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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘education’

Cost/Benefit – An Analysis of a Jewish Education

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Originally posted to the author’s Emes Ve-Emunah website}

It’s that time of year. School has started and for the vast majority of Orthodox Jews with school age children  ‘belt tightening is the order of the day. What I mean of course is that the cost of educating our children Jewishly is beyond the means of virtually all Orthodox Jewish families.  Even those that have decent incomes – north of $100,000 per year. 5 children or more per family is not uncommon. And in the more Charedi  families 10 children of more is not uncommon.

If one looks at the range of tuition one would have to pay per child, one might get sticker shock. Looking at just Chicago (and suburbs) as an example the range for Orthodox Jewish elementary day schools is anywhere from $10,500 to $17,500. It doesn’t take a genius in math to multiply those figures by  5 children. Full tuition at the least expensive school will cost those parents $52,000! And that doesn’t even factor in high school tuition which in Chicago – in most cases ranges well in to the $20 thousands! And then there is summer camp; the gap year in Israel… How many parents opt out of those experiences for their children? I don’t know what the typical cost of summer camp is… but it isn’t cheap. I also do not know what the gap year in Israel costs. But it is probably a lot more than high school tuition!

So if you’re making about $100,000 per year, which most people would say is a decent income, paying full tuition with after tax dollars will eat up most of it. And most Orthodox Jews do not make over $100,000 per year. (Although many do.)

Which is where scholarships come in. The vast majority of the parent body of religious schools are on at least a partial scholarship. But since these schools are forever running deficits, scholarship parents are carefully vetted before the tuition reduction is determined for them. They are still asked to pay as much as they can. Which many parents feel is more than they can afford. Which leads to the belt tightening.

There is pressure on both sides. Pressure on parents to pay as much of their income as possible and pressure on the school to make up the difference with fundraisers. Some schools do better than others. But few can coast. None of them are on easy street and are forever trying to come up with new ideas as sources of revenue. The bottom line is that a good education costs money. If you want good teachers – you are going to have to pay for them.

Issues about school waste are beyond the scope of this post. Suffice it to say that there will not be much savings to parents even if schools eliminated all of it. And as is often the case, waste is in the eyes of the beholder. What may seem like waste to a parent, may in fact be vital to the smooth operation of  a school.

I bring all of this up in light of an article in the Forward that reports about the publication of spreadsheets that list tuition costs of thousands of religious schools in the US, Canada, and Israel. While the accuracy of these numbers is unclear this list gives a parent some idea about the cost of the options available in the various communities in which they live.

But is cost the best way to judge what kind of school you should send your child to? If for example there are 2 schools that have equivalent educations – and one is cheaper, should you send your child to the cheaper one? The truth is that it will not necessarily save you any money because it does not factor in scholarships. Which can be greater in the more expensive school. And thus ultimately cheaper.

Furthermore, what seems like an equivalent education to an outsider may not actually be the case to an insider. It is important to send your children to a school that will give them the best education based on your Hashkafos. Money should at best be a secondary consideration.

The disparity in the type of education and tuition costs offered between these schools can be profound.

A Chasidic school in Williamsburg might have a tuition cost per child of $5000. But they will offer no secular studies. Which of course saves them the cost of hiring secular studies teachers.

A Yeshivishe school that does offer secular studies may offer them minimally as a necessary concession to parents that want it, but devote the vast majority of their time and resources to religious studies.

Some schools on the other side of the religious spectrum spend the vast majority of time on secular studies – preparing their students for entry into top universities. And treat religious studies as a formality. Some schools offer a lot of enrichment programs. Some have sports teams that compete with other schools spots teams. In short there are a lot of variables. Tuition costs are but one of them, and in my view, the least important one.

The one thing I believe all religious schools have in common is that they provide a religious environment for the child. In my view, the importance of this cannot be stressed enough. If you child is not set to a religious school, he will be influenced by the values of the school to which you send them. Outside the home – they will be subject to a culture practically devoid of any Jewish context. Spending 6 or more hours per day in such an environment can take its toll on religious observance. Even if the home environment is 100% observant.

One need not look any further than our own history in America prior to the advent of Jewish education as we know it today. When there were few religious schools, many observant Jews had little choice but to send their children to a public school. Although many stayed religious, many did not – absorbing the values of that school and seeing their own home environment as irrelevant to their eventual lives.

If on the other hand if you are in an environment where everyone is more or less on the same page religiously – the chances of that happening are substantially reduced. I therefore cannot stress enough the importance of a religious day school and high school education. If you want to assure that your children will be observant, that is the best way to assure it. (There are no guarantees of course. Many young people that have attended these schools have gone OTD for reasons that are beyond the scope of this post. But a religious school is still the best way to assure the continued observance by your children),

This finally brings me to a disappointing article by Forward columnist, Bethany Mandel. She and her husband have been dissuaded from sending their children to a religious school because of those oppressive tuition costs. Which she saw in that newly published spreadsheet. Here is how she put it:

When I became Orthodox I had every intention of doing so. But upon having children, we did the math and realized that for the number of children we want to have (I refuse to have fewer Jewish children for the sake of tuition payments) multiplied by the amount we would be on the hook to pay, even after financial aid, our bill would almost certainly exceed my likely take-home pay.

This has led her to a decision to home school her children. While it is true that they may not have the influences of the public school – her children will not have the influences of a peer group and educators of a religious school. Besides, I’m not convinced that the typical parent is capable of doing the job of highly trained professional educators – to teach their children the knowledge required to excel in both religious and secular studies.

Her children will also not get the positive reinforcement that interacting on a daily basis with a religious peer group and the variety of teachers they would have. I believe Ms. Mandel will be unwittingly shortchanging them by not allowing them to have the full measure of Jewish education that only a school flied with trained professionals can provide. Even with all of the possible flaws she might find in the one she chooses.


I would, therefore, urge Ms. Mandel and like minded parents that have been scared off by those high tuition figures – to reconsider. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a peer group environment to a child’s religious future. Although that alone is not enough. I feel it is of vital importance as a added edge to an observant end. What about the cost? I am absolutely convinced that her financial concerns will be addressed by the scholarship assistance she will  surely receive. No one is ever asked to pay more than they make.

Harry Maryles

Rabbi Abramchik Retires After 45 Years In Jewish Education

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Rabbi Elchonon Abramchik, the founding principal of Sha’arei Bina Torah Academy for Girls in North Miami Beach, decided to retire at the end of the past school year after 45 years in Jewish education.

Rabbi Abramchik is a man who believes in planning. His wife Harriet, a”h, was the same way. Together they had decided she would retire at age 62 and the rabbi would retire shortly thereafter. Harriet retired on schedule but the rabbi was not ready to leave the world of chinuch.

Rabbi Elchonon Abramchik

Rabbi Elchonon Abramchik

Unfortunately, his wife soon passed away. Working as a principal, with talented administrators and a dedicated faculty, helped fill the void and ease the loneliness of being a widower.

“I continued to work for three years after my wife’s passing” said Rabbi Abramchik. “I wanted to retire almost immediately but was advised not to make major life decisions in a state of emotional stress. Actually, I’m glad I took that advice. I don’t know if the healing process would have taken place were I to have retired as planned.”

“Retirement means a plan to do something else,” he added. “For me it never meant to just do nothing. It means shifting gears. One should learn Jewish texts every day. I am planning to learn in the morning at the Miami Beach Community Kollel and offer my service as an educational consultant to schools locally and around the country.”

The Greater Miami community wishes Rabbi Abramchik hatzlacha rabbah in his future endeavors. He can be contacted at 786-247-3961.

Shelley Benveniste

Political Hitman – Stand Up, Don’t Sit With Your Heads Down [audio]

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

When you see injustice and lies on your college campuses, what do you do? Stand up and fight, or sit quietly and hope that the haters fade away? Listen to this powerful interview with Israelis in Canada who are telling you what Israel is REALLY like.
Political Hitman 07Sept2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

The First Day of School [photos]

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

It’s not clear who is having more fun on this first day of school in Israel, the politicians or the students.

Prime Minister Netanyahu Photos by: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO First Day of School First Day of School


Prime Minister Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett Photo by: Flash90

First Day of School

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman
Photo by: Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense
First Day of School

Photo of the Day

Israeli Ministers Advocate for Better Incorporation of Zionism in School Curriculum

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

by Ilana Messika
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced plans at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting for the 2016-2017 school year scheduled to begin on Thursday with a focus on the need to instill Zionist values in a more effective manner throughout the school curriculum.

“Our goal is to revolutionize education. This revolution will be based on two things—excellence and Zionism,” declared Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Netanyahu claimed that the basis of Zionist education was the study of Jewish heritage, specifically the Bible. “We have to make a supreme effort [to make this a part of the educational system]. It is the basis for our being here, it is the reason we were here, it is the reason we came back here, and it is also the reason we will stay here.”

The prime minister also stressed the importance of a comprehensive education for all of Israel’s youth.

“Whoever receives an education also acquires skills in computing, mathematics, the sciences, English, and in general history. We want to bequeath all of these to all the children of Israel, Jews and non-Jews alike, religious and secular,” he explained.

Netanyahu insisted that students’ potential could be maximized through the implementation of an internet-oriented system that would permit teachers to better interact with students.

Education Minister Bennett also announced that the education system would now function in a more personalized manner with smaller classes and more assistant teachers in kindergartens, amounting to an addition of 4,600 new professionals.

The education minister also discussed the need to better inculcate Jewish-Zionist values into the curriculum.

“We need to highlight our national values, Zionism, love of country and service to the state, and the strengthening of our shared Jewish roots.” Bennett emphasized.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Bennett Touts Education Ministry’s Service to Kindergartners, Special Ed

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Appearing on Wednesday before the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee on the preparations for the coming school year, Education Minister Naftali Bennett listed his ministry’s achievements, including adding a second teacher’s assistant in kindergarten classes, and reducing the number of children in first grade classrooms.

Bennett announced that his goal is to have 18,000 students pass the five unit matriculation exam in math within the next four years. He also said the 2016-2017 school year will see an additional 2,000 hours of English studies in all the educational institutions in Israel. Another goal is to narrow the education gap between central and peripheral communities in Israel. Bennett noted that $13.26 million have been allocated to transportation of Bedouin children to schools throughout the Negev. And, starting this year, schools in the Arab sector will begin teaching Hebrew in the first grade.

“I am proud to head a system that cares for every segment of the population,” Bennett said.

According to Bennett, his ministry’s efforts to reduce the number of high school dropouts will be increased significantly. And the special education school year will be extended to August 15, with classes continuing during the September-October holiday season.

Addressing ultra-Orthodox education, Bennett said that only 40,000 of the 400,000 Haredi educational institutions are exempt from teaching the core curriculum. “The law that was passed by the previous Knesset never went into effect, and it was supposed to be implemented only in 2018,” he told the committee.

“I’m not one of those who cry over a law that never went into effect. We’re working with Haredi schools that want to teach five units of mathematics and English. The key to success in Haredi education is not talking, it’s doing,” Bennett added.

MK Aliza Lavie of Yesh Atid, whose party held the Education portfolio in the previous government, said in response that the plan to implement the “core curriculum law” in 2018 was intended to allow ample time for recruiting and training core curriculum teachers.

Bennett also pledged that his ministry would combat ethnic discrimination in the enrollment process of all educational institutions, particularly the ultra-Orthodox.


Israelis Placing at the Top at Science Olympics Around the World

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

By Michael Zeff/TPS

While Israel’s top athletes are competing in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, some young Israeli scientists have been winning a remarkable number of medals at the “science olympics” around the globe. An Israeli delegation of high-school students won two medals on Friday at the International Olympiad in Informatics held in Kazan, Russia.

Tomer Adar, a student at the Ruppin School in Emek Hefer, won a silver medal at the Olympiad, and Liran Markin, a student at the WIZO high school in Nahalal, took bronze. The delegation was also comprised of Noam Ta-Shma from Tel Aviv and Ron Solan from Herzliya and was coached by Dr. David Ginat of Tel Aviv University.

“Israeli students repeatedly achieve international success in scientific competitions and bring honor and pride to the State of Israel,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

The competition included delegations from 81 countries while Israel ranked at 28th place overall. China was ranked first, followed by Russia and the United States.

The victory at the competition marks the fourteenth by Israelis this summer at science olympiads. An Israeli delegation also won the silver and bronze medals and ranked 20th in the world at the Chemistry Olympiad held in Tbilisi, Georgia earlier in August.

Other achievements include six medals at the Mathematics Olympiad held in Hong Kong and four medals at the Physics Olympiad held in Zurich, Switzerland.

President Reuven Rivlin held a reception in honor of some of the young scientists at his residence in Jerusalem on Sunday where he thanked them for their achievements.

“Good morning to you my champions. I thank you in the name of the entire nation for your achievements,” the president greeted the medalists of the Chemistry Olympiad, Ron Solan and Sevostianov.

Michael Bachner contributed to this report.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israelis-placing-at-the-top-at-science-olympics-around-the-world/2016/08/21/

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