Volume 55 Number 35
                    Produced: Tue Aug  7  5:58:31 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Jonathan Baker]
Judaism and finances
         [Tzvi Stein]
Judaism and finances - a solution?
         [Leah Aharoni]
Yeshiva and Expenses
         [Russell J Hendel]


From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 12:52:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Finances


> As I had mentioned, my yeshiva high school [K-12] in the 1960's had 520
> students and 6 administrative staff: one principal, one assistant
> principal, one secretary (in the days when letters had to be typed
> manually on a typewriter), one bookkeeper (in the era before computers
> where bills were manually prepared, there was no such thing as
> electronic fund transfer, and each check was manually processed and then
> deposited in the bank), and 2 janitors (who did an excellent job
> cleaning and maintaining the buildings).  Academic excellence was par
> for the course (most students took 4-5 AP exams) and the Limudei Kodesh
> program was rigorous. Many of the guys eventually received semicha
> although they worked in the professions (law and medicine). The boys
> played basketball outside and had weekly gym and swimming at the local
> Jewish Community Center. There was even a dramatics club which put on an
> annual play. Tuition was $750 a year (which adjusted for cost of living
> index would be higher today by a factor of 6.3: in other words $4725 (I
> checked this again on 3 websites which calculate value of money).

Hmm.  Let's see.  Ramaz had, in the 1970s-early 80s, two buildings and
840 students.  I think it's over a thousand now, and three buildings.
But let's see.

Old primary school (1965-1980): 230 students (N-3).  1/2 psychologist,
administrator, administrative ass., receptionist, one janitor, and 3
cooks/servers. The janitor doubled as a doorman.  1/2 music teacher

Upper school building (1965-1980) (150+100+360=610 students).

Middle school (4-6): 2 "enrichment" teachers (for those of us a bit slow
in either Hebrew or English), 1/2 psychologist.

Upper school (7-12): Principal, General Studies headmistress, Judaic
Studies headmaster (did I say we were the Preppie Yeshiva?), Admissions
director.  Secretaries for each (4).  Main receptionist. Administrator,
secretary, book-keeper.  Copy-room person.  Phone operator.  3 janitors.
Several cooks, I never saw them all together.  Doorman.  1/2 music
teacher.  Psychologist.  I think one "special-ed" teacher, who mostly
worked with a learning-disabled genius guy.

At least one of the secretaries in each building had to be Israeli, to
type up all the Hebrew tests and papers for the rexograph stencils.  I'm
just beginning to get used to the Hebrew keyboard layout.

College guidance was two teachers who did it as extracurricular work.
There was also an extra half-time "guidance counselor", whose job I
never did understand.

Tuition started at about $1000 for first grade (1971), and was $5700 for
12th grade when I left (1983).  During that time, they had built a new
building, expanded to 870 students (with room to grow), added only a few
more non-teaching personnel (I think a second bookkeeper, a deputy
administrator, Student Activities director (which really existed to fill
out full-time status of the old music teacher, who had gone to 1/2 time
when they hired a second one for the lower grades).  Milk monitor (again
an old teacher who had to stop teaching, but they kept on until
retirement age).  Each of these were 1/2-time jobs at first, although
they seem to have gone up to full-time.

By comparison, Dad's salary as a teacher was probably about 10-12K in
1971, and about 35-40K in 1983.  He stopped working in the summers about
1977; we gave up the car about a year later (my grandparents sold their
country house, my other grandparents had moved from Boro Park to Delray
Beach, and my sister had moved to Israel, so our expenses went down, and
we didn't need the car so much.  When we did, we borrowed my
grandparents' car).  So the school tuition went up a bit faster than his
salary.  We paid about 1/2 fare for the school, and my sister had a full
scholarship to Juilliard.

> Today the school has 580 students and tuition is $20,000. It is, in real

So little growth, when Orthodoxy in general is much larger than it was
in 1970?  The Boston community has shrunk?

> terms, 425% higher than the comparable figure in the 60's. The school
> has the following administrative staff: Director of Admissions (what's
> this Harvard which has to screen 5000 applicants??), 2 administrative

5000?  Have you asked Harvard about its applicant pools?  Try 20,000.

And big universities have a) big admissions offices with dozens of
full-time employees, and b) a network of alumni interviewers in other
cities across the nation.

Two people for admissions seems not so bad - you have to interview
applicants, evaluate their academics, deal with parents, for the little
ones the interview is psychometry, etc.  It's fairly involved stuff.

> assistants to the director of admissions, a director of operations
> (what's this the CIA??), a few administrative assistants and custodial

That would be the equivalent of Ramaz' Administrator.  You need someone
to run the physical plant, non-teaching staff and the financial stuff.
That's the Administrator.

> staff, an activities coordinator (what's this? A "tummeler" at a
> Catskills resort?) and of course 2 administrative assistants to the
> activities coordinator, a director of technology, director of
> community relations, 2 administrative assistants to the director of
> community relations, an executive director, 6 principals and assistant
> principals

an executive director IN ADDITION TO director of operations?

> (elementary, middle and high schools), 4 administrative assistants to
> the principals, a school headmaster, a director of marketing, 2
> college

All these admin assts and secretaries do seem about twice as much as

> counselors (for 35 students??), director of a "learning center", a
> "specialist" at the "learning center", a psychologist, a guidance
> counselor, a social worker (for whom? The unwed mothers from the South

The children of divorce - much more common than when you or I were in

> Bronx ???), director of athletics, assistant director of athletics,

I assume those are really the gym teachers.

> director of libraries, assistant director of libraries, a many many

and two librarians is not excessive for 580 kids.

> others.  Did I mention the director of "chesed" projects??  Each
> administrative staff member makes at least 3-4 times (in real terms)
> what the administrative staff made in the 1960's.

I tend to doubt that, at least for the secretaries and administrative


> Now multiply administrative staff salaries (at least $100,000 each) by
> the number of administrative staff nuchshleppers and then divide the sum
> by the number of students.  At least $10,000 in tuition per student
> could be saved if most of the nuchshleppers were escorted out of the
> door and asked not to come back. And all this without any effect on

Maybe, maybe not.

Again, the tuition has gone up maybe 4.5x what it would have been 25
years ago.  Salaries (top salary for NYC teachers) have gone up maybe
3.5 times - which coordinates with the "decline in real wages" everyone
has experienced since then.  Tuitions do tend to rise a bit faster than
salaries.  Had they moved to the new campus when you were a student?
More buildings means more people to run them.  Ramaz now has 1000+
students in 3 buildings, which means separate academic and
administrative hierarchies for each part (lower, middle, upper).

Fuel costs have gone up in real terms.  Taxes (employers pay them to
staff, even if the organization is tax-exempt) have gone up.
Expectations for schools have grown (you need special ed people, you
need computer teachers).

> College counselors: that's why the Ribono shel Olam created the
> Internet: there are a number of excellent websites that guide the 12th
> grader through the process of picking and choosing a college that fits
> his/her needs. Gevaldig! We just saved $250,000 in salaries and thus
> $431 in tuition.

But there's more to it than that.  The school has to maintain a good
relationship with the colleges; the counselors serve as an interface for
the students to relate to that.  Otherwise, I come from Ramaz with a low
B+ average, you think Princeton wants me?  But the school has a good
relationship with the college, so the college knows that a B+ average
with 9 major classes, several of which are honors classes, means more
than a B+ from Brandeis High School (my local public HS).

> 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.

There's classification, there's management of circulation, which
includes interfacing with the school office to issue warnings about
overdue books, there's patrolling and cleaning up and reshelving - not
that it's that hard, but it has to be done, every day.  There's just
knowing a lot about everything in your library, and how you can direct
students to more infor- mation, both inside and outside your library.
Classification is nice if you can get it, but most Hebrew books don't
come with LC codes, and Dewey codes become a lot of guesswork, if you
can't find some reference source that has done it for you, esp. since
all Jewish material is under one number (296).

Classification schemes all fail with new fields of knowledge.  When
Dewey put out his system, there wasn't a lot of Jewish stuff in English,
so he lumped it all under one number.  LC, however, set up in 1968, has
100 numbers (plus sub-categories) to use, the whole BM500-599 range.
But they both fail for computer materials: computer stuff for Dewey is
all under 001.6242, and for LC is all under QA76.  Look around your
local Barnes and Nobles (or Steimatzkys) and realize how ridiculous that
is for current publishing.  Similarly psychology - how much was there
beyond Freud when Dewey's system started?  So it's all under 301 -
aisles and aisles of the stuff in a major library such as the

Ever see the Tracy-Hepburn movie Desk Set?  They may have wanted to
replace the corporate reference librarians with a computer, but you
still need the human factor to correlate ideas.  Similarly for law
libraries - big law firms have human librarians, even if all the lawyers
have Lexis-Nexis on their desktops.

> And to the poster who complained about the high cost of heating the
> facility: I volunteer my time running the house committee (Vaad Bayit)
> of a 30 apartment condo in Jerusalem. We are going over from a central
> fuel oil furnace to carbon heating film in individual apartments at a
> one time cost of $12 (twelve dollars) for a 250 watt heating panel per
> room and at an operating cost per panel per hour of $0.025. That, by
> the way, is the job of the Director of Operations, the overpaid
> nuchshlepper who is supposed to save the school money in the day to
> day operations of running the school.

Boston is not Jerusalem.  Or have you forgotten the freezing cold, heavy
snow of Boston winters?  If you're lucky, the highs in Boston might hit
the lows of a J'lem winter (45-50 F).

        name: jon baker              web: http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker
     address: <jjbaker@...>     blog: http://thanbook.blogspot.com


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2007 14:43:42 -0400
Subject: Re: Judaism and finances

I completely don't get what is meant by "the Orthodox don't contribute"
to the public schools.  They pay for them but don't use them, and people
are complaining?!  What is the objection to that?!


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2007 23:20:29 +0300
Subject: Judaism and finances - a solution?

After spending the last month and a half in an affluent Orthodox
community in the US and reading this thread, I am dumbfounded how people
can cite financial difficulty as their reason for not making aliyah.

Quick math shows that at $15,000 per year of yeshiva school and another
$30,000 per year of college, it takes $300,000 to educate a
child. That's over a $1.2 million for a family of 4 children (without
taking into account daycare, summer camps, extra-curriculars etc)!

In contrast, in Israel fine yeshiva education on par with that of US day
schools (if not better) is free to moderately priced ($500-1,000 for
private elementary and $4,000 for a private high school). With college
tuition at $2,500, that same child will go from grade 1 to BA for a
modest $38,000 ($152,000 for a family of 4.)

Taking into account the 25% assimilation rate in the US Orthodox
community, statistically, one of those four "million-dollar babies,"
will marry a non-Jew.

On the other hand, in Israel, your kids will actually understand every
single word in their siddur, and almost every word in their Tanakh,
Rashi, Ramban, and the Shulchan Aruch. Now, that's value for your money!

Leah Aharoni


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2007 13:10:08 -0400
Subject: RE: Yeshiva and Expenses

Just want to add a few more ideas to this discussion. I think the major
point to emphasize (which hasn't till now) is that "The Jealosy of
scribes increases wisdom." If there are INTERNET resources out there
WHETHER OR NOT YOU USE THEM they become a force against which you
compete. If a parent is spending several thousand dollars on resources
then the teachers at the school dont want to hear e.g. "YOu know my son
whom you think is outstanding has done all his hwork using this free
internet resource which does a much better job of explaining things than
you."  So even if you dont want to use Josh Backon's resources to
ACTUALLY TEACH they remain a force to STIMULATE good teaching.

I would like to pursue this a bit further. When people get paid they are
salaried. Salaried people have certain professional rights. Let me give
an example. I have a Ph.d in Math and an Associateship in Actuarial
science. Hence I get picked over jobs requiring these fields EVEN if the
person I am competing with may (to an interviewer) know more than me.
Similarly I have a right to get paid for my expertise and not be asked
to voluneer my time.

Once you start paying Yeshivoth to teach you open up the above doors.
Here are some examples of behavior that I consider unhalachic and
unethical: a) "I am retired from the Rabbinate so I dont have to answer
this Shaaylah. Ask your newly hired Rav." b) "It is Sunday and I dont
feel like looking up the interesting question you have on Chumash and
Rashi. Why dont you ask me in class tomorrow." c) "I dont think you
should let so and so give a shiur since he doesnt have semichah or
doesnt have a teaching certificate etc. "

I could go on. My point here is that "salaried" creates restrictions on
our capacity and freeness in giving and this is wrong. The way to
correct it is to either "eliminate" yeshivoth (as Josh suggested) or
else (a compromise) "supplement" them with curriculum such as Josh

Allow me to amplify with two more examples. Josh in addition to
lecturing in medical school and having an electronic business is editor
of a Journal on Bible. I in addition to several jobs publish a Rashi
website.  My point here is that the Jewish community has FREE resources
that are not being used to at least supplement general education. These
free resources are especially hilighted by the advent of the web.

My second point is illustrated by considering the retired Rabbi who
doesnt' want to answer a Shaailah. Why not? After all the whole basis
because he would have earned this money if he was doing something else.
But now that he is retired he does not have a need to do something else
since he is retired. It follows he should be doing all this for nothing.
But he isnt. ANd this is the point: The money has given him a "salaried
mind" in which what he gives is dependent on what he gets paid. This is

If I had to summarize: The goal in Jewish education is to have a FREE
FLOWING community where people do research and teach 24/7 and for free.
If there are still some who need to it for money maybe it is permissable
(I dont think so) but at least leave room for the others and let them
help out.

I close with one final thought. Josh mentioned the 350 emails he got
from people who were afraid of retalitation. But what about the people
who are not affiliated with a Yeshiva because of their economic
condition . They need free resources because without them no one will
train them. I think we have to look more seriously at the issue of free

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


End of Volume 55 Issue 35