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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Solution: Move to Houston

Needless to say, while I favor inexpensive living and I prefer Jewish life outside of New York and New Jersey, there are many reasons why people live where they live. So I'm disappointed that the OU solution to the financial woes looks to be a campaign to "Move to Houston."

Mr. Cohen points out the article Orthodox Union has found solution to Orthodoxy's problems: Houston. No doubt the title is a bit snarky.

While Houston does has far more affordable housing costs and the tuitions may be "considerably lower" than New York area day schools, they are still massive, ranging betwee $10,790 and $18,883.

A former New Yorker (with 7 children) leading the Houston Orthodox marketing campaign states:

With the number of children the average Orthodox family has, what are you going to need to make to pay your bills, live comfortably and not be on scholarship? In New York, it’s in the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said [M], who has seven children. “In Houston, you can do it for under $100,000.”

Seven children in school at $15,000 a head average is $105,000 by the way.

I always recommend taking out a calculator before making declarations.

And a P.S. Houston weather is not a selling point in my opinion.


concernedjewgirl said...

I still don't understand why the campaign of the OU is not move to Israel...

JS said...


It's because their first duty is to themselves and their own bottom line. They can't sell you kosher products or have you join OU affiliated shuls or send your kids on NCSY shabbatons if you live in Israel.

Toning down the cynicism and snark a LITTLE bit, these organizations looking for "solutions" to Orthodoxy's woes are not going to propose a solution that works against their own interests. They're not going to put themselves out of business. Their affordability teams are going to put out ideas which just so happen to align with the OU's interests and help expand their brand.

They really don't care if there are better solutions out there, even if those solutions better mesh with what their Orthodox mission SHOULD be.

In terms of Israel, I always laugh when these organizations and yeshivas say they're Zionist and are lovers of Israel - they love Israel from afar. Their Zionism is relegated to tourism, the Israel Day parade, protesting in front of the UN, AIPAC, and eating a falafel or schwarma. Nothing wrong with that, but at least be honest with yourself.

These organizations view Orthodoxy as a brand, not a religious movement. Their goal isn't to solve any crisis, it's to keep having people associate Orthodoxy with THEM and not the other "Orthodox" organizations out there.

There's a lot the OU and YU could do to solve the crisis if they wanted to. They don't even work together directly. They each have their "affordability team".

As for Houston, I have friends who moved there from NY. They have just as much trouble getting by. They're planning on making aliyah.

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

And they call 10.7K per child for KINDERGARTEN affordable!?

That says it all regarding why there is a tuition crisis.

Bob Miller said...

We lived in Houston during 1998-2000 and belonged to Young Israel of Houston. People were very friendly, as if we were all family. Jewish education via schools, kollelim, etc., has been increasing steadily.

This is a recent article about one of our former neighbors:

Note that it's very hot and humid outdoors for most of the year.

Anonymous said...

"Rabbi Greenman - known simply as “Arnold” at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Houston, Texas, where he works..."

Imagine that! Calling someone by their first name in the workplace!

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts:

1. Did the OU make the claim that Houston is THE SOLUTION, or was that an editorial comment of the JTA writer? (I beleive the latter)

2. If the OU is promoting affordable life in Houston AS COMPARED to NY, why does that imply that they are discouraging aliya? It would seem that many of their broad activities promote an enhanced orthodox lifestyle in the US. Should they stop certifying kosher food in the US so that those who want to keep kosher must move to Israel?

Anonymous said...

Houston is the last place I would live, but I think its terrific that people come to understand that there is life outside of the greater NY area. There are a lot of negatives to having orthodox life in the U.S. based exclusively in a few (extremely) expensive areas. What would be terrific are some non-urban options. Not everyone is cut out for the stressful, unnatural life of a big city or a big city suburb.

Anonymous said...

"What would be terrific are some non-urban options. Not everyone is cut out for the stressful, unnatural life of a big city or a big city suburb."

Houston is the 4th largest city in America and largest city in Texas.

Anon1 said...

Desirability drives up costs, so costs should be lower where people don't want to live! Secrets don't last long nowadays.

Mark said...

concernedjewgirl - I still don't understand why the campaign of the OU is not move to Israel...

Have you ever seen a political organization tell their constituency to leave (and not be part of their constituency anymore)???

Mark said...

What would be terrific are some non-urban options. Not everyone is cut out for the stressful, unnatural life of a big city or a big city suburb.

How do you do non-urban and non-suburban and still have the ability to walk to shul? It's mostly impossible.

Anonymous said...


Let's look at the NY Democratic Party, which does everything in its power to make residents want to move someplace else.

ClooJew said...

While I agree, lulei demistafina, that "move to Houston" has a certain "let them eat cake" ring to it, the fact remains that there is an entitlement mentality to those who choose to settle in expensive areas (i.e., much of New York metro) without sufficient means to do so.

A client of mine, whose children recently moved to Cleveland after years in Israel, told me that he would NEVER move to the NY area today. It is simply unaffordable to anyone but the upper-upper middle class and beyond. We fool ourselves to believe otherwise.

The only true "solution" to the tuition "crisis" is a full blown kehillah mentality which will turn tuition payments into dues, which in turn will make them tax-deductible. This remains the only solution.

The only impediment is the people themselves - the very complainers who kvetch and moan about the costs of living - but who won't, lulei demistafina, band together to make a kehillah happen.

Anonymous said...

Mark: You do non-urban non big city suburb by a small town. The town I grew up in had a lovely conservative synagogue with several families who lived within walking distance. The more observant lived nearby and walked. Once a month a van went to the nearest city to stock up on kosher items that weren't available at the local grocer. Business was good enough for that kosher grocer to eventually make deliveries. I don't see why this can't be replicated by an OJ shul. No, you won't have kosher restaurants and some of the amenities, but those things don't matter to everyone.

JS said...

"the fact remains that there is an entitlement mentality to those who choose to settle in expensive areas (i.e., much of New York metro) without sufficient means to do so."

The entitlement mentality is well deserved - the community supports those who cannot otherwise afford it.

That said, these people (generally even the ones receiving significant assistance) can afford the NYC metropolitan area, they just can't afford the yeshivas these self-same organizations are telling them are religious requirements.

It's a beautiful irony when the organizations that created this crisis direct people to a new municipality that is also unaffordable but seems cheaper by comparison.

I'd also note: This is just what Houston needs - NYC Jews coming down and accelerating the already meteoric rise in prices by demanding NYC-level services.

Anonymous said...

Regarding suburban options, I'd look at communities within a one-hour commute of state capitols where a public school demographic has dwindled and its infrastructure can be purchased. Within an hour of most state capitols are work opportunities.

Another target community possibility are large-to-mid-sized college towns with inexpensive housing. College towns are usually tolerant, pedestrian-friendly, and have plenty of business opportunity.

The cost of maintaining faculty who live in homes costing under $200k vastly reduces the need for high tuitions. Also, in smaller communities, the cost of building is far cheaper.

But the key to this is the willingness of substantial rabbonim to lead the way. People do not want to be pioneers living in a community that is perceived as "not really Torahdik". How to do this? Since typically only one son "inherits" a gadol's legacy and position, the others typically live nearby. Encourage well-known sons-of-Gedolim to start new seed communities.

Once a community becomes so unaffordable that newlyweds cannot afford apartments near their parents, it's bad news. Once homes start to exceed $350k, it is no longer possible for middle-class professional baalhabatim to afford it. Engineers are simply not paid the kind of money to put kids in schools requiring tuition.

We should be emphasizing the kinds of communities where the costs are low enough that the average tuition per child is more like $6k. Thus, a 6-child family paying $36k/yr might be able to survive if the husband earns $80-90k and the wife makes $20-30k and they have monthly housing expenses under $2k. No Pesach resorts or late model cars, but it's manageable.

I've often fantasized about rabbonim being compelled to play SimCity for a day, to get a grasp on the basics of urban and community planning.

Avi Greengart said...

Houston has jobs, friendly people, basic MO services, lower housing costs and no income tax. OTOH, there are travel costs for family visits/chaggim, kosher food is more expensive, there are fewer services/resources/restaurants, and tuition is only slightly lower than the most expensive NY area day schools. The weather is a wash - miserable during the summer, pleasant during the winter - and not a significant factor in young families' decision making (if it were, everyone would live in San Diego. San Diego is just gorgeous).

More affordable housing and lower taxes can certainly make a difference on the bottom line, and I see the value in opening peoples' eyes to the possibilities there which they probably never considered. Still, SL is right that even with a lower mortgage and less paid out in taxes, you still need to earn enough income to pay a pretty hefty tuition bill - a bill that may not be lower than options that don't require moving halfway across the country.

Avi Greengart said...

concernedjewgirl - There are a lot of good reasons to make aliyah - "it's a mitzvah" is a pretty good place to start - but finances isn't necessarily one of them. For many people, making aliyah solves the tuition crisis by substituting an income crisis.

Zach Kessin said...

Aliyah is a good option, if you have a career path that plays well here or can move onto one. I don't speak Hebrew but am working as a freelance computer programmer and am doing pretty well. I will admit to being an unusual case.

I think the real problem is that it is just not realistic to have 6-8 kids, expect to send them all to private school if your annual salary is less than say $250k. Moving from New York to Texas is not going to change that.

ClooJew said...

Avi is 1000% correct: San Diego is gorgeous!

JS said...

If Houston has lower housing costs and Texas has no state income tax, why is tuition there only slightly below the highest yeshiva tuitions in NYC area?

I'm trying to understand what drives yeshiva tuition costs.

Several articles have indicated that salaries are around 80% of a school's budget. So, if the cost of living is less, wouldn't salaries be commensurately less? Are yeshivas not "allowed" to pay rabbis/teachers less because it's not "kavodik" or whatever?

Anonymous said...

If you wear a sheitl and stockings year round, Houston is among the worst possible places to live. Close to the skin or scalp non-breathable coverings is a killer in that heat and humidity. Houston also has some of the worst air quality in the country and its not likely to get much better with the popularity of Texas politicians who are not particular fans of environmental regulation.

A Fan said...

I'd take Boca Raton over Houston any day- Florida also has no state income tax, housing is significantly cheaper than in NY, tuition is cheaper, you actually have a decent selection of schools, and you do have a good array of shuls, kosher shops/restaurants etc- not as vast as NY, but good enough that you really can't complain, even if you're from NY. And the weather is better than Houston. Unfortunately, the job situation is not fantastic, but it's getting better. Also, I would have to learn to drive :-)

BTW, we still live in NY, but just came back from visiting family in Boca, and we're really starting to think things over. If we can find decent jobs down there, we're in!

Anonymous said...

JS: I expect these are high end schools serving primarily affluent MO's. Even in Texas, there is only so low you can go paying experienced qualified teachers for these types of schools. A $50,000 a year teacher in NJ isn't going to magically become a $30,000 a year teacher in Houston. You also have to look at where the MO communities are and the housing prices in those particular neighborhoods - Houston is geographically enourmous. A friend had a 2200 sf home in Houston, decent, but no bells and whistles and no granite countertops. He bought it for 100K in the mid 80's, and sold it 2 years ago for 350K. That tells me that even if housing is cheaper than a comparable home in a NY burb, in the neighborhoods that MO's/OJ's might live in housing is not cheap enough that teachers will work for much less than in NY.

JS said...


Interesting points. Makes me wonder even more why the OU is pushing this.

Sounds like pushing people to move from one expensive neighborhood to another (slightly less) expensive neighborhood.

If all the Orthodox Jews live in the expensive part of town so housing costs aren't significantly less and all the teachers demand nearly comparable salaries, where are the cost savings exactly?

Why not pick a city that actually offers significant savings as your "flagship" city? Or do these simply not exist? I have to say every time I see postings for "out of town" communities I'm struck by the fact that tuition at the MO yeshivas don't seem all that low.

Yannai Segal said...

I'm probably an anomaly in that I took the opportunity to move my family to Houston for a 1-year work term to see that it was like to live in a BIG Jewish community (we are in Calgary, Canada).

A few of the comments have touched on it, but I think that 'moving to Houston' here is a placeholder for a more general change in attitude. Over the past 20 or so years Orthodoxy has enjoyed an amazing increase in infrastructure in the major centres. The proliferation of schools, shuls, mikvaot, eruvim, kollelim, kosher food and the like in the big cities has changed the expectation of the Orthodox to the point where 'small town' Jewish living is considered an unacceptable hardship or a spiritual risk. We have seen this in our small community as families feel the need to move away as they increase their observance and their kids get older.

It's just now sinking in that this Big City Judaism is not economically sustainable, especially the combination of [Large Families] + [Private Yeshiva Education] + [Living in High-Tax, High Cost-of-Living Areas]. Much of the capital spending and the consumption has been funded by cheap debt and that party is certainly over.

The question remains, is there sufficient will in the Orthodox world to take a step back and return to a model where Jews go to where the jobs are, and then build a community around themselves? So far the Orthodox world has resisted this. For example, the late-70s/early 80s oil boom saw a large number of committed Jews move to Calgary seeking good jobs, and they built a shul and school for themselves after a few years. During the current oil boom Calgary has been a large influx of professionals of all types but very few Orthodox willing to give up kosher pizza and/or a choice of a dozen minyan times. In the meantime we have lost many families that have left seeking big-city amenities – if all those families had stayed our own community would have been able to provide those services.

Yannai Segal said...

Anon 10:40AM,

(A part) Houston has significantly more affordable housing than probably any full-amenity Jewish community in the US. The Fondren neighborhood is a bit of an island in a sea of slum but offers a reasonable commute, a range of RW/MO/Channab/Sfaradi shuls and an eiruv and you can buy a nice 5-bedroom for under $260k. When combined with low Texas taxes that makes things pretty affordable. Even for those living in (much) more expensive neighborhoods the existence of the Fondren drops their tuition burden significantly because all of the teachers live there.

Miami Al said...

I think this stems from an utter collapse of Jewish Civil Society, much of which stems from the Day Schools as requirement/entitlement. You see throughout middle America a decline of volunteerism (though participation rates stay high amongst the affluent). SAHMs were a source of communal labor, which has declined as women have entered the workforce.

But is is strangely pronounced in the affluent MO communities, which is betraying sociological expectation.

But look at the attitude, people ask "what can the community do for me," instead of "what can I do for the Jewish people." You see near zero participation in Communal Jewish Institutions amongst the Orthodox (beyond showing up looking for a check for their cause). Almost zero Orthodox Jews give to the Federation, support the JCC, participate in Tikun Olam projects, etc.

Increasingly, the under 40 Jewish set believes that their contribution to the Jewish community is A, have lots of children, and B, increase their personal ritual observance through rightwing chum rot.

The parents of these people showed up, had limited Jewish educations (partial Yeshiva education is common amongst that set, but 13-15 years was unheard of). But they built institutions and organizations to provide a more complete Jewish community for their children. Sadly, the children, beneficiaries of these institutions, were trained to think of them as an entitlement and not something to build.

The people that built the South Florida Jewish communities built them up from nothing in a few generations. However, the people moving into them now do not have the civic-minded attitude, and the community is suffering for it.

Something in the Jewish educational approach is instilling a decent about of ritual knowledge, but NOT the civic-mindedness that is necessary for civil society. WIthout civic institutions, self governance is impossible, and you see the push for statist solutions - vouchers, not internal directed efforts.

For example, American Orthodox Jews are terrific at arranging meals for those experiencing a birth of a child or a death in the family. What is now seen as a "Jewish" action was once a more common American attitude... look up a recipe for "funeral potatoes" - a staple of Utah Mormon food.

However, as Orthodox Jewry has become more chumrah-focused, and stringent in JUDGING the Kashrut of others, the willingness of neighbors to cook meals for people that they don't know well declines. The bake-sale, the quintessential American fundraiser, is increasingly off limits, and if it occurs, will include a note that the Shul/Yeshiva does not vouch for the Kashrut of anyone's baked goods.

Even in the last 5 years, the percentage of Mishlaoch Manot that included a home baked cupcake has declined.

These sort of attitudes result in replacing volunteerism and civic involvement with purchases and quasi-statist approaches like requiring all food come from a commercial, and therefore supervised, kitchen.

Anonymous said...

To add to Al's comment:

The JCC of a heavily Jewish northern NJ region recently closed due to lack of financial support. Over the last several decades it has changed from mixed to 95% Orthodox.

The Orthodox families do have the attitude that their procreation is their contribution.

Their failure to support the JCC was mainly due to their tuition burden and their indignation that the JCC did not offer sufficient separate swimming hours. Note that the hours would have been increased had more than a handful of these families actually become members.

It's also rumored that the head of the local yeshiva gedola refused to support the JCC and discouraged Orthodox families from joining.

However, they heavily use Federation services such as JFS.

JS said...


There's a lot of stuff to mine in your comment. I'll just say that the lack of Orthodox involvement in broader communal institutions (other than asking for handouts) has a lot to do with the increasingly widening gap between Orthodoxy and Conservative and Reform.

It's really bizarre to me that the Modern Orthodox and Yeshvish would choose to identify with those on the far right as opposed to Conservative and Reform. They have far more in common with the latter.

Check out this recent article in the NY Post about a woman who left Satmar and tell me you have more in common with the people she left than your Conservative or Reform neighbors:

JS said...

Not sure the why link didn't work.

JS said...

Last try:

Paste this all together.


midwestlurker said...

Come to Cincinnati! We have K-12 for girls, K-8 for boys, 4 shuls plus Chabad, a kollel, a kosher pizza & Israeli restaurant (CY), a kosher Indian restau rant, a terrific kosher bagel place, two kosher delis with fresh meat and prepared foods, lots of kosher frozen & other groceries, and kosher catering.

Tuition is on the cheap side, and vouchers available in many cases (depends where you live I think). About 250 Orthodox families, 27000 Jews total. Housing costs, car insurance are quite low. Very tolerant, accepting community. Oh yeah, and a kosher JCC cafe. The JCC is pretty new and offers at least a few men's & women's only classes & I believe also some pool hours and exercise space (during certain hours).

*the above list is not meant to be exhaustive.

midwestlurker said...

Small correction: I think there might only be women's classes at the j (not men's). But if so, I think its only for lack of demand. There are some set aside hours for each sex I think.

Miami Al said...

I didn't mean to put the emphasis on the JCC/Federation work, I was using that as an example of lack of participation in Civil Society.

i.e. Jews with a strong sense of civil society could move to a small town with a strong economy, band together with other Jews, build a Shul, a Mikvah, and a school in time. However, when you believe that everything has to be there for you, you can't take that step.

It makes sense that wealthy MO Jews settle in wealthy towns, that is the nature of 21st Century American housing -- wealthy enclaves/wealthy towns. What doesn't make sense is non-wealthy MO Jews settling there.

It makes FAR less sense to basically subsidize a family making 80k/year to live in a neighborhood of 300k+ homes/15k private schools, than it does to subsidize a OU Affiliated Shul in a neighborhood of 120k homes and establish an OF Affiliated (and subsidized) $4500 school. That's how the Catholic Church has a presence everywhere.

But the wealthy MO Jews fund Shuls/Schools for their children, with no obligation to provide towards amenities for the less well off MO Jews.

That is what I mean by a lack of civic involvement. We have tons of "odd" Orthodox institutions (making expensive weddings for middle class Jewish girls), but efforts to help middle-income Jews stand on their own.

Miami Al said...

Something that got me thinking about this, just read Charles Murray's Coming Apart, which is a a kind of interesting look at societal changes across income/educational "classes." To control for racial changes/issues, he limits his stats and trends to white Americans that fit some demographic tendencies.

What's interesting is the descriptions he has of the various "classes" pretty much jives with my anecdotal experiences in my secular world, Facebook is fascinating that way. My friends from "various places" that aren't educated DO live lives like he describes, my "highly educated" friends DO live lives like he describes.

What is utterly startling, to me, is how much my Orthodox friends do NOT play to type in that regard. Hence my comments on civic involvement.

I didn't mean to make this about the JCC, mixed swimming, or whatever other nonsense. Really just about changing attitudes towards involvement.

Many of the men in my parents generation are utterly secular, I would be shocked if they attened services at their non Orthodox synagogue 5 times a DECADE (maybe every other year on Yom Kippur), yet still gives financially to their local synagogue and has supported organizations like the JCC and Federation. When the Chabad Rabbi comes around, they give them a check. They feel that they are obligated to support the Jewish institutions even though they don't partake in them.

I do not know if that attitude persists amongst their children (time will tell), but I do know that amongst my Orthodox Jewish peers, I simply do NOT see that attitude. I see questions of "how much financial aide they'll get" from various schools, and how much the MO school will push to the right to "recruit them," but I don't see much of an attitude towards building institutions.

I see more RW elements showing up in more Left/Center MO towns and demanding/getting concessions, but I don't see a lot of building, unless it is exclusively directed at them.

What I find utterly fascinating about the YeshivaSanity/200kChump blog is these people asking the "rich" to do for them, they are pretty damned rich. If you are in the top 5% of households, I would think that you would be a net contributed to the community, not looking to be a taker.

Mr. Cohen said...

Several people in this discussion mentioned aliyah.

Maybe the next discussion topic should be a serious analysis of the financial feasibility of aliyah.

oren said...

Mr. Cohen, if anyone did seriously analyse the financial feasibility of aliyah, then absolutely no one would ever make aliyah. The benefit of cheaper tuition is vastly eclipsed by the staggeringly lower income and the fact that almost everything is more expensive in Israel.

abba's rantings said...


"K-8 for boys"

lack of a high school is a deal killer.

if i were to consider the midwest i'd look at columbus. i don't know how the job market is compared to cincinnati, etc., but i liked the community there (people and infrastructure, although there are no restaurants)

midwestlurker said...


Columbus has a K-12 school, though somewhat fewer Jewish "amenities" otherwise, I think. It's also only 90 minutes from Cincinnati, so I don't think it would be a big deal for a Cincinnati kid to go there, either as a commuter (via chartered bus if there was enough interest, like the kids from Providence who attend Maimonides in Boston), or even as a boarder (who could easily come home every Shabbos if desired). We don't have kids yet, so I don't know exactly what we'll choose, or even what options will be available. But I understand that for some people, a local high school is a must and no alternative arrangement will do. To each his own.

Miami Al said...

Abba's Rantings,

I think you reconfirmed my comment about lack of civic involvement. People that moved to various towns and established Orthodox communities over the past 50 years built schools as they went.

Modern Orthodoxy (lowercase M) expects everything to be in place before they show up.

Not everyone is cut out to "pioneer" a new town, but the fact that a lack of high school is a "deal killer" for one with elementary school (or younger children) shows the unwillingness to create institutions.

If you can't build a high school by then, you can always choose to board or move at that point, but the unwillingness to step out of one's comfort zone is part of the problem.

midwestlurker said...

P.S. I have also heard that Columbus is a very nice community. I'm going to be "boarding" there myself for about a year (living there during the week for work reasons), so I will find out firsthand.

Yannai Segal said...

I'll second Miami Al - it's silly for a family with their oldest child in early elementary school to disquailify otherwise-ideal locations because of a lack of high school.

If the establishment is not willing to encourage people to move to communities without an existing high school, what is the likelyhood any new communities will reach that milestone. Likewise for ervim, etc.

Is the map of Orthdox communities frozen (or doomed to shrink) forever?

Mark said...

Miami Al - What I find utterly fascinating about the YeshivaSanity/200kChump blog is these people asking the "rich" to do for them, they are pretty damned rich. If you are in the top 5% of households, I would think that you would be a net contributed to the community, not looking to be a taker.

Yep, it's "tax the rich" taken to a ridiculous extreme!

Anonymous said...

I've visited Cincinnati several times, and it's a very nice religious community. They have both modern and frum shuls. Their day school looks very impressive. They have kosher restaurants. By the time your children are old enough, they may have a boys' high school. Problem is it's very far from the Northeast. But pioneering families have been moving out to Cincinnati. Distances are far though and any trip to anywhere in the neighborhood turns out to be a 15 minute car ride at least! What Cincinnati has plenty of is space. Really nice people, though. If you can find a job there, I'd recommend Cincinnati.

Abba's Rantings said...


"Columbus has a K-12 school"

i know, that's why i suggested columbus

"It's also only 90 minutes from Cincinnati, so I don't think it would be a big deal for a Cincinnati kid to go there, either as a commuter"

that's a pretty long commute

"or even as a boarder"

as me later, but for now i don't understand the whole boarding thing

it doesn't make sense to me. if someone is already relocating, why choose cininnati over columbus (all else being equal--no idea if it is or not) if the former has the high school?

"I have also heard that Columbus is a very nice community"

"I'm going to be "boarding" there myself for about a year"

i commute there for work every so often.

tesyaa said...

If you can find a job there, I'd recommend Cincinnati.

Orthonomics or others - can you recommend how couples interested in relocating can go about finding employment for both parents in potential cities, be they Cincinnati or Columbus or Oshkosh? It's less of an issue when one spouse is a SAHM or SAHD or when one spouse works from home (freelancing, home-based business).

For two parents with conventional employment, I imagine this could be daunting.

If the OU or others are suggesting relocation as a financial solution, they had better address this issue. I know the OU has a job board, but it's hard for me to believe they seriously have the resources to help secure employment for both parents.

Abba's Rantings said...


i don't understand your point. no, not everyone is cut out to be a pioneer, and there is no need for them to be pioneers. a place like columbus is a relatively cheaper OOT community. it has the high school (as well several large ortho shuls, chabad, kollel, mikveh, eruv. (and there are other communities like it.) so why scare someone off by trying to make them into a pioneer when there are existing cheaper communities?

Abba said...


yes, that is a big problem, with columbus and other midwestern communities that have weak economies. (btw, the big appeal of houston is for medical professionals, for which there is a great demand there. if you're a doctor, nurse, etc. you don't need the OU to get you a job in houston)

midwestlurker said...

" i don't understand the whole boarding thing"

A lot of people don't. I went to boarding school (secular prep school, I didn't grow up observant) for high school and loved it, so my perspective is colored by that. But it's not for everyone. I don't assume that my kid(s) will all be cut out for it.

Anyway, I'm not saying Cincinnati is the best choice for everyone. Just that it's a valid option. I moved here for work and was only planning to stay for 1-2 years. If I hadn't met my spouse here, I wouldnt have made it my home. But now that I have, I'm very glad I did.

Anonymous said...

Tesyaa, you say finding a job in a city like Cincinnati and Columbus is daunting, that the OU has not addressed this or found you and others the jobs you need. You remind me of the Russians who emigrated to America and asked, "And where is my job?"

If my dad had waited for someone to supply him with a job, his family would have starved. He left Tennessee with only copies of his resume, took Greyhound to Washington and left a copy of his resume with every agency in DC. Someone in HR told him he had to take the civil service test. He did that. Then he took the bus to Baltimore and applied at the headquarters of the Social Security Admin, where they were hiring, and that's where we all landed up, husband, wife, and 3 small children, from Yenemsvelt in the Bible Belt to a new Jewish community where they knew no one. But without my father traveling on that Greyhound bus with nothing but guts and a sheaf of resumes, where would we be today? He didn't ask any organization to find him a job. He searched for a job! Why do people expect their job to be supplied to them, along with all the amenities, ready made? What are you made of? Where is character, courage? Don't you know how to look for a job in a strange city? You don't? Then you won't be hired. Employers are looking for people who can solve problems on their own, and your first problem is lack of initiative.

Anonymous said...

Practically, Tesyaa, the main breadwinner should go looking for a job in the other cities first. When he finds a viable job, and I assume it's the husband, the family should move. Then the wife should look for a job. One job at a time is enough. Once they are settled, the wife can worry about her job. The main thing is - do it yourselves. Don't wait for an organization to "find you a job".

tesyaa said...

Anon 1:57 (please choose one of the many screen names you have used in the past), no need for the log cabin speech. I'm merely pointing out that if both spouses are already employed, it may be challenging logistically for both of them to find new employment in a new city, especially if they are employed in different industries.

Anon, in my household both spouses earn almost exactly the same salary. Is that so uncommon?

Finally - it would be RIDICULOUS to ask the OU to find you a job. I didn't realize anyone took that seriously. I'm laughing just at the thought! But it's certainly easy for the OU to say "move to Houston" without taking into account the logistical difficulties of securing 2 new jobs.

Mark said...

tesyaa - in my household both spouses earn almost exactly the same salary. Is that so uncommon?

Yes, it is VERY uncommon (among MO folks). But it is becoming slightly more common with time.

Anonymous said...

You left the plain impression of lack of initiative, Tesyaa. You rapidly backpedaled when it was pointed out to you that a person has to search for a job, not expect an organization to find you one. Your original post left the clear impression that you hoped others on the board would teach you how to search for a job, and you ended with the expectation that if the OU suggests moving, that the organization should proffer help to people in your position. No wonder I compared my father's 1840 log-splitting mentality, read-law-books-at-night by the fireplace, to your passivity. You are not alone in the expectation of help. You and your cohort all expect, expect, expect. No wonder you are resentful. You have great expectations, and they have not been fulfilled.

midwestlurker said...

I don't think job hunting will be consistently more difficult in the South or Midwest, just different. It will vary across fields and locations. I think that the overwhelming majority of professionals know how to effectively look for work. Maybe older people less familiar with the internet would need some assistance.

In our community, and I imagine in most smaller communities, many local Jews (not only frum ones) are happy to meaningfully assist potential newcomers with finding a job. Not necessarily "securing" a job for them on a silver platter (though this can happen if the fit is right), but providing information on available openings and making helpful introductions to others in that field. We like to see our communities grow (as you can probably tell by my persistent trolling for Cincinnati in this thread).

If someone is looking to relocate and doesn't have a specific place in mind, I'd advise them to cast a wide net with as few dealbreakers as possible. Once they have a sense of what jobs are available where, they can winnow the list based on other considerations. Or they could just skip all that and come to Cincinnati ;)

Anonymous said...

Midwestlurker, you are proof that Cincinnatians are good friends and neighbors, at least in the religious community. It's very kind of you to offer assistance with information and introductions to newcomers investigating Cincinnati.

May I add that just around the corner from the heart of Golf Manor (full disclosure: "around the corner" in Cincinnati means a 20 minute drive) there is a beautiful new JCC with a glistening pool with a deep end. The JCC advertises "single gender" activities, which I assume includes the pool, though Midwestlurker could tell you more about separate hours. But first and foremost, you need a job before you move to Cincinnati or any city.

Anonymous said...

Golf Manor is the religious neighborhood in Cincinnati.

JS said...

No idea how this turned into a conversation about tesyaa's (or anyone else's) lack of initiative or expectations to have a job handed to them on a silver platter.

The point being made is simple. If the OU (or any organization) is pushing people to move to a new city or community, it should understand that people will only move there if there are jobs for them. Certainly people are responsible for finding their own jobs and whatever work and research that entails. But, the organization should understand that if no jobs are available or if it's difficult to find jobs, it's objectives will be thwarted. It's really that simple.

If an organization's mission is to get underprivileged youth to finish high school it can sit on its laurels and simply put out PR statements that finishing high school is wonderful and opens up worlds of opportunities, but it shouldn't be surprised if more underprivileged youth don't graduate. If it wants to see results and have its mission fulfilled it behooves it to do more - tutoring, mentoring, etc. That doesn't mean that the heavy lifting isn't still on the students, but an organization is foolish if it doesn't take steps to ensure it is successful in its initiatives.

Anonymous said...

JS, I don't expect anyone to find me a job, except an agency whose interests are the employer's, not mine. I still think you and Tesyaa represent your generation of entitled people who expect others to do the spade work for them. The opinion of the OU where Jews should move or live has nothing to do with my expectations of having to do the heavy lifting myself. I'm grateful I was raised with the "do it yourself" mentality. It has served me well, in sense of accomplishment and in actual accomplishment. You and Tesyaa are typical of your generation of modern Orthodox who feel others are responsible for their well being. You haven't convinced me of your initiative. You have convinced me that you feel entitled to the OU's help in presenting you with the answer to your financial problems. Who needs the OU? I have the initiative to choose my own city and research its possibilities. You do not have that can do way of thinking. Think for yourselves for a change. I know this is an unwelcome message, but we are coming from different generations and different characters. There is nothing that raises my spirits more than a challenge, and nothing that frightens younger people more than a challenge.

Mark said...

Anon 11:14 - I still think you and Tesyaa represent your generation of entitled people who expect others to do the spade work for them.

You cannot imagine how much wronger you could be. Anyone who's been a participant on this blog and others like it KNOWS that Tesyaa, JS, and me are exactly the opposite and we are just the ones that decry the current entitlement generation!!!!

Mark said...

Not to mention that Tesyaa and me are one generation older than JS :-)

tesyaa said...

Mark an JS, thanks for defending me... but it's probably useless as Anon ( who also uses the names Eileen, EP, Observer and my favorite, Tzeirtel) will surely retun to point out that I am the poster child for entitlement since I have used publicly available educational services for my autistic child. She's also the commenter who had strong ideas about Chanukah gifts and kept the conversation going far longer than it might have otherwise. I wouldn't call her a troll, exactly, just a lady who enjoys provoking a debate and won't stop once she's involved. I expect several more insults from her today, but if we're lucky, maybe she has a busy day planned with her many nieces, nephews, and their children.

Anonymous said...

If you are talking about me, I'm busy writing for the Baltimore Sun today so you are in luck. You may have read my writing in the New York Times where I am frequently published. Why do I blog? Sheer perversity!

Miami Al said...

JS's point was NOT the idea that the OU was responsible for finding you a job. His point was that if the OU's goal was ACTUALLY to get Orthodox Jews to relocate to Houston, they would focus on job publishing job availability and other things that might help families relocate.

Nothing makes the OU responsible for this, but if the OU actually wanted people to move, they'd take steps to make it happen.

Anonymous said...

The best time to relocate is before starting a career. While the OU can't create jobs or be a job placement agency, college students and new grads should be encouraged to explore other options before settling into the greater NY area. One way to do this is to encourage summer jobs and internships in OOT areas like Houston. That could be done, for example, by setting up a netwoork of OOT families where students could board for the summer or during an internship or, get OOT business owners to help arrange for internships. These days, most college students understand the importance of internships - even unpaid internshps, as part of building a resume and real world experience.

Dave said...

The best time to relocate is before starting a career.

I've lived in five different states in the course of my career, moving generally because of jobs, once because I wanted to live in a certain region of the country, and once for a combination of the two.

And I'm not particularly unusual in this. At least not in American society.

Miami Al said...


More unusual than you think. The percentage of Americans that live within 25 miles of where they were born is staggering.

It's not unusually amongst the professional class of America, but overall, pretty unusual.

Anonymous said...

I live in Houston and am very happy but I still don't understand why the OU is doing this. If the OU wants to help it should take the money they are spending on PR and invest it in the community. This is a silly thing for the OU to do and they are taking a successfully growing community and making it seem like they were the catalyst for doing so.

Anon1 said...

Anonymous (3:57 PM),

It's not so bad if OU took credit for a Houston success already in the making, if this would motivate them to do similar projects in other promising cities.

Anonymous said...

I would disagree if they don't give credit where credit is due. The community has a program which actually provides financial incentive to move here. That seems to be missing from all of its press. This OU plan (as Steve Savitsky said himself in AMI magazine) is a PR plan with a little bit of job resources mixed in, thats all. If they wanted to help they should have pitched in with financial incentives not posters and articles.

Mr. Cohen said...

Mr. Cohen said...

Anonymous said...

Mark said...

Another article about this -

Shabbat Shalom Umevorach to all.

Mr. Cohen said...

Rabbi Reuven Spolter says that Israel and Michigan are both better options than Houston:

Anonymous said...

You must be kidding when you suggest that it is possible to look for a job remotely while continuing to be gainfully employed locally.

Almost no Employers would entertain extending an interview, let alone a firm job offer, to someone not living locally in today's economy with 10 applicants per job opening.

Never mind the logistical nightmare involved in traveling to interviews, etc.