Ponovezh Avreichim Make Pact Not to Spend Over $60,000 to Marry Off Their Kids


chupahThe financial strain involved in marrying off children is nothing new, both in the United States and Israel. In Israel, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that aside from paying for the wedding, parents also often have to buy their children an apartment. Generally, that obligation has been on the parents of the kallah, but even in the best of situations it is split 50-50.

Recently, in the past few years, the issue has come to a head. The problem with the scenario is that few can afford it. It has been widely discussed in the chareidi press in Eretz Yisroel, and many attempts have been made in the last few years to try to alleviate the problem and remove the pressure, even if just a bit.

The problem is that because most people cannot afford it, they travel the world trying to raise money as they go collecting for hachnosas kallah. It takes a toll on their lives, on their health, and on their family. They go into serious debt to marry off the kids and provide them with a home.

There is now a new attempt to alleviate the problem. A group of avreichim from Yeshivas Ponevezh who are in the stages of marrying off children have realized that what they made their own parents do is just not possible anymore. Perhaps their parents were working people and could take out another mortgage or dip into savings to buy them apartments. They are barely making it to the end of each month and that is with just the bare minimum. There is no way they will be able to buy their children apartments.

These avreichim have gotten together and decided they would agree among themselves to spend no more than $60,000 on their children’s weddings. What that includes is not clear. There is the wedding, the apartment, household needs and more. The avreichim are going around the country trying to sign up 10,000 avreichim to make the same commitment.

Interestingly, for those living on small budgets in the United States, $60,000 is an astronomical amount, because virtually no person on a limited budget is buying his or her child an apartment or house right after their wedding or anytime. Renting is the preferred option. In Eretz Yisroel it is not that way.

In the NY/NJ area, a low budget wedding can be made in a number of halls such as Ateres Shlomo in Brooklyn and Bais Faiga in Lakewood, and the costs are probably a third of what these avreichim have agreed to, but obviously the dynamics are different.

Where the avreichim will get $60,000 is a question in itself, but as Rafi G. points out on his Life in Israel blog, it is better than parents having to dish out $150,000 they do not have. So it does relieves some of the pressure. And by signing up a large number of people, it lessens the social pressure that forces parents to take on all that debt, because if others are not doing it, one will not feel as obligated to do it. If they are only doing so much, one will only have to do so much.

The group went to Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman to get his haskama on what they are doing, and he reportedly agreed and set up a rabbinic committee to head the initiative.

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel, Info from Rafi G-Life in Israel}


  1. I really don’t understand. Why so much. I am a CPA and 60000 for each of my kids would be very hard.
    In Israel they need to get into a renting culture. A wedding need not cost more than about $25000 including clothing and some furniture.
    The after the wedding some help with the bills is far more important.

  2. DN- Since your a CPA, let’s analyze this from a financial angle. You have to remember that since they are buying the apartment outright, there is no rent to pay afterward. If they would pay rent of let’s say $600/month (which is very low). That would add up to $60,000 in 10 months! So by prepaying for the apartment, they are still coming out ahead.

    I am under the impression that there are numerous gemachs that loan for wedding purposes. If you borrow the full amount, and pay back over 2 years, you monthly “rent” expense would be less than half of rent.

  3. Wait – this is what hachnosos kallah funds are for, so that someone can spend 150K on a wedding and the purchase of an apartment?!

    I certainly plan on giving my tzedakah money elsewhere.

  4. Nazareth Illit has gorgeous new apartments for rent for $300 a month. Send groups of newlyweds there to fortify the community, fill the shuls and add life to the place.
    You got lots of ‘spoiled brats’ who want to live ONLY in a certain place with ONLY a desired apartment. In the US, couples will live out of town in small kehillas where the expenses are minimal for the first few years. Have the Religious Parties fight for RENTALS so that families can live a normal, free from stress existance.

    Why is the wedding so expensive? I made 4 already, some girls and some guys and our portion was never over $15 grand. Stop inviting the whole block, everyone from the bungalow colony, each member from shul and who ever you might remember from high school — for a sit down meal. You are doing them a favour in return.

  5. A crushing burden upon people who are themselves strapped for cash. Spending tens of thousands of dollars you don’t have explains why there are poor Israeli Jews constantly shnorring worldwide. It has to stop. This is not a way to run a society, with everyone in it begging, borrowing and stealing to make ends meet and then to —Heaven help us—buy their children apartments! Maybe the parents should find gainful employment. Maybe the choson should learn for a year and then work (did I just say that? Heresy!) Let the kids rent for a while, then buy when they’re ready, and if the parents want to assist them then, fine. But to be forced to buy an apartment as part of the wedding arrangement…where does that come from? A halacha no one in Chutz Laaretz is aware of, certainly. Who dreamed it up? Why do it? I know, I know: because it’s expected by the choson. Well, stop this craziness, let the choson fend for himself, and all will be fine. I hope.
    One crazy society they got there.

  6. It seems to me that the $60,000 price tag here includes both the parents’ share of chasuna expenses, and a contribution toward the purchase of an apt. In E. Yisroel, a fine,respectable chasuna can cost $5000-$7000(at most!)-
    A few more thou. for clothes/furnishings/appliances leaves about $45,000+ left for a down-payment,(assuming from both sets of mechutanim.)That leaves our chosson & kalloh with a mortgage to pay for an affordable dira in the outlying areas.
    Yes,”obviously the dynamics are different there.” No one is shelling out even near 20 grand++ for a meal and FLOP,etc. A home for them to live in(and a humble one at that)will last a lot longer,so they’ll be moiser nefesh to pay for it over time.
    Given the financial reality that exsists today for the chareidisha tibbur there,the plan actually sounds like it has a potential to succeed. And with R’ Aron Leib’s brocha,bezras H’Shem, it will.