Is It Worth It?

12 Apr

There is no question that today’s generation is facing a difficult economic reality. Jobs are harder to come by, funding for public programming such as Pell grants and Medicare have been cut and the housing market is a faint whisp of what it used to be. Though on the outside it may seem like the Jewish community is gliding by without an issue, this is far from true. The lecture halls of Yeshiva University may be full, the waiting list may be long at Camp Dora Golding and the neighbors next door may be adding an extension, but so many, so many people are hurting.

An article in today’s NY Times reminded me of the hard times we are facing. As a college student myself, I understand that taking out loans is supposedly “just part of the process.” True, it has been a part of the process for a generation or so, but times have changed. There is no knowing what one’s salary will be once graduating school. There is no knowing if one will have a job. Yes, one must have bitachon that Hashem, the True Provider, will help those with debt come through it. However, I find it quite similar to “depending on a miracle”, an act G-d explicitly tells us not to do.

My greatest issue lies within private Yeshiva schools- be it elementary, high school or college. They are horrendously unaffordable. Some students score high enough on achievement tests to receive generous scholarships while others have parents or grandparents who are able to pay hefty tuition. Yet most are being carried along through the tedious and tiresome hard work of their parents, who have six-figure salaries but still can’t cover all the expenses. Read this article, look around your community, at your peers and cohorts and tell me, is this worth it? Though our homes are humongous and our schools are laden with intriguing extracurricular activities, are they really worth the debt shackled ’round our wrists? Are we, the next generation, really going to be able to sustain them?

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2 Responses to “Is It Worth It?”

  1. Princess Lea April 12, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Yeshiva school tuition was always high – yet things were different a number of years ago. The amount of sitting and learning families were not as high, meaning there were enough parents to pay the entirety of the tuition. Now with so many kollel families, the yeshivos have to give discounts to them while raising prices for those who earn a living.

    But also many families are not so careful with finances. Although their income is not high enough, many families will still eat out regularly, travel, and have multiple cars.

    The previous generations lived much more frugally then we do now. Luxuries, for many, are considered necessities.

    While the yeshiva system could be whittled down, many people aren’t living within their means anyway.

    • Coral Cap April 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

      Princess Lea- Thank you for bringing up a facet of this topic that I didn’t even think of. While I focused on families with two parents working full-time, it is true that there is a large demographic of Orthodox Jews sitting and learning. It most definitely is hard to afford a large house, several children, private education, health insurance, car payments, and lavish shabbos and yom tov meals on a teacher’s salary. To expect to have that sort of lifestyle and learn Torah all day is simply unrealistic (unless there is someone willing to give a supple amount of support).

      However, as you mentioned, the phenomenon of living outside one’s means is not exclusive to the full-time learning community. The unfortunate thing is not that we might not be able to live like this much longer, but that we might not know how else to live. Other generations understood that a Torah lifestyle will likely require sacrifice. The reason many of us are “frum” today is because someone before us decided to make sacrifices. The same can be said for those who aren’t affiliated- someone down the line decided Judaism was not worth more sacrifice. And who are we to judge? It’s not easy. My point is, taking out more money to live a “more Heimish” lifestyle isn’t the answer.

      Thank you for your comment.

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