Volume 55 Number 33
                    Produced: Mon Aug  6  5:05:01 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Finances - Teachers, Tuition
         [Mordechai Horowitz]
Finances and Judaisim
         [Harry Weiss]
Finances and Judaism (2)
         [Sarah Beck, Tzvi Stein]
Finances, Judaism, and Jefferson
         [Alex Heppenheimer]
Too many schools
         [Carl Singer]
Wealthy & Alumni donations
         [Carl Singer]


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Mon, 06 Aug 2007 
Subject: Administrivia

Just a quick note that one issue (#27) did not go out correctly when
first sent, I then resent it out after issue #28, but forgot to reset
the counter ahead, so sent out a second #28. I've just skipped number
32, we may renumber the second #28 to #32, still need to check on that,
but figured I'd make the number available.



From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2007 10:17:09 -0400
Subject: Re: Finances - Teachers, Tuition

> From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
> As a teacher, I certainly don't think that day school teachers are
> overpaid.  The salary for a starting physics teacher in the Boston
> suburban area, with a master's degree, might be:
> public school:  42,000 + full health insurance and pension
> Jewish school:  35,000 + partial health insurance and no pension
> private nonreligious preparatory school:  32,000 + full health insurance
>                 and small pension 
> Catholic school:  30,000 + partial health insurance and no pension
> .....Honestly, I switched to public school at least partly because the
> pay/benefits are significantly better.  But even so, there's no teacher
> I know who takes off the summer without getting some paid employment to
> balance the books.

You are not a Rabbi.  A local school accidentally let the Rabbi's 
salaries out to the public.  They are paid significantly more than the 
secular and female staff.  Rabbi's aren't taking their families away on 
vacation every Yom Tov and all summer to a bungalow colony on $35,000 a 
year.    One administrator told me  Rabbi's are making about $70,000 a  
year.  That is for a half day of work. 


From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@...>
Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2007 09:52:24 -0700
Subject: Finances and Judaisim

>From: <mp@...> (Mark Polster)
>1) The observation by several posters that the root cause of the problem
>is that we are all double-paying due to taxes and the way education in
>the US is funded is 100% true.  It is also 100% irrelevant.  If Rabbi
>Teitz' timetable for better community funding of Jewish education is
>"Mashiach's times" then the timetable for any fundamental change to the
>US tax situation as it pertains to education is "sometime after that".
>It makes no sense to spend our time blaming the situation on something
>for which there is no reasonable expectation of change.  Accept is as
>reality and move on.

One of the problems is that Yeshivas are not able to raise as much
outside funds as they used to.  I receive dozens of calls and letters
daily asking for funds.  Many of these are for all types of Yeshiva.  I
personally have decided not to give anything to Yeshivas with Kollels.

For every person in kollel with the cost for the kollel plus stipends
etc, how many children are denied an elementary and high school Yeshiva
education.  The trend to universal learning instead of finding
employment is also resulting in many more families that cannot afford to
support the Yeshivas.  Many of these people cannot get other jobs so
they start the programs in Israel and since there are so many they have
to charge these high tutions for the year or more that the kids are
there to support themselves.

There are also unrealitic expectations as to what is a resonable income.
I see posts referring to "low" incomes of over 100k.  There are many of
us that make much less than that.  It is very hard to explain to a
person that they need to pay more tuition so they can pay resaonable
salaries to the Rabbeim, when this rabbeim are making far more than
those people.

My children finished Yeshiva many years ago.  (My youngest is 29) It was
a struggle, (especially since we live in a community without Yeshivot so
we had room and board as well) but we managed.  I don't know if we could
with the current prices that I hear.


From: Sarah Beck <beckse@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 09:55:43 -0400
Subject: Finances and Judaism

>From Dr. Backon:

> Librarians: there are excellent DVD's that train the person in
> information literacy including use of databases on the Internet
> (including the "hidden web") and commercial databases at public
> libraries. Mazal tov! We shaved off another $250,000 in salaries and
> thus $431 in tuition. Let retired teachers (now grandmothers)
> volunteer to run the actual print library at the school using free
> open access computer programs for librarians.

I know a librarian who would LOVE to be replaced by a free open-access
computer program.  He DREAMS of it. Where can he sign up? ;-)

Seriously, my view from the outside inclines me to agree with your
concerns about large payrolls. Why? I have at _least_ five friends and
acquaintances who are making in the mid- to upper 30s, here in
Manhattan, as assistant teachers, resource room people, technology
coordinators, and the like. Do they do good, honest work? Yes.
Essential? I leave that to the reader.

WRT educational "extras"--I graduated from high school in 1995, really
only a few years ago. ;-) I went to St. Mary's Hall, a K-12 Episcopal
analogue, lehavdil, of Ramaz, with a full complement of APs and a
student parking lot equally full of nice cars. Even then, in the recent
and privileged past, we had only one college counselor for 300
H.S. students, one guidance counselor for everyone in the school (!), a
dance program with 2 teachers and a new studio, but a one-room theatre
program run by one dude, no student newspaper, a H.S. literary magazine
that came out once a year, no assistant teachers past first grade, no
serious foreign languages except for Spanish and French.  This was a
rigorous school full of very wealthy kids, but its complement of
"extras" was nothing like what I see now in NYC.

It isn't realistic to expect MO schools to model themselves after New
Haven Hebrew Day of the 1950s and 1960s. But scaling back to 1990s St.
Mary's Hall wouldn't leave anyone deprived.

Kol tuv,
Sarah Beck

From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 11:36:51 -0400
Subject: Re: Finances and Judaism

> From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Meir Wise)

> As far as the price of kosher food is concerned it is a rip-off and
> one should avoid buying it wherever possible. (Reb Moshe said there is
> no mitzva to run after hechsherim). I would have thought that in the
> USA with the OU certification it should be easier.  Apart from the odd
> chicken for Shabbat and Yom Tov, we poor Jews survive on fish, fruit
> and vegetables and other permitted foods for which we pay the same as
> the non-Jews.

I might add, that not only to do you save a fortune by eating like that,
but you are eating much healthier.  The only reason why hechsherim are
needed on the great majority of products is because they are so highly
processed and have so many ingredients which have nothing to do with
nutrition (or are needed to "enrich" the product because all of the
nutrition has been processed out).  Those are precisely the most
unhealthy foods.

> It is true that my wife and I did not have a holiday for 20 years

I don't know your situation but I find that sad.  Was your work
situation really something that allowed not even a week off a year?  I
can't imagine that myself.  And as to what to do... there are quite
inexpensive but enjoyable ways to use a week off... tent camping comes
to mind, but there are other ideas.


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 08:59:44 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Finances, Judaism, and Jefferson

In MJ 55:28, Chaim Shapiro wrote:

>Art Sapper provides the following selective quote from Thomas Jefferson:
>"[t]o compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation
>of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."
>Need I remind Art that Jefferson was one of the earliest, and most
>important advocates for free public education as a means of preparing
>the community for Democracy and the best and the brightest, regardless
>of background, for public service?  In order to provide the appropriate
>leadership for the Republic, and allow the flourishing of Democracy,
>Jefferson recommend that Virginia provide 3 years of publicly financed
>education to all children in 1779.


>I am sorry Art, Jefferson would see your contribution to public
>education as your obligation.

I'm not sure that's the case. In Jefferson's time, the usual alternative
to free public education would have been no education at all - the child
would either be out on the streets or apprenticed to a trade. Today
private schools (and other alternatives to the public schools, such as
charter schools and homeschooling) are common - partly because much of
the public education available today is a far cry from "providing
appropriate leadership."

In our case, we're talking about Orthodox Jewish parents who are getting
their children a proper education in a private school. Why indeed should
they also have to contribute to schools from which neither they nor,
frankly, a good deal of the student body derive any benefit?

Kol tuv,


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2007 08:39:49 -0400
Subject: Too many schools

> 1) We have too many schools.  If the previous generation was
> characterized by one major day school per reasonable sized community,
> now we seem to have a different school starting up for each 1/2-inch
> difference in skirt length or type and size of kippah.  All of them are
> struggling.  Economies of scale are real and if administrative and other
> overhead can be spread over 600 kids instead of 300 it makes a real
> difference.  Unfortunately, in today's Jewish world, the notion of
> sending our kids to a school where everybody is not perfectly aligned
> hashkafically seems to be unacceptable so I am not holding my breath.

It's been a busy morning -- I wanted to comment on the above.  Not on
the possible economies of scale but on perhaps why we have so many

Over 20 years ago when our oldest were in a K-8 school (and I was thus
"active") -- The Torah Academy in Philadelphia -- "out of town", so to
speak -- a school that had to accommodate a wide range of families --
from Yeshiva Rebbeim to somewhat more modern -- since I was allegedly
computer literate I helped with a survey asking parents what they wanted
the school to provide.  And it ranged both in width and depth.  Some
simply wrote "Torah" -- some wrote akin to "Humanities is the soul of
mankind ...."  Then came the add-ons.  "We need a gym and a phys-ed
teacher, and a music department ...."

Many years later when my wife was principal of Yeshiva Ketana of
Manhattan -- I observed that at that time a true strength of the school
(in addition to having a brilliant principal) was a parent body of a
narrow bandwidth (some were related, many davened in the same school,
had gone to same yeshiva, etc.)  -- this allowed a targeted vision
rather than a shotgun of everyone wants everything.

Secondly - in Philadelphia -- to an extent there was tolerance.
Certainly the school had dress codes, etc.  But, it was understood that
we had to stick together despite our various shades of Judaism.  I don't
believe that exists as much in communities with multiple school choices.
And it's more than peer pressure.  Do you want you child going to school
with children whose parents are significantly left (or right) of you (or
simply different - Ashkenas, Sfard, Chasidish) in their observance.

I don't know that the economies of scale 300 vs. 600 are all that real.
Class size may be an issue -- ideally every class would be filled with
the ideal number of students (not too few as to be economically
difficult -- not too many as to not afford each child the individual
attention they require.)  The administrative overhead in some schools
does seem unreasonable -- but I don't know enough to comment.

I believe that out of town -- multiple schools cause a dilution of
community focus.  When the community has a single day school, we all
considered it a vital part of our children's' lives and we bailed harder
to keep it afloat.



From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2007 07:44:53 -0400
Subject: Wealthy & Alumni donations

> Sure, I assume orthodox Jews give to charity at rates exceeding the
> general public, but then I hear stories from my friend, the treasurer
> of a small shul in suburban Connecticut, who can't make ends meet
> because he gets grudging annual donations of $1,000 from investment
> bankers, when they could easily afford 100 times that amount.  Most of
> these wealthy orthodox Jews passed through the yeshiva system.  Most
> colleges make concerted efforts to maintain contact with, and ask for
> contributions from, their alumni.  I hear that 70% of Princeton's
> alumni contribute annually.

First of all, it is unfair and unrealistic to count other peoples money
or to tell other people how to spend their money (or expect that they
will do so per your desires.)

Secondly, money follows money.  Having grown up in Cleveland, I've seen
how when a generous and visionary B'al Tzedukah supports an institution
(a day school) not only with his money but with his influence on others
to donate then things happen.

Alumni donations aren't in fashion among day schools -- many alumni are
parents focusing paying for their own children's tuition at whatever
school they go to.  This may be in marked contrast to some Yeshivas
where alumni maintain a strong, lifelong tie to their Rosh Yeshiva and
Rebbeim.  When one leafs through the ad journal of some yeshivas you see
page after page (donation after donation) from alumni expressing haKores
haTov to the Rebbeim.

Carl Singer


End of Volume 55 Issue 33