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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Guest Post: Orthodox Jewish Financial Crisis

A reader asked if I could feature his article as a guest post, and I'm happy to oblige. Happy back to school week to all my readers.

Orthodox Jewish Financial Crisis
David Jackson
August 26, 2010

On a recent Sunday, a young Orthodox mother was busy preparing for her son’s first day of school. That Monday, Yeshiva Bais Hatorah, a 350 boys elementary school in Lakewood, NJ never opened. The school had accumulated approximately $500,000 in debt. The following week another Lakewood school,Yeshivah Keter HaTorah, announced it too would not open due to financial problems. Parents were left scrambling to find alternative schools.

The Jewish Week recently published an article with an alarming title “Can Day Schools Survive?” The article states “Even more significant than the declining interest of mega-funders, day schools have been hard hit by the recession, which has not only made fundraising more challenging but has greatly shrunk the pool of parents able to pay tuition. With the day school enterprise facing dropping enrollment and rising scholarship requests, nearly a dozen institutions will not open their doors in September and many others worry about sharing that same fate.”


At most Orthodox schools across the US, scholarships have become increasingly difficult to obtain as the percentage of students on scholarship continues to increase. Collectively, Jewish day schools are in trouble financially. Marvin Schick, a leading Jewish day school observer, recently wrote: “Conventional Orthodox schools are also experiencing unprecedented hardship. Modern Orthodox institutions that in the aggregate cater to relatively affluent families and charge top of the line tuition that without pause grows each year are now in trouble and forced to make staffing and other cuts.”

Yossi Prager, the executive director of the Avi Chai Foundation for North America is also very aware of the situation. The Avi Chai Foundation spends millions each year funding Jewish education. His article written in a 2005, in the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine, titled The Tuition Squeeze’, depicts a cartoon of a family getting squeezed by the high cost of Jewish education. He writes that “there is a sense that many schools are at the precipice of financial crisis. .... Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the critical need to close the gap between schools’ operating budgets and their incomes from tuition and fees. The gap can be as high as 30 to 40 percent of the budget.” This article was written before the Great Recession. The situation is much worse now.

According to Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, the Executive Vice President Emeritus of the Orthodox Union, states that financial problems at the Orthodox days schools are one of the three biggest problems facing the American Orthodox Jewish Community.

On a bright summer’s morning, a father enters the Kiryas Joel Meat Market to buy some glatt koshermeat for shabbat. He worries about the prices of meat as it is very expensive on his meager kollel stipend. Nevertheless, shabbat is coming and it is traditional to eat meat. Kiryas Joel is a 100% Orthodox town, populated by Satmar Chasidim, 50 miles north of New York City. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2008, Kiryas Joel has the the highest rate of poverty for any town or city in the United States. Two-thirds of its residents live below the federal poverty line. The median household income was $15,848.


In Burrough Park, an Orthodox enclave in New York City, a frum social services worker stated that if it wasn’t for government welfare, ‘half of Borrough Park would starve.’ She was talking about the Orthodox Jews in the neighborhood. Perhaps she was exaggerating, but her words reflect a depressing reality. The poverty is real and seems to be growing.

A survey conducted for the federation five years ago showed that 350,000 Jews in New York City and state live close to the poverty line. The highest poverty rate is in Brooklyn. 27% of those 350,000 Jews are Ultra-Orthodox living below or the poverty line. That means that there are about 100,000 Ultra Orthodox Jews living in poverty in the area. This represents 25 - 40% of the ultra Orthodox population in the region.


In Lakewood, Dr. Casriel Roberts, who has donated over a million dollars to Bet Midrash Gevoa (BMG), the largest yeshiva in the US, warns of a financial catastrophe looming. He spoke at the Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood’s Annual Evening of Chizuk. “I am really worried about a tsunami that is coming ... There are 4,000 children being born in Lakewood every year. It is astounding. At the same time most of the schools are financially broke. And it looks like we will need to double the number of schools in the next 4, 5 or 6 years. The current generation of parents. I am going to estimate those ages 30 - 50 were mostly raised within the yeshiva system and never learned the secular skills to go be to go out into the world and earn a substantial parnasah [income] . So the current economic pain that we are feeling is not due, I believe to the recession so much as due this tsnumai wave that is coming towards us. .... It seems to me that financial gap that families are facing is more like 50,000 or 75,000 a year with baruch’ hashem all the children that we are having and the staying frum and the schools that are growing.”

In the right wing Orthodox communities, the growth of kollels and the lack of higher levels of secular education has been a driving factor in the large percentage of low income families. Most of them being large families. Low income, coupled with a large family is a recipe for financial hardships. Increasingly, the community is dependent upon government welfare such as food stamps, section 8 housing, medicaid and charity in an attempt to meet their basic needs. Sadly, these needs are often unmet.


Yet, the financial crisis in the Orthodox community is not limited to the right wing Orthodox. The Modern Orthodox and Centrist Orthodox communities are also facing significant financial problems.

Across the blogs, there is significant interest in the subject of money, as it relates to the Orthodox community. A few months ago a disgruntled Orthodox Jewish high income earner in the suburbs of New York City launched a blog called Bergen County Yeshiva Tuition Blog. The author calls himself a “200k chump.” What is a 200k chump? His family earns $200,000 a year but he still feels like sucker as they struggle to pay expensive day school tuition costs and high housing costs. He feels that given his high household income, he should not be struggling financially. Their income is in the top 5% of US households, yet he worries about paying all the costs.


The Modern and Centrist Orthodox Communities generally have higher incomes than the right wing Orthodox communities, yet many are still struggling to pay expensive tuition costs and high housing costs.

In the past few years, there has been a outbreak of high profile financial fraud cases in the Orthodox community such as the Abramoff, Rubashkin, the money laundering in the Syrian community, and two separate real estate ponzi schemes in New Jersey and Florida. Perhaps, the growing number of high profile financial fraud cases is an indication of a community increasingly desperate to obtain income.


Communal wealth, on a per capita inflation adjusted basis, is declining. Communal wealth is very important in building and supporting the intuitions necessary for Orthodox communal life such as days schools, mikvehs, synagogues and other charities.

Certainly, a decent percentage of upper middle class and wealthy households exists in Orthodox Jewish communities. Many community members do donate considerably to support the poor, schools, synagogues and other worthy causes. Yet, many of these communal institutions are still struggling financially.


The cold harsh reality is that the American Orthodox Jewish Community is dealing with a financial crisis. Major financial challenges exist both on the income side as well as on the expense side. On the expense side, the community is struggling to pay for private education, high housing costs and large families. On the income side, a significant percentage of families have low incomes, especially in the more right wing orthodox communities. Others, have lost jobs during the Great Recession.

This all begs the important question, what can be done in the Orthodox Community to remedy the financial crisis?

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

The simple answer is NOTHING can be done.
What is being done at the moment, borrowing money on the strength that times will improve is utter stupidity.
Like this one school which is closing was told to sell their buildings, others should also take heed.

Anonymous said...

A large part of the solution must be an about face, an ideaological change in right wing orthodoxy, that higher education become mandatory for both men and women.

Th current mindset that the men should learn all their lives has dug into a hole we can't get out of.
How shameful! Generations of young men (and women) who lack basic skills (just look at the sentence fragments in guest post itself).

The mindset that secular education is treif is killing our community and threatens our existence.

Unfortuneately, even if the mindset does change, it will take a generation or two for the situation to improve.

Who's supposed to support the current and previous generation of uneducated bench warmers?

Anonymous said...

Chaim1 says
This was a radical school which closed. It also says אם אין תורה אין קמח
They should make a חשבון הנפש if they taught correctly. And that includes middos and davenning etc. How they treated parents who could not pay. What their admissions policy was etc. If they took the best teachers available or those who were family. In other words was this school really run lshem shomaim without any self interest.

To the last post.
I agree. That is the first thing that has to be done. A VAAD of rabbonim not from Lakewood has to go there and weed out all the 'weeds' growing there. This can be done of course by a test and observation especially at davvening times. I wonder how much money could be saved and put to better use!

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly with the comments above. You can't push most of your demographic base into poverty and then expect the bills to be paid.
Having said that, there are dumb little things that could save money as well.
My own personal pet peeve is school uniforms. At my children's school one must by the approved uniform from the approved store or else. The approved pants are about $50 and the shirts $20-30 depending on the style. Meanwhile down the street at Walmart virtually (not completely but about 95%) the same pants are on sale for $15 and the shirts for $10 (but without the school crest). Why am I paying that much more? How many other little things are stretching my budget just a little too far?

LoZ said...

" Perhaps, the growing number of high profile financial fraud cases is an indication of a community increasingly desperate to obtain income."

Baloney. These cases were not motivated by desperate times, but rather by greed. Unfortunately we have our scandals in the good times as well

" What is a 200k chump? His family earns $200,000 a year but he still feels like sucker as they struggle to pay expensive day school tuition costs and high housing costs."

You've capture his frustration but overlooked his resentment. He's feels like a sucker not because he's paying so much per se, rather because he thinks there are ways to cut tuition but the schools, rabbis, etc. aren't interested

Mark said...

Anon 8:25 - My own personal pet peeve is school uniforms. At my children's school one must by the approved uniform from the approved store or else. The approved pants are about $50 and the shirts $20-30 depending on the style. Meanwhile down the street at Walmart virtually (not completely but about 95%) the same pants are on sale for $15 and the shirts for $10 (but without the school crest). Why am I paying that much more? How many other little things are stretching my budget just a little too far?

Why? Because buying at Wal-Mart doesn't help anyone within the community (other than yourself), and the owner (maybe a brother-in-law/cousin/etc of the principal) of the heimishe uniform store needs to make a living. How can you begrudge him a living? And his (the principal) nephews wife works in the office at the school, well, except when she has to leave early because her toddler needs to leave daycare.

Yes, this is the reality. No exaggeration.

LOZ - You've capture his frustration but overlooked his resentment. He's feels like a sucker not because he's paying so much per se, rather because he thinks there are ways to cut tuition but the schools, rabbis, etc. aren't interested

And another part of the 200k chump's resentment is that at $200k income, after taxes, with no scholarship, he lives only a little bit better than his neighbor at $130k income with scholarship. But he often works much harder and for many more hours per week, and sometimes on Sundays too (very common among NY attorneys for example).

megapixel said...

recap of the problems we all know.
how about some solutions.

Just want to point out that thru most of history Jews (and most non jews) lived in poverty, and with all this, we are still living better lives than our ancestors did.

Let us try to focus on that positive thought.

HAGTBG said...

1. Increase class size so that it is similar to that of a public school.

2. Have teachers rotate their schedules. Instead of two morning rabbeim, have one person teach some in the morning and one in the evening.

Combining 1 & 2 above mean that for every 3 teachers on a subject now, you'd need 1 in the future. Obviously that person should receive higher salary then a teacher now. You'd still have savings.

3. Make school a whole year long. This will increase costs (utilities, salary) but eliminate the costs of camp.

4. Make sure administration expenses are not bloated. How many people does a school need to operate efficiently?

5. Try to have multiple use of space if possible. A school building should be a shul on Shabbat. And that shul should be paying rent to the school (if the situation is not vice versa).

tesyaa said...

Megapixel is correct about our standard of living. But people don't want to live like their bubbies and zaydies. There have even been rabbinic proclamations that kollel families should not be expected to deprive themselves. Whether this is a correct attitude to have, I'll reserve judgment. It's unrealistic to expect a decently high standard of living, though, when everyone feels entitled to private education for all kids.

Re family size, even in families where parents are working, increased family size from a generation ago makes it harder to make ends meet. No matter if there are two or ten kids per family, there are only a maximum of 2 earners per family. If grandparents are expected to contribute, their resources are stretched over geometrically larger numbers of grandchildren.

Paying Parent said...

Only grant scholarships to families which have all eligible working adults working or looking for work. This is not to say that scholarships are the root of all problems, but it eliminates the incentive given for families to earn less (which is what exists now). This will automatically increase the number of people paying tuition and how much they can contribute.

Anonymous said...

One thing seems to escape the writer of the article and many posters on this blog.The current welfare system makes in not worthwhile to work.It may be true that if not for welfare half of Boro Park would starve but if they went to college and had got jobs many would also starve, given the structure of social programs and taxes.A person involved in Tzedokah in Lakewood told me that the POOREST people there are those who have a few children and make between $60-80K.Someone involved in foreclosures in Lakewood told me that he NEVER sees those in Kollel having their houses foreclosed on (because HUD paid the down payment and is now paying the mortgage & utilities).And please hold off on your self righteous lectures about getting a job and supporting yourself and reflect on the economic realty.I've heard people sat they would go to work if they could afford to.What should do about the fact they can't?

Meag said...

The fact that much of the frum community lives in the NY Metro area probably compounds the problem. While salaries can be higher, so is the cost of living. And for people earning poorly, living in the NY area is almost certainly a net financial loss.

JS said...

"This all begs the important question, what can be done in the Orthodox Community to remedy the financial crisis?"

If you want to be honest about things, we all know what the solutions are. It's not exactly rocket science. The problem is, no one wants to implement them on a communal level, mostly out of some false piety or sanctimonious nonsense.

For example, earn more money. It's pretty simple. For the vast majority this means a strong secular education or trade school and finding employment in the highest paying field your skills qualify you for. But, for "religious reasons" men can't work, or secular education is treif, or parnasah is all in God's hands anyways and why are we so presumptuous to think we can earn more money without turning to God for help.

Or, have less kids or have kids later. With modern medicine and nutrition women can have even large families if they started at 25 say instead of 21. It's not a miracle nowadays to have 10 healthy children who survive to adulthood. You don't even have to be wealthy. The notion that you have to start when you're 19-21 is absurd in today's day and age and a few years of more education and job skills would vastly improve family finances. You have a kid when you're 19, husband is 21 and it's immensely more difficult to get ahead. But, no, pru u'revu, don't push off a mitzvah, etc.

Spend less. You don't need to feed 500 people for 5 hours for a wedding. You don't need it for bar/bat mitzvahs either. You don't need mehadrin everything. You don't need a vort and a tisch and a aufruf and a chosson's watch, etc etc. You can cover your hair with a kerchief or snood not a $2500 sheitel. You don't need a ridiculously expensive hat or streimel. But again, no, all this stuff is religiously required.

When you make the solutions religiously forbidden it's no wonder you can't solve the problems.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the comments. It is much appreciated.

- David Jackson

Zach Kessin said...

One can not think that this happened by accident, this is a direct result of the policy choices made by the leadership.
The "Gadolim" could have or should have seen this was not a possible result but a certain one. As certain as hitting the ground after jumping off a roof;

You have the perfect storm of poverty here:

1) Bad education
2) Large families
3) Expensive lifestyles
4) Total conformity.

Dave said...

The model of Post-War Orthodoxy in America is demonstrably unsustainable.

The model of the Amish and Mennonite communities in America has been viable for nearly three centuries.

Something to consider.

Anon1 said...

1. More attention should be paid to training for the skilled trades. These skills can be learned part-time by those remaining in learning, but someone has to endow and organize the programs.

2. Practical skill in using English and math is essential for all, no matter how much some may want to steer clear of secular values. Elementary and high-school level schools have to devote quality time to these subjects.

Bob Miller said...

Dave wrote,

"The model of the Amish and Mennonite communities in America has been viable for nearly three centuries."

As it happens, I'm working lately in Goshen, IN, in Elkhart County which has many Amish and Mennonite residents. On my morning commute today on County Road 38, I passed a horse and buggy with flashing lights. I guess some adaptation is going on. Maybe the motion of the buggy powers the lights somehow. I've heard that the Amish machine shops have a dispensation to use at least some powered equipment.

The local Wal-Mart has a large hangar-like building to shelter the customers' horses and buggies in the wintertime. There are also hitching posts in front of the store.

Anonymous said...

2 words: public school

Mike S. said...

What you are calling the post-war model of Orthodoxy is really a creature of the last 25 years or so. That is, of the boom that began in 1982. Before that most Chareidi men left kollel after a few years, MO tuition was cheap (about 1/6 what it is now, perhaps 1/3 in real dollars) and only Chassidishe rebbeim invited 400 people to a wedding. Of course it needs to adjust to new economic conditions. Hoiwever, that doesn't make a crisis; it is part of the normal flow of society. If the frum world enters a period of retrenchment, it will be doing so with much of the rest of society. You make it sound as though a couple schools closing and either merging or being taken over by more successful schools is a tragedy--nonsense, it is a normal part of business that less successful concerns close and more successful ones prosper. How many of the Fortune 500 from 1982 have closed, merged or been taken over?

200 hundred years ago the greatest rabbi of the day (the GR"A) couldn't afford to heat his hovel in the Lithuanian winter, and you guys call having to merge a couple of schools and increase class sizes a crisis? Or a guy making $200K feeling like a chump because he can't live as high on the hog as he thinks he should?

Sure the community needs to pull back from some of the excesses of the boom years. But let's have a little perspective.

Anonymous said...

It's too late.

We will need in 10 years double the Yeshiva classrooms, Shuls, Mikvaos, Houses etc.

There are very few choices left since it will take significantly longer to educate the populace and ramp up their earning potential.

There is no fix unless there is intervention from above.

Jay said...

quote from the second comment above:

"The current mindset that the men should learn all their lives has dug into a hole we can't get out of.
How shameful! Generations of young men (and women) who lack basic skills (just look at the sentence fragments in guest post itself).

The mindset that secular education is treif is killing our community and threatens our existence.

Unfortunately, even if the mindset does change, it will take a generation or two for the situation to improve.

Who's supposed to support the current and previous generation of uneducated bench warmers?"

August 31, 2010 8:16 AM


---------------------

Did you read the article? This is an issue even with those earning in the low six figures. I earn $135,000 a year and I can't meet my budget because of tuition and camp costs. I have to dip into my savings (which are diminishing with each passing year). How will I pay for college and wedding expenses for my children. I'm not a Kollel person. I have a well-paying job.

David said...

"He worries about the prices of meat as it is very expensive on his meager kollel stipend. Nevertheless, shabbat is coming and it is traditional to eat meat."

It might be traditional, but it's not a commandment- especially when YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT. Maybe switching to chicken (or- gasp!- an occasional dairy or pareve) Shabbat meal wouldn't make a huge difference, but I'll bet it would save that guy a hundred dollars a month, at least. A bunch of little changes like that would add up and give people a bit more money to work with.

I make a good living, and *I* don't eat meat every Shabbat. In fact, I only eat it a few times a year because it's so expensive. The problem with these people is that they have a total disconnect between what they want and what they can afford. God (or their parents) will provide, right?

tesyaa said...

Jay - a single good salary isn't so good when families expect to pay for private school from ages 3-18, for multiple children. (Not to mention camp). Most Americans who aren't extremely wealthy don't have that expectation. Also, most American families find it necessary to have dual incomes - private school or not.

dont touch my cholent said...

"Maybe switching to chicken (or- gasp!- an occasional dairy or pareve) Shabbat meal wouldn't make a huge difference, but I'll bet it would save that guy a hundred dollars a month, at least."

1 pack shabbos meat for the cholent is between five and ten dollars. times four is $20 to $40

and by the way, cholent is relatively cheap, if you figure that you are feeding the WHOLE family on $8 worth of meat with some beans and potatoes.

Charlie Hall said...

"model of the Amish and Mennonite communities "

The Amish do not have an ordained clergy, and their educational system emphasizes the practical. They won a Supreme Court case over their right to run their own schools:

http://www.welcome-to-lancaster-county.com/amish-education.html

Charlie Hall said...

"It might be traditional, but it's not a commandment- especially when YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT. "

We've become vegetarians. It makes running a kosher kitchen really simple, and saves money, too. We never have to worry about a basar v'chalav shilah, or the quality of the shechita. Some pretty great rabbis have been or are vegetarians.

30 years in Israel said...

Just curious:

"...financial problems at the Orthodox days schools are one of the three biggest problems facing the American Orthodox Jewish Community."

What are the other two?

tdr said...

My guess is
1 the shidduch "crisis"
2 the off-the-derech "crisis"

Anonymous said...

""...financial problems at the Orthodox days schools are one of the three biggest problems facing the American Orthodox Jewish Community."

What are the other two?"

Anti Semitism
Social Problems (divorce, child abuse, depression etc.)

David said...

To "Don't touch my cholent"- it didn't specifically say that the kollel guy was buying cholent meat. He could have been buying a roast or another expensive cut of beef.

Miami Al said...

Charlie Hall,

But how could the Amish live within 10 miles of lower Manhattan on farming income.

Also, farming is beneath the dignity of a Ben Torah.

And Agricultural Halacha is probably 40% of Halacha, to learn that would mean devoting a lot of time to practical Halacha instead of learning "higher level" stuff.

I'm guessing that learning agricultural laws might be considered Bitul Torah.

Charlie Hall said...

I've never understood why more religious Jews don't want to become farmers -- you fulfill more mitzvot that way! There are a few Dati Leumi moshavim and kibbutzim but AFAIK not a single Charedi moshav or kibbutz.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, go visit Kibbutz Chofetz Chaim.

Anonymous said...

How many of those living near the poverty line are making $50 to $100k per year and not reporting it?

Anonymous said...

The problem is that there has been a shift to the Right in the Chareidi-Lite schools and a proliferation of hard-core Chareidi schools. The end result is that there is a wholesale lack of preparation to live responsible and financially independent adult lives. This has arisen due to the limited or no Secular Studies and the over-rating of the value of post-HS "Yeshiva degrees" in the job market. While so many people are ecstatic about the high numbers of people learning, this is a disaster that is not "looming" but is happening now. Furthermore, the insular attitude of not being comfortable in the secular workplace has driven people to stay within the community leading to a life un underemployment. Consequently, no new wealth is created and the pot of resources is diluted even more. For many, after a while, there is little incentive to work because the prospects for financial autonomy are nonexistent.

Zach Kessin said...

If you are making $135k/year and can't pay your bills you need to make some hard choices and cut your expenses. Yes that a big paycheck but its not unlimited

LoZ said...

CHARLIE HALL:

"I've never understood why more religious Jews don't want to become farmers"

uh, for the same reason that most non-jews don't want to become farmers. the famliy farm in america is fast becoming a museum relic.

and your refernce to kibbutzim is sorely dated. kibbutzim long ago shifted their focus away from agriculture, and at the same time the farming enterprises that continued to be maintained by the kibbutzim increasingly became dominated by cheap hired labor, first from nearby depressed towns and later from abroad. of course it's irrelevant because israeli kibbutzim too are today basically a relic.

"Some pretty great rabbis have been or are vegetarians."

how many and how great?

DAVE:

"The model of the Amish and Mennonite communities in America has been viable for nearly three centuries."

i just did a CE on amish and health care. many refuse to accept medicaid (or health insurance in general), so their community has nothing we can learn from.

rosie said...

Regarding meat on yomtov:
I asked the "ask a rabbi" feature on Chabad.org what to do if someone can't afford meat for Shabbos and yomtov and was told to buy chicken fleigalach (wings). They are relatively cheap and can be used for soup, barbecued or fried, or served with rice. Face it, we don't exactly burn calories on orthonomics so eating less is actually good for us.
My grandmother (OBM) used everything such as pupik, necks, feet, etc of the chicken. Food such as p'chah may have put many Jews in early graves from heart disease but it was fleishig. (I hate p'chah). Vegetarianism is healthier and I hope it catches on for health reasons.
The Amish have considerable obesity problems and they admit that. Inbreeding has given them a host of genetic disorders that they have developed medications for but they don't pull out all the stops to keep sick people alive forever. They also loose 20% of their young to the outside world and I assume that many leave by joining the armed forces. That is a good way to get a free degree but the facial hair has to go when a man joins the army (or any branch). The armed forces does not appeal to RW Jews for that (and other) reasons, even though they try hard to meet the needs of Jews.
Farm land is expensive and Amish families quickly outgrow available land and many take factory and other jobs.
What they do have that we can learn from is that they get together and cook for simchas and dress simply and don't have to have the latest electronic gadgets.
Their young are allowed to meet at approved gatherings and make their own shidduchim. They also live in rural areas that I presume (but don't know for certain) have lower housing costs than Brooklyn. They also have many practical skills that most people don't have. Being that I just spent $249 today on an auto inspection, wheel alignment, and oil change, I can appreciate that. They obviously also don't drive. Their horses reproduce.
I splurged on a Mishpacha magazine whose front cover featured the yeshiva closing story, expecting to find some new chiddush but only to find that the rabbonim are still advocating bitochon and tzedukah to solve the problem. Who knows, maybe it will.

tesyaa said...

They also live in rural areas that I presume (but don't know for certain) have lower housing costs than Brooklyn.

LOL, great understatement

rosie said...

tesyaa,
the Amish settlement in Michigan that I visited was super-cheap with the cost of a house, barn, and acreage being less than the price of a home in a Michigan suburb. The amish also build their own homes and barns unless the property has them already and they pull out the wiring.
The property may be more costly in other states. They do have to pay for farm equipment. There is apparently a book written on why their businesses are successful. Many people are looking to buy amish made goods and view them as American made and therefore superior to products made in China.
Maybe there is something to learn about the way they do business. They also pay parochial school tuition but only through grade 8 and then their education stops. Many Americans are uncomfortable with that level of forced ignorance. (Yes, I know, Jews do it too).

LoZ said...

Rosie,

Most importantly you better find a new mechanic. Unless you are leaving something out of the list or you have exorbitant inspection fees in your state you overpaid by about 100 bucks

"the Amish have considerable obesity problems and they admit that."

The Amish must lock up their obese members because all I see as I drive the backroads around quarryville these past few days are slim and fit Amish toiling in the fields

" Inbreeding has given them a host of genetic disorders"

Sounds familiar

"that they have developed medications"

Ignorant use of alternative "medicine" also sounds familiar

"They also loose 20% of their young to the outside world"

What percent do you think frum jews lose?

A Muppet said...

Stumbled on this comment on YWN, am now speechless.

"i have neighbor that teaches in a school for a number of years and lately they were not able to pay her. So she went over to a diff rich neighbor that sends their child to that school and pays full tuition and tog they approached the board of school and insisted that the neighbor give the teacher the tuition each month. The board agreed. So she gets paid for her teaching from a neighbor who pays her instead of giving the tuition to the school"

Anyone care to count the number of things here that are wrong with that picture?

Dave said...

When the property values get too high where they are, and they cannot buy new farm land, the Amish move.

There is lots of cheap land in the United States.

tesyaa said...

I'd venture to say that the Amish are far, far less materialistic, on average, than Orthodox Jews.

Anonymous said...

The Amish do not wear make-up or jewelry. They cover their hair so as not to be preoccupied with vanity, a far cry from our $4,000 sheitels.

tesyaa said...

The Amish do not wear make-up or jewelry.

You mean they don't have Kallah pearl necklaces, engagement bracelets, and Chosson watches? No Swarovski-encrusted blackberries?

rosie said...

Loz,
I had some friends when I was young who were Mennonite, which is an offshoot of Amish and there is a Mennonite information center. I once contacted that Mennonite information center to locate those friends and got into a conversation with the worker about the Amish and their weight problems. They eat lots of fat.
Jews are inbred but frum Jews who use Dor yeshorim are able to avoid some of that. There is a lot of inborn error of metabolism among the Amish.
Frum Jews have at least a 20% drop out rate, similar to that of Amish.
As far as the mechanic, I took the car to the dealer for it's 110,000 mile check up. It is not a state mandated inspection.

rosie said...

A muppet, I have seen that arrangement before, where individual parents pay the teacher directly. It works kind of like being in a Russian hospital; you pay the nurse directly. It does smell funny but it gets the teacher paid so that she doesn't quit.
These rich parents could keep their kids home and pay the teacher to come in and teach them directly but this way the whole class benefits.

Miami Al said...

Someone once pointed out the irony that Amish and Heimish are the same word, derived German (via Amish German and Yiddish respectively) meaning plain.

Somehow, the Amish seem more "plain" and "simple" than the Heimish Jews.

There is something rotten in Frum culture, and if it isn't rooted out, expect another implosion.

Mark said...

tesyaa - No Swarovski-encrusted blackberries?

Is this some new frum thing that I haven't heard of? My BB is plain and I even use the plain case that came with it.

rosie said...

Miami, the play on words is a coincidence since the Amish were named after the clergyman that invented the movement.
There is room in Judaism for materialism but obviously we failed to strike a balance.

JLan said...

Charlie Hall said:

"We've become vegetarians. It makes running a kosher kitchen really simple, and saves money, too."

Charlie- as a reminder, saving money on vegetarianism also requires choices. You could easily spend as much as a meat eating family does, particularly if you're picky about your vegetables (say, heirloom tomatoes, or organics) or have cheese, particularly good cheese (not Millers, Golan, etc) frequently. And of course, many Jewish "vegetarians" eat fish, which is often more expensive than meat.

Anonymous said...

Step 1 in solving the problem of educating the children being born in Lakewood is to convert the kollels there to classrooms for the children. It seems to me that educating children should be prioritized over having space for adults to indulge themselves.

AztecQueen2000 said...

Who said that sitting in kollel is ideal? Even Rashi had a day job.

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