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Op-Ed: Jewish Parents ‘Priced Out’ of Own Religion

Shira Hirschman Weiss, an Orthodox-Jewish mother and writer, took to the pages of the Huffington Post to vent her frustration at the ever-rising cost of raising a Jewish family – especially the astronomical cost of tuition:

She did not intend to become the heretic of the checkout line. But as she watches her food bill skyrocket, Deborah feels compelled to make snarky remarks. “Why bother eating kosher?” she asks those behind her. The patrons tut-tut in agreement and discuss how expensive kosher food has become, and on top of the “tuition crisis” — the exorbitant expense of Jewish day schools — how can anyone afford to shop in Glatt markets? But the reality is: the price of kosher is the least of it.

“For the record, most items with a kosher certification are not more expensive,” says Menachem Lubinsky, an authority on the kosher food industry, CEO of Lubicom Consulting and Founder of Kosherfest, “What are more costly are the specifically produced kosher foods that require extra kosher certification, particularly in meat and dairy. Prices may be 10 percent to 20 percent higher than non-kosher items.” He adds that despite higher fuel and commodity prices in recent times, costs of most kosher ethnic foods have either stayed the same or gone up by no more than 3 percent to 5 percent.

Lubinsky’s information confirms that the cost of kosher food is nothing when compared to the exorbitance of Jewish day school tuition.

Deborah is a young mother who is paying $16,000 per year for one of her children to attend a Jewish day school. She asked that I change her name for this article because, as she phrases it, she feels “priced out” of her religion. However, she’s determined to figure out this problem because she loves Judaism, she is spiritually connected to every facet of her Modern Orthodox lifestyle, and she should not have to feel this way about costs.

When I ask a tuition-paying friend of mine if she feels stressed by religion, she replies “I don’t feel stressed. As a matter of fact, religion is my oasis from stress. The cost of Jewish day school is not a product of our religion, rather a malady of sorts that we as a community need to work together to cure. The Torah tells us that for every illness, the cure is already provided — we just need to work together to find it.”

Rabbi Saul Zucker of the Orthodox Union explains that “the average price of Jewish day school tuition for grades K-12 is $15,000 per year (as compared to the average Catholic school tuition of $3,383, according to NCEA). For four children that would mean $60,000 per year post taxes, which indicates that one would have to earn approximately $200,000 per year (the top 3 percent of earners in this country) justto support their children’s education.”

Zucker says that Jewish day schools aim to provide the very best possible education, with fine arts curricula, the newest in technology, stellar guidance counseling services, after school programming and other “frills,” but that the model is “unsustainable” in the long run. That is why many are seeking other solutions.

Click here to continue reading at The Huffington Post.

12 Comments

  • 1. LET'S FACE IT wrote:

    yes, while tuition is out of control high, there are NO Yeshiva’s that need to have guards patrolling the school building to prevent drug action,rape amongst students and violence in general. ALL the things you have in public school. You get what you pay for, you pay nothing and you get nothing. In addition, the standard of education (forget the trimmings) in Yeshiva’s is planets higher than the public school system – “aks enybody”…. perhaps it’s time to try to twist the arms of the government to give more stipends to the yeshivas and day schools. This actually takes the burden off the city as well to a large degree.

  • 2. to comment #1 wrote:

    Yeshivas have indeed a higher standard than public schools besides English and math studies. When it comes to those two subjects Yeshivas are light years away from public schools – those subjects are sorely missing in NY yeshivas.

    Put those subjects back into the curriculum and I’ll support you 100% to receive funding from the government. Otherwise, why should the government pour money into schools which don’t prepare their students for the real world?! Prepare them to be working citizens and then yes they should give you money. You can’t ask for money and then not pay into the system. If OT institutes english studies I’m all for getting government grants for THOSE STUDIES.

    • 3. Milhouse wrote:

      Yeshivos that have as few limudei chol as they can get away with are not that expensive. The article is about those Modern Orthodox super-schools with all the emphasis on top-line limudei chol, which is what costs all that money.

  • 4. Citizen Berel wrote:

    And this is why Modern Orthodoxy is trash. What type of op-ed would be written under Stalin Y”S.

    “However, she’s determined to figure out this problem because she loves Judaism, she is spiritually connected to every facet of her Modern Orthodox lifestyle, and she should not have to feel this way about costs.”

    That’s very touching. How very strong.

    It’s exactly what Yidden said under Antiochios or during the reign of Achasvarosh. “We’ll figure it out cause we’re very connected to every facet of our ….

    Never thought I say it but 100 misnagdim and not one Modern Orthodox.

    (Necessary dislaimer: a Jew is a Jew and Modern orthodoxy is an incoherent contradiction in terms. Every Jew is precious: Modern Orthodoxy is trash.)

  • 5. Let's Be Honest wrote:

    This is not a problem in Crown Heights. Most be people pay between 3K and 5K tuition per child (if that) and still go upstate for the entire summer. Suffice it to say that no one pays full tuition even if they can afford it (myself included, for the reasons included here). I saw first hand a tuition contract where a young couple paid 3,500 for one child at Bais Rivka in the same year that they bought and gut renovated an 800,000 house in the fancy area north of eastern parkway …

  • 6. Purpose? wrote:

    Why write this on the Huffington Post? What is the point of doing so? How would posting this on the HP do more than anywhere else?

  • 8. Anonymous wrote:

    How do Catholic schools pay so much less in tuition?Maybe some Jewish organizations should see how they keep it so low.

  • 9. Quit Whining wrote:

    Move to milwaukee free education amazing houses for 100k lifes good here complaining ain’t gonna change anything

  • 10. to #2 wrote:

    most OT boys come to be very successful. and this is what the rebe asked us to make a yeshevah with no English studies.

    • 11. Moshe Chaim wrote:

      You are talking past tense.
      the new generation are not going to be come shluchim in the main, maybe 25-30%.
      What will the rest do?.

  • 12. Moshe Chaim wrote:

    People are buying expensive homes in many cases and simultaneously whinging about tuition.
    Shame on them!

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