Volume 41 Number 76
                 Produced: Tue Jan 13  7:22:59 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Kollel and "Choices"
         [Tzvi Stein]
Kollel and Tuition -- make that school finance (2)
         [Carl Singer, S. Wise]
When is supporting children tzedaka? (3)
         [Rose Landowne, Jonathan B. Horen, Arlene Groner]


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2004 09:34:47 EST
Subject: Kollel

In MJv41n72 one participant wrote:
<<It might be argued that were the scholarship children not in the
school, the costs would be lower.  This, too, is for the most part false
economics.  Provided that no additional classes are added, but the
scholarship students are absorbed into existing classes, it can be
argued that each such student actually _lowers_ the per-capita cost.
The difference in cost between a class of, say, 21 students and one of
23 is negligible: two extra desks, some more paper and other school
supplies.  However, virtually all students pay some not insignificant
proportion of tuition.  Even if each of the students in my example pays
$1,000, the school has an additional $2,000 at its disposal, with added
cost of at most $250. Thus, adding the two scholarship students has
reduced by $1,750 the amount by which others are subsidizing
<<True, if another class must be added as the direct result of the
number of scholarship cases, my mathematics is faulty; but in most
schools, i is the exception, rather than the rule, that extra classes
are necessitated by the presence of scholarship cases.  Furthermore,
most students benefit from the variety and flexibility which parallel
classes provide, so that even in this case, the benefit is shared by all
students, not merely the scholarship recipients.>>

This kind of argument is often heard, but its truthfulness depends on
the circumstances. Many parents walk into school, and plead to pay less
because adding their child to a class will not cause the school to add a
whole class, and thus claim that even if they pay less the school will
benefit. So who is that last group? Now it is argued that the last group
is the Kollel's children, but in another discussion group it is the
children of Israeli Yordim, and in a third place it is the single
parents who are needy, and so forth. In summary, too many groups claims
to be that last group to be counted, who do not cost the school any
extra funds. This is therefore an argument that cannot be used at all
logically, unless someone can show, in a particular case, that the
Kollel's kids are the only add-on group. But in most cases I am familiar
with, this is not the case. So, the only fair way to assess the cost is
on "average" basis and not on marginal basis.

<<And though we have no kollel yungeleit living in our community,
many of the wives of those who live in other communities teach here; and
since we are involved in their tuition directly to the schools their
children attend, I can attest that their average payment is far more
than $1,000. per student.>>

Paying tuition directly to other schools, in lieu of salary to the
wives, sounds illegal. Tuition to children is part of the salary and
needs to be reported on the wage report to the government (form W-2).

Other related notes:

1. Many federation agencies support Jewish schools, and state that their
support is to finance the scholarships or part of it.

2. A question to raise is who is in the most dire need to get Jewish
education? In my view, this group should be the one most likely to
assimilate without it. Kollel's kids are not high on that list-their
parents are very committed.

3. I heard in many forums that the minority of Jews (30% was stated)
give the overwhelming amount of charity in a particular community, while
the majority gives very little. If this wisdom (statistics support this
claim!) is correct, then it is in fact a finite amount of charitable
dollars out there, and taking more to cause A will diminish the
collection of cause B.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Subject: Kollel and "Choices"

I'd just like to point out something... there seems to be an assumption
in many postings on the kollel topic, that the person who goes to kollel
is making a "choice" to do so.  From my several years of experience
living in the heredi community in Eretz Yisroel, I don't think that's a
fair characterization.  The culture is so geared toward full-time kollel
study that it's very difficult for someone to buck the trend.  First of
all the children are sent to schools that teach virtually no secular
topics.  At 17 years of age, when Americans would be graduating high
school, Israelis who have gone through normative heredi schools will be
*far* ahead in Torah education of just about any Orthodox American but
their secular education will be limited to basic Hebrew gramar (that's
considered "secular" there), and arithmetic up to say a 4th grade level.
They will have had absolutely no English, no computer skills, no trade
or business training, no science, no history, etc.  They will then be
sent to yeshiva gadola until they get married, and they certainly won't
get any secular studies there.  All this time, they will have observed
that virtually all the men in their family's social circle are learning
in kollel and will have received the message loud and clear that all
potential shidduchim will expect him to learn in kollel.  Add to that
the obtuse Israeli Army regulations that would force him to join the
army (an intensely non-charedi atmosphere where even getting kosher food
is difficult) the moment he would leave kollel.  I think it's a culture
that is at work here, much more than personal choices.


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 06 Jan 2004 08:21:40 -0500
Subject: Kollel and Tuition -- make that school finance

Although I agree with much of what Rabbi Teitz says in his posting there
are some points where we may differ.

Although this discussion was under the topic of "kollel" and thus
perhaps too harshly points at the kollel community, my general concern
is forced subsidy via artificial tuition rates vs. giving tzedukah and
extending that to tzedukah (school-related and other) that I'm asked to
give in support of other people's lifestyles -- In effect, I am being
forced (rather than asked) to subsidize someone else's life choices (and
I'm not the parent or in-law) in the case of Kollel, or the case of the
fellow who just doesn't like to work hard.  I must at this point
contrast this with the case of those who are incapable of making a

I've made life choices, too.  These enable me to pay full tuition.  In
years when that tuition has been in excess of $40,000 it meant NOT going
on vacation, holding on to an older car, more pasta - less steak, and
dipping into rainy day funds when I had a business go sour.  We don't
have sterling silver menorahs, my wife doesn't shop at boutiques and her
sheitels are not a couple thousand dollars each.  The image is that some
folks feel it more important to fund sterling silver, etc., than
educational gold -- so I'm subsidizing them.  We learn that if a rich
man falls on hard times we must give him tzedukah sufficient to enable
him to live according to his (previous) lifestyle.  I can't apply this
to the perceived level of comfort and conspicuous consumption that I'm
asked to subsidize via Chanasus Kallah, etc.

Certainly Rabbi Teitz is right, we should look at the total cost of
running the school.  One of those costs is teacher salary -- and in many
cases we ask Rebbeim and teachers to subsidize us by their working for
ridiculously low salaries that are not commensurate with their value.
When my wife taught in a day school she had three relevant degrees and
she got paid less than my secretary did.

I don't know school economics as well as a professional educator, but
there are fixed costs and marginal costs.  Although one can agree that
the cost of the N+1st student is negligible -- that is it doesn't cost
that much more (say books & food?) to teach 21 vs. 20.  We're not
speaking necessarily of one in twenty-one.  We're speaking of a larger
portion and in any case smaller class sizes mean more individual
attention.  Hard to measure, but it's there.

I like the concept of community funded schools -- in Cleveland, where I
grew up, I know of significant large donations from people who had no
ties to the day school, but who felt a communal need.  But that's
difficult today because our schools aren't really communal.  Children,
for example, travel all over New Jersey many opting not to go to local
schools.  The other day I got a phone call soliciting raffle tickets for
"The Yeshiva Ketana" -- I asked which one.  When I told the solicitor
that I don't support this Yeshiva Ketana, she hung up on me before I
could say "but I will buy tickets because you're local."  Too bad, cause
I could perhaps I could have won a Sterling Silver Menorah :)

The volume (quantity) and volume (intensity) of the discussions we've
seen these past few days indicate that there is a problem.  Not sure
quite how to define said problem, thus solutions are certainly beyond

Carl Singer

From: <Smwise3@...> (S. Wise)
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2004 16:00:53 EST
Subject: Re: Kollel and Tuition -- make that school finance

In a message dated 1/6/4 10:10:31 AM, Elazar Teitz writes:

<< First question: what is the school's actual expense?  If it is
$1,000,000, then the cost of educating a child is $10,000.  It is not
the tuition payer who is subsidizing the scholarship cases, but rather
the people who contribute the $400,000 above tuition that the school
must collect to meet its obligations >>

Please forgive me if my head is swimming trying to understand the
economics as discussed, but perhaps someone can explain to me why it is
I pay say $5,000 tuition per child who is in a class of 25 girls, taught
by teachers who range from little or no experience to several years
experience.  Teachers always complain of not getting paid enough (or
probably more often, not on time), but based on my situation, it would
seem each class, given there are 2 teachers (one for limudei kodesh one
for limudei chol), sitting in desks purchased some time ago and studying
from used books, such a glass would generate $125,000.  And the
government also subsidizes some part of education.  How is it broken
down?  Even if the school pays generously (and I haven't heard that word
associated with salary), what costs so much?  Are the schools a
profit-making business after all?



From: <ROSELANDOW@...> (Rose Landowne)
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2004 17:50:27 EST
Subject: Re: When is supporting children tzedaka?

I learned once, in a commentary on Kidushin, I think, that any support
you give to your children over the age of 6 is considered Tzedaka,
according to Halacha.

Rose Landowne

From: Jonathan B. Horen <horen@...>
Subject: Re: When is supporting children tzedaka?

Carl Singer wrote:

> Not in agreement or disagreement with above -- but I have 2 questions:
> Is supporting one's children in Kollel tzedukah?  
> For that matter, is paying yeshiva tuition tzedukah?
> -- I'm speaking of halachik definition of tzedukah -- 

My child support payments were deemed to be so (Baruch Sh'patarni!)

E: <horen@...>            Inter-University Computation Center

From: Arlene Groner <groners@...>
Date: Tue, 6 Jan 2004 09:02:17 -0500 (GMT-05:00)
Subject: When is supporting children tzedaka?

The discussion about the effects of supporting children in kollelim on
other tzedakot raises a more fundamental question.  Is it tzedakah to
support a child in medical school? What about supporting a child who is
seeking a PHD in literature?  What about supporting a child who decides
to be a free lance writer?  Does the fact that a child chooses a low
paying lifestyle give the child a call on the parent's tzedaka dollars?
Does this only apply if the child is studying Torah? What if the facts
are reversed?  Can a parent choose early retirement and be entitled to
support from his or her children?  Does it make a difference if the
parent chooses to enroll in Torah study? Tzedaka priorities favor family
over community.  But does it matter if the poverty is the consequence of
choice rather than circumstances beyond a person's control?  And
assuming family takes precedence over community, what is the halachic
basis for allocation among family members?  Does the needs of a sick but
more distant relative take precedence over a closer relative who has
chosen study-based poverty? 


End of Volume 41 Issue 76