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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Dependency is Ugly

I never heard of this Priority 7 program until I saw a small blurb in the Hamodia (my husband's friend gave my husband a copy for reading on the bus). Now VIN is running the story about the same program. As a non-NY'er, I'm always flabbergasted by the number of programs NY funds.

The Priority 7 is a welfare program that provides vouchers for after school care to private school students demonstrating a particular need (as per Hamodia the public schools already provide "free" aftercare). Apparently, the overwhelming number of recipients are Orthodox Jews, likely concentrated in select communities and the Agudah is running terrified that if this program is cut off it will spell doom for certain yeshivot.

While the Agudah is calling the elimination "unfair," what I believe is unjust is how such a great level of dependency has been allowed to develop within the klal. The $15 million entitlement program gives up to $7000 per student. That means there are a minimum 2,143 students benefiting from this program, most of whom are Orthodox according to the Agudah.

Yes, we have funding issues for our schools. But there is a bigger issue looming in an increasing number of communities and is the level of dependency on entitlements. From wic, to food stamps, to government health care, to welfare entitlements that funnel through the federal, state, and even local tax systems, to section 8, to childcare vouchers and aftercare vouchers, to the numerous government grants funding social services. . . . . one must wonder what kind of financial/social collapse would happen if the rug were pulled from underneath. Government can't continue to expect "the rich" to keep opening their wallets.

While I have nothing but sympathy for the schools scrambling to save themselves as an outside source of money potentially dries up, I am increasing upset by the level of dependency that has developed (not passively, mind you). This level of dependency is far more threatening to the klal than any cut will ever be.

67 comments:

ProfK said...

Only in an "ideal" world--and we surely don't live in one--will all members of society be equal in having at least middle class money to fund living expenses. There are always going to be those who have less, who are struggling, who legitimately need our help and the government's help just to maintain life. Life doesn't always play fair no matter how hard we are trying. The problem is that a whole lot of people aren't trying.

What upsets me is what I call 'planned dependency." This we see far too much of in Klal. The idea that we don't have to put in any effort on our parts because the government will take care of us. The idea that we are entitled to take this help because, after all, "they" get the money so why shouldn't we. The idea that children aren't being raised to know that they need a solid education so that they can earn a good living and provide for their families by themselves.

Talk about being overindulged--we send the kids to camp, we send them to private schools, we send them for a vacation year or two in Israel and then we send them to the government so they can get married, have large families and do nothing for the first years of their married life, because they have an uncle named Sam who will foot the bill.

DAG said...

The funny part is how anti-welfare the Frum community pretends to be. Expansion of welfare was a major reason many Frum people were against Obama.

But that's giving welfare to OTHER people. It's great to give it to us.

There is no Busha anymore. My Zaidie came to American after WW2 and worked menial jobs. he was fired every Friday, but he kept at it, and built himself up. What has happened to us?

SephardiLady said...

ProfK-Hashem makes sure that there are those without the means so we can fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah. The world will never be without poor, nor should it be.

"Planned dependency" is a good label. There is a mesorah in some pockets of the community re: how to be supported by the government. Your average Joe would have no clue and very little interest because he has been raised all along that he better get prepared to support himself sometime between graduating from high school and/or college.

Dependency is a form of slavery, or at least subjegation. It eliminates choices and holds people back from achieving.

Anonymous said...

This planned dependency is a means for social control. If chassidim or others were educated and given an option how many would still be living in their community, wearing their uniforms, and following orders? People, wake up and smell the coffee!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. The way I understand it, this program was for after-school care, it's not a tuition subsidy. If it's for after school care, then why are the yeshivas predicting doom and gloom for schooling? If the yeshivas provided after-school care with these funds and the funds dry up, then presumably they stop paying for the staff to provide after school programs, and the children go home after school. Granted this may be a hardship to families and children if both parents work and there is no one to care for the children or if there is only one parent, but I don't understand why this is about the yeshivas.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous No. 1: You may be overly cynical. Isn't it in the rabbis' etc. interests to have good earners in the community to support their institutions?

Miami Al said...

Anonymous #2, if it was in the Rabbi's best interests to have people earning more, you'd see more encouragement to work harder and earn more. Instead you see an encouragement not to work.

You really think that this VERY RECENT "minhag" of not working and lifetime learning is supported by the Rabbeim DESPITE it being in their best interests to have it fail?

The Rosh Yeshivot benefit from students, since they can get money from their families. The Chassidish Rebbes depend upon large numbers of followers, and there is a fear that exposure to the secular education and working world will lead people "off the derech."

So there is a communal fear of success, promoted by Rabbeim that are trapping people in a dependency cycle. Clearly the Rabbeim think that it is in their interest to perpetuate it.

Look at the previous generation of black leadership. The black family unit collapsed because government benefits favor single motherhood, and the majority of black children are born out of wedlock and have disproportionately made up the welfare roles.

Until VERY recently, you could never find black communal leaders promoting vouchers to get their constituents out of failing schools, or supporting welfare->work roles... they functioned as ward bosses, keeping the benefits flowing in return for votes that they could deliver... The Chassidish and Hareidi leadership appear to be following the same path, so why would we assume a different motivation?

There is no Jewish tradition of living off the king... there is a Jewish tradition of working hard despite being overtaxed by the king. This dependency cycle is VERY new, and seems to be following the failed model that destroyed the black community.

When you see a "Jewish" effort, where we have Jewishly married and not legally married couples to extract benefits, you're seeing the same well worn path of "single motherhood," just with an element of fraud attached. The "father" may live with the family, but if he isn't supporting them, he's just as financially absentee as the problems that decimated the black community.

Very Worried said...

Miami Al, That's very insightful--and troubling.

Critically Observant Jew said...

Reminds me of the people we know where the husband was laid off. He decided that he'll spend his newly found free time learning Torah exclusively, while receiving unemployment benefits. His wife was very happy when she found out that the Obama administration extended the duration of unemployment benefits. "That way, he can learn more," she said. Looking for a job was never on his mind, of course.

Sad.

SephardiLady said...

Anonyous 9:29: I think the answer is (sadly) obvious. I wonder if any of the members of the city council brought up this point.

Anonymous said...

SL - I think the answer is (sadly) obvious. I wonder if any of the members of the city council brought up this point.[space]

Why would you think the point would matter in the first place? These programs are born via lobbying and campaign funding or gathering votes for politicians. Basically, some constituency delivered the money and the votes and the politicians delivered the money for this program. It's how politics works (not necessarily how it should work).

Ateres said...

I would like to give you a different perspective.

As all of you who have followed my comments know, I am from a more Charedi community that discourages secular education and college.

I think that all of you are being overly cynical on a number of points.

Firstly, I definitely agree that there is too much dependence on government aid. Relying on the government to support you is foolish. However, I do not think there is any moral obligation not to take any benefits that one honestly qualifies for, even if one could do more not to qualify for them.

My husband currently learns half the day (gasp!) and works in klei kodesh for next-to-nothing the other half of the day. I work, pay taxes, and we are not eligible for any government aid. In principle I am against welfare-type benefits, however if I would qualify for them (which I don't), I would take them.

Also, the objection to secular education is actually based in legitimate Torah sources, not on some desire for "control". The principle is that based on the pasuk of "vhegisa bah yomam v'layla", studying secular knowledge is considered bittul Torah unless needed for a particular purpose, such as earning a living. Additionally, the prohibition of "lo sasuru" prohibits studying works of apikorsus or immorality, which is almost unavoidable in the American college system.

I am not expecting the readers of this blog to agree with this derech, but rather to understand what it is based on.

Lion of Zion said...

ATERES:

"the prohibition of "lo sasuru" prohibits studying works of apikorsus or immorality, which is almost unavoidable in the American college system."

is this an issue in touro college?

gavra@work said...

Ateres:

Thats why Touro was created (and the article is regarding NYC)!

It also doesn't excuse not being plumbers, carpenters, etc.

The problem is that people who live off food stamps, etc. then expect to pay less than full tuition, or collect money to make their child's wedding, which then raises costs for everyone else.

If they homeschooled (what a concept!) and made small (tiny) weddings, then you would see less complaints.

Lion of Zion said...

ATERES:

and while i can anticipate your response, i don't think that the principle of vehigisa (interpreted as an imperative to learn all day) has ever been applied in practice on such a wide scale as we see today.

Ateres said...

Firstly, the issue does exist in Touro college to an extent (you don't think they teach English literature there?)

There are, however, acceptable options out there which quite a number of people take advantage of. There is the option of taking CLEPs to place out of introductory courses, going to colleges such as Maalot that count seminary credits, getting a BTL and then going to an acceptable graduate program, taking online courses, etc.

There is also the option of going to trade school (as Gavra mentioned). Go to any RW community and you will find some plumbers and electricians.

Ateres said...

"and while i can anticipate your response, i don't think that the principle of vehigisa (interpreted as an imperative to learn all day) has ever been applied in practice on such a wide scale as we see today."

That is true for a number of reasons. The primary reason is probably that since women are free to enter the workforce in our times, there are more women who are capable of supporting their husbands than in previous generations. Additionally, there are now more klei kodesh positions available for a number of reasons such as new technology, the need for kiruv, and the high birthrate in frum communities. The same way that one wouldn't go to a doctor who hadn't gone to medical school, I wouldn't go to a rav who did not have years of learning (including kollel) behind him.

There is also the issue that it is much harder in this generation to get a job without having to learn inappropriate subjects than it was in the past.

And I haven't even touched on the social temptations of college.

Anonymous said...

ateres- the social temptations are not a problem at yu or touro, and can be dealt with pretty easily elsewhere if you live off campus. my husband and i both went to queens college after returning from israel. there is no dormitory there, and we both lived at home the first year, got married that summer, and then, quite obviously, lived together in our first apartment, which was in the lovely frum neighborhood of kew gardens hills. neither of us really socialized with anyone because we were never there other than for classes. and any classes that might have dealt with kefiradig material, we simply didn't sign up for. college is quite a simple matter and should not present any problems if you take certain precautionary measures; or just go to touro (even if they do teach problematic classes, like i said, don't take them).

Ateres said...

That is why I didn't focus on the social issues.

However, it seems difficult at best to get an American college degree without having to learn kefira. This is much less of a concern in other countries where there is no general studies requirement.

gavra@work said...

Ateres:

Depends how you define Kefira. I imagine you have an encompassing definition, no doubt backed by your Rav. Most people here will have a more limited definition, backed by their Rav.

When I went to college, we did English Lit. (Shakespeare) and other short stories, as well as writing skills. No "kefira" involved. I imagine Touro would be the same. If Shakespeare is Kefira by definition, then you may want to avoid high school, let alone college.

You did not touch the second part of my post at all (perhaps its somewhat off SL's point). How about the need for others to pay your (in general, not you in specific) tuition & (sometimes)wedding costs?

Ateres said...

1. Shakespeare is more problematic with regard to immorality than kefira. Greek mythology is even worse. There are frum high schools that do not teach either of the above for both of those reasons. If nothing else, one can always get a GED without having to take questionable subjects.

2. Firstly, tuition in RW schools (particularly those with limited English) is usually quite low. Tuition for my five-year-old is $4500 per year.

Also, those who pay for tuition at RW schools are usually people who are right-wing themselves and therefore understand the career limitations of the RW community and also value the contributions of klei kodesh.

With regard to weddings, hachnasas kallah has always existed to provide couples with the ability to have a modest wedding. There is an inyan to have a seudas mitzvah with meat and guests who are close friends and family of the chosson and kallah in order to be m'sameach them.

I therefore feel it is appropriate for tzedaka money to be used for this purpose. Of course, there is a middle road between only having bagels and a minyan and providing a meal fit for the British royal family. Hachnasas kallah shouldn't be used to pay for extravagance.

Anonymous said...

Ateres: As someone in the RW community, I would be curious to know if and how the community and its leaders is addressing some of the issues discussed on Orthonomics, such as long-term planning and economic sustainability, particularly in light of the real likelihood that governments benefits other than for the seriously disabled will eventually be reduced or eliminated, and the younger generations if being discouraged from attending college will have fewer high earners to support OJ institutions.

gavra@work said...

Ateres:

1: If you find it to be a problem to be aware that there are people who murder their brother & then marry their brother's wife, you are correct about Shakespeare. It also explains why the issues of child molestation are swept under the rug. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil? Not to be mean, but are you sure that is the right way to go?
Also, are you excluding any "outside" (non Klei Kodesh/internal work) job for the reason of needing to be aware of the outside world?
(I never did Greek mythology, either in my (supposed) RW high school or college)

2: As a member of the RW community, when Bezras Hashem you have your 10+ children, who will pay the 45K after taxes? I also imagine tuition goes up as the child gets older?

3: I have found for Chassidim (which I imagine you are part of?) there is a large social network with the (forced by the Rebbe)backing of the rich members of the community, which allows for "shared costs", both of weddings & tuition. This is a model we would like to emulate, but have no manner of enforcement. As such, this does not exist in either the Yeshivish or MO circles, who do have to worry about tuition & weddings.

Anonymous said...

Ateres, the amount of kefira or immorality one encounters in college depends largely on the subjects one chooses to study. I majored in engineering at a state university in the midwest. I lived with my parents & commuted to the campus, so there were no social issues. Most of my courses were in math, science, & various engineering subjects; these involved no kefira or immorality at all, just lots of math & physics.

We were required to take two or three courses each in the social sciences & humanities. Since we were able to choose which courses we took, & did not have to take them on a specific timetable (because they were not prerequisites for other courses), it is easy to find courses that are suitable (economics, specific periods of American history, etc.) We did have to take an English course as well, but there are so many offered that it's easy to find a suitable one.

I can only speak to my own experiences, but if one chooses a technical major there are generallly few requirements in the humanities & social sciences. Even if one doesn't use seminary or yeshiva credits to avoid taking these classes, it's not difficult to choose classes that will not pose any problems. So even if one can't afford to attend a school such as Touro (which I definitely could not), it's possible to avoid kefira & immorality while attending college.

Anonymous said...

ateres, govt programs are not there for people who choose, for whatever reason, to limit their income. programs are not there for people who, for whatever reason, choose not to get higher education or choose not to work a full time job because they would rather do something else [learning, etc.]. they are meant for people who have done their best and are simply incapable of making ends meet.

Anonymous said...

The title of this important essay is "Dependency is Ugly."
It may get uglier.
The next generation may be even more comfortable with dependency.
This is a very sure way to break one's spirit; all the more so as this way of life seems to be chosen.

tesyaa said...

When my father was forced to take early retirement in 1982, he received unemployment for however many weeks he was entitled to. Once he took me along to the unemployment office in East Orange, NJ (we must have been on the way to another destination). I remember he carefully produced a list of all the jobs he had applied for and leads he had followed up, for, as I recall, he had to prove that he was actively looking for work in order to rightfully claim benefits.

(I also remember he was dressed professionally in a suit and tie, unlike practically anyone else in that office.)

(P.S. he never got another full time job, not surprising since he was nearing 60 at the time he was laid off. He did several consulting jobs, however, and was actively seeking more consulting work until just a few years ago, in his eighties. He's 85 now b"h and I think he would still enjoy a consulting job today, although he might not have the stamina for it).

This is a far cry from someone who enjoys claiming unemployment benefits and doesn't want to look for work. I think collecing unemployment was one of the least enjoyable things my father ever did.

Anonymous said...

I guess you must be rich, then.

While I hate the materialism I see around me in the New York metro Orthodox Jewish community (from MO all the way to Chassidic), I have problems with this "entitlement" issue also. We are MO, and have close relatives (young couple with 3 kids and counting) that are Lubavitch, and insist on living in Crown Heights. The minute they got married, they had this attitude that they are living the ideal life, and that others should support them. They are currently sucking the money out of my parents-in-law for rent, we pay for 1 kid's tuition (arrears from last year in addition to this year's), and they're on food stamps, medicaid, and welfare. The man of the house would rather bag groceries for below minimum wage in a Lubavitch store (who didn't give him the job anyway) than work outside the community (he has a Bachelor's degree from YU, and is very smart, so it shouldn't be a problem). The situation scares and infuriates us.

Anonymous said...

LOZ - and while i can anticipate your response, i don't think that the principle of vehigisa (interpreted as an imperative to learn all day) has ever been applied in practice on such a wide scale as we see today.[space]

Probably because the Charedi community today is holier than their parents generation, and holier than their grandparents generation, etc. At least they think they are.

Maybe they believe in Maaleh dorot instead of Yored dorot :-)

Mark

Anonymous said...

how can an after school program cost 7000 per child?

ateres says her tuition for regular school for her five year old is 4500. how can after school tuition be more than that.

it sounds like this is a scam to get the govenement to pay the yeshivas for 'after school' (wink wink) programs with themoney instead paying for the yeshivas regular budget.
this could be a real chilul hashem if it turns out to be true.

ateres if your worried about morality, how about stories in gemara about king david and batsheva, where he lusted after her. when he say her bathing (or something like that)
how about incest between lot and his daughters, or noach being uncovered. or the in shoftim with the pilegesh. or yeshida with tamar the prostitute, etc.
it seems the torah and gemara have seom pretty racy/immoral stories some that make shakespeare look tame. ( oh yes its okay becasue the torah is trying to teach us something.-well shakespeare also teaches morality as well by using stories with such immorality.

Shoshana said...

Forgive me for saying this, but the amount of lashon hara that goes on in these conversations makes it so hard to focus on the meat of the issues and find real and applicable solutions. I find it hard to believe that the chareidi world is responsible for all of the money problems in the klal. I see my share of MOs blowing cash a record rates, even if they earned it at good jobs with good degrees. Any tachlis comments minus the bashing?

tesyaa said...

Shoshana, I don't see why the MO you refer to can't "blow money" they earned, or inherited, if they are not asking others for handouts or tuition subsidies. What is more distasteful is the unadorned taking from others (directly or indirectly), among the non-earning crowd.

tesyaa said...

Quite a while ago there was a Yated article posted on this blog where a family considered whether the kollel husband should go out and get a job, and concluded that they'd end up just as poor after their tuitions increased. The wife's quote was "I'd rather be poor and in kollel than just poor!" Nothing like not even trying to pay your fair share, while others take on the burden of educating your kids.

Shoshana said...

What I am referring to is the overarching sense often displayed in this comment field that the MO have the moral prerogative based on the fact that they are better educated and employed from a secular standpoint. The degradation that is heaped on the chareidim does nothing to promote a conversation that would encourage new ways of thinking amongst their ranks. To my mind, many of the comments border on a form of reverse economic entitlement. As I stated early, i.e. "if I earned it with my top degree then it's nobody's business how I (over-spend) it." As if being able to pay full-tuition for your kids gives carte blanche for other less-than-modest modes of financial behavior.

The over-arching point is that many sectors of the klal aspire to a luxuriant lifestyle, one that is far beyond what anyone "needs," even to be comfortable. There is no point in discussing the money problems we face as a group until we accept that we *are* a group - something I don't usually see here. (Although I continue to be a great fan of SL and her efforts!)

gavra@work said...

Shoshana:

Once someone gives their Chomesh, they are not allowed to give any more. That does not mean they should buy an LS460L, but they do have the right to use it as they wish. Remember the "wedding Takanos" and why they didn't work?

Besides, most (if not all) of the people here would love to have the luxury of having additional money for vacations, etc. after full tuition (How about a second bathroom). We just don't want extra expenses (read: higher taxes & tuition) due to someone elses sense of entitlement.

To 11:48: If you would not pay their tuition, perhaps they would be forced to get a real job!

Anonymous said...

Shoshana 8:11 - If there is a "group" than aren't all members of the group obligated to help support the group to the best of their abilities?

Consequences said...

The thing that troubles me about reading about people who chose not to work or not to get educated and trained for good jobs and work to their full potential is that there are many people who would love to work, but cannot due to illness, old age, getting laid off,etc. The schnorrers who say I am too holy to get a secular education or to work and use up public funds are in effect taking money from those who really need it. There are only so many section 8 cetificates, and only so much money for medicaid (try finding a dr. who takes medicaid because the payment levels are so low). Tzedakah that goes to paying tuition for parents who don't work or chose to be underemployed is tzedakah money that could be used for the sick, elderly, etc.
In other words, there are moral implications of chosing the unemployment/sit and learn and underemployment life style when that is coupled with relying on aid. Those moral issues never seem to be discussed when the moral issues of being exposed to Shakespeare or evolutionary theory or a woman's elbows, whether in college or the workforce, are discussed.

Anonymous said...

There appears to be a conceit that a frum person who chooses to be dependent on others is somehow immune to the social ills associated with dependency. The consequences of this social experiment may be quite devastating.

ProfK said...

We should only be so lucky that everyone were exposed to Shakespeare. If they were they might come across this little gem from Hamlet, Act III:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

And Consequences is so right. When the able bodied and capable CHOOSE to become dependent on the government they are using up money that those truly in need should be getting. We have a situation coming up soon where an entire generation will be of retirement age with all the problems that can come with that. There isn't enough money to support all the seniors who will need help and all the juniors who are taking help they are capable of earning for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Shoshana at 8:11 makes an important point. There is not likely to be progress while the charedi feel like they are being insulted and looked down upon. I don't have any answers and I don't even know if there is a dialog among different sects about economic issues. Any suggestions?

gavra@work said...

There will be no progress until the Charaidim's leaders ("The Gedolim") agree that work is needed, which will only happen when they run out of money. By supporting them (such as the people who go door to door to collect so they can buy an apartment for their daughter who is getting married), you are only hurting them and increasing their dependancy.

Anonymous said...

There is a story on VIN about a religious zionist Rabbi in Israel saying that it is prohibited for Jews to take handouts or charity from gentiles and that Israel should not accept aid from the U.S. I wonder if the Charedi agree.

SephardiLady said...

Shoshana-I don't believe any writer in the frum world has written more about wasting money than I have. I'm not sure any Rav has spoken about the subject more than I have. But this post isn't about wasting money, but about a life of dependency for the sake of dependency.

One need not study modern economic works on dependency to know of the social problems it causes. Avadeim haeinu l'paroh b'mitzrayim. Our Torah has let us know that the life of dependency is not the one for the chosen nation, sons of free men. The Haggadah tells us that if Hashem had not taken us out from mitzrayim himself that today we would still be meshubadim, subjects. Incredible!

Even after slavery would end, which it would as Hashem had decreed slavery for only a period of time, we would still be subjects in a foreign nation? Wow! How is that possible? Wouldn't the master-subject relationship cease to exist over time? The haggadah tells us no! Even after thousands of years we would still remain subjects of a foreign nation had Hashem not taken us out of Egypt.

That is exactly it: dependency is a mentality. Dependency breaks the spirit of free man. Dependendency comes with consequences.

(And, I did write a post last Pesach Avadeim Haienu L'Mastercard B'America. This type of dependency also enslaves a person, so just as I believe government dependency should be avoided, so should self-imposed slavery that comes through overspending).

Shoshana said...

I agree with almost every point made since my comment. It's the venom that I object to.

Ateres said...

"Ateres: As someone in the RW community, I would be curious to know if and how the community and its leaders is addressing some of the issues discussed on Orthonomics, such as long-term planning and economic sustainability, particularly in light of the real likelihood that governments benefits other than for the seriously disabled will eventually be reduced or eliminated, and the younger generations if being discouraged from attending college will have fewer high earners to support OJ institutions."

I cannot speak for the leadership, but I have definitely noticed a decrease of spending on the personal level. People are spending less on homes, furnishings, vacations, weddings, etc.

Ateres said...

"1: If you find it to be a problem to be aware that there are people who murder their brother & then marry their brother's wife, you are correct about Shakespeare. It also explains why the issues of child molestation are swept under the rug. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil? Not to be mean, but are you sure that is the right way to go?
Also, are you excluding any "outside" (non Klei Kodesh/internal work) job for the reason of needing to be aware of the outside world?
(I never did Greek mythology, either in my (supposed) RW high school or college)"

I fail to see the connection between learning Shakespeare and being open about child molestation. I highly doubt there is any statistical correlation between the amount of Shakespeare a person has learned and their view of child molestation.

Oh, and I personally do not work in a klei kodesh profession.

Ateres said...

"While I hate the materialism I see around me in the New York metro Orthodox Jewish community (from MO all the way to Chassidic), I have problems with this "entitlement" issue also. We are MO, and have close relatives (young couple with 3 kids and counting) that are Lubavitch, and insist on living in Crown Heights. The minute they got married, they had this attitude that they are living the ideal life, and that others should support them. They are currently sucking the money out of my parents-in-law for rent, we pay for 1 kid's tuition (arrears from last year in addition to this year's), and they're on food stamps, medicaid, and welfare. The man of the house would rather bag groceries for below minimum wage in a Lubavitch store (who didn't give him the job anyway) than work outside the community (he has a Bachelor's degree from YU, and is very smart, so it shouldn't be a problem). The situation scares and infuriates us."

I agree, and I personally can't stand NY (no, I don't live there)

Ateres said...

"if your worried about morality, how about stories in gemara about king david and batsheva, where he lusted after her. when he say her bathing (or something like that)
how about incest between lot and his daughters, or noach being uncovered. or the in shoftim with the pilegesh. or yeshida with tamar the prostitute, etc.
it seems the torah and gemara have seom pretty racy/immoral stories some that make shakespeare look tame. ( oh yes its okay becasue the torah is trying to teach us something.-well shakespeare also teaches morality as well by using stories with such immorality."

The difference is simple, as you eluded. Torah is holy and is there to teach us the proper way to live. Shakespeare is not holy, and is designed to teach is version of philosophy and morality.

I'll take Hashem's morality over Shakespeare's.

Oh, and not all schools only charge $4500 a year, so that $7k figure could be accurate (but it seems high to me too)

Anonymous said...

It's curious that planned un/underemployment is in a community that needs to earn far more than the average american family due to private school tuition, the added cost of kosher and the typically larger families. Until now the system has worked since there are enough people who work in the secular world and are willing to be big donors for these communities to eke by, but for how long will that last.

Anonymous said...

Shoshana at 8:11 makes an important point. There is not likely to be progress while the charedi feel like they are being insulted and looked down upon. I don't have any answers and I don't even know if there is a dialog among different sects about economic issues. Any suggestions?[space]

There is plenty of dialog! The charedim come to the MO and O (and even C to some extent) neighborhoods and ask for money all the time. They approach MO institutional sources of funds as well (however with less success), and they solicit by mail constantly. And we give. Why? Because they are fellow Jews and Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh LaZeh. Something we all need to remember to help the Mashiach on his way.

That said, I very strongly agree with Shoshana that massive overspending and materialism, especially in such public ways, is disgusting. But I also believe that in a free society, people ought to have the freedom to spend their own money as they wish. I view it partially as a failure of our Rabbinate, that they lack the backbone (well, they also don't want to bite the hand that feeds them) to tell people that public displays of massive overspending is generally not acceptable behavior*. Even for big baalei tzedaka.

But I also think that breeding a community built on dependency is wrong. In my opinion, not learning a marketable trade of profession (or business, etc) before getting married and having kids is disgusting and wrong, and ought to be (and probably is) contrary to halacha. Here is another failure of the Rabbinate to instruct the people in the proper way to live in this world**. Another issue of living in dependency is that you live on a delicate balance, one bad thing (C"V the death on a supporting in-law, changes in public aid, etc) and you could be plunged into the depths of an economic crisis that severely shakes up a family and a marriage. Taking such a risk on behalf of ones family and marriage is NOT acceptable (just like driving dangerously, not properly using car seats, not providing proper medical care, etc is not acceptable and contrary to halacha [of preserving life]).

Mark


* Sort of like the rules of maarit ayin. You don't do certain things because others seeing you do it might think it is acceptable for them to do it. Similarly, others seeing large amounts of conspicuous consumption might think they should be doing it as well (to the great economic detriment of their family, community, etc).

** I think in Olam Habah, it will be highly desirable and acceptable to learn all day and collect manna as necessary (i.e. not have to work to live).

Miami Al said...

Shoshana,

The venom you are feeling is real, and I don't really have a solution. However, you are 100% correct that Hareidi bashing does no good, because it won't change behavior (it causes defensiveness), and will push away our Hareidi members who might be able to influence things.
The professional Frum world would do well to get some secular education... it would be good to send everyone in professional Jewish education to do 2 semesters of Economics coursework, and they'd understand the broken system. A little secular history would help too, because I'm watching the Hareidi leadership follow the failed approach of the black leadership from the 1960s to 1990s, that decimated two generations of black America and will take 2 generations to recover from.
The "tuition" approach is broken. Any "taxes" discourage work and are a necessary evil. The "tuition" model is a 100% tax until your tuition bill is paid, then a 10% tax thereafter with harassment for donation.
I do not fault the individual that says, "if my husband gets a job, we'll be just as poor because it all goes to tuition, so I'd rather he be in Kolel." They are making a rational decision for their family. Sure it puts the burden on the rest of us, but that isn't THEIR fault, it's ours for putting up with the system and not revolting.
The "tuition" system needs to be revamped. If a family brings in another dollar, you can't take 100% of it, that's how you trap people. If I make another dollar, I lose $1 in tuition assistance, and 50 cents in government benefits, so why should I work.
The "solutions" are 1) leadership that discourages childbirth until the family is established (25 - 27, education completed, career started), which would let you skip the "trap" because you can get a home and incomes started, or 2) changed tuition incentives that encourage work. How would I do that?

1. Immediate transparency, the Federation gives no support to organizations that don't have open bidding, published finances, and proper management...
2. Set "full tuition" to ACTUAL cost, so people have a target to hit. Some padding to support multi-child discounts is probably a good idea, since we want to encourage childbirth, not discourage it.
3. No "tuition shifting" scholarship, all scholarships must be 100% supported by donations, this would remove that hatred, and would force the dependency leadership to have to ACTUALLY raise the money for education, not just stick it to others.
4. Set tuition "assistance" goals as a sliding scale. Something like 25% of gross income until 1/3rd tuition is paid, 30% until 2/3rd, and 35% until full tuition is paid... that way we would encourage our poorer members to pay something.

We need to increase the size of the pie... demanding more and more from the wealthier members is going to push them out of the pie...

As long as families are better off without working than working, they will make that choice. As long as the community has underemployed members, we will be collectively poorer than we need to be.

I also think that the MO Orthodox world needs to grow a spine and stop looking for validation in the Hareidi world. We can work together where possible, but they need to stand on their own. No more employing Hareidi Rabbis in MO schools, because they teach Hareidi Hashkafa and not MO ones, and all the 20 somethings I meet grew up MO and are now WAY MORE RW, and that's a problem if we want to survive. That also means NOT hiring Hareidi Rabbeim for MO Shuls, and Shul Rabbis of MO Shuls MUST be MO, meaning their children should be at MO schools, not Hareidi ones. As long as the MO world lets Hareidi Judaisim be taught as "true Judaisim" and MO Judaisim be treated as "watered down," and stands around as people say "person X is VERY Modern" as a euphemism for non weak practice, we're going to fall into the same sinkhole that sucked Conservative Judaism dry as their committed members all ended up within the MO Umbrella.

gavra@work said...

Ateres:

Of course there is no connection. Its a matter of being open to what is going on around you or sticking your head in the sand. They are in the same vein.

As far as working in the outside world, the "Gedolim" don't really care what you do. You (as a member of the "Vaiyba" race) have no Taaivah and no Mitzva of Limud, so you may as well support your husband (and go into the outside world/college). Its the men that they have to hold on to.

You also did not address points 2 & 3. What will you do when Bezras Hashem you have 10 children and have 50K+ to pay in tuition?

Anonymous said...

Miami Al: You say that if someone loses $1 in benefits (or tuition assistance) for every $1 they earn, then it's perfectly rational and the right decision for the family not to earn. I respectfully disagree. Among other things: (1) they are then setting their children up for failure by not providing postitive role models of economically productive, working parents and reinforcing the dangerous view that to work is to be less holy or less frum; (2) there is a loss of self-respect and self-esteem; and(3) they are failing to build a resume, even if that resume is only holding down a job as a cashier or janitor, its better than nothing.

gavra@work said...

Shoshana:

I apologize if you felt my comments were "venomous". It is not directed at you, RW (of which I am part, I think) or the Gedolim, C"V.

I believe the Charaidim are doing the "right" thing in the absolute sense, they are just not ready to make the sacrifices (Pas B'Melach Tochal, Al Ha'ertz Tishan) needed to "be Koneh" Torah. They want their Air Conditioning, schooling, large apartments, etc. as well as not working. I am not in that world because I can not make that sacrifice, and if not for tuition, I would probably still be there.

Anonymous said...

Shoshana: I too appreciate your participating in this discussion. I think everyone here realizes that the RW people who chose a particular lifestyle are sincere in believing that they are doing the right thing, and it's not an issue of laziness. However, there are real issues of sustainability and the risk of negative consequences to all when able bodied young jewish men and women are not working and are accepting government benefits . The discussion is, in part, one of brotherly and sisterly concern, just like when the more observant try to get the less observant to shape up. We can all learn from each other.

Shoshana said...

Miami Al, that was great food for thought. Wonderful points and well said.

Miami Al said...

Anonymous wrote, "Miami Al: You say that if someone loses $1 in benefits (or tuition assistance) for every $1 they earn, then it's perfectly rational and the right decision for the family not to earn. I respectfully disagree. [lots of excellent reasons to work]"

Well, those are all things that you and I value, but not everybody does. I feel like we're reliving the "welfare queen" bashing of the Reagan era and hopefully approaching the "end welfare as we know it" of the Clinton/Gingrich era.

Basic economic theory, if you subsidize something, you get more of it, if you tax something, you get less of it.

As a "community," we subsidize life-long dependency (both with cash payments/donations, hiring Kolel/Yeshiva "graduates" in makeshift jobs inside the community, and social acumen that holds up the Yeshiva/Kolel Students as role models), and we penalize working both in terms of a confiscatory tax regime of tuition payments that take every spare dollar of workers, and a culture that tolerates having a derogatory term for a "working man." Every time you refer to a lifelong learner as "very religious" you attribute social accolades to him and demonstrate to your children (and the children of others) that his behavior is the ideal and yours is secondary. If you call them a sad parasitic shnorrer, you are probably speaking lashon hara, but communicate values that favor working. :)

The resentment you are seeing inside the Orthodox world parallels the explosion of anger that took up the American people 15 years ago, and is now percolating through the Frum system.

Charter schools may be popping up as an economic solution, but they are also a REAL cultural threat to the Yeshiva world and their cultural and economic dominance of Orthodox Judaism. Right now, an observant Jew has three choices, 1, "give up Frumkeit," and move out of the Orthodox world... they can keep Shabbat/Kashrut, but lack the community and watch their children drift away (keeping observant downside without upside seems unlikely to hold the line, see Conservative Judaism in the US 1950 - 2000, decreasing observance, birth rates, retention, and membership size), 2, deal with the system, forking their money over to a body that they think isn't properly educating their children but is the cost of community involvement, or 3, move to NYC AND make 300k - 500k/year, and enroll their children in one of the few excellent MO Schools available in NYC... option 3 isn't remotely possible for most MO Jews.

I believe subconsciously, the rabbinate fears the loss of control. Without that control, the Ashkenazi Orthodox community will do what it did in the past, assimilate the drop in observance. So instead we see this VERY strange turn of events... in 50 years, intermarriage within Orthodoxy has dropped from 10% -> 3%, observance within the community has increased DRAMATICALLY (the nominally Orthodox but non-observant member is a statistical oddity in most Orthodox Shuls, a group that was the majority 2 generations ago), but the "off the derech" rate has appeared to exceed 20%... so we've doubled the "losses" if we assume that OTD Jews won't raise their children with a love of Yiddishkeit, we just punted it down a generation because they married a Jew before losing interest.

Anonymous said...

Miami Al - 1, "give up Frumkeit," and move out of the Orthodox world... they can keep Shabbat/Kashrut, but lack the community and watch their children drift away (keeping observant downside without upside seems unlikely to hold the line, see Conservative Judaism in the US 1950 - 2000, decreasing observance, birth rates, retention, and membership size), 2, deal with the system, forking their money over to a body that they think isn't properly educating their children but is the cost of community involvement, or 3, move to NYC AND make 300k - 500k/year, and enroll their children in one of the few excellent MO Schools available in NYC... option 3 isn't remotely possible for most MO Jews.[space]

Or 4 - Move to Israel where a nominally good Jewish education is much more reasonably priced (and where other major cultural and social changes have to be accepted).

Mark

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:34 - True, but that means serving in the IDF and giving up your status as a full-time "learner" that, as Miami Al points out has a lot of status in the community. Are these things that the men in Kollel in the U.S. want to do.

Anonymous said...

-Oh, and not all schools only charge $4500 a year, so that $7k figure could be accurate (but it seems high to me too)

ateres, isnt the 7k a year for after school support by the governemt?
that seems to be high for afterschool. it seems more like a full days tuition bill.
thats why it sounds like a scam

also there was a comment about haredim going to MO neighborhoods for donations,

whats the likelihood of a MO person going to a charedi neighborhood, ie lakewood etc and getting donations for the MO school or charity. i would suspect they wouldnt get any donations.

as far as moving to israel, i thought kollel people dont have to serve in the IDF. and if you move to israel after a certain age and are married and with kids then you dont have to serve. ( maybe reserves but i doubt it)

Ateres said...

I don't have time to answer every comment here individually, but the answer seems simple:

If you don't approve of the actions of any given charedi individual or organization, then simply don't give them money (or give them a token amount at your door).

No one is forcing the MO community to support the Charedi community. Any person, MO or Charedi, can go collecting in any neighborhood he wants to. Those who agree that the person deserves money will give, others will refuse or give a token amount.

Besdies, I highly doubt that the financial difficulties in the MO community are primarily caused by charedim. Tuition isn't higher at your schools because of chareidim not paying tuition--the Chareidim aren't sending their children to your schools anyway.

To a large extent the financial problems of the two groups are separate from each other.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Ateres, tuition is higher at MO schools indirectly because of chareidim. The pool of large donors for the entire Orthodox community crosses community lines. Big donors giving to chareidi causes siphon funds from MO schools. The growth of the kollel movement also results in MO parents supporting chareidi children, reducing their tuition and donor capacity.

Ateres said...

But that is the choice of the donors (or grandparents), not the fault of the chareidim.

Everyone has the freedom to choose which causes to give to. If a particular MO donor finds a particular chareidi cause worthy of receiving donations, it is the responsibility of the donor, not the recipient.

tesyaa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Hall said...

"the objection to secular education is actually based in legitimate Torah sources"

Yet hundreds of observant Jews, many of them rabbis, attended university in Europe from the 15th century through the 18th century with not a word of objection from rabbis. And Rambam himself studied Greek philosophy in Fez, Morocco; the university there considers him an alumnus. It is clear that the sources you refer to were not accepted as binding.



'the prohibition of "lo sasuru" prohibits studying works of apikorsus or immorality, which is almost unavoidable in the American college system'

It was an even bigger problem from the 15th to the 19th centuries because almost all universities were arms of Christian Churches. With the dumbing down of academic standards, it is possible to get a bachelors degree almost anywhere without ever having your ideas challenged.


"you don't think they teach English literature there"

Why is English literature a problem?

Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein has a PhD in English literature, as does Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Rosenblatt. And I don't see how one can properly appreciate Rav Lichtenstein's Torah if one has never heard of Milton or Blake. It is worth getting a secular education just to appreciate one of the greatest living talmidei chachamim!


"I haven't even touched on the social temptations of college."

They are there. But they were there 200 years ago, and no rabbi objected. Consider this verse from this 18th century student song:

Vivant omnes virgines
Faciles, formosae.
Vivant et mulieres
Tenerae amabiles
Bonae laboriosae.

I'll spare you the translation; I don't know if it is suitable for a frum blog!


"There is an inyan to have a seudas mitzvah with meat."

It is not a chiyuv. My wife and I served fish instead. Saved a lot of money. And the rabbis approved. It also allowed for dairy desserts, which proved quite popular!


"If you find it to be a problem to be aware "

There are things in Tanakh that are equally bad.

And I'm not going to speak publicly about what is in Yevamot.



"I'm watching the Hareidi leadership follow the failed approach of the black leadership from the 1960s to 1990s, that decimated two generations of black America and will take 2 generations to recover from."

A big difference: Black Americans can't choose not to be black. But frum Jews can go off the derech at any time and disappear completely into American society.

Anonymous said...

"With the dumbing down of academic standards, it is possible to get a bachelors degree almost anywhere without ever having your ideas challenged"

charlie, you comment is deeper that you may have realized. yes the education is dumbed down, and that fact allows those who are afraid of contamination to maintain and be educated in that dumbed down state.

Anonymous said...

Charlie - A big difference: Black Americans can't choose not to be black. But frum Jews can go off the derech at any time and disappear completely into American society.[space]

Part of my grandfathers family tried that once. In the end, they were [also] gassed and cremated.

Mark