Sunday, July 15, 2012

Of shul rabbis and school tuitions

In a recent column on the Tuition Crisis, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein discussed the strife generated by tuition inequality, including the following thought a day school parent might have:
If a shul hires a new rov, why should his four children be entitled to any tuition assistance, when it translates into a demand on the baal habos who does not even daven in his shul? Should it not be the responsibility of the shul to pay salaries that will allow the rov to pay his tuition obligation without thrusting him upon a small group from whom it is demanded that they foot the bill?

For the record: I don't think schools should offer shul rabbis (or community rabbis) automatic tuition assistance. Certainly, the rabbi helps the school. And certainly, the rabbi is there to serve the community. Nonetheless, the school is providing the great service of educating the rabbi's children, and the rabbi should pay them for it, just as others do.

And I say this as someone who just made out his checks for next year's shul dues, and tuition for four kids…

15 comments:

  1. Is there anything in the Jewish world that isn't a 'crisis'? Are we having a Crisis Crisis?

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  2. The author didn't say anything of import except he seems to think he discovered the middle class squeeze.

    All solutions to the tuition crisis seem to be variations on others supporting the orthodox lifestyle (the tuition crisis is primarily an orthodox issue). His solution to keep tzedakah funds local is not a solution.

    As for what he calls klei kodesh getting automatic breaks, of course that is wacked. Everyone should go through the same (humiliating) tuition subsidy process that is income based, with no consideration as to how holy you are.

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  3. B"H that home values rose in Toronto while we were sending our kids to school here. Yes, we went through the tuition committees and were grateful for the subsidies, but with 5 children we still saw our mortgage increasing, not decreasing over the years.

    I used to joke with people saying we didn't send our kids to day school - our house did!

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  4. Shalom RosenfeldJuly 16, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Re: "crisis crisis."

    About three years ago, someone asked R' Dovid Cohen (of the Yaavetz shul in Brooklyn) whether it was permissible to shake a woman's hand in a job setting "today, when there's the economic crisis." Rabbi Cohen: "job crisis shidduch crisis, today everything's a crisis! It has nothing to do with crisis. Some poskim hold mutar, some not; my rebbe [R' Hutner] held it's not derech chiba, it's derech eretz."

    And within the past year, Rabbi Hershel Schachter's interview on the zabla beisdin system -- "would you say it's a crisis?" "It's worse than a crisis. The system is totally broken."

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  5. We often speak of communities and systems when the reality is a kind of chaos in which subgroups fight for survival.

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  6. Daniel, Shalom-
    I agree that the word "crisis" is entirely too over-used. [Similarly, the word "slams" appears in Jerusalem Post headlines every time anyone offers the slightest criticism of anything.]
    However, I do think this is a crisis. Personally - I currently pay well nearly 60K per year in tuition, and that's just day school. When my kids enter high school, the number will be still higher. I am committed to yeshiva education, but where will the money come from?

    Melech-
    Agreed, mostly.

    Michael-
    Indeed.

    Anonymous 12:09 PM-
    True. I suppose that the initial tuition breaks for rabbis came from an altruistic attempt to have the subgroups work together, though.

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    1. I'm paying $48k for 4 kids - about the same rate per child as you. I pay full price. It's a lot of pressure to come up with the money each year.

      We recently considered moving to a different city that has only one school. Tuition would be $72k for 4 kids.

      The school said not to worry, there's lots of financial aid. In essence what they are saying is that, no matter how much we make, the school will take almost all. That's the squeeze the cited article talks about.

      If we were only earning $60k total per year, it wouldn't matter how much they charge or how many kids we had. We could have 8 kids. They could double the tuition. We would still be able to afford to go. The only ones that get squeezed are the ones who have money.

      We decided we could not afford the school, so we did not move. My wife and I would both be working very long hours for high pay, but we would still be living paycheck to paycheck. We would not be able to save for emergencies, let alone college or retirement.

      Or maybe we could move there and my wife would quit her job. If we were to move there, there would be no point in her working, because all the money would go to the school. And we wouldn't have to send our kids to camp during the summer, because she would be at home. So the way they do tuition discourages work.

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    2. I am Fenster-
      I definitely see the problem of having no incentive to work for tuition, but there is another side - Often, the school really does need the students, particularly in small communities. I have been on school boards which wanted to take every child for both ideological and practical reasons.

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    3. I understand. The school is doing what it has to do. And there's a value in teaching as many kids as possible, even if their parents can't pay.

      The system is not fair. I think most people (especially the ones paying full price) understand that it's not fair, but there's not much that can be done.

      The only long term solution that I see is to have more frum people earning higher wages. That would fix everything. Unfortunately, things seem to be going in the opposite direction. Secular studies, college and work are often denigrated. Instead, they should be encouraged. It's the only way to keep the lights on.

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  7. Shalom RosenfeldJuly 17, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    I think "slams" entered journalism because they needed a short word to fit the headline space. "Differs with", "criticizes", "questions" -- all a lot longer than good-ol-five-letter "slams."

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    1. Just did a Google News search for "slams" on jpost.com. Results include:

      MK Atias slams treasury (10 hours ago)
      Top China paper slams (July 12)
      US slams idea that Iran can help (July 10)
      China slams Clinton criticism (July 7)
      Yachimovich slams Plesner recommendations (July 4)
      Amnesty slams China (July 4)
      Lindenstrauss slams parties (July 1)

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    2. Sorry, a more complete list now, just for July headlines:

      MK Atias slams treasury (10 hours ago)
      Top China paper slams (July 12)
      Romney slams Obama (July 12)
      US slams idea that Iran can help (July 10)
      China slams Clinton criticism (July 7)
      Yachimovich slams Plesner recommendations (July 4)
      Amnesty slams China (July 4)
      Lapid slams PM (July 3)
      UTJ slams PM (July 2)
      Lindenstrauss slams parties (July 1)

      And these are just headlines...

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  8. The article you cited refers to the cheder, kollel and pulpit rabbis as klei kodesh. I don't like this term.

    The term implies that we "working" folk are NOT klei kodesh. I don't agree. What I am doing - working and raising a Jewish family - is the very essence of Yiddishkeit. Furthermore, without a large number of guys like me to support them, there would be no klei kodesh. That's how things work. That's the way Hashem set things up. Maybe when Moshiach arrives things will be different.

    So in essence, the term seems to denigrate Jews who work. I can't accept that.

    Maybe we could call them "professional Jews" or "Yiddishkeit workers." :)

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    1. I am Fenster-
      Funny you should say that. I've been thinking about writing a sefer called "Avodas haKodesh" about the ways in which "working folk" are performing exactly that...

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    2. That would be a very important book. Unfortunately, working is often denigrated.

      When you write it, I'll buy a copy for myself, and one for each principal at my kids' school.

      Good Shabbos.

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