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Sunday, October 24, 2010

This Goes to the Heart of Things Marriage and Family

Marty Bluke at the Jewish Worker summarizes an article from the Hebrew Mishpacha. I have to wonder what sort of new social experiment, which goes beyond all things marriage and family, will result next should economic change not be accepted and approached with sechel:

This weeks Hebrew Mishpacha magazine had a very depressing article that because of the economic downturn and the rising apartment prices the shidduch market has slowed down dramatically in Israel. The reason is very simple fewer and fewer parents of girls can afford to buy an apartment for the couple. Many/most of the boys are still holding out for an apartment and there are very
few parents of girls who can afford it.


The article says that the dormitories in the Yeshivas are full because the older boys who should be getting married aren't. One Rosh Yeshiva said that usually around 30 boys a year get married, this year only 10 got married. The head of a post high school seminary said that in the past half the girls were engaged or married by the end of the year, last year it was only 10%. The reason is very simple, the boys are holding out for an apartment and the girl's parents simply can't afford it.

The bottom line is that the average Charedi family size has gone up to over 6 kids per family and the income sources have gone down. In previous generations people had war/holocaust reparations from Germany, people actually worked, the cost of living in Israel was much lower, people had money from grandparents, and people lived much simpler life styles. All of these things have gone away. We now have the second or third generation of kollel only parents marrying off their daughters and the money is simply not there. There is simply no way that people can afford to pay $150,000+ to marry off their daughter.

The big question is what is going to happen? IMHO this is a much bigger issue then concerts, internet, etc. This goes to the heart of things marriage and family. It is disappointing that more hasn't been done by the Charedi leadership on this issue.




Interesting read about what a glut of Arab single men, unable to marry because they lack funds to marry "properly", is doing to Egyptian society. Two concepts: destabilization and growth of extremism. Many would predict that amongst the Orthodox, the opposite would set in.

58 comments:

Miami Al said...

Well, it's rather simple, Charedi family size will start falling, perhaps plummeting. Harder to have a ridiculous number of children starting later, which will cause that to plummet. Also, with more boys chasing fewer girls, more of the boys will be hanging out in Yeshiva, broke, poor, and unmarried (hey, sounds like pre-WW1 Lithuanian Yeshivot, the parents of daughters didn't want to support the students then, either).

Eventually, the less "desirable boys," whatever determines that, will leave Kollel and start their own life. They may remain Charedi and marry that unmarried women there, but I find that unlikely. Increasingly, there is no non-Yeshiva Charedi life left.

So, either they will come into the Modern Orthodox world, where they will help with the trashing of MO economics because they still "believe" the falsehoods that they were taught and push others to act as though it was true, or they will end up outside of Orthodoxy doing something new.

I somewhat hope that they end up outside of Orthodoxy. I believe a BIG chunk of MO's problem is that the students grew up with "modern" lives but educated by Charedi Rabbis, who taught the nonsense the the Charedim live their lives by. This is creating pulls in the MO world to pursue the same economically fatal movements of the RW world.

likearealadult said...

Family formation is really essential to the stability of any society and young men, who can find neither wives nor jobs, quickly become a very destabilizing force. The Chinese and Indian governments are both dealing with a generation of "missing" girls who were selectively aborted or adopted, which will cause a generation of unmarried men. I read somewhere that many historic revolutions were preceded by demographic changes that left many young men single and unemployed.

It will be interesting to see how long young people in the Chareidi world put up with living their lives on hold before they decide to do something drastic.

ProfK said...

At some point the practical and the philosophical are going to collide, as we are seeing now. Too many communities have tried to live as if there were no outside world with its practical considerations. Plain fact: you can't live without money, and money doesn't grow on trees. As the posuk told man "by the sweat of your brow you shall work." Lots of sweat-averse people who are now reaping the product of that attitude.

Marriage isn't possible without money, and with money in short supply marriage numbers are declining. So, are we hearing an outcry for a change in the 'girl's parents buy the apartment' rule? Are we hearing an outcry for more and better training courses so that young men can get jobs that will support a family? Perhaps more importantly, are we hearing roshei hayeshivot and gedolim who are putting a far lower cap on the number of years boys have to sit and learn, or who are saying that another approach is necessary? Nope, we are hearing that "boys" in their late 20s and 30s are still in yeshiva dormitories because they can't find girls with money. Please, someone define "boy" for me. And while you are at it, explain just how "seichel" is being defined by these people.

Suicide is forbidden to us. What else can you call it but suicide when marriage numbers are falling as rapidly as the article describes, and whole families that might have been there are not going to be there because people were blind to the realities of life?

Anonymous said...

There is a middle ground to very young marriages with children early on serving as a stabilizing force and extremism and chaos. How about the American model whereby most don't marry and have kids till their mid-20's. The years between high school and marriage/family are using for education, job training, getting experience and growing up. Also who and when you marry depends much more on who you are and what you have accomplished and your personality rather than whether mommy and daddy can buy you an apartment because married adults are expected to be self-sufficient. Instead of sitting in dorms marking time until they can find a girl whose tatty can buy them an apartment, why don't those young chareidi men use this as an opportunity to get work experience and training, even if it means going into the IDF.

rosie said...

Al, and Adult,
In just a few decades one in three Americans will have type 2 diabetes. Now that should make all of us dispose of all the sugar in the house and make a beeline for the gym but so far, all I see is people waddling toward the sweet table. I don't see this big massive change in diet due to the scare of a bit of kidney dialysis and a few amputated toes. It usually takes a lot to make people change and it usually happens in trickles rather than waves. Then someone like Mayor Bloomberg threatens to strike sugared drinks from the allowed list for food stamps and we hear the bellowing of "not fair." Drastic change rarely takes place unless something really drastic (chas v'sholem) happens. During the depression and WWII, drastic change took place, both in the Jewish and general societies. BH, we don't have anything that sudden and cataclysmic going on today.
I think about some old Jewish neighborhoods that are no longer either Jewish or neighborhoods. The Jews moved farther away, other minorities moved in, urban blight took over, and now these neighborhoods are abandoned houses and vacant lots strewn with trash. The Jews didn't all pack up and leave on the same day, nor did they immediately move to the far away suburbs, but in any old neighborhood, you will see churches with Jewish symbols on the outside. Change took place slowly until one would be hard pressed to still find a Jew in those neighborhoods. (disclaimer: there are probably still a few).
Jewish trends go in cycles and at one point people were more modern, then the pendulum swung to extreme Charedi, and now there is evidence of Jews becoming more modern. Fifty years ago, Conservative Judaism was very strong but is considerably weakened now. Basically all anyone can do if they want a different lifestyle is live it and ignore what others say. Those who can't do that will end up changing by default when society forces them to change.

Anonymous said...

Humans, by nature are very resistant to change. When you have people affirmatively indoctrinated into believing that only one very narrow path is the right way and everything else is evil, who are kept insulated from all other ideas and perspectives, and whose leader's powers are heavily dependant on the status quo, change and growth becomes even that much more difficult. The charedis don't read blogs like this so all the self-congratulatory back-slapping on how much saner and more realistic our way of life is that many of the commentators on these blogs do is irrelevant. All that the rest of the jewish world can do is stop being enablers.

Leah Goodman said...

I'm guessing that as these men get to 25 and 28 and 30, they're going to understand that an apartment simply won't happen, and they'll find a way to work, and they'll look for a woman whose parents can afford a down payment... meanwhile, those girls will understand that the money is keeping them single and they'll work to earn that money... It won't happen to all of them, but it'll happen to some of them.

Of course, many will scream that more money needs to come from "wealthy americans" for hachnasat kalla, but sorry to say that whatever money Americans have needs to go to schooling their kids... And my tzedaka will not be going to paying for some 20-somethings not to have a mortgage when I'm still renting in my 30's.

rosie said...

Leah,
I don't see as many mishulachim collecting for hachnasat kallah in my neighborhood anymore. Maybe I am never home when they come or maybe they don't feel that I give enough to make stopping by worthwhile or maybe they stopped coming to collect in our community because donations dropped. Maybe those wealthy Americans who do have enough money to make a difference feel the same way that you do: pay rent!

Anonymous said...

I don't see this happening to my Chassidic neighbors in Jerusalem because they are not materialistic. Maybe the problem in the subset of Charedi society that you are talking about is materialism.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:49 - I don't think "materialistic" is a useful label. Everyone is materialistic since we live in a material world. Who among us can go without food, shelter, clothing, medicine, etc.? Even performing mitzvot requires numerous material items, whether its seforim, torah scrolls, candles, teffilim, mikvas. Are you saying that your chassidic neighbors provide for their own material needs and don't expect others, whether the father in laws, government or whoever, to provide and therefore try to minimize their material needs and wants?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:49 - For example, they could live in a small rental in an outlying area. A newly wed couple could rent a one room apartment. They don't need to own the apartment. They could buy used furniture. They could offer to wash the stairwell for a small amount of money. They could give up the Shas, gold watch etc. dowry gifts. Give up Sheitels in favor of headscarves.

They could put the value of marriage higher than getting a good "husband price." It's not the girls who are commanded to get married.

Leah Goodman said...

People, please give yourselves nametags. Even if you just call yourself Anonymous Ema or Anon1 or something. I'm fairly certain that Anonymous 5:18 was actually responding to Anon 12:57's comment...

A Fan said...

My prediction: The system won't change because of this. THe boys will lower their demands, so the girls' parents will be able to pay- they'll still go into debt, but a more 'feasible' debt than the status quo. Crisis will be averted for the time being, so all the root causes will continue to be neglected.

Mark said...

Most of the Charedim in Israel are much less materialistic than the Charedim in the USA. However they also work a lot less, and more importantly earn a lot less overall. Their is a widespread problem of poverty among Charedim in Israel, and that will only get worse when the rest of the country eventually refuses to subsidize them (all it would take is a wider coalition for a few years).

Anonymous said...

Mark: Perhaps its only the men who work a lot less. I suspect the women work just as hard (both inside and outside the home) if not harder.

Ariella said...

Such families are only sustained by money pumped in from other sources, whether they collect from charity funds or from family members. Someone I know of has over a dozen kids, one or two of which may be younger than her first grandchildren. Even at that stage of life, her parents help support her family. I know another family -- not as large -- that gets about 10K a year from the wife's parents who also hosted them for Pesach (even at hotels, which can easily amount to $20K for that size family) for about 20 years. The grandparents also pay for college tuition of the son who does not want to stay in learning.

Anonymous said...

Ariella: Your friend is very fortunate to have parents willing and able to help. The generation now coming of age are going to be less likely to be able to do the same for their own 10 or more children, but their children are still being brought up to expect the same (subsidized) lifestyle their parents had without the necessary education so they may be somewhat trapped. I think real change will come with the generation after that.

Anonymous said...

I am very perplexed about the young people in my family who are in kollel and struggling financially to afford necessities. One young wife has three young children, works full time, and her husband learns in Lakewood. They are doing what they are supposed to do, what they were raised to do. I am sure from their hashkofos they would not consider limiting family size. They also would not consider the husband's leaving kollel. The mother would consider that family members like myself should help support them. However, every time she tells me how they are struggling, Hashem should give me strength, etc., I feel imposed upon and do not want to give them money. I do not think an older family member who needs to save for retirement should be supporting a young man who could be getting an education for a job with a view to being self supporting, but has chosen to live off his wife's meager earnings and to sap her strength. I feel for her but it is her choice to enable her husband's learning, a choice that I do not make. I instead am choosing to save for retirement, and am very unhappy that these young couples in my family are unwilling to assume the responsibilities of adulthood.

JS said...

I can't say I'm surprised by any of this. You grow up in a certain society that is built upon certain expectations and understandings, expectations and understandings that you believe are not arbitrary, but are God-given. The lifestyle was practically given on Har Sinai and is as important as keeping Shabbat. Further, the group of people you look to, not just for guidance, but for assistance in every single decision you make in your life continue to venerate this lifestyle and continue to say that any other path is forbidden.

So, of course you sit and wait for your apartment. Why should you compromise let alone go against such a holy tradition? This is the way God intended it: men should learn, women should work and have kids, and in-laws should buy apartments and support the learning. The current economic crisis and financial realities are just a test of our bitachon and emunah.

As Jews, we like to think that we're different from everyone else. In every society when there is a glut of listless, unemployed, single men, there is an increase in lawlessness, crime, and extremism. But, no, we're different. I'm sure the recent increase in rioting and extremism is just a fluke.

It's hard to say what will happen long-term. I don't think the system will collapse. There are always people who are extreme enough to keep with a failing system no matter how much it hurts them or their families. Factor in a belief that self-harm equals mitzvah points, and it just compounds the problem. The real question is whether those on the outskirts will leave in faster numbers - and, when they leave what influence they'll have on other religious sects. I, too, hope it doesn't lead to further extremism among the centrist Orthodox. But, I think that is exactly what will happen. I see the crisis in the Chareidi world leading to an even greater push to the right in their own communities and the centrist and LW communities as the Chareidi flunkies join their ranks (or more of them seek employment amongst those to their left).

The trend is already alive and well. Most teachers in MO yeshivas, for example, are Chareidi (or at least don't share the MO mindset). And, I see more and more of the Chareidi hashkafa entering Modern Orthodoxy: marrying young while in college or immediately thereafter, kids within first 1-2 years of marriage, down payment on house from parents, etc. (all of which is done after consultations with rabbis who do NOT advise waiting for marriage or kids even if it is financially damaging).

The end result is the RW has a marriage crisis because they move their costs up to the beginning of the relationship. The MO have a tuition crisis because they move the costs later, over the kids. Same crisis, different timing.

Abba's Rantings said...

ARIELLA:

"Even at that stage of life, her parents help support her family."

there was a report on the radio this morning that in a survery of older americans undergoing home foreclosures, the 2 leading causes of their debt was attributed to credit card mismanagament and helping out children. if this is a problem in general society, how much more so in our society.

Sensical said...

People keep talking about "the girls' parents." The girls' parents, by and large, are guess what - also the boys' parents. MOST families with 8-10 kids have both boys and girls.
Recently my friend was approached in shul, the guy said he had to buy his daughter an apartment in Israel so he could marry her off. My friend said, Hey, my daughter just got married two weeks ago and I didn't buy her an apartment, she is renting! Why should I give you money to buy your daughter an apartment?
The collector didn't know what to say....
But how can individuals change the whole system?

rosie said...

No one individual can change one whole system. One individual can get together with other like minded individuals and as a group, influence the powers that be. That would be what you would do in civic affairs.
As Jews, your group or organization could present motivational speakers to other Jews on the topic of frugality and financial prudence as the mitzvah of lo' b'tashgis.
I do find that when parents are marrying off boys or girls, they forget that they are also the parents of the other gender. They just concentrate on the matter at hand.

Anonymous said...

I am also concerned about men who are unable to find suitable wives engaging in inappropiate activity. Women have a civilizing effect on young men who might otherwize get involved with drugs and alcohol and having inappropriate sexual relationships. We are not immune as some of our Rabbis might have us think we are.
Ex-Kollel Student

Mark said...

Anon 7:50pm - Perhaps its only the men who work a lot less. I suspect the women work just as hard (both inside and outside the home) if not harder.

Yes, the women work VERY hard, basically 2 jobs, one to earn some money and the second to raise a family. Nevertheless, their society strongly constrains what kind of jobs can qualify for and thus they earn too little. Meanwhile, the men hardly work, and at least theoretically learn all day. I have my doubts about that. I have to wonder why the women stand for it?

Anonymous said...

Because the women believe that the highest purpose in life is to support Torah and they will receive their reward in Olam Haboh, the world to come. I know they believe this because a close family member told me that is what she believes wholeheartedly. She doesn't want her daughters marrying anyone who can earn a living because then their reward would come in Olam Hazeh, this world, at the expense of Olam Haboh. She wants her daughters to marry a Talmid Chochom. We who have more materialistic or more realistic ideas cannot argue with this sort of pristine faith. Yes, she is overworked, but she says, "Hashem gives me strength."

Are we so strong in our beliefs? I daresay not. It is the pure emunah of the women that keeps the kollel system going. They are valiant.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:17 - They may be valiant, but I find it just a little scary and sad that young women are being taught that if they enjoy some of the things this world has to offer and if the lead a balanced life that is not all work (and if their husbands honor the ketuba), they will pay the price in the next and therefore must martyr themselves for the kollel system.

Anonymous said...

Many guys do take their Kollel studies seriously. However, my observation was that about half of the guys were out of their element and would have done better if they gotten a job and studied in the evening. Their wives sometimes pushed them to study instead of work even when it was clear that they were not cutout to be full timers. I personally dropped out and am now working on getting certification in a trade, much to my family's embarrasment.
Ex-Kollel Student.

Anonymous said...

I think for many yeshiva bachurs it is simply a financial decision whether or not to study in kollel. If you are a "learner" you can demand an apartment worth at least $150,000 + years of support. If you are not, you go out to work at some menial job (working likely for a nasty boss and having a long commute), barely covering your expenses month to month, you can not afford to buy an apartment and if you can it will take you 30 years to pay it off, and you lose out on all the chavod you would have had -- had you been studying in kollel. Seems like scenario 1 is much mopre appealing.

rosie said...

I think that in Israel part of the decision to stay in yeshiva or kollel is to avoid having to serve in the military. Some might qualify for exemptions but my understanding is that the military is obligatory unless someone is in yeshiva. That is of course, very controversial in and of itself.

Anonymous said...

In Lakewood the word "working" is spoken with a tinge of disdain, as I have personally observed. The boys in my extended family refer to work with the word "coarse" as the limiting adjective. It's sad - for them, for their wives, and there's nothing I or anyone can do about it. That's their choice. A very few will brave their family's embarrassment and study for a trade. As a young kollel man said to me, "Lakewood couldn't exist without Section 8", said without irony, just as a fact. I wonder if it is legal to deliberately impoverish yourself so as to qualify for government programs.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ex-Kollel Student,
Don't give up. Perhaps if you worked a little harder on your studies, you'd be more successful. In other words, don't sell youself short.
The Other Bubby Tova

A Fan said...

Anonymous 12:41- it's perfectly legal. But that doesn't make it ethical.

rosie said...

According to the NJ table of food stamp eligibility, a family of 4 who makes under $3400 a month can receive food stamps. Let's say for arguments sake that the food stamps are worth $6,000 a year. If the working members of the household earn $3401, they loose $6,000 so why should they work even that much harder? A low paying job might not be paying what food stamps pay. Maybe it is unethical and shnorrish but I cannot blame anyone for taking handouts if it is given so freely. So far, the government has not done much to wean people off of assistance and there is a lot that could be done to wean people off, such as caps on the amount of time that food stamps will be given or that additional children will not mean additional food stamps or that some type of community service must be performed to receive food stamps.

tesyaa said...

Rosie - most people don't have the choice of earning $3399 or $3400. Let's say they could earn $4000. Moneywise it's close, but if they're on any sort of career track, working more hours or working a slightly better job will set them up for greater earnings in the future. Even a grocery checker can rise to be a store manager by being a hard worker and learning the business. By constantly factoring in benefits and making these little calculations, people are ignoring the big picture.

aaron from L.A. said...

The answer to both the shidduch crisis and poverty among the chareidi community is so simple,it astounds me that no one has seriously considered it---Put an end to the takana of Rabbeinu Gershom and once again permit polygamy.Making a living on one wife's salary is just too difficult.

rosie said...

Tesyaa, if a person earnings are close to the cut off and if his wife got a part time job they would loose their food stamps, and after child care it would be questionable if the amount gained by the job would would equal the loss of the food stamps, why would the wife go to work unless the amount she made would be more than the food stamps? Currently jobs have benefits but that looks like it may soon be a thing of the past. I wonder how many counter clerks become store managers. I doubt that many do. Meanwhile, as the family grows in number, the food stamp allotment grows proportionally so there is little incentive to have fewer children, work overtime, get a second job, let the wife work, etc.

Anonymous said...

Every time these people bentsh (praise God after a meal), they ask him, "please, God, don't put us in a position where we need the help of other people, or a loan from them, but let us be provided by your full, open, wide, holy hand." What they seem to be missing is the feeling of being embarrassed to be at the receiving end of Tzedaka (charity.)

rosie said...

anon 4:13,
when people are raised on food stamps and everyone in the neighborhood flashes a government bridge card in the supermarket check out line, it is viewed as having been provided by the open hand of G-d.
To me, I wonder why the government has not done what Mayor Bloomberg is trying to do by disallowing sugared drinks from food stamp use. The food stamps should only be allowed for nutritious foods. That would be one way to curtail dependence on government help.

rosie said...

Aaron for LA,
your neighbors in nearby Utah are trying to get polygamy allowed for members of the strict Mormon sect where men have one legal but many other spiritual wives. Many of these sheiks with harems in Utah don't work but live off of the welfare check or salary from each wife. You do have a good point since these men don't have to support the children that they sire. If Jewish men could have several wives, they could all sit and learn and live off of the wives! (Somehow I don't see it catching on.)

Anonymous said...

A kollel wife said to me about government programs she is on, "We live in a medina shel chesed", a government of mercy. They do not think it comes from God, but that the government is kind hearted. The kollel wife has four children and her husband does not work - he's in kollel. They live in Section 8 housing which allows them to live in comparative comfort in a large apartment in Lakewood. She cannot work more hours than she does, it's impossible with such a large family. As long as your husband doesn't work and the wife can't work enough hours, they really need government programs.

Dave said...

What they need to do is get jobs and stop taking money from people who work.

That means both of them.

That may mean working different hours so that one is home with the children at all times.

That may mean depending on older children to supervise the younger.

What it definitely means is taking responsibility for supporting your family, and not leeching off others.

rosie said...

Dave, if the government really wanted to get people like them off of the dole, they would have to institute a gradual wean off. They would have to say that in 5 years, able bodied people won't be allowed food stamps except in emergencies and then it would end in 6 months. That would give families a chance to plan ahead. The government obviously is not that interested in limiting entitlements, despite the grumbling from taxpayers. Poor people vote too.

Dave said...

Rosie:

That's what led to the benefits cap in the 1990s. That time, the rhetoric was aimed at "Cadillac welfare queens".

I would hate to think of what the rhetoric would look like if this pattern caught hold with the public.

As is, I expect to see entitlements cut in the next generation, the same as I expect to see taxes rise. Both have to happen in order to pay off the last 40 years of living beyond our collective means.

rosie said...

rhetoric: bugaboo welfare rebbitzen?

Anonymous said...

The oldest child in the kollel family is in first grade. Older take care of the younger! You don't know the demographics of frum families. If a family has only 4 children, it's because the oldest child is 5 or 6 years old. I wish I had a solution to what I see as a lack of inner character in terms of work ethic. But the government entitlement programs enable frum kollel families to participate in what in a previous generation would have been unthinkable - for Jews to be on government programs! The grandfathers of this couple worked for a living. But the grandson is too grand to work as his European grandfather did, as a tailor. Too uneducated to work as his American grandfather did, as a lawyer. I can't believe what we have come to. I wonder what would happen to Lakewood if the situation there were publicized in the non-Jewish newspapers. Would they be at all embarrassed?

Anonymous said...

I think that some in the Kollel community might be embarassed if the Non-Jewish newspapers ran stories about Jews on welfare. It's a big game supported by the Rabbis. It makes us dependent and no better than the welfare queens in the inner city. I would rather be an eletrician who pay his own way that live off food stamps and studies full time at the Kollel. By the way, I know some guys who literally do the math and figure how much more they can make by not working.
Ex-Kollel Student

Leah Goodman said...

It's an absurd system that if you earn a penny over X, you lose all of your benefits. You should be losing benefits in such a way that you always take home more if you earn more (that's also part of the healthcare crisis.) Americans may scream about socialism, but better to institute a little socialism than to discourage people from working.

I know people in the US who don't work because they would lose health benefits if they didn't work full time, and they're not well enough to work full-time... so they don't work at all.

rosie said...

The absurd system is that people in low income brackets have no incentive to earn more. There is no reward for earning more since earning too much to qualify for aid will cause the family to struggle more.
When people grow up in this system, it seems normal to them. They don't view it as immoral or lowly. You grow up, get married, have children, and apply for aid. It is just part of life.

Leah Goodman said...

Rosie - agreed. Basically, you should lose $70 of aid for every $100 you earn over the threshold, or some such math, so that you're always doing better if you're earning than if you're not earning.

In Israel, the system works that way now. They realized that the system encouraged people to stay on full welfare. The system now works so that you always have more cash coming in if you're working.

Dave said...

I'd like to see a cap on Section 8 benefits. That would move them back towards being a help on getting back on your feet, and away from being a lifetime entitlement with a years-long waiting list.

Dave said...

Leah:

That is the purpose of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is routinely targetted by Republicans for being Socialism.

The irony is painful, sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Dave: There needs to be a distinction between people who are disabled and will need Section 8, Medicaid, food stamps, etc. long term and those who are able bodied/able minded but aren't doing enough to increase their earnings. There also is a difference between the factory worker who got laid off at age 55 and is never likely to be hired again at much more than minimum wage even if he/she got some new training and younger people who could get jobs/better jobs with or without more training/education.

Dave said...

Anonymous:

Agreed. And that's the big divide here (and what will slam into the Orthodox world if this *ever* gets traction as a story in the general population).

Americans, in general, are willing to give people a hand when they get hit by adversity. And, in general, are furious at supporting people who choose not to work and instead live off of largesse.

Anonymous said...

Good observations. The kollel community is thriving due to the idealism of young women at an impressionable age, the generosity of parents whether wealthy or overextended, and as the family grows, the handouts provided by a merciful government. Handouts will continue because the yeshiva is politically strong. They have numbers and vote in a block. As a Lakewood mother tells me, "we vote the way the yeshiva tells us to." No one in Lakewood gets a secular newspaper so their information comes solely through yeshiva sources. So the yeshiva has bargaining power when it comes to electing officials who will bestow benefits on the yeshiva.

What does this have to do with Orthonomics' audience of modern Orthodox Jews?

The ascendency of yeshiva Yiddishkeit in America and in Israel has eclipsed Modern Orthodoxy and its emphasis on earning a living and compromise with the outside world. Because yeshiva yungeleit never have to compromise, never have to confront secular people or a secular workplace (only their wives work and then only until they qualify for benefits), they have never had to temper their chareidism in the face of any outer constraints. They have kept themselves in a shtetl where religious observance can be extremely punctilious. And they have imposed their standards on the Modern Orthodox world because they are the teachers and the principals in our children's schools. The unadulterated European brand of Yiddishkeit has attracted many baalei teshuva because of its uncompromising nature, its air of Eastern European authenticity and its strength of purpose, and the idealism of baalei teshuva (and influx of secular parents' financing) has further strengthened chareidism.

So the conversation has changed. Modern Orthodoxy is in retreat in America. Our families who are chareidi are in financial need and they look to us, who appear so prosperous to finance their kollel life. And those of us who care about our families - it is terribly painful to know they are relegated to being on Section 8, food stamps, WIC etc. on a permanent basis, and that they are content to live without money, without earnings.

Mark said...

Dave - That is the purpose of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is routinely targetted by Republicans for being Socialism.

And is also targeted by left-leaning folks as a regressive income tax situation. If you lose 50 cents of every additional dollar earned over the threshold, that's a 50% marginal tax rate. And a 50% marginal tax rate at such incomes (say $20k) appears to be hugely unfair when "the rich" have a marginal rate of 35%.

Anonymous said...

"....Because yeshiva yungeleit never have to compromise, never have to confront secular people or a secular workplace (only their wives work and then only until they qualify for benefits)...."

However, they do have do confront the effects of a culture of dependency. That would cause me to reconsider this way of life.

Anonymous said...

"So the conversation has changed. Modern Orthodoxy is in retreat in America. "

MO population is not growing as fast a the more right wing Orthodox. However, I think the MO community is growing just at a significantly slower rate.

Miami Al said...

While 2012 is a long ways away in politics, I'd be VERY nervous of building my society on government money.

1. Many statehouses/governor's mansions are going to flip on Tuesday, that will result in the redistricting being controlled by the GOP, that will flip some seats to the Republicans, barring a Democratic Wave in 2012.

2. In this election, the seats up were nearly 2:1 Republican to Democrat (in 2008, 2010 was seen as a year the GOP became a rump party and the Democrats got a 2/3s Senate majority that would let them completely rewrite rules)... If tides don't turn, the Democrats are defending 2:1 seats in 2012, a GOP year could give the GOP a 60 Vote majority, or close to it.

3. The administration is HEAVILY focused on community college as a way up, unionism to rebuild the middle class, and unemployment insurance as a bridge... this may or may not work as a solution, but I don't see more Section 8 housing in the works... and if a 60/59 seat Senate with a Democratic President didn't expand welfare programs, don't expect it in the future.

I would expect LESS of this, both from New Jersey and the United States, not more... Yeshivaism is in a precarious spot. They got a cash lifeline from wealthier BTs, but the pool of secular Jews to recruit from is getting smaller and smaller.