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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Another Elementary School Closing

. . . . this time in Toronto. One hundred plus students absorbed into other yeshivot according to YWN, but 30 rebbeim and teachers are without jobs after the school failed to pay staff for five months, or $500,000 in back pay which Matzav.com is looking to raise (as per Matzav pay is owed since April 2010).

No need to pull out a calculator, that is a 1:3.33 teacher to student ratio. Each of the 100 students would need to pay $5,000 to meet previous payroll operations, this in addition to regular tuition they were paying. Average back-pay owed is $16,667 per staff member. Averaged over 5 months that is $3333 per month per teacher.

I say this with all sincerity: I believe that smaller and/or more specialized schools (and this one, like the one in Lakewood, both are reported to both be Zilberman schools) have a place, especially in larger sized communities. However, these schools cannot expect to maintain a conventional environment resembling that of their larger counterparts. Additionally, the operational method cannot include reliance on the greater community simply because of it's size and communal history. It appears there is some moaning that g'virim did not step up to support the school. Small schools must be more heavily self-sufficient, relying basically on parents for tuition alone (read: fewer tuition discounts can be given). The staff ratios make me believe that this school was maintaining around 3.33-4.25 staff members per grade (not sure if the school runs K-6 or K-8?). A study of the one-room schoolhouse should be required when opening small schools.

Comments?

90 comments:

tesyaa said...

A study of the one-room schoolhouse should be required when opening small schools.

Most, if not all, small schools don't intend to be or to remain small schools - the people starting them are just as ambitious as the people starting large schools. Smallness may be advertised as a plus, but that's usually a fallback strategy after growth has failed. If a small school has been in existence for many years and has not grown as expected, questions need to be asked. Maybe there are quality problems, or maybe the school is serving a falling demographic. Either way: as you point out, a small school is a luxury that has to be paid for.

tesyaa said...

Reading the comments on Matzav, it looks like this school was growing, not shrinking (though I know from experience how numbers can be spun). If so, this school doesn't appear to have had a business plan. How can a school be growing and still go out of business so quickly?

Anonymous said...

My children attend a MO school that has 330 students and over 90 full and/or part-time staff people. It is not a specialty school, but I suspect that the administation does not want to let surplus staff people go because of the dire economic situation in our area. Our school also has a reputation for never giving raises to teachers. This results in extremely poor staff moral and a negative attitude that is often directed toward "special needs" kids who have ADD and/or LD. Staff members usually act appropriate when it comes to interacting with parents, however, due to pressure from the admininstration, but this creates a very negative learning environment.

JS said...

Not too hard to figure out how this stuff happens (and keeps happening). You have people who are completely unqualified to start a business or run one, opening a yeshiva on no more of a qualification than "rabbi". It's really a disease in our community that we think the title "rabbi" qualifies someone as a financial advisor, psychologist, career guidance counselor, medical expert, etc.

On the Teaneck yeshiva blog you see the same misguided attitude towards establishing a small, no-frills school. The people talking about it on that blog insist you need several grades worth of kids to get started, a building, teachers, etc. instead of looking at teaching 5-10 kids in someone's basement. No one can think small. Even the "cheap" option becomes phenomenally expensive very quickly. Costs balloon and the lack of competent administrators just exacerbates the problem.

Finally, raising that $500k for the teachers is exactly why we keep getting into these messes. We keep doing things that look noble on their face, but are just incredibly stupid if given a moment's thought. This is taking $500k of communal resources that giving it to teachers who should never have been teaching in this school to begin with. It pains me to say that, but I think it's true. This school and all those teaching there should have been absorbed into more functional schools long ago, their tuition dollars going to keeping solvent businesses alive. How does it make sense to take $500k and give it to people who were fulfilling a communal role that shouldn't have existed in the 1st place, instead of giving it to one of these schools that absorbed students? That money could be used to start an endowment, for example.

Just another example of how trying to do the right thing isn't always the right thing to do.

DAG said...

TS. These schools were not opened to educate children. The were opened to give jobs and Kavod to otherwise unemployable Rabbis.

This also explains why back pay is an important concern. Payday was the reason for having the school in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I agree many of the Rabbis at my kids' school could not get a job anywhere else due to a lack of marketable skills. This I think is a rather new phenomena. My wife's grandfather was a well respected Rabbi who was a chemist by training. He turned down his community's offer of financial support because he felt it was wrong to be a financial drain on the community. To be honest many of the Rabbi's who teach high school resent having to teach teenagers the basics and especially resent having to work with students who might require extra attention.

Anonymous said...

My classmate's father in the 1960s had a small grocery store. But my father informed me that this man was not really a grocer, but a Talmid Chochom and that boys would come to learn from him in the evenings. By day he was a grocer, but by night he was a Talmid Chochom and a rebbe. That I truly respect. We don't have that anymore.

tesyaa said...

Whether or not the rabbis are qualified - it doesn't matter. There is a great oversupply of people who want to work in Klei Kodesh and chinuch, compared to the actual need. I don't know if this is because so many people feel the need to serve Hashem in this way, or because they are incapable of other jobs, or just don't want to work in the non-Jewish marketplace - probably some combination of these reasons.

Instead of retraining these people for jobs that will actually bring money into the community, the idea seems to be to let them have their Avodas Hashem and the community will pick up the tab.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Let the community pick up the tab. It's as if the Rabbis think there's a bottomless pit of money. If these young men do not wish to go to college, fine. However, they should have madantory vocational training so these guys can work in a trade to support their families. Although when you talk to some of these young men and the Rabbis that advise them, you get the feeling that work is beneath them and that it's better to beg and study Torah than do an honest day's work. What a shanda!

DAG said...

Tes. I think a lot of people became Rabbis rather than risk the draft in the 60's. Those rabbis needed work, and built a structure to support themselves.

Many went into Kashrus, many into Chinuch. While an increase in Kashrus jobs did not create intergenerational dependency, the move to Chincuh did.

To justify their own existence, these Rabbis encouraged their students to follow their example. This meant a larger and larger group of unemployable Rabbis looking for work the way their Rebbes did, creating more and more Mosdos.

Fast forward 2 generations and we have a behemoth organizational structure just to make work for people.

Obviously this cannot sustain another generation with increasing numbers, so something is going to HAVE to happen.

DAG said...

There was a letter in this week's Yated that suggested that people hire unemployed Frum people for their childcare needs.

The interesting part of the letter was the certainly with which the writer asserted that while childcare was appropriate, cleaning needs to be left to cleaning staff.

I am sorry, but an honest job cleaning is NOTHING to be ashamed of. My grandparents worked menial jobs for years when they came to the States after the war, and I assure you there are very few people in this generation who could hold a candle to their Emunah (or their work ethic). When you need to work you work.

When I was out of work, Masters and all but my dissertation in a Ph.d program in tow, I applied to sweep floors at Kmart, Walmart et al.

Anonymous said...

Too many young men, and women too, are given the message that manual work is for the goyim. Yet it is fine for them to get Section 8 housing and food stamps and complain about the shvatzas. A rabbi I know actually gave his class information about govenment benefits and how to apply for them once they're at the Kollel.

rosie said...

Too many young men, and women too, are given the message that manual work is for the goyim

I am older than most of you that post here and very few Jews of my generation did manual labor. My father and grandfather also did not do manual labor, although both served in the military. One of my great grandfathers owned a pants factory so even HE did not do manual labor. I don't think it has anything to do with being young or frum but may have something to do with being American and Jewish.

Anonymous said...

What about all those Jews who worked in sweat shops on the lower east side. One of my grandfathers was a welder and the other a tailor. You did what you had to do to feed your family. I think that it in part has something to do with the lack of stigma assoicated with taking government benefits and the spoiled and elitist attitude of many frum American Jews. In two more generations it will fall apart like a house of cards, and we will have no one else to blame but ourselves. When it does fall apart, however, I'm sure there will be no lack of excuses (i.e, if only we had more communal support, if only non-Orthodox Jews did not forsake us, etc.).

rosie said...

In two more generations it will fall apart like a house of cards, and we will have no one else to blame but ourselves.

That I agree with, unless a solution is found, but how would low paying manual labor help? That is why few Jews become welders and tailors anymore. I have a friend whose mother was a tailor and father was a barber. They had 4 kids and sent them to Talmud Torah after public school. They were good with saving money. There are some frum women who do alterations and some frum male barbers but I don't know that they are going to save the frum community. They might be supporting themselves though.

Miami Al said...

Rosie,

The issue is the contempt for working... the looking down at manual labor is just a manifestation of it. Look at the bizarre discussion of the son taking a few years before college because his parents can "support him."

Basically, dollars flow out because even unemployed Frum Yidden don't deign to do manual labor, so that money all flows out of the community. People on scholarships, therefore needing subsidies from other Frum Jews, seem to have no qualms about having plenty of non-Jewish help around the house.

A large portion of the community will only work within the community, therefore passing money around (less the states' cut). The combination of all of this is a disaster in the making.

Working as a cashier at Wal-mart is no doubt "beneath" a Frum Jew... but hourly associates that can and do move up. By declaring the entry level jobs Assur, the next step up gets blocked as well.

conservative scifi said...

Also, there is no reason that manual labor can't be pretty renumerative, if you do it correctly. We are having two bathrooms redone (because they were leaking) and got three bids. Because my cousin had used the lowest bidder successfully, we hired him. We paid for essentially all of the materials (tile, cabinets, fixtures, etc.). He did about half the work himself, with associates doing some of the tiling and painting (and helping him). If he pays his helpers $25 an hour (a pretty good wage), he'll probably end up making something like $1,000 per week for this job (and he was certainly working on at least one other job at the same time).

And he was the low bidder. The higher bidders would have made more money, and probably do win jobs at their higher price.

So I would argue that manual labor (done right), can often make as much as white collar work.

Dave said...

Welders make excellent money. It's a specialized skill set that is widely needed, takes time to acquire, and cannot be offshored.

Oh, and there are opportunities all over, so there isn't a "need" to stay in the most expensive parts of the world.

rosie said...

The few people that I knew that tried to get jobs at places like Walmart had a jolly time trying to get each and every Shabbos off. Probably the majority of cashiers, remain cashiers. I see the same cashiers at Kmart that have been doing it for years. They are not managers and are not working their way up.

Dave said...

So why not become an Electrician or a Welder, or a Plumber, and set up in your own business? That way you can make sure you have Shabbos clear.

rosie said...

Our kitchen cabinets were installed by a frum guy and a frum plumber hooked up the plumbing. These people support themselves but they are not the big supporters of the community. They would love to be and BH they make a living but they don't get rich that way.The cabinet guy also has some other jobs as well.
One of my sons is learning to shecht. That is manual labor, any way you slice it.
We can't compare being trained to work on an assembly line to ringing up groceries. The former makes a reasonable salary and the latter does not. I know a frum guy who trained as a truck driver but could not find a shomer Shabbos job. I know frum house painters and there are frum exterminators. They obviously must work for clientele that don't call and say that they want the work done on Saturday when they are home. A woman that I know who trained to be a cosmetologist could not get a shomer Shabbos job in a department store because the customers all want makeovers on Saturdays before their big dates.
There would be nothing wrong with a frum person becoming a animal doctor but most pet owners want to come on Shabbos. Farmers need help with sick expensive farm animals 24/7.
In CH, my children use a frum auto mechanic. He has his own shop. Most auto shop owners would not take too kindly to someone taking every Shabbos off. Do road crews let people off on Shabbos? There are Shomer Shabbos mail carriers and postal workers and police officers but I think that they had a tough time negotiating Shabbos.
Come to think of it, I am not so sure that frum people are not entering or at least trying to enter manual professions.

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

These people support themselves but they are not the big supporters of the community. They would love to be and BH they make a living but they don't get rich that way.

If everyone was supporting themselves, the communal needs would not be nearly so great.

Most people don't end up rich. If they did, we'd need another word for "rich".

tesyaa said...

Rosie - if what you describe is true, there would be no use for a Sabbath observant Jew to apply for ANY job outside the comfy-cozy zone of the frum world. ALL employees who work in the non-frum world have to deal with Shabbos. We negotiate with our employers; we create "alternate work arrangements" which means we work extra on the weekend to make up for early Fridays. Medical residents trade with other residents (the Shomer Shabbos residency is not everywhere and is not in every field). Life's tough.

Also, as a basis for comparison, our auto mechanic is completely non-Jewish yet he's never open on Saturday, either.

It's so easy to give up without even trying.

rosie said...

tesyaa,
If a place won't hire shomer shabbos workers, and won't negotiate, what alternate work arrangement would you suggest?
Will most low level minimum wage jobs do that for people? It probably depends on how badly they are needed.
If there are plenty of workers available who are not shomer Shabbos, why would a place hire someone with complications.

tesyaa said...

Rosie - I think this discussion got started b/c the Yated supposedly ran a letter saying to hire Jewish women for childcare, but not for housecleaning.

Cleaning a Jewish family's house is not a Shabbos violation issue. It's manual work. So what's the problem??

In any event, I can see why an employer MIGHT hire a Shomer Shabbos employee, just as a clothing store in a suburban mall hired me, a Shomer Shabbos teenager, decades ago, for a summer job - because the worker appears more reliable and trustworthy than the other candidates.

Except for certain cases, the Shabbos problem can be worked around. For example, I was willing to work Sundays when other people didn't want to.

Conservative blog commenters keep saying how much the average American admires frum Jews. IF THIS IS TRUE, why would they not hire them?

Shalom, NJ said...

Rosie,

I've been in the work force in America for a good few years, working in large companies, and haven't ever had a problem with Shabbat. Of course, retail sales or a non kosher restaurant would be different. Your writing gives the impression that you are not speaking from actual experience.

rosie said...

Tesyaa, would you want your daughter to scrub other women's toilets? Most people would have to be very desperate to do that. Most people don't pay much to have their houses cleaned and many people hire illegals to get the work done cheaper. This is also true in restaurants. Illegals rule. That is why Rubashkin hired them. The guy that bought the plant got legal workers from Somalia and pays them a dollar an hour more than Rubashkin paid the Guatamalans. Where were the frum Jews who needed jobs?
Shalom, I know what people have told me and I do have some experience with it also.

Miami Al said...

Rosie,

I would not want my daughter to scrub other people's toilets.

However, I want her to be on welfare even less.

tesyaa said...

Tesyaa, would you want your daughter to scrub other women's toilets?

Well .. I would be OK with it if the other women weren't Jewish. Most frum women treat their housecleaners like sub-human species. I would rather clean for a non-Jew any day [except Shabbos, of course :) ]

Seriously, I would be OK with it. OF COURSE I would be OK with it, if my daughter needed a job.

I guess we are just totally different.

So all the housekeepers working for the frum world are desperate women? WHY DON'T PEOPLE TREAT THEM A LITTLE NICER, then, instead of the stories I hear people tell (often, unwittingly, about themselves)??

I mean, people brag about cutting their housecleaners' pay and getting them to do extra that wasn't agreed upon. ALL THE TIME.

It's nauseating. I guess you got me started, Rosie.

rosie said...

I do know a very frum medical biller who goes into work at 6 a.m. on Fridays to get all the work done before going home early on winter Shabbos days. That is a job that does not usually involve Shabbos. Postal workers do not deliver mail on Sundays anyway but mail is delivered on Shabbos. That can be a challenge. Some workers do get the job but I was told that they are sent to less desirable locations. That is the trade off.

rosie said...

I guess we are just totally different.

That is very obvious. I am very protective of my children. If my daughter needed a job, babysitting would be fine but maid service would be off limits.

Of course, this is the world as we know it now. If some horrible world crisis occurred chas v'sholem and honorable women were now scrubbing toilets just to survive, then, I guess that we would all gratefully scrub toilets.

tesyaa said...

Another horror story...I knew a frum woman who tried to pay the housecleaner we both used in ShopRite scrip, because the school had a scrip program. Nice. I guess you can get a desperate woman to agree to anything. Most people prefer to be paid in American currency.

If domestic labor is so demeaning, shouldn't frum people do all they can to avoid demeaning people by hiring them do work that the employers can really do themselves?

ProfK said...

Rosie,
The law as relates to work hours is very clear, and was settled by the Supreme Court decades ago. COLPA brought the test case to the Court and it happened to be a neighbor of mine involved in that case. She was a hospital nurse who was let go when she wouldn't work a Shabbos shift. (I believe it was 1975 or 1976) Working on a Friday night or Saturday may not be a requirement for a job unless that job takes place only at those times, for instance a weekend life guard at a pool where the pool is only open on the weekend. Other businesses are required by law to offer the Sabbath observer a different shift if weekend work is part of the job or if the business is open 6-7 days a week. Violations of this are actionable under law. Anyone who tells you they weren't hired or were fired because they don't work on Saturday is feeding you a story, a baloney excuse for why they didn't get a job or couldn't keep one.

Miami Al said...

If you hire desperate people that are in the country illegally, and are willing to have the terms of the deal changed on the spot, don't be shocked when they steal from you.

You're hiring a criminal, and you know that they are desperate, so you get what's coming to you.

Anonymous said...

What's the problem with cleaning toilets? Don't you people know you wear gloves? Besides, whatever happened to humbleness and humility as being a value to be admired and emulated?

Anonymous said...

Tessya 9;59: I agree. We had a cleaning woman two times a month for a few years when both my DH and I were working ridiculous hours. My hubby cleaned the toilets before she came because he didn't think it was right to ask someone else to clean your toilets (let alone have a stranger see your dirty toilet) if you were physically able.

rosie said...

anonymous, do you clean toilets for a living? It might be good for you to try it and acquire the humbleness that you want to see others acquire.
ProfK, I once did apply for a job and was told that if I could not work on Saturday, I could not have the job. Even though the place was open on other days, the majority of business that they did was on Saturday. It was not worth it for me to pay a lawyer and take them to court. I don't believe that the woman who wanted the cosmetologist job was lying. She would have had to hire a lawyer to sue Macy's or Nordstroms. It is up to the potential employee to take legal action which is not easy to do.

JS said...

Am I the only one who finds this thread nauseating? At least nothing heretical has been posted here yet.

Shalom, NJ said...

Rosie,

I have to say that your response leaves me puzzled, as I know many Shomer Shabbat people who have good jobs (not self employed) and have come across or read about many others in the same situation (Miami Al being an example). That causes me to suspect that most people who claim that being Shomer Shabbat was a big obstacle to finding decent employment may be mistaken about some other part of their marketability.

Anonymous said...

That causes me to suspect that most people who claim that being Shomer Shabbat was a big obstacle to finding decent employment may be mistaken about some other part of their marketability.


If you apply for a Walmart job dressed like a hot Chani, dripping with gold jewelry, a manicure, and four inch heels, it might count against you more than the Shabbos thing.

Miami Al said...

And if your underwear is on display, that will also hurt your employability.

This refers to either your boxers from wearing your pants low, or your tzitzit sticking out because you don't tuck your shirt in.

The Shomer Shabbat thing is a negative when job hunting, but not a huge one. I know plenty of observant Jews able to hold down honest livings. I guess I just have a better peer group than Rosie.

rosie said...

Shalom,
professionals are in a different category than Walmart workers. Shalom, the next time you go to Walmart, count the frum Jews that you see working here. Pretend to apply for a job and mention that you have your weekly sabbath plus holidays. See how excited they get over you.
Sought after professionals that are not a dime a dozen can name be shomer shabbos. We are talking here about people who are not competing with every Tom, Dick and Harry for low level jobs.
Anonymous, many Walmart workers have several piercings and many tattoos. Would they really care about Chani's jewelry and manicure?

tesyaa said...

Would they really care about Chani's jewelry and manicure?

Yes, because of what they might infer about her attitude, not because of her appearance. They'd rather have a hardworking dropout than a spoiled princess.

Attitude is a big key in the job market. I've heard this time and time again.

rosie said...

Miami,
I also know many Jews with jobs in the secular world and they are shomer Shabbos.
The discussion here is low level jobs. I know a frum guy who spent months training to be a truck driver and was told when he went into training that Shabbos would not be a problem. When it came time to get a job, he was told that Shabbos was a problem. Maybe if he fought the trucking companies in court, he could have had the job but then he would have had to make sure that they would never have a complaint about him.

tesyaa said...

Anyway, have fun continuing this discussion without me, because I have a job and I have to get up in the morning. And maybe clean some toilets :)

rosie said...

Yes, because of what they might infer about her attitude, not because of her appearance. They'd rather have a hardworking dropout than a spoiled princess.

It is a rather moot point anyway because Chani's father would rather clean toilets himself than let Chani anywhere near Walmart, unless she is there to shop and Chani does not shop at Walmart!

rosie said...

believe it or not, tomorrow I am supposed to work also.
Sluff gezunter heit!

Dave said...

The law is that employers have to make "reasonable accomodation".

This does not mean that they have to give you Shabbos off, although it may.

If they would need to hire an additional employee to cover Saturdays in your stead, then it is settled that they don't have to give you Shabbos off.

If there is an established set of rules for seniority as far as shift selection, they do not have to set that aside to give you Shabbos off.

However, if they have a general shift schedule, and no set rules for shift assignment, and sufficient staff to cover Saturday without you (for example, if it is "just another day", rather than being the core of business), then it is a reasonable accomodation.

Abba's Rantings said...

ROSIE:

"would you want your daughter to scrub other women's toilets?"

my mother-in-law came to this country as a single mom with 3 young kids and this is exactly what she did. you think your daughters are better than my mother-in-law?

and to answer your question on her behalf, no, she didn't want her daughters to clean toilets like her. this is why she worked even harder than you can possibly imagine to better her lot and ensure that she wouldn't spend the rest of her life cleaning toilets and so that her daughters could be educated to get better jobs.

"very few Jews of my generation did manual labor. My father and grandfather also did not do manual labor"

don't be so revisionist. despite the examples of your father/grandfather, the vast majority of jews prior to 1950s engaged in some form of manual labor. you think they were all doctors and lawyers (or kollelniks).

Abba's Rantings said...

"There was a letter in this week's Yated that suggested that people hire unemployed Frum people for their childcare needs"

but who will change the diapers, which is certainly not befitting a bas yisroel

Anonymous said...

"My hubby cleaned the toilets before she came because he didn't think it was right to ask someone else to clean your toilets.."

Nice to see someone being a mensch.
I would certainly respect someone cleaning toilets more than someone schnorring or marrying a rich girl so he could sit in the Bais Medrash all day. Menschlikite seems to be missing in some of the attitudes expressed here.

Anonymous said...

Whoever said "very few Jews of my generation did manual labor. My father and grandfather also did not do manual labor" seems to have no familiarity with the jews that came here pre-war. All four of my grandparents who came here in the very early part of the 1900's, and everyone in their neighborhood, did manual labor, primarilly in sweat shops. What type of jobs do you think that non-English speaking people with little less than the equivalent of a 5th grade education and no start-up capital were going to get or make for themselves? Many of the immigrant jewish women were illiterate, even in yiddish and hebrew. The men were barely better off. Why were jews such a big part of the movement fighting for worker's rights and some basic safety in the work place? Because they were working in the sweat shops and factories. Those who descended from that group respect hard work and manual labor. It seems that there is a different group that does not.

Anonymous said...

My observation it that there is a sense of entittlement combined with a poor work ethic in the frum community. Entering a trade is not shameful and some trades pay better than white collar work.The shanda is frum Jews who think nothing of appling for Section 8 housing but turn up their noses when it comes to doing an honest days work. By the way, depending on the trade, you could easily find your evenings free which would allow ample time to study. So no excuse there. Being a plumber or electrician should also not be confused with "menial" work although there is nothing wrong with that either if you have to feed your family.

Paying Parent said...

I know a frum plumber who has a problem getting set up on shidduchim due to the fact that he is a "lowly plumber." The guy makes fantastic money, learns every night, but they won't even give him a shot.
Rosie- your mentality regarding house cleaning is exactly the type that is bankrupting our community. There ARE many honorable women cleaning toilets- you just don't care to know them. If you don't have a job and need to rely on others for support, adn do not explore any option that you deem "beneath you", I call that STEALING from the community. There is a limited amount of tzedakah to go around and to throw your hat in teh ring, when you can getwork, but choose not to is taking from others more deserving.
I tried finding a frum babysitter in my community to drive my kids to and from Yeshiva, and also do light cleaning in the house- not one response.

Miami Al said...

Paying Parent,

"I know a frum plumber who has a problem getting set up on shidduchim due to the fact that he is a "lowly plumber." The guy makes fantastic money, learns every night, but they won't even give him a shot."

So he has money, learning, and a low status profession, trouble getting setup.

Doctors that don't learn have money and high status professions, no problems.

Professional students have learning, high status "professions," no problem.

Clearly the frum community is relatively indifferent towards earning power, no care in the world about learning, and a great deal about status.

Take charity but have domestic servants, no problem.

Anonymous said...

I was recently visiting a Jewish community and I stopped in to the local supermarket (national chain, not a frum store). I can't tell you the shock and then subsequent pride I felt seeing a frum cashier. It's so rare that you see a a Jew doing a "normal" job in the public eye and with a smile on his face no less.

I know most of the relevant points have been brought up in this conversation already but I just wanted to add in one. It's true that most Jews who emigrated to America both pre and post war took on blue collar positions, but Rosie is correct that some quickly succeeded to either white collar or professional positions. My own grandfather became a cab drive while he studied English so that he could resume his old profession of pharmacist in this country. My other grandfather, even without knowing English, used his skills as a shoemaker to open a shoe factory. He simply hired the talent he needed to fill in his language gaps.

As for the plumber having trouble with shidduchim, my heart goes out to him, and I"YH when my own daughters are old enough I hope they choose someone like him who works an honest day and still makes time for Torah.

Anonymous said...

Many first generation immigrants from every country in the world arrive here and start with almost any kind of job. Their children often become professionals, doctors, lawyers, plumbers, etc. The frum community has further evolved to the point where work and a profession no longer seem necessary. In fact, working is discouraged and regarded as a not worthwhile way to spend one's life. This is quite a change from previous generations.

Upper West Side Mom said...

Rosie,

There are lots of nice Jewish girls out there who have cleaned toilet. Here are 2 examples that I can think of off the top of my head:

1. I used to be a restaurant manager and that meant sometimes having to clean a dirty bathroom. I also had to plunge toilets when they were clogged. Gross, yes, but I did it anyway because it was part of my job.

2. My step sister spent a summer as a housekeeper at an inn on Cape Cod and yes she had to clean the toilets. By the way she went to Brown for her Undergraduate Degree and Harvard for her Graduate degree

Avi said...

Rosie,

Forget other people's toilets, don't you want your daughter to know how to clean her own?

Anonymous said...

A central feature of "frum culture" is group think. If you don't fit the mold for some reason, you're out. The current group think regarding work will be our downfall, as we will have no one to bale us out but ourselves. The observation above about the frum cashier made me think. It's pretty accurate that you very rarely see frum people working.Is this really what a Torah oriented life is really about?

Aspiring Father said...

Avi, cleaning their own toilet is not a relevant consideration for Rosie or her children. They think their s*** don't stink.

DAG said...

I worked a menial job in a thrift shop for 4 years in college for $5 an hour. I was Cashier 85% of the time, but I did whatever needed to be done for the other 15%.

I took out garbage, cleaned windows, shleped furniture, loaded and unloaded trucks, swept floors, sorted old (and often disgusting) clothing donations, etc.

Not once did I think what I was doing was degrading. Most importantly it taught me a GREAT work ethic.

Anonymous said...

When you apply for a job, you don't talk about shabbos--while it's not allowed for them to discriminate before hiring, it's extremely hard to prove.

You bring up shabbos only once you have an official job offer, at which point (after the offer, before you accept) you should discuss compromises and alternate schedules, along with all the other salary and negotiations that come at that point. After the job offer, employers are only allowed to rescind a job offer if sabbath observance (whichever day you keep) interferes materially with the job or causes them material difficulty, as described above.

No one should bring it up during the interview, and the employer is not supposed to be allowed to ask about it, unless it's material to the job.

rosie said...

Aspiring Father,
I hope that you are not going to pass your attitudes to your children. I don't have a cleaning lady so I clean the toilets here. What I would not want to do, unless forced to do by necessity is clean other people's toilets. I don't see very many people of any religion that want to clean toilets. There are some who become janitors but most people would not be happy in such a job and would only take such a job if it was that are starve. My children also know how to clean toilets in their own homes and do that as well.
Upper West Side Mom, I don't know of any nice Jewish girls who were maids but it is nice that you can think of 2.
To those who remember manual laborers among immigrants, many Jews became salesmen and businessmen. The Talmud speaks of teaching a child a profession but it should be a "clean" profession if possible. It is preferable to be a perfumer than to be a tanner. This does not mean that Jews always had clean professions but that the desirability for one was stated in the Talmud.
BTW, none of my children are in kollel. All work or have husbands who work.

rosie said...

Paying parent,
I don't currently know any Jewish women who are domestic servants. When the Russians came, some women did clean houses for other Jewish women, until they qualified for other employment and until their husbands made money. I don't see Russian Jewish cleaning women anymore.
I would have nothing against knowing and befriending such women but I don't know any. I don't look down on them but I don't think they would clean houses if they had a choice.

rosie said...

Abba,
some Jewish men had pushcarts. The American Greetings corporation started from a pushcart selling postcards. I did know a man who became a ditch digger after the war but I agree with the others that the situation quickly changed.
Paying parent,the community is not bankrupt because Jewish women are not cleaning the toilets of other women. If it is bankrupt, which my community is not bankrupt, I would hedge my bets on bankruptcy from the kind of spending that bankrupts many Americans.

Dave said...

The problem isn't preferring a "clean job" over a "dirty job".

The problem is in preferring life on the dole to a "dirty job".

rosie said...

Dave, if the US government were smarter, they would attach some type of government service to receiving aid. It could be road cleaning, government building cleaning, feeding people in a VA hospital, etc. The fact that the government gives the money without strings attached makes taxpayers unhappy. Maybe they should make those on the dole forfeit their voting rights and then it would be harder to elect presidents such as Obama. Until then, we can't blame people who prefer being on the dole to doing a dirty job. Yes, there are those souls of superior moral strength who prefer scrubbing toilets to collecting welfare but as we know from our yiddishkeit, there are 36 tzadikim who hold up the world. In other words, the majority are not on that level.

Dave said...

Why can't we blame them?

Sorry, but I have no sympathy for anyone who chooses "programs" over actually working.

And tell me, how many of the "program dependent" in the Orthodox world do you think voted for Obama?

rosie said...

Very few of the program dependent Orthodox voted for Obama. While the majority of RW Orthodox are on the dole, they are the minority of the total welfare population. Obama did not need them, nor did they fear that a Republican would see them as unworthy of government aid. In some places they are powerful by themselves.
Also Dave, they don't need your sympathy. They don't need sympathy at all. The government takes good care of them.

Dave said...

In absolute numbers, the majority of the people on the dole are white Christians.

However, based on your statement, it sounds like RW Orthodox Jews (and given the demographic shifts, possibly all Orthodox Jews) have the highest percentage of welfare dependency of any group in America.

rosie said...

It might be that the polygamous Mormons actually win first place but if they do, we are a close second.

Miami Al said...

Rosie,

You depress me to no end.

rosie said...

Oh, I forgot another group with a high percentage; Native Americans who live on reservations. They may top Mormons and Jews.

rosie said...

Miami,
what would make you happy? a house cleaning service that only employs RW Jewish women?
I can't figure out what to do for your depression.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I are very careful with our tzedakah money because we fear that the money is going to someone who is choosing to be idle and live on the "dole." I know several young Kollel men who "study" and get govenment money because they choose not to do "dirty" jobs. I know several of men who waste their study time gossiping and eating donuts and use the Kollel to escape having to help their wives with the children. Is this what we have become?

Dave said...

Comparing Reservations to Reservations, it looks like Kiryas Joel "wins".

Anonymous said...

My brother is a Kollel student in the midwest. He did not want to get a job and makes way more with his stipend and goverment support than I do. He actually got a free cell phone and has a case worker who is totally clueless. She apparently admires the "chosen people" and goes out of her way to tell him about all of the goodies now available for him and even offered to leave off some information from the state government about housing benfits at his Shul for his "friends."

Miami Al said...

Rosie,

You depress me because it confirms the worst fears about RW Judaism. Like an alcoholic that takes something that in moderation is good and turns it to evil, your friends and neighbors have done the same with Torah.

It is wonderful to learn the phrase in the Gemara about it being better to learn a "clean trade" i.e. perfumer vs. tanner, but not if you can't internalize it. The best way for your kids to be in "clean" professions? Education, and lots of it. A plumber and financial analyst will make comparable incomes, the former deals in human waste and the latter sits at a computer screen. If you are educating your children less than you, you've lost something.

The Torah elevates honoring your parents as a critical mitzvah... The Yeshiva World has parents honoring their adult children with endless support.

I wish no Jewess was in a position to ever clean their own toilet. Would that every Yid be rich enough that they could have 5 servents. It would be wonderful if all those anti-semetic diatribes about Jews and money are true.

What bothers me is a moral framework that elevates being on the dole over honest work. It is an anti-God and anti-Torah value system.

Anonymous said...

On YWN there was a thread about the dangers of walking into a public library lest they get contaminated. Yet the very same folks see no danger to themselves and their families in voluntarily not working and becoming dependent on others. Most people fight fiercely to be independent. The frum world seems to be embracing the culture of dependency ignoring all perils.

rosie said...

Miami, I do agree that everyone should make a living and one of my sons could not stay in kollel longer than a summer session because he could not tolerate being supported. He works and goes to night school. Only one other son went to kollel and it was only for half a day for a short time. He worked long and hard the rest of the day. We do not agree with sitting and learning for lengthy periods but we do consider ourselves RW. To me the bigger problem is not that we don't push people into professions but that we prod people into spending more than they have, until even those who have money, don't have money.

anonymous: We also go to the library.

Anonymous said...

The first thing Gandhi did when well-to-do people came to his ashram was assign them to clean the toilets of poor people. Over time, everyone had to clean everyone else's toilet ... and let me remind you that cleaning those toilets was NOTHING like cleaning the toilets we have today.

rosie said...

anonymous:
what every Jewish home needs are self-cleaning toilets.

Miami Al said...

Rosie,

You see the overspending as a problem, I see declining incomes as an equal problem, and they aren't different.

In general, American society is increasingly affluent, Jews have been at the top of that climb, and a larger and larger chunk of the Orthodox world was NOT born Orthodox (the percentage of non-Frum Jews becoming Frum is TINY, but because Frum Jews are such a small percentage of Jews, the low BT rate still results in BT Jews being a HUGE percentage), the world of success and affluence came in.

That, combined with a fear of being different pushes up the expense scale. Now, if RW Jews were still climbing the social ladder, this wouldn't be an issue. But since RW Jews are climbing down the social ladder, this makes this change devastating.

Expecting the finest in life without working for it is a HUGE problem, and it's not just on the expense side. We've had multiple discussions where dozens of "normal" parts of Frum life are HUGE luxuries in America, would be HUGE luxuries to Jews of 1-2 generations ago, and are taken for granted by Jews on Welfare. That's messed up.

Anonymous said...

I am a professional who occasionally works with the frum population. Often, frum clients in my experience have very high demands for service but at the same time always try to get you to give them a discount or refuse to pay the full fee once the service has been rendered.This I think comes from the sense of entittlement refered to above. I am in a high demand field despite the recesssion and try to be helpful when it comes to helping other Jews, but it's gotten to the point where I cring when I get a call from members of the frum community.

rosie said...

Miami,
there are families that are not successful at anything that produces income and somehow they are more reproductively fertile than people who work. In fact, there are whole countries throughout the world like that. Telling them to work at low level jobs is like cleaning the Empire State Bldg with a toothbrush. Most of them make more begging for tzedukah than they do bagging groceries at Walmart and even though it is embarrassing to beg, their families will not survive on a cashier's job while begging tends to be more lucrative.

anonymous, my dentist says the same thing about frum clients and he is frum. The hate to be kept waiting and expect the same good service as the paying clients. While I am not in your shoes and it is chutzpadik of me to even try to offer advice, I would announce in the beginning that only a certain discount will be offered to the frum community and that if the fee that remains is not paid, there will be no further service rendered. The frum grocery stores that offer credit learned long ago to only offer $200 and not a cent more until the bill is paid. Maybe severe hard luck cases get a better break but the rank and file frum person with no money gets only the standard discount. Maybe you could offer the frum client 10% off and ask a rav if that could be considered maaser from the money that the client would have to pay.
For me, and I think possibly for many frum people, the discussion is merely academic. I really don't have people expecting me to support them forever, nor am I constantly hounded for tzedukah. My 21 yr old son's yeshiva tuition is very low and everyone paid the same fee. Basically, while I disapprove of what some people choose to spend money on, it isn't directly coming out of my pocket. Despite the rampant materialism in the frum world, some of my children, (especially one daughter) are minimalists that rarely buy anything. They give the word "frugal" new meaning. They don't care what others think.

Anonymous said...

Rosie,
Thanks for the advice. I foolishly offered my services at a 30 percent discount because I feel that it's important for Jews to help other Jews. I was never thanked by anyone even though it was clear that they were given a big discount and I was often not paid in full for the agreed upon price after the service was rendered. I would consider myself "Conservadox" and most of my clients are Non-Orthodox Jews. In 20 years I have never had this problem with any other population. I was even told that it was my "duty" to help the community because they spend their time studying Torah and I do not.I have talked to other Non-Orthodox professionals who have had very similar experiences. I don't know if most Orthodox Jews know this but they are held in very low esteem by most other Jews and sadly this will hurt the frum comminity in the end because the majority of Jews who are not religious and who are generally well off, I feel, will stop blindly sending their checks off to local Jewish charities once the older generation with their feelings of nastalgia for bubby and zadie die off.

rosie said...

anon,
I agree with you and know of a non-Orthodox auto mechanic who had to put a stop to the expectation that he fix the cars of kollel people for free. He was angered that he was expected to do that and had to get the word out that he was working to make a living.
If a person wants to support Torah study, there are many ways to do that as well as there are many ways for people who work to devote some time to study Torah themselves.
I knew of a doctor who gave full professional courtesy to the families of other doctors until much of his practice was professional courtesy. He finally had to send out a letter to all who received professional courtesy that he would give a discount to physician families but not complete courtesy.
People in your position should send out letters to all clients who have received discounts informing them of the new policy of 10% off.

Anonymous said...

This is a late post, but who knows, someone might see it:

The school that closed met in a windowless, insanitary, stinking shul basement. The boys were "taught" in appalling conditions, without natural light and without proper sanitation. Is it a wonder that the school closed??? And is it a bad thibg?