Tuesday, November 20, 2007

JO Review: Tuition Vs. Camp

The Jewish Observer "Tuition Dilemma" Issue has an interest transcript of a question and answer session conducted by Rabbi Shmuel Feurst, Rav of Agudath Israel of Chicago regarding tuition issues. Below I am reproducing the first question and answer regarding tuition vs. camp. Other questions to follow in upcoming posts.

My comments to follow.

Question -- Overnight camp can cost $2,000, $3,000, or even $4,000, and day camps can also cost $1,000-$2,000 if the child is enrolled for the entire summer. Can one apply for a scholarship from his child's school if he would be able to pay full tuition, were he not to send his children to sleepover or day camp?

Answer -- Today's culture can be very corrosive. A child goes to school for nine-ten months. If he does not attend a day camp or overnight camp in the summer, he can lose everything he gained in those ten months -- and even worse. To keep children on the derech HaTorah, one must keep them off the streets. One would then have a right to ask for a tuition reduction.

It is really hard to know where to start with this discussion, but I will presume that this "psak" is practiced vis a vis tuition since I know mothers who send their children to summer camp who are on scholarship (and not every mother is working during the summer).

So I will start by asking a question: Why should a Yeshiva have to cut their costs so children can go to camp? Why shouldn't it be the opposite? Why shouldn't camps have to compete for whatever dollars are left after tuition, rather than Yeshivot trying to take whatever is left after camp?

Of course, no one wants their children to be idle during the summer. We want our children to keep up with their learning, daven, read, and explore their interests and talents that might lay dormant during the school year. Some would argue camp is a necessity to prevent such. I would argue that a summer could be productive for a whole lot less.

There is a saying that "necessity is the mother of invention." We have spent time on this blog exploring inventive alternatives to the current day school situation from homeschooling (which deserves its own post) to virtual schooling, to Elliot Pasik's Two Building Solution.

I would say that the alternatives to summer camp are nearly endless (even when a parent is not home all day everyday during the summer), while the solutions to receiving a Jewish education are more limited, but not unlimited. I hate to argue with a person far greater than me, but it seems unfair to put more burden on the the schools and on the other parents by declaring essentially declaring summer camp (with emphasis on camp) a necessity.

Have at it.


Anonymous said...

I began to first question the importance of every hour in yeshiva when I started questioning night seder for little boys, and for teenagers. First, I think young children should not be in school so late, and into the night. I also think that teens should be home, eating dinner with their parents, discussing their day, and doing homework in the evenings. When I challenged night seder, I've been told multiple times, that it's not about learning, but to occupy the kid's time, nothing else. Same for summer camp. It has nothing to do with "maintaining your learning". The yeshivas are so afraid that by granting any freedom at all, the kids will become crack addicts or something. However, I expanded the most as a kid (while not frum) with my free time, reading new books, taking new hobbies, etc. The reason I wasn't getting into trouble is I had attentive parents. Unfortunately, the attitude in the yeshiva world today is that parenting is evil (except to discuss in the abstract at chinuch banim shiurim that you abandon your kids to go hear), and the Rebbe functions as the real parent.

Put it this way--a family who can't afford summer camp should have their sons and daughters get summer jobs. No--they shouldn't sit idle all summer--they can be fully productive making some money for their family, helping around the house, etc. If too young for work, maybe the parent can spend the summer doing science projects, visiting historic sites, or assigning new classic books (quasi home-schooling). What a child does when they are not in school is called "the job of a parent", something yeshivas resent parents trying to do themselves. It's amazing--when I've complained that yeshivas don't teach hashgafa or middos, people tell me that such things are the job of the parent. But then the yeshiva system, combined with night seder, sunday classes, mishmar, summer camp, ateres tznius on Friday night, and shabbos groups during the day, completely remove the child from their family. There is hardly a waking hour of the year that these yeshivas don't seem to have organized activities for children.

We've discussed this before, but I agree with "Off The Derech"---most kids don't leave yahdus for philosophical issues, or even taivos in the goyishe world--they leave when they have bad family situations. I acknowledge Rav Feurst is a hadol b'torah, but I find the tearing apart of the Jewish family structure to be even worse than the entitlement/welfare mentality that has creeped into the Jewish world with the advent of the modern yeshiva system.

Looking Forward said...

aryeh, they're afraid of one thing and only one thing, that if they leave the boys alone they'll do things by themselves or talk to girls.

it isn't necessarily true, and I think its driving boys away from yiddishkeit and responsible boys leaving at a faster rate than girls.

But it is frustrating to deal with. Thank g-d I went to a yeshiva for highschool that ended seder at 6 oclock sharp with the end of secular classes, and after that we had an hour for homework or other persuits, and then the rosh yeshiva came to deal with davening and supper, and then we had 2 and a half hours to take care of stuff before bedtime. We were off on friday at 12, sunday at 2:30. In the spring we went every friday to play baseball, and shabbos we had to be in shul with the rabbi and eat at a local house but other than that we were free.

We had 2 recesses that we played basketball or volley ball in, or else visited local stores or read to ourselves.

and y'know what? noone felt resentfull of having all of their time taken up, and if it weren't for the fact that my classmates were such a difficult and abusive bunch, I would have loved it there, and I would bet that many, many other bochurim would as well.

Its a chabad school, and a mishichist one at that (although I emerged relatively unscathed) but it doesn't spent to much time teaching that hashkafa. But you leave with a regents diploma, and it generaly works pretty well. Tuition is expensive though.

why can't more yeshivot work on this model? That little time in the day is not enough to get in much trouble in, and is a really good mix of freetime, and breaking up an otherwise monotonous day.

I couldn't handle the 8am to 10pm days I had to deal with later on.

Anonymous said...

halfnutcase---the talk to girls fear is 100% on target. I know it from first hand experience with cousins in lakewood--the boys there can be total bums, even smoke and drink (and do harder drugs), but chalilah they should talk to a girl. But once again, shouldn't the parameters of contact with the opposite sex be the responsibility of the PARENT?!?!? The job of the yeshiva is to teach, not to be surrogate parents.

DAG said...

The concept of In Loco Parentis is not new. It was one of the guiding philosophies in American education.

Charlie Hall said...

"talk to girls"

The rabbi of the shul I most often attend on Shabat met his wife in a co-ed modern orthodox high school. They now have four boys. I know many other frum couples who met in similar environments. Maybe talking to girls isn't so bad -- it prevents 30something singles!

Anonymous said...

charliehall---it might also reduce the rising frum divorce rate. For many yeshiva boys, as they've never spoken to a girl, the greatest middah they can think of to look for in a wife is "hot". After 3 dates, they know she's hot, and they get married. They learn all the rules of when they can and can't touch her, but really once married, they have no clue how to treat a woman. I know this is a gross generalization, and there are fine husbands in the yeshiva world, but I think many would do well to know what it's like to talk to a girl.

Anonymous said...

Since this is supposed to be about camp...

I never understood this either. I never went to sleepaway camp. In fact, I was abnormal in that I stopped going to camp at age 13 and went and got a job. I think this is a trait that should be encouraged in our communities. Instead, I had friends going to camp and other summer programs all the way past age 17/18.

The bigger issue to me though is that these camps must be absolutely raking in the money. My sister-in-law was recently a counselor at SEG. She earned next to nothing. According to the website, the camp costs $3000 for 4 weeks. I don't know how much renting facilities or food costs, but I find it hard to believe this isn't wildly profitable - especially since I don't believe many (if any) scholarships are given out. Plus, many camps are more money and kids can go 8 weeks.

Does anyone have any financial numbers they can provide on camps? I think it's disgusting that our camps seem to be so profitable and our yeshivas are hurting. Where are the priorities?

Charlie Hall said...

'For many yeshiva boys, as they've never spoken to a girl, the greatest middah they can think of to look for in a wife is "hot".'

What horrible midot for young men to have! This is completely inconsistent with Jewish valued. If this is common, then our yeshivot are failed and we should close them down. Expand the MO schools and send the students there.

Anonymous said...

(1) HashKafa, not hashGafa = religious outlook (I like proper Hebrew, sorry)
(2) Kids leave the frum world from the best of families and the worst of families. Read Faranakh Something's book "Off the Derech" (IIRC)
(3) Summer camp is a luxury which has become a necessity. Why is it a necessity? (a) Parents who work need care for the kids; (b) those who don't work don't want to disrupt their gym and shopping schedules to entertain children; (c)there are NO other kids to play with if you don't go to summer camp. Badook (that means verified, in Hebrew).
It's so much easier to pay $3000 or more per session than have to deal with the kids. I am glad so many people can afford it.

Anonymous said...

I hope your post was sarcastic. A necessity? For 2000 years, we've lived in countries where our homes had no heat, food was scarce, and at any minute, our families could expect a cossack to rape and kill your whole family. Just having a roof of some sort was enough, and most kids were malnourished and people died in their 30s. So I find it interesting your definition of necessity.... this is like people on welfare who say they can't live without brand new european yom tov clothes.

And saying parents need "care for their kids" once again goes against the argument that it's about the learning or any religious purpose. This is precisely why I think yeshivas last so long--the parents don't want to bother raising their own children, so the wife chases her career and harangues the schools to extend her 4 year old's "school day" until 5PM. Many woman aren't even chasing careers--they only have jobs to "get out of the house" (where the job pays so little it doesn't cover the cost of transportation, work clothes, day care, take-out, etc), or they are just parasites on their husbands, not working AND spending the day at the gym and shopping. It's digusting that parents would rather shop and go to the gym than care for their children. And trust me--my kids (at 3) are the only kids around during the day even during the school year (the rest are in day care, even if the moms are home), and they do just fine. Just because all the other kids are at camp is not sufficient reason. Goyim use the "if every other kid jumped off a bridge, would you?" to deride peer pressure, and explain why you must do the right thing despite peer pressure. Frum yidden actually explain that "if every other kid jumped off a bridge", it must be a precious value for their yiddishe neshama, and we should go into debt and steal to afford the bridge jumping.

Interesting you say it's easier to pay $3000 or more than to deal with the kids. $3000/month. Let's assume you earn $4000 per month, so after taxes, you have enough to pay just for summer camp. That equals a job paying $25/hour, or about $50k/year, or $10k above the average salary in America. You're saying it's easier to do that than to raise your own kids?

The whole yeshiva parenting model is copied 100% from Betty Friedan and the goyishe feminist movement. Amazing for people who claim to hate America and secular influence that their entire lifestyle is modeled so perfectly after the American model.

Anonymous said...

oayzd is aryeh-baltimore (I entered the verification code as my name by accident)

Orthonomics said...

Aryeh-Baltimore-I agree with your comments wholeheartly. A long time ago I wrote a post entitled Working Women? What are you Really Making that helped calculate the value of the second income earners salary. Add in camp and even mothers who have all or most children in school might find out that taking temp work over full time work is a better option.

And Tamiri is definitely being sarcastic. She is a long time commentor of mine and is certainly in our chevra on these issues.

David said...

I went to sleepaway camp maybe twice during my childhood, and I turned out okay.

I don't understand why this is viewed as a necessity. I also agree that much of my learning and development happened outside the walls of the school.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that people leave the frum world from the best of families, my dad did. He was very close to his parents and siblings, he simply didn't believe their religious teachings.

This brings us to another reason for the perspective that children need all their time occupied. Free time means the intellectual freedom to explore the alternatives to a frum life, and this leads to kids doing what my dad did.

Looking Forward said...

anon, only very rarely do children under the age of 25 have the brains and intelectual maturity to honestly examine anything at all.

Only very, very, very rarely.

All intelectual examination below that age is stupidity and made for emotional reasons, not intelectual. Or at least if the topic has any emotional segnificance at all. Children that age simply are not cognitively mature enough yet to appriciate things properly.

Looking Forward said...

oh, and those who do are universaly and uniformly severely psychologicaly messed up.

Anonymous said...

"For many yeshiva boys, as they've never spoken to a girl, the greatest middah they can think of to look for in a wife is "hot"."

I find it very disheartening to constantly see yeshiva-bashing by some of the commenters on this blog (not by you SL). This statement in particular is ridiculous. What are you basing it on? that some yeshiva guys you may have met have expressed this sentiment to you (and frankly, I doubt very highly that you have met or spoken to a sincere yeshiva bochur that said this and meant it)? To make a blanket statement that "many" yehiva guys believe this is ludicrous. For a sincere guy learning in yeshiva, while it is of course important to be attracted to their future wife, to insinuate that their lack of interaction with girls pre-shidduch dating leads to only caring that their future wife is "hot" (and not about anything else) just does not make sense.

Looking Forward said...

hearing lawyer, having been in yeshiva I can tell you it makes perfect sense.

Most yeshiva bochurim don't care about anything in a girl other than her being hot and her being willing to support him for years in yeshiva.

Anonymous said...

First of all, such a broad characterization of any population is asinine. Second, it does not make sense. If anything, guys who have never interacted with girls are scared of them, if anything. Third, I don't know what yeshiva you learned in, but I spent my entire life before law school (including 2 years in kollel) in a number of yeshivas and even now I have a significant interaction with the yeshiva in my neighborhood and I can tell you that this is not the norm and, frankly, while, again, guys want to be attracted to their future wife, to say that the most important middah that they care about is how "hot" the girl is, is a ridiculous thing and makes clear your animosity for anything charedi.

DAG said...

In the yeshiva world, female companionship is forbidden. How is a boy supposed to know what qualities he values in a spouse, if he has no idea what his individual needs are?

We all knew that we wanted nice girls, girls who were funny and caring, and we definitely knew about the sexual aspect. How many can describe WHAT they mean by nice or sweet, or kind, etc especially as it relates to a marriage?

Not knowing much abut marriage OR women, how could those items on our "wish list" be anything more than tags?

Orthonomics said...

I agree with hearinglawyer that it is a gross overexaggeration to say most Yeshivish guys want a "hot" girl above all else. But, unfortunately, looks have come to play an central role in shidduchim, and worse yet, mothers and friends will even "sell" their daughters by talking up their looks which only feeds into the meshugas. I have children of both genders and quite frankly can't understand why women make looks so central.

I'm happy to talk about shidduchim on this blog in the future when I feel a rant coming on. But for now, let's stick to camp vs. tuition. I would never in a million years think to ask for a tuition reduction because of camp (especially when camp isn't taking the place of daycare).

Too bad I wasn't at the Agudah Convention to ask questions because I would ask about women who go to work when it cost the family and then ask for scholarships. Many people complain about homemakers who take scholarships. But, there are working women who spend more money by working who take scholarships and no one seems to bat an eye.

Looking Forward said...

oh, sefardi lady, I'm not sure if you care or not, but this seems somewhat up your alley.

just thought I'd point it out as an example of weddings getting out of control.

Commenter Abbi said...

To get back to the camp/tuition issue: I'm in Israel, so this is a very moot point for me personally (we don't have anything like 8 week sleepaway camp here. At the most it may be two weeks, and that's only for much older chidren, 11,12, 13 year olds, I think).

However, on the women working issue: It's just a lot more complex then economics. There are women who love their children dearly, but would literally go crazy staying home with them 24 hours a day. What's the point of having a depressed, angry mother around 24 hours a day? I have friends who had SAHMs growing up and have said that they and their mothers would both have been better off had the mother been working.

Being a SAHM doesn't always make economic or psychological sense for either mothers or children.

So, only making $1000 a month or maybe nothing at all to keep her sanity and her hand in her career? Not as crazy as it seems.

Also, please don't confuse women who have actual careers, vs. the shoppers/gym rats.

Anonymous said...

Aryeh, as SL pointed out: YES I was being sarcastic. My G-d it's INSANE that the whole town empties out in the summer. I don't know how people do it. I never could. I have 2 kids who were of camp age in the States (the other 3 too young) and of those, each one went to a U.S. summer camp (sleep away) just once. Zehu. Day camp was not a given either. We utilized town camps as much as we could in the places we lived, something much looked down upon by TRUE torah Jews. EWWWWW the mingling that goes on there......
and to the post by abbi "However, on the women working issue: It's just a lot more complex then economics. There are women who love their children dearly, but would literally go crazy staying home with them 24 hours a day. What's the point of having a depressed, angry mother around 24 hours a day? I have friends who had SAHMs growing up and have said that they and their mothers would both have been better off had the mother been working" PUHLEEZZZZZ. Don't get me started on this meshugga brain washing that all the Israeli gals I know have been through. It's NOT quite enough to be a mother. Oh no, drop them and then pronounce they make you crazy and you MUST go to work in order to be a human being and to be able to be a better mother. Give me a break: they are MISERABLE many of them, and they have even more miserable children in many cases. Don't buy into that garbage: the women are working because they have not been taught to define themselves any other way. Being a wife and mother is simply not enough. I take many many many young women in my car as trempistiyot (hitch hikers) and when they see my 3 yo in the car with me and find out he is ALWAYS with me (besides play group for 2.5 hours 3x/week) they look at me wistfully and wonder how the heck I can do it and how they can manage to have time with their kids.
As to camp: in Israel, camp is generally day-camp from 8-1 6 days a week for just 3 weeks started when school lets out on June 30th (give or take depending on the day of the week). There are extraorinarily expensive options for more than that, but most working mothers figure it out by taking their own vacation when camp is out, and Dad takes vacation and then there are grandparents etc who kick in. For older kids, it's not a pretty sight: they go to be in the wee hours of the am, wake up in the afternoon and just hang out, for lack of structure.
I did it growing up and it was FINE!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure anyone who feels they can't handle being around their kids 24 hours a day is really ready to BE a mother. Of course, it's nice when I have a sitter and get out and run errands for an hour here or there--- but to dump my kids for hours a day because I don't feel human otherwise? Come ON!

If you're going to be depressed and angry being a PARENT, consider NOT being a parent in the first place!


Lion of Zion said...


"I'm not sure anyone who feels they can't handle being around their kids 24 hours a day is really ready to BE a mother."

i don't necessarily think it's just about not wanting to be around your kids all day. some people do have professional/creative/helping/etc. urges. does this mean they love or care about their kids any less? are the two urges really mutually exclusive?

Lion of Zion said...


are you kidding me? of course yeshivah guys want a hot girl.

but it's not because they are yeshivah, but rather because they are guys. you see, MO and RW have more in common that we think.

shavuah tov

(sorry SL)

Lion of Zion said...

regarding summer camp, i was by a friend for shabbat once and they had a guest for lunch. she mentioned that the town (and others in NJ) ran a free day camp and she suggested that parents send their kids there. her logic was that there is very little real jewish content in the jewish day camps anyway (this is true at least of the MO ones), so what's the purpose of spending that extra money when you can get essentially the same service for free.

i'm sure people have various objections to this (ranging from legitimate religious concerns to outright racism), but is seems to me that anyone who supports the two-building school solution should entertain this idea as well

Orthonomics said...

Lion of Zion regarding above: Public schools also offer free summer school at select campuses for the morning. I went three times growing up and at the upper grades you do have a bigger concentation of unsavory kids. But, few people know each other so the socializing is more minimal. I imagine if a smal to sizable chevra attended, it would be an option.

Once you are in 11th or 12th grade summer can be spent taking classes in Junior Colleges as well as Universities for select students. I did the former both voluntarily and involuntarily (no choice in my hs if you wanted to take AP Calc). My husband did both the former and latter I believe.

To Anon: I can't handle 24 hours week in week out. Baruch Hashem I have a wonderful husband to help on weekends and after 8PM. Let's not be extreme.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure anyone who feels they can't handle being around their kids 24 hours a day is really ready to BE a mother"
If one of your eggs meets someone else's sperm and gets fertilized, you ARE ready to be a mother. Doesn't mean you are ready for mothering.
As to being around your kids 24/7: they do sleep, you know. Even 3 year olds. So we are down to maybe 10-12 hours/day. During this time, you go about doing what you normally do, albeit with a child in tow. Everything is a learning/fun experience (except if you work at home and need peace and quiet). People who are unaccustomed to having children around don't realize: kids are PROGRAMMED to entertain themselves. Be it through running around outside, looking at books, dancing to music, playing with toys where they have to use their imagination... the choices are limitless. However, if you have kids away from you from an early age, they are DEPROGRAMMED to entertain themselves. It's amazing to see the diff between kids whose mother's "could not be good mothers if they HAD to be with their kids", (yet are then forced to endure the hardships when they *are* with their kids [quality time, anyone?]) and those who are securely at home all day, every day. Which is not to say they are not ALL good kids; there are just those differences that mom's out of the house can't experience.
Oh, and another thing: all the loving mothers who MUST get out of the house and put their kids in a place with a bunch of other kids: they end up with quite ill children all winter long. So they make up the saying "getting sick now will immunize them for the future". Which is so sad. To willingly allow your kid to get sick so that you can pursue your own career is pretty dismal.
This is where a woman has a CHOICE re working. If a mom HAS to work, then she has to, no matter what the price.

Anonymous said...

Tamiri: It somewhat depends on what the other mothers in your area do, to. My wife stayed home with our children, and we have a 7 year gap between our youngest and the next. With the first bunch she was happy staying home, and socialized with the other mothers in the park. By the last one, there were no other mothers in the park, and she found it very isolating and difficult. The youngest went to pre-school earlier and longer than the first few, and I can't see any harm that resulted.

Anonymous said...

Mike, I can only tell you that what others do (should I jump off a bridge?) has no bearing on what I personally choose to do. I do what I think is right. No child of mine (and yes, I had a "late" child at age 42, 5.5 years after the one before) is going to get less because of his sequential number or what others are doing. What your wife experienced, I am experiencing. There are NO KIDS in our yishuv who are not put in a program by age 1, usually much much before then. So I did my best, finding a one day/week playgroup with moms in Raanana (25 minute drive) and continuing this year with a 3 day 2.5 hours/day playgroup with 2 other moms in a diff town, 20 minutes away. No harm will be done to the child from going to pre-school - most of the time. But here, where it's 6 days/week, 5+ hours day (the minumum amount of hours), 35 kids in the class with just two caretakers... well, that doesn't do it for me. In the States my kids went at age 3 for 2-3 days/week for 2-3 hours. That doesn't exist in Israel. So I was lucky enough to create the reality i want by just not giving in. I get mighty strange stares from people at least once/week when they see this big boy with his mommy in the middle of the day!

Anonymous said...

OK--if that is what you think best for your children, good for you and for them. I think that if we had the choice that you seem to (i.e. 35 hours in a class of 35) we might have done as you are doing. However, that youngest child of ours is now a teenager, and I can't see any way in which she suffered relative to the older ones. She did have some different experiences, but she is doing as well academically and socially as her older siblings, if not better. And as a young child she was the healthiest of our children, (thankfully, the others seem to have grown out of their childhood difficultis) for whatever reason. I think you might to well to be a little less judgemental about other peoples' choices.

While one need not follow the fashion willy-nilly, the choices others make do affect the environment in which we make choices.

Lion of Zion said...


"at the upper grades you do have a bigger concentation of unsavory kids"

but then you would have the same problem not just with summer camp, but with a two building solution school also?

Orthonomics said...

Lion-Certainly not.

There are those who choose to go to summer school who take "fun" courses such as typing, computers, art, etc and those who are forced to go to summer school because they have been deemed deficient and must take remedial courses to pass proficiency exams and graduate. In addition, the public school system designates only a select number of campuses to host summer school and combines various schools. Those who are in summer school tend to be those with less supervision during the year anyways.

The (public) summer school I went to was in the rougher area of town, with a rougher set of kids, who were basically there because they had no choice. The environment was FAR different than the environment of my regular public schools, which of course were not without problems, but were generally plesant.

(After writing that, I am wondering why I was at summer school in the first place. . . . but as I recall, I had not taken the proficiency exam because of a conflict, so I needed to take it during the summer--we had to fight to get out of remidial English and Math, since my lack of passing had nothing to do with lack of academic skills. But mostly, my parents wanted me to take vocational courses that I would not have a chance to take in high school, because I was in the AP track. Plus, going to summer school gave me a free bus ride every morning downtown, so my father was able to pick me up on his lunch break and bring me to work. . . during middle school, I worked for him after summer school).

Anonymous said...

"are you kidding me? of course yeshivah guys want a hot girl.
but it's not because they are yeshivah, but rather because they are guys."

Amen to that, brother. Guys are pigs (in case it wasn't clear, yes, I am a guy and yes, I'm terrified about my daughter growing up).

Ok, back to the topic at hand. While I do not disagree with what others are saying (i.e., that there other options do exist), we need to keep in mind the (likley) context in which the question and answer occurred. We are talking about people on the right end of the spectrum, who are of the view that children, if left to their own devices or in a surrounding that is not a torah-environment, will be negatively affected. Yes, there are other, less expensive options, but none of them provide as encompassing an environment as camp. I disagree with LOZ's suggestion that "there is very little real jewish content in the jewish day camps anyway" w/r/t to the right wing camps. I know that my son's day camp, for example, is all about providing a torah environment. Also, I am thinking about the tuition reduction along the same lines as a business expense deduction from one's tuition (I realize that the comparison is not perfect).

One other thing that I have not seen mentioned here is the fundamental difference between school and camp - almost every camp that I know of is a privately owned for-profit venture, and scholarships are usually not available (although there are some exceptions). Schools, by contrast, are not-for-profits and scholarships are available. Obviously, it may be unfair to the other parents, b/c they have to soulder the burden, but it is the reality of the situtation.

Commenter Abbi said...

Ok, Tamiri and - THRILLED to be a SAHM at 8:08.

I love it when SAHMs seem to think they are the only ones in the world who get to decide what is best for themselves and their families and then complain when working women look down on them. It's really lovely.

Personally, I work from home and "dump" ( I certainly don't see it that way but I'm sure you relish using the term to look down on me) my children at two wonderful ganim in my town, where they enjoy a range of stimulating activities with great gannanot and a diverse group of children. I was not "brainwashed" by Israeli society to start my child in gan at 16 months.

She actually could not stand being home alone with me at that age and was so thrilled to be able to play with a group of children she never cried once when I left her. Around age two, she cried to stay later with her friends.

But of course YOU all know that women and children who don't want to stay home alone together just don't know what's best for themselves, since we're all brainwashed. Whatever.

And Lion of Zion: Your comment was really the flip side of what I was trying to say. My urge to engage in adult intellectual activities is not the result of "brainwashing" nor is it because I can't stand my children. It's because I have a brain. Not sure why having children means I have to send my brain to the cleaners for 10 years.

SephardiLady : Did you knwo that you have to input the word verification twice in order to post comments? It's really annoying.

Commenter Abbi said...

Also Tamiri-
You're painting an extreme picture of daycare in Raanana- There are wonderful private ganim where the ratio is much lower and for not much more money. (Of course, if you work, it evens out). My daughter is in a gan for 2-3 year olds with 13 kids and two gannanot.

And I'll echo again Mike's question: It's great that you found a framework that works for you, but why do you need to judge the choices of others?

Orthonomics said...

Abbi-I seem to have that problem occassionally too, when I try to log in. I think it is on Google's end.

True that camp is often a "for profit" enterprise. Even more reason why the schools shouldn't have to pick up where the camp leaves off. IMO, the parents should ask the camp for a discount before the school.

Anonymous said...

abbi, I don't judge. I say what I see. Everyone is so happy with their kids in gan... so why are so many mothers complaining? And why are so many kids sick and whiny? And so many kids on Ritalin and with LD? Surely not from the early stimulation they are subject to..??? Not all, of course, but many of them.
I just had this conversation today with my SIL, a Phd who thinks it's a waste if she doesn't work. Even with 3 kids under the age of 5. She extolls the virtues of having kids taken care of from an early age. So, I ask: is society doing all that much better now that moms are keeping their brains active, and kids are being schooled and trained from toddlerhood? Are the children all that much brighter, well adjusted and better behaved than in the past when plain old mom took care of them without having to use her brain?
Look around you at the children of the general population and tell me that they are so much more successful than before....
I don't worry about working mothers looking down on me, ever.

Anonymous said...

Re the double word verification: I thought that it was a "time out" feature, whereby if you don't get your message out fast enough, the word verification expires and you have to type in a new one.

Anonymous said...

In reference to HearingLawyer:
"One other thing that I have not seen mentioned here is the fundamental difference between school and camp - almost every camp that I know of is a privately owned for-profit venture, and scholarships are usually not available (although there are some exceptions). Schools, by contrast, are not-for-profits and scholarships are available."

As I posted above:
The bigger issue to me though is that these camps must be absolutely raking in the money. My sister-in-law was recently a counselor at SEG. She earned next to nothing. According to the website, the camp costs $3000 for 4 weeks. I don't know how much renting facilities or food costs, but I find it hard to believe this isn't wildly profitable - especially since I don't believe many (if any) scholarships are given out. Plus, many camps are more money and kids can go 8 weeks.

Does anyone have any financial numbers they can provide on camps? I think it's disgusting that our camps seem to be so profitable and our yeshivas are hurting. Where are the priorities?

I'll add that I find it odd that we have such a capitalistic system in camps and such a socialistic/ communal system in yeshivot.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I'm finding this SAHM discussion to be a bit odd. Aside from the fact that the best way to run and organize a family is a highly personal and individual matter that can only be decided by the family in question, people seem to be missing the point.

The issue isn't whether a woman can STAND to be with her children 24 hours a day, the issue is whether it's BEST for a woman to be with her chidren 24 hours a day (best for her, for them, and for dad).

I had a friend in college who had a very strained relationship with her mother, and for a long time I didn't understand why - they got along pretty well in general, but my friend was always pushing her mother away. Then I had a conversation with her mother, and found out that there had been complications during childbirth and the mother had ended up having to have a hysterectomy, so obviously there would be no more children. Faced with the reality that this would be her only baby, she just couldn't bear to put her down EVER and carried her everywhere she went for 2 years. And then I understood the mother/daughter dynamic.

There are pros and cons to both ways of doing things. Please don't pretend there aren't cons to being a SAHM just as there are to being a working mother. When I look back on my childhoon (my mother worked mornings), I was glad for the alone time. I think it's important in fostering creativity, independence and intellectual curiosity.

Anonymous said...

Ritalin is abused because many teachers and even doctors see childhood as a treatable disease (not to denigrate the 2% of parents of children on ritalin who actually need ritalin), not because of gan.

Kids are overstimulated by TV, which many researchers believe can actually change brain patterns. I don't think kids are overstimulated by playing in a group with other children. The kind of situation found in many child care arrangements (4/5 kids to one caretaker in a mishpachton, or 20 kids to 4/5 caretakers in a gan) are actually not that different from the situations you might find in a polygamous family or in a traditional farming community where some women watch the kids while others get water and work in the fields. Group childcare is not necessarily a unique modern phenomenon.

In general I would agree with you that the ideal situation involves a mother who can devote all of her time and attention to her family. However, for some women it's not possible because they have to work work. For others, working out of the house part-time or even full-time really does improve their parenting. Just as I don't think a mother is selfish for taking some personal time to shower/read the paper/respond to bloggers on orthonomics, I don't think a mother is selfish for working mornings (or whenever) if she knows it will keep her (and therefore the rest of the family) happy and better able to cope.

Anonymous said...

One thing people seem to be forgetting is that camp is really, really fun. It's not just a place to "dump" kids over the summer, it's a place for older kids to get together and have a blast. I went to an overnight camp for one month every summer starting at age 9, and I would have gone for two months if my parents had let me.

That said, I would not send my kids to camp if it meant failing to pay tuition.

Orthonomics said...

Fun or not, I'm trying to figure out why the schools should have to compete for after-camp dollars.

Orthonomics said...

JS-Unfortunately I do not have any numbers on camp and the cost and structure varies so much.

Commenter Abbi said...

To respond to the original post: I think it's wrong to send your kids to camp if you can't pay full tuition.

Tamiri- honestly, I don't know any kids in my childs' circles who are sick and whiny. My own girls are affectionate, warm, quite healthy (except for the younger, who was always prone to colds even as a baby at home) and all around well adjusted, b'ah. Everyone around comments on their demeanors, and even how they capably interact with new adults and children. And they've both been in some type of childcare framework since a year or 16 mos.

Nor have I heard any mothers of any gan I've sent my children complaining about anything. I sent my older one to a gan with a slightly charedi bent, and some mothers complained about not being able to bring abbas to b-day parties, but I think that's pretty much been the extent of the complaining I've heard. Every gan I've sent my children to, the parents have been happy, even the parents to whom I recommended the gan in the first place. So much so, we were all teary when we had a final goodbye party at my daughter's mishpachton.

Sounds like you have a pretty crabby bunch in your yishuv, or you just have inadequate childcare options; the latter reason being a major one why I wouldn't move to a yishuv till I was sure I liked the childcare options.

Ora: I really agree with you on the point of group childcare not being a newfangled idea. Most traditional families grew up in multigenerational households near other family members, where the mother was never alone or isolated with her children like they are today.

Anonymous said...


I doubted anyone had any numbers (though if anyone did, I wish they would post). I guess my point is more along the lines that these camps are definitely huge money-making machines and no one seems to complain about it even though our yeshivas are hurting. I also see it as camps charging an arm and a leg for a "frum summer environment" and taking advantage of the fear parents have of their children experiencing even a second in a "non-frum environment" or of their children being socially isolated by not going to these camps. As one who didn't go to sleepaway I can definitely say the first few months after camp all anyone in MO yeshivas would talk about was camp and camp friends.

I see it similar to kosher caterers in large Jewish communities who charge say $750 for a small kiddush for a bris. They charge a lot because they can. I think if these types of cost were brought into line perhaps parents would have more money to pay tuition. I don't think it's the high cost of tuition that is necessarily the problem - it's the cummulative affect of the high cost of EVERYTHING. And we turn so many "wants" into "needs" in our communities that tution takes a back seat.

mother in israel said...

I'm going to jump in here about Ora and Abbi's contention that a multigenerationsl family situation is equivalent to a mishpachton (family day care) or gan (preschool). There are at least two significant differences that come to mind:
1. The children in earlier generations were cared for by family members, who have known them from birth, shared the same values and culture as the children's parents, and had a vested interest in the children's future. Today's children are cared for by strangers who do it for the salary. There are many caretakers out there who genuinely love the children they care for, but try offering your metapelet (nanny) a cut in salary and see what happens.
2. The key word is multigenerational. Young children (especially under the age of 2 or 3) should not need to compete for an adult's attention. In a traditional extended family the child had several adults or older children to turn to if they needed something. In a group of similar-aged children the children themselves make a pecking order, with the bullies at the top and the bullied at the bottom. Yes, some situations are better than others, and Abbi, your situation sounds good. I am sure you pay a lot, but unfortunately most parents don't feel that good daycare is something worth investing in. They get rid of the nanny by the time the child is a year old, to send to day care so the kid can "learn;" they feel they can only learn with a group of children their age and a qualified daycare provider.
I don't think that mothers should feel guilty for leaving their children to go to work, if they have examined the family and economic situation carefully, and tried to minimize the time children spend away from home. However, they need to be realistic about the type and amount of attention young children need and not choose a setting just because "that's what everyone else does and the kids come out fine." And if parents don't complain it doesn't mean anything; they often don't have a clue (or don't want to think too hard) about what is going on.
At any rate many factors aside from daycare go into a child's adult persona. All we can do is make the best decisions we can with the information that we have at the time.

Anonymous said...

Abbi wrote Sounds like you have a pretty crabby bunch in your yishuv, or you just have inadequate childcare options; the latter reason being a major one why I wouldn't move to a yishuv till I was sure I liked the childcare options.
BINGO. You hit the nail on the head. I am sorry when I come off writing stron-sounding statements and apoligize if I offended you, but I am dealing with a very difficult reality where I live. No one even THINKS for a moment that kids need to be with mom. That is the brainwashing I referred to. In a regular society, you have many opinions. Where I live, there is just one: kids belong with other kids ASAP.
I did not come across this in the States where I brought up 4 kids: people had a nanny in the home, usually for several years, and never sent kids out at age 2 for more than a couple of hour 2-3 days a week.

Anonymous said...

Re: Camps and financial assistance. Some camps (Moshava Wisconsin, Camp Stone, Dora Golding) do offer a break. I noted the ones I dealt with so what I write is fact. I don't know about any other camps but I assume help is out there. Maybe that is why the rich kids pay so much - so the less rich kids can have a break.

Commenter Abbi said...

MII said: Today's children are cared for by strangers who do it for the salary. There are many caretakers out there who genuinely love the children they care for, but try offering your metapelet (nanny) a cut in salary and see what happens.

Sorry, that's just a gross generalization and a strange turn of logic that receiving a salary = not "truly" loving your child. Every one of the gannanot/metaplot (who were all fully paid for their work) who have cared for my children has truly loved them, which I think in itself is a profoundly enriching experience for my children- loving and receiving love from someone outside our family.

If I ever had a moment's hesitation about this factor, i just wouldn't send my child to that caretaker. End of story.

Look, all I can go by is my own experience and those of the other mothers I've encountered in the communities I've lived in for the past 5 years. Most mothers I know strive to put their children in daycare with the lowest ratio/highest quality care possible within their economic means. They team up with other mothers to share a metapelet, they search for the best possible references, the most experience. I just haven't met anyone who's happy dropping off their kid at the local maon, if they could avoid it at all costs.

I'm sure there are mothers out there who are satisfied with maon for their infants and I'm sure many infants thrive in that environment, despite yours and my skepticism. I think a clean, organized maon staffed with competant and caring metaplot is preferable to a dirty, disorganized mishpachton with a metapelet who ignores the kids any day.

The point is, as someone said earlier, every family has to come these decisions on their own, based on the economic, emotional and psychological needs of the entire family.

Commenter Abbi said...

Tamiri: It sounds like you feel a bit defensive about your childcare choices, which is understandable, considering you're bucking a significant trend here.

It also sounds like you have created a great set up for both you and your child, which I'm sure both of your appreciate tremendously. I sincerely think that's great for you.

But honestly, what other pple think is best for their kids is really a decision only they can make.

And you might want to put things a bit in perspective (or dan l'caf zchut, to put it another way); You say the kids are sick and whiny: Are you basing this on seeing them at at 4 or 5 in the afternoon- prime whiny time for most kids?

I know other kids who have a permanent runny nose- even after a month at home in the summer.(chronic allergies usually play a role, not exposure to viruses)

Attitudes towards childcare are very different here. I personally appreciate it, but I can see how someone who experienced it otherwise might not. I think it has a lot to do with the original kibbutz movement and children's houses, etc. I think that has heavily influenced the general societal attitude towards childcare, but I have no research to back this up (just an idea that's been in my head).

My set up works for me and my family, it sounds like yours works for you. We can all only do the best we can with what we have.

mother in israel said...

Abbi, of course there are loving caretakers out there and you are lucky to have found them. I was comparing a paid caretaker, who would not do it for free even if she was independently wealthy, to a grandmother or aunt in previous generations, who did (and I still see the occasional grandmother who cares for grandchildren every day). Obviously caretakers deserve to be paid for their work, and much more than they get now.
What I am trying to say is that (in a very general way--of course there are numerous exceptions) you can't compare the concern that a mother or grandmother has for a baby to that of someone outside the family. I could give numerous examples from the loving metaplot I see in the local park, some of whom maintain relationships with the families for years after they cease working for them. Yes, children can be "enriched" by outside experience. Everything has an upside. But this enrichment does not, in my opinion, make up for the lack of a mother's care for extended hours in the early years. For me, daycare and babysitters should be "bedi'eved."

As for your last paragraph, I said something similar in my last comment, and I believe it. No one can make such decisions for another family.

Orthonomics said...

Just to add to Mother In Israel's comments, family does not come and go (except in cases of great disfuntion) whereas caregivers do leave. Ideally, I think that young children are served by arrangements that are long term. Unfortunately, day care workers are a dime a dozen, and they come and go frequently. Nannies do tend to stay for longer amounts of time, but are known to get up and leave suddenly (has happened to many people I know). Personally I don't blame the nannies because they are often not treated as valued employees (another post on that, since a friend of mine did up and quit).

I'm not big on daycare and wish we could rewind to the days where nearly all the kids were home and we could stop in and out of neighbors homes without making a "playdate."

But this thread really is about tuition vs. camp. I would say that parents who do want to be home should crunch the worth of that 2nd income. I've helped people crunch these numbers and they are often surprised by how little the 2nd income is worth. If they want to be home, they can often make it work.

Anonymous said...

SL "But this thread really is about tuition vs. camp. I would say that parents who do want to be home should crunch the worth of that 2nd income. I've helped people crunch these numbers and they are often surprised by how little the 2nd income is worth. If they want to be home, they can often make it work."
I agree. However, most of the mothers I speak with would rather LOSE money than stay at home. Of course, some do come out ahead. Those who are "losing" (take into account child care, fast food, help in the house, clothing, transportation etc.) say it will get better once they don't have day care, and can start putting all that extra money away.

Anonymous said...

As I said, I think tuition should come before camp. I just wanted to point out that camp isn't just a place to dump kids for the summer and/or a way to keep them out of trouble.

Mother in Israel--
I agree that it's important to have caretakers who won't drop out of a kid's life. OTOH, good daycare providers (not the ones at the factory-like places) love what they're doing and genuinely enjoy working with kids. Not all family members do. IMO I was better off at daycare than I would have been with most of my aunts/uncles or grandparents, who are/were wonderful people who get overwhelmed or exasperated by children.

In general, yes, there is huge pressure to send kids to daycare. I don't know if it's really that much worse that what goes on in the states. In the states most people I knew had fewer kids, so daycare was the obvious choice for financial reasons (ie, it makes sense to work when you only have one kid in daycare).

For sure there's a lot of pressure in Israel. I had such a hard time trying to explain to one perspective daycare provider why I wanted parttime care and not full-time--yes, I know her full-time price is good, yes I realize part-time costs more per hour, yes I'm sure the babies have fun in the "misgeret" and do all sorts of interesting things but I WANT TO RAISE MY OWN CHILD!!! Why is it such a foreign thought that a mother would actually WANT to spend time with her baby when possible? Grr. I realize she was biased towards pushing moms into fulltime care, but I've even heard some similar arguments from other parents, who assume my daughter must be bored out of her mind when she's at home. Hello, she's 1.2 years old, EVERYTHING fascinates her. An old tshirt provides 30 minutes of quality entertainment. Honestly, whoever heard of a bored baby?


Anonymous said...

OK, before anyone gets upset by my last comment, just wanted to say I know that working moms also raise their own kids. Bad choice of words on my part. I do understand women who need to work (as I do), and even those who feel a need to work even when it doesn't bring in much money. I'm just sick of all the daycare pressure.