This time of year is a toughie for all of us who have children in private Jewish day schools. It’s the time when tuition contracts are signed, and head checks (post dated cheques) must be sent in.

Personally, I know very few people who are able to pay full tuition for each of their children. Here in NY if I was to pay full tuition for my four children I would have to come up with close to sixty thousand dollars. The schools all offer tuition assistance, thank God, and if you qualify it’s indeed a big help.

But what are the schools going to start doing when there are more parents that cannot pay full tuition, when the economy claims more victims, and there is just not enough money to go around?? What then? There is a school I am familiar with that hasn’t paid its religious studies teachers in months because it just doesn’t have the money. If more parents paid full tuition it would ease the school’s financial burden. But the parents don’t  have it. What salary do you need to be bringing in, factoring in things like mortgage, car payments, food and health insurance, to afford to shell out 50K per year for school? Who makes that kind of money?

Why can they not set public schools up to have a stream for Jewish kids? In our area for sure, and in many others, there are plenty of children that would make such a program worthwhile. Why do we put up with the exorbitant cost of religious Jewish education? Well, I know why I do – because I know it’s the right kind of education for my children. I want them growing up religious and have the same values, ideals and goals as I do. In order to continue the Jewish people it’s important to teach our children to embrace the same values that we have. They cannot be immersed in our very rich culture if they attend public school. It won’t mean the same to them.

There are no easy answers here, but I am hearing a lot of frustration from my friends. What are your thoughts? How do you afford tuition? What sacrifices do you make so you can pay tuition?

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  1. I understand your frustration for wanting the best education for your children and at a time when the economy is stumbling it really pinches the money from everyone. Hopefully the schools will lower the prices if they see that people are want to get in but can’t easily afford it. The other option is a huge task and that would be to open your own school, with the help of others. That would be exciting but it’s a big dream. I’d love to do that for my children, I just don’t know where to start!

  2. Kim says:

    Setting up religious education in the public school system is a very slippery slope and one not likely to happen. With the separation of “church” and state as a basic foundation of our country, having additional classes targeted towards any religion, would not go over well. If we started with one, say Jewish, it would lead to, how about Catholic, Baptist, etc…

    I totally agree with you that it would be an ideal scenario–but there is no way to do it, and fund it, without doing it for absolutely every “group” out there…

    • tesyaa says:

      I am putting on my sarcasm hat, so please read accordingly:

      “But Jewish children are special! They really can’t go to public school with other kids! And those other religions don’t care as much about their beliefs. Look what we sacrifice for yeshiva – it PROVES we need the government to fund it.”
      :) :) :)

  3. ysh says:

    Checkout for a detailed treatment of the issue from a Bergen County perspective. I’m sure most of the issues apply to the Monsey metro area, even though the schools are probably a bit more chareidi…

  4. Dave says:

    The Public Schools will be happy to take Jewish children.

    What they will not do is create a “Jewish only” school for you.

  5. Baila says:

    In the community I lived in before we moved to Israel there were several attempts to get a group of kids together and send them to the public schools. There was not enough interest because, like you, Hadassah, most people wanted their kids in a yeshiva atmosphere. However, I personally have a few friends who have pulled their kids out of yeshiva and put them into public schools because the pressure of tuition was to much. (We are talking excellent public schools). These are religious people who just could not do it any more. I think with the economy the way it is, this will happen more and more.
    And having a “Jewish” track in a public school is just not what the ideals of America are based on. Jews benefit from the separation of church and state and I don’t think we can have it both ways.

  6. I think that they should start setting up afternoon programs for people who can send their kids to public schools in the morning (most of which end fairly early in the day anyway) and have religious instruction at night. Most yeshivas have abysmal secular studies instructors, and the ones that don’t are unaffordable by the vast majority of people. Why pay for something that you can get for free? You are essentially double paying for secular studies since your taxes buys free education. If you want your kids to have a religious environment/education, have after-public school programs. If you want your kids to only ever interact with other jewish people, and you think they will not stay jewish if they interact with non-jewish people, then I don’t know what to say…make the religion more appealing to kids? Teach kids why they should love judaism during their after school programs instead of just teaching them words in books. This isolation thing is not affodable…that’s why in general society only the very richest kids get sent to private schools, where they can only interact with other rich kids.

    • sheldan says:

      AE, that idea sounds like the Talmud Torah program (what we referred to as Hebrew School) that I went through in the 1960s along with a lot of my friends. We had two hours a day, three days a week about 30 minutes after the end of public school. I am not sure that is the answer–students weren’t thrilled to sit through more school, and many of us dropped out after 5 years (when a student became Bar Mitzvah)–I graduated after 6 years by going the extra year. (I think that is another reason why we shouldn’t be satisfied with a Jewish education that ended when the child was 14 years old.) I think that there does need to be something for those who can’t or won’t go to Jewish day school.

      You are absolutely right that isolation is not the answer, and in smaller communities it would be impossible. Interacting only with our own and out of fear of assimilation merely by contact with non-Jews is not desirable. Your comment about “teaching kids why they should love Judaism…instead of just teaching them words in books” is right on. I would love to know if anyone has a vision for such an afterschool program that won’t turn kids off.

  7. Nora says:

    The cost of Jewish day schools where I live in Michigan (and grew up) is entirely ridiculous. I converted as an adult and as a child attended Catholic schools from k-12. My high school was an excellent all girls school and cost roughly 5k per year. There were some need based scholarships available, as well. The rest of the money the school had was from endowments and fundraisers.

    The difference is that plenty of non-Catholic students attend as well. Everyone is warned when they enter the school that religion classes are taught from a Catholic point of view and they can deal or remove their child. If the Jewish day schools opened their doors to more students with the same understanding tuition would go down as enrollment went up.

    • Chanief says:

      I see two problems with this idea. 1. A lot of the yeshivot have substandard secular programs, which would not be of interest to those who are looking for a decent education (as most parents willing to pay for private school are.) 2. Most yeshiva parents would not be happy with their child sitting in class next to and playing during recess with children that are not religious or not jewish. Other than that, I think finding an alternate source of income for yeshivot are a great idea.

  8. Dave says:

    Many of the Day Schools don’t want children with even slightly different practices to attend, much less non-Jewish children.

    And I doubt non-Orthodox and non-Jewish parents looking for an excellent secular education would consider them acceptable.

  9. Nora says:

    If it’s a nearby school and has an excellent reputation I don’t care where my kids go. If there are after school programs in/for religion and Hebrew studies then why does it matter where my kids learn math and chemistry? As for kids of other faiths…if it’s not going to affect the quality of the education offered and if parents and students know exactly what they’re getting into in terms of language, religion, and kashrut why couldn’t they attend? There’s virtually no reason why Jewish education needs to cost more than 3 times as much as any other education.

    The other problem I have with the Jewish day schools in our area is that the kids who go on to university don’t get into top universities. There were multiple Ivy League-rs in my class of 200 and plenty of others who went to top notch schools. Nearly everyone from the Jewish high schools in our area end up at smaller in state schools.

  10. Dave says:

    First, as a general rule, it won’t have an excellent reputation for secular education. For many of the schools on the right of the ideological spectrum, boys will get no secular education to speak of.

    Second, since the schools will reject students based on the presence of a television or Internet, or how their mother dresses, I doubt they are going to accept a bunch of goyim.

    • Nora says:

      And, Dave, I guess that’s what I see as an issue. Even the non-Orthodox schools in our area don’t have a good reputation. Frankly, the best secular education to be had at the high school level is still in the single sex Catholic schools my husband and I attended when we were in school 12 & 10 years ago respectively. He was never Catholic but his parents wanted a solid private education for him rather than the Detroit Public School system. (Can’t imagine why.)

      I understand the value of teaching Torah, Jewish religion, history, theology, and life but not at the expense of my children also being able to function well in the real world. A co-op of parents and Rabbis could teach those things in some kind of after school or weekend program with a far smaller price tag and my guess is, plenty of volunteers would come out of the woodwork for that opportunity.

  11. Fruma Sara says:

    At least for girls, if there were all girls public schools, especially public high schools, like there were in earlier generations, it would make it easier for parents who are struggling with the cost of yeshiva. In the city where I grew up, the daughter of the rosh yeshiva attended an all girls public school before there was a Bais Yaakov – I assume in the 1950′s.

  12. batya from NJ says:

    It’s funny b/c after your last status update a few hrs ago where you mentioned that BH all of your kids have been accepted to the Yeshivas of their choice I was thinking that one of the perks (in my opinion) of the more right wing schools is that tuition is more affordable as compared to the more modern orthodox day schools out there. I didn’t have a chance to comment earlier, as I was on my way out to an appt. with one of my children but I found it funny when I returned home & noticed your new post on tuition!

    Oy tuition!! It really makes my head spin to be quite honest especially in my area where the average tuition including fees run around $15K for elementary school (& last I had heard it was much lower in Monsey especially at YSV). In addition, the HSs around here run in the $22+k range not to mention my oldest daughter who is beginning a private Jewish college next week (but luckily the tuition there is much more affordable than at Stern College (another private Jewish college) in the area so it’s all relative…
    I will add that in the local elementary schools, when children require individualized attention that cannot be completely addressed in resource rooms, the cost of tuition in these programs run in the $23+k range & if a child has even more serious learning challenges there is the Sinai school which runs in the $40+k range so it is all very daunting especially when we have children which academic challenges that often require additional interventions such as various therapies (PT, OT, SLP, Vision therapy, tutoring etc).

    In Bergen County, NJ, there was a huge interest in a Hebrew Immersion charter school (which would be a division of the public school system) which we looked into but first of all it hasn’t been approved & secondly it did not seem appropriate for both my child & our family. This particular program was trying to initiate a Hebrew Language immersion program where there would be 2 sets of teachers teaching the identical curriculum but 1 week in English & 1 week in Hebrew with the ultimate goal of encouraging bilingualism. Personally, I knew that for my child who has language challenges, this situation would hardly be ideal & in reality I didn’t really need my child to become fluent in Hebrew in any event (even though it would be nice, it was not a priority for me). This charter school if it had been approved would have been ideal for a non-religious Israeli family that wanted their kids to keep up with their native tongue of Hebrew while at the same time becoming fluent in English. In short, I quickly realized that it was not the answer I was seeking for my child who I wanted to be in a more sheltered Yeshiva environment. However, this decision of keeping my child(ren) in Yeshivas does come with many financial challenges & sacrifices but as I’ve said in previous comments on your blog, it is NOT easy being an Orthodox Jew especially from a financial stand-point.

    Also, back to this charter public school, they were going to offer davening/early morning prayers b/f school started for those who were interested & they were also considering renting space from the public school for after hrs. supplemental Judaic studies instruction. One problem I foresaw with this educational model was that many kids would likely opt against staying after school for the Talmud Torah type system that they would not necessarily want to be part of when many of their public school friends would not have to stay on for extra-curricular learning. At least in the Yeshivas, ALL of the students are required to stay at school & nobody has the option to end the day at 3pm officially (as they can do in the public schools). In addition, as children in the public schools would enter middle & high schools, the pressure to not remain observant would likely be greater (when many of their peers would be partying on Friday nights etc). That said, even in the more sheltered Yeshiva system, there is no guarantee that a child will continue in the ways of their parents & traditions, but at least there is more of a chance than if they are in the public school environment which was a big issue for my husband & myself who hope & pray that our children will emulate our ways in terms of religious observance.

    • Nora says:

      I can’t comment on all of your piece because I simply don’t have the experience. That being said, I can fully comment on the cost. My entire high school education including books, uniforms and tuition didn’t even cost 22K. If my Mom had needed that kind of cash there’s no way I’d have been able to attend even with financial assistance.

      I also understand that special needs children require more financial resources for the school and the district however, my university education didn’t cost 40k per year. Even with a discount that’s totally outrageous.

      If schools set realistic budgets and didn’t assume that their students would need financial assistance then maybe those religious teachers who haven’t been paid in months would actually get paid.

      • batya from NJ says:

        & Nora I will add that the teachers at my children’s yeshivas & the other local day schools in town are paid very generously (as far as Yeshiva salaries go) & on time & I know this b/c I have friends who work in these schools.

        • Nora says:

          It’s good that their paid well. Personally, we don’t pay our teachers near enough anywhere in the country. My aunt recently moved from teaching in a private school to a public school. She’s making almost twice what she was in the new school and it’s still less than I made in an entry level corporate position right out of college. I was 2 months out of college, she’s got about 30 years in the schools.

    • batya from NJ says:

      Wow, sorry for the huge megilla above but tuition is a huge topic for me as you can tell ;)!

      I just wanted to add that in my community a fund has been set up by the UJA called NNJKIDS where funds from the community are being raised to help defray the costs of a day school education & all of the funds are being divided among all of the local Orthodox & Conservative day schools in our area to help decrease the constant increase in tuitions that we parents have noticed over the years. The Rabbis have been encouraging us to give Tzedaka locally b/c “aniney ircha kodmim” the poor of your community come first.

      I will also add that I feel that the schools in my area are excellent & the children are receiving a wonderful Judaic & secular education which is terrific except for the overwhelming costs involved.

      & Nora, with regards to the Catholic school system, I’m not sure that everyone would agree it is so wonderful. I’ve met people who went throught the system, & did not feel that it was a good education & they also had many issues with the nuns there etc. In addition, the reason why tuitions in private Catholic schools are less expensive than in the Yeshivas are b/c Catholic schools are funded by the Arch-diocese which help defray the costs for parents. I guess the new community initiative I mentioned above, is striving to do the same as the Arch-diocese by keeping the costs lower for parents but much more needs to be raised in order to decrease the current tuition costs.

      • Dave says:

        Only in Bergen County are people in the top quintile (or higher) of income “the poor”.

        • batya from NJ says:

          It IS insane Dave but Bergen County is among the counties with the highest property taxes in the country. In addition, the cost of full tuition for my 3 children for the upcoming school year was nearly $68,000 pre-tuition assistance & even with the assistance we will still be paying nearly $50k so you can see how a family who earns $100-$150k with several children in this area can in fact be considered ‘poor’ even though that income in mainstream America is considered to be respectable. bottom line is that our yeshiva tuitions are ASTRONOMICALLY expensive & it is a HUGE issue for many to contend with :(!

          • Dave says:

            No, you aren’t poor.

            You have just chosen expensive luxuries.

          • batya from NJ says:

            Dave, I live in a modest home & I would hardly consider my life luxurious but yes we have made sacrifices so that our children can receive the best possible Judaic & secular educations available which is a huge priority for both my husband & myself, but I would not consider them luxuries even if they may not be priorities for you!

          • Dave says:

            Private schooling is a luxury. And a very expensive one.

            Buying a home (even a modest one) in an expensive neighborhood is a luxury.

            If you make a lot of money (and $150k is a lot of money, it’s three times the median household income in the United States), you are not poor. You may be spending more than you make — that just makes you fiscally unwise, not poor.

          • batya from NJ says:

            Dave, if you read my email below from last night you will see that i wrote that i do NOT consider myself to be poor. i’m not sure how many times i need to repeat that to you but all i am saying is that living an orthodox lifestyle & sending kids to Jewish schools does bite into a large chunk of one’s salary & i would be financial “richer” were i to choose to send my children to public school for free education & were i to not live in an orthodox community within walking distance to shuls which is a priority. these are all priorities to ME & to Hadassah & to most individuals who have children & are trying to raise their families in accordance with orthodox traditions. & yes, it is an expensive lifestyle choice yet it is non-negotiable for many of us & for someone who does not feel the need to send their children to yeshivas & does not have the need to live near an orthodox synagogue this most certainly must seem like a colossal waste of money & a poor way of managing our money but it is NOT b/c again as i said last night it is a priority for us even if it is incomprehensible to you. & further, even though it is a choice we feel we must make that does not make it easy for us to afford & we have the right to complain that there is a tuition crisis in our communities.

          • Dave says:

            I was specifically addressing the notion that things like NNJKIDS which provide aid to affluent Americans with expensive tastes are aiding “the poor among us”.

            Someone with 4 children making $30k is poor. Someone with 3 children make $150k is not.

          • batya from NJ says:

            Actually, someone who is making $150k is paying a lot in taxes (especially if they are self-employed) as opposed to someone who is earning $30k & someone who is earning 30k will likely receive much more in financial aid than one who is earning $150k. in addition, many local families have been hit hard by the recession & have lost their jobs & have not been able to find new ones & some of those families are quickly becoming poor especially when the major bread-winner of the home is no longer employed.

            NNJKIDS was set up in order to encourage parents to keep their kids in the yeshiva system which is so important for Jewish continuity. all the funds that are raised are divided among all of the local elementary schools (& i think some HSs too) in order to help reduce the yearly tuition increases that as i said earlier we parents were seeing & was becoming less & less affordable for many parents (b/c yes we are paying too much for property taxes & so many other necessary expenses-& i don’t mean going to israel for the summers & aruba for winter-break ;)!

          • Dave says:

            That does not make NNJKIDS (and it’s $200/student stipend to the schools) aid to “the poor among us”.

          • batya from NJ says:

            Dave, while I am not aware of the ‘particulars’ of the NNJKIDS incentive, it is only YOUR opinion that they are not a worthy cause to contribute to as ALL of the local rabbis in Bergen County seem to disagree with you. Besides, no one is forcing you to contribute to them. Feel free to give your tzedaka money to whichever causes are most important to YOU but don’t condemn others who are trying to support this important initiative.

          • Dave says:

            I didn’t say you shouldn’t contribute to it (although I personally would not). I just said that it was not aiding “the poor among us”.

            Giving money to the affluent but over-extended is not giving to the poor.

          • batya from NJ says:

            Dave, we can agree to disagree but I will say is that it seems obvious to me from your comments that you do not have children in the yeshiva system (which is obviously fine & for all i know you do not have any children in general which is also fine but quite frankly i know nothing about you except for your feelings on the NNJKIDS & you feel that they should not be considered “the poor among us”). If you did have children in the Yeshiva system, I have no doubt that would be much more empathetic to the situation that that many of us Yeshiva tuition-paying parents in the orthodox community find ourselves to be in.

          • Dave says:

            You have chosen to live in a very high tax state, in a very expensive region, and to purchase a home there.

            You have also chosen private schooling (and expensive private schooling). All well and good.

            These are your choices.

            They may leave you dreadfully over-extended financially. They may leave you dependent on the largess of either the schools or communal charities (who share your belief that the private schooling is worth the cost).

            What they don’t make you is “the poor”.

          • batya from NJ says:

            Dave, we are not sending our kids to ritzy exclusive private prep schools in the City. We are sending them to Yeshivas & day schools in order to provide them with a (hopefully) quality Jewish & secular education that Hadassah, I & others in the Orthodox community believe to be non-negotiable necessities & not luxuries. You & I can argue whether or not a Yeshiva education is a luxury or necessity but honestly it’s irrelevant to me if you feel that is it not necessary for observant kids to receive a Yeshiva education. This argument is going nowhere fast & frankly giving me a huge headache.

            I find it offensive that you seem to feel that anyone who chooses to live in Bergen County has no right to complain about the high cost of living. HELLO, this is America & this is the internet, & Hadassah & i can complain about whatever we see fit & who are YOU to determine who is truly deservant of financial assistance & who is not?

            Further, I wonder if you only object to residents of Bergen County who you feel ‘chose’ to move to that community so it’s their problem. In your opinion, are people from Monsey (like Hadassah) permitted to complain about the high cost of living there which although is not as costly as Bergen County is nonetheless a quite expensive place in which to live? Should Hadassah who wrote the original blog above & was lamenting about the high costs of a Jewish education take her kids out of the Yeshivas in which they were finally accepted to since it is so difficult to afford? Should all Orthodox people who are challenged by the tuition crisis simply remove our children out of Yeshivas so that we can more easily afford to live in the suburbs? Perhaps that is your opinino but it is not ours.

            In addition, the concept of “aniyei ircha” the poor among you is not necessarily limited to the destitute among you. It is praise-worthy to support Torah institutions regardless of whether or not the individuals attending those Torah institutes are truly paupers or whether they are hard working people struggling to make ends meet under the circumstances.

          • batya from NJ says:

            & Dave, one final point is that when my family & I chose to move to Bergen County 9+ years ago (primarily b/c we were impressed with the schooling options for our children), the cost of tuition was way less expensive. It has only continued to increase year after year until it eventually became unmanageable. In addition, we purchased a reasonably priced home that was within our means & at the time we bought the house the taxes were nearly half of what they currently are. Our overall expenses have drastically increased year after year which again is why NNJKIDS which has been a welcome attempt by the community to prevent the tuition costs from continuing to skyrocket regardless of whether or not YOU feel that the people in Bergen County are ‘poor’ or deserving of ANY financial assistance or not!

          • Dave says:

            You aren’t reading what I’m saying.

            You aren’t poor.

            That’s it. That’s all I’m saying.

            If you have a six figure household income for what you described as a five person household, you are not poor.

            To put things in perspective, in parts of rural interwar Lithuania, Jewish households where they could have *butter* with their potatoes during the week were considered well-off. In the 1930s, my great-Grandmother sold her hair to be able to put food on the table.

            That’s poor.

          • batya from NJ says:

            & YOU aren’t reading what i’m saying!

            I never said i was poor. in fact, i said i am happy with my lot & therefore rich!!

          • Mark says:

            batya – these are all priorities to ME & to Hadassah & to most individuals who have children & are trying to raise their families in accordance with orthodox traditions.

            But there is another big part of the question. Is it also a priority for YOU to educate your neighbors children? Perhaps because your neighbor doesn’t earn enough to pay his tuition bill, or perhaps because they have more children than they can afford, or perhaps there is an illness in the family, or perhaps because they are lazy and don’t work hard enough? Whatever the reason is, is that also a priority for you?

            Next question. Is it also a priority for you to educate the children of non-observant families in the hope of being mekarev them to Yiddishkeit?

            There are lots of very difficult questions that need to be answered regarding our system of Jewish education.

          • batya from NJ says:

            I agree Mark, there are LOTS of issues & no easy answers but again that is where the NNJKIDS initiative is so helpful as it seeks to help keep tuition costs from rising while trying to allow local day schools & yeshivot to be more accessible for all Jewish families who wish to send their kids to Yeshivot/day schools.

          • Dave says:

            Then NNJKIDS and Yeshiva scholarship programs may be local charities, but they aren’t (at least to the extent that you benefit from them) aid to the poor.

          • Dave says:

            [Sorry, wrong subthread]

          • Dave says:

            The key words were “(at least to the extent that you benefit from them)”.

            You are not poor, therefore the benefits that go to you are not aid to the poor.

            As an analagous example, if I decided to give every child in Bergen County $100 for the first day of class in a Yeshiva, so that it would be sweet, that might be nice, but it likely isn’t doing all that much for the poor.

            If gave $100 to every Bergen County child going to Yeshiva whose actual family income was below the Federal Poverty line, so that they could have appropriate clothing for school, that *would* be aid for the poor.

          • Dave says:

            [Obviously, the preceeding comment goes to the peer comment -- this threading scheme is unpleasantly prone to user error]

          • batya from NJ says:

            & what gives you the right to say that the TRULY poor who are jobless b/c of the economy & under-employed do not benefit as well (if not MUCH more than i) from these programs? or again, do you feel that no one living in Bergen County is poor (according to your criterion of earning below 30k)?

          • batya from NJ says:

            Gosh, i feel like a broken record!!! The mitzvah of giving tzedakah is for the institutions in your area that need support such as the local shuls, the local yeshivot, & the local mikvaot-ritual baths even if they are not solely used by the poor they are nonetheless considered to be under the category of aniyei ircha at least according to Rabbis Schachter & Rabbi Willig of YU.

            And again, do you think Hadassah & her friends who she wrote about in her blog above are ‘poor’ according to your standards just like the poverty you described in Lithuania or in the early 30s here in America? i highly doubt it yet they (& myself) struggle b/c even a 6 figure income for an Orthodox family does not go as far as it would in the mainstream America-as i’ve said countless times earlier in this thread but clearly my words have fallen on deaf ears & you choose to ignore the realities of how far $100,000-$150k will go in the Orthodox community after all of the property taxes, income taxes, mortgage payments, & yeshiva obligations are met. again, i know, you don’t seem to care much b/c all you keep going back to again is that the gross salary figure of 100-150k seems more than adequate from the outset but that is irrelevant to me.

            Dave, i am SO done with the conversation.

            Have a good night!

          • batya from NJ says:

            & Dave I will add that I DO NOT consider myself to be poor b/c I am satisfied with my lot as it says in Pirkei Avot, “Eizeh hu ashir? Hasameach B’Chelko” (Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot) so no I definitely do not think of myself as poor but I most definitely am NOT weathly/rich either…I thank G-d for providing me & my family with a roof over our heads & the ability to afford the necessities in life that we feel are most important to us even though it is admittedly a struggle!

      • Nora says:

        I’m not saying my families experiences were fantastic. My husband (A) still has issues with some of the nuns who were less than kind when they found out he wasn’t Catholic. There were plenty of times that things weren’t going well and plenty of schools that shouldn’t make the cut for any parent. I was Catholic when I attended the schools and I had my fair share of issues with the nuns (or, teachers in general). Our 8th grade class when through 3 religion teachers including a nun that we actually got fired for being both racist and totally inept.

        Anymore, though support from the diocese is non-existant. None of the schools I attended received any kind of assistance from the diocese. In fact, the Archdiocese of Detroit closed all of the Catholic schools in the city of Detroit that weren’t considered independent schools (as in run by a particular order) about 5 years ago.

        The community fund is a fantastic idea and one that more communities should adopt. A and I don’t have kids yet so none of this is really my issue yet. But as it stands now, there is not one Jewish day school we could afford to send our kids to even with some financial aid. Heck, some of the schools in the area cost more than A and I make in a year.

  13. Nora’s comment, “I understand the value of teaching Torah, Jewish religion, history, theology, and life but not at the expense of my children also being able to function well in the real world,” mirrors perfectly how I feel about educating my (future) kids. I understand the desire to see cheaper education while retaining quality religious education, but there’s simply no way we can begin advocating for religious tracks in public education – & frankly, no way it would ever fly. That’s the beauty of church/state separation, which has benefited our community so much, in so many ways. Alas, to take the benefits, we need to take the downfalls, too.

  14. Jack says:

    My conservative day school has an excellent reputation and the kids go on to great schools- but it is still brutal on the pocketbook. Just horrific.

  15. Lion of Zion says:


    “Hopefully the schools will lower the prices ”

    yeah, because money grows on trees.

  16. Ariela says:

    I have a perfect solution for all of you complaining about the high price of Jewish Education.
    Make Aliyah.

    • Nora says:

      I’d love to live in Israel. Unfortunately, if A and I kept the same jobs (or equivalent jobs as my company doesn’t exist there) we still wouldn’t be able to afford the schools. Yes, that $5000/3 kids is exponentially less than the $60k (full tuition)/1 kid would cost here but my guess is retail pays even less in Israel than it does in Michigan. If you factor in the cost of actually moving from Michigan to Israel it’s definitely no cheaper. Making Aliyah for cheaper tuition is in no way the answer to this problem.

  17. Baila says:

    I live in Israel. I have three kids in the 8th, 9th and 12th grades. Combined tuiton: 5,000 dollars. That’s yearly, not monthly.
    Some caveats: My kids went to a modern orthodox school in New York where both the secular and Jewish education was superior. Many kids graduating from those schools do get accepted to the Ivy League. The Israeli education system is different in many ways. No, it’s not “you get what you pay for”, but coming from the place I did it does take adjusting and understanding that things are way different here than they are in the states.
    Secondly, if you live on an Israeli salary, 5,000 dollars is no small change. It still is a much smaller percentage of our salaries than tuition in America was, but I don’t want anyone to get the impression that it’s a free ride. (If you are however, living in Israel, but still pulling in the big bucks you make in America, then, yes, 5,000 dollars is “bubkas”.)
    One final note: please do not make Aliya because of the difference in tuition. Come because you believe you belong here. If you come only for the tuition, I think it will be very difficult to adjust to this crazy, wonderful Israeli life.

    • batya from NJ says:

      As Baila said, Aliyah is not the answer b/c there are many other challenges of living in the Holy Land, financially & otherwise & I am saying this even though I had hoped to make Aliyah in the earlier years of my marriage.

  18. Duvii says:

    Full tuition = what they can get those that can afford to pay to subsidize those that can’t.

    The more interesting question is “What is the median tuition”?

    Where does one think the scholarships come from? Do these schools have endowments? Of course not. It comes from those who pay full tuition. This is our version of wealth redistribution.

    We once asked a prominent Posek if tuition can come from Maaser. He told us to find out the average tuition, take the difference between what we are paying vs. the average and that can be considered Maaser because it is subsidizing the rest. Please check with your own Rav before taking this approach.

  19. Mara says:

    @Bailah – good points, all of them. My husband and I have similar discussions about going back to Israel (we lived in Israel for 12 and 15 years, respectively, and have been back in the U.S. for 2).

    @ In the Pink – funny to see you covering this topic, too! My link @ Haveil Havalim was prompted by the same issues. I guess it’s on the brain lately. I really feel for ‘east coasters’, as our tuition in the Midwest is hard enough.

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