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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nothing Outrageous About That!

Hat Tip: A reader who pointed me to Rafi of LifeinIsrael blog. Thank you!

Kollel Guy is calling out a Bais Yaakov administrator who, in the course of negotiating tuition obligation of a family in which the father learns full time, tells the father “It’s time for you to leave kollel, get a job, and pay tuition just like anyone else.” I simply don't see what is outrageous about this at all, unless, of course, you have a super-sized sense of entitlement that is!

Kollel guy goes onto explain why the rational is so outrageous (Cliff Notes for those not suffering from a super-sized sense of entitlement). He explains that a school's success is dependent on the makeup of the student body and that "Kollel families generally are of a higher caliber, and raise the overall standard of the school." He continues on that kollel families have higher standards of chinuch and that they don't cause jealousy by going to fancy hotels for Pesach and mid-winter vacation.

I don't know what alternative universe Kollel Guy is living in, but you would have to be naive to believe that having a high number of kollel families automatically equals better chinuch, and you'd have to be extremely naive to believe that having a sizable group within a community that is seen as a "drain" on resources does not contribute to a significant amount of resentment and jealousy. I certainly appreciate how many kollel families have given of themselves to help build Torah communities. But, let's not go overboard here. I'd suggest that KollelGuy spend an hour on the playground, a day in the classroom, or better yet, an hour in the halls of a yeshiva on the yomin noraim. An overemphasis on the material is responsible for many issues. I'd say lack of money, dependence on community, government, and/or parents, coupled with potential attachment issues from early childhood, has been keeping many a school social worker busy and is eating into some of the moral fiber of the kehilla at large, as we witness here when someone dares utter a commonsense suggestion to a father with elementary aged children.

Bottom line: it costs a lot of money to run schools and shifting the burden onto everyone else has reached its useful life. Kollel Father. . . . . . it is time to go out and work and/or become a SAHD/homemaking father if that choice makes more sense in the short term. It is your obligation to mechanech your children, not the Bais Yaakov principal's job.

[Incidently, there are many commonsense posts at KollelGuy's blog, including How NOT to Support Children and a discussion of working part time/learning where money is not of particular concern].

31 comments:

The Hedyot said...

Some corrections:
"...in the course of negotiating tuition obligation of a family in which the fall learns full time..."

Also, your first two links on the page aren't pointed at the right pages.

Orthonomics said...

Thanks. Can't figure out what happened with the links. But the are corrected.

jewpublic club said...

Well, some people forget that going to Collel should be done by those, who are willing to sacrifice their wants and material desires, if you are not prepared to do that, than you should not be in it. Including sending your kid into already burdened school and yes it is a greater zchus for parent to educate your child.And what is wrong with organizing a cheder for children of those who are in collel? Hey, these fathers can teachers in those schools as well for saving a price of 'Mr. someone else' to teach your children. The only problem might still be in English subjects, but that's a part time job for someone who can teach high school subjects or GED. Do I make ANY sense?

LeahGG said...

I can call out the principal for a very different reason.

They're teaching the girls to respect and marry men who study full-time, but they tell the fathers to leave the Kollel?!

Offwinger said...

I'm going to be blunt here: This Kollel Guy really needs to get over himself.

You are not the next Gadol Hador.
Your family is not a "higher quality" family than other families where the parents work to support their family. Your kids do not elevate the school by their presence. The school is not better off having your kids enroll for free because you can't afford it.

It is not a sacrifice to have a middle-class life (or higher) when someone else picks up the tab for it. What is your sacrifice? That you are not working? How is that a sacrifice? You spend all day learning Torah on someone else's dime. This is a LUXURY, not a SACRIFICE.

Honestly Frum said...

I think it is crazy that it took the school to tell the guy to get off his seat and go provide for his family like everyone else. WHat happened to personal responsibility? But Leah is right, the school teaches the girls to marry only kollel guys and then wonders why they can't pay their bills. Time for the school to get a clue.

G*3 said...

> Kollel families generally are of a higher caliber, and raise the overall standard of the school.

Disgusting.

But unfortunatly, not surprising.

The disparagement of "baalei baatim" by the yeshivish world, the perception that someone who has a job instead of sitting and learning is a failure, that the people who juggle family, careers, and the obligations of Judaism are less-then, and that the rest of the world should realize the great service kollel families perform by upholding the world with their
learning, while useful in maintaining the kollel meme is exactly what makes so many people dislike Lakewood and its immitators.

aml said...

Unbelievable. I'd comment there but I don't have an account. I am just... wow... just wow. Who does this guy think he is? I bet he has no clue what it costs to educate a child and I guess when you're making nothing the rest of us look "rich."

jbaltz said...

I think you're all missing the point. It's obviously a satire. A send-up. A spoof.

Right?

Right?

Tell me please that it's a satire.

Recreational Musings said...

I'm amazing at how many Kollel men seem to have so little personal responsibility! I've experienced it a bit in my own community.

But, I'm curious: how do the schools stay operational when they get so little tuition? Does their money come from the people in the community that do have good jobs and donate?

Anonymous said...

As a Kollel Wife myself, I'm in shock. I have no idea where this sense of entitlement comes from. We are no more Jewish then the computer programmer couple, and our children are not on a "higher caliber" then the children of Mr. Accountant. It feels like some people are just entering Kollel for the reputation (?!) and fringe benefits.

I work hard at my job to support my family well over the years. If we would have to ask for discounts and benefits...well my husband and I agree that it's time to leave Kollel. Nobody owes us anything. Adults take responsibility. Sheesh.

Rochel Gottesman said...

I regularly read Kollel Guy for the Lakewood hashkoko. It reminds me of their alternate universe, where most of my beliefs are reversed and turned inside out. My sister lives in Lakewood and all her children are in or married to kollel. Now she is seeking for her 22 year old son "long term support", meaning she is seeking rich parents and lifelong learning for her son and his lucky wife to be. I spoke with my 22 year old nephew, we were learning together from a famous musar sefer. At one point in translating he referred to "some coarse job" - meaning the job that would await him but for his future father in law. When I heard that phrase, "some coarse job", I thought of my own reference point: "honest labor" or "honest work". My nephew has been taught to look down on what I think of as an honest job, what I think of as honorably supporting your family. My older nephew, close to 30 and with 2 babies - I asked him as we drove past Heshi's Auto and Haimishe Bakery in Lakewood - maybe you could start a business like Heshy's or Haimishe? He chuckled. He considered this a joke, and I was serious. Such is the Lakewood alternate universe. I am seriously demoralized every time I visit my family in Lakewood. The poverty especially is hard to bear, and the intellectually closed circle, through which no idea that has not the Chassidishe hashgacha is allowed to penetrate. Oh, there is one thing the outside world can provide that will be allowed to permeate the closed circle: money. Donations cheerfully accepted.

Rochel Gottesman said...

And yes, many Lakewood kollel families do feel superior. The arrogance of the young men I find particularly disturbing, since they are the beneficiaries of the system and should have been steeped in healthy anivus, in gratitude for their many gifts. When people feel superior to Jews with "some coarse job", they will engender the current backlash and resentment.

Abbi said...

Great job SL! That entire blog reeks of self entitlement and superiority complex. I wish it was a parody (maybe it really is). Here are his tips on whether it's worth going to school or not: http://www.kollelguy.com/kevin-mitnick-way-to-great-income

Anonymous said...

After reading the link that Abbi sent it is clear to me that this is intended as a parody and you are all falling for it. I am involved with the kollel world and while it is conceivable that someone would have written the post about school, no one would have written the post about going to jail like that. Even the worst tax cheaters do not view jail time as a good thing.

It is especially obvious since he writes at the top of the blog that he is a kollel guy who transitioned to working. If he believed that doing so made him "lower caliber" he would not have done so.

DAG said...

Matzav put this up: Should be interesting to see what people say:

http://matzav.com/administrator-of-bais-yaakov-tells-father-to-leave-kollel

Bob Miller said...

In every middle-to-large Jewish community, at least one Kollel ought to exist and, therefore, kollel members ought to exist. I get the impression that some commenters see no reason for anyone, however dedicated and qualified, to be a member. Being a member can mean a full-time commitment that rules out homemaking and home schooling. Kollelim with the right kind of members should be cherished, not sniped at continually.

tesyaa said...

In every middle-to-large Jewish community, at least one Kollel ought to exist and, therefore, kollel members ought to exist.

You state this as a fact, but it's really just your opinion.

Bob Miller said...

Tesyaa,

Your reply is your opinion.

Miami Al said...

Tesyaa, agreed, personally, I don't think any community with a decent sized observant Jewish population needs a Kollel. If you have a thriving community of people practicing Judaism, who needs a room filled with people reading and discussing how to be Jewish in the abstract?

Now if you want to suggest that every eastern European city that HAD a Jewish population should support a Kollel, combined with a Jewish museum, you might have an argument.

MH said...

You know, there is one solution to this that people keep glancing over--refuse to support the various institutions that condone and enable this lifestyle of entitlement. Beyond tuition, don't support the schools, don't support the kollels, dont donate to organizations that support the cycle of poverty, etc...

Vote with your wallet.

Orthonomics said...

Bob Miller-
I happen to agree that kolleim can add a great deal to a community. But, why should the school have to pick up the tab? Perhaps the kollel should be responsible to fund the education of its members' children. Pushing the funding of the kollel onto a local school means more tuition for everyone else, and I think it is quite obvious that this is not a good long term plan.

Bob Miller said...

The financial backers of schools (including tuition payers) and the financial backers of kollelim should be talking to one another about equitable schemes. It could be there is overlap between the two sets of backers.

This issue is another example of how we miss the coordinating functions that exist in a traditional kehilla.

tesyaa said...

Everyone agrees that universal kollel learning would not be viable - in the extreme event, it would lead to deprivation and starvation. So kollel is not for everyone, by definition.

People who learn in kollel are self-selected; that is, they choose kollel for themselves. Either they do so as people of means (they have family money or family members willing to sacrifice for them), or they do so as recipients of charity.

If they are recipients of charity, they should realize that charity comes from donations, which are voluntary. They have no ability to demand voluntary donations. That is why asking full-tuition-paying parents to pay for their children's education is problematic. They have chosen kollel; they did not arrive there by the bad mazal that (in theory) causes other people to need tuition assistance.

Mike S. said...

There is nothing outrageous about the administrator being unable (or unwilling) to offer a scholarship. There is something rude, if not outrageous, in insulting the father's choice of learning in kollel. All he needed to say was: "I'm very sorry Rabbi X, but the school will be unable to offer your daughter a scholarship." The administrators or scholarship committee should decide what scholarship if any to offer; they should give career or financial advice only to the extent the parent asks for it. They are not supposed to be general financial busybodies. Suppose the father had not been in kollel, but was, say, an insurance salesman--would those of you cheering this administrator on approve of the administrator saying something like "you're not making much in insurance, maybe you should become a plumber?"

On the other hand, anyone who is in kollel and is contemptuous of work and workers has not internalized enough of the Torah that has been studied there to justify the time spent.

On yet a third hand, if this BY is pushing the girls to marry kollel guys at the same time it is trying to get their fathers to leave kollel they are utter hypocrites who should get out of the holy business of teaching Torah.

Anonymous said...

Tesyaa, I don't think that's fair, as you forgot a third option. Some of us get no government or family support. I work hard to support my family and my husband takes on odd jobs over the summer. Not only do we not take charity, but we pay full tuition and would hardly be considered deprived.

tesyaa said...

Anon, reread my comment:

Either they do so as people of means (they have family money or family members willing to sacrifice for them)

so I don't think I excluded the possibility of the wife supporting the family.

Just as an aside, I had no idea that kollels had summer time off.

Anonymous said...

I apologize, I didn't understand that 'family members' referred to the wife as well.

As far as I know a typical Kollel has off from Tisha Ba'av until Rosh Chodesh Elul, roughly 2 1/2 weeks.

LeahGG said...

I understand, also, that there is some time off right before Pesach, usually. If the man is industrious, then he can clean through his own house early leaving only the last bit of kitchen for his wife to do right before bedikat chametz, and then offer his skills doing Pesach cleaning for others. Many people are willing to pay more if they know that their house won't be triefed.

Bob Miller said...

A pertinent survey of the basic topic:
http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/develop/02develop.htm

aaron from L.A. said...

Other contribution of kollel... By not taking jobs,kollel men allow someone who is willing to work to find employment.I'm surprised the Obama administration hasn't figured out a way to reward them for this.Maybe a tax credit...Oh yeah,I forgot.