OTD and Tuition: Is There a Connection?

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By Daniel F.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that there are two topics that seem to have more articles written about them than almost any other. I refer to the cost of tuition for our Jewish schools and the question of why so many teens are turning their backs on Torah Judaism.

On the surface, they seem to be two separate issues. Why would one impact the other? But just last week, an old story came to mind, and I think it may be relevant in our times as well.

The story is told that someone asked Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l about the American Jews of the early 20th century. “We were always told stories of men who had to find a new job every week, because they refused to work on Shabbos, yet most of their children assimilated into American society and are no longer frum. How can it be? Parents who were moser nefesh for Shabbos had children walk away from Judaism. Why?”

Rav Moshe responded, “True, the people gave up their jobs each week in order to keep Shabbos, but they came home, sat at the Shabbos table, and said, ‘Oy, es iz shver tzu zein ah Yid!’ (It is difficult to be a Jew.) When the children heard that, they decided that if it was difficult, they didn’t want to do it, and they turned away from the Torah.”

I believe that we are now in a similar situation. We all know the stress of paying tuition for our children, and how much we sacrifice for it. But when our children read articles complaining about it, and then read the comments from people on those articles (and we all know the kind of things people write), is it any different than the children hearing, “Oy, es iz shver tzu zein ah Yid.” 100 years ago? Could it be that our stress (and in some cases, resentment) from tuition is making its way to our children?

If you’ve ever spoken to a parent of a child who decided not to be frum anymore, you can feel their pain. There is nothing they won’t do to try and have their child become frum again. They don’t care how much it costs. So why should we feel resentful towards the best method of preventing it? Would we rather have to pay even more money later on, or prevent it from happening in the first place?

We need our children to see that their education is our highest priority, and that it’s our greatest pleasure to pay for it. Otherwise, they will grow up believing that it is difficult to be a Jew.



  1. And what exactly are you suggesting as the solution? That everyone “Grin and bear it” as they struggle to pay tuition? Gimme a break! The issue is far deeper than this, far deeper. The system is broken in many ways. People are focused on externals and not on internals. The system puts more emphasis on Looking a certain way and not enough, if any, emphasis on looking at an individual’s inner core. As long as we continue to be sheep led by a power-hungry few, the situation will only deteriorate further and further. How many more young people have to die ( physically and figuratively) until we open our eyes and start doing the right thing?

  2. I’ve never read something so foolish as this in my entire life. OTD because they hear their parents complaining about the high tuition costs?! If anything, they’ll send their own children later on to public school, efsher.

    Listen to me very carefully.
    Children go off the derech because for some, its hard for them to concentrate in class and they start falling behind and failing their tests and then they feel like nothing. Their parents have taanas, why cant you be like your brothers and sisters? You don’t try hard enough. You’ll never amount to anything. I don’t need the chevra in Shul to know my child is a failure. etc…. This OTD has NOTHING to do with white shirts, black hats, yeshivishe parents/family. That’s all a mask for the real problem of failing in class. If we are serious about raising the next dor to become ehrliche bnei/ bnos torah, it is our achrayus to take care and work with the shvacheh talmidim! This nonsense of accepting and maintaining ONLY the Mitzuyanim, has to stop.

      • ?!?!?
        Is that the best thing to say in someone in pain?
        I think that the author of this piece may have a point that like every mitzvah, we shouldn’t telegraph the tircha and stress involved in the mitzvah to our children. I cannot countenance his linking the two, when so many OTD kids are turned off because of things that may have happened in school, verbal abuse or other kind, r”l.

  3. Right. My Dad keeps complaining about the price of gas. I made up my mind I will never drive a car when I grow up. Mother keeps complaining about the price of bread. I will never eat any bread when I grow up. They both complain about high taxes. I will never pay taxes when I grow up.

    • If gas is expensive, people tend to drive less. If bread is expensive, people eat less of it. If taxes are high in one area, people will move someplace where they are lower.


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