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Yeshiva Tuition Reform Bill Passes: Critics shout socialism

Black Hat groups are rejoicing over the Yeshiva Tuition Reform Bill that was passed by the United States Beis Din earlier today. The YTR Bill, passed by an overwhelming majority, seeks to combat the Yeshiva Tuition Crisis which has wreaked havoc on American Jewry for decades now, forcing some parents to even consider public school, keeping less than glatt kosher and forgoing traditional kollel lifestyles by getting college degrees and making a living instead.

We were at Agudath Israel’s headquarters in New York yesterday when the bill was passed. Cake and schnapps appeared and it turned into a melody of chants of l’chaims and mazel tov.s. It was an amazing scene. However, the mood was not so bright in Federations and other less religious strongholds such as the Orthodox Union, who say that the bill undermines the entire education system. Many groups claim that the money needed to fund the tuition bill will come from things like kosher food price gouging, higher synagogue membership fees and paying teachers way less, which undoubtedly will adversely affect education quality.

Many dissenters have also told us that they simply don’t want anyone telling them where they should send their child to school. They are saying that this yeshiva tuition bill is simply socialism in disguise and that the Beis Din used the tuition crisis to their advantage, by playing off the fear that children will end up in public school if they didn’t find a way to send every child to yeshiva whether the parents could afford it or not.

According to Federation Spokesperson Talia Johnson-O’Mally “This Yeshiva Tuition Reform Bill is simply going to force Jewish children to attend certain schools, obviously those endorsed by the Beis Din, forcing other schools to close down for lack of funding. This Bill will also hurt Jews who do not send their kids to yeshiva, by forcing them to pay higher prices for other services that Jewish people need – like brit milah, bar mitzvah lessons and temple membership.” Mirroring many dissenters’ opinions, she was convinced that the bill was passed by socialists trying to take power away from the people. “They want to control the system, the quality is going to go downhill and people will have to ship their children to other countries for the education they deserve. Besides, these people could send their kids to public school – yeshiva isn’t a right.”

Many Chassidim jumped for joy at the news of the bill’s passing. One man told us that he could finally live fully off the government. He admitted that he was taught by his rebbe and friends that this was just socialism, but he didn’t understand how the government programs he was using already such as welfare, yeshiva busing, public libraries, police protection, section 8 housing and Medicaid weren’t socialist as well. “Socialism, Shmocialism, it’s free money and I’m poor, what’s the difference?” He also told us that as far as he could see everyone in America benefited off of this so called socialism in one way or another and that yeshiva tuition was a right for every frum person to have.

Many at the OU headquarters are baffled by the bill. Many people told us that they were trying to see if the bill actually provided yeshiva tuition, or if it was merely 2,000 pages of pork barrel legislation such as heterim for rabbonim to charge more for services such as kashering private homes, being mesader kedushin or checking mezuzos. Apparently the bill has many such items which explain where the money to pay for such a lofty venture will come from. At the end of the day, there is no such thing as a free lunch, or tuition in this case.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • MissShona March 23, 2010, 3:28 PM

    “Socialism, Shmocialism, it’s free money and I’m poor, what’s the difference?”


    Ok this post is great! Retweeting! 😀

  • Tova March 23, 2010, 6:13 PM

    Love it, Hesh!

    I can totally see ‘ObamaCare’-style tuition “reforms” in the near future, though…kinda pathetic.

    • Meir March 23, 2010, 6:58 PM

      Too late, Tova. Everyone is already required by law (totally anti-freedom) to be educated by the state, though they do have the choice of public, secular private, religious private or home schooling.

      I’m not aware of any religious insurance companies, but certainly under the recently signed law, people have the same choice of public or private (or wait, actually, they don’t even have the choice of public for a lot of people, free market health insurance required).

      As for the schooling issue, I am actually a little bit surprised that nobody has tried to create a hybrid school, where secular subject teachers/classrooms are under control of the local school board while the building, schedule and religious classes are under control of the religion.

      Mind you, this would not be all that acceptable to yeshiva parents, because they probably wouldn’t want their kids learning secular subjects from school board teachers (if at all).

      On the other hand, I bet that quite a few Christians in this country would jump for it (and certainly the Conservative movement would like it a lot); maybe under this scenario even Modern Orthodox would be okay with it.

      • Florina Pincus October 13, 2010, 1:16 PM

        Well in a way somebody has created that type of school. A Jewish man has donated his money from his hedge fund to create a Jewish charter school in Brooklyn. They have an english and Hebrew teacher. One teaches English subjects and the other teaches about the culture of Israel. We just need to create more schools like this in other borourghs. My sister sends her son there. He is getting a good education and at the same time she is saving herself 80,000 dollars.

  • feivelbenmishael March 23, 2010, 6:59 PM


    Agav it says in Hilchos Talmud Torah that if you can’t afford to pay the melamed then everyone else get’s taxed so that your son can attend…

  • Anonymous March 23, 2010, 7:22 PM

    this would be funny if it wasnt so sad that Yeshivah tuition is so high

    • Heshy Fried March 23, 2010, 10:09 PM

      Now just switch what you just said to health insurance

  • ghottistyx March 23, 2010, 11:50 PM

    You know, I can kind of see Rabbi Saul Zucker, currently in charge of the OU’s educational department, jumping on this one. Knowing him as a former assistant principal of mine (then principal for a year), here’s a guy who would totally start toting his Rambam and spouting off how anyone who supports this tuition reform is an oveid avodah zara (with him, just about everything involves the terms “Rambam”, “assur”, and “Avodah Zara”, ideally in the same sentence).

    According to my father, Rabbi Zucker has been running his mouth saying that it’s a CHIYYUV for every Jewish parent to send their kids to Yeshiva, even if they can’t afford it! There were those who were considering making certain stripped-down Yeshivot (“Chevrolet Schools”) which would harken back the old days of Cheider, just a room in someone’s basement which is only a teacher and a bunch of students–very cost effective. The idea is not very popular with many people (my brother, for one, was involved in the polemics as a current Yeshiva student). But yes, if such a reform was passed, I can see Rabbi Zucker somehow being of the staunch opposition to it.

    LeChatchila, I know Yeshivot are not supposed to be run like businesses. I’ve been told that in the more Yeshivish veldt, it is much harder to make a parnossoh being a Rov in a Yeshiva. The assistant principal in the grade school my sister went to was this black hatter from Monsey. I befriended his son in Camp Regesh. I remember asking him what one as frum as his father was doing in a MO Yeshiva Day School. His answer was that there’s no money to be made in the real yeshivish places, so his father worked in the MO schools, but still sent his kids to the more Yeshivish places. Indeed, quite a few of the Rabbanim I had in HS sent their kids to YNJ, YSV, and the ilk; they’d NEVER let their kids go to my MO high school, even with free tuition!

    • ghottistyx March 24, 2010, 12:14 AM

      Whooops, to clarify one point, Zucker’s belief is not only that it’s a chiyyuv to send your kids to Yeshiva, but to GIVE MONEY to them, even if you can’t afford it, everyone must support the system!

      • Tova March 24, 2010, 3:02 PM

        Fish – there’s no way are we sending our kids to one of those frummie factories.

        • ghottistyx March 24, 2010, 10:11 PM

          I’d sooner send them to Dharamsala, India and sell their souls to the Dalai Lama. I’d sooner move to some unoccupied island in Fiji where they’d never have contact with another human being. I’d sooner let Pete Townsend or Roman Polanski babysit them.

          I’d sooner let my tongue cleave to my palette.

  • Anonymous March 24, 2010, 1:06 PM

    I was also at the signing of this bill, and we all heard one of the leading rabbis say the F-word (in case this word can get past your filters, it was “fargin”) into the microphone.

  • yoni mozeson April 7, 2010, 1:15 AM

    I wonder how much of a crises there is because I am marketing a program for incoming 10th graders in Israel at $250 a year (no typo). It’s Yehsivot Bnei AKiva and they have a program for boys and one for girls. We hve a decent amount of interest but not nearly as much as we thought. The site is http://www.newyeshiva.org.

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