web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Making Jewish Life Easier

Share Button

Last year I wrote on the need to monitor students who go to Israel for a year of study. I noted that while few Jewish experiences are as inspiring as a year in Israel after high school, it shouldn’t be a free-for-all; there is a need to steer some of the young people away from the nightlife and toward more rewarding social outlets.

As my second daughter prepares to travel to Israel for a year of study, I can only wish that monitoring were my biggest worry. Unfortunately, just days before she was due to depart, we received a message from the seminary with which she’d registered informing us the school was closing due to financial constraints. We are scrambling to find a replacement.

It’s a strange and alarming predicament to be in, and it’s made me ponder the enormous challenges that face Orthodox parents as they struggle to raise their children. Is it really supposed to be this complicated?

First, there is the enormous cost of tuition that all of us struggle with. It’s not farfetched to say that approximately one-third of my income goes to paying for my kids to attend Jewish schools and universities. For a family with nine children, thank God, the burden is considerable and made all the more difficult because America punishes parents of faith who want to give their children a values-based education. We pay high property taxes and not one penny is allowed to even subsidize secular subjects like math at our kids’ parochial schools.

Then there’s the cost of Jewish camps, Jewish after-school activities, bar and bas mitzvahs, kosher food, religious celebrations, and, God willing, weddings. Look, I’m not complaining. If only the biggest problems in all of our lives were purely financial.

But after a while, you begin to wonder how we are supposed to afford all of this.

And the challenges are not just about money. In secular homes, life seems pretty straightforward. You have, usually, two to three kids max. They go to school around the corner, they finish high school, choose a university, graduate, get a job, date for several years, and, after they have some money, settle down (hopefully) and get married.

In the Orthodox Jewish world, it’s much more complicated. Your kids often go to schools that are quite a hike from home, which involves logistical nightmares related to transportation. Suddenly, you’re not only a chauffeur but a management guru coordinating complicated carpool schedules. And rather than two or three children, you usually have five or six. Then, when your kids finish high school, it’s not simply off to university. You have to help them find the right seminary or yeshiva in Israel first, which brings a whole new round of challenges.

When they return from Israel and start college, you are opposed to dating recreationally (as you should be). Your kids date to marry. But when they marry young they usually have nothing to start life with, so you have to help them get started, which is a pleasure, of course, but just adds more pressure to your existing burden.

And these complications do not even include the reality that when you travel on a family vacation, you generally can’t eat at a restaurant – you have to bring pots and pans and frozen bread and meat.

We do this because we believe in it and because we see with our own eyes how, even with all the complications and colossal expenses, it removes from our lives far greater complications. Since our kids are raised with real values and divinely-inspired wisdom, they make healthier and more mature decisions in life.

I wouldn’t change it for the world. I would not only die for my Judaism, I live for it. I will accept all these challenges and break my back to see my commitment through to my very last breath.

Even so, it should be easier. In our technologically advanced world, where everything is being streamlined and communication has become effortless, leading a religious Jewish life should be just a wee bit less complicated.

The fact that it is not is a testament to the lack of coordination among the various Orthodox communities around the world. If Jewish philanthropists can come together to offer a free trip to Israel to every Jewish young person on earth, then surely we can make attending Jewish day schools more affordable and the availability of kosher food more widespread (which it is, to some extent, due to the miracle of organizations like the OU, but still not enough).

Here are a few suggestions:

1) Orthodox Jews must team up with Catholics and evangelicals to put real pressure on our politicians to make subsidies for parochial schools a reality. Our tax dollars should be used to pay for our children’s secular education in our private schools without it constituting a threat to the separation of church and state. It is our money, after all, and we’re not asking the government to pay for Bible studies.

2) A global fund must be created to give every Jewish child on earth $5,000 per year toward tuition for a Jewish school or university.

3) Orthodox leaders should come together to achieve a consensus on Jewish weddings that do not spill over into the elaborate and overly materialistic. While this is important for its own sake, as it is a reflection of true Jewish values, it also serves the purpose of parents being freed from feeling they have to mortgage their homes in order to keep up with the Schwartzes.

4) In California, The Coffee Bean, a mainstream and highly successful franchise run by my friend Sonny Sassoon, has made its hundreds of branches entirely kosher. This means you can find kosher cakes, sandwiches, and bagels all over the West Coast. The American Jewish community should build on this model and create at least two national franchises that cater to the mainstream non-Jewish public but that are also kosher, so that Jewish families can eat wherever they travel.

None of this is impossible. Creating the State of Israel was a lot more difficult, and it was set into motion because one visionary Jew said, “If you will it, it is no dream.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the international bestselling author of 20 books. His website is www.shmuley.com.

Share Button

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Making Jewish Life Easier”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.

The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.

Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.

If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.

The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.

American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.

But the most painful part of an otherwise illuminating and extraordinary Forum was Iranian President Rouhani’s speech.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/making-jewish-life-easier/2008/08/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: