Friday, 27 April 2012

Question! For those with lots* of kids . . .


As promised here . . .

Being Orthodox (in Toronto, at least) is expensive! Jewish Day School Tuition costs alone are prohibitive, much less shul membership, sheitels, pricier kosher food, mounds of holidays with entertaining/gifts,  real estate/living expenses in Jewish neighborhoods, and down the road wedding/dowry costs, etc. Obviously some people are independently wealthy, others (i.e. those who live in Israel) receive significant financial assistance, but for the run of the mill Ultra Orthodox families - particularly those in "kollel culture" - where, from what I understand, the women work and take care of the house/kids while the men study -  how do they afford it?

I know this is really an impolite question. I also know secular people wonder this all the time.

*lots for me is more than three or four

11 comments:

  1. Most guys learning in kollel will get some kind of job after a few years (and sometimes take a course or pursue an advanced degree in business or accounting etc. - they already have a bachelor's degree from yeshiva) to help support the family. The vast majority of men learning in kollel are in their first five years of marriage or so.

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  2. Thanks Lex! Are kollel and yeshiva interchangeable terms? Or do they do a kollel stint after yeshiva?

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    1. All Kollels are yeshivos, not all yeshivos are kollels. In general usage, “Yeshiva” means “school where male students study Torah/Talmud.” There’s yeshiva ketana (elementary), yeshiva gedola (high-school and unmarried post-high-school) and kollel (married).

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    2. Thanks for answering for me, G*3.

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  3. I wonder the same thing. I have one kid in school right now, and I’m worried about how I’m going to afford tuition next year.

    As Lex said, a lot of yungerleit are newly married, and have jobs by the time their kids start school. But many stay in kollel for years after their children are school-aged. I think a big part of the answer is that Orthodox organizations prioritize kollel families. Charity goes to kollel families first, schools give them breaks before anyone else, etc. Apparently being poor on purpose is more virtuous and deserving of consideration than being poor by accident.

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  4. I would have to disagree with Lex that most leave kollel after 5 years or so. Many stay on much longer than that, and it's hard to give real numbers as to who stays and for how long. As to the original question, many live in places like Lakewood or NY where it's much easier to scam the government for food stamps, etc. A lot live there and scam the government, take lots of food stamps, welfare, etc. Other places like Toronto have much less favourable social assistance systems in place, and it's a big part of why there are so few UO couples that actually live in Toronto (I can't tell you how many marry and get the **** out of here to Lakewood, Israel, the States, etc.).

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  5. All of my husband's cousins who are in kollel married girls with wealthy fathers who support them. I find this system to be sad for two reasons. Firstly, it sets the girls up to be chosen for their family's money. Secondly, eventually the money will run out instead of being grown for the sake of the grandchildren.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry for the delayed response. I have been thinking about the comments. OTD and CG . . from what you are saying, the system seems like it is unsustainable, no? Eventually - theoretically at least - the money will run out, and in places where the government has more stringent criteria for social assistance, then the lifestyle is completely unsustainable.

      CG - how much does wealth factor in to the shidduch system? Is wealth disproportionately favored over other qualities (personality, intelligence) when being matched? Do males also "score more points" for being wealthy, or are they prized on their ability to learn/intellectual potential?

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  6. I don't know how we afforded the 250K plus that we shelled out to private schools over the years, but after we got the kids into an excellent public school system we now believe it was mostly money down the drain. It's the main reason why my tzedaka money doesn't go to Jewish schools. (I sure wish that we had that money back!!)

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    1. Thanks for commenting Zach. As School age for my son draws closer and closer, this issue is on my mind a lot. Was there anything your kids got out of the private schools that would have been impossible to get in a public school education (even via extracurricular classes paid for with the $ you would have saved in not going private)?

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    2. I can't reply for zach, but the main intangible that kids get out of yeshiva that they can't get from a tutor is knowing how to "fit in" in the OJ community. There are behaviors and turns of phrase that are hard to pick up if you're not immersed in an Orthodox environment. You can be 100% halacha-compliant, but you'll sound like an idiot if you use idioms incorrectly, or if you pronounce Hebrew/Yiddish expressions with an unusual pronunciation, even if it's correct linguistically.

      That's one reason some BTs have a hard time.

      I spent many years trying to fit in, and I was largely successful in my efforts. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I don't care much now.

      OJ is hard for people who don't fit in (think people with Asperger's or other traits that affect socialization).

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