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Monday, October 11, 2010

A Legitimate Need Too

The admininstrator of Beyond BT is seeking advice for a BT friend for which the son is marrying an FFB girl. One of the items up for discussion is how to deal with the (expected) "gashmius factor" of frum weddings. The couple has "no family support" and is looking for cost cutting tips and figuring out what is truly "indispensable."

I've written my own cost cutting wedding posts and featured guest posts from others here. But, what I would like to turn your attention too is advice that is commonly given when there are expectation differences when planning a wedding.

That advice basically reads as such: spend the money for the sake of peace, so that the chatan/kallah will not feel uncomfortable around her friends and feel *deprived*, or so that the in-laws with greater needs will not be embarrassed in front of their friends. Such advice was given by a BeyondBT commentor who writes the following:

[Those] with the benefit of a mature point of view, it is fine to say that the gift-giving is out of hand, trite, etc. And you are correct. But, please realize that often the Kallah is in the 18-22 year old range and lacks that maturity. It is important not to make her uncomfortable with her friends by depriving her of at least some of the jewelry she may be expecting. It can, however, be on the lower priced end of the spectrum (You might want to look into a treated diamond for the ring). But you don’t want to create a feeling of resentment that can last many, many
years.

And I don’t want to hear comments about how, if she is mature enough to get married, etc. etc. There are different levels of maturity, and sometimes we just need life experience to teach us about what is not important in long run.


While I certainly do believe that wedding planning between the couple (novel, I know to involve them) and their respective parents should be undertaken in the spirit of shalom and reasonable and prudent generosity, I want to present an idea that I have yet to see mentioned in discussions of how to approach the "gashmius factor." In nearly every discussion I've been privy too regarding wedding negotiations, there is recognition of the legitimacy of the needs of the parties that expects more. But, I have never seen recognition of the needs of the parties that would like less.

Certainly there is some recognition that money is limited and that a family might only have so much to give. But, I'm looking beyond that. I'm addressing the deep seeded values regarding consumption, ostentation, and modesty. Simply put, there are some families that just aren't comfortable throwing that type of affair. And, that holds true even if they do have the financial means to make such an affair.

Orthodox culture is not, by any means, the only culture that deals with the "gashmius factor." In fact there are populations that put on far more ostentation in their affairs. Try, if you can, to imagine that your own son or daughter was marrying in a ceremony for which the future mechutanim were high income, or even average income Indian family (average cost of an Indian wedding significantly exceeds the income range for a middle income family, sometimes many times over, not including valuables or cash given as part of the dowry), expecting to spend a minimum of mid-five figures and in all likelihood well into the six figures for a grand affair.

My guess is that even families who walk in lock step with what is expected re: Orthodox/Chassidish/Yeshivish weddings, would feel highly uncomfortable engaging in the over-the-top wedding spending patterns prevalent in certain Asian and Eastern cultures.

As such, I think it is important that when families sit down to plan a simcha, that they respect the limitations of the parties who don't care to walk in lock step with whatever is the latest and greatest for young Orthodox couples. For some, the gift expectations alone might be akin to asking them to procure an elephant for the wedding processional.

105 comments:

rosie said...

I have seen plenty of situations where one side had no money and no income and lots of kids and the chosson or kallah knew from the outset that the future inlaws would not be contributing much or giving expensive gifts. The situation where spending is expected is when there is some money to expect. That is when both sides must take steps to keep the other side from expecting too much.

Anonymous said...

Having not grown up orthodox, I never understood the gift giving thing. what is the meaning of the gifts from the groom to bride and the bride to the groom if the parents are paying and if they are the "standard" expected gifts. I know the OJ world isn't into romance and the notion of falling in love, but a gift from the couple that actually meant something because they worked for it and tried to pick out something unique and special even if not expensive would seem to mean a lot more. If the gifts are just to impress others, then what happened to modesty? Gifts could be from the in-laws as a welcome to the family, but the in-laws to be are usually the ones giving the huge gift of a wedding.

Meag said...

My Chinese FIL gave us an extremely generous check upon our marriage. I was shocked at the amount, but my husband explained that it was a huge bargain for him. A suitable Chinese wedding would have cost him over a year's salary--about $150,000 in buying power, I think? The expectations for a Chinese wedding are very high. My husband said his side of the family alone would have provided 300 guests for the banquet.

Also, in my husband's community the gifts are less tokens of affection than they are symbolic displays of commitments made by one family to another.

rosie said...

Anonymous,
The wedding gifts from the parents fall into these categories:
1)Practical household items
2)Religious items such as siddurim, candlesticks, tallit
3)Religious clothing such as shtreimel and shaitel (in our family the daughter in law gets a shaitel from us)
4)Jewelry. The gemorrah speaks of giving jewelry to the kallah but I don't know when the custom of giving a chosson a watch or cuff links arose.
There is also an exchange of gifts between the chosson and kallah in the yichud room.
These gifts are not given "just" to impress others although sometimes they do make an impression. Most of the families that I know give modest gifts but these do add up because most families have several children getting married in a short period of time.

tesyaa said...

Orthodox culture is not, by any means, the only culture that deals with the "gashmius factor." In fact there are populations that put on far more ostentation in their affairs.

I guess this is true - but there is something off-putting about a religious group that paints itself as holier than thou making such a big deal about material things.

Let's face it - the more spent on material things, the less available for charitable works. I know Judaism doesn't dismiss materialism, but what's more holy - a Viennese table or charity for the truly unfortunate??

rosie said...

Most mechutanim give charity in honor of the wedding. I don't know where in history that it was ever suggested that the food should not be served and given to the "truly unfortunate". Some wedding halls set up tables for the poor and there are beggars at most weddings soliciting donations.
The Torah does not say that all of our material goods be turned into charity; only 10 to 20% of our wealth is obligated to go to charity.
Where in all of this does "holier than thou" play a part? Is a person who chooses a specific way of dress because of religious belief, not entitled to some material happiness?

Avi said...

I think it's unfair to blame the kallah. Most weddings are for parents. Often, the kallah would be perfectly happy with a smaller wedding. Honestly, do you think she cares if her parents have 100 or 200 friends there?

tesyaa said...

Is a person who chooses a specific way of dress because of religious belief, not entitled to some material happiness?

Sure, but why do young couples need to get their material happiness all right away?. The gifts listed at 9:06 don't all have to be acquired at once.

And people make a big deal of getting "best quality that will last forever", which naturally costs a lot, and you know what? Their tastes change and they don't want it forever. You have no idea how many ads I see for custom sheitels "worn once" or dining room sets that people don't want anymore.

(And it's humorous that people are asking for 60-80% of the original price, when they're likely to fetch more like 20% of the original price).

Commenter Abbi said...

"Where in all of this does "holier than thou" play a part? Is a person who chooses a specific way of dress because of religious belief, not entitled to some material happiness?"

Because if you're supposedly living a life that's "closer to Hashem" and "Torah true" and one of "middos and chessed", then your main focus in everything should be be modesty and tzdedaka, making extravagant weddings simply hypocritical. That's what's holier than thou. "A little material happiness" does not translate to thousands of dollars of gifts and "wedding needs". And if you simply don't have the money for a little material happiness. There's a vast difference between cold cuts for the reception and thousands of dollars of wedding jewelry.

Miami Al said...

Tesyaa,

"Sure, but why do young couples need to get their material happiness all right away?"

The cynic in me suggests that this is part of a subtle goal of discouraging hard work. The communal Orthodox standards have been seemingly structured to divorce material benefits from an individual working hard to achieve success.

If children aren't married young and receiving an immediate jump into an upper middle class life, and instead wait to earn it, they will struggle in their young adult life. Perhaps they will see secular colleagues with more financial means, and go off the derech.

Clearly, one doesn't get jewelry by working hard and saving up, they get it by marrying someone who has wealthy parents.

Anonymous said...

It's hard for me to believe that any distress caused to the young couple or to the wealtherier in-laws of not having the extra baubles or the fancy wedding with all the extras and all the guests they want would be greater than the stress caused to the set of in-laws who go into hock and/or deplete their savings to pay for a wedding outside of their budget. The distress of the former will be very short lived while the financial consequences of the latter will be around for many years, particularly if the same pattern is followed for mutiple children because you can't do less for one child than you did for another child.

Leah Goodman said...

A kalla should get an engagement ring with a stone and a wedding band and a necklace of some sort. She should wear a pretty wedding dress. I know a couple where the engagement ring was cubic zirconia with the intent that when they were doing better, it would be replaced with a diamond. She's gotten other diamonds since, but hasn't wanted to replace that particular one.

Another couple got a ring with a blue topaz and when the husband's business started doing better, the wife got a "real" engagement ring.



The chassan should get a tallit and a bag for it and a kittel.

Ariella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I suspect that if we went back in time, we would find that there is nothing jewish in the origin of diamond rings -- or even engagement rings for that matter, fancy white dresses, five piece bands, viennese tables, wedding halls, videographers, photographers, floral arrangements, 500 guests and many of the other accoutrements of a modern day orthodox wedding.

rosie said...

I have seen some young people start life with very modest jewelry and household goods. I see a lot of stereotyping here by a group of people who have little to do but stand on the outside and criticize another group. Abbi, I have only been to one wedding that served cold cuts at the reception and that was because the wedding was a formality after a conversion. Most of the gifts that young frum couples receive do not propel them into upper middle class life nor are they ALWAYS the best and the finest. A gift is not something that a person has to earn. Most of your comments suggest baseless hatred and you are not experts on what is really going on. I see a lot of young couples starting life with bare necessities and not all of the jewelry would break the bank.
Abbi, when you make your child a cold cuts reception, please post the pictures. I know that you live in Israel and one of my children also had a very, very modest wedding in Israel but there were no cold cuts served.
Al, one of my sons married at 22 and started buying real estate. He is totally on the derech and works very hard. Giving his wife some jewelry for their wedding did not stop her from working to earn a living. Al, when your children marry, do you intend to give them anything or will they have to earn it. Maybe you guys could tone down the judgmental attitude a bit. It has been awhile, at least in my neighborhood, since the ultra hereidim came through collecting for hachnassas kallah.
Al, Abbi, and Tesyaa, is someone pressuring you to pay for their wedding jewelry or dessert table at a wedding? Is someone even pressuring you to attend such a wedding? I see some of the same names on all of the blogs against the RW Orthodox and although I am the first to admit that many changes must occur if RWism is to survive, outsiders spending lots of time railing away at the RW isn't going to bring about change.
Many RWingers are cutting back chassunah expenses and those who don't are not sending me the bill. BH, I recently married off a child so I am not totally in the dark about these things.

Leah Goodman said...

In extreme circumstances, my list can also be dropped to a single silver ring for the kallah, but I think that it's really realistic for a bride to expect a bit more, but that bit more doesn't have to cost thousands - you can get a nice pearl necklace for $30-40 and a nice CZ ring for $50, and get a dress from a gemach or buy one online from China and get it re-tailored so that it "works" and have everything nice without it costing so much.

To my mind, the real issue is that the budget needs to come before the wedding planning, and then the bride and groom and families need to decide what is higher and lower priority, and how they'll make the higher priority things fit in the budget. If that means having a silver ring and no engagement ring to have a hand-tailored dress at a particular hall, fair enough. But you can't have everything.

I didn't care if the invitations were scribbled by a 3-year-old, I know they get thrown out, but I wanted to wear a princess dress, and I wanted to get married in Jerusalem. I made those things happen in my budget by not having things that other people might think are a "given" (like an open bar)

Miami Al said...

Rosie,

If you want the best, have enough money to provide the best.

There is nothing wrong with wanting the best. The problem is that when people lack the means for the best, they get it anyway.

Marrying for wealth is NOT a new phenomenon. However, in the last few generations, earning potential has generally eclipsed family wealth. In the RW Orthodox world, earning potential seems relatively unknown, so family wealth is what matters.

That creates a VERY STRONG class based hierarchy, since it is very hard to move up/down financially. Education, the path that has brought American Judaism firmly into the middle/upper middle class, is not available to the RW, which is resulting in a very stagnant society.

That said, do you want you want. However, urging a family to spend money they don't have on the wedding so the children won't feel different... well, it's a continuation of the process that has taken over observant Judaism, and it's a sick system.

rosie said...

Al, I agree that there are numerous problems facing RW orthodoxy or I wouldn't waste a minute on this blog. I do feel that marriage and weddings are pivotal to Jewish society. We are a marriage based society. We do need to cut back on the expenses of marriage and we do need to prepare children better for the financial realities of life before marriage but that doesn't mean that a woman who gives her daughter-in-law to be a piece of jewelry is pretending to be "holier than thou" while embracing shallow materialism.

tesyaa said...

Rosie - if the woman can afford to, she can give her daughter-in-law a 7-bedroom house with gold-plated bathroom faucets, as far as I'm concerned. The problem is that conformity is expected (ALMOST as part of a religious ritual), and there are those who struggle terribly to conform, or who fear becoming outcasts because they can't conform.

The frum community is economically heterogeneous, but everyone has to pretend to be as rich as the rich guy on the block, as far as weddings are concerned. This causes tremendous financial burdens that, I believe, will not lead to a stronger RW community but may actually destroy it.

And it's not just weddings where material conformity is expected, everyone knows that.

rosie said...

Tesyaa, I do agree with you that conformity has a destructive affect on the RW community but conformity is only one component of wedding expenses. I also don't see "everyone pretending to be as rich as the guy on the block". Some people are very honest about their poverty!
Having made several weddings BH, I found that it was more of an attempt to make it a happy occasion for both families and the new couple within the cost we could pay, than it was to impress others. And I admit that sometimes I overspent to make someone happy for some detail that was important to them.
I agree that material conformity has to stop and I see that it is slowing down.

Anonymous said...

BH my eshes chayil has even more financial sense than I do. I wanted to buy her a piece of Jewelry (from my own money) and she asked me how much I realistically wanted to spend. Once I told her she said "wonderful, now go take that money and put it into a fund for our first home and leave the jewelry in the store". I"YH my children find someone just as sensible.

Oh and P.S. my wife and I worked our tuches's off doing as much of the wedding ourselves as possible. We managed to have a beautiful 300 person affair for just over 15K

Dave said...

On a similar topic, here is a quote from the YWN Coffee Room on marriage, and the issues that can happen when the parents are BTs:

I do find, however, that shidduchim with regular yeshivish families (where the parents are ffb) is much simpler because they don't have to get used the whole shidduch system. I find that the idea of support is not so scary as it is with ba'alei teshuva. It's a difficult concept - primarily because it's so foreign - of supporting your children AFTER they get married. In the secular world, you don't get married until you're ready to support a family. This is the world ba'alei teshuva come from. Unless the bt parents are 100% completely engrained in a yeshivish community and not involved with the secular world on any level, or are extremely well-off, this is very difficult to get passed. A regular yeshivish family will just take out a loan if they need because the idea of support is as normal as putting food on the table for shabbos.

rosie said...

Dave, that is one of the biggest threats to RW survival and I have a feeling that it won't be the case a generation from now. Eventually spending one's life as a perpetual student will cease to be the norm.

Ariella said...

Tesya, what you said to Rosie is exactly the problem. I tell my girls that it's fine for rich people to buy their kids' designer brand clothing that costs hundreds of dollars for an outfit or shoes that cost $200 a pair. It's more than I would spend on such, but they can afford it. The problem arises when the kids in families in much lower income brackets demand the same things b/c "everyone" has it. At least my kids understand that all the kvetching in the world won't get me to buy them a pair of Uggs.

rosie said...

Ariella, don't look now but I think Costco has Uggs.

tesyaa said...

Costco has FAKE Uggs made with real shearling that are a very good deal, under $40. Even real Uggs at Costco, if they have them, are going to cost a lot more. I didn't buy the fake Uggs I saw in Costco because no one needed them, but it's a good value.

rosie said...

I guess that I don't know the difference between real and fake uggs but that is where I would draw the line. If fake uggs are just as good quality as real uggs the kids should be taught that the name on a product ups the price.
That being the case, every kid wants what every other kid has. This silly band craze is making me silly because I refuse to buy a $5 bag of rubber bands just because a grandchild goes ape in the check out line.

Leah Goodman said...

Rosie: even if the quality is lower, chances are that your kids will outgrow them or get sick of them before they'd wear them out anyway.

The Uggs that they're sooooo excited to have because they're in style this year won't be all exciting next year when they're old and all their friends remember they're the same ones they got last year.

Anon with the eshes chayil - I'm not quite as eshes chayil as all that, but one nice thing about having a smaller diamond in my engagement ring (1/4 carat) is that it doesn't catch on sweaters or on my children when I'm picking them up.

rosie said...

Leah Goodman;
if shoes and other things did not go out of style, the economy would stagnate. Fashion changes create "need" which generates purchases. Most people, at least in America, make some purchases based on changing fashion/style. Being in fashion is a product of peer pressure which is a product of being human.

Orthonomics said...

Al, Abbi, and Tesyaa, is someone pressuring you to pay for their wedding jewelry or dessert table at a wedding?

Rosie, I can't speak for Al, Abbi, or Tesyaa, but I can speak for the savers amongst the spenders. When family needing cash runs out of cash, family with cash might need to step in. So, yes, there might be family members of the spenders amongst us who end up indirectly footing the bill for the "proper" clothing, camps, and smachot.

rosie said...

SL,
I have warned relatives who don't take going to work seriously that I have no intention of supporting them.
There is always the word "no".

Anonymous said...

Miami Al wrote: "The cynic in me suggests that this [expensive gifts] is part of a subtle goal of discouraging hard work. The communal Orthodox standards have been seemingly structured to divorce material benefits from an individual working hard to achieve success."

I'm afraid I have seen this in some frum families. Having material goods is divorced from working. In this family, the children have never seen a father working and earning a living, they have never had to work. As a result, when the young wives finally do go to work in approved frum fields such as special ed and speech therapy, they are bewildered at how much effort is involved in producing results for a client. The laws of supply and demand are new to them - such as the fact that Lakewood wives are all in the same field, so that field is saturated in Lakewood and surrounding areas, meaning they have no choice but to take an undesirable job. I prefer to keep this vague so as not to reveal identities. There is what they call "moral hazard" in providing too much to children. I am hopeful a future frum generation will be more practical, but too late for the current crop of yeshiva families.

Orthonomics said...

rosie-and elderly parents? I'm all for saying "no" but there are situations where others have to step in. It is a false to say that the spending habits of community members, our own parents, or other family members don't end up affecting us. They often do.

Anonymous-I've seen the same pattern with friends who grew up in areas with heavy welfare and no good role modeling. We do NOT want to emulate such social patterns.

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

We do NOT want to emulate such social patterns.

Too late, I fear.

rosie said...

Other people's behavior patterns do affect us but that will be the case regardless of what society we live in. Have you ever watched the a and e TV series "Hoarders"? They estimate that 3 million Americans are hoarders with serious consequences to their families. Some of these hoarders paid good money to hoard. The clean up was costly for the family members. Watch the clips and you will go on a cleaning spree and never go to another thrift store or garage sale. The point though is that yes, our family can spend in a way that we feel responsible for but that could be the case regardless of our religious belief.

Dov said...

Rosie states: "Abbi, when you make your child a cold cuts reception, please post the pictures. I know that you live in Israel and one of my children also had a very, very modest wedding in Israel but there were no cold cuts served."

My wife's father is a wealthy doctor, yet we were careful to have our wedding in a yeshiva gym, with one hot dish, a one-man band, no gifts, no video, and the cheapest photographer I could find.

Looking back over the years and my beautiful four (GROUNDED) children, I wouldn't have done it any other way!

Anonymous said...

Spending excessively on simchas is a drain on communal wealth which is needed to support Orthodox institutions (schools, mikvehs, shuls etc.).

I am happy to report that in frummy Baltimore low cost simcha options are available and seem to be gaining acceptance.

Commenter Abbi said...

Actualy Rosie, no one has directly pressured me, but my parents have been pressured to "help" family members who insist on living an upper middle class lifestyle on a single salary that doesn't support that type of lifestyle. The weddings were lavish with all the trimmings and were paid for by another uncle. The wife in this family refuses to work even though her children are grown (youngest is married already). Disgusting.

The gross overemphasis on materialism the RW community is disgusting and I'm not going to be coy in expressing that.

You completely missed my point about cold cuts- I said "There's a vast difference between cold cuts for the reception and thousands of dollars of wedding jewelry." meaning there are plenty of ways to make a beautiful leibidik wedding without overspending. Yes, my wedding in Israel was splendid and cost 1/5 of what is normally spent in the U.S.

rosie said...

but Abbi,
If you are not RW, why do you need to express it? If your parents are being pressured then I understand but they can always decline. I can understand that declining help is uncomfortable but it can be done just like overcoming peer pressure can be done.
There are overly materialistic RW communities but the RW community that I live in is very much the opposite of that. In our community "cheap" is the order of the day for everything. That is not to say that there is absolutely no wedding jewelry. They just spend much less on it here.
Our son's Israeli wedding was also about a fifth of the price of his siblings US weddings but we also had to pay to get there and stay there.

Leah Goodman said...

Abbi - well said.
Let's say you want pearls
http://tinyurl.com/2uklhfw $15.99, including shipping. They may not be the finest quality, but no one other than a jeweler can tell.

If a kalla's going to feel deprived without her pearls, go ahead. Tell her that b'ezrat hashem, when there's more money, there will be nicer pearls (if she can tell the difference or if she's the type to care), but right now, there are pearls and she'll look beautiful wearing them on Shabbat.

It is legitimate to want to feel beautiful and treasured as a kallah. It's just not legitimate to expect other people to work years for it. American jewelers talk about six months salary for the engagement ring. All of my wedding jewelry and gifts (and I felt completely showered by it - because there were some smaller items that were for joke value or had personal meaning.) cost my husband less than half a month's salary (after taxes).

One thing to note. People still talk about our wedding. We had a simple hall, and one of the cheapest (though they're AMAZING) bands around... but my husband is a pro juggler, and he and his friends juggled. The juggling at our wedding might be the best juggling ever seen at a wedding in Israel...

B-moron said...

@Anon 12:03

Sadly the cheap options in Baltimore tend to work out to be like buying a new car. It's true you can get one of the package deals for 15K but it's like jusying the chassis of the car -- it includes next to nothing and has contractual limitations on what YOU are even allowed to provide. My sister was recently married and it turned it it was cheaper to use the same caterer (I won't use any names but pretty much all the package deal caterers are the same) WITHOUT the package deal and assemble the pieces ourselves.

As for it catching on, many people are using these package deals, but from my friends in wedding planning they tell me that the average wedding (even using these packages) is still running in the area of 25K (this includes only items for the day of the wedding, no sheitels etc.). Of course I don't know so much about the historical prices of Baltimore weddings but it still seems rather high to me compared to the true low cost do-it-yourself and make use of the gemachs options.

Leah Goodman said...

B-Moron: What if you went completely crazy and put up a tent in your backyard and did partial catering from a caterer, and partially stuff that you can either make easily (rice) or buy prepared at the supermarket- eg buy pre-prepped veggies and just put them out on platters yourself rather than having veggie platters, used an amateur band instead of pros...

Have just veggies and dip instead of a full schmorg.

If you decide that you really don't care what everyone else is doing, but you want to have a beautiful simcha, you can do it a lot cheaper.

rosie said...

I think that the first thing to cut out in order to save money on weddings is meals for in-town guests that are not in the immediate family. I know of one community where the only people served a meal are the out-of-town guests and immediate family and maybe a few rabbonim. The other friends and family members come later to dance and have desert. I also don't think flowers are needed for every table and the photographer can make a disc from which the customer can make his own albums. I went around the neighborhood and hand delivered invitations rather than spend on postage. There are numerous ways to save and many have already been mentioned on this blog. I think that there must be a middle path between barely any celebration and a lavish display that costs every aunt, uncle, and cousin.

Anonymous said...

I think the first thing we will cut out in order to save money is going to out of town weddings outside the immediate family. The expense and difficulty of traveling to weddings of every niece, nephew and cousin, especially because we won't be served any meals. Meals for out of town guests? A dispensable expense! And our gift for out of town couples? Also dispensable! Good idea, Rosie!

tesyaa said...

Cutting down the guest list is a GOOD idea. No one wants to go to their second-cousin-once-removed's wedding unless they are close friends in real life. I know some people get offended when they're not invited to a simcha they don't even want to attend, but so what?

A big factor driving huge weddings is hall MINIMUMS. In the NY area, particularly in Monsey, there are huge halls that give "cheaper" prices per guest than traditional smaller catering halls and shuls. It sounds like a great deal until you realize you're paying for a 400 or 600 guest minimum. Let's see, $50 per head times 600 people (I don't even KNOW 600 people!) = $30,000; $100 per head times 200 people (more realistic for me, we had 180 people at our wedding in 1988) = $20,000. You don't need to be an actuary to do this kind of math :)

Mark said...

Rosie - If you are not RW, why do you need to express it?

Because we are Jews and Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Lazeh. If we see members of a Jewish community throwing away their wealth on "disposable" things like huge weddings, we fear that if bad conditions occur, some of them will become destitute. And if enough of them become destitute, we will all have to help them feed their families.

rosie said...

Mark,
Plenty of MO families make humongous weddings. Now maybe these are highly paid professionals with smaller families but the amount that the wedding costs in proportion to their income is still likely to put them into debt. Now are MO families allowed to do that or is there some fear that their overspending will spill over and end up costing someone else in the community? Are big weddings wrong for everyone or just for the RW because of their holier than though attitude? Can anyone police what people spend on weddings so that the poor don't emulate the rich? When feeding someone who becomes destitute, unless you know that he blew the wealth on weddings, how do you know how he became destitute? Are you currently feeding someone who became destitute marrying off his kids?
anon, in some out of town communities, there would be few friends of the chosson and kallah if some of their friends did not come. I agree that one does not have to travel to every wedding but sometimes the people are very close to either the chosson or the kallah.

JS said...

tesyaa,

Sure. But you're forgetting about the 400 people (figure 180 couples and 40 singles) that will get you gifts!

Figure $100 per couple and $50 per single (gotta average in the cheapskates!) and you're talking $20,000. More than makes up for the $10,000 extra cost.

;)

tesyaa said...

Now maybe these are highly paid professionals with smaller families but the amount that the wedding costs in proportion to their income is still likely to put them into debt.

Rosie, are you really saying that outside the RW community it is considered normal to go into debt for a wedding? I hope that's not the case.

In addition to Mark's reasons for caring about what the RW does even if we personally don't consider ourselves RW, I have additional concerns. Even though I am more "modern" (in thought, not in appearance), I live in a community with a strong RW presence and I worry about the influence of RW ideas on my family. It happens that my kids are not copycats, but I am thinking of another relatives' kids who, I think, were unduly influenced by their RW surroundings, when it comes to their realisticness (or unrealisticness) regarding money and spending.

Leah Goodman said...

Personally, I think that most weddings that cost a lot of money end up looking like you're just showing off or doing what everyone else does.

I think people should focus on letting the Hatan and Kallah have center stage and the guests have a nice time without trying to impress the guests. My guests had a nice time because the music and schtick was fun and the food was tasty, not because it was super-fancy (meatballs. Seriously... meatballs... which we didn't order, but that's another story...)

rosie said...

tesyaa, I am sure that RWingers are just as worried about MO influence as you are of their influence.
One of my sons is a rabbi and he has performed weddings for very wealthy people. Have you ever heard of a "destination wedding"? They fly the whole crowd to an island and stay there for a couple of days. These are Jews of various types and stripes but none are RW. Some of these weddings are $300,000. Now I don't know if there was debt incurred or not but outside of RW Orthodoxy, I have seen bigger and grander weddings than I could ever dream of making for my kids.
I thought that the topic of the post was the desire to keep the wedding modest rather than grandiose. Is grandiose OK if the family does not go into debt? Is grandiose OK if you are not RW?

tesyaa said...

If you are worth $10 million, maybe $300K on a wedding is not crazy. Right wing or left wing. I will never have that problem!

What I took from the post was not that weddings should never be grandiose. I thought the point was that if one side wants to "do less" than the community standards, that is a legitimate request. Now I think community standards are more standardized and set in stone in the RW community. That's the only reason RW vs. MO has any bearing on the post.

Bklynmom said...

I have been to one or two weddings I was invited to just because everyone in our shul was invited, and I felt obligated to attend. When you are one of 600 guests, neither the chattan or kallah or their parents will even remember you were there (or remember you were not). We no longer attend weddings of people we don'r feel close to. It's a waste of time and money. My husband and I got married in 1992, had a buffet wedding and just over 100 guests, mostly friends, since we come from very small families. I just don't get the huge weddings. And we are MO, so even way back when not all modern couples had huge expensive weddings. Or are the mega-weddings a more recent phenomenon?

Abba's Rantings said...

as i've said many times, couples should be required to pay for their own wedding. this ensures

a) they are not marrying before they they can support themselves

b) wedding costs will not be outragious

JS:

"But you're forgetting about the 400 people (figure 180 couples and 40 singles) that will get you gifts!"

some groups are known for being very generous when it comes to gift giving simchas. e.g., russians. sephardim not bad either. otherwise in most cases (at least in our experience) you don't make back the investment. not even close.

Anonymous said...

I find it amusing that people are associating RW with fancy weddings. I've been to plenty of weddings and for the most part the more RW weddings were much less fancy and much cheaper.

Spending above your means is not a RW only issue. Many of the non-jews I work with spend well above their means and don't really care. It's really an American culture issue. Sure the shidduch scene in the RW community can be nauseating at times but the underlying spending issues isn't really even a Jewish issue.

JS said...

My attitude is usually to each his own. I'm not counting the pennies in other people's bank accounts. Let them spend what they will.

However, the overspending on weddings and other material possessions seems to have a spill over affect from the individual to the community. A large part of this is people without financial means who, because of jealousy or feelings of inadequacy, feel the need to spend money they don't have. Further, people have warped priorities and overspend on a wedding when they don't meet their communal obligations (paying shul membership dues, full tuition, etc).

When people make poor decisions like these, it affects the entire community: people who are indebted need charity, interest-free loans, and gemachs. People who don't pay shul dues or full tuition are forcing others in the community to pay.

It's not a RW or MO issue. It's a Jewish issue. Perhaps people are picking on the RW because so many of the customs seem antiquated, formulaic and out of touch with modern times or because it's perceived that MO are wealthier and can therefore "afford it." Regardless, it's something everyone should be working on.

Abba's Rantings said...

ANON:

"I find it amusing that people are associating RW with fancy weddings"

it's not about making fancy weddings, but rather weddings you can't afford (and worse, then expecting other to pick up the tab)

rosie said...

I think that part of the reason that RW standards are set in stone in my community is that there are few kosher halls and catering facilities so everything looks the same at each wedding; even the crowd. Every now and then, someone goes cheaper and uses a shul bar mitzvah hall. There is also an expensive caterer and that is usually the one who caters MO simchas.
Whether the decision to spend on weddings is American, Jewish, Indian, or Chinese, the reality is that most people get more pleasure out of spending on an event than on an item or on something one owes (such as shul dues or tuition). A study was done that bore that result.

tesyaa said...

Another difference between RW and MO: in the MO world, there is less worry that one side will call off the wedding if the othe side is not "up to snuff" as far as spending, gifts etc.

rosie said...

Tessya, is the worry in the RW world more that a bad relationship will develop between the 2 families that will affect the new couple or is it really that they expect the engagement to break off? I would say that if someone misrepresented their wealth and then when it comes time to pay for the wedding they show their true colors, it could really rock the boat but if they are up front about their financial status before the couple meets, then basically they have agreed to whatever the other side brings to the table.
I would imagine that with MO, the couple are further along in the relationship and feuds between the families over the arrangements are less likely to hamper the relationship.

Mark said...

Rosie, I didn't say anything about MO or RW. What I said is a general statement that applies to all. And, if anything, MO is MORE over-the-top when it comes to fancy weddings!

The point is that as a community (MO, RW, all of us), we are disposing of far too much wealth on such things, and that puts us into a more and more precarious situation as the years go by. Now we see some of our institutions failing, but only slowly and one here and one there. But add some real economic dislocation (that is almost surely coming someday as our debt chickens come home to roost) and you will see wholesale closures of institutions without even a chance of saving them because we disposed of all our wealth on Yeshiva tuition and weddings.

Abba's Rantings said...

TESYAA:

"one side will call off the wedding"

does that really happen?!

ROSIE:

"if they are up front about their financial status before the couple meets"

i don't even know where to start, but i guess i'm just so removed from that world

rosie said...

Abba's rantings,
In the RW world, marriage is like buying a house or a car. You try to choose the specs. Of course humans are not property and Hashem is the ultimate Shadchan, but in the RW world each set of parents checks into those factors before the couple meets. If there is something which should be stated before an engagement is agreed upon, failure to disclose it might be considered grounds for breaking an engagement. Parents often agree on what they will do financially before the couple even meets.
Look Abba, at least it is not Mauritania where girls must be fattened up enormously in order to attract a husband. Each ethnic group has their own brand of mishagas but I just think that it is strange and non-productive for the MOs to put so much energy into changing (or energy into complaining about) the mishagas of the RW. I wish that more RW would blog about RW problems. I guess that the problems will just get solved by default.

aaron from L.A. said...

I can imagine an ancient Israelite wedding.One side promised 10 sheep and the other 3 camels.Catering? they probably baked bread, slaughtered a cow and served wine.A shmorg table?Please don't make me laugh...some olives and a few dates or figs and there you had it.A chasunah for under 100 zuzim....and no one asked his in-laws for support just so he could spend all his time at the at the yeshiva of Shem and Ever.(I wonder what the tuition was)..You got married,you tended sheep and learned how to avoid stepping in the poop(or use it for growing crops...(Again,hard physical work). Then again,those were simpler times.Chadesh yameinu k'Kedem.

rosie said...

aaron, look up in your chumash about the wedding that Lavan made for Yaacov and Leah. Lavan cheated the town folk to pay for the wedding but it was big and lavish.

Mark said...

Rosie - look up in your chumash about the wedding that Lavan made for Yaacov and Leah. Lavan cheated the town folk to pay for the wedding but it was big and lavish.

So the big lavish wedding provided to us as an example in the Torah is made by a less than honest guy that cheated the community.

What should we learn from that about lavish weddings? :-)

Avi said...

The RW weddings I have attended - much of my family is RW Yeshivish - tended to be much more modest than the MO weddings I have attended. But if you're poor - or if you plan to postpone working in favor of learning Torah for a while - then you really ought to spend next to nothing on the wedding and conserve the money for living expenses. All of my siblings' weddings were held in cities 1 - 4 hours away to save money (having a wedding in a Lakewood school can be quite inexpensive, and it was nicer than we expected. Not THAT much nicer, but nicer). Increasing the cost of the wedding does not lead to an increase in gifts large enough to offset the higher expenses.

For my own wedding I thought we did things pretty modestly to preserve my parents ability to pay tuition/make weddings for my younger siblings, but it was still tens and tens of thousands of 14-year-ago-dollars and probably could have been reduced in some areas. The one thing I would have gladly spent more on was the band - ours was terrible, and importing a better band from the NY area would have been money well spent. There was no vort or engagement party or bachelor party, etc. though there was one fairly lavish sheva brachot in my home town - 500 miles away from where we got married - that must have cost a few thousand dollars. That said, my favorite sheva brachot was for our NY area friends upstairs at J2. That cost next to nothing, and as far as I'm concerned, pizza is the ideal food for a seudat mitzvah.

We collectively spent very little on gifts other than the engagement ring. I paid for the rings (we were both working post-college) and the yichud room gift concept appealed to me, so I bought a cheap gold bracelet ($100? $200? something like that). Wife bought me a tallis (I think she paid for it) and somebody bought me a kittel (probably her parents). My parents bought her candlesticks (~$200), and I think they may have bought her a non-custom shaitel, too.

Orthonomics said...

tesyaa is correct about the point of this post. The point of the post is to point out that just as some have needs for more, others have a need for less. That need may, or may not, be related to the actual financial situation. It could simply be an issue of style.

While many recognize the wants of the more demanding side, the desire for a more toned down affair should be recognized as its own legitimate request.

Quite frankly, I do not and have never viewed the issue of overblown weddings as a solely RW issue. I've mentioned on this blog MO families that have funded weddings with home equity loans, RW families and the out of control gift giving, and Chassidish toned down standards that are simply out of touch financially with where the communal average should be.

Orthonomics said...

Mark and I are on the same page regarding the patterns of spending: they are downright dangerous and will cause tremendous upheaval.

Leah Goodman said...

Again, the real problem is that expectations go before budget. When my husband and I got engaged, my parents said "we can give you $X" My husband had a certain budget that he was willing to spend from his savings (he'd been working for 6 years at a good job at that point).)

We worked from there. If it didn't make the budget, we found a way to cut something to find room for it, or we didn't have it. That's it.

I see all too often "we need XYZABCDEFG - here's the bill"

I'm guessing Rupert Murdock and Warren Buffet wouldn't plan a wedding that way. I'm guessing they'd start with a budget and stick to it. They might make that budget a million dollars, but they'd start with a budget in mind.

Ariella said...

Tesyaa and Rosy, I recall already years (nearly decades) ago of the bride's side indicating they were wealthier than they were in order to get a "learning boy." A mother of recently married son indicated that was the case for her son. She didn't say it with bitterness. She wasn't concerned about the impressiveness of the wedding or gifts, though she did say that she could have bought the couple furniture instead of the kallah jewelry. (That's a typical RW thing, insisting on the public possessions rather than more practical ones even when the parents are sensible enough to offer fungible funds.) Anyway, from what I hear years down the road, the husband's parents have to "help" the couple cover tuition costs for their not-very-small family.

rosie said...

Ariella, what I object to is calling something a "typical RW thing" as though all RWingers are shallow and pretentious. If we make them that way and categorize them that way then they might as well be that way. Why change? And does that mean that by contrast, MO, Conservative and Reform Jews are practical and unconcerned with what others think of them? The only stereotype that might have a drop of validity (but then some Israelis get married at the King David) is to contrast the average Israeli wedding with those in more affluent countries. Don't blame America because a Jewish wedding in England lasts all day and into the night. There have been some over the top weddings in Australia as well.
During very financially lean times in Jewish history, weddings were very lacking in lavishness and obviously for every individual of any religion, the buck stops somewhere. Yemenite Jewish weddings were once the most expensive that one could imagine until the Yemenite Jews lost their wealth. As was stated elsewhere in this thread, some sfardic communities still pump mega dollars into weddings, yet no one is spewing negative comments at them as though they will personally be affected by their excessive spending.
Another thing that I find interesting is that while most of the posters here are married, it does not appear that their children are at that stage yet. I realize that this blog has attracted those who get married in their backyards with a barbecue but weddings tend to be a very emotional affair and for most of human nature, this loosens pocketbooks.

Anonymous said...

I will go out on a stereotyping limb here and say it is not a right wing thing to be ostentatious - it is a Boro Park Hungarian thing!

rosie said...

anon-TRUE!

tesyaa said...

it is a Boro Park Hungarian thing!

Rabbi Wein relates an anecdote in which a non-Jewish acquaintance who had the opportunity to be in many Jewish homes (he was a contractor, perhaps) asked him, "Tell me, Rabbi, what is the religious significance of the chandelier?"

Bklynmom said...

Not exactly on-topic of the original post, but to add to the comments--
I often work with inner-city families who are on all sorts of government-sponsored public assistance, balk at spending money on medicine or breast pumps, but have their babies and toddlers (and themselves) decked out in designer clothes, jewelry, Uggs (babies!), riding in Bugaboos, etc. Anything less is considered a "failure." What others see is far more important than their financial reality. And they are not even Jewish...

tesyaa said...

Bklynmom, this is a phenomenon many of us have seen ... but the Jewish community definitely considers itself superior to those communities, in so many ways. I hope people don't start saying "well that community does it, why can't we?" Is that what people aspire to?

Dave said...

Doesn't the description "inner-city families who are on all sorts of government-sponsored public assistance" describe a non-trivial percentage of the New York Orthodox community?

Bklynmom said...

Dave,
Yes, by strict definition, but most NY Orthodox Jews would be very quick to point out the "we are nothing like them."
And Tesyaa,
I certainly hope that is not what people aspire to.

Orthonomics said...

Brlynmom-I'd say you are right on point. We spend our money like poor people.

Anonymous said...

"We are nothing like them" - Most important, the NY and Lakewood Orthodox families on public assistance and all kinds of programs are predominantly intact 2 parent families with Jewish values of kindness to children and the elderly, a strong supportive community, and an idealistic religious faith to sustain them. While their attitude toward work is not that of the commenters on this blog, and their attitude toward secular education is in my opinion lacking, the right wing Jewish welfare class is still morally, socially and culturally on a high level.

Ariella said...

quite so, Sephardi Lady. There is a girl in the same class as my daughter who qualifies for the free or very reduced cost (like $50 for the whole year) hot lunch program who insists on Uggs and $90 loafers.

Dave said...

The right wing Jewish welfare class is still morally, socially and culturally on a high level.

I find no means in which I can define a class which shuns work and instead decides to live off the work of others to be on any kind of a moral, social, or cultural high level.

And that's before you get to things like benefits fraud.

Anonymous said...

I am Anon. 10/14 1:45 pm. I knew I was going to get flack for saying a welfare class can be on a high moral level. The commenters here are not (correct me if I'm wrong) speaking from personal knowledge of poor families from Lakewood and chasidic communities. Those I know are kind, truly frum, peaceable, and rather innocent. I do not see a lot of shrewd operators - if they were shrewd, they would be making out better than the minimal material existence I see. They are poor because they do not value secular work and the education necessary to achieve in secular society. Many are the children of frum parents who made decisions for them that led them to a life of poverty and benefits. Okay, commenters, fire away!

rosie said...

anon, what you said is one of the recognized problems of the frum community. Leading people out of poverty with education though is like taking a country like Bolivia (rescued miner #4) and telling them to make over their lifestyle so that they won't be poor. Those who want to make a better life will have to swim against the tide because it is unlikely that any rabbinic leadership will arise to change the situation.

Bklynmom said...

A great many of the families I was refering to are religiously devout, kind, not violent in any way (actually many suffer from the violence in their neighborhoods, in which they play no part), hold children and the elderly in very high regard, and have a supportive community of extended family, friends, church congregation. And they too lack the education to advance professionally, and put little value on work, or choose not to work so as not to lose their benefits. Not much difference, except for the two-parent household part. Except that many (not the majority, perhaps, but many) are actually two-parent households who choose not not get legally married so as not to lose the government handouts. Sounds familiar?

Mark said...

Anon 1:48 - Those I know are kind, truly frum, peaceable, and rather innocent.

Preventing ones children from getting a useful education and teaching them to not work is UNkind, UNfrum, leads to lack of peace, and is entirely NOT innocent! It's evil.

Anonymous said...

"Swim against the tide" - Rosie, that is precisely the issue. The bulwark for the individual in right wing frumkeit is the support of your community. If you choose to swim against the tide - wear a different hair embellishment than the other girls in your high school, speak English with more polish than your classmates, or study secular subjects outside of a frum framework, you risk placing yourself outside the community. The community's standards buffer the individual against the moral dangers of the outside world, but prevent outside ideas from infiltrating as well. The compromises one makes to earn a living, in terms of giving up the protected environment, are often incompatible with the chareidi yeshiva worldview.

rosie said...

anon, it appears to me that those who swim against the tide are doing it as a group. I see young people today who grew up in the frum community and will refuse to send their child to any yeshiva without secular education.

Anonymous said...

Rosie, do you see that? I haven't seen it, but I'm glad if you do. All I see is professional training for young women only, and in fields which are "frum-approved", i.e., nothing that would upset the neighbors, and therefore oversaturated. I do not see any trend toward secular education beyond a minimum for boys.

rosie said...

I see that as a trend that will affect the tot-lot set. It isn't happening at the moment but some young parents (such as some of my children) claim that they won't send their children to the type of yeshivas that they went to. I also see that "working" boys are increasing in number and many have some type of training or college, albeit Touro. In the NY area FEGS which is the parnassah branch of Jewish Federation is helping young frum men with job training.
Also, some young people who were brought up RW are now MO, possibly because they want to fit into a secular work force. My children are not MO, they are RW but are concerned about teaching their children to make a living.

Anonymous said...

Mark wrote: "But add some real economic dislocation (that is almost surely coming someday as our debt chickens come home to roost) and you will see wholesale closures of institutions without even a chance of saving them because we disposed of all our wealth on Yeshiva tuition and weddings."

Mark is right. A significant percentage of Orthodox institutions could fail over the next 5 years.

Anonymous said...

Being kind to people who are just like you and fit your mold is not such a big deal. The test is how you treat the folks who don't fit your narrow mold, whether its the homosexual or lesbian, the child who wants to get a secular education, or the relative who is not observant and what you say about and how you treat people who aren't part of your group, whether its your hispanic cleaning lady or your black neighbor or your secular jewish co-worker.

sethg-prime said...

I am tempted to say “give these folks a break: you only get married once [God willing], so it’s not the worst thing to have a big bash when you get married if both parties are ready to adopt a more frugal lifestyle afterward”.

But it’s not just the wedding, is it? There will be brises, bar mitzvahs, childrens’ weddings, gifts for friends’ simchas.... If the couple and their families can’t negotiate a reasonable standard for the wedding itself, it bodes ill for the rest of the marriage.

Leah Goodman said...

SethG: giving a break is saying that they shouldn't be limited by the money that the couple manages to earmark for the wedding out of their own earnings between the date of the engagement and the date of the wedding.

Saying that the parents should help as much as they feel comfortable helping (based on their own needs too!) is giving the couple a break.

I think every girl deserves to feel like a princess on her wedding day, but you can feel like a princess in a gemach dress (I certainly did) with a modest bouquet and without a schmorg that could feed a small African country, invitations that cost a dollar apiece or more, etc...

Abba's Rantings said...

TESYAA:

"I hope people don't start saying "well that community does it, why can't we?"

actually that's a pretty standard line.

ANON:

"the right wing Jewish welfare class is still morally, socially and culturally on a high level"

a) even if true, so what?
b) there is nothing moral about the lack of a work ethic
c) how is it moral to obtain government assistance under false or fraudelent pretenses? (e.g., some couples don't file for a civil marriage license in order to preserve the opportunity for single mom benefits, but did you know that in new york it is illegal for a rabbi to conduct a wedding ceremony without a civil marriage license?)

i have much less of a problem with recourse to the practical logic of "the [fill in you racial favorite epithet] get it so why can't we" than your moral apologetics

tesyaa said...

Abba - maybe people do think that it's moral to learn Torah instead of work. That's what they've been taught. It's a twisted type of morality but a type of morality nonetheless.

As Bklynmom says, though, many of her inner-city non-Jewish acquaintances live upstanding lives. It's beyond me why so many Orthodox Jews view all inner-city non-Jews as thieves, prostitutes, and drug addicts. Oh wait, it's not beyond me; the answer is racism.

Dov said...

Rosie said >Plenty of MO families make humongous weddings. Now maybe these are highly paid professionals with smaller families but the amount that the wedding costs in proportion to their income is still likely to put them into debt. Now are MO families allowed to do that or is there some fear that their overspending will spill over and end up costing someone else in the community? Are big weddings wrong for everyone or just for the RW because of their holier than though attitude? Can anyone police what people spend on weddings so that the poor don't emulate the rich? When feeding someone who becomes destitute, unless you know that he blew the wealth on weddings, how do you know how he became destitute? Are you currently feeding someone who became destitute marrying off his kids?
anon, in some out of town communities, there would be few friends of the chosson and kallah if some of their friends did not come. I agree that one does not have to travel to every wedding but sometimes the people are very close to either the chosson or the kallah.<

I've had hundreds of folks knocking on my door over the years and not a single one I recall was MO. 'Nuff said!

rosie said...

Most of the people that knock on doors to collect for hachnassas kallah are from Israel where an estimated 700,000 children are malnourished. That the money is for a chassunah and a dirah, while the children are hungry, is problematic. Heredi society encourages a culture of begging and does nothing to solve the current situation.
But, that does not mean that in MO circles, people don't go into debt for fancy weddings. MO families probably have means to pay off the debts that they incur but that does not mean that they are not affected by a community standard of gashmius.
Wealthy people are expected to invite more people and have a more expensive celebration. Yes, I know everyone has a story of someone who ignored those expectations and who could have done more but chose to do less. Much of Jewish culture revolves around weddings and it is very easy to go over budget and pile expenses on credit cards.
The person in Boro Park or in Israel that makes a wedding rather than pay shul dues or donate more to tzedukah is circulating dollars into his local frum economy. Weddings generate spending some of which goes back into the community. While all Jews are connected, I don't feel it coming out of my wallet as I live far from either place. I don't donate more because they overspend on weddings.
It does not help to be jealous of what others spend on simchas and to say that they were not entitled to spend what they spent. While doing less is a legitimate choice, those who choose to do less should be ready to defend it. Not everyone will appreciate a stripped down affair and some family members might not be delicate about expressing their disapproval. There might have to be lengthy negotiations with all factions of the wedding party unless everyone loves a radical idea. If the next generation decides that it is not worth it to go into debt over weddings, I hope that they are all in agreement.

tesyaa said...

Not everyone will appreciate a stripped down affair and some family members might not be delicate about expressing their disapproval.

True, you can't please everyone.

If the next generation decides that it is not worth it to go into debt over weddings, I hope that they are all in agreement.

What, really? You know, when you have two Jews you have three opinions. Everyone being in agreement, that sounds like a pipe dream.

Anonymous said...

Chareidi children in Israel going hungry is not an issue, because American chareidim support food banks for Chareidi children in Israel. That leaves housing, the big expense that is not covered by American tzedakah or the government. That's why chareidim from Israel come to chareidi communities in America to collect. It's been that way for years. The amount of money they need is impossible to raise by any other means. Food is donated, buying an apartment is the major problem for Israeli chareidim. Fathers make promises they have no way of keeping - and are in terrible debt as a result.

Anonymous said...

The more I think about it, the more I feel that those who aren't repulsed by the twisted sick thinking of those who live far above their means -- and it seems to me to be a basically Chareidei phenomenon -- are not being merciful.

rosie said...

anon, the Americans are not really managing to feed the hungry Israeli kids. Before the economy crashed, maybe they did but not anymore.

Leah Goodman said...

very few children in Israel actually go hungry. food is cheap, there are food banks, and yeshiva students receive a stipend. Those of us living in Israel are certainly capable of keeping them fed, if not well, then at least so they're not hungry. Those of us who are renting and made small weddings are not so eager to give money so that others can buy luxuries we don't buy for ourselves...

A friend was living in a 2-room (that's 1 bedroom) rented apartment where the sum total of their furnishings were 2 mattresses and 2 plastic chairs when someone came to the door asking for money to help buy and furnish a place for a young married couple.

The young woman asked the man if he'd go out collecting for her next...