I would like to present my own experience with the tuition crisis and the impact it has had on my life.
I grew up in a middle class family. My parents had good jobs, but it was not enough to pay full tuition. My parents struggled to pay tuition and still afford other things. We had a small house and my parents drove very old cars. It was very clear at school whose parents were financially secure and whose parents were struggling. And it hurt.
After high school, I learned in yeshiva for a couple of years and I wanted to go to into chinuch. I felt I had all the skills necessary to be a mechanech. I felt passionate about Yiddishkeit and I felt I had the ability to convey that passion to talmidim. But then I started to remember how it was growing up. I remember always wishing my parents made more money so that we could live more comfortably. I was afraid that if I went into chinuch, my children would have to go through the same ordeal. So I left full-time yeshiva and began college. I considered many different career paths, but most of them either required too much schooling or did not pay well enough. So I decided to go to law school.
I enrolled in a law school that would land me a good job, but only if I ranked high enough in my class. And with the economy in the dumps, I would have to rank even higher than in the past. I worked my tail off my first semester, but I felt unsure about how I would rank. Towards the end of the semester, one of my professors invited us out to a bar, as was traditional at the school. I thought going to a bar was totally inappropriate. But I needed a good grade so I could get a good job. I spoke to my rov and he said I could go if I didn’t drink alcohol. So I went to the bar and didn’t drink.
Then it came time for interviews. I discovered that my chances of landing a good job would be much higher if I didn’t wear a yarmulka. I absolutely did not want to spend my entire day at work without a yarmulka. But I needed a good job. So I spoke to my rov and he said I did not need wear a yarmulka. So I went to my interviews without a yarmulka.
Well, I landed a great job. I don’t wear a yarmulka to work, and I hardly think twice about going to a bar with co-workers. But I still wonder sometimes whether I missed out on my real calling in life. And I think about how I do all this for the sake of my children. I want to be able to pay tuition so that my children will receive a proper chinuch and still live a comfortable life, so they could grow up to be proper, ehrliche Yidden. And here I was, not acting like a proper, ehrliche Yid, so that my children would be proper, ehrliche Yidden.
Maybe I am doing the right thing. Maybe I am not. I don’t know. I just wanted to present to parents, teachers and school administrators how I felt, and how I think many other children feel, going through the chinuch system with the tuition crisis.
A Torn Yid
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