The Jewish Week recently published an article about the "tuition crisis" in Yeshiva Day Schools entitled Teaneck Parents Eyeing Public (School) Option. This article raises a very alarming issue but in a way that is so one-sided that it should upset the sensibilities of anyone dedicated to Yeshiva day school education. My friend, Rabbi Aaron Ross, has blogged convincingly about the many distortions in this article in his posting: Why Does the Jewish Week not Support Day Schools?.
When I first saw this article, I responded vociferously to it using social media. I expressed my dismay that these people are ignoring the simple fact, which has been proven over and over again in numerous studies in the social sciences in the last two decades, that the best defense against assimilation and intermarriage is a Yeshiva education. See for example the following summary of studies on this topic: http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/WillYourGrandchildrenBeJews/.
Then I was contacted by someone who argued that I was being insensitive by judging others who were in this situation. I struck up a conversation with him and he write me a lengthy response which appears below, with the writer's permission. The only edits I have made have been a few minor grammatical changes and the removing of any personal identifiers from this posting so that the writer could remain anonymous. It is my hope that this plea and other similar stories will help mobilize to the Jewish community to try to find new ways to deal with this crisis.
Thanks for your responses as well, I did read the article you sent via link. First, I think the problem is we are arguing 2 different points. I believe with every fiber of my being in the value both short term and long of a yeshiva education. Period. The problem is affordability. There are those who use the cost of tuition as a ruse for not sending their children and using money for materialistic pleasures. I am not speaking about nor defending that category. There are however those that TRULY want to send kids to yeshiva but DO NOT have the gelt.
In my case, we had one income but couldn't afford it so my wife went to work at a job she absolutely hates and was miserable but she did it. Even with 2 incomes, we had 3 tuitions and every year the tuitions went up. It became impossible to meet financial responsibilities let alone save anything. We, unfortunately, had no choice and ended up putting one daughter in (Public) H.S.
Let me tell you, I dropped my daughter off there on first day. As she got out of the car and walked towards school, it was one or probably the worst day of my life. It was slow motion, surreal, horrible. I wish that day on no one, a million emotions, what helplessness I felt. If there were any way to have sent to yeshiva, I would have. Then, not speaking of you specifically, those more financially endowed pass judgements and criticisms, make the situation more painful. I can assure you that to this day I am not "vacationing" nor living in the Lap of luxury.
I worry every day about the statistics you sent. I can only say we tried our best and hope for the best but we can only do what we can do There is a crisis here. What is the Jewish community doing to help besides talking, discussing and arguing about it? At the risk of spending others money, I would say instead of donating a million dollars to have your name put on a shul, donate that money to a yeshiva for scholarship money. I know shuls need money too, but if our children fall off the path, we won't need shuls any more.