Volume 41 Number 80
                 Produced: Thu Jan 15  6:31:07 US/Eastern 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kollel (4)
         [Russell J Hendel, Ari Trachtenberg, Gilad J. Gevaryahu, Janet
Kollel and "Choices"
         [Keith Bierman]
Kollel and Tuition -- make that school finance (2)
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu, Carl Singer]
Paying tuition directly to other schools
School finance
         [Nadine Bonner]


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 11 Jan 2004 19:55:39 -0500
Subject: RE: Kollel

Eliezer Wise writes in v41n71 "There are those young men who truly
belong in kollel.These are the future rabbinic leaders of the Jewish
people. "

I don't think anyone belongs in Kollel. I certainly don't want our
future leaders coming from there.

Rather than citing sources or Rav Hirsch or scary Talmudic dictums (or
the Rambams statement that such people have no share in the next world)
let me instead tell you a real story. I was once at shivah of a Rabbi
who lost his wife. He had originally been orthodox and became
conservative. I was in college then and a little more forward than I am
today. We had the following conversation

ME: Why did you leave

HIM: My orthodox congregants could not relate to me--I was living in an
ivory tower while they were in the real business world.

ME: But still, when you left why did you give up certain observances
like Mechizah etc

HIM: When you concentrate on essentials these other things seem minor in

My rememdy to the "kollel problem". It is the job of the Jewish
community to see to it that every person who wants to has the
opportunity to learn many hours a day and make money in a respectable
fashion. Today thank God there are many jobs that pay well and are
recognized as professional but dont require working 12 hours a day.

I would like to see more focus on providing alternatives to learning
that provide vocational outlets. I hear now and then of various yeshivas
popping up that do just that. I would love to hear from people on the
list on exactly what is out there. I would also like to see discussion
on reducing costs of tuition (discussed by many) by using various free
resources (like internet classes and writeups of themes)

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2004 12:56:46 -0500
Subject: Kollel

 >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.

With only the greatest respect to Gevaryahu, I believe that this kind of
behavioral-risk approach is harmful to the Jewish community.  It
establishes an artificial reward for assimilation and leads to an
unstable system.  Instead, I believe that the reward should be aligned
with the goals of the community, as good old-fashioned capitalism

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>

From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2004 13:39:12 EST
Subject: Kollel

[in response to Ari above. Mod]

In logical relationship, is person A does a harmful act, and because of
that act you gave him extra something, then you rewarded him. In this
relationship you encouraged him/her to do more harm (i.e., assimilation)
and thus get more rewards (i.e., tuition breaks). Does this kind of
logic works in Jewish education? I maintain that it does not for the
most part.  That is to say, will people on the margin, those that are
too poor, or too much on the margin of Jewish subsistence be rewarded if
school will give them an extra break? I maintain that this is for the
most part a false analyses. In many/most cases people are poor because
they are poor, not because the chose to be there (Kollel and the like
are an exception!), and if their grandparents took them off the Torah
path, rewarding them (the grandchildren) is not an issue, the
grandparents are for the most part dead, so reward does not apply. There
is no longer direct cause and effect. It is the parents and children not
the grandparents who are attempting to get back to Jewish life, and we
should help them as much as we can.

Ari (my friend) is correct in cases where the parents who are of means
come to school and say - give me free tuition for my kid or I'll send
him/her to public school or worse.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu

From: Janet Rosenbaum <jerosenb@...>
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2004 13:45:24 -0500 (EST)
Subject: RE: Kollel

Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...> writes:
> The Nfesh Hachaim tells us that it is through Tora study that the
> world's kiyum (existence) is maintained.  Also, Reb Yisrael Salanter
> famously said that when a Jew in Vilna studies Tora he prevents a Jew
> in paris from shmading (leaving the faith) and when a Jew in Vilna G-d
> forbid wastes his Tora study time he causes a Jew in Paris to become
> an apostate.

Fortunately, the day schools, daf yofi shiurim, etc., are flourishing,
so there is no danger that Torah study won't continue to increase, much
less decline.

The real question is cost-effectiveness.  Are kollels really more
important than ensuring that every single Jew has health insurance,
nutritious food on the table, and access to employment resources?  Are
they more important than massive Jewish literacy campaigns and kiruv
efforts (e.g., a highly subsidized Jewish book-of-the-month club)?  Are
they more important than paying top salaries to Jewish studies teachers
to attract the best and brightest to the profession, making day schools
competitive with the salaries paid by public schools?  Are they more
important than buying more real estate in the Moslem quarter of
Jerusalem?  Are they more important than creating attractive and
dignified Chabad houses or Aish branches on university campuses?  Are
they more important than providing free loans to enable low-income
Jewish families to gather a down payment on homes inside an eruv?

The same side-effects of kollels, such as your example that some of the
members engage in a few hours of kiruv a week, could be produced more
cost-effectively by volunteers who work or by full-time kiruv staff

We have more people learning full time than ever learned before in
modern times, and yet the system hasn't produced even one talmid
chachamim of the stature of Rav Feinstein or Rav Auerbach.



From: Keith Bierman <Keith.Bierman@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2004 12:24:27 -0800
Subject: Re: Kollel and "Choices"

>*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

Do I misremember that a father has three obligations towards his son? To
teach him Torah, to teach him how to swim and finally how to make a

If not, how does such a "kollel focused community" justify failing to
teach their children how to make a living? Isn't it a halahic

Keith H. Bierman    <keith.bierman@...>|
Sun Microsystems Laboratories            | <kbierman@...>
15 Network Circle UMPK 15-224            | 650-352-4432 voice+fax
Menlo Park, California  94025            | sun internal 68207


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2004 09:43:55 EST
Subject: Kollel and Tuition -- make that school finance

Carl Singer (MJv41n76) says:

<<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.>>

In a free economy wages are set at the point where supply and demand of
teachers are met. So low salaries are a result of combination of
oversupply of teachers and low demand for teachers. In fact the Kollel
movement produce teachers without elasticity of selling talents, that
is, they know only how to teach Hebrew subjects and nothing else. Or,
conversely, they were inculcated in their Kollelim not to do any other
profession other than teach. This too, created this situation. In other
words, they could make more money working elsewhere if they had the
qualification to do so, or the desire to do so, but decided against it.
As to the wife who <<had three relevant degrees and she got paid less
than my secretary did>>. She would seek a higher paying job in the
lesse' fair world.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu

From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2004 11:51:08 -0500
Subject: Re: Kollel and Tuition -- make that school finance

If we look at an efficient marketplace we can, beyond supply & demand,
look at quality.  Since the market place IS efficient, those teachers
who have skills that are marketable outside the yeshiva / day school
"ghetto" can do so.  They may finally decide that not having to worry
about having days off for Yom Tov (a perk) and being able to contribute
to the future of the community through hinuch (an important intangible)
are offset by low pay, the inability to walk into shule on Shabbos
without some parent hocking you about their child (I affectionately call
this the "good Shabbos, by the way" greeting) or having to deal with
community politics.

One could argue that lower pay means that the really good teachers go
elsewhere.  Re: supply & demand, if the qualification to teach in a
Hebrew Day School or a Yeshiva is (only) to be frum, then there is an
over supply of such "qualified" teachers, thus driving down wages.
Whereas if the qualification to teach in the public schools is to have a
bachelor's degree and relevant training and certification, there is a
tighter supply and thus higher wages.

Sorry to say -- but -- in some communities, especially the affluent
ones, their is a wage-based metric of worth.  Thus the person who makes
$200K / year somehow has a greater worth than one who makes say $25K /
year.  This is reflected in the parent's attitude towards the teacher.

The lesse' fair economy has people making decisions.  So a third
generation teacher who has dedicated his / her life to Hinuch finds that
they need to leave the world of Hinuch (and their commitment to Jewish
education) if they want to afford a middle-of-the-road lifestyle for
themselves and their families.

Carl Singer


From: <rubin20@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2004 09:41:19 -0500
Subject: Re: Paying tuition directly to other schools

>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).

Although this is not related to mail Jewish, educational institutions
are allowed to pay tuition directly to other schools. I am not sure
exactly why, but when I was a school administrator, I had our accountant
verify this.


From: Nadine Bonner <nfbonner@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2004 11:36:49 -0500
Subject: School finance

S Wise writes
> 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?

As day school parents, I find this attitude appalling.

To address several points, unless you live in Milwaukee and receive
school vouchers, the only government subsidies pay for milk and school
lunches. It is against most states' laws for public funds to go to
religiously based schools.

I presume that the students in this theoretical classroom have
electricity so they can see what they are studying. In the winter, I
imagine there is heat. When they need to use the bathroom, there must be
water. And the bathrooms must be kept in working, despite the abuse they
receive from many children. Who pays for that?

Yes, children reuse textbooks from year to year, but a certain number
wear out and have to be replaced. And in a good school, textbooks are
upgraded regularly. And books are added to the library. Who pays for

In addition to teachers' salaries, are there not office workers?
Maintenance workers? Does the building not require repairs during the
course of the year? Does it not need to be repainted occasionally. Do
not desks wear out and have to be replace? Where does the money come

The answer is, the funds come from our tuition and our fundraising
efforts.  At most schools my children have attended parents are required
to raise additional funds over and above the tuition. Yes, this is a
burden. Yes, I often resent it. But I have never thought that the
schools are profiting from our tuition.

Nadine Bonner


End of Volume 41 Issue 80