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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Yeshiva Credit Union

Hat Tip: a long time reader who is free to self-identify

Community Magazine has a report of a Yeshiva Credit Union proposal to benefit the Sephardic/Syrian schools. The idea is interesting and innovative, and creating additional income streams is imperative. But I have my own doubts that third-party payers will ultimately be able to turn the tuition tide around unless these third-party payers put requirements on the schools that "force" the schools to operate in a different fashion than the currently operate in.

Additionally, I harbor my own doubts that working withing the current "system" in which tuition for 5 children ages 3-14 carries a price tag of $84,185 is really where grand efforts should be concentrated.

What do you, my readers, think of this proposal? Would you bank in a "Yeshiva Credit Union"? What concerns would you have beyond the stability and service provided by such a Credit Union? If you answered yes re: banking, what type of financial products would you be interested in procuring through such a credit union? How likely would you be to park your savings in such a credit union? Would you be concerned about privacy when banking in such an institution?

58 comments:

ProfK said...

Question: since such credit unions are considered as non-profits rather than straight banks, are their funds still protected under the FDIC? I would not invest with such a credit union if the funds were not so insured.

My name is Ira Needleman said...

If it is run like the yeshivas are (financially, not haskafically), no chance.

Critically Observant Jew said...

Having my money in Alliant Credit Union, I potentially would keep my money in a credit union under 2 conditions:

1. It's NCUA insured (analog to FDIC for banks)
2. It has sound financial ratings from known rating institutions.
3. Returns are good on the savings account (that's why I'm with Alliant, anyway).

Somehow, I doubt that will happen though :-)

Mike S. said...

Since tuition is largely set by what the market will bear, I doubt this will help much. It may shift the supply curve a little toward lower prices, but given that demand seems relatively price-inelastic, it won't modify tuition much.

Anonymous said...

It's a creative idea, but it would have to demonstrate that it is insured and is run just as soundly as any other credit union and have the same services. (My credit union has on-line banking/bill pay; is part of an ATM system, etc.)
Also to produce a "profit" to donate to the schools, there presumably would have to be a minnimum number of depositers with a minimum amount on deposit. For this to work, there needs to be (i) a study showing what the upfront IT, personnel, hardware, software, insurance, auditing, accounting, regulatory, etc. expenses are and who would provide the capital for the start up and initial operating expenses; and (ii) whether the minimum amount of desposits needed to show a "profit" for the schools can likely be raised given the demographics of the families who attend the schools or would otherwise be inclined to participate. My biggest concern with this is that the depositers/customers would, in essence, be donating the difference between what they could have earned at another bank/credit union and what they would earn using this credit union to the schools without being able to take a deduction. Given interest rates these days, that is probably a small amouont per family, but for the same
reason, it would require MANY families with lots in the bank (unlikely for people paying multiple tuitions) in order for there be a meaningful amount for the schools. Long-term consequences also need to be considered. For now, people are afraid of the markets and are stashing both their emergency funds and long term savings in banks. If/when people are more comfortable with the market, money will be pulled out of banks and credit unions.

Anonymous said...

SL: With respect to your question concerning privacy, I assume that the same federal and state privacy laws that apply to banks, financial institutions and other businesses that hold any financial data and personal information about customers, such as social security numbers, credit card numbers and bank account numbers apply to a credit union and its employees. If those board members or employees can't comply wtih those very strict laws and regulations they would be in a heap of trouble. That means that knowing that someone has $100,000 on deposit can't be used to turn someone down for a scholarship even if the deposit has not been disclosed on the scholarship application. That means you can't hit that person up for a donation, etc.

Miami Al said...

The highly regulated credit union/small bank world is pretty simple, with a pretty simple rate of return based upon the money that is kept there. Seems like a perfectly reasonable solution. If the Credit Union and Yeshiva were tied, conceivably, you could require them to me a "member" to attend, and you could therefore do cost free recurring billings instead of post dated checks, etc.

OTOH, you'd have to be above board, and not let slimy people use bank reserves as a slush fund, but this seems like a natural fit.

That said, if the Credit Union breaks the rules, loses its insurance, and loses peoples money, that's it for the community. i wonder if you could give people "Credit" towards their bill for banking through it.

i.e. if holding your mortgage (servicing rights), generates 2k/year in fees, can you get 1k toward your Yeshiva education, things like that.

Presumably, one can set up a legal fiction that gets around prohibition on interest...

Anonymous said...

The credit unions make their money by giving loans like car loans, mortgages and small business loans, and charging interest. Would an orthodox credit union be willing to bring collections actions, reposess a car or foreclose on a mortgage of their orthodox borrower oif the loan went into default? Would they report delinquent loans to their orthodox borrowers to credit agencies. What are the halachic implications? If they aren't willing to enforce loans, then will people treat the credit union like some people ase rumored to treat their tuition agreements with the schools?

nuqotw said...

I am skeptical.

It seems that such an arrangement would put the credit union in the uncomfortable position of choosing which yeshivot / day schools can be paid from its profits. Will the YCU pay tuition to any yeshiva / day school? What if that school is financially unsustainable? Will the YCU management (presumably possessed of some financial know-how) fix the school's finances? Will it place salary caps on school employees? Will it pay tuition to a school that most of the YCU's members don't like, e.g. a pluralistic school? Will it ask parents to switch to a cheaper school / pay the tuition difference if they refuse to switch?

There are a lot of potential conflicts of interest here, enough to mean that I would avoid such an entity.

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous-I do, of course, realize that the privacy laws would be as applicable to the Yeshiva Credit Union as to the Naval Credit Union or any other Credit Union. But privacy isn't just about laws. E.g., my father is self-employed and people know him in their small town area. My parents have always been very careful to spread their savings out over a number of local banks (today, internet banking has changed the nature of banking). They simply don't want people that they interact with on a regular basis to know too much, privacy laws or not. In any close knit community, people worry about putting too much information out their, about themselves or their clients. This is why some people davka want an accountant from outside the community or why a doctor might not want to hire an office manager off the Bais Yaakov graduation line even though it is commendable to try and help people in your own community.

I'm not sure if the Yeshiva Credit Union intends to employ from within the community. But I personally don't want to live down the block from my bank teller. If I did, I might have to drive to a further bank just to cash checks from clients that don't want anyone to know that I manage their books. Perhaps I'm paranoid, or just a chip off the old block.

Anonymous said...

SL: You say "I'm not sure if the Yeshiva Credit Union intends to employ from within the community." If they do, that's another area where they could get in trouble. Laws prohibiting discrimination in employment would apply to the credit union, so they need to hire the most qualified applicants without regard to religion.

Miami Al said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Speak for yourself Al. The corrupt ones get all the publicity, but there is no reason orthodox jews can't properly run a credit union.

Lion of Zion said...

kudos for creative thinking, but . . .

the article turned me off from the get go with it's critical attitude regarding traditional banks. the truth is i have no idea if the banks are as fragile and risky as they claim, but the proposal should be defended on it's own merits of what it can produce for the community and not with fear mongering.

first of all, we're assuming that all will be on the up and up and that government regulations will require it is run properly.

one thing that was missing from the article were the costs involved in setting up a credit union and the potential windfall. how much time/effort/good will/money has to be involved in setting it up? how many people need to open acounts with how much money to produce $x revenue for the schools? this sounds like a complicated thing to set up and attract participants (and will require wide community participation), so they really need to present some numbers in advance. i mean if it's just going to produce $50 annually per depositor, they'd do better off just making an extra yom kippur appeal.

can they provde the same level of service and features that my traditional bank gives me?

the article menionted that credit unions use profits to pa higher interest on savings or lower interest on loan. alternatively, some credit unions funnel $ into the community. but can a credit union do both? i'd probably need a financial motive to actually move my $, but if such a financial motive were present, then is there still $ going to the schools?

also missing from the article was a discussion of revenue allocation. who will decide (and how) which schools get the $ and how much they should get. is it proportionate to depositor affiliation?

and not to take away from the idea, but producing additional income for the schools is only half of the equation. will receipt of $ be tied to attempts to reign in budgets, or will it be considered extra revenue? quite frankly, as long as schools continue with closed books i'm not sympathetic to any attempt to incease revenue streams.

Anonymous said...

I would be more interested if scholarships were separate from the school and the credit union profits went to a separate organization that provided the scholarships. Schools determine what they need to charge per pupil. They do not tack on the cost of scholarships to the tuition of paying parents. Then those who can't pay go to the seprate entity that raises funds for scholarships with scholarships based on need and how much scholarship money is available, and with scholarships also available for Talmud Torah programs. That may mean that some families have to pick lower cost schools than their first choice or more schools have to keep costs down to have enough students.

Offwinger said...

Banks and credit unions run on a trust-based model. I mean trust in the relationship sense, not in the legal trusts/wills/estates sense of the term. You must trust in the institution and/or the institution's backer (whether it is FDIC or another form of insurance).

If there is perception that you can't trust an Orthodox financial institution, whether it is based in fact or fiction, the model won't work.

Personally, I have no trust in Orthodox Judaism as a community or in its ritual leadership or in the fidelity of its financial leaders & advisors or in the arbitration panels (i.e., Batei Din) that will be chosen for dispute resolution. So no, I have no interest in an OJ credit-union.

I could see this working for a community that does have more insularity and trust. I'm not a member of that community, but I get the impression that this might be true for Brooklyn-based Syrian Jews (not all sephardim!). The community predominantly chooses to send their kids to a handful of schools (so you eliminate the 'which schools to support' aspect), and while there are multiple shul choices, there seems to be more of a connection to the Sephardic Community Center and the particular leaders of that community. The community does not accept converts, and there are still many families that view marriage to ashkenazim as "marrying out." As a result, I think you could have a realistic situation where membership in the credit union is an expected communal norm.

However, by this credit union could work, I mean "able to generate some profit measure to apply," not anything that can provide the types of sums necessary for a major communal discount or price-overhaul. We're just not operating at the kind of scale or with the diversity of risk that can lend itself to major gains.

Watch your mouth, Al said...

Be careful with what you say, Al.

Besides not being correct (I'd bet that 90% of us, if not more, are scrupulously honest), this is a public website and you never know where your quote will end up.

I've seen anti-semitic websites linking to frum ones and telling people to read the comments.

"Eizehu chacham, haroe es hanolad"

Miami Al said...

Watch Your Mouth,

That was my summary of the comments between my first post (a positive one about it), and a bunch of comments about why it can't work.

Yet somehow I'm the problem.

It's not a different Rabbi doing the perp-walk every week and appeals for their defense.

Quite frankly, I don't care about the anti-semetic blogs, and I don't know why you would care either. Small minded bigots are small and insignificant in this country, and quite frankly, anti-semetism here isn't that important... there are other minorities that people hate more. In Europe, we were the "other" after Catholics/Protestants, in the US, we're part of the Catholic/Protestant/Jewish establishment, and the new comers are all sorts of other religions.

Lion of Zion said...

OFFWINGER:

i was also thinking that something like this might be more suited for a close-knit syrian-type community. and since it appeared in a sephardi journal, are the publishers more intersted in something limited to the sephardi community? (although the tuition numbers quoted actually seem low for some of the syrian schools). but again, in this case anyone whose has been present at an appeal in an ocean parkaway shul knows that one extra appeal might produce more $ than a credit union and without all the hassle

tdr said...

I've seen anti-semitic websites linking to frum ones and telling people to read the comments.

Now that is what is sad. Thanks for the reminder WYMA.

Lion of Zion said...

TDR:

"Now that is what is sad"

what is sad is that freqently the response to those who air our dirty laundry is that we should put the laundry back in the hamper rather than clean it. (i'm not implying this was your advice, but i'm just saying)

Anonymous said...

Miami Al: I would not be so confident about anti-semitism not becoming a bigger problem in the U.S. Look at the growth and increasingly rabid nature of the anti-immigrant movement. Those same people could easily become rabidly anti-semitic. And yes, I understand that there is a difference between legal and illegal immigrants and the problems of the Mexican drug wars spilling over the border, but it you listen to what a lot of people are saying, there is a lot of racial sentiment going on. Notwithstanding Obama's election, racial prejudice is alive and well in many segments in the U.S. That too can turn anti-semitic very easily.

Anonymous said...

LOZ: There is a huge difference between airing dirty laundry -- which I don't have a problem with-- and Al's blanket statement re not being able to trust OJ's to run a credit union. I would not have had a problem if Al worded it differently, such as saying that it's sad that because of the misdeeds of tiny few who purport to be observant, some people no longer trust . . .

By the way. I hold Al to a higher standard since he appears to have some intelligence and education and can be a wordsmith when he wants to. I usually enjoy his postings.

tdr said...

I meant what is sad is not that the anti-semites link to our comments, but that our lashon can be held up as an example of why they are justified in hating us.

Miami Al said...

Anon 10:16,

Carlos Mencia had a joke about America being a big game of tag. Each immigrant group is hated, then integrates and people hate the next one. The joke/skit was him, on behalf of Latinos (self deprecatingly called be a derogatory name), passing the torch to Muslims (represented by Ahmed) after 9/11.

Could you imagine, if discrimination was legalized, a sign that said "Irish Don't Apply" today? Irish Catholics are a firm part of American culture, but for a while, the Irish and the Jews were undesired parts of the population. After integration, there is a new group to be mad at.

If the country can't seem to round up ANY of the 12M illegal immigrants, because that offends their sensibilities, people that aren't legally here, I am hard pressed to believe that they are going to round up the Jews here.

That's not to say there won't be any rounding up, just that we're NOT first here. We weren't first in Europe, but after they went through the Communists and Homosexuals, we were next. Here there are a slew of people that the nativists hate more than the Jews, so I think we're safe.

Basically, when they start rounding people up, you are probably 3-4 ethnic groups away from being killed off, you have time to catch a flight to Israel and avoid it. In Europe, we were ethnic group #1 AND there was no where to go.

Regarding my comments above, it was a summary of the concerns about hiring Orthodox workers (and how Doctors should hire Bais Yaakov graduates instead of more qualified people), inability to collect on debts, etc. I'll leave it for now, but I'll remove it later lest it be fodder later.

JS said...

I'm going to assume for the sake of argument that the credit union will be run 100% ethically and above board and that privacy is maintained. Whether or not that is a realistic assumption has already been discussed.

I don't think I would have a problem using the credit union if the services and benefits were comparable to my current bank. I only use my bank for checking and direct deposit. I don't think savings accounts are really worth it - I put my savings in various Vanguard funds. My credit cards and mortgage are with other institutions. For banking, I use TD Bank mainly because it's open on Sundays, has early/late hours, and I can use any ATM for no fee. So, if the credit union could match that I'd use it. Since it's going to a good cause I'd likely be more flexible with what I was looking for as well.

To that last point, maybe I should have said "Since it's supposedly going to a good cause."

I think it's a bit foolhardy to give these yeshivas more revenue. I don't live in Bergen County, but they set up a communal fund called NNJKIDS to try to have the whole community support yeshivas whether you have kids of school age or not. NNJKIDS cut a check to each school, but because there is no transparency and no strings attached to the money, many people are up in arms that the money was used for inappropriate expenditures (for example, one school hired a new administrator).

The schools switch, whenever it is convenient for them, between being private businesses and communal institutions. I'd argue the community already is a stakeholder in the institution, but ideas like this and NNJKIDS further involve the community in the funding of the schools. That funding needs to be predicated on a degree of control. If the credit union or NNJKIDS makes, say, a $100k yearly donation to the school, I would expect the school to treat that donation as if it were made from an individual. If I cut a check for $100k to the school, they'd likely make a dinner in my honor and I would have say over where that money could be spent. Why should it be different when the money comes from the credit union or NNJKIDS? I'd even argue that some parents (at least over several years) are "donating" many tens of thousands to the schools without a thank you or any transparency.

Again, that's fine if they're truly private businesses, but then stop asking the community for donations and to fund this vital communal institution.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about changing banks for a long time (because on moral grounds I hate the Bank of the Universe that gobbled up my friendly local bank) but I figure I probably need at least 5 or more hours of work to do it because it means filling out a new form for direct deposit, retyping all my addresses, account numbers, etc. for all my on line bill pay, contacting payees and changing all the account information and withdrawal authorizations for my automatic withdrawals (i.e. have several a month that go into different mutual funds, etc.) and then fretting that I misses something. Plus the time it would take at the new bank, etc. If you are a heavy on-line bank user who almost never writes a check and rarely touch cash, it can be a huge hassle that I never quite get around to. I think that may also be a stumbling block to get others to switch banks. On the other hand, I could see keeping my current bank and opening an additional account if the credit union offered a decent cd.

Orthonomics said...

Miami Al-Please do watch the language. I'd like comments on thhis interesting idea and there is no reason to automatically label it "corrupt." Privacy concerns, which I brought up, are far different than fears up corruption. While we have too many people making the perp walk, and I'm crying out to stop making icons of these people, the majority of us remain honest and above board.

I don't expect the Yeshiva Credit Union to employ unfair hiring practices, but I still am not sure I want to deal with my private transactions with my neighbor. That isn't a concern about corruption, but a concern about privacy, even though I expect my bank working neighbor to keep the lips zipped.

Lion of Zion said...

ANON:

"Laws prohibiting discrimination in employment would apply to the credit union, so they need to hire the most qualified applicants without regard to religion."

take a look at the help wanted section of your local ortho newspaper and take a tally of how many listings specify faith (directly or indirectly) and/or gender. (or for that matter, look no further than our schools' hiring practices, which since this is an orthonomics blog, is a budgetary drain.)

JS said...

Al can defend himself, but the way I read his comment was that he felt it was sad that we're all so jaded and cynical about Orthodox Jews and finance/business that the immediate reaction is that something illegal or corrupt or fishy will be going on. In other words, the reaction when you hear "credit union" and "run by Orthodox Jews" in the same sentence is "Oh boy, another scandal waiting to happen." Al, in my opinion, was commenting on how sad that is.

Dave said...

Given that we know of at least two cases of endemic tax fraud and money laundering (Spinke, and Deal), I'd be leary of such a Credit Union myself.

JS said...

In terms of privacy, I guess I'm a bit paranoid like SL is. When we bought our house we chose to use an attorney outside our community even though the one in the community offers discounts and I've heard is very capable. I just didn't feel comfortable discussing finances with a neighbor.

I don't have my own business, but that would bring up a whole slew of concerns which SL already brought up.

Another issue I thought of was wedding gifts. A couple gets married and goes to deposit all the checks they received. Someone will then know who is generous, who is cheap, and how much the couple "collected."

Miami Al said...

JS,

That was the intention of the post. People seemed to not be able to read it, it's now gone. Hopefully people can focus on the merits of this approach.

If the goal is to move from a private school model to a public school model, where the community pays for education, NOT the parents, then this is a good attempt to create a part of the model. More PROFITABLE communal institutions that moves funds in that direction.

One of the requirements to fix this is to stop the upward pressure on school costs... i.e. the wealthy family that if they weren't frum would send their kids to Prep school. That family wants all the amenities of the Prep school that they could/would pay for, and since they are a donor family, they likely get accomodated, this runs the costs up for everyone else.

Imagine if the ACTUAL public school system ran this way... the rich families living in one school district lobbied for "extras," which they got (think dramas like 90210 with a public school with a cafe inside it), but instead of the rich people sending to ONE school, they send a little to ALL the neighborhood schools because one likes red uniforms, one blue, etc., and demanded those amenities everywhere, the system would collapse.

Communally funded schools should be like public schools, adequate, reasonable, not personable.

Basically, ape the Catholic model. Community funded "diocese" schools that are adequate, and Independent Jewish Schools that, like the Catholic equivalents, compete with prep schools. That would stop the upward pressure on schools for everyone.

And, if you want to stretch to get your kid into the independent prep school, you KNOW what you are making the sacrifice for, NOT a lack of other options.

But none of the community funding should go for mini-prep schools, they should go toward the least expensive schooling options available.

JS said...

"But none of the community funding should go for mini-prep schools, they should go toward the least expensive schooling options available."

I think this is the most important point you make.

You have a school that charges $17k/child and has 500 children. Let's imagine the credit union can somehow raise $500k for the school and that this money goes directly to lowering tuition. Great. Now the school is $16k/child. You haven't solved anything. The school is still out of reach for everyone on scholarship and still hurting the "chumps" that earn a lot, but just not enough to live comfortably. Add in no cost controls and a parent body that keeps wanting more and more who will leave to one of your competitors if you don't provide these extras and in a year, maybe two, you're right back where you started at $17k/child or more.

Or....you take that $500k and use it to start up and maintain a low cost school. The same question was asked about NNJKIDS. With this approach you could make a real difference up and down the line. Scholarship families no longer need scholarships. Costs at the expensive schools go down. Parents have a choice and know they have a choice and stop complaining about cost since they're not forced to choose between the school that's $17k/child and the one that's $17.5k/child. There are myriad other benefits.

But...this is for some reason verboten. We can't tell people if you can only afford $X you go here, if you can afford $Y, you can go here. You can tell someone without sufficient funds to buy hamburger meat instead of a thick steak - and you certainly wouldn't give them the steak for the price of the hamburger meat. But, when it comes to yeshiva, all bets are off.

Lion of Zion said...

this is from a recent comment on hirhurim:

"YU’s Institute for University-School Partnership is leading an initiative called “Assessing your day school’s fiscal health.” They are working with communities with multiple day schools to collect data and provide at least 14 different community benchmarks based on that data. This information is key to understanding what exactly day schools are spending money on and where efficiencies can be gained, tackling the low hanging fruit while thinking broadly about the major issues involved in this crisis."

i'm curious what type of data they are collecting and if it will be made public

Avi said...

My first reaction to this idea is that it's reasonable on its face. It seems to be a lot like scrip - make parents buy/use services at specific merchants and a kickback/group discount goes to the schools. My second reaction to this idea is that it's way too vague on the benefits - how much money will this actually generate? Because I HATE scrip.

tdr said...

I have long wondered how much tzedakah is available in a community and where it is all going. People frequently air their assumptions about where it goes based on anecdotes or where they are sending their own tzedakah dollars.

People imply that there are tzedakah dollars floating around out there that are diverted from the schools and imagine if you could just harness that money for the schools the day school system would be sustainable.

I wonder what the reality is?

And on that note, I bring you this article from the Boston Globe about how Jewish (non-frum) donors are contributing big bucks to the Catholic school system.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/08/04/jewish_donors_help_out_catholic_schools/

Miami Al said...

Tdr,

A friend worked with Combined Jewish Philanthropies (was a consultant with a BIG name firm there), and they were trying to figure out how to harness this money.

In the end, they realized that they were getting what they were getting, but that the donors knew that they were helping a worthy cause, and weren't going to redirect it.

If you saw where some of these Catholic schools are, saw their students coming to/from in their uniforms, you'd realize what a great thing that these schools do.

Hard to condemn them for giving to these schools, since the ONLY organization that is committed to give poor people a quality education is the Catholic Church.

A no a Jewish family making 85k is not poor, not at 800% of the poverty level.

Plenty of non-Catholic Christians give money to the Catholic schools as well.

JS said...

tdr,

Thanks for sharing that.

I think the article can be summed up in the following quotes:

"Catholic Schools Foundation, which raises millions each year to help send children from low-income families to Catholic schools."

"But they said they are passionate about Catholic schools because they provide an excellent education to the neediest children."

"The Catholic Church remains strapped for cash, and many poor families can barely afford tuition, which generally costs about $3,400 for elementary school and $9,400 for high school, according to the Catholic Schools Foundation’s website."

"Most Jewish benefactors interviewed about their support for Catholic schools said they also give to Jewish organizations — particularly Combined Jewish Philanthropies, which among other causes supports the region’s Jewish day schools."

The message I get from this is that the feeling is that supporting Jewish day schools isn't really helping out the truly poor. The Catholic schools are only $3400/$9400 versus $17k/$22k - someone who can't afford the former is likely genuinely poor and in need. Someone who can't afford the latter is often a family earning $100k. Those who patronize the Jewish day schools aren't sympathetic. It's hard to rally around the idea of helping people who are solidly in the middle class.

Another point is that the donors give to large, reputable organizations. They give to the Catholic Schools Foundation or to Combined Jewish Philanthropies. They don't give to some small yeshiva that has no accountability or transparency.

These people are donating their time and money. They want to know it's going to something valuable that is really helping people in need. The yeshivas don't do that.

I would add that many people who sent their children to yeshivas and would have the financial resources later in life to donate to the yeshivas refuse to do so because the process of paying that much money and struggling for so many years while being mistreated by the yeshivas has left such a bad taste in their mouth they swore the yeshiva will never see another penny from them.

Dave said...

Here I am, secular, intermarried, and affluent. Not made of money by any means, but we live well below our means, have no debt other than a single mortgage, and currently donate to a mix of charities (including Jewish charities).

So, sell me, why should I redirect my charitable donations to Orthodox Education? Especially Orthodox education for people who are in the top 20-30% of income in the United States?

tdr said...

I heard from someone once in the Boston Kollel a comment about the psychology of giving and we could start a whole discussion about why these Jews prefer to give 10's of thousands of dollars to Catholic schools rather than the frum Jewish schools.

I do not doubt that these schools are worthy of any charity money they receive. I am also sure that the families that receive those charitable dollars consider themselves lucky indeed to have the opportunity to send their kids to decent schools.

Anonymous said...

tdr: I saw the same article this morning and the first thought I had was if only the jewish day schools could be more like what the Catholic schools are now (helping the truly needy, non-discriminatory, low cost, great secular education being the vast majority of the curriculum) and my second thought was wait till this gets posted on VIN and the attack comments start.

tdr said...

I think VIN is more likely to produce whiny "why not me" kinds of comments than attack comments.

Dave said...

I have a personal theory that if every non-Orthodox Jew in America spent one week reading the comments on VIN and YWN, both the kiruv success rate and the non-Orthodox->Orthodox charitable donation rate would converge on zero.

Miami Al said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miami Al said...

Tdr,

There is ZERO comparison to giving money to an umbrella that helps poor people attend cheap private schooling, where their alternatives are gang run and drug infested, and giving to a local Jewish school with zero transparency, where the admins make 200k, and where the alternative to private schooling would be public schooling in an upper middle class neighborhood.

Even if the Frum Jews have destroyed their local public schools, that family could move to a similarly priced neighborhood with good schools.

Giving to the Catholic charities helps poor people stop being poor.

Giving to Jewish schools, at best, helps middle class Orthodox Jewish people remain middle class Orthodox Jewish people.

Both serve a purpose in those communities, but are completely different charities... and expecting the secular contributors to stop helping poor people to help middle class Jews is rather silly...

tesyaa said...

Al, good comment. I was trying to put my thoughts into words, but you did a better job than I would have.

I do hear these kind of comments from people all the time, though: "Ploni has so many millions, if he would just give me a million all my problems would be solved." It's really funny. Like they're expecting a fairy godfather to swoop down and shower them with cash.

tdr said...

Well said, Al.

Miami Al said...

Tdr, Tesyaa,

Here is the deal, either Orthodox Judaism in America in America finds a way to survive, as in, have more than 2.1 children/woman after factoring in OTD/out-marrying, and it will be a part of the tapestry that is Americana, or it will not, and it will die.

The preservation of Orthodox Judaism in American is of little interest to anyone outside of American Orthodox Jews, and of questionable interest to American Orthodox Jews. If American Orthodox Judaism is unviable, but Israeli Orthodox Judaism is viable, I fail to see the value in propping up American Orthodoxy, let's pay for charter flights.

Seriously, if it costs $250k to produce an American Orthodox young adult, and only $50k to produce an Israeli Orthodox young adult, why are we worrying about American Orthodoxy, period? For those that are extremely wealthy through success in America, private schooling for their Jewish kid is viable, but fore those in the middle, why don't we focus on funding Nefesh B'nefesh?

I think a viable American Orthodoxy could be built around Charter schools and more integration than the past two generations but more segregation than the secular Jews. People seem to disagree.

Well, it just might not be possible to be a Modern Orthodox Jew in America at reasonable upper middle class incomes.

What is magical about American Modern Orthodoxy that people should preserve it? If it isn't a viable culture, then it dies off, that's what happens to non-viable culture.

As a member of that culture, I can see the concern, but why anyone on the outside should care is beyond me. If it isn't viable, than the solutions are:
1. Chassidic Judaism in America -- appears to be viable
2. Modern Orthodoxy in Israel

The other options that aren't viable include:
3. Yeshivish Judaism in America (this is collapsing quickly into economic ruin)
4. Non Orthodox Judaism in America (collapsing on it's own, and if you believe that this option violates Halacha, it's irrelevant anyway) -- this is rapidly becoming another American Mainline Protestant denomination (demographically and regionally), though without the Christian savior

So Yeshiva Oriented Modern Orthodoxy and Yeshiva Oriented Judiasm appear unviable in America, who cares? They weren't viable in Europe either. It looks like they are viable is Israel. Wonderful, go there.

If you want to be Modern Orthodoxy, make 250k-300k, move to Israel, or find an alternative educational model. If you don't like those options, go find another cultural subgroup to join, because yours is sinking.

Dave said...

I'm not quite sure how non-Orthodox Judaism in America is collapsing.

Anonymous said...

Al: There is another option. Learn how to make public school work and develop really good after school programs. I don't think that has ever really been tried and tested. The jury is still out on whether MO can thrive in Isreal in the long term given the polarization and charedization/charedi and RW control, although a strong MO/Dati presence could help save Israel.

Anonymous said...

Dave - it's not, its just that the orthodox don't want to admit it is still Judaism.

Anonymous said...

All this discussion about why non-OJ's won't come to the rescue of the current orthodox educational system is very interesting, but not related to the original post which concerned a suggestion for how the community can try to help itself. I agree that this is not a silver bullet, but at least someone is being creative and realizes that the community has to help itself.

Miami Al said...

Dave,

Low birth rates, high intermarriage rates -- and regardless of gender lineage, most (2/3+) intermarried couples affiliate with the majority culture, NOT the minority one.

A guy at work is in the leining rotation at the local Conservative Temple. He's in his early 50s, a grandfather, and one of the youngest active members of the Shul.

There isn't an upcoming generation of Conservative Jews to replace the elderly.

Even if OTD Orthodox Jews found their way to the non-Orthodox (they generally don't), there just aren't large enough numbers, since Orthodoxy is so small in comparison.

Conservative Jewry is in terrible shape. Reform less so, but with a 50% intermarriage rate, at what point does Reform Judaism cease to be a Jewish religion, if the people in it aren't Jews?

Dave said...

Reform less so, but with a 50% intermarriage rate, at what point does Reform Judaism cease to be a Jewish religion, if the people in it aren't Jews?

Karaite Jews would consider the Baal T'Shuva born of a Jewish mother and a Christian father to be "not Jewish".

Somehow I don't think Orthodox Judaism cares.

So why should Reform Jews care what Orthodox Judaism says?

Anonymous said...

To the topic at hand, I fail to see how running a business whose underlying profit structure consists of violating an issur d'oraysa (ribbis) will save Orthodox Judaism. And if it does, wouldn't that be ironic.

I sort of agree with the poster who said that they can use "rabbi tricks" to get around the issur of ribbis, but I don't think it's a good idea.

Not to mention the privacy, accountability, transparency, integrity, and professionalism issues that others mentioned.

Lion of Zion said...

"I fail to see how running a business whose underlying profit structure consists of violating an issur d'oraysa (ribbis) will save Orthodox Judaism."

what do frum jews in israel do? how do they patronize and found banks?

Anonymous said...

LOZ -

Many (most?) do not patronize Jewish owned banks.