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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

And That (Tuition) Too is Unaffordable

: You can basically scratch the post I just posted (see below the line), but I will leave it up anyways  (A second update, I don't hold by my controversial statement 100%, but I'm trying to bring out a point)! After pushing publish, I thought to myself that I should see what the published tuition is on the website (the author of the Cross-Currents article wrote: "Full tuition payers (who are in the minority) pay slightly above this $7000 per child and thus partially subsidize scholarships."

It turns out that the tuition is published at $9,690, which, in my opinion is not "slightly" about $7000, but is significantly above $7,000. From the Derech HaTorah of Rochester website Admissions Page the tuition cost for the 1st child is $9,690:

2011-2012 Tuition for Grades K - 8: $9,690
Families enrolling more than one child receive a 20% discount on each subsequent child's tuition. Please note: Parents' inability to pay full tuition is not a factor in the admissions process. Scholarships will be awarded based on financial need. After the registration fee (which will be applied to tuition) is paid, we will prepare a tuition/scholarship contract for your family.

The school has a nearly $3,000 subsidization rate by full paying parents. That is nothing to sneeze at. . . especially when that $3,000 amount is probably being earned in after-tax marginal dollars. . .

Color me disappointed as I feel mislead.  It is no wonder full fare isn't the default!


There is a new article up on Cross-Currents from a parent at Rochester's elementary school titled Yeshiva Day School Financing: A Case Study. The purpose of the article is to and what it is doing right so that others can learn from this out of town community.

As reported there is a minimum tuition, comparatively low cost per student of $7000 somehow calculated not to include the children of those staff who receive tuition as a fringe benefit, as well as a reported positive culture in the school of cost consciousness, strong leadership, a good work environment, volunteerism and even 'forced' fundraising/volunteerism for any parent receiving any scholarship of any amount.

While there is no question in my mind that the policies and ethic are positive, we learn that despite a reasonable tuition of just over $7000, the majority of families simply can't afford the school and pay the low tuition asked of them. And that is astounding!

Before anyone hangs me out to dry, I'm not implying that $7000 is not a sacrifice for the average family (it is), so please don't misconstrue my words, but with most communities charging nearly double**, one would think that with such a tuition rate, full fare would be the default, not the exception.

So I'm about to say something that could be construed as controversial. .. . .so hold on tight! (And please be forgiving Rochester readers because I don't know the dynamic of the community, although I do understand some of the major industries/employers are struggling). . . . . .

I'm not certain that it really matters what the cost of tuition is or what it isn't. Whatever that figure is, the default position is that only a minority of families are going to pay full fare.

I'm tempted to believe (and I have reason to believe) that there has been years of cultural conditioning in which yeshiva parents have been told, "tuition is out of reach anyhow, therefore. . . . " and the default position, without a cultural shift, will be a majority on scholarship/reduction even where tuition is reasonable. . . . . and I'm not certain how much lower one can really go than $7000 (the price of a lot of affordable Christian academies seems to hover around that figure).


**Houston, with its low housing costs has a tuition of nearly $15,000 for elementary.

**Emek Academy of the Los Angeles Valley has a first student cost (when you add it all up) of $16,108 and a tuition and registration of just around $12,000.


tesyaa said...

I don't buy your argument about cultural conditioning. I think unaffordability of yeshiva is real.

$7000 would not be a lot of tuition for an elementary school child, but it's a lot for an average working family if there are 3-4 kids in elementary school at one time. That's why yeshiva is so unaffordable.

And I sure doubt that Rochester families are spending $7000 for high school tuition, so that's another factor that makes me think tuition really is unaffordable.

Would it be affordable if families cut every single extra (including home ownership) and lived a minimalist lifestyle? Maybe, maybe not, but that's not being demanded of them and that's not going to happen. I think many families would literally walk away from Orthodox Judaism rather than live in a small apartment with a bunch of kids and zero frills. Rabbinic leaders know that the religion somehow has to stay attractive to the masses; and a subsistence lifestyle just isn't attractive to American families.

It might be different among Israeli chareidim, but that's not what we're talking about.

Glad to see you posting!

Orthonomics said...

Let me clarify. .. .$7000 is also a lot, lot, lot but I can prepare for $7000 per kid a lot easier than I can plan for $15K per kid. But if we keep saying "no one can pay anyways) we will ensure that few plan.

See my update. . . the figure was totally misleading. The tuition is really about 10K, a lot bigger i my mind!

JS said...

"I'm not certain that it really matters what the cost of tuition is or what it isn't. Whatever that figure is, the default position is that only a minority of families are going to pay full fare."

I agree. But, keep in mind the price of tuition is based on the community where the school is. In Houston or Los Angeles Valley apparently $15k+ is the price point that makes sense and a lower tuition with a comparably "less nice" school is not what the community wants. Also, cost of living and salaries are comparably different most likely.

"I'm tempted to believe (and I have reason to believe) that there has been years of cultural conditioning in which yeshiva parents have been told, "tuition is out of reach anyhow, therefore. . . . " and the default position, without a cultural shift, will be a majority on scholarship/reduction even where tuition is reasonable."

Disagree. Tuition is unaffordable because private school is unaffordable for the vast majority. The only way to have private school affordable to nearly everyone is to have tiered schools where the wealthy send to school X and the less wealthy send to school Y or just have everyone go to school Y.

The bad incentives and cultural issues just lead the less wealthy to try to pay even less. The wealthy are going to pay full freight regardless. Maybe you could squeeze a few hundred or thousand out of the families on scholarship by trying to reverse the cultural tide, but you will NEVER get full tuition out of them - they simply don't earn enough. Trying to get them to work more or have kids later or buy a house later, etc. will get a few more dollars for the school, but they'll still be on scholarship.

In Rochester 4 kids at $28k is too much for the average family and in Bergen County 4 kids at $60k is too much for the average family. No cultural shift is going to change that.

Orthonomics said...

JS-I agree! a=And I also disagree! (Very Jewish, I know).

I agree that it simply is too much for more families, certainly in the long term. However, I also see the average family spending far too much money on simchas and all the hoopla surrounding and I think that taking that money and actually doing things like paying for education or putting that money into a meaningful downpayment that we would see the financial position of the community as a whole improve significantly.

Orthonomics said...

tesyaa, the reason that I mention cultural conditioning is that I constantly hear, "everyone applies for scholarship", "no one expects you to pay the full tuition," "just apply for a scholarship."

I said I'd never apply for a scholarship and I don't think we'd get one. But the more I hear "just apply" the more I keep thinking maybe I should. After all, I'm working really hard so that we can responsibly save and pay. We do ok, but wouldn't it be nice to not have to watch the money so carefully?

tesyaa said...

Families with elementary aged kids and younger haven't made a lot of simchas. (Even a nice bris is not prohibitive). And if a family is already at the point where they're receiving a scholarship, they're hardly going to offer to pay the school more and skip the bar mitzvah party. I mean, human nature is human nature, and when tuition looks like a mountain, chipping away with it with a chisel just doesn't seem worth it to most people.

And in many cases, the grandparent factor is responsible for fancy simchas. I understand why a grandparent would get more nachas out of paying for a party and inviting their own friends than from paying a couple of months of tuition. Since schools really have no leverage to make grandparents pay, there's no point in handwringing about simcha celebrations.

Would it be better if everyone felt responsible and put as many dollars as possible towards full tuition? Sure, maybe. But if you can't even make a bar mitzvah because you're killing yourself paying tuition, you're likely to resent religion. See my comment above.

You and others have made the assumption that tuition is the most pressing cause for discretionary dollars, but it's not necessarily so.

tesyaa said...

If you don't think you'll qualify for a scholarship, you probably won't. Unlike families making fancy simchas and taking scholarships, you probably have savings. Which position would you rather be in? It's a personal choice.

That being said, I don't think there's any moral reason not to apply.

Miami Al said...

You probably should apply, you'd probably get one. Plenty of people get small reductions for asking, nobody on the committees here (rich housewives mostly), wants to say no to people that have less money than them.

All the things you highlight here really look like noise to people that have money.

Now, if you do so, you are inviting a bunch of rich housewives to plan your financial lives. They will let you do "frumy" things, they may not let you do "secular" things like save for college/retirement.

If you want to live your life where someone other than your spouse and you directs your after tax dollars (and in this case, some of the after-Yeshiva dollars), that is a decision for you and your spouse.

Tesyaa hints at the point: for most Orthodox Jews, Yeshiva is a priority. Tuition is NOT as high a priority. On this blog, the two are treated as one in the same, they simply are NOT the same thing. Someone that sends kids to school and pays full freight, one that pays a reduced scholarship rate, and one that simply switches banks and bounces their last three checks all receive the same product. It is no more unreasonable to want to pay less for Yeshiva than to want to pay less for cable.

JS said...


You're assuming that any money not spent on a simcha or Pesach hotel (or any other "frum" expense), would simply go to the yeshiva. I don't think that's true. People will just put it to other luxuries. It's like Al said, people want yeshiva, they just don't want to pay for it. Then again, since when does anyone want to pay "full price" for something? Look at all the people who tried to take advantage of an El Al pricing glitch - they want to go to Israel, they don't want to pay for it.

That said, it's not really clear how you measure the financial position of the community as a whole. If people don't have lavish simchas and bought other luxuries or just saved certainly a portion of the community would be worse off - the florists, band leaders, caterers, hall owners, etc.

In the end, you need to figure out what's better for your family. There's nothing stopping you from spending like a drunken sailor on simchas or home furnishings or vacations. You just would rather save for retirement and have a financial cushion. Different strokes for different folks.

Tesyaa's point is a good one, too. Who would really want to send to yeshiva if it meant a spartan lifestyle? We love our yeshivas as much as we love a sushi station at a wedding or a hot kiddush. This isn't some fantasy of European shtetl life in which everyone slept in one room on the floor but were pious and happy. It's middle and upper middle class America.

Yannai Segal said...

The real tragedy of a system where 'everyone gets a subsidy' is that it desensitizes those receiving tzedaka from what should be the sobering significance of that fact.

One would suspect that the average frum lifestyle would be significantly different if scholarship recipients had to pay tuition in full with actual cash/payroll deductions and then had to go to a tzedaka fund on an as-needed basis to cover all other expenses.

Yannai Segal said...

While full tuition was generally affordable for most families (due to a combination of smaller families and lower costs) it was easier for subsidized families to appreciate the significance of what was essentially communal support and the resultant burden of personal spending responsibility.

Now that tuition is a number completely impossible for the median family to even consider paying in full for all of their children this burden has essentially disappeared. Communal services that 85% of people partake of will never be though of as tzedaka even if they are paid for by the 'wealthy' or by money borrowed to be repaid by future generations (through debt). In most communities, for all intents and purposes, there is no longer 'tuition' but rather a sliding fee scale (sometimes with a cap/floor). Justifying your place on a sliding scale only requires justification vs. the lifestyles of your peers as opposed to justifying a fungible dollar handout to cover an actual cost of a good you need but you can't afford.

Anonymous said...

As the author of the prior blogpost I must say that Yannai makes some excellent points. This is the heart of the problem and would go a long way to correcting the inequities

Orthonomics said...

JS-I've written posts regarding the silly assumption that less Pesach vacations equals more money for schools.

What is good for Orthodox education is a stronger financial position of the community at large. And yes, the way we spend is related to the overall financial position. The fact that parents don't think twice about having their children take out student loans while they pay for weddings from the other pocket is problematic.

Tesyaa is right that young people aren't making the weddings. But Jewish parents still tend to help their children and so overall, yes, it all makes a difference.

And of course if wedding spending went down, certain people would hurt. But on the other side of the token, we might be better off if it wasn't default to set up business that specifically serves the kehilla. I think our overall economy would improve tremendously if we had more money coming from outside.

Orthonomics said...

Yaanai-I completely agree!

JS said...


I know there's a lot of talk about weddings and other simchas in the frum community, but the fact is this is an American issue first and foremost. Americans believe in the fairy tale princess wedding. Non-Jews spend tons of money on weddings. The idea that all the non-Jews are having punch in their backyard is absurd. My company puts out occasional newsletters about life events of employees and the weddings are all very elaborate and expensive. Perhaps the only difference is the cost is often borne or at least shared by the bride and groom, not just their parents.

Student loans are just as prevalent in the non-Jewish community. I know tons of people with hundreds of thousands in student loans from college and graduate school.

To reiterate my point from the last post, this isn't a unique situation. What's annoying and troubling to people is how this is framed as a religious issue (see the recent posts framing it as a tzedaka issue). You are upset that you're told to give tzedaka to people you feel don't deserve it even though the religious institutions and rabbis say they do.

Also, how do you define the financial well-being of the community? It seems to me that most Jewish communities are better off than their neighbors.

aaron from L.A. said...

One way of solving the problem is having parents work only in jobs that bring in a lot of money...Another is having scholarship applicants sell a kidney, lung,or a piece of liver on the black market....A third,and admittedly not likely to succeed method, would be track down alumni who have made good, especially those who were scholarship,and ask them to pony up on the moral argument that someone helped pay for them,now it's their turn to ---too many Hakaras HaTov issues..

Dave said...

Large families.

Private schooling.

Unless you are quite wealthy, these two do not go together.

Orthonomics said...

JS, regarding weddings, yes Americans are increasingly out of control regarding weddings. And yes, Americans are out of control with college debt.

But if yeshiva is a priority (and yeshiva attendance is certainly still a priority), then we can't be stupid and our communal norms need to make sense.

(And, yes, I would wager that if we compare other religious groups with a young age for marriage and a higher than average birth rates, we would find that we spend more on average. . . especially if you add in the mandatory gifts and the "support").

Orthonomics said...

A P.S. Some google searching tells me 10K is high end for a Mormon wedding. But, the Temple is part of being a tither/member of the church.

JS said...


Yeshiva is a priority. Paying full price for it is not. There are many factors to blame here. It's not shameful to get scholarship, the old joke that only a fool pays retail, increasingly more expensive and lavish facilities, a huge boom in children attending yeshiva, increasing expectations from yeshivas as the parents are yeshiva educated themselves, yeshiva educated parents being underemployed, yeshiva educated parents not willing to make the same questionable halachic compromises their own parents made to get ahead in the workplace, more people getting jobs in the community, maintaining a 1950's attitude towards women's education and place in the workforce, increasing pressure on young people to marry young and have children as soon as possible, perception that only certain communities are acceptable, far greater adherence to rabbinic opinion, increasing religious requirements, etc.

I'm sure there are tons more. But it's all part of this culture that's being bemoaned.

As for your last point, we spend more than other groups probably because we center in parts of the country where people earn more and spend more accordingly. Don't compare to Mormons in Utah. Compare to religious neighbors down the block.

Mark SoFla said...

JS - I know there's a lot of talk about weddings and other simchas in the frum community, but the fact is this is an American issue first and foremost.

Frum Jews in America make large weddings (sometimes even over-the-top).

Frum Jews in the UK make large weddings.

Frum Jews in Canada make large weddings.

Frum Jews in South Africa make large weddings.

Frum Jews in France make large weddings.

Frum Jews in Israel make large weddings (and even if not fancy, they often have many hundreds or even a thousand people in attendance).

Can you spot the common factor here? :-)

Miami Al said...

Evangelical Americans make large weddings.

Christian Americans make large weddings.

Catholic Americans make large weddings.

Mormon Americans make large weddings.

Hindu Americans make large weddings.

Muslim Americans make large weddings.

Can you spot the common factor here? Weddings are a HUGE source of celebration in traditional cultures. Americans are richer than most other people in the world, so Americans make large weddings.

Now, I find the idea of giving people charity money to make large weddings a little bizarre, but I'm sure you can find such idiosyncrasies in other cultures as well.

Miami Al said...

Mark SoFla,

I'm been to plenty of Reform Weddings that make even the fancy "Frum" (100k+ budgets) weddings I've been to look like trailer trash weddings.

My wife was addicted to My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding when it was on.

Only difference between elaborate Frum Simchas and elaborate Celebrations is that "Simchas" is a made up word, bastardizing a Hebrew word with an American pluralization... that's about the only thing I find interesting with the Frum ones.

Mark said...

Miami Al - I'm been to plenty of Reform Weddings that make even the fancy "Frum" (100k+ budgets) weddings I've been to look like trailer trash weddings.

But we're not so interested in the cases of very large/fancy weddings. Those people have sufficient funds for such weddings and they pay full tuition and more.

The big issue is the average cost of weddings and how much the average person in a community is devoting toward weddings (and other smachot) that ostensibly could go to the schools.

JS said...

"New York, where the average cost of a wedding is $65,824, is the most expensive city in the United States to get married but many couples will spend about $27,000 to tie the knot and that doesn't include the cost of the honeymoon."

tesyaa said...

People would defect from Orthodox Judaism if they ACTUALLY had to put every discretionary dollar towards yeshiva. People want to enjoy their lives. Are there responsible, believing people who are willing to put every extra dollar towards tuition? Yes. Is that typical? No.

Mark said...

Wow. And NYC just happens to be the city with the most frum Jews in the USA (and perhaps the world, except maybe Jerusalem).

Miami Al said...

After we remove all joy from Judaism, and dedicate it all to Yeshivot, how many of the products of those Yeshivot will remain Frum?

This was tried in eastern Europe, in the nineteenth century. Frum life sucked, the outside world was welcoming, 90% of Jews left.

Want to watch that happen again?

JS said...


I hope you're not suggesting that frum Jews are so numerous that they are lifting the NYC average as opposed to just following what the locals spend on their weddings.

kweansmom said...

Over 65K??? Really??

We haven't made any weddings yet and are still getting over sticker shock from a few Bar Mitzvahs.

I'm totally depressed now.

Mark said...

JS - I hope you're not suggesting that frum Jews are so numerous that they are lifting the NYC average as opposed to just following what the locals spend on their weddings.

Yes, I am suggesting that frum Jews raise the NYC average.

By the way, I am suspicious of the numbers as other sites show much different numbers.

JS said...

Take a look here:

JS said...

Jews, not just frum Jews, are around 1.5 million in NYC. NYC has a total population of 8+ million. So, Jews total are less than 20%. Frum Jews far less.

Even assuming 20%m you think the 20% spend SO MUCH that it brings the entire average up to that number? Think again.

tesyaa said...

For NYC you really need to look at the median wedding cost, not the average. A few $10 million weddings will skew the average.

Anonymous said...

I work with many nonjews in a hospital. The nurses delay their weddings more than a year or more in order to save up money for the wedding.they also pay for it themselves and don't get help from parents. The numbers they mention are less than thirty thousand dollars and these weddings have less than two hundred people sometimes around 150,.

Mark said...

Yes, I think the Jews in NYC raise the average despite only being under 20% of population.

Here's another statistic, Charedim in Israel are about 10% of population, yet comprise almost 25% of primary school children.

Jews get married more and get married younger and most likely account for more than 20% of marriages in NYC in a given period of time? Also Jews have substantially higher average income than the overall average - that also contributes to spending more.

Anonymous said...

Btw this is in Bergen county

CJ Srullowitz said...

Can no one here do math?

It's 20% less for all children but the first. That comes to $7752, about 11% higher than the initial 7K figure. So a family with three kids in the school is paying just under $8400/child. It's not $10,000.

In any event, I agree with your larger point. It's like people who always come late to shul Friday evening. Shabbos could start at 4:30 or at 8:30, they're always fifteen minutes behind schedule. I think if tuition was $50,000 a year (as it is in some colleges), we would be thrilled to be paying "only" $30,000.

JS said...

The data here is a bit older, but this article criticizes the average and says the median would be more useful. The country-wide average in 2009 was apparently $28,704.

"What she doesn’t know is that also according to the Wedding Report, four out of five brides were projected to spend less than the $28,704 in 2008 and a full 50 percent will spend less than $14,352."

Based on that it would seem the median is $14.3k (50% spend above, 50% spend below). 30% spend between $28.7k and $14.3k. 20% spend above $28.7k.

It's hard to transfer that to NYC, but country-wide 20% spend more than $28.7k. Jews are only around 5 million out of around 310 million - only 1.6%. So, even if every Jew (frum or not) is spending over that $28.7k, that leaves about 18.5% of the country that are doing the exact same.

At the very least it proves Jews aren't the only ones (and are a minority of the ones) who spend a lot on weddings.

tesyaa said...

Mark, your claim that Orthodox Jewish weddings have a noticeable impact on the average cost of an NYC wedding comes from an Orthodox-Jewish-centric view of the world that has no basis in reality, but is very common among people who've been educated since infancy to think that Orthodox Jews are the center of the world. :)

Miami Al said...


"Virginia brides have the lowest wedding budget at $14,203."

Now, if you were to back out Metro-DC (Fairfax County and surrounding area), which is physically in Virginia but not culturally, I bet you you drop the average a LOT.

NYC is the source of rot here.

Mark said...

tesyaa - Mark, your claim that Orthodox Jewish weddings have a noticeable impact on the average cost of an NYC wedding comes from an Orthodox-Jewish-centric view of the world that has no basis in reality, but is very common among people who've been educated since infancy to think that Orthodox Jews are the center of the world. :)

LOL! This would ONLY apply to NYC, nowhere else.

BaltimoreYid said...

In our home paying tuition became a non viable option.
At the end of the day our expenses outstripped our income. My wife and I were not willing to go into debt to pay for tuition. My children now attend public schools. After the switch we were "lectured" by friends, rabbis, etc, about our lack of bitachon. We let it go in one ear and out the other. The suggestions we received (my favorite: move to Israel!) were just plain idiotic. I'm not advocating it for anyone else, I'm merely saying that short of welfare fraud or some other kind of thievery we just weren't willing to go down that road. End of story.

Avi Greengart said...

Rochester salaries are lower than metro NYC, LA, or Houston, so it doesn't surprise me that people have difficulty affording $7 - 10K, while those in wealthier areas have difficulty affording 14 - 18K.

As I prepare for my oldest son's bar mitzvah, there is no question that as a community we are spending too much on simchas - requiring caterers and mashgichim for even cold cut platters means high costs just to feed immediate family. We have nice shuls, and dues are pricey. Camps and school schedules are terribly unfriendly to dual-working parents, meaning we need to pay for childcare or end up with one spouse working part time for that reason alone, depriving the community of income. Too many people work inside the community rather than outside of it - I count three or four different organizations per "cause." Too many people marry young, have kids young, and get behind the tuition curve before they ramp up income. There is rampant entitlement, where parents buy more house than they can afford in neighborhoods they cannot afford and then ask for scholarships.

Some of these problems could be improved with better policies or better leadership. Some are intractable. But even if you could fix them, it would only be a band-aid, not a solution. You still run into the problem that good private dual-curriculum education is expensive to provide, and we encourage having large families. This is a combination that only works with astronomical family incomes.

Dramatically raising family incomes is probably impossible, and the RW segment of the community is heading in the opposite direction. Therefore, the only true solutions are to lower the costs somehow. RW have done so by eliminating rigorous secular education, which only makes the income problem worse. There are efforts to get the government to chip in for secular education via vouchers, but the political will and fiscal means to accomplish anything meaningful in this regard are simply nonexistent. That leaves three options. Pick which one you hate the least:

1. limit family sizes to keep costs down
2. try new educational models that theoretically save money (ex: HeAtid in NJ)
3. Get local governments to pick up the secular education tab by sending to public school or charters

Personally, it's too late for me for #1. We're trying #2, though if a HeAtid high school doesn't open in the next few years, we may be forced to #3.

CJ Srullowitz said...


As you possess one of the few sane, sober voices on these "frumonomic" blogs, I always take your opinions seriously.

Nevertheless, I have a hard time believing Rochester, NY's income picture is half that of Bergen County.

Be that as it may, the key factor here is entitlement. Entitlement to home ownership, entitlement to gourmet food, entitlement to fancy simchas, entitlement to sleepaway camp.

CJ Srullowitz said...

PS I'm thrilled that it's too late for #1. I'm sure you are too.

JS said...


One of the best comments I've seen in a while.


Maybe the average is not half, but when you factor in the very wealthy that keep schools running, I'm sure there are a lot more in Bergen County than up in Rochester.

tesyaa said...

CJ, regardless of whether entitlement is the problem (and I believe it's part of the problem), if you ask people to give up their creature comforts and earthly pleasures, they will slowly or quickly leave the fold. Rabbis who pasken shaylas about tuition scholarships and similar matters know this.

You can't make people live the "shtetl fantasy" so aptly described by JS in an earlier comment. Maybe they would observe more mitzvos that way, and maybe the community would be able to fund full-time chinuch for all children that way. But very few actually have the level of piety that they'd do so.

Anonymous said...

Baltimore Yid-I commend you for using public school. if enough of us send to public school, then the local rabbis will be forced to provide an after school alternative. Now they just say- there is no after school alternative, so if you don't send to day school you will have nothing for your kids.( We did send a child to public school and it was great!)

253PM said...

Last year 2 of my kids went to public school. One child got along just fine, but she wasn't "that frum" begin with. The other child maintains a stronger Jewish identity and is returning to a Jewish school. That child hated being in a non-jewish environment.

To pay tuition I have turned to outside sources for help. Had that not have happened the other child would have returned to public school. Not optimal but doable.

The biggest issue of public school for my family has been its negative impact on our family's Jewish observance. Perhaps in strong Jewish homes this is not a problem, but it is a significant issue in my home.

I sometimes find the frum life to be impossibly hard. Reinforcement from school and peer pressure from the other school families has helped keep us on track in the past.

Anonymous said...

My family has made numerous sacrifices to live within our means. We both work full time. My wife works nights. No vacations, minimalist simchas. We have two kids home schooling (through a public charter). We still find it difficult to pay discounted tuition for 3 kids in yeshiva and our daughter in Seminary. We eat alot of beans and rice. All of our income is "on the books." I often wonder if other people who seem to be able to afford alot more, who are self employed or work "off the books" honestly state their income on the scholarship form. I would like to see ratio of money spent on tuition to money spent on elaborate simchas, travel, vacations, clothing, camps and other luxury items by our community.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be some resentment from idealistic commenters who believe yeshiva education is important and are willing to sacrifice a lot for it, toward those who want the product but aren't willing to make such big sacrifices (and may even be acting unethically to pay tuition). I strongly urge you to get over your resentment. Your resentment is not going to change other people's behavior. For your own emotional health, let it go.

Anonymous said...

2:53, I am anon 1:10, and yes, public school is not for every child. However, if there were No jewish day schools and everyone sent to public school, it would be more likely ( but not 100%) for an observant child to make religious friends in public school. Especially if there would be some religious after school program, that the kids enjoyed and had a fun component to it. So one of my gripes is that the existence of jewish day schools actually forces you to use them because most of the other religious kids go, and there are now very very few religious kids in public school.

Avi Greengart said...

Anon 3:55 - what worries me most is that there seem to be worse social consequences for sending your kids to public school than for acting unethically.

SJ said...

In CUNY Brooklyn College, religious kids are surrounded with different kinds of people all the time and they stay religious just fine.

Abandoning Eden said...

My not frum at all wedding cost $3000 - we had it in a state park in Pennsylvania, no alcohol, no band, buffet style lunch, 20 guests, immediate family and about 10 really close friends, no officiant (in PA you can have a "Quaker style" wedding where you marry yourself).

My in laws gave us a ton of money before the wedding to use for the wedding costs or other things (like mid range 6 figures). We saved it and used it to put a downpayment on a house a year later. No regrets at all, and love my house which I get to use every day for our marriage! And which I could have never bought without that downpayment. Plus even after buying the house we have a 6 figure savings account (and slowly working to build that up again).

One of the reasons frum weddings are so large is the emphasis on community in the frum world- you have to invite a LOT of people because jews tend to have very close community/family ties and people get very insulted if they aren't invited. Also the whole keeping-up-with-the-jonesbergs thing that comes with having close community ties.

Abandoning Eden said...

oops meant 5 figures in all cases...they aren't insane :)

Anonymous said...

One reason why costs have gotten out of hand and were bearable when I was growing up is the existence of a group of people who didn't exist in our community in the 1960's, and I mean grandparents. There were no grandparents to turn to to make simchas for the children. So simchas were small. Hitler eliminated the grandparents. Those few American families (with American living grandparents) had poor grandparents, who had worked in factories and left school in 8th grade. They were supported by their children, with whom they often lived.

Another reason simchas were small is that families were smaller. Most frum families had 2 or at most 3 children. The religious community was small. Now my parents have 57 descendants, and more on the way. With large extended families and generous grandparents, simchas can be very expensive.

kweansmom said...

Sending a college-age kid to public college is very different than sending a K-12 kid, from age 5 and up to a public school. Those are very formative years and he/she will never get the support system of being surrounded by other frum people that you have in Brooklyn College.

Anonymous 5:14 PM, what you are describing is the public schools in my parents' days in NYC. The public schools were full of frum kids who went to Hebrew School to supplement. Their grandchildren and great-granchildren can be found in ultra-Orthodox schools now. But you can't turn back the clock to 1940.

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