Frum Jews and Our Life of “Financial Impossibility”

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matzav_networkBy Rabbi Yosef Shubert,

I am fascinated by a poll being conducted by at the left-hand side of this page. According to the results, of three major crises affecting our communities, tuition/general finances of a frum home is a bigger crisis than kids-at-risk and shidduchim.

Perhaps this may not come as a surprise to some readers, but I believe that the poll brings attention to a point that has been discussed before but has not been properly dealt with: Most frum people are simply not making it financially. Oh sure, there are many in other communities and of other religious persuasions who are struggling too – after all, the entire world is in one big recession – but frum Jewish families are simply choking monetarily.

We sometimes get blinded by the number of Yidden who have, boruch Hashem, been successful financially. These Jews are the ones who are supporting our mosdos and a large number of them are giving away so much of their hard-earned money to help fellow Yidden, to sustain yeshivos, to help the poor and to alleviate the financial burden of countless worthy organizations. I stand in awe of these special souls who give away their own money to others. They recognize that it is all from Hashem and so generously part with their earnings for the greater good.

But while these Yidden have done well, they are a drop in the proverbial bucket. The majority of frum Yidden – whether they are learning in kollel or working full time; it doesn’t make a difference – are absolutely not close to making it financially. They are overloaded with expenses, ranging from mortgage/rental payments, tuition bills, food costs and myriad other expenses. Many of these expenses are exclusive to the frum Jewish home. And most of these expenses cannot be considered luxuries by any stretch of the imagination.

We, frum Yidden, live lives that I call “a financial impossibility.”

There is almost no way for the average, good, frum, hardworking Jew to survive financially. I know of someone who works some 16 hours a day, at three jobs, and manages to make almost $100,000 a year. With seven children, ka”h – and one of them engaged, boruch Hashem – this person told me that he is so short on money that it isn’t even funny. He barely survived until now, and with wedding expenses and countless other financial obligations, he is dying a slow death financially. The stress it has caused is a separate issue. The havoc wreaked on his shalom bayis is a third.

This person is just one of thousands of frum people who are working as hard as they can, are pulling in what in the outside world might be considered a decent salary, but are simply not making nearly enough to cover the expenses of a frum family. They are working themselves to the bone, only to be stressed beyond comprehension and not even have enough to live a normal life.

In the world we live in, and the financial realities we face, many, if not most, families, rely on the supplemental (or primary) income of the wife in order to survive. That’s another issue. Some people have enjoyed blaming this on kollel. What a fallacy. Look around. Wives are working regardless of what their husbands do. Why? Because we, frum people, need a substantial amount of money to live. With the mind-boggling expenses incurred by the average frum family – rental/mortgage payments, tuition, food for large families, clothes, wedding and simcha expenses, parental support to children, etc. – it is common that even two incomes fall far short of covering one’s expenses.

The poll was enlightening to me mainly because, in truth, we can’t compare crises. We can’t say that any one of these three is truly more serious than the next, because they are all so very important. The difference, I believe, is that we can actually make headway with regard to kids-at-risk and shidduchim. There are possible answers and, with effort, we can turn the tide. Regarding the financial crisis for the average frum family, I do not believe that there is an answer. I don’t see how a frum family is expected to survive on the salaries earned. And this crisis applies across the board, in all communities, amongst all types. Our expenses are astronomical and our salaries are simply not commensurate to our financial responsibilities.

As I stated before, we, frum Yidden, live lives that I call “a financial impossibility.”

{Rabbi Yosef Newscenter}


  1. Hi. Well, at least I know that I am not alone. I sit here in a well-paying (relatively) job and can’t live. I am a few months behind on rent, con ed, tuition, I have no retirement, I can’t afford medical coverage and have to choose between lying and not having health insurance. I’m 55. I need insurance, and so do my kids.

    I will face G-d one day, will I fail at the question of “were you honest in your dealings”? Not to mention the chillul Hashem if it were exposed. (and even if it weren’t) Thanks for a strong article. Now, what to do?

  2. I’m there myself. Just want to say to people who don’t get it and will tell us, live more modestly, make a simpler chasuna, don’t bother with support, etc: Trust me, we’re there too.

  3. I agree. Stop blaming financial issues on kollelim. Many professionals who are working full time with dual income from themselves and their spouses are having the same issues. Myself included. There is no clear answer. But one thing is certain – no kvetching or complaining. B”H , we have families and B”H for all the many things we do have. We need to daven for financial success, but at the same time we need to thank and be happy for what we do have.
    So, when discussing practical ideas for helping the financial situation, its imperative never for a minute to sound as if complaining chas vsholom.
    Always ‘Gam Zu Latova’.

  4. at least I know I’m not alone. we are not talking about the luxury people that’s a different shmooze. does anyone have any answers we are choking, if we could do something about the tution and move to a city where rent is cheap like cleveland detroit maybe we all could breath better , ny and nj is just killing us all, with taxes high mortgages and high tuition

  5. Rabboisai please open your eyes.

    One cannot rely on business as the answer for parnasah. For every one rich business family there are six families that lost everything. Business is pure mazal. Without a college degree it is nearly impossible to get hired in the professional world.

    Even if it’s too late for you, PLEASE let your children get real college degrees.

  6. What was an otherwise good article was marred by the following statement.

    “…Some people have enjoyed blaming this on kollel. What a fallacy. Look around. Wives are working regardless of what their husbands do…”

    I take offense at the above comment as it suggests 1 thing which is completely not true, and another faulty comparison.

    1) No one “enjoys” blaming anything on kollel. That suggestion indicates an attitude that anyone who points out flaws in the present kollel way of like is somehow gleeful of the suffering of kollel families and relishes in it (and are somehow anti Torah now).
    Nothing could be further from the truth.
    People have the right to question the long term sustainability of this system – as we are seeing more and more how difficult it really is.

    2)While it is likely true that more and more wives work whether the husband is in kollel or not, It can not be disputed that the kollel way of life which FORCES the wife to work from day one -becuase kollelim pay too little – is much different than a situation where a husband is employed earning a respectable salary and together with the wifes earnings are able to make it.

    This is because Kollel wives are at a supreme disadvantage – as they typically enter the workforce at a very young age with no experience or education. Something which will guarantee them low wages.

    ‘Regular’ working wives whose husbands work and already make a decent living are more likely to have more opportunity to gain better education and therefore make more money.

    So for the author to compare working kollel wives to ‘regular’ working wives is less than accurate.

  7. There are solutions to this…

    Stop encouraging every single bais yaakov girl and yeshiva bochur to go into kollel.
    Encourage a select few who show great academic promise only. The rest should go to college or get some education so they can work for decent pay.

    Tuitions are so high mostly because the ‘have mores’ are increasingly needing to pay the share of the ‘have nots’

  8. It is obvious from this article and others that the frum community will have to make some dramatic changes to avoid catastrophe. My suggestions are 1) Have less children, two only as per the chiyuv, unless you know you can afford more. 2) Don’t be afraid of sending your kids to public school, given the high density of frum kids in certain neighborhoods this will result in de factor Jewish schools in these areas. 3) Ensure your kids get a decent university degree. 4) Remove all expectations of a dowry which only create feelings of entitlement. 5) Restrict kollel study to the best and brightest. None of these ideas are against the Torah but they do require a willingness to go against the tide which is sadly lacking today. In the meantime we can expect more hand wringing articles like the above.

  9. As someone who learned in yeshivos, boruch Hash-m, until I was 25 years old, and now I have been working for a number of years, I do see a consistent factor in those people who seem to do well financially. I’m not talking about the mega-rich who have vast business holdings. I’m talking about people who make $150,000-$250,000 annually without their wives having to leave home (or at least to spend most of their time home).
    Know what it is?
    That’s right, I said it. And as someone who did not attend college myself (Bachleor’s in Talmudic Law though), I can’t help but take notice of my friends who went to Law School or even (gulp) Medical School and how the fruits of their (or their parents’) foresight has paid off. I’m talking about b’nei Torah who realized that securing a valueble degree sure goes along way to avoiding 16 hour stressful work days that come far short of paying the bills.
    People need to counsel with professionals about a business PATH to take. Waking up one day, whether the day you get married or after years in kollel, and deciding that you need money ASAP is only going to get you to the nearest accessable paycheck, not to a long-term stable and financially viable job.

  10. not only are the above and i not alone i think there is one more point not understood.
    the kollel / chinuch life is not extravagant, everyone knows that. there are however some advantages
    1 qualifying for public assistnce
    2 family assistance
    3 not much is excpected financially

    the rest of us work to the bone, arent making it and are always looked upon to do more.
    make no mistake in the goyish world with my salary and a goyish size family i would be financialy set.
    thayt is not to say i have any regret.
    i just think that it is an unsustainable situation.

  11. Fellow Readers,
    #10 Yoni’s ‘Have less children, two only as per the chiyuv, unless you know you can afford more” comment is sickening.
    Let’s just take notice of that, and not turn our attention away from the financial issue in general to respond to this comment. It’s not worth our exchanges on this great forum.

  12. Yoni’s first suggestion is way off, and that alone brings his other suggestions into question. MOshe’s sister convinced her parents to get married again, because Paroh only was killing the boys, and by being divorced, they were preventing the girls! and then Moshe was born ,and it was the beginnign of yetzias mitzrayim. I don’t think I have to explain this point further.

  13. While I may be blasted with this comment – I don’t care and it needs to be said. Your example of someone earning $100,000 – but still not being able to make it is unfortunately the reality. There was one other fact – these people have 7 children. That is 9 people in the family. After taxes (in NYC – so federal, state and city) even for someone with 9 dependents – $100,00 becomes about $60,000. That is less than 7,000 a person for tuition, food, clothes, housing, phone bills, insurance – the basic necesities. Not luxuries (which are so common) such as camp, yom tov presents or anything else. Now this person will IY’H have 7 chasunahs to make.

    The chiyuv is too have 1 boy and one girl. Anything more than that is lifinim mishuras hadin. If you cannot afford it – then speak to your rav in a firm tone to ensure that you get a heter for family planning. 7 kids – no wonder he is can’t make it with $100,000 of income.

  14. #16

    Chaim you’re correct, with the right protekzia everything is possible. But, for the average Joe getting no degree is playing with fire.

  15. # 18

    I’m not blasting you, but calmly suggesting that perhaps if he kept his family to the minimum 4 as you advise, G-d would have reduced his alloted income accordingly?

  16. All- Don’t get so caught up on the family planning issue. Certainly individuals have gone to their local orthodox rabbi at times and have gotten hetteirim for this. The big issue here is EDUCATION. Perhaps in Europe 60 years ago you did not need one… Today, living in America you do. It’s just a normal part of hishtadlus.

  17. I won’t blame kollel – that is, spending years in kollel per se – but Rabbi Shubert, there’s an elephant in the room. You talk about parental support for kollel as part of the necessary expenses of life. It’s NOT. Parental support on this scale was NOT part of life in the last two generations to the degree it is now. People who might have continued to support mosdos even after their kids left CAN’T because the money has to go to the kids.

    And kollelim don’t pay like they used to. One early middle-aged rav said that in his day he knew at least where his rent money was coming from. That’s not the way it goes in that, and many other yeshivos anymore.

  18. Financial Realities in the Frum World
    By “Sam Smith”

    I want to share a conversation I had with the executive director of a yeshiva about the financial realities of raising and educating a family in the frum world today.

    He said that households earning a combined $200,000 or more generally easily meet their financial responsibilities. Households in the $100-150,000 range, on the other hand, were “making it, but not necessarily easily” or were “making it but struggling.” He added he was talking about a typical family with 3-4 kids in yeshiva.

    Then, he said, families earning less than $100,000 have “real issues” (including possible “marital” issues). Nevertheless, at his yeshiva, even kollel families, he explained, are required to pay at least $3,000 per child. No exceptions.

    What if someone can’t pay?

    “We’ll work with them,” he said, “but the board does not authorize me to reduce anyone’s tuition obligation to anything less” than the $3,000 per child. (And that figure doesn’t include lunch, transportation, books, tutors, etc.)

    What does “working with them” mean? He wasn’t clear. Will they kick the kid out in the middle of the year if the parents can’t pay? No, he said. Will they forbid them from graduating and moving into the next grade? The conversation didn’t go that far. However, he was clear that the obligations were non-negotiable – even for the families that it might add to their “real issues.”

    I thought to myself, Is there something inconsistent here?

    In general I became frum to enter a society that valued the spiritual over the material. Yet, the reality is that the demands of this society create an arguably greater need for high-level material accomplishment than the society whose values I left behind. They force a person (without inherited wealth) to stay late at the office, take that second job, send the wife out to work, etc. – not to become wealthy but to pay the bills.

    I glanced up at portraits of tzaddikim which stood high on the wall behind the executive director.

    What would they think of this situation? What is the real message we are sending kids in yeshiva by painting romantic images of the Chofetz Chaim learning Torah in abject poverty, while at the same time, in effect, demanding parents make that $100,000 plus?

    And what is the goal of yeshiva? Is it not to teach our kids the value of the spiritual over the material? Yet, what are we really setting them up for? To follow in our footsteps onto this ever-faster spinning treadmill of material accomplishment and obligation? Where does the cycle stop? How does one get out of the loop?

    In my naïve, Baal Teshuvish way of thinking I guess I thought I was breaking this cycle; that my life would not be reduced to worrying about making more money; and even if it was, at least if I lived frugally and worked hard my kids’ yeshivas, if nothing else, would understand and not press me to produce money I didn’t have or make me feel worse about my financial situation than I already did; that they would seek the shortfall from the wealthier benefactors.

    On the other hand, I fully understand where they are coming from. They have to pay rabbeim. They have to keep the lights on.

    I have no answers. Only questions.

  19. Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky was asked (in a public forum) about family planning for parnassa reasons. He was very much against it. He quoted a gemara that each child is born “with his bread in his mouth”. He said, “perhaps having anoter child will cause you to have more parnassa, not less.
    Anyway, the fight for or against college education is an old one. Rav Aharon Kotler was very against it, and I would imagine he would still be against it today.
    Adam leomol yulad-life is supposed to be hard, not easy. The good times are in the next world, and I believe that one who sacrifices by giving up college and staying in Kollel for a few more years, will get rewarded not only for the Torah he learned in Kollel, but for the years after Kollel, when he lived the rest of his life missing out on the so called luxuries.
    Stay strong and keep the faith!
    Hashem Ya’azor!

  20. The vote on the “three crises” facing our community overlooked one reality – the “shidduch” and “kids-at-risk” crises are partly based on the financial crisis.

    For the shidduch problem – if we are trying to make every boy learn, the parents can’t continue to support three or four families besides their own, so they look for a girl with money. If the majority of boys started work after a year or so in kollel they would not be a drain on their parents financially. Of course, to do that they need a secular education that will get them a reasonable job, but that’s another issue.

    As for kids at risk, one of the major contributing factors to kids at risk is lack of shalom bayis, and one of the greatest risk factors for conflict in a marriage is financial pressure. Someone with a great deal of knowledge about kids at risk told me that the greatest source of kids going off is poverty and the pressure it brings on a family.

    So…if we can do something to lessen the financial crisis we will also be doing something to lessen the other two crises too.

  21. Financial Realities II: The Unwritten Contract
    By “Sam Smith”

    In retrospect, I’m not surprised that my first article on “Financial Realities in the Frum World” received such an overwhelming response I knew I was touching a raw nerve, because this topic has touched a raw nerve in me.

    In trying to understand the reason for the raw nerve I’ve wavered between righteous indignation and guilt. I am outraged at some of the uncompromising positions the whole tuition business corners us into – as individual tuition-payers and as a community — while at the same time feeling guilty that I am outraged by it. The yeshivos are only trying to collect money for teaching our kids Torah, and paying less-than-ideal salaries to usually dedicated teachers. That’s why I feel guilty, because I love Torah, I love the ideals, I love the idealists in our midst. But I hate… I hate…


    I had been having a hard time trying to put my finger on exactly what I hate. What do I hate about this situation and why do I hate it and do I have a right to hate it? Then, the other night, I came upon the answer as I was pondering a contract one of my children’s yeshivos had sent me and asked me to sign. And that answer is the “unwritten contract.”

    The Unwritten Contract

    When I became a baal teshuva I had certain expectations, whether I was conscious of them or not. These expectations were based on the ideals I was attracted to, and the assumption that if I followed through on the ideals, then the community I was becoming part of would follow through on the ideals too. This, in effect, became an “Unwritten Contract” — in my mind at least. The part I hate, or that at least incenses me, is the perception that the community – or, in this case at least, one specific yeshiva – is not following through on its part.

    Let me explain myself.

    My side of the “contract” was that if I did my best to raise my kids in Torah and be responsible about making hishtadlus in the world (i.e. doing my best to earn a living), while at the same time living as frugally as I could, then the institutions representing Torah would be understanding. That means they would accept my kids and do their best to teach them even if I simply did not have the money to pay full or partial or even any tuition (if I truly did not have the money).

    What I didn’t expect, but what I have experienced, from one institution in particular, is this: We will not accept your child in the doors in the first place if you do not sign a contract to pay what we say you need to pay. We expect you to be grateful that we are giving you a reduction in our outlandishly high tuition and other fees. And thou shalt feel grateful even if that reduction is still more than you can afford, even if it causes you to go into serious debt. We will even send you a letter threatening to expel your kids, if you fall behind or become unable to pay what we said you need to pay.

    Now, in all fairness, this describes only one of the yeshivos I send my kids to (two kids to the same institution). Others want their pound of flesh, too, but are not going about it in the same aggressive, and, frankly, highly un-Torah-like (IMO) way. It is quite enough to ruin one’s rosy state of mind. Practically speaking, I can’t switch my kids out of this institution now because they are good students, have friends and are happy. We managed to pay partial tuition in years past by going into outrageous credit card debt, which is now an unacceptable and untenable alternative.

    In any event, the brutal truth is that, especially now that I have older kids, I am simply overwhelmed by all the expenses, unable to carry all my accumulated debt, and even the partial tuitions I am paying have pushed me to and over the edge of financial ruin. There is no retirement plan in my life, no hidden stocks, no wealthy parents, in-laws or uncles ready to leave me their fortune and rescue me.

    After many years and many tuitions I simply didn’t make it financially, at least in contemporary, North American Orthodox-community terms. I didn’t become a doctor or lawyer or businessman. I didn’t marry into wealth.

    In my darkest moments, it’s all a great communal hypocrisy. Some people simply can’t pay… even a portion of the partial tuition. Yet some yeshivos, while teaching kids wonderful, beautiful ideals like living austerely for Torah as did the Chofetz Chaim (including large pictures throughout the halls), make their parents feel like shmattas for not earning more than $100-150,000!

    This is my “righteous indignation” side.

    But then the guilt kicks in: They are only trying to keep the lights on, pay their rabbeim and teachers, overcome their own financial deficits, etc.

    I don’t want to be fighting them, to feel that they are the “enemy.” But that’s the corner this situation paints me – and them – into. Parents and yeshivos become adversaries, rather than advocates. It’s a crime. And the toll – the spiritual toll: on parents, children and generations — is incalculable. There has to be a different way of doing this.

  22. 21 – Chaim

    Are you a Rov? Perhaps, you cannot read? If you get a heter from a Rov then you are in violation of something?

    Also, please point me to the issur here? At most, you are being mi’vatel an essei. Did your yeshiva education explain to you that to violate an issur you need a lo saseh?

    #20 – perhaps, that is up to hashem not me.

  23. Rabboisai please open your eyes.

    “One cannot rely on business as the answer for parnasah. For every one rich business family there are six families that lost everything. Business is pure mazal. Without a college degree it is nearly impossible to get hired in the professional world.

    Even if it’s too late for you, PLEASE let your children get real college degrees.”

    Are you kidding! A college does not guarantee financial stability at all. You still need a job from a business owner.

  24. IT is possible to blame the shidduch issues and Kids at risk on the financial problems or the cause of the financial problems are the same as he others, people don’t know their place everyone thinks they are the same and deserve the same.

  25. Thank you #12, many people who do not work actually end up ahead of those who do because of the factors you pointed out. For those who know how to work the system Uncle Sam is very generous and the velt has no expectations of them so tuitions, camps etc. are greatly reduced.

  26. Do you ever have anything constructive to say? On every post all you do is criticize others and yell “assur” to everything. Well stealing is also assur m’doraisa, and so is financial/welfare/medicaid fraud, which results from constant poverty. Since you added nothing to the emes written in this post, perhaps you should think about something before you write. And if you really believe you don’t need a college degree to get high paying jobs (and as has been demonstrated above, a large family needs well over 100K in income), you should start an organization to find such jobs for non-college educated people. When you fail, maybe you’ll realize that the black and white world of your extremist positions only exists in your head. The sooner you realize that, the better off you’ll be, hatzlacha.

  27. Chaim (#16 & #21) is 100% correct. Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky amongst many of the other Gedolim ZT’L and Shlitta have spoken out against family planning in no uncertain terms.

    And the lie that you need college for parnassa has long ago been exposed.

  28. My Frum daughter just got her masters and will be able to earn a minimum of $75,000 at her FIRST job. There were frum, chasidish men in her school who realized that they had to make a decent living in order to support a Torah lifestyle. In my community almost all of the men and women are professionals with college degrees and many advanced degrees. Their parents, who DID NOT have much of an education, insisted that their children get a practical education.

    I know of quite a few young men, post-kollel, who went into a “family business”. but after a few years they could not support their growing families. Some of them went back to school, in their 30’s and became physician assistants, lawyers, and actuaries. It is very important to remember that ALL comes from the HaKadosh BaruchHu, provided we do OUR part.

  29. #24 -“Parental support on this scale was NOT part of life in the last two generations to the degree it is now. People who might have continued to support mosdos even after their kids left CAN’T because the money has to go to the kids.” (your quote). What – parents should give to mosdos and not to their children. What are you saying. The biggest zechus for the parents is if they are helping their children, especially if they are learning. Since when does community come before family.

    #25 – We (my husband and I ) have a combined salary of about $60,000 give or take with three children. My husband learns in an out of town kollel and we pay 11,000 tuition for two kids – besides babysitting for the third. How do we do it – by my husband giving up his supper time, shabbos afternoon etc. to tutor. This is with a scholarship. Yes we are a little behind and the school is great about it but are continually giving payment as soon as possible.

  30. “Some people have enjoyed blaming this on kollel.”

    This statement by Rabbi Schubert is very badly mistaken. No one enjoys blaming Kollel. There are financial issues raised by having people learning in Kollel, but for the individual and for the Klal. For the individual, even if he eventually goes to work, as I did, he is generally going to work after having a few children with significant living expenses. It is very difficult for a Kollel Yungerman to find an entry level job that pays sufficiently to cover his families expenses at that time. For the community, the Jewish community has limited funds. To the extent money is spent supporting Kollel Yungerleit, there is less money available to help support Yeshivos and less scholarship money is available and parents are being pressed to pay higher tuitions to cover the costs of educating our children.

    We need guidance from our Gedolim in how to prioritize between the goals of learning in Kollel for as long as possible and the other financial needs of the Jewish community.

    To say that working people are struggling financially, so people learning in Kollel is irrelevant is extraordinary foolishness. It may be that people should learn in Kollel anyway, but let us not kid ourselves about the financial burden it is creating for the community at large.

  31. there are no real answers – as a professional with a graduate degree, it is still difficult to meet all the standard obligations, with not much left after paying Uncle Sam. i am strongly for an education, but that doesn’t guarantee that you will be swimming in money

  32. One major problem that noone seems to be addressing is that the frum world feels entitled to buying THE BEST! Look at the Zedaka brochures –Many advertise linen sets for $500-1500! This is outrageous. My daughter goes to a very frum academic EY sem, and yet, most wear tons of designer shirts, etc and Longchamp bags! Look at the girls in our communities — They and their mothers feel a need to wear Tory Burch — Even though her logo looks like a Tzelem. The point is we have to stop all this extrreme materialism and emphasis on having only the best. Having only the best is not what makes us bnei and bnos Melech Malchei Hamelachim. Being a good Jew who does not cause a chillul Hashem does! Good Shabbos!

  33. Nice Article. Some nice comments. One point however.
    R’ Moshe Z”L used to say that the generation that became ‘mechalelai shabbos’ in America, were children of people who were shomrei shabbos, yet they krechtzed and said ‘es is shver tzu zain a yid’. Please remember that this forum is being read by children as well.
    Is this the message we giving them that chas vsholom ‘es is shver tzu zain a yid’?
    We must show them simcha in our lifestyle.
    Yes, we must talk about ideas to help ourselves financially, we must encourage people to find good parnasos, etc. but please, not with a negative atitude. Certainly not with a tone as if complaining against a Torah life chas vsholom.

  34. Unemployment, in the Frum community in Detroit is at the same level as unemployment in the Frum community in NY & NJ. Cost of housing is 1/2 to 1/10 depending on which community you are comparing to. The yeshivas are excellent and very flexible on tuition. The Detroit community is starting to be discovered. If you have a job or can transfer to Detroit you can live in a great community like a mentsch with alot less financial pressure. It’s worth a look.

  35. You make the opposite point that you set out to.
    You’re saying that you’re able to get by on 60K, with the graciousness of your local school. And what happens when you add your third child to the tuition list? And what happen when you imy”H have more children? Are you aware that the cost of raising per child only escalates as they grow older, culminating with making a chassunah?
    Your 60K is going to look pretty silly pretty soon…

  36. I agree 100% with this writer. My husband is working in a non klei kodesh job and earning $100,000 a year. I am earning $30,000 which gives us a combined salary of $130,000. seems like a lot, right? you’d be surprised to hear that we actually bring home less than the average Rebbi. I regret that my husband did not become a Rebbi (something we were strongly considering but were advised not to by “well meaning” relatives who convinced us we wouldn’t be able to make it financially). please do not be afraid to stay in kollel (if you have support) or become a rebbi because of financial considerations because take it from us, you will end up in the same boat. We are paying over $50,000 in tuition leaving us with $80,000. We are ineligable for medical assisstance, hud, wic etc. because on paper we are earning too much. The average Rebbi is earning about $50,000 and if his wife is earning the same $30,000 as I am they actually are ahead of us financially because most rabeim pay no tuition for boys and get breaks for the girls. When we were interviewing for rabbeim jobs we heard all this but were still scared away. and with all the government assistance less is taken out of that $80,000 than for us who pay unbelievable high premiums for insurance. without wic you cannot imagine what our food bills are like. no one has rachmanus on us when they see our salary. yet they don’t take into consideration what we actually bring home. no one will support us because my husband is working. I would not want anyone to not consider staying in klei kodesh because they think they’ll have it easier financially by “working”. its a myth! again, unless you’re earning over $200,000 a year, you’ll actually be worse off. my kids do not have braces (if we had medical assistance, they would be eligable for this), do not attend overnight camp (parents who are in klei kodesh get a steep break or can work in the camp as they have off summers, my husband must work summers) and wear hand me downs (a lot of families who earn less recieve discounts on new clothes from local tzedakos). I regret our decision to enter the work force and wish we would have stayed in kollel or entered klei kodesh. I don’t have answers but don’t want people thinking that the grass is greener on the other side when it comes to working

  37. 37, a few points:
    Iy”H you should be able to give your children too. (I held myself back from saying, your children should be able to take from you.)

    It would be worth your while to ask your parents HOW are they able to do this. Do they have fewer children? Are they working extra jobs? Are they jeopardizing any possibility of saving (not that most of us, sadly myself including, find saving a possibility)? Will they be able to do this for all their children? Are the younger children losing out – not being able to go to camp, sems, etc. as the older children did? (I heard of a girl who was given a certain set monthly amount from her parents [now true, she should have had savings but listen to this] because her parents couldn’t give more as they were paying her older sister’s rent.)

    And, THE most important question: are there parents still paying anywhere near full tuition? Forget about giving to mosdos after all their kids are grown up. What about now? Is one child’s kollel coming at the expense of a younger child’s tuition?

    Oh, one more thing. A friend griped about the tuition committee not accepting their having to put away money for their daughter’s future kollel life if they wanted to get her married off. OTOH, the grandchildren in this family all pay monthly towards a fund for their elderly grandparents. THAT is something that a tuition committee can take into consideration, IMO.

  38. to matzav editor:
    I cannot comprehend why you would not print my comment. this is the second of only 2 comments I have ever made on your site that you refused to publish. both were hashkafically sound. hmmmmm. makes me wonder what your hidden agenda is. yes, you claim to be a yeshivishe site however when it comes down to it you are actually not agreeing with the yeshivishe derech. this is quite dangerous. I have actually convinced 2 families to remain in klei kodesh who were thinking of leaving to work. I am simply trying to help more families see the truth but now I realize that Matzav does not share this line of thinking. I guess your article has a hidden agenda. but you don’t have to worry about my family posting anymore comments as now that I realize that matzav edits the hashkafically sound comments in line with a kollel lifestyle, we will be blacklisting this site on our filter so that our children will not get a hold of your hidden agenda which is clearly against kollel and a klei kodesh lifesyle. how sad. now I understand why the gedoilim are against chareidi websites.

  39. To all you whiners complaining that its so tough to make it financially even if you make 100K per year. I have some news for you and I can summarize it in two words, CUT DOWN. Thats right, elimiate unnecessary expenses and even seemingly necessary expenses. Let me give you a breakdown.
    Average car expenses – $550 per month = $6600 per year. Dont drive. People manage it and so can you. Take the subway, walk to the grocery and use public transportation.
    Summer camp. If you have 5 kids, it can cost you 10k easily. Just don’t send. Keep them entertained and possibly get other families involved and work together. That can get rid of 10-15K per year depending on how many kids you have.
    Don’t buy brand new clothes. Buy thrift or get giveaways. That can save you at least 5-10k per year at least.
    Cut down on luxury foods. Dont eat out. Buy basic foods and let the mother make most foods from scratch. That alone will save you a fortune. Rabosai, are you getting the drift here? People are spending like drunken sailors and then complaining that they can’t make it. You may laugh at me and say its not possible, but then don’t come crying and yelling that you are suffering. Trust me, if people seriously cut down from begining to end and really realize that it could be done, you only dont want to. Then the schools will get their tuition that they ask for and people will be in better and happier shape. take it from the expert. I have done all what I propose and I am ahead of the game.

  40. 48, 49, I knew this would happen. That’s why, early on on this comment page I asked people not to patronize us.

    Why do you assume we haven’t cut down as much as we can, within reason (like phones, electricity, the necessary car to get to work in a city without decent public transport and no other frum people in the office for carpooling, etc.).

    As for camp, I sent three kids to camp for 500. (There reaches a point where 9 weeks of camp mommy won’t work anymore and there are not like minded mothers to do a round robin.) That number was what it cost for my daughter to be a mother’s helper. The rest went to day camp; I worked there.

    (And what of the couple where the mother has to work in the summer, and the combined income is still nowhere near enough to support their family, ka”h.)

    And I don’t think I’ve ever spent anywhere near 5k a year on clothes for the family. And for the record, I’ve never spent more than a hundred dollars for a sheitel and that was over eight years ago.

    Eat out? Maybe pizza once a year. But I usually make my own. I make a LOT of food from scratch. I first go to the dented cans and reduced produce for the record, too.

    49, I am impressed that you – and your wife, would love to hear from Mrs. Dov – have done all that. Do you live outside NY, by any chance?
    Continued hatzlacha.

  41. “49, I am impressed that you – and your wife, would love to hear from Mrs. Dov – have done all that.”

    Instead of merely being impressed, follow his lead!

    The fact that you find it impressive, indicates it isn’t the norm.

    The fact that it isn’t the norm, is the problem.

  42. 53, maybe I shouldn’t have said impressed. Maybe I should have said, big deal, that’s how we’ve largely lived all along, and many people I know aren’t overly extravagant. But I was trying to be courteous.

  43. If every family would have to pay tuition for their kids’ college education people would be under a lot more pressure. In addition it doesnt guarantee job placement.There are people who paid a fortune for college got good paying jobs and were laid off in the end. There are people who paid a fortune for college and never got a good paying job to begin with.
    And having less kids is looking at the issue in a very selfish way ( extremely saturated with the goyishe hashkofos of 20th century). Just look at the Jewish census charts and compare the population growth rates of the Modern Orthodox and the Yeshivish/Chasidish.
    Were we to focus on money issues rather than the continuation of the Jewish Nation, were would we be today?

  44. tzippi,

    Dov is correct.

    What he describes is not, unfortunately, the norm.

    People tend to unfortunately these days live too extravagantly.

  45. Struggling and others have noted that klai kodesh are at an advantage relative to others because they receive free or significantly reduced tuition, camp fees, and other benefits offered by the community. It’s important to note, though, that these free/ reduced tuitions must still somehow be funded. In many schools, the “full tuition” paid by parents such as Struggling exceeds by a significant amount the average cost of educating a child. That’s because these working parents, besides paying the full cost of educating their own children, are also subsidizing the “free” tuition of klai kodesh. Many working parents would find that paying only their own children’s educational costs is much less onerous financially.

  46. 58, I understand, and yet I feel that it is part of the kavod and hakaras hatov that we owe our mechanchim to give them some perks.

    But maybe you’re right. No more tuition breaks for mechanchim AND pay raises to equal their tuition obligations (or some semblance of a basic cost of living), the first only to go into effect whenever the second does.

  47. I posted a reply to this editorial on my own blog. The last message that we need is that it is financially impossible to live a frum life. It simply is not true and our kids sure don’t need the message that being frum = poor. An entire readjustment is needed in the approach to money, both at the individual level and the communal level. Quite frankly, too many spend like fools. They think the 11th commandment is “thou shalt dress children in matching clothing, buy shoes at Stride Rite, and push a McClaren, Peg, Valero, or Mountain Buggy stroller.”

    I have dedicated a lot of space on my blog to getting out of debt, money saving tips, and creative solutions such as pre-school and camp co-ops. I don’t have the answer as to how a family can put a ton of kids in private school and sleepaway camp. And perhaps there is no answer to that. But when you group weddings and parental support together with FOOD, it is obvious that the priorities are messed up and too many wallets are messed up too.

  48. The author has left out some points:

    1: Supporting married children – must be stopped
    2: Foresight: Not college for all, but an idea in HS how you plan on raising a family (college, family business, whatever).
    3: Out of town

    There is no reason why one can’t live within their means, even with full tuition, IF they planned ahead.

  49. There are several causes to the terrible situation that we find ourselves in and thus several different comments I feel I must make:

    1. There is nothing wrong with having the husband in kollel, what is wrong is expecting anyone else to pay for your choice. If the wife can make enough money to support the family so her husband can learn full time, great. If a young man really values learning above all else, he will do anything or live any way he has to in order to stay there. The truth, however, is that most young men are not at all dedicated to learning — they want the good life and are unwilling to work for it. Anybody can stay in learning if you get the in-laws to pay for it; only those who are on a proper madreiga can do so when it means giving up many other things in order to do so. Stop expecting parents to support grown children. They must support themselves.

    2. People must be yashar and stop stealing from others. Borrowing from gemach after gemach until you can’t pay everyone off if you lived 10 lifetimes is stealing. Borrowing money that you cannot repay or running up a credit card bill that you cannot pay is stealing. Not paying your bills is stealing. Expecting others to bail you out all of the time is disgusting and certainly not the middot you want to impart to your children. Our society must understand and teach that every person is responsible for his/her actions and must be yashar in every situation and at every time and I don’t mean only financially but in this way as well.

    3. No, limiting family size is not the answer and neither is a college degree necessarily. That doesn’t mean that no one should go to college, just that it is not a guarantee of anything. However, if every bachur understood that he was responsible for supporting his family, whether through his wife’s salary or his own, and that he was not entitled to support, cars, an apartment or two, etc. and that a truly frum man does not steal from others [as above] then we would also see a great change for the better.

    The things that go on in the shidduch parsha due to financial pressure is worse than disgusting. There are very good fine girls who are not yet married because their parents cannot hold up under the demands of the young men’s families and whose hashkafa does not allow them to marry off their daughters to any boy who would or could ever work at any job for a living, as this would not be acceptable socially. This whole system must change because it is already imploding from within.

    4. Yes, tuition in the US is out of bounds and so one can either make aliyah or home school. People who wish to stay in the US because they perceive that they will have higher standard of living there [not necessarily true any more]deserve what they get. In Israel there is guaranteed basic health insurance for every citizen and tuition is much lower. But people here are still poor and still can’t afford apartments for every one of 10 children — so as I said above, don’t do what you can’t do; let your kiddies support themselves.

    We have already married off two children on the above principles and I know of quite a few other families who have also done so. You just have to worry more about what Hashem thinks than what your neighbors think — and come to think of it, this is the “fix” for almost every single terrible problem plaguing the frum world today!

  50. “People must be yashar and stop stealing from others. (#62)

    It is pretty sad as well as amazing that this has to be emphasized.

  51. #25,
    They try to find them a better a job if they can. That’s what “working with them” means. I know someone who asked for a scholarship and the rabbis got the housewife a job. Then they gave them scholarship. They refused until she was working.

    #10 and Responses to #10: There are numbers between 2 and 7.

    Another advantage to making the kollel system smaller is that people should be encouraged to give their tzedakah to schools for the children, not the kollels.

    #30- I know so many girls who graduated college and made salaries and got jobs that were not indicative of their degrees. However, some of them eventually did get better jobs. When you don’t have a degree, you’re more likely to get stuck. Without a degree, I was stuck with many temp agency jobs. I’m now going back for my degree. There are too many jobs I can’t even apply for because they want a degree.

    36-She’s a therapist, right?

    40-you forgot about the fancy sheitels…

    55-state colleges are cheaper than yeshivah tuition, not to mention there is financial for your bachelor’s degree.

    One final note where I emphasize that adults should be adults not children (parents shouldn’t be supporting their adult children):
    Dismiss for this-go ahead, but, I am a convert and I remember one of my pastors discussing that parents shouldn’t support their married children. He pointed out that a “man shall LEAVE his father and mother and cleave unto his wife.”

    A married child has not truly left if their parents are paying everything. It was recently told to me by a frum girl that at least 90% of the marrieds are supported. Goyim do help their kids, too, but generally it’s in the way of a lot of free babysitting and some money here and there. It’s not to this degree. Also, goyim marry after the bachelor’s, not at 18. As a result they are living at home when they are in college and if parents can’t pay college, they take out loans.

  52. Another idea is that there are many frum infertile women. Why can’t people have a baby for adoption by one of these women? It’s a little out of the box but, if it were an open adoption they would still have contact and such. Many of these infertile families, BH, are blessed financially. They won’t do it though because they would be afraid of a MO woman raised their child.

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