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Friday, April 17, 2009

The Baltimore Initiative

Time to get back to my bread and butter blogging. I hope all my readers had a great yom tov and that no one has entered the realm of slavery/subjection a la Avadim hayeinu L'Mastercard B'America.

Hat Tip: Numerous readers from Baltimore and beyond. Thank you loyal readers. I will allow you to self-identify at your own discretion.

Numerous readers from Baltimore and beyond have kindly emailed me regarding the Baltimore Communal Initiative. In late March, the Rabbinical Council of Baltimore sponsored a community wide event: “Responding to the Economic Crisis: An Evening of Tefillah, Chizuk, and Practical Initiatives.” The event featured various speakers in which an initiative known as "The Pledge" was presented along with other information about job programs (JobLink), Baltimore tzedakah organizations, the roll out of the Baltimore's own Mesila (an Israeli organization that provides financial counseling, awareness, and education, which is now expanding to chutz l'aretz), Day School education in Baltimore, etc.

The main point of the night was that the majority of tzedakah funds must stay within the community. "The Pledge" is a public listing of all community members who have committed to keeping 51% of their tzedakah funds local (Note: Rav Schachter mentioned 75% of tzedakah dollars should remain local in his shiur). Of the amount that must be given locally, 26% is to be designated in care of local day schools/yeshivot. All media files from the event are available online, see the Pledge and FAQs regarding The Pledge. (Another Note: I believe Rav Schachter mentioned that previous commitments to tzedakah need not be honored when your own community is in a emergency situation. Unfortunately, I cannot find my notation regarding this point).

I believe that the Baltimore Rabbonim are hoping that a public commitment will both help potential donors be able to turn away institutions from outside of the community with greater ease, as well as create a positive peer pressure to keep giving local. Apparently there is a sense of urgency regarding funding, especially for schools, as is the case throughout the nation. E.g., Rabbi Frand in his talk relates that there is a principal in another community sitting on $180,000 of currently worthless checks.

I'd like to hear from more attendees regarding their views regarding both the substance and presentation of the event. One reader wrote to me that while there was nothing earth shattering in either the video or the speech, that the basics (keeping money in the community and networking within the community to help those seeking work) were fine.

However, my reader felt the comments regarding tuition and personal finance missed the boat:
  • The reader pointed out that a comment on the video telling telling parents to teach their kids to be careful with money, so they will understand the value of $1, $10, $100, and eventually $10,000. My reader writes notes that "its not the little things, but the big things." The reader refers to the ingrained lifestyle choices that are considered normal writing: . . . . but will you get rid of that maid? Will you buy a smaller house? Buy a used car? Stop going to summer camp, pre-Pesach camp, between summer camp and school camp, etc?" The reader noted that no specifics regarding personal finance were addressed beyond being careful. The reader's comment really resonates with me, as I have a bit of (professional) experience in the realm of personal finance. Issues of "lifestyle" simply can't be glossed over. I know very few people who say, "I'm broke because I have made poor choices." But I know a lot of people who are broke and believe they are quite careful, even frugal. Might sound harsh, and I apologize if I am in a bad mood after a recent conversation with a client regarding cash issues, but that is my own observation. Take it or leave it.
  • My reader noted that on the school front, it is what I am about to start calling "same old, same old." The schools are are basically just looking for more ways to find money---more donations, government funds. They aren't yet ready to deal with issues of sustainability and (like above) tangible "lifestyle" changes of their own. If you listen to the Aisfa video available at the website (school section starts at just past 20 minutes) you will likely note, as the reader did, that no changes are being proposed. The basic gist is a need for more funding.

I'm encouraged by the increased attention on tuition, although it would have been nice if there was more foresight, rather than trying to tackle the issues when the schools are at the "financial breaking point." Personally, I don't like to tackle an issue when there is an emergency on hand. Like my reader who kindly sent comments, I don't believe the full pictures regarding the tuition and other economics crisis vis a vis the Orthodox community is more fully understood yet by leadership. (Obviously I'm not quite convinced that the funds are sitting in wait).

Hat Tip: A Mother In Israel

One person does seem to pinpoint one or two crucial issues (highlighted) of this financial crisis, and that is the executive editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times, Phil Jacobs. In response to the community gathering he writes the following:

So here we are. It’s 2009 and we’re still working a model of education and fund-raising that connects back 25 years ago, at least. We remember the days when schools would “pay off” loans by borrowing from other sources. Jewish Community Services executive director Barbara Gradet told the BALTIMORE JEWISH TIMES that her agency is handling some 1,000 unemployed Jews. Ahavas Yisroel is going to disperse a record-setting $370,000 in financial aid just for Passover alone. CHAI is preparing itself for a workshop on avoiding foreclosure. The Orthodox community is mobilizing itself to train its constituents in job-hunting skills and family financial management. [A lot of suggestions interspersed with "Again, we don’t have money. There is no money." Which is followed by a reminder]:

The punch line –– there is no money.
There is no money coming.

I don't have much to say about Mr. Jacob's own suggestions. Many of the suggestions have been made before (but are a long way from implementation), and in the case of a "tax" of meshulachim, Baltimore already has a program for taxing meshulachim. Some of the suggestions really push towards some sort of half day public, half day Talmud Torah option, which isn't going to get too far at this juncture. I think volunteer labor is key to lessening costs in the schools, and forgoing a pricey year in Israel may just be commonsense for those lacking the resources, but the "YeshivaCorps" suggestion doesn't hold much appeal for me personally. Perhaps others feel differently. I think the delay of entrance into the workforce (amongst Orthodox young men in particular) is one of the root causes of our current doomed economic model. I see no reason to delay my own children's entrance into the workforce while painting Yeshiva walls, answering phones, or coaching a sports team alongside some sort of ad hoc learning program.

I will wrap this up now before this post becomes even more lengthy. Welcome to what will probably be an extended stretch of bread and butter Orthonomic blogging. I've got materials coming out my ears with thanks to my fantastic readers.

Shabbat Shalom!


JS said...

Time to get back to my bread and butter bloggingWell, it is after Pesach...

JS said...

Slightly off topic in that it doesn't relate to Baltimore, but Kushner yeshiva (MO K-12 yeshiva) is in a lot of trouble.

Here's a bit in a local article:

From what I've heard many students are leaving for public schools. The school is looking to sell parts of its over-sized property and maybe even rent out some of the building space. I have also heard they're going to slash staff and administration.

Reading the article, you can see that here too there are no new solutions, just we need to raise more money. Yes, but from where?

I think with the economic crisis more and more families are starting to look at yeshiva as a financial decision instead of as a lifechoice decision.

Al said...

It's funny, two years ago, all I heard about was tuition this, tuition that, now I don't hear it at all. What changed? The Ben Gamla Charter school.

It didn't pull THAT many students (it pulled more from the non-Orthodox JCC School), but it stopped the complaining... because now parents weren't forced to pay tuition, they were choosing to. A few families switched and seem happy, most stayed, but those that stay now think that they are getting something for their money, not throwing it away, and that's huge.

The camp situation is bizarre... As a teenager, I held jobs after junior year of high school, and those jobs gave me discretionary money, a sense of independence, and some work experience. In college, I landed great internships because as a freshman, I had the resume of a junior because of two jobs in my field.

If instead I went to camp through graduation, a year in Israel before college, none of which had adult responsibilities, I wouldn't have had the professional success that launched me out of undergrad. Even more importantly, that sense of independence of having spending money to pay for gas, insurance, and my social life made me FEEL more adult, which helped me in college and beyond.

Keeping our young adults as children until they are 25 isn't helping anyone, and is robbing them of the time they need to mature.

There is a transition to adulthood... instead in the Orthodox community, we have them parenting while still living as children off their parents. By the time they are ready to start their career, they have their first child entering kindergarden. That's a financial struggle for anyone, but crazy for people expecting private schooling.

Turning the last few summers into summers of working, an after school job during senior year, and the expectation of working/interning during college would help dramatically. Keeping the "year in Israel" would work if we abandoned Yeshiva/Seminary for people not going the Kolel route, and encouraged them to go work/study in Israel instead, and you'd have much more mature students.

The secular kids that did a year in Israel (Young Judea program or otherwise) were way more mature and worldly in college than anyone else, ready to sit down and be serious students serious about their future. That would help the financial crisis dramatically. Encouraging married couples to wait 2 years before getting pregnant, finishing their degrees and starting their life on a mature basis wouldn't dramatically effect family sizes, but would DRAMATICALLY improve our finances.

If your parents are paying your rent and college tuition, you're not an adult yet, and probably not ready to be a parent of your own.

Also, you can't have all the women in the community working in the schools... it forces you to create positions for them, which drives up the costs on everyone. People need to be gainfully employed, and school positions need to be real value adds, not makeshift work.

SephardiLady said...

JS-Thanks for the link. Very interesting and will certainly appear in its own post shortly.

aml said...

Reach across the isle. That's my first thought. Baltimore doesn't have a lot of wealthy orthodox; most of the very wealthy fall outside of the orthodox community. Unfortunately, telling orthodox families in Balfimore to give their $18 tzdakah allocation locally isn't going to help. Reaching across the isle (which I don't believe for one minute will ever happen) and working with other rabbis in other denominations to give a unified message would help, as would a community-wide committment to Jewish education for Jews of all stripes.

Thinking said...

When oil prices were rising I remember discussing with a friend of mine whether or not $4 a gallon was going to be enough to really push the electric/hybrid car development into high gear. The reality was that it wasn't, $6-7 per gallon is probably a more realistic number for society to demand for alternative energy sources.

I think it is the same way with the current schoold budget crisis (it is not a "tuition crisis", that is what schools are calling it to shift blame onto other parties). I don't know what the number is, each school probably has a different tolerance level, but pretty soon more and more schools will be going in the Kushner direction. They will be drastically cutting staff, resources and programs to make the budget work. They may sell off or stop building new properties.

As a parent I am all for it. 1 rebbi, 1 teacher and minimal administrative staff are what my children absolutely need. Will this put more pressure on my wife and myself to make up the difference? Absolutely! But at least that is a commodity we have to offer. Money is not.

JLan said...

A lot of schools, incidentally, are dropping the lunch programs, at least for high school. It's an easy way to get in a stealth tuition hike (and, depending on the deal the staff got, a stealth salary cut).

Anonymous said...


Have you ever pushed the collection of box tops on your site? A school who is ambitious can raise 10,000 a year through this seemingly unused vehicle of funds

SephardiLady said...

Anon-I've got to light. Search the blog for Box Tops. I've definitely mentioned it and I always cut box tops off immediately when we get home.

ProfK said...

JLan, those lunch programs are not quite the savings you might think they are. The schools get federal money for the lunch programs depending on the number of students who are from qualifying families re income levels. Schools with more students in the lower income levels won't see much savings by cutting lunch.

SephardiLady said...

Lunch programs can be a money maker also.

Lion of Zion said...

cutting out sunday school could at the same time achieve both a stealth tution raise and a stealth salary cut.

i think the kushner school's problems stem, at least in part, from kushner's decision to cut off the school a few years ago.

Tamiri said...

My kids went to Kushner. You would have to see it to believe it.

JLan said...


I'm aware of that, but the schools I'm thinking of don't have nearly enough students in that level to make the money worth it. I'll also send you a calendar with the lunch schedule if you want- even serving a student on free/reduced lunch will still cost the school money.

SL- it's entirely possible for lunch programs to be money makers, but they aren't for my school and I suspect that they aren't for Kushner either. Also, there is no separate lunch charge in these cases- you can't quantify the amount of tuition that's going "towards lunch", so you can't say whether or not it's a money maker- if you cut the lunch and don't cut the tuition, that is, by default, a money-maker. I have seen suggestions from some of these schools to make a pay by the day, a la carte setup- that is, to offer some sort of retail type setup there. That would be much easier to quantify.

As a side note- lunch and breakfast programs are much more likely to be money makers in areas where there isn't a supply of readily available kosher food. I'm familiar with at least one school where grades have set up daily deliveries from the local bagel shop. That means that students are a) paying additional money for bagels every day and b) not eating the cereal that the school is providing.

Ahuva said...

aml> I don't think that reaching across the aisle would work even if you could get the other denominations to agree to invest in Orthodox education. They have their own issues to deal with. I read in the paper recently that the Conservative movement is losing numbers while the Reform movement is just keeping even; Orthodoxy is the only movement that's growing.

While I agree that the real issue is lifestyle choices/tuition, there is one avenue along the "more money" route that people seem to be ignoring... BTs and older singles. Most of the BTs I know are highly educated professionals and are not drowning in tuition expenses like the rest of the Orthodox world.

I know of many people who are responding to the current economic situation by independently deciding to give more tzedakah, but I haven't seen any effort to target this demographic or provide suggestions as to where to best direct that money.

rosie said...

Ahuva, those professionally educated BTs often struggle as much as everyone else when they pay the highest tuitions of the entire parent body of a school. They might start their families a bit later but still end up with large families.
Also, those BTs that are not rich or professional tend to be even poorer than FFBs unless their families agree to help them financially.
As far as the year in Israel, besides the cost is the factor that young people who have had a year of brainwashing against going to work or marrying a "working boy"
are more likely to insist on the kollel path which requires others to support them. Long term kollel is something that I generally disagree with.
As far as telling people to keep the money local, people give at the door to those who ask at the door. The yeshivas need to have someone hammering away at fundraising so that givers never have to go out of their way to make that donation.

aml said...

Aman, aman, and aman rosie.

Ahuva said...

Rosie, I wasn't talking about people with school age children. Once you hit day school, there isn't much left over for anything else. I think we all agree on that.

Dave said...

I'm having trouble seeing how "reaching across the aisle" is going to work in practice.

"Sure, why don't you come on over during Services on Saturday, I'm sure people would love to hear from you."

"Oh, I can't do that."

"Oh, would another week work better."

"Oh, no. I just can't attend Reform services."

Somehow, I don't see the money being forthcoming after that.

rosie said...

Ahuva, I know of a very wealthy young man who became frum. I hope that the community does not take him for all that he has. He is a good, trusting soul and does not know what he is in store for. He could probably donate to many yeshivas but I hope that he is left with something for himself when all is said and done. Aside from those like him, most would not want to be hit up for yeshiva support as soon as they become frum.

Ahuva said...

I am certainly not talking about "taking people for all that they have." I am talking about people just like me. We mostly give to kiruv groups and the shuls we belong to because those are the people we know.

I know next to nothing about the community yeshivas, certainly not enough to make an informed decision about which one I should be supporting.

Giving tzedakah is a part of that bright-and-shiny world we signed up to be a part of. People open their homes to us every shabbos, making sure we have places to stay and meals to go to. We *want* to be a part of that world and give back to that world. And, certainly, singles like to feel like they're a needed part of society and not some shidduch crisis victims.

We hear and tell stories about the young family of 5 people in a two bedroom apartment who nonetheless set up a trundle bed in the living room so that they could host shabbos guests. The giving nature of the Orthodox community is part of what drew us into the community in the first place and inspires us to give in return.

Al said...

Ahuva, I don't think that your giving money to the Yeshivot would help. The problem isn't lack of donations, it's costs rising above inflation. It's a deflationary year with a horrible recession that might turn into a depression, and Day Schools announcing 7%-8% tuition increases. The schools are dead broke, and unless they figure out a way to stop the runaway costs, they are not viable. More money is like giving a drug addict one more fix, it may stop withdrawal, but it won't really help.

Kiruv groups need money, they bring plenty of families in that will put kids in Yeshivot. Shuls need money. Money is fungible, money raised from you for the Shul is money that they don't need to pull from a bigwig there, money that he may be able to give the Yeshiva. It all flows around.

If we all give to groups that we know are well run, you gather the collective wisdom of the community to fund the successful charities and watch the unsuccessful ones with on a vine.

Whenever we turn things over to "community decisions," is when we turn the money generating by our hard working and educated members to a body that will fill it's decision making process with the uneducated and unintelligent, simply because community power comes from spending time "involved," and the people most like to donate time are the people whose time has the least value.

rosie said...

Someone that I know has been a popular teacher for a number of years at a yeshiva but for the past few months, was not paid by the yeshiva. This person threatened to quit but the yeshiva made her feel guilty for leaving her mission in life. She has her own large family to support and kids in shidduchim and could not see working for free with no light at the end of the tunnel. The parents, sensing that they were about to lose the reason that they chose that school in the first place, arranged that the tuition payments could go directly to her. Of course that leaves out what it costs to heat her classroom, supplies, the janitorial staff, etc but what I am saying is that the parents used their collective clout to stabilize a situation that affected their children.

SephardiLady said...

rosie-How terribly sad your friend did not quit. We need wonderful teachers, but this situation is simply unacceptable. I'd rather see a teacher like this be given an empty basement or some office space and empowered to start some sort of group school. The parents might have been able to arrange something for now, but what of when the heat and water gets turned off? No one should have guilt triped her. I know such teachers would be a tremendous loss to Jewish education, but this is ridiculous. . . .

rosie said...

SL, I like the example of gas prices that Thinking gave because it talks about when push comes to shove but how much push will it take? If the school gave in to the parent's demands they will stay put.
I currently know of several yeshiva aged boys who stay home and sleep all day and while away their life doing nothing because their parents cannot afford tuition. That is not the whole story of course because if these boys were really interested in learning the schools would bend over backwards but these boys have no money and little interest in yeshiva on top of it. There is one who is only 14 and therefore legally truant. Because there are only a few in this community, nothing is happening. If there would be larger amounts of truant children and among them be kids who really want to go to yeshiva, basements and offices would be donated and time and money would be donated.
Part of the situation is that it would really have to reach rock bottom before drastic steps are taken and part of the situation is that some children would be better served with less intense learning and more emphasis on vocations.

Anonymous said...

Rosie, the only thing I agree with is that the situation will have to hit rock bottom before change comes about. The other examples make no sense -- emergency appeals to keep teachers teaching and to keep schools from closing. How can the parents divert their tuition to one popular teacher, anyway? Where I come from the tuition contract is with the school, not the teacher.

And the story of the truant child is just pathetic. If the kid has no money and little interest in yeshiva, he can get vocational classes at public school. You don't think it's better to get educated, even in a public school, than to stay home and sleep all day? Which route is more likely to lead to greater problems later in life??

rosie said...

Anon, I never advocated letting a child sleep all day instead of attending public school. He would be like a fish out of water though because he has a very religious mode of dress. Unless a group of frum kids got together to attend public school (again will not happen until rock bottom is reached) he will be ostracized. He was trying to attend an out-of-town yeshiva rather than the local one that is not his exact derech. The local one would have made a deal with the parents but would not be so exciting to attend. There was one rebbe who agreed to tutor him for free but he wouldn't take him up on it. There is not an easy solution for this child.
If there would be numerous children in the community in need of a program, they could arrange with the school district to put all frum students in one class.

Al said...

Anonymous, we have hit rock bottom in our world if people would have a child home as a truant instead in a public school where they would be learning some subject matter. We're keeping children from gaining the skills that they need to survive to keep them out of the secular world...

That is succeeding in keeping people in the community, at the cost of a new generation of poverty and dependency. The assimilation boogieman has scared us to the point that we have created the welfare dependency cycle that America spent 15 years breaking, because people need the skills to support themselves.

An Orthodox Jewish man needs the skills to support his family in a Jewish neighborhood, eating Kosher food, and hold a job that lets him not work Shabbat, plus davin and learn. Jewish law has so man ways of handling uneducated people (look at all the accommodations Chazal made, a group Torah reader, repetition of the prayer (Amidah) or group prayer (Kaddish) to permit the ignorant Jew to fulfill their Torah obligations... what it doesn't permit is men that can't feed, cloth, or house their children.

We've placed the emphasis on Torah obligation over worldly ones, despite the fact that a Jewishly ignorant man CAN fulfill his obligations without knowing a word of Hebrew, but CAN'T fulfill his obligations without earning a living.

It is absolutely insane that parents would leave their child a truant instead of gaining life skills, but that is the world we've created... it's absolutely insane to me that as we've reached an unparalleled level of Jewish education, yet our "educated" people are completely ignorant of Halachah, or at least willing to let the appearance of Frumkeit trump actual obligations of the law.

A father that fails to teach his son a trade has created a criminal, a father that fails to teach his son Gemara has committed no such violation.

rosie said...

Al, while I basically agree with you, on a practical level, we have created children who don't know how to relate to non-Jewish or non-frum peers. We also have to deal with the fact that in poorer neighborhoods, Jews are not liked by the non-Jewish locals and frum kids in those schools are likely to suffer abuse. This is in addition to non-Jewish ideals that the child will be forced to assimilate. Public schools do not just teach skills. They also impart American culture. Some gym classes for example, are mixed. To a frum Jewish girl, parading around in front of males in gym clothes is a breach of modesty. Mixing genders is frowned upon in very frum circles but very much a part of public school. Are public schools ready to allow Orthodox kids to have separate gym or swim classes? What about movies or videos shown to the class that might have content that the general public considers fine but a religious Jew might have objections to? Are Orthodox Jews given rights in public schools to avoid those situations? Public schools are allowed to teach songs and make craft projects depicting religious holidays because they are cultural in nature. Will they be sensitive to religious Jews that don't want non-Jewish religious content to be part of their child's education? (we are not talking about comparative religion humanities classes).

JS said...

I don't think the full brunt of this economic crisis will be felt until the next school year. I imagine enrollment rates will be near normal (maybe a little lower), but there will be a large number who enroll who ask for tuition assistance and perhaps an even larger number who ask for the tuition "after the fact" - after not paying. That's when everything will fall apart.

Also, I don't think change will come from the leadership. They're too entrenched in the current system. They know there's a problem, but don't know how to solve it other than try what's worked in the past. They don't see this is a potential paradigm shift. The answer will come from those parents forced to make the difficult decisions that our leadership can't or won't make.

SephardiLady said...

rosie-I believe many non-Jewish parents would be open to separate gym classes because they want their kids exercising, rather than complaining about their mascara dripping.

I believe many non-Jewish kids would be open to separate gym classes, as many girls don't like competiting against the boys for exercising with them for various reasons. (Of course there are girls who are very competitive and want the challenge, but those girls are generally in varsity sports and are already in separate PE classes as varsity players generally start practice last period in place of a regular PE class).

I believe many PE teachers would be open to separate gym classes as they have to deal with some of the more shallow reasons the girls won't exercise.

Separate discussion. But if we have truants (and I know of a few), we have hit "rock bottom" and should be approaching the school board for some consessions. Orthodox parents won't be there first. A girls from a non-Jewish, very conservative religious family, was allowed a modified dress code in my (public) high school PE class.

Shani said...

I went to public school in the 1980's. Public schools do make accommodations to religious needs. What they do not make accomodations to is demand for segregation. I, and the Muslim girls in my school, were allowed to wear clothes that we felt were acceptable for gym. I was allowed to opt out of books and movies in high school that my parents felt had objectional content. I was never forced to celebrate Christian holidays. In elementary school, I was given alternative projects for Halloween, Christmas, and Valentines Day. (Easter was too religious for the school, and for reasons I cannot figure out, my parents never objected to St. Patrick's Day.) I am not saying that it was an ideal situation--I felt like the school freak and when I grew up, I moved to the most Jewish place I could find so that I could feel normal. I lost out on years of Jewish education. But the school provided me with an excellent education that allowed me to thrive in college along with skills that could always fall back on to earn a living.

rosie said...

SL, a handful of truants will not get too far with the school board. It would take a community to deal with the school board. Any parent who squeaks loud enough will not have to have their public school child color a picture of an x-mas tree but as Shani said, the child will not really feel comfortable. If enough parents hit rock bottom and have to go with their synagogue clergy to tough it out with the schools, they might have some collective clout to have school closed on the high holidays and no major tests on the shalosh regalim. Remember all those who have to fight every year to have the SATs on a day other than Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Rosie, if I recall I never fought to take the SAT on Sunday. A letter from a rabbi sufficed (I even had a friend who wasn't frum who took it on Sunday because she felt there was an advantage, and she was the smartest kid in the whole school).

People who don't know anything about public school shouldn't go making statements about public school.

rosie said...

Anon, I know plenty about public schools. Each district is different. Remember that there are Jews in places such as Kentucky and Tennessee that might have a different experience than those in areas with more Jews. There have been Jews and and other Saturday Sabbath observers who did not have an easy time getting their sabbath honored for the SAT. There is strength in numbers when asking for religious exemptions. Public schools have the right to schedule exams on the first day of Succot , Pesach, Shavous or even Yom Kippur and don't owe anyone a make-up exam. My point is that religious Jews would have an easier time in public school as a group than as individuals. Obviously the more knowledge that the school district has about Jews, the better that they can meet their needs.
Anon, just because all you needed was a letter from your rabbi does not mean that all school districts are so Shabbat friendly.

Anonymous said...

Is the child in question living in Kentucky or Tennessee?? And btw, the school district does not administer the SATs, it is the Educational Testing Service.

Dave said...

So, I went to a Public High School in rural Georgia.

I was, quite literally, the only Jewish child in the County.

And I had absolutely no trouble with taking time off for religious holidays.

rosie said...

I am sure that there are school administrations that are friendly to Jews but that does not mean that all are the same. This child that I am referring to would not have a problem with taking off on holidays but might have a problem catching up with what was taught on the holidays. The school district does not administer the SAT but usually the test is given at a school on a non-school day.
Even if that did not affect his overall success in school, I doubt he would feel comfortable. Dave, as the only Jewish child in your community, didn't you feel out of the loop at times? Wouldn't you have felt more comfortable if there had been other Jewish kids also keeping the holidays? How did it feel to be left out when the senior prom was on a Friday night? What about Friday night football games? How about when the other kids went to McDonalds after school?
My point is that it is usually hard to be the lone frum Jew in public school and others here who went to public school said that although they managed, it was hard. Maybe I am a parent who was told that I had to let my child (who was in public school early intervention) color the Santa picture in order to show that I was tolerant of other religions. (I didn't allow him to attend that day). No one has the right to say that I don't know anything about public school. I was a sub in public schools for several years. Some teachers were more sympathetic about make-up exams for religious absence than others. The same is true in non-Jewish colleges. People usually get what they want but sometimes they do have to fight for it. Just because there are those with positive experiences does not negate that some have had the opposite.
What I am saying is that very heredi children will do better in public schools if they attend as a group.

Ahuva said...

I also attended public school in a very Jew-unfriendly environment and had no problems taking time off for holidays and making up the exams that were given on those days.

Public schools are required to make some accommodations. I'm having a hard time believing that it is better for a child to be truant and uneducated than to attend a public school... even in the rural south.

Dave said...

I was raised Reform, so the only issue was time off for major holidays.

Make-up exams for religious observance were explicitly required, and religious holidays were considered "excused absences" as a matter of school policy.

rosie said...

I am not sure that public schools are required to make accommodations due to religious absences. They might make accommodations but I would first find out if they are "required" to. One class that I subbed for was reading Harry Potter. A religious Christian girl was allowed to be excused from class but the school was not required to change the literature being used. That most schools will allow religious absence does not mean that they are required to give make-up exams. I was specifically told that it was not a requirement for the school district to grant the exemptions, even though most will do it.
This child is getting nowhere staying in bed all day but he does have the choice to attend the local Jewish high school that is of a different derech than the one he was raised. Either way he will not have an easy time but at least he will not have the peer pressure to break Shabbos, eat treife, or not wear yarmulka and tzitzis.
I remember a few years back when someone wanted to put a special needs boy who had long peyos in a local public school with the worst type of rough kids. This kid had mild CP and barely weighed 100 lbs and would have been mistreated due to his chassidic garb but his parents had no money for special needs schooling. Finally some rabbis made a program for him in a Chabad school. He is now 20, still in the Chabad school and needs to learn to make a living but would it have been better to throw him to the wolves?

Elitzur said...

Life is hard - stop making excuses and deal with it

rosie said...

Elitzur, have you made any hard decisions regarding your children lately? Maybe you have but if you have not, try a little sympathy to those who must make those hard decisions.
Judaism is about family life. If a Jewish kid wants to spend the week of Pesach away at his grandparent's home, that is more than a week missed at school if he goes to public school. That is a significant absence.

Anonymous said...

Rosie, I have to think you're a troll. Non-Jewish kids miss school to visit their grandparents in China, India, etc. Yeshiva kids go to Israel for weddings and miss 2 weeks of school also.

Dave said...

A "week away for Pesach" is, I thought, a want, not a religious obligation.

Or am I wrong?

Ahuva said...

Perhaps, I'm misreading this, but it certainly seems like schools are required to allow religious absences:

I think that not allowing make-up exams at all also constitutes religious discrimination as it would adversely impact the child's grade solely because of their religion.

I am the last person who would say that all school systems are friendly to Jews. My "accommodations" included sitting outside the classroom while Jesus stories were being read and permission to come late to school assemblies so that I didn't have to listen to the opening prayer. It also included my right not to take one of the free bibles they were handing out during class. It did not include protection from bullies as long as they didn't break anything or leave obvious bruises.

I dealt with a lot of physical and emotional "intimidation" in the name of saving my soul, but I firmly believe that even going through that was preferable to sitting at home and being uneducated. Speaking as someone who was thrown to the wolves, I don't personally believe that it is better for a child to be sentenced to a lifetime of uneducated dependence.

I'm assuming that there is something else going on in this child's life if his parents think that he can't even go to the local Jewish high school.

SephardiLady said...

I'm sure that this kid isn't the only truant kid. I have met numerous kids that aren't doing much of anything in both large and small communities.

Perhaps truancy is a topic for another post.

rosie said...

Anonymous, what is a troll? What I said was that missing 2 weeks is considered a significant absence. I did not say that no student ever missed that amount.
Dave, no one said that it is a religious obligation. Visiting grandparents adds to the richness of life and is a wonderful thing for kids to do. Should someone who is starving to death visit his grandparents? Obviously visiting grandparents is a want but it is a life enriching want.
What I am saying is and I don't know why I am the troll but no one seems to get it, is that to be the lone heredi Jewish kid in a public school is very difficult. If it is to become a reality for those who can't pay tuition, it is better for the children if they go as a group.

Ahuva said...

Anon, Rosie is a regular reader/commenter and definitely not a troll (even if she does seem to hate everything I say).

Rosie, we get it. It's hard to be the lone heredi Jewish kid in a public school. It was hard for me to be one of two Jewish kids in my public school (the other one being my sibling). That doesn't mean that it's impossible (or even impractical) to attend a public school except as a group. Sure, it would be easier if a bunch of children went as a group, but it isn't impossible to attend a public school on your own. That's all we're saying.

rosie said...

Ahuva, I hear what you are saying but I think that this special needs boy would have been so mistreated that I am not sure that the gains that he would have made academically would have offset the emotional turmoil of abuse. He does not have a normal IQ. The truant child in the first example might be better off in public school than home in bed but would probably suffer emotionally from ridicule so it is hard to say that the child would come out more employable. If he succumbs emotionally, will he eventually be a success in life? It is a gamble and no one can clearly say how it would go for him. I guess that they could try it and see and remove him if the ridicule causes severe depression. Remember, he probably won't have too many friends in public school and friends are a big part of being a teenager.

Anonymous said...

Does he have friends now? Will he lose those friends if he goes to public school?

Ahuva said...

Rosie, there is success in life after abuse. It might take years of therapy, but Hashem has made us amazingly resilient creatures.

And most children find friends. My friends were the other outcasts, the girl who was beaten regularly by her father, another girl who would get high with her mother after school and spent time sitting in chorus carving homemade tatoos into the back of her hand with a knife.

I learned a lot from them about how to be compassionate, how to accept people who are different, how to survive in the face of adversity, and how to stand up to peer pressure. They were good, if deeply troubled, children and good friends to me.

Everything we do in life is a gamble. The parents of the truant child are also taking a gamble that he will be able to survive in this world without skills or an education.

rosie said...

I don't think that he has many friends now but he doesn't have many enemies either. While we are on the subject of his future earning capacity, we all acknowledge that yeshivas are not the place to go when considering later college and job placement. Some yeshivas are not the least bit college-bound. and many have little or no secular studies. If we are worried mainly about a person's future earning potential, as opposed to his Jewish knowledge or identity
a yeshiva would not be the place to start.
The question in this boy's case is what to do with him now.

Anonymous said...

It's not just earning capacity, it's self esteem. I'm sure this boy needs to feel good about himself. Maybe it would be weird at first to be in public school, but how would he feel if he got some vocational training in auto mechanics, plumbing, carpentry, etc? Not only would he be learning a trade, he'd feel and be useful and would justifiably be proud of himself. I would add that the ability to support himself and his family in the future would only add to his self esteem.

rosie said...

Tessya, what would be good is if the Jewish plumbers, cabinet makers, mechanics, etc allowed him to apprentice while the parents got him a good home-schooling program for general studies. As I said several posts ago, a yeshiva rebbe offered to teach him pro-bono and he declined the offer. Maybe he could be a chavrusa with another truant boy under the supervision of someone.

Ahuva said...

Rosie, why would having a Jewish apprenticeship be better than a secular vocational program? In a vocational program he'd be able to determine what he likes to do and is successful at rather than be dependent on what the person he's apprenticed to chooses to teach him.

It doesn't sound like this boy is particularly motivated if he keeps declining offers. Setting him up as a chavrusa with another boy who is also having problems with the system doesn't sound like a recipe for success to me.

rosie said...

What age can someone enter a vocational program? He is 14.

SephardiLady said...

My own high school had vocational tracks. I believe at 14 years old, someone on a vocational track would be taking basic academic courses and vocational electives such as wood/metal and basic auto shop.

Ahuva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rosie said...

There again, he would have to deal with being different. I am not saying that a person cannot survive being different but it is an understandable thing to want to avoid it. At least working with Jews, he would not have to repeatedly explain his religious restrictions.

rosie said...

Remember we are talking about a boy who is both outwardly and inwardly different. He knows nothing about the culture of the other students. He doesn't know of their sports heroes, their movie stars, the brands of clothes that they consider in fashion, etc.
I think that as critical of the heredi world that many posters on here are, few would be cavalier about putting their own children in that situation if their children were really that culturally different and subject to ridicule. As much as most of us hate the crazy spending that we see all around us in the frum world, who wants to be the first one to make a bare bones bar mitzvah for their child? We can hold others in contempt but what would each one truly do if it was their child and he did not want public school but had not worked hard to stay in yeshiva?

SephardiLady said...

Perhaps public school is not the right solution, but obviouly doing NOTHING to further a life is only going to lead to problems.

If public school isn't right, what about night school (yes, public, but different in that there are no extracurriculars, education is the basics only, kids are the types to be working during the day either by choice or because there is no other choice)? What about getting a regular job doing something while attending night school? What about being placed in a family business to work since few will hire a 14 year old?

Is there a grandparent or other close relative living in a better community with better public schools?

I know truants and it is a sad commentary on the frum community.

rosie said...

This particular child does not have grandparents in another city. I have never heard of 14 year olds in night school but that might be an idea for older yeshiva dropouts. To me the solution is to do whatever they decide to do as a group, since few frum people act as individuals.

Anonymous said...

True that few frum people act as individuals, but that sad situation ignores the fact that people are different and some don't fit the mold. To go through life trying to be someone or something you're not guarantees a future of never-ending problems.

Litvak said...

Very interesting stuff here, thanks SL, keep up the great work.

I would like to know what you have to say about truancy, another things that has to emerge from an overcrowded closet soon perhaps.

miriamp said...

I know a person who is not frum today (doesn't even consider himself Jewish and married a non-Jewish woman) because for various reasons, he was forced to leave Yeshiva and was put in Public school. He had a "funny" name, dressed differently and was very out of place -- and was mercilessly picked on. His parents wound up pulling him and homeschooling him, and he completed a GED and went on to college a bit early -- but somewhere along the way he was completely lost to yiddishkeit.

I went to public school in a very Jewish area, on LI, where we actually had off school for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and at least the first two days of Passover -- the whole week when it coincided with Easter. The school gave the PSATs, SATs and CBATS on Saturdays, but if you brought that note from a Rabbi, you were randomly assigned a different test site on a non-Saturday. This only worked because there were Jewish Day Schools in the general area that had non-Saturday test dates -- in an area without that possibility, they certainly don't hold a test just for one person, so I don't know what the options become.

I understand your points, Rosie, but I also understand why other people don't. Public school is not the same everywhere, and kids can be very cruel. I certainly wouldn't send a Charedi child there alone, especially a special needs one.

rosie said...

Thanks miriamp. The special needs boy would have been a real Korban. He has poor physical coordination, slow speech and a low IQ. He is very small. He is one of these sweet little neshamalach who just melts everyone and would not understand why others were picking on him.
The 14yr old is a quiet boy who never did well academically but seems to have normal intelligence. Some kids could roll with the punches and even influence the non-frum kids in public school to do mitzvot but I can't imagine this boy doing it.
I don't entirely discount public school as an option for frum kids but I do feel that they should go as a group. If there is a group going, the other kids could be educated as to what to expect such as when the frum kids recite birkas ha mazon after lunch.
I have heard from Conservative kids who keep 2 days of Rosh Hashana that public schools did not understand why they needed to miss 2 days when Reform children only needed to miss 1 day. These Conservative kids faced an argument. Non-Jews do not understand the difference in the various expressions of Judaism and it would be a good idea to educate them if a mass influx of Jewish kids enters a district.
I agree with SL that something needs to be done about the growing problem of frum truancy.

Anonymous said...

Rosie, just so you know and can maybe help other kids, "public school" does not necessarily mean a large public HS. The public school system will send kids to private schools and pay for them to go, under special circumstances, such as the CP kid (who sounds like he should be getting special services anyway). Secular private schools may be small and have a different population makeup. The circumstances will also take cultural needs into account (but districts will generally not pay for religious schools). It's a difficult process, but it's not impossible.

Alisa said...

Miriamp, they DO hold the test for just one person! (I know this is not relevant to discussion about the 14 year old truant.) When I was in college in Virginia, I took the GRE in April. There was no one else in the area who requested a non-Saturday test date. So on the designated alternative test date (the Monday after the regularly scheduled Saturday), I went to test site. There were two people there: the proctor and me. For the rest of the day, I took the test. There were some very funny moments. I finished one section early so I signaled the to proctor that I was done. He picked up his proctoring instructions and read, "Your time is up. Put your pencils down." I'm thinking "Uh, yeah. I told you I was done."

Al said...

Rosie, the reason you've been accused of being a troll is that despite being a regular poster, your series of straw man arguments IS trolling. You keep switching from the subject matter, a 14 year old truant, to a special needs student that needs to be in a special needs program, not an inner city school.

Guess what, life is a series of challenges. Success in life is overcoming them. Middle school and high school were tough challenging years, it toughens you up. In the "real world," people aren't sensitive, you toughen up and deal.

The belief that our children are delicate creatures that can never face a challenge in life is WHY we have problems. Nobody pushes themselves, and the "system" is being built up to keep people shielded in the "community."

Would the Chassidish dressed kid get picked on for his dress, absolutely. EVERYONE gets picked, it's part of growing up. Learning to defend himself, verbally and physically, would help him man-up, something he certainly needs to do.

He's a coddled 14 year old that is lying around sleeping all day and refusing to do anything while his parents are enabling him.

Schools have to accommodate you, they don't have to change for you. You have to do PE, but you can do it in appropriately modest attire, you have a legal right to do so. You can't require the school district change its curriculum, but you can require that your child get an alternative assignment.

Can I require that all my business competition close down while I celebrate Yomim Tovim? Absolutely not.

This is why we have a boomerang generation, spoiled children whose parents never think that they should be challenged. I had pennies thrown at the floor, physical violence threatened, and I learned to fight back and become a stronger person for it.

The weak Jew terrified of the goyim is SO nineteenth century. Throw the truant into the world and let him grow a pair.

Being a Jew IS being different. Perhaps a little reading of the beginning of the Torah is in order... Avraham Avinu left a family of idolatry to serve Hashem, our children can learn to make up a test and learn to study to make up for missing two days. They certainly are going to have to work harder than the gentiles that don't take off in real life, might as well start learning that lesson as teenagers.

rosie said...

Re trolling: I brought up the example of the 14yr old truant in the discussion brought up by Thinking of push coming to shove; that basically, there would have to be a drastic circumstance to cause a community to totally switch their approach. The post where I mentioned it was a reply to another post so how is that trolling? That others including yourself chose to discuss the truant rather than the original topic does not make my post a troll.
I see that there are those who view heredi Judaism as something of a failure and rather than fix it we should scrap it. They would take a chassidise but lazy 14yr old and put him in a place that he may come out educated but not frum, emotionally traumatized but still frum, or any combination. I am not convinced that if you were this child's father that you would run so fast to make him grow up the hard way any more than you would drop him off in Harlem in the middle of the night and tell him to survive and find his way home. I think that you would search for other options. As other posters have said, sometimes public school increases the chance of intermarriage. I agree with you that the parents are helping him by letting him veg and need to work on finding the best solution but as you point out, this discussion is not about him.

rosie said...

oops; I mean that they are not helping him by letting him veg

Ahuva said...

Except, of course, letting him sit at home and discontinue his education at the 8th great level is just another form of dropping him off in Harlem in the middle of the night and telling him to find his way home.

He will never be able to marry and have a family without either having a trade or being a learner. This parents are setting him up to be alone and poverty stricken for the rest of his life.

Searching for other options is all well and good, but doing nothing is not an option. Waiting around until a whole group of people suddenly get their act together and put their children in school is just another form of doing nothing.

Al said...

Rosie, sorry, but you're again trolling with straw man arguments. Dropping off in Harlem at night is a safety issue. Telling him that he needs to be in school or working is called parenting.

Truancy is NOT an option, and they need to call the state for help if he won't go anywhere. My parents threatened military school when I was acting out... my cousin really benefited from his year at Culver.

You wrote, "They would take a chassidise but lazy 14yr old and put him in a place that he may come out educated but not frum, emotionally traumatized but still frum, or any combination. I am not convinced that if you were this child's father that you would run so fast to make him grow up the hard way"

Guess what, ANYONE might turn out educated but not frum, educated and frum, non educated and frum, and non educated and not frum.

He needs to be in a place where he is moving toward being an adult. He and is parents need to decide what that is, but truancy is not a part of it.

The boy's father needs to be a father... As a father, to my son (and Gd willing more), my primary responsibility is to see that at the end of 18 years he's learned to be a man, and part of being a man is being responsible for yourself and your family.

There are many things that I liked and disliked about my father growing up, but never once did I think that I didn't learn to be a man and a responsible adult from his example.

It's SO sad and amusing to have watched the stupid metrosexual crazy, because looking in the Haredi and Chassidish community, I see a bunch of broken men that needed to learn a little bit more about being a man and a little less about how to dress Frumy.

Go grab the old Dr. Phil episodes on Man-Camp, I think we need to ship the men of your community there...

Chris Rock once joked that there are no grades for fathers, but if your daughter is a stripper, you've failed. Guess what, if your son is unable to support himself and his family, you've failed... might be through no lack of trying, but you've still failed.

Guess what, if the option is Chassidish dress and truancy, or Chassidish dress and major physical violence at school, then he might just need to switch uniforms for school and change when he gets home... or he needs to hit the gym and learn to fight back... turning the other cheek is NOT from Tanakh or Gemarra...

Life is a series of choices, and sometimes the ideal isn't possible, so you do the best that you can and you try to do better.

SephardiLady said...

I want to post on truancy soon as well as emotionally fragility. Seems we have cases of each.

rosie said...

True but they are probably looking for another yeshiva or trying to raise money to get him into yeshiva. I don't think they are even looking into public school. It was an anonymous poster who first mentioned the idea of public school and it was me who said that I don't see it happening for any of the dropouts unless they have a large group. Having worked in public schools, there are kids who come to school and go to sleep once they get there. Not everyone achieves but then that is off the subject and will surely get me the title of troll. This kid needs motivation and you can lead a horse to water but...

rosie said...

Al, you are concentrating on the kid's ability to make a living. If that is the criterion for successful parenthood, than most people who send children to yeshiva will be failures as parents. Yeshivas, as we have established, are not set up to teach boys to be breadwinners. Some do go on to be professionals and successes but that is due to their innate intelligence and not to anything that they study in yeshiva. Gemorrah studies can sharpen the intelligence and open the doors to other topics but many still need to pass a GED course after finishing yeshiva if they are to go on to college.

Dave said...

Al, you are concentrating on the kid's ability to make a living. If that is the criterion for successful parenthood, than most people who send children to yeshiva will be failures as parents.I would not disagree with that statement.

If you are raising children who cannot support themselves as adults, you failed.

Al said...

Rosie, raising a son that is unable to support himself and his family is like raising a daughter that turns out to be a stripper, you've failed.

There is no obligation for Jewish men to learn Gemara, it's a good thing to do, and you ought to learn daily, but it's not obligatory... supporting a family is.

Anyone who has failed to give their child the ability to earn a living through a trade or profession has raised him to be a thief.

If Hareidi Yeshivot are not teaching that, then the fathers are obligated to do so at home. If they have not done that, they have failed in their obligations as a father under Jewish law.

If being Hareidi requires violating Halacha, you are no more Torah Judaism than Reform.

The Orthodox world should interact with the Hareidi branches that fail to raise self sufficient children the same way they interact with other Heterodox branches... cooperate on Israel matters, work together to lobby the government through "synagogue" level groups, but no further.

And stop recognizing them as valid sources of Jewish law.

rosie said...

I would say that the Torah views one's profession as a means to an end; the end being the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvahs. Therefore the emphasis in the Orthodox home is not "my son the future doctor" but "my son the Torah scholar who supports himself in the medical profession."
It sounds as though Dave would avoid a yeshiva education for his children because it does not focus on breadwinning.
I would say that the MO world usually does not deal much with the heredi world except for specific issues as you Al have already listed. This already appears to be the reality.
It is hard to say that there are "branches" that need to be dealt with. In all "branches" there are industrious breadwinning individuals but most heredim put little or no emphasis on secular education and want even less to do with secular culture.
Therefore I would have to ask, is the purpose of this blog to criticize heredim or to figure out how one can live a Torah observant life and still live within their means?

Anonymous said...

Rosie, in all honesty, what are one's "means" if they are incapable of holding a job, or they want expensive things (such as private schooling) and can't pay for them?

Dave said...

I would say that the Torah views one's profession as a means to an end; the end being the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvahs. Therefore the emphasis in the Orthodox home is not "my son the future doctor" but "my son the Torah scholar who supports himself in the medical profession."Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

"My son, who cannot support himself or his family, and is entirely dependent on the charity of others to feed, clothe, and house himself and his children" is not.

It sounds as though Dave would avoid a yeshiva education for his children because it does not focus on breadwinning.Focus on is one thing. Enable is another.

If it is a Yeshiva that leaves its graduates capable of supporting themselves in life, then I don't see any problem with it. Admittedly, being neither frum nor having any children, the odds of this being more than hypothetical for me are rather small.

If, on the other hand, your contention is that there are no Yeshivas that are capable of teaching what you consider acceptable levels of religious education and are also capable of giving a secular education sufficient to support a family of the size the bochur desires, well, then I'd say you have a very real problem.

rosie said...

I don't see that they are incapable of holding down a job. I see many who have had the same job for years or own a business or provide a service and others who elect to sit in kollel. I do know of some who cannot hold down a job but there are lots of non-Jews like that also. I see several job skills programs aimed at religious Jews.
The expensive things is the part that we need to work on. This is the crux of the whole discussion: how to live a frum life on the money you have.

Al said...

Rosie, means to an end is correct. A Hareidi Jew needs to be able to support himself and his family.

In ideology, modern Orthodoxy embraces secular culture when it doesn't clash with Torah Law. Hareidism shuns the secular world and focuses on Torah based persuits.

This blog is focused on living a Torah observant life. Part of living a Torah observant life is to support yourself and your family, it's a required Mitzvah.

If the Hareidi Yeshivot are not giving men the means to support their families while learning Torah, their parents (fathers) violate Jewish law by enrolling them there and not teaching them a trade or vocation at home.

Again, straw man, it's not about being a Doctor, it's about raising our children to be Jewish men and women capable of fulfilling their obligations. If your Yeshiva is not doing so, you are not fulfilling your obligation as a parent by enrolling them.

You cannot live a Torah observant life with private school and no profession or vocation. Clipping coupons, buying second hand clothing, etc., all cuts costs, but the income isn't there regardless of cost cutting if you do not earn a subsistence lifestyle.

You CAN live a Torah observant lifestyle without private school, your children can be in the public school, dressed however they want, on a much lower subsistence level.

However, you must live within your means, and if you want private schooling for 9 children, you need a high paying vocation. That might be law, business, running a plumbing business, insurance sales, it doesn't matter, but if you want 9 children in private school, you better have the tools to support that.

If you don't, you need to scale back your time for learning and take classes at night or whatever it takes to support your family. Shortchanging your children to indulge yourself in hours of learning is not Jewish parenting... getting up early to learn for 30 minutes before work so you can provide for your family is.

The refusal to acknowledge the lack of focus on earning power is what I find frustrating, and I'd imagine other posters do as well. Your community needs to upgrade their marketable skills, not just come into Orthodox neighborhoods looking for handouts.

Either increase community earning power, or massively cut costs. The top two costs appear to be housing and Yeshiva tuition. Move to less expensive areas, and/or use public schooling/home schooling.

Live within your means. The bashing is because as a community, not only do you NOT live within your means, the shortfall appears to get passed to the Orthodox world...

Regarding interaction:
Would a modern Orthodox family accept their child's spouse with a Reform conversion? With a Hareidi conversion?

Would an Orthodox Jew give money to a Reform run abortion center in Israel, that helps families that can't afford another child abort it? Would they give money to a Hareidi run charity that gives financial support to the children of large Kollel families?

Would a MO Rabbi reference a Reform Kashrut authority? Would they recommend the hecture of a Hareidi Kashrut authority?

Does a Modern Orthodox refer to their child that goes to a Reform/Conservative Temple with their spouse religious? Do they consider their child that joined a Hareidi community Off The Derech, or talk about their "very religious child."

This is my point, the MO world considers the Hareidi world part of Orthodoxy, while the reciprocal isn't done, while provide financial subsidies either directly (charity), or indirectly (hiring Rabbeim from Hareidi Yeshivot as teachers, Kashrut supervisors, etc). How many Hareidi Yeshivot have a YU Rabbi on staff?

rosie said...

Dave we posted at the same time that I was answering tessya. MO yeshivas do have secular programs that lead to good college placements but heredi yeshivas do not put their focus on secular studies even if they offer them. Usually they offer the bare bones basics if they offer anything. Because many kids today have either gone off the derech or show little interest in religious studies there are now yeshivas with vocational programs but the mainstream bochrim go to yeshivas where Torah learning is the main focus. Eventually they figure out how to get a job or start a business but that is not part of their yeshiva education. They are not incapable of working but learning a trade and going to yeshiva are not connected.

Al said...

Rosie, the frustrating, trollish straw man is your not making a distinction between focus and sufficient.

If if costs $2k/month for house, $6k/month for Yeshiva, and $2k/month for the rest, the household needs $10k/month in after tax money to support the family.

Your education system needs to give the tools to do that. It doesn't need to give them the tools to make $15k/month, you can get them EXACTLY to $10k and then commit every single OTHER waking hour to Torah studies.

Your focus on Torah studies is fine, AFTER you have supported yourself and your family.

You constantly criticize the wealthy Jews for extravagence... i.e. they could save $2k-$3k/month on unnecessary things... If you were consistent in your views, you would suggest that the Modern Orthodox wall street guy should cut his hours down and learn more... since if he has $100k/year to spend on vacations, he shouldn't be working so hard, he should be learning more.

Instead, you suggest that Modern Orthodox Jews should work hard, make money, live like they are poor, and give the money to poor Hareidi Jews.

Lecture MO Jews on working too much and not learning enough, you'd have Halacha on your side for that argument.

Lecturing MO Jews that they should simply not enjoy the fruits of their labor and give it to Hareidi Jews is the hypocrisy.

More emphasis on Torah would probably be good for a lot of wealthy Jews. The lack of emphasis on self sufficiency in Hareidism is outrageous.

We have NEVER told Hareidi Jews that they shouldn't focus on Torah. The consistent theme of the "bashers" has been, earn enough to support your family. Your theme has been, "stop supporting your family, start supporting mine."

rosie said...

Al, we posted at the same time. I see your point about MO giving and not getting from the heredim. I was thinking in terms of socialization. Usually MO families have their own yeshivas, camps, shuls, etc. They usually don't marry heredim.
I agree that all people have to work and I am as against long term kollel as you are. I do think that online degrees are helping lots of frum Jews gain professional skills without immersing in secular culture. I also like the job training programs such as those at ORT, COPE and Touro. These are user friendly for the Jew who has to contend with Jewish holidays.
I also think that as time goes on, more heredim will emphasize employment over life-long or long-term kollel.
I don't agree that a heredi boy can simply exchange his chassidishe garb for a tee shirt and jeans and bike on over to the public HS and discard the disguise when coming home. He would have to change his name, learn the culture of the outside world, grow out his hair a bit, interface with girls, etc and that is why I would not run to make that an option for a heredi boy. Someone who says that it is better that he learns to make a living at 14 than to be part of his frum world is basically saying that his type of frumkeit is best discarded as it gets in the way of his learning a trade. It is the same to me as saying that heredi Judaism has to go.
I agree that we need to cut out the crazy materialism that plagues the frum world but I would not want to see families capping family size unless they really could not raise those children.

Ahuva said...

You know, one of the things I really like about this blog is that people tend not to attack each other.

Al, you could have made every one of your points without a single direct attack on Rosie. You make some good points; why are you undermining them this way?

rosie said...

Al, we posted simultaneously again. Sorry for frustrating you. I have suggested that those who have the means to live it up can help those who don't have enough. I never said that those who live it up are MO and that those who don't have enough are heredi. I know of some MO families that are supported on tzedukah and some heredi families with expensive waterfalls and murals in their living rooms. I never said that the MO should support the heredi.

Dave said...

If this particular 14 year old boy cannot get an education within the Chareidi system that will allow him to earn a living, then for this particular 14 year old boy, something has to change.

Presumably a Hashkafic shift would allow the boy to move into a part of the observant community where he could learn the skills necessary and stay part of the community.

If the parents believe that any change of Hashkafa is equivalent to leaving Judaism, I'm afraid I don't see a happy ending here.

rosie said...

I wanted to add that the Pesach hotels seem to attract the heredim since some of the perks that they boast seem to be the stuff that heredim want such as non-gebrockts , separate swim and shadchanim. The scholars in residence seem to be the type that attract heredim so I assume that that is who they are attracting. This what I made reference to in a previous post and it made no mention of expecting MO to pay for a heredi person's Pesach expenses. For all we know, some of the Pesach recipients are MO who have fallen on hard times.

rosie said...

Dave, this child has a better chance of going to a vocational yeshiva because he is not academically strong. If he were a masmid (top student), he would be put in a top yeshiva who would possibly give him a scholarship just to have such a student and his ability to earn a living would have to come from somewhere other than his yeshiva studies.

Dave said...

I'm not disagreeing, Rosie. If he isn't academically strong, then he should be in a program that will give him the skills he needs to support a family.

What he cannot be is sitting home doing nothing.

Al said...

Ahuva, my apologies if my directness was seen as an attack, and Rosie, if you felt that way, I apologize. I felt the temperature of the conversation rising and talking past each other, so I felt that directly referencing the contention might help, I did not mean to attack Rosie, and my apologies for the attacks that were unintended.

You said, "saying that his type of frumkeit is best discarded as it gets in the way of his learning a trade. It is the same to me as saying that heredi Judaism has to go."

Let me make a clear change, I am not saying that it should be discarded for getting in the way of his learning a trade, I'm saying that it MUST be discarded IF it gets in the way of him learning a trade.

Learning a trade and earning a living is a obligation of Jewish men. Dressing like a Hassid is a custom. If dressing like a hassid prevents him from learning a trade, he is obligated to follow that ACTUAL Halacha, and learn the trade.

For most Hassidim, there is no problem, they are able to be Hassidim and learn a trade. For this particular 14 year old, there is a problem, so he needs to follow the obligation.

If my family Minhag was to eat cheese every Wednesday at 9 PM (to pick something at random), and I was at a dinner at 8PM and had a steak, I would have to follow the Halacha and not eat cheese, not say, "well, I can't follow Halacha, it gets in the way of my custom."

Learning a trade is not an optional thing, it is a Jewish obligation.

I don't think that we should be capping family size if we can avoid it... my problem is that for the middle class, we have capped it, because the Yeshiva/Day School system has them subsidizing the poorer Jews. I think that it is rather unfair that a dual income family has to think long and hard about another child, but the impoverished can have as many as they want because it doesn't cost them.

Hence my pattern here... cheaper schooling for those without means, more income through better skills/education.

If we want to keep having lots of Jewish kids, which is WONDERFUL, we need the means to support them... and everyone needs to pull their own weight.

rosie said...

I would say the following about the minhag of levush:
A person can change his clothing to meet his needs such as he can wear stained clothing to shecht animals. To most Chassidim, removal of the beard is a breach of Torah law even though there is a heter to shave with an electric razor. Most will also not go bareheaded. Chassidim have been known to go to court to keep the beard and yarmulka and still serve in the US military. That is one reason that few Chassidm enlist, even though kosher food exists in the military and time off is given to attend synagogue on Shabbos and yomtovim. What I am trying to say is that there is an extent to which a Jew cannot change his levush to hide his religion (unless it is a matter of true p'kuach nefesh).

Ahuva said...

Rosie, it's not an all or nothing proposition. People *do* wear yarmulkas in public schools and in business; it happens all the time. Beards are also allowed in the workforce, although admittedly a "neat" trimmed beard is better received than one that has never been touched by scissors.

I don't understand why you seem to think that a Jew has to hide his religion in order to exist within the secular world.

rosie said...

Ahuva, what I mean is that we can't just say that all appearance issues are minhagim. Some are based on Torah such as the beard. If we are talking about fitting into public school, a teenager with a yarmulka and beard (as soon as that is physically possible) will have a different appearance. If his appearance will cause him not to fit in, it is not only his dry clean only suit, black hat, and dress shoes that are a problem.
Also the commandment that a man works for 6 days and rests on the 7th cannot be used as the commandment to support one's family any more than the mishnah that tells a man to marry at age 18 can be used. A man who has another source of income does not have to interrupt his Torah studies the same way that a man at 18 who is occupied with Torah studies does not have to marry until later. That is why I cannot relate to arguing about a 14yr old's earning capacity. It is unhealthy for him to veg and be spoiled and stay home. His yeshiva would not have been at all concerned about what he would do for a living. He would have dealt with it after his yeshiva years.

Ahuva said...

Non-Jewish teenagers can and do grow beards. I went to school with many boys who did. Individuality is praised in the secular world; they don't all look alike! My public-school educated orthodox cousin had a beard in high school without any issues whatsoever.

In a public school, you will see kids with kippas, Sikh boys with turbans, and muslim girls with headscarves. Diversity, in the secular world, is considered *normal.* We are considered the odds ones for insisting that everyone look and act the same! There are boys who grow a beard at the first opportunity even in the rural deep south.

This is really starting to sound more like fear of the unknown than any logical reason not to put him in a school.

I think we're worrying about the 14-year-old's earning capacity because there are really two tracks in the orthodox world-- learners and earners. If he's not going to be a learner, then he needs to be an earner. Unless, of course, he's independently wealthy (which it didn't sound like).

rosie said...

If they had money, he would be still sitting in yeshiva whether he learned or not!

Ahuva said...

Then doesn't Al's point stand? If his family doesn't have money and he's unlikely to marry the daughter of a wealthy family since he isn't getting a yeshiva education, isn't he halacically required to get an education that will enable him to support a family?

Isn't that halacha more important than this minhag of isolation from the secular world/public schools?

Sure, he would have dealt with this issue after his yeshiva years, but it sounds like his yeshiva years are over-- which means that it's something to deal with now. He's not going down the "learner" path, so his parents are obligated to start pushing him down the "earner" path.

When one of my relatives had to leave the yeshiva, his parents put him in public school. They didn't want to do it, but home schooling wasn't an option. He learned to live with being a kippa-wearing, kosher-eating Jew with a "weird" sounding name in a secular school. He learned to bensch quietly and unobtrusively. I don't think it was nearly as bad as his parents thought it would be.

rosie said...

It isn't exactly a halacha to get an education that will enable a person to enter a profession. "A father who does not teach a son a trade teaches him to steal" is the lashon that is used. There is no specific requirement to send a child to a school that teaches a trade and unless it is a vocational school, most public schools give a general education that is not specific to a trade. That a father has to teach his son a trade is as halachichally valid as saying that he must marry off the son at age 18 as it says in the mishnah. Let's not turn sending a child to public school into a way to uphold halacha. It is a way to keep him off the streets. If he decides to learn, it will educate him, but there is no halachic requirement that he support himself if someone else is supporting him (providing that he is engaged in Torah study).

Al said...

Rosie, we're also focused on his "earning power," because at 14, he's just 4 years away from obtaining his majority... 4 years coincidentally, is the length of time high school takes... if he is entering the secular world (professionally, not socially), those are some of the most important years in terms of lifetime earning power.

Sure, there are high school dropouts that start multimillion dollar businesses, and Harvard educated plumbers, but when you talk about income, the #1 correlated factor is level of education, and the #2 correlated factor is level of parent's education, and unfortunately, the differential between those two factor isn't too large.

This makes sense, educated parents read more to their children, teach them more in the home, and also have more money (see factor #1) to give their children a leg up.

So, he isn't a Yeshiva -> Kolel guy, his Yeshiva studies ended at 14, he isn't interested in an informal learning environment... he's rejected nurturing childhood safety zones, okay, childhood over, time to grow up.

Being a parent is more than just loving your kids, and it's more than just indulging them, it's helping them become adults. They need to pick the best option from their group of choices... the guy isn't an academic, so a top college seems unlikely, is public schooling -> HS diploma + an AA a reasonable possibility? If not, is some sort of skilled trade (car mechanics earn good livings) possible?

But he is 4 years from his majority, and right now a truant, so each month that goes by is a month less of education available to him.

BTW: plenty of people go back to school later, upgrade their skills, and improve their careers... but suggesting that it's equally easy to get a high school diploma from age 14-18 as in your thirties with a few kids that you are supporting on minimum wage is being dishonest.

SephardiLady said...

I guess I'm experiencing some culture shock here. My own (public ) high school put students on a track.

If you were in Honors and Advanced Placement, you were not required to take any vocational education. Academics were your vocation and it was assumed that you would go onto a college, University, or one of the Military Academies.

If you were not enrolled in a full load of honors/advanced placement courses, you had to add at least one vocational elective to your schedule. It was assumed that you would probably be attending junior collge or going into the armed forced and would be working your way into a profession and therefore needed some marketable skills.

If you were not carrying a college prep course load in all subjects, you were enrolled in a vocational track. Some students had work-study. Others had auto shops and interns. And, yes, there was a vocational certificate that went with your diploma certifying that you had taken a certain course load and had a "specialty."

I simply don't understand the attitude that learning a vocation can wait. I might think that the kollel movement is out of control, but a boy who is gifted in Talmud is on a vocational track. A student who is mastering advanced composition and taking Calculus and AP Bio and Chem is on a vocational track, although what vocation might not seem clear for a number of years. A student who is learning the ins and outs of hospitality or mechanics is learning a markeable skill and is on a vocational track.

A 14 year old truant sleeping away the day who does not bother to learn Torah or math is on the track to disaster. How any Jewish parent can sit around and let it be, I will never understand.

rosie said...

Anything is possible but my point is that you can't posken halacha from the mishnah. Otherwise you marry them off at 18 and the next verse says that they pursue a career at 20!
Many yeshiva don't grant a high school diploma. It doesn't matter if you are smart, stupid, possibly marrying a girl with a rich daddy, etc. They all handicap individuals the same way. I sent my kids to yeshivas but now those who are not practicing rabbis are trying to catch up with secular knowledge in order to get into college. My daughters married boys who succeeded without secular education. It is a challenge but that is the yeshiva system that we currently have. I don't think it holds water to say that it is a breach of halacha that yeshivas don't have secular education. Impractical? Yes. Breach of halacha, NO.
There were several dropouts this year, although none as young as him. The parents could have tried to do something as a group if they really didn't want public school. I agree that sitting on one's tuchus all day is wrong. As I said before, I am not totally opposed to public school but reserve it for last resorts and think that there is strength in numbers. Years ago, before yeshivas were so widespread, many frum people attended public school but they were a visible minority. I don't think that Jews are perceived the same as other religious minorities. Probably the muslims and other minority religious groups send kids in groups so that the staff and students get used to that type of diversity. I don't think that a Hindu in a turban is as likely to be picked on in today's world as a religious Jew.

Al said...

I think a Hindu in a turban is likely to get picked on, because Hindu men don't wear turbans. The Indians wearing turbans are Sikh.

Rosie, nobody said "secular education," we said path to a livelihood. That can be college and a professional track, college and the white collar service industry, bookkeeping and basic accounting, entrepreneurship, sewing and tailoring, cooking, auto mechanics, etc.

Some of those involve secular subjects, others do not, but all provide a path to a livelihood that would allow you to earn a living and support your family (probably with a similarly trained working spouse).

You are obligated to teach your son a trade.

SL, 100% correct about a gifted Talmudist, there is employment for those, so it's learning a livelihood.

The emphasis on secular education and college is because that provides tremendous upward mobility for earning power. Look at a salary survey, and look at the costs of being Frum. Figure out the balance of labor between husband and wife (50%/50%, 60% - 40%, 67%, 33%, 100%/0%, whatever)... then find a career path that hits your numbers by the time your first child hits kindergarten... and grows to support them through high school/college.

It doesn't have to involve secular studies, but it HAS to involve marketable skills.

Yeshivot don't break Halacha, they teach a certain set of subject matters. The obligation is on the parents (and under Halacha, the father), to teach his son a livelihood that supports his family... if the Yeshiva that he spends 10 hours at can't do that, then it falls on the parents to do so at night.

Ahuva said...

I'm not really sure if we're all reading the same comments at this point. The issue is not yeshiva vs. public school. It doesn't matter if the yeshiva grants a HS diploma or not. If a child is in yeshiva, then he is learning skills (such as those needed to become a rabbi/critical thinker/etc.). The child is learning language skills, debating skills and all kinds of things that will help them become adults. A child sitting at home is not learning anything except to depend on his parents.

The impression that I get is that we're talking about a sizeable, insular community. Unless that community is Pottsville, we are probably talking about a community with a not-insignificant Jewish population. We are not talking about him being the only kippa-wearing Jew in the school system. (And even that is survivable.) There are probably lots of other Jews (frum or not) who are going to help keep the anti-semitism (if there is any) down.

Muslims and other religious communities are considerably LESS likely to band together in a group because there isn't a requirement for them to live close to each other the way a Jew needs to live within walking distance of a shul. There might be only one turban-wearing or headscarf-wearing kid in the school. The point is that they still get some sort of education. They still learn how to grow up. A child sitting at home all day isn't going to grow up.

Anonymous said...

While I understand that studying Talmud is learning a trade, the sheer number of boys and men studying Talmud combined with the relatively limited demand for their services (at least in paying jobs) gives me cause for concern about this field. There's a glut of Talmud students. If you count the probability of marrying for money, it's not quite as bad, financially, but that's not going to happen for most either.

rosie said...

Ahuva, have you ever heard of Dearbornistan? It is a community in Michigan (Dearborn, MI) with probably more muslims than in the West Bank, and maybe even in Gaza. If they are in Dearborn public schools, they are there in vast numbers. Al is right about Sikhs being the turban wearers but may not realize something when it comes to yeshivas. Al, these boys do not come home at night. You put them on a train or plane and you see them on Sukkot, Chanukah and Pesach. If there is a simcha in the family you will see them again. Not much time there for dad to take out the tools and teach the son. I haven't seen many well paid Talmudic scholars either but maybe Al has run into some who make money at it.
I think that when the mishnah spoke of teaching the son a trade, it was speaking of apprenticing a boy in a specific trade. Parents were advised to seek out a "clean" trade for their sons so it was preferable to be a perfumer rather than being a tanner. While studying certain academics may make one able to get into college, which will eventually lead to a career, I am not sure that it is directly involved with learning a trade or necessarily absolves the father of his obligation. As we said, the obligation is very non-specific in halacha. The Talmudist may study math
for it's practical applications in his life but he isn't being hired as an actuary.

Dave said...

Dearborn, Michigan has a population of just over 100,000 people, of whom about a third are are Arab-Americans. And not all of those are Muslim.

rosie said...

OK, Dave I also just googled the statistics. There is a growing number of Muslim Arabs from Iran coming to Dearborn. In addition, I found an article about how the parents forced the school board to close on the Muslim holiday of Eid because if 80% or more of the students in a school do not attend on any given day, the school does not get government funding on that day. There was one year when on the holiday of Eid, only 3 of a school's 700 children were in attendance. Since then, they have separate gym classes, close on Muslim holidays, serve halel food as well as letting the parents have say in other matters. While I may be off base in comparing it to Gaza, I am right on about the role of parents of one religion who come to the public schools as a group with their demands.

SephardiLady said...

Times have changed since Talmudic times. The "R's" of communication and math are essentially for everyday living and making a living.

I highly doubt chazal would endorse a schooling system that does not emphasize proper communication and math skills until after the time of desperation and AFTER the sensitive periods where such skills are best learned.

rosie said...

SL, someone is endorsing it because it widely exists. I am sure that people always learned some practical math and the halacha regarding the education of children was that they had to be taught to read (Hebrew, that is). Schools were set up specifically so that students could learn to read. A Jew had to be literate but not necessarily in the language of the country that he lived in. But then remember that the masses were illiterate as well. Remember that in many frum communities today it is common to go into a family business and that may be passed from father to son.
I see that often yeshiva educated boys learn very quickly because the mind is sharpened by Torah study. Most frum people who grew up in America speak English already and usually figure out how to read and write from living in the culture. If a person wants to get a degree, there are plenty of options today, especially online.
What I feel should change is the attitude toward working and making a living. It makes me sick when I hear someone say that her daughter will only agree to marry a "learner" and then the little p'chetch waits forever because her daddy can't support a guy who learns and no serious learner wants to depend entirely on his wife for support. It also makes me sick when some 19yr old's shidduch resume states that she wants a very chassidishe guy with a college degree and a great job. If that is the case she should marry a 30yr old professional BT and forget about the chassidishe part because those guys usually take the slow boat through college.

Anonymous said...

Rosie, you cannot be serious. A person needs A LOT of skills to run a business, even one that has been passed down through the family. The intellectual benefits of studying Gemara are narrow, focusing on logic, deductive reasoning, and legal codes. (I know people who have learned lots of Gemara who have no common sense or ability to apply knowledge to new and different situations). You want boys to work, but you don't want to give them the skills to do so.

rosie said...

The idea in yeshiva is to concentrate on learning and not to worry about what will be later. Usually what happens is that when a person has reached the point that he must support himself, then he begins to see what type of job that he can do and what he must do to get that job. There are lots of frum people with jobs; even jobs that require training and they went through the yeshiva system with little or no job skills training. Most of the time what they can't pay for is tuition, the same way that non-Jews who earn similar salaries could afford to feed, clothe, and house their families but cannot do the extras. We can't say that they don't support themselves because they do. It is the other trappings of Jewish life that they cannot afford. Remember that most public high school kids put most of their waking hours into school work and maybe a small amount per week in studying their religions. Should this be what frum Jews do too?

Al said...

Rosie, we're approaching a cliff, and might have already fallen off of it. Families took on massive amounts of debt based upon increasing portfolios (if they put it away before the crazy boom led to massive spending) and house values to carry the day.

That has run out, and every month that we don't address this is one month more debt, and unless you have gobs of income, one month of debt will usually take 6-12 months to clean up. If we wait until the leadership that is on the payroll of this madness to act, it'll be when the schools stop paying the Rabbeim, and at that point, we've wiped out many of the families into a whole that even bankruptcy won't help.

Sending your child to a Yeshiva in another town that won't teach your child what they need to know, is a gross abdication of parental responsibility. I know people doing it, and it's awful. I also watch a fellow BT friend that is a partner in a law firm sending his children to the local right wing Yeshiva. Watching the son of this smart man and equally smart wife struggle to read at his grade level is very distressing to me... he took his public school education, went to decent college, then a great graduate school, and used that education to make good money is setting his children up to have a materially weaker life, and I think that that is sad.

The Orthodox and Haredi worlds are collapsing financially, and I'm worried what is going to happen to my already depressed home value when the frum premium goes away when the Frum Jews are all in small rented apartments because they lost everything struggling with one more year of overpriced crappy education.

If you want to change the attitude towards earning a livelihood, stop sending your children to a school when for 8 hours/day they are taught by people that hold earning a livelihood in contempt, and telling them that these are holy people that you have to show the utmost respect for.

Learning Gemara properly is like studying any other work of Greek philosophy, it sharpens the mind for logical reasoning, mathematics, etc. Quite frankly, debating Gemara, like debating Kant and Rousseau, will sharpen the logical mind.

Unfortunately, our schools teach rote memorization and "appeals to authority..." Something isn't true because a Rabbi said it, and Rabbi said it because it is true. That's a HUGELY important distinction that is lost on our Yeshiva students.

Regarding Talmudist as career path... there are jobs in communal activity, teaching, Kiruv (salaried positions), etc., that require or benefit from Semeicha. That makes it a viable vocation.

Al said...

Rosie wrote, "Most of the time what they can't pay for is tuition, the same way that non-Jews who earn similar salaries could afford to feed, clothe, and house their families but cannot do the extras. We can't say that they don't support themselves because they do. It is the other trappings of Jewish life that they cannot afford. "

Then they can't support themselves as Jewish adults. Hence the college push from people here. A college graduate from a decent school can command about $35k right away, probably $50k in NYC. A challenging field like engineering adds $10k/year, a useful graduate degree about $10k or so... so you're talking about a 24 year old that can earn $50k-$60k/year, add a spouse at $40k, and you're up to $100k/year... that puts you in the top 5% of US earners, and able to support many of the trappings of life.

Add work ethic, level of effort, and your young couple will, in a few years, be earning $150k, and even if they top out there, they can probably afford some reasonable degree of education costs... if everyone was pushed towards college+graduate school, WAY fewer people would NEED scholarships, tuition could stagnate, and we'd be in a better situation. How many schools collect more than 50% of their "billed tuition." You could halve tuition if everyone could pay, and that would help.

The problem is, as education becomes more and more important for a middle class life, and fewer and fewer Orthodox men and women are getting marketable educations, the burden is falling on a smaller and smaller percentage of the population.

Over 50% of Americans start college in some form, what percentage do you think this is of Jews (I'd guess 70% or higher), and what percentage of Hareidi Jews is this (I'd guess 30% or lower).

Some is cultural, don't spread rumors that women that get a graduate/professional degree before having children that they went to school because of infertility. Online schooling is helping many Americans that need to work their way through school, etc.

There is something to be said for the American college experience... living with and going to school with a variety of people would give our young people a broader perspective... something still slightly valued in the MO community, and probably seen as a real negative by the Hareidi community. You would think that the ranks of the BT in all communities would convince people that their lifestyle can compete in the marketplace of ieads, but two centuries of mindset is hard to change overnight.

rosie said...

BTs are usually pressured to fit in and are generally scorned upon if they voice any objection to the way that their children are being educated. The chinuch that is being imparted is in need of an overhaul, not just because of work ethic but in and of itself the chinuch does nothing to inspire a person to greater spirituality. Many today find no meaning in it and drop out.
Because kids that attended secular colleges had higher intermarriage rates, frum people avoided it. Part of the problem was also that pre-marital sex and drugs was rampant on college campuses. People were afraid that if they allowed secular culture to penetrate their homes, their children would soon go astray. These were not simply needless worries however, it went to the opposite extreme. While actually 3 centuries of the American college experience (Yale is really old), have influenced America's Jews, a 3000 year history of educating Jewish children among Jews is even harder to change. Although children were forced to attend public school in countries such as Russia, this was not the desire of religious parents.
I already mentioned the value of online colleges and I think that those should be encouraged. Usually things remain status quo in the frum community until some outside force causes change. Anyone who swims against the tide usually pays the price of ostracism. That is why I keep saying that although change is needed it probably can't or won't be sudden or drastic.