.

  37. In response to #35: Did you actually read my post? My point was that if you include all sources of income(wages, basement rental, etc..)
    and compare it to what the Rebbeim are earning.

    When you respond to someones post like this:

    If every parent would write down their total gross income from all sources…” From all sources?!?!?!? what is this supposed to mean?

    Why is there always this suspicion that when we list our income and show our tax returns to the schools, we our hiding “other” sources of secret income?

    People might make wrong assumptions about you.

  38. This is one of the most important articles I have seen on Yeshiva World. I teach in 2 Brooklyn Yeshivas and make $39,000 a year. I pay almost $19,000 in tuition. As was stated a major component of the problem is parents being asked to pay large registration fees, building funds, and dinner fees beside tuition. Yeshivas need to find independent sources of funding these important fees without placing them on parents.

  39. Bottom line – how much money is being given to other causes that should be truly given to our Mosdos?

    Untill we make our kids’ schools top priority, this is gonna be getting worse & worse!

  40. I think endowments are the answer. The letter above briefly mentions endowements, but then points out what is probably the main reason they do not exist – that yeshiva administrators and Roshei Yeshiva have a difficult enough time rasing money for last month’s payroll etc that they don’t have the ability to to try to raise money for an endowment.

    One possible solution to this would be if an independent organization were to be set up to raise money for an endowment and to run it, utilizing top notch financial and legal experts and under the oversight of our gedolim. This organization would be distracted by no other task other than building an endowment.

    If eventually over a bunch of years $1 Billion could be raised for this endowment, then assuming a very conservative annual return of just 5%, there would be $50 MILLION available annually in perpetuity for tuition relief. That would probably be enough to make it that anyone who could not afford tuition would not have to pay it.

    Another advantage of this endowment being independent is that yeshivas and schools could never dip into it to cover their budget shortfalls. Instead any frum person who cannot afford their tuition bill would apply to the endowment fund, and if the fund determines that the person is indeed in need of help, then the fund would pay the tuition to the school on that parents behalf.

    Anyone have any thoughts on whether this idea is workable?

  41. This is a complicated issue. One of many factors to consider is the amount of tzedaka money that could be going to support Jewish elementary and high schools ( by parents paying more tuition than they presently do or non-parents wanting to support their local yeshivas) but instead is going to support one’s own children and grandchildren who are in kollelim. I am not saying that kollel is not a good idea..but perhaps there are TOO MANY young men today learning in kollel and this fact is taking away large amounts of tzedaka money that could be going to support Jewish education. In addition, many many young men are not planning properly for their future parnasa responsibilities and will not be able to help this situation when they will need to pay tuition for their own children.

  42. In Monsey with 6 kids and 2 cars it costs more than 150,000 just to wake up in the morning. I forget if that includes tuition or not. Who has money left over?

  43. I feel really sorry for the situation, but do you realize that numerous institutions have almost 25% of their budgets covering salaries for family members employed or at least being paid by the mosad.There is almost no yeshiva left that is klal run perhaps excluding yeshiva torah vodaath.
    one should revisit their tzedakah giving and realize when one gives to a family run yeshiva he is not giving tzedakah but perhaps helping a yidishe mishpacha build their own business- also a mitzvah!
    We are in a sad state of affairs it starts and ends with money, its yeshivas, shiduchim, access to gedolim all influenced by money.Our kollelyungerleit are truly carrying this generations mesiras nefesh. They are the pillars who are supporting us all. We should shower them and dance in the street with them as they are the true atzei chaim.
    Hashem should watch us and guide us through these most trying times. Conventions for everything except tachlis, a kinnus for all but l’amayseh- we are afraid to deal with emes, yashrus, chessed and true edelkeit. Torah will prevail we should be only zoche to see the geulah shlaimah very soon!

  44. Registration fees is only the beggining. And what about the extra monies for birthday parties and all that non sense? Why should yeshivas have such a thing?

    How about the 4,000 for bus service? wouldn’t it be cheaper to hire a van service or have car pools like the good old days?

    People who can’t afford the tuition but get help from the city and then to have the school admninistrations tell these parents that since they are not paying anything the least they can do is pay 1300.00 is pure chutzpah.

    A school administrator asked to see my income tax and other stuff and I replied let me see the schools books and I would gladly open everything I have. I have nothing to hide. The school declined. I wonder why.

    Why do yeshivas have to have a 13 million dollar building? Why do they continue to build such massive expensive buildings? Where are the priorities? When yeshivas add cost to their own problems in which they CAN avoid most of the time they put more pressure on parents and the entire klal.

    With all the problems going on it also seems to me that some people complaining about tuition are a buch of phonies. How is it that people who have tuition problems can “afford” going to Israel and Florida once or twice a year.

    How about the many buying summer homes for 200,000 upstate NY and while they still have kids to marry off and have a tuition crisis.

    Tuition crisis we have but we also have a thing called priority crisis and keeping up with the Jonses crisis.

    How about people complaining they have no money but they constantly eat out in restaurants.
    (Spouses forgot how to cook?) Look at how many Kosher restaurants opened up in the last 3 years in Brooklyn. And how about the 40 banks on 13th Ave And on Ave J!

    This is the problem for many and it’s called PRIORITIES.

    Eating out all the time should be cut down for ones own (family) sake.

    Winter vacations, Concerts, summer homes, two cars, buying homes for 700,000 and putting an additional 100,000 for the extra rooms and nicer kitchen…

    The list of the craziness that we CAN control goes on and on.

    Keeping up with the Jonses is not helping any of us and we have to stop acting like the Jonses. All we are doing is embarrassing ourselves in the long run.

  45. I know of a very close family member who has decided to stop having more children. This individual has two kids and pays approximately $10000 in tuition. He rents since he cannot afford a home yet. He gets no help from parents on either side. He makes a decent living, around $65000 before taxes. He is NOT in debt, and maybe he is saving a few hundred dollars a month. The point is we as a klal are in trouble if more parents start thinking this way. Personally I see that he is correct since what other choice does he have. The same way we tell ourselves not to purchase a fancy car b/c it’s expensive the same here a young parent may say not to have kids b/c they are expensive. Maybe this is a bad analogy but I think you hear my point.

  46. Mdlevine

    Who is bluffing??

    #40. Please elaborate – since all instruction is religious – other than thr few hours in the afternoon which the govt already conceded to help yeshivas with textbooks etc

  47. it seems incredible that the amount of money spent on extravagant weddings, homes and trips are not in sync with the tzedakah given.
    while there are those very special individuals who are magnificent baalei tzedakah, it is impossible that maaser is given by the klal- especially amongst the very rich.No institution in any town or city would have a problem of funds if maaser was given. Do the math, crunch the numbers, look at the spending ratios and the homes, cars, trips all the beautiful wealth- but where is the maaser.
    You can’t compare the output to the input. We hear b’h of all the mega deals so many are doing- everyone sells to walmart, target-everyone just bought this mall this apartment complex…. and traveled around the world to do deals and b’h the
    list goes on, yet local tzedakahs fail to compete.
    how can this be?

  48. Instead of talking about tuition which is very hard to cut down on we should concentrate on expenses that are easier to cut down on like fancy weddings and sem in Israel for the girls ($10,000 plus in the name of “torah” to be taught by a few American rebbitzens with no hadracha or mesora) The emphasis should not be on the rich- they do their share of tzeddakah but rather on the large middle class that have money either for tuition or for other expenses but not for both. Parents who get a tuition break and then choose to send their girls to seminary or support their sons in law in kollel and especially if they use the money for fancy weddings, cars bungalows vacations etc. should know that they are using tzeddaka money to pay for their luxuries.

  49. ehrlichayid – I read and understood your post. my point is that not everybody out here has other sources of income from basement apartments, side businesses or anything else. some of us go to work get a paycheck and that is all that there is.

    regarding paying the Rebbi – I think that we are in agreement when I write that we need to remember that we are appointing the Rebbi(s) as a Shaliach to educate our child(ren) — if one wants to do this in the best possible way, we need to pay as much as we can afford to pay.

  50. Mdlevine:

    I know that Agudas Yisroel looked into this and could not come up with a solution. The basic theory behind the government’s position is that since you are getting a service, i.e., religious instruction, there is no donation because it is presumed that religious education received is equal to the tuition paid. That is why tuition for yeshivas that have no English or tuition for Bais Medrash, which has no secular content, is not deductible.

  51. There is so much to say on this issue that I don’t even know where to begin. Boys should go to college so they can be able to support their families. Girls should too, so that they can become actuaries and accountants and so on instead of running playgroups (if that is not their true calling.) And regarding the posting of mylogic, in the less yeshivish world it is said as a joke that the most effective means of Jewish birth control is yeshiva tuition, but it’s actually the truth. Do we really want this to be true of the yeshiva world? Finally, plenty of Jewish special needs children are already benefiting from public schools and school district services received in yeshivas. Are none of your children receiving free speech, OT, PT, resource room? Have a little hakoras hatov! The government doesn’t owe you a free religious education.

  52. Just to elaborate, I feel everyone’s pain here, since I too feel like we are barely making it, even with 2 professionals working full time. And I only own one home and I haven’t been on a vacation in 7 years. It is a privilege to be able to provide our children with a Torah education, even though it doesn’t always feel that way.

  53. YES, you are absolutely correct when you said “To successfully fight this battle requires strength in numbers”, however its not working!! The ONLY WAY I see it will work si if there’s ONE organization, say the Agudah, who will use their precise coordination talents into having EVERY (litvish, chasidish, modern etc.) FRUM FAMILY (say in the tri-state area) to CALL UP their LOCAL board of education, and REGISTEIR THEIR ENTIRE FAMILY into public school. When WE AS A KLAL jam the phone lines and start registering 5-10 kids into public school for the September 09 year, then government officials WILL HAVE NO CHOICE to drastically support our mosdos financially.

    WE NEED MEN WITH COURAGE TO ORGANIZE THIS, BUT IT’S GUARANTEED TO WORK!!!!
    Why is it Guaranteed to work? It may send the school board scrambling to cover the new kids but I am sure they would find a way to do it. For them to give money to the yeshivas to take the kids back would probably be a violation of a bunch of laws.

    And as for the school vouchers as Charliehall Said, stop dreaming that is not a fight you will win.

  54. yosher – short answer: YOU

    anyone who says that they are going to enroll in public school to force the public school to give more money to the Yeshivas is bluffing!

    you are not serious about it. are you going to send your kid to public school to learn about phony science that delibrately leaves out HaShem in the creation of the world? what about the style of dress and when your daughter comes home dressed like that or your son/daughter starts dating someone from the public school. how about when your 1st grader learns all about “alternative marriages” with two mommies?

    you know, I know and they know that we are not going to destroy our little neshamalas. once every knows this (and the public school knows it), you can’t bluff

  55. There is one simple answer to this problem and this is it….
    You have an investor buy or build a school and rent out the classrooms to the teachers
    The teachers pay rent to the investor, the cook does the same rents the kitchen, and pays rent to the investor,
    Think about it 25 kids paying $8500 a year tout ion, $8500×25= $212,500! Lets say the rebbe pays 6k a month to rent his classroom, for the year he pays $72,000 he is still putting into his pocket $140,500! Wow! How many of you make that kind of money!

    On the investors side, say there are 15 classrooms 15x$6,000 = $90,000 a month now x it by 12 for the year $1,080,000 yup! One million eighty thousand dollars,,, you wont find a better investment then that!

    Obliviously there will be more expenses but you get the picture, and these numbers are before school programs.

    Just a thought!

  56. Wow. So many posts; many with excellent points. There are many aspects to this issue,and I do not claim to have the answers.

    However, to suggest that part of the problem is the Bnei Torah giving up their prime years to learn (yes, provided they actually learn) is absolute blasphemy! A number of you commented in some form or another regarding this, much to my dismay.

    I respectfully refer you to the Sefer Nefesh Hachayim (sha’ar daled), where R’ Chaim Volozhiner z”l explains how the people learning Torah support the ones who are working; NOT the other way around. The zechus of the shefa we have is due to the Lomdei Torah, and not in spite of it.

    You may be right, al pi derech hateva that you support the Kollel yungerman. However, please realize that in reality, it is he that supports you.

    (For the record: I am not in Kollel, work full time, and have 3 kids in yeshiva/school/playgroup, and struggle to pay my bills. I haven’t asked for a tuition reduction because I want to pay full price and support the Rabbeim/Teachers.)

  57. The good old days of car pooling will never come back because most families have two working parents and STILL struggle to make ends meet. Telling the rich to give more feels very good, but it is not exactly a new idea. Why should anyone start giving today, when he did not give yesterday. Probably a large part of the problem is the spiralling cost of real estate. The same factor that makes your home sell for three and four times what you paid for it ten years ago means that the property that the Yeshivah purchases for its building is going to much more than it used to. And good rebbeim are underpaid. Unfortunately, they are not all good, because not everyone can live on a Rebbi’s salary without either a rich wife or rich parents. One thing that could be done is have the Rebbeim teach a full day, where they might earn close to $100,000 rather than just a few hours in the morning where tey can earn maybe $50,000.
    If there are philanthropists out there that are willing to take a substantial gamble, if a Yeshivah would eliminate scholarship committees and tuition completely, and just have a suggested contribution, anything voluntarily given to the Yeshivah would be a donation and would be tax deductible. This would at least let the tuition be paid with pre-tax dollars and not after tax dollars which, for most of us would be a substantial savings. What is needed is someone to start the experiment by donatin a sum equal to the total tuition income of the previous year. This would enable the Yeshivah to declare a tuition free year and all donations would go to next years tuition. If successful, the donations would pay for the next years expected income, etc. etc. This would work if there is a complete seperation between the donations and the students admission to the school. As long as there is NO requirement for a donation and it is purely voluntary, it must be considered a donation and therefor tax deductible. I have been told that the parents are so shortsighted that they would not make a tax deductible donation unless it was forced on them, which would eliminate the taxdeductibility possibility. I still think it is worth trying.
    What will happen, within the next 10 years is education over the internet, sort of computer assisted home schooling. That ought to be available for under $5,000 for a full curriculum of limudei kodes and secular studies. When that becomes available, the high tuition yeshivot will go the way of the horse and buggy.

  58. Yoish!!!

    Lets daven…

    …Parnassa min shamayim…

    I wish it were as easy as I make it sound!!!

    Nobody has to destroy Neshamalas in PubSchool-
    Some Machers with pull and lots of yiras shamayim gotta storm shaarei shamayim and walk in on the govt leaving the correct words for Hashem to put in their mouths.

    Until then- stop selling and renting your properties for so much money that we’re going into hock!!!! And stop charging so much money for everyting including clothing and food. We would keep the money in the community if we could BUT WE CANT cuz you dont make it possible!

    Forget Agudah (unless they think they can try again) and pull every string you have with G-d and every govt protexia you have and bang down bush’s front door before his time is up! Tell him to be the prez that made a super change in history! Ich veis nisht!!! I dont even make sense anymore cuz this whole world runs on nisim anyway and cheshbon after cheshbon aint gonna make no differene if I or you can pay our bills!!! Meikim me’afar dal me’ashpois yarim evyon!!!!!!!

  59. What if we built Yeshivas on the Walmart concept?

    One huge place catering to many?

    Imagine a community that has 1 Huge Bais Yaakov, and this Bais Yaakov has different sections of the buildings(think of a multi-rise apartment) for the various different Bais Yaakovs, BUT it shares the same cook(s), lunchroom, expensive gymnasium, and yard. It would also share high quality printers, faxes, and all be connected via computers to each other to share the latest software & technology. Items & equipment would be bought on a ‘wholesale’ price. Uniforms could all be ONE type so that the price of a polyester skirt doesn’t have to be 60.00, but a better quality that the girls can actually enjoy. Busses always travel to & from this ONE central location. Learning like this would certainly curtail so many of the expenses that are involved in each Yeshiva getting its own *this* and *that*, and hiring *someone* to fix/run the *this* or *that*, and emergencies could be contracted to the lowest bidder; ‘All’ it requires is a lot of humility and Shalom, and for people to be more me-vater.

    As an example, I think there are 2 wedding halls in Williamsburg that are back to back with each other, and share a kitchen. One in is a fancier hall than the other. The owner uses the same kitchen for both the plain ‘chicken soup’ and the fancy ‘chicken soup a la whatever’ Who is smart? The owner!

    You may say, oh there are different factions of Yiddishkeit; OK; But can all the Bais Yaakovs (yeshivish) unite? can all the Chassidish Bais yaakov’s unite? — and the same for the boys’ yeshivas, obviously.

  60. Ask Alumi for money? What a joke! University alumni are usually working professionals who earn a living right out of school. Most bochurim graduating Yeshiva’s today will not be working for many years and when they do the enormous expense of running a Jewish home will prevent them from giving anything. Additionally, university graduates often link their financial success to the school they graduated from. Any successful frum business man is unlikely to administer any such dues to his elementary yeshiva.

  61. I have yet to see one viable solution to the problem.
    My wife and I earn over $70,000 per year. We felt a religious obligation to have a large family, and HKBH blessed us in that way. We earn enough to barely cover the mortgages, tuitions, groceries, and utilities. Everything beyond that, like clothing, doctors, medicine, airfares for out of town yeshivos, gifts, repairs on the home and cars, means credit cards, and more debt,which eventually revolves into the home equity. We earn what would be a healthy income in a typical American family today, yet we struggle mightily.
    We live a simple life, no new cars, no vacations, the house is far from fancy, needs a paint job in and out, & our furniture is old and basic. Our home, which should have been paid off years ago, has become a debt trap. We’ve been forced to refinance over and over to cover weddings, seminaries, medical expenses, tuitions and major household repairs. It’s gotten to the point that we forsee a time in the not too distant future when we won’t be able to cover the monthly mortgage expense, and will be forced to sell the home. Certainly our future has been mortgaged. When we finally do retire, if ever, we will survive at the expense of our children.
    It’s too late for us now. We’ll beg and borrow to cover the rest of the tuitions until the kids are all married. We’ll marry off the remaining single children with borrowed money just like we’ve done so far.
    But what on earth will our children do?
    The problem won’t go away, and no one has any type of real answer.
    Aside from having smaller families, I don’t see how the system can sustain itself. Even non Kollel families with solid incomes are destined for the poor house if they have more than 2 or 3 children in todays economic climate.
    Parents with 7 or 8 or more children need to earn $150,000 a year or more to educate their children and stay out of debt.
    Who among us earns that kind of money?

  62. If I see an administrator of a well known Yeshiva going on a shopping spree and buying 3 new appartments in the center of Yerushalayim. Then there’s a bit more to it.

  63. 54, seminary is an issue but it is no longer a luxury. Our girls need a year of hashkafa, halacha and more on a level geared to them as young women, not teens. For out of towners with no sem. or appropriate sem in town, it will add up but might not cost as much as the going rate for kollel support.
    While I agree that more people should give more, please be sure that lo sachmod and class envy aren’t behind it. And I say this as a definite (for the moment) have not.

  64. Would some of these problems be fixed if Jews moved to Israel? In Israel, Jewish tuition is either free or a fraction of what one would pay in America. Health in insurance is also covered by the State unlike in America.
    Would it be a little harsh to say that making Aliyah might help solve part if the problem?
    Organizations like Nefesh b’ Nefesh have a 99% success rate in helping families make Aliyah, find jobs, communities. Maybe that would be an option for some people who can’t deal with the financial stress. They’d also have the benefit of the higher quality of life in Israel.

    just a thought.

  65. I find it amazing that Parents will take thier family to Eretz Yisroel For Succos, Miami Beach for Winter Break, Hotel For Pesach , House in the Catskills, Two Luxury Automobiles..plastic money cards for seminary …Yet when it comes to paying tuition parents will go before comittees for a “break”. The only ones suffering are the “Klay Kodesh”and thier families being deprived of thier meeger weekly stipend for teaching our children torah and midos. Statisticly only 30%-40% of the parent body will pay the full tuition fees. Scholarships and tuition discounts are designed to pay for the children of rebbeim and truly impovershed families. However because keeping up appearances is so much more important these days than our children’s education the parents that scrimp and save and do not live large so that they can pay full tuition (because it is the right thing to do) are looked upon by society as “the have not’s”
    Our Yeshiva Society will is paying a hefty price for this in the future….The worst is yet to come Hashem Y’racheym

  66. we are still avoiding the issues
    yeshivas and seminaries are private businesses not tzedakah

    you got the money you get the service!

    Since when was yeshiva business a yerusha business
    if its so than let owners finance and be madison ave complex and the rest of us will create the good old fashion kehilla/klal based chinuch system that is worthy of tzedakkah funds but accepts even people without riches

    it is so very sad that the generation of moshiach is hedging its bet on the affluent vrs the committed families to the ideals of mesorah

    embarrassed to say perhaps leadership needs to show us a lesson a nd lead by example

    just because you have alot of money doesnt mean you became the maven or chairmen of the most prestigious torah gathering.

    havent seen not one successful parent or eydel yet reserved business man ever become agudah convention chairman

    we are truly warped in our focus of what success is, again lets dance in the street with our bnai torah, they are our chairman when representing klal yisroel

  67. Blue Pinky – I don’t.

    I really could be wrong, but the real problem here is the fact that the yeshiva system that was developed in the 1950’s that has essentially carried through to today unchanged was not set up with today’s problems and issues in mind. Why not? B/c I think that the financial problems of today are more than the early leaders of the yeshiva institutions could ever have envisioned. the cost of living,for Jews and non-Jews alike has gone up astronomically over the past 50-60 years to a point that the middle class in America, again Jews and non-Jews, is severely pinched to make ends meet. Add to that the (rising) cost of tuition and it becomes even harder.

    The only real solutions, aside from cutting tuition costs – which is not realistic b/c rebbeim and teachers have to eat as well – is to find outside sources of money that yeshivos can draw upon. Creative thinking is needed and while some ideas are intriguing how realsitic are they?

    Can a yeshiva invest in an aparemtne building or 2, or 5, and draw income from renting it out?
    Can a school system in a particular town – Lakewood or Monsey as an example – impose a $1.00 “tax” on every purchase in a frum-owned business and the money goes into the schools?

    I really have no idea how to fix the problems, but it all comes down to money.

  68. One thing that is totally left out of the whole discussion is schools should open their books to the public!!
    Why is it that administrators are making 150K yearly, yet have the right to refuse admittance to someone who makes only 65K and can’t afford full tuition? Why does every family member get a job, pays no tuition? How much money does the school make from lunch, school, daycare, vouchers, and other programs?
    Teachers and Rebbeim are complaining that they aren’t making enough money, yet when I look around, most Rebbeim own their houses, and live a more comfortable life than many working families.
    A Rebbe today, is collecting Section 8, Food Stamps, Medicare, getting tuition breaks, and getting a decent cash salary. If the ‘benefits’ were added, I’d say that most Rebbeim are earning over 100K a year. In the meantime, working families making 65K are not eligible for those benefits and are being asked to pay 9000 per child!!
    I say its time we stop crying wolf, and expose the truth for what it is.

  69. I dont understand why almost no one has commented that maybe this problem is partially caused by the failure of yeshiva grads going to college and getting an education. Of course people cant pay tuition, parents are supporting their older married kids in Israel, Lakewood etc. These couples have no prospects or financial future. They will a’h have more kids and this problem will only get compounded. Yeshivas need to start ENCOURAGING further education instead of saying that anyone who goes to college is a shaygitz (personal experience). I know that this will never happen but I believe this the root of the problem.

  70. Think Straight:

    The notion that it is mutar to learn while being on the dole flies in the face of 2,000 years of Mesorah (although not 50 years of Lakewood). The Rambam amongst many, clearly states that one who relies on tzedakah in order to learn is michalel shem shamayim. While there are those who clearly have made torah there umanos and subsist on the barest budgets (muchtarim bikeser shel torah), and whom we are therefore required to support, many others live in virtual colonies of lower middle class subsistence while accepting all forms of public assistance without making an effort to support themselves. It seems to me that most of us are trying to live lower middle class life styles. Let them get jobs like everyone else.

  71. In pre-War Europe, there were 3-4000 bochrim in Kollel, combined, out of a Jewish population of 9 million. Lakewood alone probably has close to that figure today. Although it is laudable that there are so many young men learning full time, the whole house of cards will collapse if the Yeshivish community does not come to its senses very soon.

    The working community cannot possible support all of the Kollel families. There are too many of them. It appears that the Gedolim have finally recognized this fact. I get e-mails every week from Agudas Yisroel asking me if I can place someone in my office. Unfortunately, most of the applicants are not qualified as they do not have a college education. At some point our children will have to choose between kemach and Torah.

  72. An idea –

    Have all Rabbeim paid from an organization like Torah Umesorah that would certify rabbeim, arrange for continuing education, etc. They would have a salary range based upon experience, grading, location, etc. (Perhaps based upon the local public school salary range.)

    The local yeshiva would be responsible for the principal/menahel and support staff as well as the english department and the rent/mortgage, utilities, etc.

    Each school/yeshiva would contribute perhaps $2,000 per rebbe that they hire from “Torah Umesorah” for administering the program.

    In order that people don’t start making their own yeshivos and making the program too complicated then a minimum and maximum class size would be mandated (no less than 18 kids to a class and no more than 25.)

    The yeshiva would charge tuition according to their overhead and the parents would at least know that they’re getting quality rabbeim no matter where they send.

    And then any money contributed to the FUND FOR JEWISH EDUCATION would be tax deductible.

    What would the size of that fund need to be and how can we raise that over the next 5 years? How many children, how many rabbeim? Can this be started just for the NY metro area and then rolled out nationwide?

  73. 78, you write that at some point our children will have to choose between kemach and Torah. Perhaps the choice is not so stark. We have to start promoting other options as Torahdik, e.g schooling and working part time even before marriage, with the goal of continuing this as long as possible. And our full time learners need to be made to feel that assuming the burden of parnasah is honorable. Seeing serious commitment to kevius itim, starting with their parents and grandparents, will help.

  74. From the comments above, it’s obvious that there are opinion splits as to ‘who is being excessive’. It’s alot of ‘We’ against ‘THEM’ – whether ‘THEM’ are the ‘richer’ or the ‘poorer’

    One thing to bear in mind. EVERYONE spends money differently. EVERYONE.
    someone who takes exotic vacations for 1-2 weeks a year. Do yo know how they live? On no-brand name cereal and the likes. They don’t use paper goods, don’t go out to eat pizza, and frozen food is not in their vocabulary. Fruits and Vegetables are bought only on sale. They scrimp and scourge thrift shops for clothing that looks decent, and get used uniforms. Every time they leave a room, they shut the light, and layer up in the house so they scrimp on heat. When they’re invited to a Kiddush or meal they put the ‘saved’ money away. You think they’re crazy? the bottom line is THAT IS HOW THEY SPEND MONEY.

    Does a new kallah of a learning boy REALLY need 3 great-brand shaitels? Does she REALLY need to light candles on Shabbos with SILVER candlesticks? Does she REALLY need a gift in the yichud room? Does he REALLY need a gold watch? Do young kollel men REALLY need to wear starched shirts from the cleaners every day? You think this is crazy , but the bottom line is THAT IS HOW THEY SPEND THEIR MONEY

    Somehow our ancestors had plain candlesticks, probably no wig, and knew how to iron! And they didn’t go to Yeshiva, but somehow raised a wonderful generation! And they didn’t go to anyplace exotic, either!

    If we took an honest poll, and polled our readers: Say you found a twenty dollar bill on the street, what would you do: Possible answers would be: a) tzedoka b) buy that necessary XXXX c) treat yourself to a better d)treat yourself to a new / tie e) sefer f) socks g) gift for someone h) new paperback i) magazine subscription….the list goes on.
    Now would the answers be different if it was $100? $1000?

    WHO IS RIGHT?
    I don’t know. We don’t and can’t judge someone until we are in their shoes. That is why there is such a animosity between tuition collectors and struggling parents. The collectors don’t know and can’t understand why the dollars don’t add up. They have never been in the ‘real’ working world to know what expenses are necessary.

    But before we start pointing fingers at who is wrong, let’s take the judgementalism out of it. Sure, you and I can’t understand it,but we can’t judge them.

  75. And would Torah Umesorah hire Rebbeim who are Modern Orthodox, Chovevei Torah types? There is a great story, that the Mashiach was here and went back because no two groups could agree on what style hat the Mashiach should wear.
    The key question is that since the teachers and Rebbeims salalries seem to account such a small portion of the Yeshivah toition, where does the rest of the money go? Why is tuition so high to begin with?

  76. rabbidw

    Of course they would have to certify/hire rabbeim from all walks as the yeshiva would have to OK the rebbe/morah (let’s not forget girls schools).

    And again, the benefit for all of us lay folk is that we feel more comfortable knowing that the tuition is paying for overhead. There are no more guilt trips (payroll is behind!, etc.)

  77. moiray ve’rebbesey,

    we must have school vouchers!

    universal (studios) education./

    we cant send d kidz 2 d p.s. because its failed.

    must vote 4 candid (camera) ate 4 school vouchers.

    level the paying field now.

    sponsered by Dr. Dre 4 Prezident Foundaion…

  78. Interesting idea to have a central hiring center, but then the tuition payments would be shifted, in part, from paying all of the tuition to the schools to 1/2 to the schools and 1/2 to Torah Umesorah. It’s just re-allocating the same payments to two places instead of one.I also question how long before the IRS looks very, very closely at such a system.

    They could jsut set it up now with any subscribing school agreeing to getting payments via this Fund and 1/2 the tutition payments going to this fund. It’s, essentially, creating a money laundering scheme. I don’t see it standing up to IRS scrutiny.

  79. Most of you simply have no clue at all. You think having large families is a great idea and then wonder why those families have problems paying tuition bills. You have never worked in a yeshiva yet you think you have some idea of what running a yeshiva is like, what sitting on a scholarship committee is like. You ask why yeshiva tuitions are so high but probably don’t even think that a yeshiva is really 2 schools is one. You ask why scholarship committees are so invasive and think that people don’t lie?? They do. In every yeshiva the number one expense is salaries, yet our rebbeim and teachers and staff are severely underpaid and without basic benefits. As a community, back in the 60s and 70s we pushed that yeshiva educators be paid more and now you are surprised that the bill actually has to be paid?? How many of you smart people actually recognize that when you pay your tuition bill over the course of the school year, the Yeshiva is actually giving you an interest free loan??? Can you understand that even if you pay full tuition, by paying it out, the Yeshiva is loaning you the money at no interest??? Our yeshivas, the institutions that can least afford it have become Gemachs without reason. In education, you are supposed to pay in the begininng of the school year, thats the way its done except in the yeshiva world. And how many of the people that pay their tuition out actually leave the school owing money??? Too many of them do. Most of you talk and have no clue. Tuition tax credits? Nice for some parents, especially the wealthy who can take advantage of it. The poor don’t pay taxes. The middle class? Yeah that extra $150 a year is really going to help. Will tuition tax credits help the yeshivas?? Not at all. The complaints about dinners etc.? All those are is different forms of tuition. Dont want to pay it? No problem. If you go to your Yeshiva director and tell him you no longer want to pay for the dinner, he should tell you fine, no problem. Just don’t be shocked when he raises your tution by the amount of the dinner. The foolish keep saying that the yeshivas should open their books. What does that really mean? Do you honestly think that yeshiva teachers or administrators are getting rich working in a yeshiva? Do you really need to see who is getting which scholarships? How many of you would really understand the ‘books’ if you were given the opportunity to view them? And how many of you know that for many of the yeshivas the books are public information available online?

    You really want to help the situation? First pay your complete tuition, whatever it is, by September 1 of each school year. Second, be involved in your childrens’ schools. Every time your school is ‘selling’ something, you have an obligation if you are going to buy it anyway, to puchase it from the yeshiva. This includes matzah, lulaving etc. Third, help raise money for the yeshvia. We all have bills but at some point we all write checks to different organizations, let the yeshiva be one of them. Lastly, think forward to insurance and stock programs that can help the yeshivas. I can’t wait to hear the responses to my rant.

  80. I have one tuition question I would like answered. I have a catholic friend who sends his kid to the local parish school for first grade. He pays $5000. I will pay with building fund and all the other bells and whistles almost 12,000 for my son in that grade. When I asked my local school this question I was told it was because the diocese subsidizes the school and that they do not have to pay the priests and nuns who teach their. I did some more research first of all their are virtually no priests or nuns anymore teaching and all the lay teachers have masters degrees and start at $40,000. Also the level of support per student from the diocese is $2000. I would like to know why this is.

  81. in order to relieve this problem it would mean that the klal as a whole has to take a step back and examine how tzedaka money is being spent and why. In Brooklyn is their a need for a $20 million yeshiva building in Boro Park. or new $10 million buildings being built in Flatbush. The demographics say no because school age and high school students are at a decline in Brooklyn because young couples are moving to Lakewood. Is their a need for a new huge multi million dollar shule in Boro Park that has 50 mispallalim on a good shabbos but seats 300? Once again demographics says surely not. Many other shules of a similar nature in Boro Park are barely surviving. What were they thinking when they wasted all that money. We have to realize that bigger is not better and our money should be spent much wiser.
    Now lets focus on how much money is being spent to fix up and maintain shules all over Europe. How short is our memories that the very same goyim who murdered our people are now lining up for the millions we are throwing at them to fix up the shules they distroyed. And for what? For the few hundred people that might come to visit to relive their youth. How foolish are we to think that the Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, Hungarians now love us and can’t wait for us to come back to our roots. Lets wake up and see what is going on all around Europe. The resurgange of Neo nazis, skinheads and all of the anto semitism of old. Why are we wasting our money and energy for something that will be distroyed once again instead of spending it on helping yeshivas and mechanchim grow and prosper?
    While we are speaking about Europe can someone explain the need for kollelim in Poland, Ukraine and others towns across Europe. Exactly who are we trying to be mekaruvin in these areas. Lets not kid ourselves but who exactly are the jews that remained in these parts of Europe after the war. Many stayed strictly to make money and many married shiksas and have very little connection with yiddishkeit. Is it worth the millions spent to set up yeshivas and kollelim there when it could be better spent on more promising candidates. R’ Shloime Zalman Auerbach zt”l was asked if it was more important to give your tzedaka money to yeshivas for Russians or to give it to your own yeshivas and he said that your yeshiva has
    preference. Why have people ignored this psak?
    We must also examine why we have so many organizations especially in the kiruv field doing the exact same thing. Each one of these organizations are not unique and many could be combined saving millions in the process. I understand that each organization provides jobs to yungerlite that would be otherwise unemployed but if we spend wiser other means of employment would become available.
    I would suggest that we go back to the old way of having public klal yeshivas instead of having yeshivas owned and operated by private families. These private yeshivas have large families of their own to support and many are living on very high standards while the parent body is forced to pay huge tuitions to support these lifestyles.
    Lastly, I suggest a vaad should be set up of frum proffessional money managers who would set up accounts that frum people could invest their 401k money. If the frum oilim would put their money there, within a number of years hundreds of millions of dollars would be accumulated that from the interest alone our kids could go to yeshiva for free.

  82. A frum family tried to deduct tuition in the 1990’s. They claimed the right to itemize on a small loophole used by the Scientologists for a religious class. The IRS turned down the deduction and once again defeated the family on appeal. The law simply does not allow for itemization and it is simply a pipe dream. While vouchers would be wonderful, they too are simply a dream.

    We simply cannot afford to sit around and dream that a miracle is going to happen to get us out of these straights. Quite frankly, I’m not sure that there is a way out of this problem in its entirety, especially if we think we can continue to try to support everything. But I’d like to think there is a way to alleviate the problems.

    I would suggest that the system we have in place is flawed precisely because there is no system, just a loose network of schools. The public school system is by no means efficient. But, it shares resources and in the frum system each school is on its own. The Catholic Schools which are known to be more efficient are connected into districts, aka archdiocese, and they will not keep open schools that do not have the population. I can think of frum schools that could literally be absorbed into entire other schools.

    I don’t think this is us vs them issue. We are all in this boat together and when a boat sinks, few escape.

  83. yeshiva11230
    I am not sure where you are coming from-
    you sound like someone with lots of money that has no clue about people who just cannot pay ‘your complete tuition , whatever it is, by September 1’
    have you ever been in the position where you just dont have enough money?? you seem to have no idea that some people just are not rich the way you seem to be. You are talking as if everyone can really pay but that they just choose not to for some selfish reason, so let’s get those bums. Yes there are some cheaters but the general public is upright and just cannot afford your unfeeling solution. Totally out of line!!!

  84. Yeshivas pump up thier list price because they know many people will pay and not ask for a discount weather or not they can afford it or not.

    Most yeshivas official “list” sibling discount is a joke. Why should someone with 5 to 8 kids pay the same rate as someone with 2 kids?

  85. yeshiva11230

    You wrote “Most of you simply have no clue at all. You think having large families is a great idea and then wonder why those families have problems paying tuition bills’

    So are you advocating birth control due to yeshiva tuition? Have you discussed this issue with a Rav?

  86. I don’t question the high costs for tuition. The yeshivos are paying two staffs – Kodesh and Chol – and the Rebbeim and teachers need to be able to afford the cost of living in the same geographic areas as the students. To the extent that MOST “Jewish neighborhoods” have fairly high cost-of-living, the Rebbeim need to be paid a living wage.

    I just would liek yeshivos to explore other ways for them to draw in money other than tuition.

  87. Yeshiva11230 –

    It sounds to me like you’re the one who really has no clue. I’ll bet you’re a rosh yeshivah or administrator who never paid a dime in tuition, since you can’t seem to fathom how families can grow to (gasp!) 6-10 children, and then have the chutzpah to not pay full tuition up front.
    Then, to add to the nerve of these families, they expect, for some strange reason, to have competent rabbeim and teachers for their children.
    It’s time for you to open your eyes and ears for a large dose of reality which you sorely seem to lack:

    1. Roshei Yeshiva, board members, and administrators think that they’re dealing from a position of strength, when in reality, they are dealing from the weakest position they have ever been in: Parents aren’t happy. Students are not happy. Rabbeim and teachers are notoriously overworked, underpaid, and greatly unappreciated.
    Guess what educational movement is growing fast in the frum community? HOME SCHOOLING . Care to know why? Some wealthy people seem to think that paying $15,000 per child has given them a very poor return on their investment at some schools. Some middle class and poor families have figured out that instead of both husband and wife working their kishkas out every day and still not being able to make ends meet, one of them stays home and teaches the children. It’s the parent’s chiyuv anyway, and now they don’t have to pay tuition and be stripped of every shred of dignity by the tuition board.
    We know that long ago, that’s what people did. Either you taught you’re children, or hired a rebbe for your children. Would you like to see your institution closed for good, yeshiva 11230?

    2. If you’re honest, you’ll admit that the amount of tuition that a frum school charges is a fictitious number, having no connection to the school’s expenses or budget. It is a made up number that simply sets the negotiating point for every family to try and knock down as much as possible, and every executive director to try to collect. Everybody knows this. If every family paid full tuition for every student, the school would have 4 times more money than it needed – therefore, the tuition asking price is as meaningless as the asking price of a used car.
    How did it get like this? because the whole system is based on scholarships – and usually, the more right-winged the school, the more students on scholarship, the less that pay full tuition. This system is failing.

    3. No intelligent person thinks that teachers are being paid too much, but there is an incredible amount of waste going on in many institutions.

    4. Why is it that some administrators will only buy goods and services for their families that are on sale or fairly priced, but when it comes to buying for the school, they spend freely? $2000 for a computer? $75 for a girl’s uniform? Office supplies at retail? Who do you think you are – congress?

    5. Why is it that some schools give out no-bid contracts to friends and relatives of the administration for construction, food, repair work, groundskeeping, s’forim, you name it? Shouldn’t someone be checking for products at the lowest possible prices?

    6. Why is it that you’re complaining about people not paying tuition, yeshiva 11230, when you’re school system is encouraging it by teaching students not to earn a living? You have helped create this frum welfare state that we have, now deal with the consequences!!

  88. I have no experience in these matters, but I question the 2 schools-in-1 thesis that a previous poster claimed, and am wondering how underpaid Rabbeim really are.

    Rabbeim, in an elementary school, work 5 hours per day. They also only work almost 10 months per year (Early September to middle of June). Teachers work the other 3 hours during those same 10 months per year.

    I do appreciate that Rabbeim have to prepare curricula and have no choice about the 10 months issue, but this does not negate their fewer workdays and work-hours. Rabbeim do work other jobs in the summer; this is a career choice.

    So please realize that yeshivos do not hire two sets of full-time employees. They hire, combining Kodesh and Chol, one full-time employee (I know there are other costs, but hours-wise, it is one). Like any other business, they are open 8 – 5:30.

    Let’s run some numbers. Say a very decent starting salary for a college graduate is $1,000 per full-time week. So, including Yomim Tovim, Rabbeim work roughly 40 weeks per year.

    That’s $40,000/year for an 8 hour day. Now, take 5/8th of that figure for a 5 hour day, and you get: $25,000.

    $25,000 is very little. However, there are still 3 hours/day left in which to work, and there is still the summer in which there is all day to work.

    So, schools are certainly not 2-in-1, and, it seems, Rabbeim are not so much underpaid as underutilized. Maybe if, for example, a Rebbi were required to be a (certified) teacher and teach all day, from 8-4 or 8-5, the school would save on double staffing (non-salary) costs, and could afford to pay the Rebbi a normal full-time salary, minus, of course, the two months per year in which the Rebbi could work as a Learning Rebbi in camp, or pursue some other enterprise.

  89. Several responses to comments: To level2: Just for the record, I do pay tuition, a lot of tution. I have had children in the yeshiva system since 1985 and I have paid plenty, to the point where college seemed like a bargain. The point I guess you are missing is that there are plenty of people who do have the money to pay and could pay by September 1 of each year but don’t. For those who are financially strapped, wouldn’t it be more sensible to borrow the money for tuition from a Gemach, lending money is their business, and paying the yeshiva?

    To Opinion:

    Yeshiva’s calculate the tuition figure they need. They then calculate how much of that figure they can give away in scholarships. Yeshiva’s don’t have endowments like Harvard.

    As to your comment about sibling discounts, and “Why should someone with 5 to 8 kids pay the same rate as someone with 2 kids?”? Are you really serious? Education is not a volume business. There are no buy one, get one free sales. The reason why someone with 5 to 8 kids pays at the same rate as 2 kids is because it cost the same per child!!! Why is that so difficult?

    To Fedup11210:

    Your comments are very interesting. “You wrote “Most of you simply have no clue at all. You think having large families is a great idea and then wonder why those families have problems paying tuition bills’

    So are you advocating birth control due to yeshiva tuition? Have you discussed this issue with a Rav?”

    Instead of discussing the problem, you fall back on the “ask a Rav” reflex. How many of those with large families bothered to ‘ask a Rav’ BEFORE having large families and knowing that they had very poor prospects of affording even basic living needs without even taking yeshiva tuitions into account? The answer is very few. Its well known that we are not supposed to make ourselves poor so that we rely on tzedaka. How is this any different?

    To Lawman:

    You want yeshivas to find other ways to draw in money other than tuition? We have. One of the ways is Chesed Dollars, remember that one? Everyone complained about it. Some store even got together and fought it. But it was a relatively painless way to help yeshivas draw in outside funds. If you have some ideas, please, let us know. No one in the yeshiva world is too proud to say no to a good idea.

    TO zero_tolerance:

    As I wrote above, I do and have paid tuition for my children in yeshiva. And yes I can fathom how families can grow to 6-10 children, what I don’t understand is why that entitles them to some sort of discount per se. How many of these families ask for discounts at the gas station because they drive a minivan? How many of these families get food at half off from the store because they have large families? Dont even start with food stamps, thats the government, and if the government said you could only use food stamps on food without a hashgaka, then it might be similar, but its not.

    If you think home schooling is the way to go, be my guest. See how well the family with 6-10 children educates them at home. See how well they are taught ANYTHING at home. Funny how yeshiva enrollments are climbing based on what you are saying about home schooling.

    You are right that its the parent’s chiyuv. And there is no one who says that tution committees should not deal with parents in a proper way with dignity. Unfortunately some parents feel that asking probing financial questions is not dignified and beneath them. They ask why do you need to know this and that about my finances? That answer is simple: Tuition committees are responsible for making hard difficult decisions. They are responsible for accounting for themselves and being sure that every penny given away in a scholarship iss done so properly so that those who deserve one actually get it.

    You and others like you claim that there is “an incredible amount of waste going on in many institutions.” I know people would like to think so but its really not true. Instead of accepting that private schools cost real money, they want to blame the price on everything else. As to yeshiva buying programs, you really need to get more up to date. Where do you get your information from? With the exception of certain government programs that have certain mandated spending lines, no school wastes the kind of money you are talking about. No one can afford to and still try to make payroll. And to say that schools “give out no-bid contracts to friends and relatives of the administration for construction, food, repair work, groundskeeping, s’forim, you name it?” that is the most vile type of mostei shem rah that you can do. The simple proof that you are wrong is that most yeshiva food comes via the goverment and the national school lunch programs.

    Lastly why do I complain about people not paying tuition “when you’re school system is encouraging it by teaching students not to earn a living? You have helped create this frum welfare state that we have, now deal with the consequences!!” I’m sorry to tell you thats most of the right wing frum yeshivash community. The rest of us who try to educate children properly get looked upon as goyim because of it.

    Its all part of the same problems. Large families, large bills in general and large tuition bills in particular. I guess they never taught these details in choson and kallah classes.

  90. I know a handful of families who are or have homeschooled and it can be done successfully and it does not have to be done for every child every single year.

  91. yeshiva11230

    “Fall back on ask the RAV reflex?”. “Poor prospects of affording basic living expenses”?
    Maybe I have a decent job. And maybe I did go to a Rav and maybe my Rav paskened for me that PRU U’RIVU is not abrogated by financial considerations.

  92. There are many commentors here who sound so foolish and really have no idea about many of the issues upon which they are pontificating.
    To cut to the chase,the issue is not tuition, excessive spending on luxuries,Kollel,college,rebbeim etc . The issue is poverty and the the high cost of maintaining an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle in our era. Do the math. Even someone who has a small family of say 4 kids in yeshiva is going to need about $150,000 a year pretax in order to cover basic living expenses including tuition and be self sufficient in most Jewish communities. How many people even with a college education make that kind of money? That is why the burden in many instances has fallen on grandparents. But what about people who do not have family to help.Have we as a community created an infrastucture to help those who are struggling and to help them in a truly dignified way? To all the Jewish Nazis out there bemoaning the lack of birth control in the Orthodox community,are you aware that Germany now pays a signifigant stipend per child to it’s citizens to incentivize them to have larger families. The fact is, we as a community have failed miserably to help those in our midst who have not been blessed with material wealth. A food package once a week from Tomche Shabbos just does not cut it. I believe there is enough wealth in our community to solve this problem. What is needed is a mechanism whereby the wealthy in our community can help their neighbors (oftentimes unbeknownst their nextdoor neighbors)in a truly dignified and appropriate way.We might start first with the tuition comittees and executive directors. If you know a family is struggling to pay tuition, it is likely that they have other financial issues as well. Perhaps you should try to help them get a better paying job or help them start a business or hook them up with people who can help them. I know someone is going to say look at all the chesed look at all the gemachs. I say water water everywhere and nary a drop to drink. There are many gemachs but their effectivness against poverty is slim to none. The other problem is bad and nonexistent leadership and I know I will get slammed for this one. The “tuition crisis” should be our number one issue especially at say the upcoming Aguda convention where the wealthy will be satiating themselves in comfortable luxury surroundings while they hear speaches about Kiruv Rechokim. Talk about being out of touch with reality and insensitive to the plight of the poor. According to NYC health department statistics the rate of suicide is double in the Borough Park area compared to the rest of the city.That is based on what is reported, not the sudden heart attacks and anurysms that are used to cover up things. We should wonder how much of that is resulting from financial pressure. Rome is Burning. Is there anyone out there with the guts to put out the fire?

  93. Yeshiva11230,
    Here are some ideas and yes, I like Chessed Dollars and scrip.

    1) Real Estate – see if yeshivos can get a group of investors to purchase, on a small scale, 1-2 apartment buildings in the neighborhood and have the income from the rent go to the school.

    2) Tax – similar to imposing Chesed Dollars, if rabbonim of local areas would impose on frum-owned businesses a “$1.00/transaction tax” and that 41.00 went to a central fund to be distributed evenly to all the schools. This woud work better in a city that did not have a lot of schools and may be better suited to an out of town locale. Of course, that means the amount of frum-owned businesses are less as well……r

    Those are two ideas right there.

  94. the local frum business is owner is already “taxed” by all the charitable organizations (including Yeshivas) in town. Journal ADs, Auction gifts etc. b/t/w, I am not a business owner.

  95. Many of the suggestions are not going to work, and even if they would they are just bandaids. A $1.00 tax would just be taxing the same poor tuition-paying parents, and would just give business to non-Jewish stores. Many chain supermarkets in frum areas are now catering to the frum customer anyway. The frum businesses would suffer.

    The idea of a financially connected network of Jewish schools would never work in the fragmented community we have now, where everyone wants a school with “their” hashkafos and “their” type of education, etc. Same with shuls, everyone wants “their” type of davening, etc. Divisions, not unity, that’s often sadly the case in the frum community in the NY area today.

  96. Let’s not forget that many kosher groceries stores are already extending interest free loans, which surely is helping people pay some of their tuition obligations. I read about Jewish poverty that stated that a grocery store in Queens has extended outstanding loans for 60K.

    BTW-Rental properties often take a hit for a few years before turning profitable.

  97. mazip: Thank you for your post. Agree with everything you wrote especially this part…

    “The issue is poverty and the the high cost of maintaining an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle in our era. Do the math. Even someone who has a small family of say 4 kids in yeshiva is going to need about $150,000 a year pretax in order to cover basic living expenses including tuition and be self sufficient in most Jewish communities. How many people even with a college education make that kind of money?”

  98. personally i feel that a big issue that we face today is the fact that evrything has become a competition of who can dress better and who can have the more expensive car…. my guess would be that the leading cause in young couple debt is due to the high cost of leaing cars…. why does every youg married lady have to drive a fully loaded honda pilot or acura mdx?? if the family is that big already just get a smple van!!a second issue we face these days that is driveng people into debt is that it became a “must” for a young couple to live in israel for at least a year or two?? do you know how much it costs?? forgetting the fact that a lot of these maalot dafna people dont actualy learn and its too hard to do three seders cuz its shana rishona, and then to add to the cost, they feel that they had such a hard week in yeshiva so why not take the weekend off and go to eilat. and for all these people that are going to learn for five years?? if you are going to learn your whole life than ok we need you type of people but if its only for a few years, what happens after that??? you will only decide to start going to college then?? that means that you will have to be supported for at least another two years!! if you want to learn thats great but alt least do it after you have a plan of some sort and not to wake up one day after we cant milk our parents for more money..

  99. if are truly idealistic & ur only issue is financial then perhaps u may consider moving to E.Yisroel where it costs less to live. but if ur caught up with living the “american mishiGASSEn” way then please dont come, it will defeat the pupose.we are already suffering enough from [some of] the americans who have brought it along with them.