YWN reports that the Chinuch Atzmai system in Eretz Yisrael is broke. Per protocol, rabbis flew from Israel to Lakewood to draw attention to the urgent situation and an asifa was held in Lakewood. The solution (drum roll please) more fundraising. The address where you can send donations is at YWN.
This article has made HonestlyFrum scream dayenu! He writes at YWN:
"Where do they expect the money to come from? We are going broke trying to send our own kids to Yeshiva. The unfortunate reality is that in these tough times after we finish paying our own bills and tuition (those who pay some or all) there is no money left."
And on his own blog:
"The schools cannot, and have not been able to for a while, sustain themselves without looking outside for funding sources. The problem is all those sources are currently, and for the foreseeable future, dried up. Both the MO and charedi system need to be revamped and overhauled, and they need to be done together without senseless bickering about hashkafah. The current model needs to be broken down and in its place something different and better needs to be built. It's time that our community left its comfort zone and began radically rethinking the model of Jewish Education. "
I find it ironic that the meeting was held in Lakewood, the city that saw their own teachers go on strike due to non-payment only 2 months ago. Perhaps they found a hoard of money somewhere and can now go on to not only support education in their own city, but education in Eretz Yisrael?
I don't want to be rude, but it seems that leadership is not in touch with the plight of the average American tuition paying parent.
Speaking of appeals, yet another (very needed) appeal.
YWN is reporting that this Shabbat all Young Israel, Orthodox Union and Agudah affiliated synagogues will be making an "Emergency Parnasa Appeal." The press release reports the growing unemployment rates in cities such as Passaic and Brooklyn and the growing pressure on Tomchei Shabbos in Lakewood. It appears that funds will be designated to the same community as the donor. Monsey, Flatbush, and Boro Park have dollar-to-dollar matching funds available.
Bizarre economics are not surprisingly alive and well amongst YWN commentors. One commentor appeals to readers to keep making lavish simchas and keep shopping (by frum vendors). Another commentor believes we need to open our pockets more and shop at frum businesses so that they can hire more frum people. Another commentor yells "We must buy everything we can from [J]ews. This will help their family stay above the line, and then they will pass it on to another [J]ew."
In my (hopefully more educated opinion) the economic problems the frum community is experiencing are related to a low (perhaps negative) savings rate, high consumption lifestyle, and too much dependency on the frum community. Yes, we should patronize Jewish businesses, certainly where the halacha requires such. But, what is very needed is OUTSIDE money coming in. Jewish business owners need to be seeking a larger client base that is not solely or even heavily dependent on the community at large. Cutting back is going to become a way of life out of necessity, like it or not. It is sink or swim time and business owners are going to need to find ways to diversify their client base so that you are not dependent on one particular type of client.
The latter commentor also tells business owners they need to hire Jews, even if you have to pay a higher rate. Perhaps this commentor isn't familiar with just how thin the profit margin is in business? I'm an accountant and will tell you that 1) hiring employees is very costly and 2) profit margins are thin and there often isn't much breathing room to start throwing more money at one employee over another, to say nothing of the potential legal liability. And, no, not *every* dollar you spend in a Jewish business will land in Jewish hands.
Sadly, we learn that a man who operated a 'free' grocery store in Brooklyn can no longer continue doing so as his rainy day has sadly come, may he have a refuah sheleima.
What is the State of the Union?
Meanwhile, Ezzie has put together a Jewish Economics survey. I'm not sure what he will do with it. But the survey is fairly comprehensive and I'm hoping Ezzie will send the date to the OU, the Agudah, Young Israel, and some day schools and yeshivot so that they understand the few are holding out, but rather trying to hold on (as I believe is the general case).
And speaking of dependency
Kiryas Joel is the most dependent locale in the United States. Yeah, not a badge of honor and certainly not good news as the American taxpayer gets increasingly tired of bloated social services budgets while their own kids are seeing classroom sizes increase, etc.
But Speaking of Badges of Honor. . . I'll Wear This One
Meanwhile, frequent commentor Ariella of Kallah Magazine kindly pointed an imamother poster to the Guest Post on a $3000 Brooklyn wedding. The poster writes that she and her husband both work, but between living costs and tuitions they have "NO" money to make a wedding. She states they have a large family and there is no way to make a small wedding (how can she not invite 1st cousins?) and is therefore looking to "find help in paying/arranging this wedding"
The ideas of the Guest Poster were dismissed out of hand by another poster who writes:
"as for the orthonomics post - half of the things she mentioned we dont even do (wedding cake, wedding favors, fancy kesubah) and half the things are not shayich (not everyone has a brogther who can videotape the wedding, a rabbi isnt an expense - anyone is siddur kidushin, you just tip them - , we dont do a bar, the badeken chair comes as part of the wedding hall package, inviting 100 people isnt shayich as our family is bigger than that), and there's a lot more to making a chasuneh other than the wedding itself - the gifts, theh furniture, the trousseau... "
I will tell you what isn't "shayich" having NO savings, especially in a down economy! The poster reports were daughter only wants the parents make a wedding, which is good, because quite frankly anything more for a large family living paycheck to paycheck that will likely be repeating this process in the not so far off future would be ridiculous.
Not that anyone is listening (the advice at this blog isn't "shayich"), but here is my advice. It is good advice for anyone lacking savings or in debt that senses the urgency of building an emergency fund and/or getting out of debt:
- Go on a complete spending freeze and place all saved funds into a separate, interest bearing account. Unless you absolutely need something, and by that I mean every pair of shoes in your closet has a hole through to the foot, don't buy it.
- Get rid of services you can do without from now until the wedding. Bake don't buy; clean don't outsource; and day camp is a clear winner over overnight camp. Should either parent be off in the summer-the kids stay home unless they are working.
- For everything else that you do need (food, utilities, etc), declare a 20% budget cut. Heat gets turned down; showers get taken in 5 minutes; laundry gets hung up to dry; coupons get cut; if someone can walk to do/get something, they walk; beans, rice, and vegetable soups become dinner staples.
- Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Will the caterer come down on the price? Would he come down on the price if you skip the salad course? Is a sheet cake less expensive than a plated dessert? (I know, I know, it's not "shayich).
- Decide what your top priority is vis a vis the wedding, and put every other want on the back burner until you have covered the cost for the biggest desire. E.g., if you want to feed 200, don't even think about renting dresses for all the sisters from a gemach when the dry cleaning bill will run the cost of 10 meals. Shabbat outfits will do. My readers tell me using a gemach can be expensive, so you need to be careful.