The Matzav Shmoooze: A Heartbroken Father

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cryingDear Readers,


I may sound like a broken record to Matzav readers, and yes it is always an issue every year around this time, but so many of us are suffering and nobody is helping us. Please, there is probably no bigger issue facing Klal Yisroel today than the tuition crisis and what it is doing to our families and our schools, yet somehow a solution is nowhere to be found.

I am your typical struggling middle-class guy. My wife and I work full time and we cannot make it. It is the worst feeling to go to sleep each night and awake each morning feeling so alone and so helpless, with no help in sight. But let’s forget about my problems, because they are mine to deal with, and if I am big enough to have a family, then I need to be big enough to figure out how to make it.

My kids did nothing wrong. They were born into my family and with much siyata diShmaya they are raised in a happy home and are happy children, even without most of what they see others have. Yet, they have no idea how they did in school last year because I cannot get their report cards, since my tuition bill is still not paid.

Can I say I was “forced” to sign that tuition agreement last year? I was not forced to, because I could have always chosen a different school, right? Did I sign it because I felt I had no choice and hoped Hashem would send me the extra matanah to be able to pay it? Yes, I did. Did it happen? Nope.

I cannot get report cards for last year. I cannot get registration papers for this year, because on top of the tuition I already owe, I also have to pay a registration fee every year for each of my seven children. I cannot get my child’s diploma (its three years already that I am waiting for it), because I still have a balance for my child who graduated that I cannot seem to find the funds for. I cannot get transcripts or credits for the same reason, so my son in 5th year bais medrash cannot go to school without his credits.

Anyone reading Matzav care for me to continue?

What in the world am I supposed to do? My child in high school still does not know if she passed her Regent exam or needs to retake the course, because the school will not tell me this information or give me her report card, since it is all they have to hold against me to get me to pay the tuition money they are so sure I have hidden somewhere. They believe I am just playing hardball with them. My daughter also never got her papers to choose which friends she would like to be with as she enters her new school year, because I didn’t pay my obligation, since I am hiding all of my money from the school.

Boruch Hashem a million times over, my kids don’t hate me for letting them down, but they sure do feel bad that they have no idea when school starts and are too embarrassed to call their friends to get all of the school info they need.

My wife tries to go shopping with friends who have children in our own children’s classes so she can just buy the same school supplies she sees the other mothers buying, since we did not get our school supply list.

Shall I continue?

I truly feel bad for the schools, because they need this money to pay their bills. I don’t have it and I have exhausted every option – family, friends and gemachs – I know of just to keep my own home from being taken by the bank and for putting food on my table. I make too much to qualify for Medicaid and food stamps, but way too little to support my family and get health insurance. I don’t go on any vacation, even just for a night to get away. (My wonderful in-laws offered my wife and me a two-day, one-night get-away to some place in the Catskills where we can drive to, and they said they will pay for it and watch our kids. My amazing wife turned it down not because we didn’t need or want it, but because she is afraid to go since the schools will tell us that we managed to get away for a small vacation, so we must be able to pay our tuitions.

25 years of marriage. 0 vacations.

My letter can be signed by hundreds of hardworking parents who are going through the same issue. What do we do? We cry. We daven. We do everything we can, yet the feeling you get looking into your child’s eyes and seeing their disappointment and realizing that your child is being punished or held hostage or whatever you want to call it all because of your inability to make ends meet is just so heartbreaking.

Somebody out there, somewhere, somehow, for the thousands of us worldwide who are suffering, please come up with a solution.

A Heartbroken Father

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  1. Move out of town, specifically south bend Indiana, a frum torah community with over 100 families and Indiana is the first state to pass teh tuition vouchers program so all tuition is free and on top of that housing is approx 100K and taxes are cheap aswell.


    Ps does it say anywhere we all have to live in the big city and struggle.

  2. Unfortunately, the United States has developed a working solution while we flail around. Property tax pays for public education; whether you use public schools or not, whether you have children or not, being a member of society obligates you to fund public education.

    Instead of individuals paying tuition, the Jewish Community should assess every household one half of what they pay the state in property tax. Some will pay, some won’t. But all should. This has plenty of historical precedence. Perhaps this will motivate some of us to re-examine our responsibilities to the community.

  3. You Broke My Heart annd I feel your Pain.

    May Hashem Open New Pathways For You and Your Family and Bring You Blessing Ad Bli Dai!!!

    Just Another Yid.


  4. The message is coming to chutz l’Aretz loving Jews both individually (as is so for this writer) and communally (look at how many thousands of yidden had their homes destroyed in the hurricane). And the message is so abundantly clear: LEAVE CHUTZ L’ARETZ and GO HOME TO ERETZ YISRAEL — NOW! As Rav Shlomo Zalman zt”l said: “Just open up a Chumash and read and you will see that ratzon Hashem is that Jews should live in Eretz Yisroel” [as quoted in “The Passion of Our Time” by Rabbi Sholom Gold]. So long as you American Jews continue to defy the “ratzon HaShem,” cling to the false goldena medina and spurn Eretz Yisrael, you will have litte hatzlacha.

  5. in the past i would go to my ex yeshivah dinners (for businesses reasons, to network and be seen), and the guest of honor would always be some business man who survived the war and made it BIG (money wise). Each of them said how when they came to yeshivah they were told not to worry about tuition and the yeshivah even gave them money for clothes before yom tov. The yeshivah did that not as a busniss starergy, but on the contrary since they did not look at themselves as a businesses. When i was in that yeshivah not that many years later in the 80s I sat on the bench by the principals office with my brothers because my father could not pay more tuition, (we too did not go on any vacations except the Staten Island Zoo and the like). When i was in yeshivah, it was run as a business, and now that they are not doing so well, other yeshivas opened and became the more hip and in style place to send to, my old yeshivah calls me for donations. If they want to run the school as a business, when a competitor opens with a better product, price or marketing you go out of business, so too a yishivah, i am hurt so much that now when i could afford it (b”h) i give to other schools not my own.

    I do not think my experience is unique, nor the norm. But it is happening still today, and it will only make the yeshivas have a harder time in the future.

  6. This is what it has come to! I am a Michanech and have children in 5 schools (elementary, high school boys girls and bais medrash). So I see both sides of the coin.
    Besides them all raising my tuition every year and agreeing on a “tuition agreement” then adding dinner, registration, book, trip, bus, lunch and etc. fees they also seem to feel it is mandatory to pay a building fee.
    Needless to say if I subtracted from our original deal because of incurred costs for supplies and other ridiculous things some teachers ask for they would never agree to this. Yet I don’t have a choice to accept any costs they add on without questioning.
    I beg them look at my house that is in desperate need of repairs but I don’t fix it because I don’t have the money. My cars are run down but I don’t get new ones because I don’t have the money. My clothes are patched and tattered but I don’t replace them because I don’t have the money.Why can’t they be held to the same standard.Why can mossdos spend on extravagance and comforts and expect everyone else will pay for this? Why can they repaint, make additions, take trips, order the latest technology, books, give out extravagant prizes, huge siyumim and offer exorbitant salaries to office officials? Why can they then withhold our children’s report cards or transcript to assure the freedom to uncontrolled spending?
    I feel with the writer of this letter and hope for greater transparency and understanding from our mossodos hachinuch.

  7. I’ve always said we need charter schools to break the private tuition expense that parents can’t simply pay. Who in their right mind wants to pay 3x more than the average child in the same educational system. I’ve heard of many different ideas to help parents meet their obligations but the end results are the same. We had enough…We need to take action or be left with public school as our only option. Besides some private school is far less in tuned to provide a solid English program versus public school which only fortifies the ides of charter schools.

  8. truly sad, but take heart you have a wonderful wife and family. there are many who can pay all their bills but cannot say the same.



  10. It is not your fault! I believe there are two parties here who are in the wrong. The first is the school. The second is the parents who actually do hide money from the schools to try and get a bigger scholarship.

    Jewish schools have always said that a Jewish education is mandatory (which I agree with!) and that no child should be denied a Jewish education due to a lack of money. Yet they sometimes make it extremely difficult to believe these statements, when they do things like you described. Schools need to work with the parents to find out how much they can actually afford, and find ways to finance the rest.

    This brings me to my second group in the wrong – the people who actually hide money from the school to get a scholarship. I won’t even get into the fact that they’re stealing from the schools – this is obvious, and doesn’t need to be supported. What they don’t realize (or do realize and just don’t care) is that they don’t only affect the school – they affect the other parents who legitimately need help. This happens in a few ways. First off, the schools usually have a scholarship fund with a limited amount money. This money needs to be allocated among all the families who need help. When a family lies to get more of that money, it takes it away from others who need it. It also has another effect – the school administrators (and scholarship committees) know that people lie, and are therefore more suspicious of everyone. Even when a family can’t afford it, the schools won’t always believe them. While the schools need to make a real effort to find out the truth, most of this blame falls on the parents who cheat the system. What they might not realize is that it can have dire consequences down the road. Children are more perceptive than most people realize, and their children can easily find out what their parents are doing. Is this what you want your children to learn from you? These children are being taught that it’s ok to lie and steal from people – do you think they’ll grow up to be good, honest people? Then you have the kids you’re affecting. When they see what’s going on, do you think they’ll grow up with an appreciation for Judaism ingrained in them? Probably not! So the parents who cheat the system can be responsible for all the following: stealing, causing undue stress for other families, causing their own kids to be dishonest, and causing other kids to view Judaism in a negative light. All to save a few dollars!

    My suggestion is to ask for a meeting with the administrator responsible for the finances. Don’t go in angry – make sure to stay calm! Explain the situation and all the stress it causes, and just ask for help. If they won’t, just say what I wrote above – Jewish schools are supposed to provide an education to all, and nobody should be denied because they can’t afford it! See what he answers.

    Remember that Hashem allocates a specific amount of money to you – except what you spend on teaching your children Torah. That comes above what you’re supposed to have. Just keep believing that Hashem will help, and things will work out. Rosh Hashanah is in a few weeks. Daven extra to have good parnassa this year! May Hashem answer your tefillos with a YES, and may you have a shanah tovah u’metukah!

  11. All I can say is that to I feel tremendous pain from reading your letter, and know that it is not even a small fraction of the pain you feel.

    May Hashem grant you a Ksiva Vchasima Tova, and may the schools finally understand your plight

  12. To take the other side of the argument for a moment, BH we are a rapidly expanding community with tens of thousands of kids in the tri-state area in yeshiva day school. he yeshivos need to keep the lights on and pay their teachers. Unfortunately our money does not go as far as our parents did because we are choosing to have larger families and basic costs of living are up. I agree that this is the number one issue facing our community however I do not think a solution is in sight because the gevirim of the last generation now have their own large families and personal obligations and there is just not enough money to go around. Please vote and make sure you support local government officials ONLY if they support school choice. Though it is far in the future and many people need relief now, if the effort would have begun 20 years ago we would be seeing the fruit of our labor today. Now is the time to get involved.

  13. 1. if the family is drowning make use of the many programs the gov. offers
    2. if you live in the 5 towns move to brooklyn where your tuition will be about 6000 not 11000-
    3. the more those schools charge the more days they are off & the chassidish camps are 8 weeks & 2 days for 2000$ / in far rock the DAY CAMP is 2000$ for 7 weeks w/ o sundays ….

  14. “Dear Readers,

    You want HELP? It’s not so hard to figure out where your salvation will come from. Call 1-866-425-4924. It’s the telephone number for Nefesh b’Nefesh. Embrace the mitzvah of Yishuv ha’Aretz with bitachon v’emunah and the Ribbono Shel Olam will surely help.

  15. I work in a school now and I can tell you the cost of tuition just covers the expenses such as payroll for rebeim, menahel secretary (which are not top dollar) and rent. nothing else. registration fee covers some book fees (which are huge) and cost of desks – a big expense! (we are starting up now so we have to buy desks each year…)
    from a parent standpoint, personally we don’t cover our expenses either, but my husb will not let schools take the brunt of that. something elsewill have to go, but not tuition…. ask for a little break and pray!

  16. Why can’t we see their expenses? Why aren’t we allowed to see where our tuition money goes? Why is it a one way street? If we are FORCED to pay, why can’t we see where every Dollar goes? NO ONE is held accountable! Of course Matzav will cover up my comment, but they are just part of the problem!

  17. I feel for you. It’s not you who’ve disappointed your family, but this insane education system that we as a larger community have set up for ourselves. A system that careens wildly from financial crisis to crisis because it ignores basic economics. A system that pressures everyone to comply, regardless of how they will be able to pay. A system that forces parents to pay their largest bills during their lowest income-generating years. A system that incorporates graft and nepotism to be able to survive, and makes every one else pay for it. A system that does not operate on transparency, but opacity. A system that forces the heavy fiscal burden on individual families rather than on community. A system that contains far too much moral hazardA system that believes that government intervention is the a A system that believes that we can have our cake and eat it, too.

    Obviously not every school fits the mold above. Some work well with parents to ensure continuity at low cost, but the system as a whole is so rickety, so rife with gamesmanship and exploitative opportunities. When will we as a community wake up and understand that most households don’t pull down six figures after taxes?? Answers like “move out of town” or “make aliya” are nice in theory, but devilishly difficult in practice, and not particularly accurate either. Blanket answers like “stop spending so much money on fancy things, etc” are so farcical and facile that they serve no purpose at all.

    There you have it. Be comforted, because it’s not your fault, and you’re not the only one. Not everyone can be a doctor or lawyer or businessman or etc who pulls down $200K.

  18. Dear Heartbroken Father,
    As president of the board of an out-of-town school, I empathize wholeheartedly with your frustrations and am mispallel that the RBSO send you yeshuos b’mhaira.
    In the general sense, our communities need to stop viewing the schools as fee-for-service providers and recognize them for what they are – true community service institutions. How many parents/families continue to support the day schools after their children graduate? Long-forgotten arguments and pent-up resentment dominate the reasons given for opposition to donating money to the schools, but everyone needs to recognize how they benefit – directly and indirectly – from strong schools in the community. Our teachers are overworked and underpaid – and often underappreciated – and while administrative staff may seem to be overcompensated, the really good ones could be making far more in the corporate world and are sacrificing for the good of the schools. Only when we have a complete culture change and begin supporting the schools the way that we do the “classic” tzedakos will things begin to turn around. It is upsetting that of those who proclaim their fealty and loyalty to daas torah, very few actually ask their rav/RY/posek about how to allocate tzedaka dollars. How much money is flowing out of our communities to other tzedakos that while very worthy and deserving, are improperly prioritized over our own local needs?

    In the personal sense, most schools are not looking to hurt parents or students in any way. The resentment that develops on the part of the parents breeds a dysfunctional relationship with the school. A parent who regularly pays $25 each week, and calls ahead of time when they have to skip a payment, is appreciated much more than the wealthy g’vir who prepays his tuition in a lump sum but demands all kinds of accomodations and questionably legal receipts and tax letters. If your school sees you as a partner and you’re willing to work together, I predict that many of your complaints will evaporate. I’m not blaming the victim, but offering the advice that developing a healthy relationship with the tuition office will make things much better even without money. Yes, money is necessary to pay the teachers and keep the lights on, but a strong partnership between the school and parents is equally important. Perhaps you will discover services that you could provide in exchange for tuition dollars or other non-financial ways to satisfy some of your obligation.

    Finally, several schools around the country (following the lead of the Solomon Shechter school in Boston) have begun a form of tuition assistance for middle class families exactly like yours that do not qualify for government aid or traditional scholarship but struggle to meet their tuition obligation. Known as “tuition subvention” or “short form scholarships”, there is some cutoff value (%age of AGI) that is assigned and tuition is reduced to that level or by a maximum fixed percentage (10-20%) with only a one-page form and copy of page 1 of the past year’s Form 1040. If your school doesn’t have it, you could use your new relationship with the business office to advocate for it and search the Internet for the evidence that it works by keeping families off the more costly traditional scholarship funds down the road.

    I wish you much hatzlacha and daven that ??? ??? ????????!

  19. lot’s of comments but few practical solutions.

    Anyone suggesting this family should move is not a real solution. Especially those saying move to Eretz Yisroel where the poverty level is far worse then here.

    I wish I had a practical solution to offer but I don’t. I do feel though that the fund raising efforts of our Mosdos is minimal. A diner each year and maybe another event is not a strong effort.

    Schools have the advantage of reaching out to the Klal. Parents don’t.

    Anyone have a solution to this crisis?

  20. For those saying the solution for this person is to move to Eretz Yisroel – how is that going to get him his kids report cards and regent exam results etc.? Very nice and very heartless suggestion that doesn’t address the problem

  21. #8 -I’m there with you. I’m a mechanech whose last raise came about ten years ago. My family has grown -Baruch Hashem- along with associated expenses. My school told me to raise it. I already work three jobs.
    Maybe if communities fully funded their own local institutions before shipping money elsewhere that might help.
    (So would a community ‘luxury’ tax on high-end cars, over sized houses , designer clothes over set dollar amount. But I won’t go there.)

  22. Wow. What an addition to this letter. You touch on a great point. those parents who can afford the tuition and do pay seem to also want the best for their kids since they can afford it. the schools need those parents so they accommodate them and as you point out it becomes everyone’s problem.

    Here is a practical solution that I would suggest. From now on every tuition scholarship meeting between the administrator and the parent should take place IN THE PARENTS HOME. maybe a personal visit from the school to the home will help to better understand that families situation. If a home is falling apart (as you say your is) the school will see it and realize you are not the parent to chase for money. A meeting in the home will be much more productive then making the parents come down to school.

    Another absolute Rishus to the highest level that must be stopped immediately is the chutzpah of a school getting other parents involved as the balony “tuition committee”. The school has a right to research and needs the knowledge to know about the family they are dealing with since it is for a toeles. But to open up a family struggling to another rich guy on some committee is being Mevayash a parent for which those who made that decision have no chaylek in oilam haba for. It is the grossest most disgusting part of this crisis.

  23. everyone has nice suggestions, maybe we can put some money together for this distressed yid,till we figure out a way to dolve the problem

  24. I proposed the following:

    If all the the rich would stopping going on pesach vacations, fancy wedding and such and give to the yeshiva’ every extra dollar then this issue would go away…


  25. saying Tehillim everyday for a whole month to finish the entire Tehillim and learning Torah everyday with 2 halochos of Chofetz Chaim helped me.

  26. What is the solution? In Chasidic communities where there is communal leadership this problem is addressed. Also in most out-of-town communities where the schools have a board of responsible askanim who care about the community there is some relief from this terrible situation.
    Where each school is a private organisation competing with many others and responsible to no one but it’s owner there is no solution.
    The underlying problem is that there is no leadership that helps us or cares about us – because we do not seek that leadership – until we need to pay our tuition.
    When we become a community that is serious about having Rabbonim and consulting with them and following them then we will have the framework to deal with community needs such as schools responsibly.

  27. As usual, the government programs drive up the prices. The vouchers that unemployed people get, which gives the schools around $10,000/yr per child, makes the schools think that they can charge so much money for the hardworking parents that don’t have the “zechiyeh” to be on government programs. The same thing happened with home rentals. Section 8 drove up the price.

  28. Our family could have written this letter years ago; we saw it all, the report cards & transcripts withheld, living an extremely tight lifestyle while the schools suspected us of hiding money, etc. Also, if there is a special chinuch or social issue in any of those children, it never gets addressed properly, either in a careless manner or not at all. It is an outrageous way for schools to handle their finances, and when the children grow old enough to understand how their school administration behaved toward their parents, the children also come to resent the school/system.

  29. Your job in this world is hishtadlus. If you have done it then there is nothing else for you to do. You want to speak to your rav about making a kabalah for hatzlacha.

    On a community scale, I have read and heard so much about the tuition crisis. I know of an out-of-town day school that hired a business person to buy and sell investment property. This is a a way to cover expenses, thereby lightening the parents’ load.

    I wish you much hatzlacha.

  30. Charge the rich more. They can take it out of their maaser money, which they don’ t give. Hashem gave them the money for that purpose.

  31. The stress is huge and help is unseen. A perfect organization to tackle and lighten the burden with the name SHMAH KOLEINU would sound appropriate.


  32. To # 20

    I agree with you. I don’t have a solution to the underlying problem. But, it sure annoys/hurts me -a working person, earning too much for Govt programs and no where near enough to cover my expenses- to hear people tell me, “You’re not going to the country?!”, “Not even for one weekend?” etc.

  33. I am truly and deeply pained by your ordeal.

    Iy”H, I will have you in mind every time I say the V’Sain Bracha / V’sain Tal U’Matar L’Vracha in Shemoneh Esrei.

    Please write to Matzav again if your situation does change.

    I wish your family much Hatzlocha and Simcha.

  34. Food for thought based on the letter and the comments: There are financial consequences to having a large family. If a family is stretched thin to cover their expenses why do people always take cheap shots and blame yeshivas??? Why is the local grocery store, clothing store, gas station, etc. immune from blame?!?

    Yeshivas are the foundation of cheesed and do what they can to assist families, but there must be a breaking point where a family owns the responsibility for their choices. It may sound cold, but it is reality.

    Yes, tuition eats up a large percentage of most families income. Why should a yeshiva be responsible to subsidize someone’s lifestyle decisions?!?!?

  35. As much pain as I feel for the letter writer I feel much more horror at some of the malicious comments.
    First of all if you don’t have something compassionate to say then don’t say it.
    Second of all to punish a child is a crime and as many averios that I have done in my life I still feel my oinesh will be less than these people who will not release report cards!
    The only solution( which I know is not possible) is to go away from the family owned yeshivas where nepotism pads the payrolls and have all yeshivas be community owned, run and supported. once its a community school those that do have the means will feel more obligated to support the schools.

  36. to#28 I don’t go away for pesach and I don’t make fancy weddings but I do know a lot of struggling frum people who make income from fancy weddings and pesach programs and use that income to pay their kids tution. I actually know a few mashgicim who told me that they take a mashgiach job on a fancy program and work like horses because there is no way they could afford to spend a penny on pesach.

  37. Even if you make $200,000 ,but you have a large family and married kids,it’s not enough. I spend close to $70,000 just on my married kids.
    We have created a monster which we can’t control. I still haven’t settled with the tuition committee and will keep some kids home from school, as it’s getting way to expensive . IMHO , this problem dwarfs the Internet iPhone text problems.

  38. #28, I am with you. So many of us middle income families are struggling. I am a woman who went to Bais Yaakov and I seriously comtemplated sending my 4 year old to public school for kindergarten to save one year of tuition. If I am contemplating that, I can only imagine other families with more tenuous connections to yiddishkeit contemplating the same. We make a good living B”H with both my husband and I working full time but with 5 kids there is not enough money to go around. We live from check to check with no end in sight. The current system is totally unsustainable and will not last through this generation. And this is sorely affecting our children as they can surely sense the stress and burden their parents are under. It will turn many of them off from a frum life.

  39. Get out of Brooklyn. Go out of town where they would appreciate someone like you. However you are in a sticky situation since your kids are older. So very not simple to move away.

    If someone is interested in moving away, get affordable tuition, still commute to the city and get affordable housing there is the catskills. Yes the same place where everyone goes for the summer. Recently there has been articles about this. Now it’s not for everyone but for some it can be an option.

  40. In response to #28, every rich man said the same teffiah, it is easy to say that “YOU WILL SHOW”, once you have the nisoyaon it is a differnt story.

    I agree with #26, that most moisdos, the tiution commitee is made up of some well-to-do people, who have no idea what it means to worry on how are they going to buy 7 pairs of shoes for their children.
    Tution committe members should be made up of people who understand the trials and tribulations of 80% of the parent body in our yeshivos, who just about keep their heads above water. Many parents do not go on vacations, but those taht do go for a wole summer to the catskills each one should make sure that they have their priorities set right.
    Maybe the affluent members in our community should set up a special fund to help people like the write of this article with their tuition fees.

  41. The fact of the matter is our system is broken. It mammish hurts me when I read these stories.

    I mammish feel we are waiting for some kind of miracle to come down from shomayim that will solve all of our issues.

    There are so many issues to discuss that need to be fixed. I will just touch on two. That is don’t have too many children. Even having just 3 children is a lot for some. I have no idea how people can afford more.

    Supporting children in kollel. Now this is a tricky subject. My issue is that their are parents who are supporting their children at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is all nice and dandy. Problem is they have no more money to support the local schools.

    I don’t have time now to explain but I think you got the point.

  42. I was listening to NPR and they had on a Christian school administrator, who was discussing how he kept the tuition low. He said what he did was have school only 4 days a week and on one of the 5 school days (for us it would be one of 6, we have yeshiva on Sunday) the students work in offices and the like, with the money going to the school. They sent 5 students for each job and collected as 1 employee. the companies liked the arraignment they were able to have 5 people setup stores and the like and not have to pay any benefits at all.

  43. Wow. Lots of points to ponder:
    -moving to E”Y is a dream but not for the working poor who may be in deep debt already without transferable skills.

    -some schools have beautiful buildings because they can get people to donate for a plant; they won’t turn that money and what might else might come away. I can’t blame them, as long as I’m not charged for the building campaign.

    -re taxing the rich more: we have to be careful about class envy. The wealthy people in my community do so much, not just for the schools, that I fully fargin them their Pesachs, cars, and trips. (Though living out of town, it’s refreshing that some of the wealthiest people live below their means. Still way above mine but it says a lot.)

    -big elephant in the room: supporting married kids if we can’t. If I have the disposable income I need to send it to aging parents first.

  44. # 50 – seriously??? Please stop the nonsense. What a silly suggestion. Yup let this family move to the land with more poverty then here.

    Saddest comment to read and also the absolute scariest comment to read is #48 who dares to suggest people have less kids because of finances. WOW. We have fallen as a nation if we buy into that. Bitachon – Hashem will provide

  45. We DO live out of town and the situation is just as bad here! We have 7 kids ka”h, 5 of whom are school age high school and down and we are drowning. We are in that really bad place, the middle class bracket where after deducting all that we pay out of pocket for subsidies we can’t get like wic, medical assistance, energy assistance, free school lunches and on and on we end up with less than those who qualify for all the programs. Yet the tuition committees look at our salary and think higher salary=higher tuition. We live on a very low standard, no luxeries. One sink, one oven in a small kitchen. Our house is falling apart, small. We have no where else to cut and this is with my husband working summers and everyday 9-5 and no vacation days except yomim tovim which we don’t get paid for because we own our own business and no work = no pay. We do get a small tuition break but I also believe that if our salary was lower and we got all the benefits we might do a little better financially and get a higher tuition break.

  46. The cost of living in the frum community with 5 or six kids is over $300,000 and that is just getting by, forget weddings, bar mitzvas vacations and college, when you choose to send. On the flip side, I know yeshivos that open their books to the public, are not privately owned and they are not showing a profit to anyone. Also, to the person who commented that the rich should pay more. Any parent who has the ability to pay full tuition is already paying more and most are donating over and above the tuition. There is a lack of reality and lack of education in the community in that people get married, have 3 or 4 kids very quickly and by the time they reach school the parents are not earning enough to send them. Expectations need to be taught in the schools and our kids need to be educated in practical finances and household finances so they know what they are getting into when they get married, leave yeshiva and need to earn a living.

  47. Oy Vey (commenter no. 52) wrote about making aliyah: “What a silly suggestion. Yup, let this family move to the land with more poverty than here.”

    Spoken like a true disciple of the meraglim. The following is your mantra, along with all of the other chutz l’Aretz lovers on this thread:

    Hey ho, we say NO, to Eretz Yisrael we won’t go!
    Yishuv ha’Aretz is such a chore, a gevaldig mitzvah to IGNORE.
    It’s chutz l’Aretz that we love, more than the land of the One Above.
    I’d rather drown in the U.S.A.; ascend to Israel? Heck, no way!
    So hey ho, we say NO, to Eretz HaKodesh we won’t to go!

    A commenter above wrote that R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach stated clearly that HASHEM WANTS JEWS TO LIVE IN ERETZ YISRAEL! Duh…what could be plainer than that? But tens of thousands of so-called bnei Torah immersed in chutz l’Aretz are deaf, dumb and blind to the Truth. You continue to spurn (and foolishly denigrate) Eretz Yisrael and thereby spurn the Torah that you claim allegiance to (Rachmana Litzlan). Tragically, you will deserve the same fate as the meraglim by your golus mentality…and perish in the midbar that is America.

  48. I venture to say that most of the people posting here are anshei bitachon, yet are still struggling to pay tuition. In addition to betachon we need to have real hishtadlus and understand what the real costs of things are and how much money we need to live responsibly and raise children.

  49. #12
    To your point:

    Please recall the story in Tractate Shabbat that discusses the “interview process” upon one’s arrival in the afterlife. “Kava’ata itim LeTorah?” is preempted by the more pressing “Nasa’ata Unatata B’Emunah” have you conducted your business with faith, with honesty, and with accountability? The distressed author can take solace in the proper Chinuch he models to his children – both in and out of the classroom. Conversely, anyone who has ever been through an interview process surely knows the importance of first impressions. To all of those who lie about their incomes in the pursuit of a tuition break, let’s see how boastful you will be about your commitment to Torah learning AFTER being asked previous question.

    Likewise, it should be noted many comments calling on the wealthy and successful in our community to do more were posted during typical East Coast business hours. I would like to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that all of these comments are coming from after hours in Israel, but their content suggests otherwise. To me, this calls into question if we are doing our professional Hishtadlut to qualify us as worthy candidates of Hashem’s kindness.

  50. #49,

    Now that might work.

    We do have a lot of businesses in our community that could benefit from such a program it would be a win win win, the schools gain $, the businesses cheap labor, and the students have real life work experience.


    Finally a solution not just a rant.

  51. New York, with its large orthodox population, needs better influence with the government. There should be better government help for religious schools, such as #1 mentioned. Legislation which goes against Torah values should not have been passed. The voice of Yaacov needs to be heard in the government. The question is how this can be accomplished.

  52. to all those suggesting to move out of town: have you ever researched what “out of town schools
    charge for Tuition? Speak to families who live in Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and similar cities that charge almost $20,000 per child! yes, that is correct;$20,000! my own family member who moved to one of these towns to join the kollel and help revitalize the torah community is paying $13,000 as a discounted rate for his son. That is after begging before the tuition committee and promising to help the school with services during the year like driving the class on trips and other cost saving services to the school. The in town schools that everyone loves to bash somehow provide an excellent education in well maintained spacious buildings for approximately $5000-$8,000. Brooklyn and Lakewood are in that range with Five towns and monsey only slightly higher. And don’t look to the government for any ideas. They are spending almost $22,000 per pupil in their system and look what that looks like!

  53. To the writer of the above:

    The world is a special place. You work hard and you pray. The answer does not come from an unsolicited ad. Really you might get a better outcome if you understand that hope is not the triumph over the energy of your unhappiness but that the energy of unhappiness has to find hope. Require that you find a better way in your hopes and then pray that you can remove your own hex’s and curses which may have come from your own youth ridden infidelities which everyone has any way.

  54. to #48 – in addition to the cost of supporting married children, the married children then cannot afford to pay full tuition when their kids go to school. the jump from the price of playgroup to the cost of tuition is something they don’t factor in and they come begging for break!! As children grow, expenses grow, and PLEASE PLAN FOR THE FUTURE! If you decide to sit in kollel until you are choked, that was YOUR decision, but why should the school have to shoulder that financial obligation of yours. and to echo someone elses post, the shoe store, and hair accessory store and tights and socks do not get told “we can’t afford it – can we have a break”, and these little accessories add up to a lot. I know, because I can’t afford them.


  55. I sit on a Board of a prominent large yeshiva. Almost all the Board Members are very wealthy individuals who do not comprehend what people of lesser means go through to make ends meet. Lowering tuition costs, raising money for those families who cannot afford a yeshiva tuition is never on the agenda. Additionally administrators and sometimes even principals of other schools – Thank G-D not ours – do not always treat parents with the sensitivity that they should. I would advise you to organize a number of other like-minded parents and pressure you Rabbonim to take a more active role in your local mosdos and to push for more fundraising, less fancy construction and landscaping, more sensitivity in dealing with parents and to put lowering tuition on the front burner of every Board’s agenda. With creative thinking, hard work and Torah based values and sensitivities much can be accomplished.

  56. Uhm. No middle class parent can afford 7 kids.
    So what should you do now? If your job allows you to move, then move to a more affordable area, where tuition costs are lower…or send them to public school and set up chavrusa’s etc for jewish education. But know that NOTHING in your situation should be a surprise to you…

  57. I certainly understand and empathize with your struggle. When I went to ——- [which put my parents in a debt they STILL struggle under], the principal drove a Benz while telling my parents that they made too much money to qualify for a Jewish education. Remember that while the teachers are underpaid, the administrators are making a very very nice living. The Five Towns and the Tri-State are not the only viable yiddishe communities in the United States, though they certainly have some of the highest real estate prices. Cleveland, Houston, Chicago, Indiana, Minneapolis. The wonderful thing about a small community is that the members feel committed to taking care of each other, not one-upping their neighbor with the awful game of “my son’s bar mitzvah was more expensive than yours.”

    I don’t care one bit what the hashkafah of a school is. If you are depriving a child of an education, then you are not living a godly lifestyle. And I’m sorry #52, but you seriously have some perspective issues.

  58. Did the author of this letter ever apply for a scholarship or tuition assistant before the previous year started, so that he and the school would not be in this current situation where he has an outstanding balance ? He does mention if he did in the letter

  59. The system is a broken system that will eventually come to an impasse. At some point, it just will stop working.
    I’m making more money that either of my parents ever did, yet I live paycheck to paycheck.
    I, too, have never taken a vacation. I would love to take my kids to Disney or whatever, but it just never works out.
    I have the regular mortgage debt, credit card debt, home equity debt…
    It’s just a shame that this is what life seems to boil down to: If my kids were in public school, I’d be living a more comfortable life. That’s incredibly sad.

  60. I did not get to read through all the comments, so I apologize if any of this has been said. I am in a similar situation, with much fewer kids. I won’t go into too much detail for privacy purposes, but I just want to share the following. Currently (and for the past few years), my husband and I do not have health insurance. Never mind that I can’t afford to have more children, but I can’t even begin to think of getting pregnant, because I am uninsured. All my life I’ve been told that Hashem will always come through, and I know that the frum mindset is that Hashem will provide for each child as He sees fit. Perhaps I am lacking in bitachon. But when I read letters such as this one, how can I think differently? Here is a family that has 7 children, and they’re not making it. I cry and daven and do all that I’m supposed to be doing, and deep down I believe that Hashem has a master plan, but what am I as a flawed human being to do? I hope that Matzav will post this, even if it may not be what the typical frum reader wants to see. This is the reality, and it is happening to your relative/neighbor/friend.

  61. I have an idea. There should no longer be tuition breaks, rather tuition deferral. Any amount of tuition not paid need to be paid back based on some-kind of timetable i.e. kids no longer in school, after 120 etc.

    This way people will be less compel to lie to get the tuition deferral as they would need to pay it back. This solution may take time but in 10 to 20 years from now when the school is getting back these money it will help our children’s tuition.

  62. I too was in the same situation as you are. Our yeshivah asked for copies of our pay stubs, which were very low. I had to work in the lunch room when I was not employed, and then when I did get a job at a factory no less……..I had to pay a little more and work Bingo 3 times a week. They did give options, if you could not pay then you could work off the tuition. Perhaps when you go see the administrator show him your pay stub and your mortgage payment. In black and white he will see, and offer to do what ever service you can to help the school.

  63. #69 – If my kids were in public school, I’d be living a more comfortable life.

    This is not true! If you put your kids in Public school then Hkb”h would take away all the extra money that you use to pay for yeshiva. It is well known that Hkb”h provides that money to you in order that you can pay for yeshiva.

  64. The is a huge problem in every community in the united states. There are many possible solutions to this problem. It is NECESSARY to look outside of the box, since every family is facing impossible tuition costs.
    1. Homeschool. Most states offer online public school that is free. The parents will then have to hire rebbe’s and teachers for the Judaics, but it will be much less tuition.
    2. Charter schools, there are a few hebrew language charter schools in LA, NY, and NJ we need to make these more popular
    3. Vouchers, let all jewish organizations support vouchers politically! We can make this happen!
    4. It must be said, do not have more children than you can afford to pay for.

    Hatzlacha, we are all in similar situations….

  65. and let’s not forget the price of seminary- which many parents feel that they must send their children too.

    I say we set up an American Vaad that regulates seminaries. That sends in accountants and the like and looks over their books and posts everything online for parents to see.

    Why is it that one seminary charges $18,000 and gives three meals a day and 5 tiyulim and has the dorm cleaned twice a week, and the seminary down the block charges $19000 and gives 1 meal a day, but goes on 7 tiyulim, and another seminary charges $1850 and gives 2 meals a day, and the dorm is filthy, and doesnt serve shabbos meals…

    We are the consumers.

    They need us to send our daughters and fill up their beds….

    We can take a stand a say that they need to regulate what they are giving, cut back in certain places, and be transparent when it comes to their expenses.

    Perhaps seminaries should go on fewer tiyulim, and move to affordable part of yerushalayim…

    We are not a bunch of rich spoiled Americans..We are killing ourselves for every penny

    We need to set up a vaad in America…IT CAN BE DONE…We just need a gvir to get us started and donate to this worthy cause….

    If parents all agree not to send in applications next year, then we can force them into negotiations

  66. What I don’t get is buying a house when you’re unsure you’ll be able to make tuition payments. We still rent an apartment in order to make sure we have savings to cover our tuition obligations. Its tight here with all of in it, but we make do. If we bought a house and put our savings into a down payment we would worry and struggle about paying tuition. Our shalom bayis might suffer. The atmosphere in the home would be one of stress. Would I like to finally have my own house? Sure! But the “American dream” is a not the Jewish Dream. My dream is to have my children be Ovdei Hashem. Period. That’s where my hard earned money goes. If Hashem sees fit to give me more, wonderful. But in the meantime, I’ll be happy with what I have content with the knowledge that I’m doing the best I can for my kids. I see the school administrator driving an Audi but it doesn’t bother me. Hashem has one cheshbon for him and another for me. A house is not an entitlement and it’s misplaced pity to feel badly towards those who are not homeowners. Instead, I’m happy that I meet my obligations by living with less.

  67. Id enough ppl woyld send public school we’d aend a measage to schools.but tuition isn’t the only problem how about the housing market not evem talking buying a house the rentals keep going up and , how c an young couple afford it, or family of two or thr. Moving out of town you need to know u have a job luned up many of those places the economy isnt as good nowadays. I have less kids and I feel im choking, something s gotta give.
    Much hatZlacaha!

  68. #55

    “Hey ho, we say NO, to Eretz Yisrael we won’t go!
    Yishuv ha’Aretz is such a chore, a gevaldig mitzvah to IGNORE.
    It’s chutz l’Aretz that we love, more than the land of the One Above.
    I’d rather drown in the U.S.A.; ascend to Israel? Heck, no way!
    So hey ho, we say NO, to Eretz HaKodesh we won’t to go!”

    What funny poem, it’s not surely from our Rabbis, and it’s not from Shakespeare or Homer either. By the way is that the high cultural level of “English literature and Mathematics” you want to force into haredi school curricula? Let me guess: you went to public school in USA and you grew up in front of a TV set. You lecture us and curse us? LOL.

  69. While I feel bad for the writer of this letter, but you need to look at it this way. It seems you are BH healthy and your kids are, too. If chas vshalom you could not see, and there was a cure that cost 1 billion dollars, if you had that money, you would gladly pay your last dime to be able to see. Same with hearing, walking, talking, being cancer free, etc. So, many of us are actually billionaires, but we don’t realize it. It should be repeated, if you have health, you are a billionaire. Now, you may be $100,000 short each year of financial security, but that is batel and mevutal to the billions you already have. Don’t be depressed, be happy. Many people in poor health would give anything to be in your shoes.

    Second, I do wonder if there is enough Jewish wealth in the world to cover tuitions. For example, there are Adelson, Bloomberg, Dell, Soros, Page, etc. who possibly could be encouraged to donate, in addition to the frum well-to-do, who might give up some of their luxuries. But unfortunately, every time we make a chillul hashem in the news, we turn off secular donors. Perhaps Hashem is waiting for us all to make shalom, such that we voluntarily redistribute our wealth so that every family can have enough, and then some.

  70. perhaps you could ask the school if there is something you can help them with in exchange for a financial break…perhaps you or your wife can teach/assist in the class, or act as a secretary, or mow a lawn, organize the beit midrash etc. my son’s nursery school does that to keep costs low for all.

  71. Just to clarify, let’s do a little math. Suppose we could raise 5 billion dollars from Jewish billionaires, (and you could add Spielberg to the list, as well). If you invested this endowment at 5% interest, it would earn 250 million a year. If there were 100,000 kids who need tuition assistance, each child would get $2,500 dollars. A family of 8 kids would have an extra 20,000 dollar break every year after taxes. While not possibly removing the entire burden, it certainly could help.

  72. Moving to Eretz Yisroel is an assinine idea! Do you know how many families moved there from America, only to have their kids go off the Derech?! You think its so easy to just pick yourself up with a large family and move to a totaly different culture?! You love Israel people, really have to get your heads out of the sand!

  73. My kids attend 2 different schools, and while they are both regarded well in terms of quality of education, the difference in administration is night and day.

    At one school, when I meet with the executive director about scholarships and reduced tuition, I am treated like a mensch. He genuinely sympathizes with my poor finances. He believes what I tell him at face value, and accepts my statements as true, since I’ve never given him any reason to doubt them. He understands that I’d gladly pay double the tuition if I could, because I truly love the school and how it has educated and developed my children. He understands that I can’t allocate more than 30% of my income to tuition and still raise, feed, clothe, and house my family. He knows that we are not fancy, ostentatious people. He knows that if my daughter is spotted wearing a designer outfit or an expensive purse that we either got an incredible deal on it at a secondhand store, or that it was a gift. He knows that my wife and I appreciate dealing with him, and he knows that we can somehow work things out.

    The second school – As soon as I walk into the office, I am made to feel like a common criminal. I am stared at coldly. My clothing is sized up, right down to my shoelaces. All eyes focus on my income – but my expenses are conveniently overlooked. When I’m asked if I can increase my payments by “only $100 a month”, I calmly respond that I was truthful in my first assessment of what I can comfortably pay, and no, I cannot swing an extra $100 a month right now. I am put through a barrage of personal questions, without even an ” I know this may be uncomfortable for you, but please understand, we must ask.” No – I am asked about undeclared income, cash on the side, friends or relatives who I can tap for money, cars, vacations, etc. I am guilty until proven innocent, and even then, I’m treated as guilty. I am stripped of all human dignity, but I go through this, as thousands of you reading this also do, so I can get my kids into school. If the Rabbeim and teachers were like the administrators of this school, my kids would never be there.

    Mr. administrator of school #2 – If you’re reading this, please know that one day IY”H, my kids will grow up and I’ll have no more tuition to pay. I may be earning more then, and I’ll have much more money to give to Tzedakkah – but not a penny of it will go to you, your school, or any organization that you’re associated with. With the Yomim Noraim coming up soon, I sure hope you have a lot of z’chusim stored up in shomayim for yourself – you’re sure gonna’ need them! And I know I speak for a multitude of Jews worldwide.

  74. Move to Lakewood. My husband and I both work, and down take vacations other that a day or two each summer, but there are so many parks, and outdoor areas in close proximity to Lakewood that you don’t really need that trip to the catskills, and tuitions are a fraction of what they are in other areas. Theres is no reason that two people who are both fully employed should not be able to make it in Lakewood with a little budgeting. It must be said that Lakewood is not for everyone. If you will not fit in with the communities standards of dress,level of frumkeit, etc. then Lakewoood is probably not the place for you….hatzlacha!

  75. To sum up all the valid comments above

    1) Full tuition is not affordable to families in the low to middle class range.

    2) The amount of tuition that many families pay is putting a lot of stress on families.

    3)Schools are still struggling to make ends meet.

    Bottom Line:
    The tuition crisis is affecting families and schools nationwide.

    Unfortunate Results:
    Families are blaming our schools and schools are being put on the defensive. Obviously, this is not a recipe for ahavas Yisrael and community growth. Even worse many families are raising their children to resent schools and this will invariably lead many children off the derech. Sure parents can then blame the schools when their children go off the derech, but how exactly will that help their children? Even if the parents are right they still lose.

    It is plain to see from earlier suggestions/ recommendations that almost all the solutions address only one party- the side that they don’t agree with. Obviously, this is because IT IS NEVER OUR OWN FAULT. It is human nature to believe that other people are entitled to their opinions, but the only one that really counts is our own. Why? Because I know better. I understand the situation better. This is the problem with perception. Perception is prone to human err especially when the Yetzer Harah gets the better of us. But I digress slightly to make the following point (this is not a mussar schmooze):
    To solve this crisis we must carefully examine the causes of the problem not the outcomes as dire as they may be.
    I believe almost everybody (myself included)is to blame and I hope we as a nation do Teshuva especially since the Yomin Noraim are just around the corner.
    1) We spend too much money and time on luxuries items and vacations. Even if we can afford to do so, what kind of message are we giving our children, friends and relatives? Wouldn’t our money be better spent investing in our children, our schools? Couldn’t we spend a little more time learning and playing with our children (instead of driving back and forth to the Catskills, taking 3 week vacations, going to Disney World during winter break etc.)
    2) We have very little Hakaras Hatov for teachers, administrators, parents, board members, volunteers, and donors. Just look at a few of the previous comments you’ll easily see recurring themes- bitterness, jealously, and resentment instead of admiration, respect, and thankfulness. Again I ask how will this be reflected in our children? Some of our children will have the means to support our schools, but they won’t (at least one person openly admitted this sad fact above). This is one of the main reasons for the current tuition crisis. People won’t support our schools because they have a “justified” reason for not giving away their money. I guess Nekamah is a “justified” reason. Never mind that you are probably taking Nekamah on the wrong people (which is probably the only silver lining in all this since it may not be considered Nekamah, but hopefully just a lesser aveirah). Well our lack of Hakaras Hatov will keep the cycle turning…
    3)We don’t take pride in paying our tuition. Unfortunately many of us regret paying tuition. This is a terrible thing for many reasons, but just from a completely selfish point of view it makes no sense. I am paying “so much money” in tuition and I am losing all of the schar for it- as we know that a person that has charatah on a Mitzvah loses it. This may be our single greatest asset and investment in this world, and yet it all goes out the window because of resentment. A little irony- some of the same people that resent paying tuition take pride in spending 80 K on a car or taking their families on expensive Pesach vacations.
    4)Many people are of the perception that dealing with the tuition committee is like bargaining with a salesman at the flea market. Since it is late I will not delve into all the problems with this just one of the big ones. If you “get away with” paying less than you can honestly afford you are stealing from Mamone Hekdash.
    If everyone works on improving in one or more of these areas it will be called real Hishtadlus and may Hashem send us a Yeshua speedily in our days.

  76. I have 3 kids and part of the reason is because each additional child will cost approx $14,000 a year for school+ camp. Sure, I’d love to be one of those families with 7 children, but how could I in good conscience force other people to subsidize my tuition ( by way of higher overall tuition) because “nebach, I can’t afford to pay for my Baruch Hashem large family”. I don’t just work 9 to 5. I work 17 hour days (that’s more than 9 to 5) just to be able to stay comfortable. I am very happy to be able to help out the yeshivas. I think many younger people have less children nowadays because of this harsh reality. Except for Lakewood where everything costs less, their ” educating” a child Costs half of what it does elsewhere (though you get what you pay for from what I see). Also don’t ask for a tuition break of you’re supporting married children. Let the work and be on birth control till they can afford children. If you think that’s assur then don’t let them get married until they are mature enough to support themselves!

  77. #87 – lots of writing but no solutions. Attitude change will be a good thing but doesn’t produce dollars.

    I was with you until you you too began to knock certain people and their choices. Be straight and Dan Lkaf Zchus with everyone and then maybe your words would will penetrate but if you are also one of the same who feel you have a right to your opinions and comments then you are no different then the rest.

    87 comments have been posted and there is lots and lots of complaining and finger pointing but so far this heartbroken father was not offered any real practical solutions.

    Perhaps we (Matzav) start a new thread of no comments, no opinions, no blaming, no excusing no telling him to pick up his family and move or anything other then real practical solutions that this father and all of those suffering in this crisis can actually use.

  78. What about the 25% who are paying for the 75% causing tuition to go up so much to begin with? Maybe the 25% would be having an easier time if everyone just paid their own way or left the system.

  79. Please contact me at [email protected]
    The macro level issues and solutions need to be addressed, but to the person that poured out his nefesh in this letter, I ask you to please email me info so I can assist on a specific level here.
    A gut Shabbos.

  80. The solution is to apply for a scholarship and tuition assistance before you run up an outstanding balance at the school. Schools make expenditures in reliance upon a certain amount of tuition revenue coming in. Nowhere does this father state that he applied for a scholarship before the year for which he incurred his outstanding balance started. This sounds to me like a classic case of “self scholarship” wherein people do not responsibly go through the scholarship process and just wait until they cannot pay and put the burden on the school. This goes on a lot and schools cannot function this way.

  81. Mi k’amcha Yisrael. I’m heartened by the people like 92 and an earlier poster who want to help. I would suggest though that while you want to stay anonymous, maybe you could clue in a local known rav and get his haskama, so you could stay anonymous and the OP will feel secure he won’t be exploited.

  82. Strengthen your public schools by sending your children, knowing what’s going on, and letting administrators and BOE members know parents are in charge. Send your kids to Hebrew school for a Jewish education. You will lessen the enormous stress in your home, while an excellent secular education will prepare you child to better compete in the global economy. And to those who say that public ed. does not provide an excellent ed., I beg to differ. Our public system is consistently written up in NJ Monthly, and has recently been written up in Newsweek and the Washington Post, because our parent population has been so effective in insisting upon the highest standards.

  83. Your plea has hit a sore spot with over 92 readers. As others have pointed out, you are not at fault, our system is broken and many solutions have been suggested, but nothing that would immediately help you in your current situation, other than an infusion of much needed cash to at least release test results and transcripts so that the children can move on.

    I have made many suggestions to our Bais Yaakov to make tuition more affordable, from public-private ventures to cost cutting measures, that have never been implemented. Perhaps I was not communicating with the right people, perhaps the only realistic way to have such ideas implemented is to take a leadership role at the school. But in either case, it is always easier to squeeze parents than to write a grant, to minimize financial aid than to seek out new funding sources, and in such a way just keep a broken system limping along.

    We must begin to consider solutions that are outside the box. Charter Schools are likely the most near term solution. There is only one way to begin to explore this option and that is by rolling up one’s sleeves and just jumping in and getting it done. Unfortunately for me, this is not the right time to do this. I have davened that Hashem give me the strength and financial wherewithal at some point in my life to begin such a venture, though it would benefit the next generation, as my children are half grown, if I could take the leadership in starting a Jewish charter school in the state of Maryland, for example, a science and technology or entrepreneurship school, I would do it. It would not be a fit for everyone. For example, it would not be a fit for those yeshivish families who would rather die than see Moishy learn about the biology of reproduction or Malkie sit next to Mary in class, nor would it be appropriate, if it was a STEM school, for children with no interest and/or aptitude in the maths & sciences, but it should nevertheless be helpful for some families or some children, helping to relieve the burden.

    Much has been written in this past year about the tuition crisis. If you need any indication of the raw nerve this hits among our community, just look at the astoundingly daring article posted by R’ Adlerstein on his blog, “Cross-Currents” ( and even more astounding response from the community in the Comments section. This has been simmering for a long time. My sincerest hope is that the pot finally come to a roiling boil so that there could be rabbinic and community leadership to solve the problem in a new and practical way for once and for all. Our schools are built on an unsustainable business model that was carried over from the postwar years of “Jewish education at any cost” where “build it and they will come” and “the money will come from somewhere” was the prevailing attitude, along with “no child shall be denied” which no longer works. Hashem should hear our pleas and make this year the one where we finally come together to figure out how to solve the problem and provide a Yiddishe education together with technical skills and secular learning that works, both academically and financially.

  84. I like #96 Reb Dr. R’s charter school approach. For those who are a fit to that “box” (and like Lakewood, not everyone will be..) it might offer a reasonable alternative to unaffordable tuition or home schooling.

    I might add that as a parent of two children who went through the Jewish Day School program in MD (full tuition), I was not impressed with the level of non-Judaic education. One school was better, but eventually it closed. The other was really not that good. It really seemed not so much the fault of the teachers, but student attitude, and a general devaluing of the importance of secular studies.

    There will not be just a single “box” that answers the questions. Trust in Hashem does not mean trusting others to pay your tuition. Responsibility does not mean that you can’t have a lot of kids, but as a parent, you do need to be the one to plan for all expected expenses. Most of us do understand when there are unexpected troubles (serious illness, accidents) that put brakes on those plans.

    Perhaps, for some, charter schools with a Jewish friendly approach can be a good “box”.

    The question is how to approach that. I’d be interested in helping roll the ball.

  85. #76 and #79
    Beautiful commments!!! we need more of of those and not all the other meshugas people are writing!!! kol hakavod!!

  86. “Not everyone can be a doctor or lawyer or businessman or etc who pulls down $200K.”

    Or a high school principal.

    Parents should demand that the salaries of the heads of school be made public (not the teachers, we KNOW that they often make bupkus). You will be SHOCKED at the solid 6-figure numbers that are common.

  87. Just like there is Shuvu Nechomas Yisroel making sure these kids get into schools and the tuition paid for them thru fundraising we should do out add well for our kids whose parents are hardworking but can’t seem to pay tuition. I remember Rav Pam speaking at a Aguda convention if we have a problem paying tuition we shouldn’t be embarrassed to collect or raise whichever funds rather than chas vsholem doing anything illegal to make ends met. We do need to have mesiras nefesh when it comes to Torah yeshivas kollel etc.

  88. 61. Comment from in town
    Time August 15, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    to all those suggesting to move out of town: have you ever researched what “out of town schools
    charge for Tuition? Speak to families who live in Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and similar cities that charge almost $20,000 per child! yes, that is correct;$20,000! my own family member who moved to one of these towns to join the kollel and help revitalize the torah community is paying $13,000 as a discounted rate for his son. That is after begging before the tuition committee and promising to help the school with services during the year like driving the class on trips and other cost saving services to the school. The in town schools that everyone loves to bash somehow provide an excellent education in well maintained spacious buildings for approximately $5000-$8,000. Brooklyn and Lakewood are in that range with Five towns and monsey only slightly higher. And don’t look to the government for any ideas. They are spending almost $22,000 per pupil in their system and look what that looks like!

    I am from Phoenix, and I can tell you that tuition is nowhere near 20,000 dollars! In addition, we have the Jewish Tuition Organization, which directs over $1,000 of tax money per couple to Jewish day schools.


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