Monday, July 14, 2008

I Can't Afford to be Frum

Why do some Jews fall off the derech or choose not to get on the derech to begin with? I'm sure there are many reasons but I'd like to look at one: money.

What does it cost to be frum? A whole lot. Frum Jews don't live in "bad" neighborhoods. And "good" neighborhoods cost more to rent in and to buy in. Larger urban centers, NY in particular, cost even more. But that is just for basic housing. Then you get into the area of the housing competition market--you know the one: person A remodels a kitchen/bathroom using appliances and fixtures from manufacturers X,Y and Z and suddenly everyone is on a remodeling binge.

Outfitting a kosher home costs more. Assume dairy and meat copies for kitchen ware and eating ware. Even if you use disposables for one set, disposables cost money.

Frum Jews send their kids to yeshivas instead of to public school. And yeshiva tuitions have risen and risen and risen. Let's call them what they are--private schools. And private schools are pricey. We also have our own version of graduate education--kollel for the boys and seminary for the girls. In many cases this is in addition to college and secular graduate school.

Kosher food costs more than non-kosher food does. Add on a hechsher and you change the price. And frum Jews have more occasions where "better" types of food play a role. There are at least 2 Shabbos meals every week, and peanut butter is not on the menu. There are multiple holidays during the year. There are brissim and bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs and engagements and aufrufs and weddings and sheva brochos. For some there are yearly yahrzeit kiddushim. Every shul has a yearly dinner, as do all the schools and many of the organizations. Now add in a siyum here and there.

Clothing can cost more if you are frum. If you have neither time nor inclination then you have to shop where a "kosher" selection is all that is available. Given today's style for women you are going to spend double what someone not frum is spending. Frum ladies don't wear those sleeveless tank tops that are around unless paired with a high-necked, long-sleeved top--two tops instead of one. Add in that many frum Jews develop "designer genes" and you have huge clothing bills.

Head coverings for both men and women are pricey--again, see the note above on "designer genes."

Items mandated for use by frum Jews add to the money list. First, mezuzot and their parshiot. Shatnes testing and buying only non-shatnes items. Lulavim and esrogim. Chanukah menoras and the oil/candles to burn in them. Tallisim and tefillin and tzitzis. Shabbos lachter and bechers. Blechs and cholent pots and hot water urns. Matza on Pesach and counter covers.

Larger families equal larger cars equals more paid in gas, insurance and other car expenses. Now double the number of cars, or maybe triple them. Uh huh, you live near good public transportation. So, do you still own a car? Thought so.

Frum Jews have more "life" events than non-Jews do. We start with a shalom zachor and work our way up from there.

Frum Jews have many more organizations that look to them for financial support than non Jews do. In addition to the general secular charities that some give to--like hospitals or cancer organizations--we have numerous tzedaka and chesed organizations that need supporting. The idea of "hachnosas kallah" is not institutionalized in the outside world the way it is in the frum world.

And like those in the secular world, we have our own love affairs with today's technology. Cell phones, computers, printers, Ipods, Blackberries--we're hardly behind in purchasing these. Plenty of CDs out there targeted to the frum olam as well. Nor are we behind in spending on "old" technologies. Outsiders call us "The People of the Book." They're not wrong. Buying seforim is a common occurrence. And then there are the plethora of English language books put out by the various Jewish presses and publishing houses. And hey, some of us also buy "secular" books.

Frum Jews like to take vacations just as much as non-Jewish people do. Only ours cost more. We can only travel on certain days and during certain time periods in the year. We need to have kosher food available to us. We need shuls for minyan. We "need" to visit Israel. When family is spread out we travel out of town for simchas and to keep in touch.

The percentage of frum parents who send their children to sleep away camp puts us at the top of the list of those sending to camp. As a percentage of population, frum Jews have the most children in camp. And frum sleep away camps are pricey.

Make a simcha if you are frum and $$$ signs appear like magic.

Health insurance costs frum Jews more--the larger your family, the more you will pay in insurance, and frum Jews generally don't have small families. Some frum families have 5+ children in them, some way more.

There's lots more that adds to the cost of being frum. Now imagine that you are someone who is taking an interest in becoming frum. Imagine that someone is being m'karev that person. And somehow the conversation is going to come around to money--it always does. Now imagine that person shaking their head in perplexity and uttering the words "I can't afford to be frum." Funny, a lot of the conversations in the already frum community seem to center around just that statement.

So, are we just going to continue to complain and complain about the high cost of being frum, or is there something we can do about it? Cutting back and cutting out are certainly options. Perhaps we need to adopt the slogan of a different campaign--the one that says "Just say no."


Anonymous said...

When you lay it out this way then, yes, someone who is becoming a BT must wonder if they can afford to do so. The rest of us are certainly wondering how we are going to maintain our frum lifestyle. You and others have posted before about cutting down on expenses, and that is one way to get costs under control, if you know how to do that. But we are also in a recession right now and the price of basic everything has gone up. Frum Jews are hit with a double whammy.

The first place I would look to reduce frum expenses is to say that no simcha can cost more than X dollars, it doesn't matter how much you actually have. Either the simcha has to be less elaborate or it has to be way smaller. When lox costs $16 a pound and more, no bris "needs" lox. Why should a kiddush in a shul be more than wine, shnaps and cake? (And why does that shnaps have to be premium liquor?) Why do weddings give guests two meals? Why are there frequently 2 or more "parties" for a bar mitzvah boy? (breakfast in school for the boys bo ba'yom, kiddush in shul, perhaps a lunch in shul and a party after shabbos for those who weren't there for shabbos.) Why are so many sheva brochos mini weddings?

It's at least someplace to start with.

Orthonomics said...

Leaving tuition aside (not sure anything can be done before we are forced by harsh reality), there are ways to control the cost of being frum, starting by learning how to cook more low cost meals, to learning how to shop, to hunting for bargains, to buying the first house a little further down, to controlling the desire for designer, to controlling the cost of smachot.

Even if you use disposables for one set, disposables cost money.

And perhaps the first thing that can be done is for some people to BUY (yes buy) themselves dishes and bakeware. The amount spent on disposables by many families could easily pay for a set of dishes.

Anonymous said...

ProfK, I know you understand the corrections I am about to make, but not everyone does. You said:

"And like those in the secular world, we have our own love affairs with today's technology. Cell phones, computers, printers, Ipods, Blackberries--we're hardly behind in purchasing these."

More than one computer per home and simple cell plans for the adults and older teens is gravy and not at all necessary.

"Frum Jews like to take vacations just as much as non-Jewish people do. Only ours cost more."

Not necessarily. We can all travel economically by using sites like etc. It's called cream cheese and salami sandwiches, cheap/discounted motels, close destinations not requiring lots of gas. There are plenty of reasonably priced vacation destinations driving distance to Shuls and if vacation over Shabbos is absolutely necessary--which it usually is not--there are some destinations close enough to Shuls that do not afford luxury accommodations. Miami, Orlando, or Lake George are not the limit, although some people think so. Israel is a luxury trip. We have family members who live in Israel who we see only occasionally over the years. In our extended family on both sides due to economic restraints, the decision to make Aliyah is a decision to not see each other often and every one of us understands that.

Lion of Zion said...


"The amount spent on disposables by many families could easily pay for a set of dishes."

that's not the point. we personally use a lot of disposables (although i have been cutting back a bit lately.) i think i once commented about this a while back by you. there is a point in being frugal where you reach a point of diminishing returns, especially when time is factored in. (of course everyone has to make there own cheshbon concerning what their time is worth.)

pinching pennies when it is not worthwhile may have an psychological effect, but it really may just make your life more difficult

miriamp said...

anonymous mom, I'm sure you didn't mean it the way I read it, but "cream cheese and salami sandwiches" are hardly Kosher food!

But more to the point, there are those of us out here (out of town, of course) doing what we can.

I won't argue on the outfitting a Kosher kitchen part, but once that's done, it's basically done.

And yes, my kids go to Yeshiva (ie private school) -- but we start with Kindergarten, not preschool. We also say no to camp, sleep-away or other. I'm home with the littles, so my school age kids can make do with Mama too.

I make my girls' their fancy dresses, and my own too. And we get nothing but complements on them, both from people who know I sew and those who don't. I make my own head coverings too. Okay, not the sheitels, but I don't wear them much. Over 12 years, I've bought 1 human hair sheitel (It cost me $300, I still have it, and it's still actually wearable, although it's starting to thin a bit) and about 4 much cheaper synthetic wigs. And I wash and style them myself.

Can't argue on the mezuzos and shatnes testing (although that isn't so expensive here, it does add to the price) or the other necessary mitzvah items, although I don't have and have never used a blech. (Cholent is just the only hot food.) My Pesach counter covers are handmade too, out of sturdy corrugated cardboard cut to fit and then covered in contact paper.

And yes, we have a larger family, and a larger car (okay, big van) in order to transport them, plus a small car for my husband to commute to work in. (No suitable public transportation exists to link the two spots directly.) For one or two people on an errand, if the small car is home, we take that. The big one is for errands that can't wait until he's home (like school and doctor appointments) and if we all need or want to go somewhere together as a family. He actually does all the grocery shopping, on his way home, and will go to multiple stores that aren't too far out of the way to get the best prices on each item on his list.

We do have multiple computers. But during the school year, we often will have more than one child with "computer homework" -- something that needs to by typed. We each (parents only) have a pda and a cell phone, but my pda at least was second hand and refurbished, and our cell phone plans are "pay as you go" and cost $100 or less (each) a year. I will admit to a book habit -- for secular books I hit the library, but we buy a fair number of Jewish sefarim and Rabbi Teller type books each year.

We don't take vacations, so I can't comment on that. Just day trips, usually to visit my in-laws (about an hour away.)

Health insurance is through my husband's employer, and while it does cost more for a family with children than a family without, I think once you pass 3 dependents (and that includes the wife) the price is the same. Co-pays may add up more, though, what with more visits and more prescriptions. And whose bright idea was it to make all asthma meds, (including albuterol, now that they can't legally make/sell the aerosol ones anymore) second tier? Not like there are generics we could switch to, and we can't not take our asthma meds!

But the bottom line is that yes, living a frum life is expensive, but it is so worth it! And the money comes from Hashem anyway (yes, we work for it, but ultimately He signs the checks) so if not the expenses of frum life, then who knows what unhappy expenses we might be hit with instead? I'd rather be frum.

Lion of Zion said...


"say that no simcha can cost more than X dollars . . ."

i agree with your sentiments, but i'm not sure that imposing strict sumptuary takkanot from above is the best solution.


"Cutting back and cutting out are certainly options."

not everything you mentioned is subkect to this. jewish education, for example, is what it is. it is a prerequisite for jewish life, yet it will never be "affordable"

also, what "needs" to be cut out and what people are willing to do without can very subjective (hence one of the reasons i am cautious about sumptuary laws). i don't think you would like it if customized kosher kitchens became the new focus of the anti=excess campaign.

finally i just wanted to point out that when people work their tuchuses off to make triple digits they expect to be able to enjoy some basic "luxuries." this is especially true when these people see how non-religious people with the same income have much more extravagant lifestyles. it is depressing work so hard to make all the money and go home at night to a "poverty" lifestyle. i'm NOT saying that this psychological factor justifies excessive spending and people need to be fiscally responsible regardless of income, but i just think it should be mentioned as a cause of orthodox living expectations.

Lion of Zion said...


"although I don't have and have never used a blech"

this is considered an expense?

"usually to visit my in-laws"

is this worth it? wouldn't you rather just not lose the day?

Anonymous said...

Anonymously you are so right about the liquor. We gave a yahrzeit kiddush in shul this year for the first time. My husband didn't have the time then to do the liquor shopping so I went out with his list to get it. The guys in my husband's minyan will "only" drink certain liquors. I saw the prices of those liquors and totally freaked out. Even in a discount liquor store the cheapest bottle was $68 a bottle. If I had bought the four bottles on that list I would have paid $344 dollars for the liquor. And there wouldn't have been a drop left either. I refused. I asked the clerk in the store to help me and I bought 3 way cheaper bottles, not 4--no one has to take 4 shots at a shul kiddush. Yes, there was a lkot of conversation about how I had cheaped out on the liquor and other items. Tough! They were all so busy being sorry for themselves that they were forced to drink a mediocre liquor that they also forgot to tell me that the neshomo should have an aliyah. Real frumkeit there.

Anonymous said...

LOZ, it depends on how far above those sumptuary regulations are coming from. Our shul has a kiddush policy in place and one for brisim and other occasions. No one can deviate from the shul policy if they want to make the simcha in the shul, because the shul orders the kiddush, not the baal simcha. Rita, they don't allow premium liquors because they know that plenty of people would feel that they had to buy them but can't really afford them. Why can't other shuls also make a policy? If you don't like the policy you can always make your simcha elsewhere or at home. Or you could be really glad that you don't have to play keeping up with the Joneses in our shul.

Anonymous said...

Head coverings for men? A black velvet yarmulka costs $5.00. A basic cap is $30.00. Anyone who has seen a photo of the guys from a yeshivah in Europe from the early 1900's would know that fancier head gear is not required.

One major way to reduce costs is to be less competitive, both materially and in terms of frumkeit. When you are not always looking over your shoulder, you have more control over where you are going.

Ahuva said...

Yes, private schools are pricey and having more children is always going to be more expensive than not having them, but some of these other things can easily be cut back on. A "remodeling binge" to keep up with the Joneses is definitely NOT a requirement of being frum. You do not have to have two sinks, two ovens and two dishwashers. I know plenty of people who do without.

I'm in the middle of rekashering my kitchen right now. It's certainly affordable if you're careful. My blech is a $7 piece of metal from Home Depot. My "double sinks" are a pair of plastic dish pans I set down inside my real sink. You can get a cheap set of dishes from Target for $30. I bought some new cholent pots during the last Day After Thanksgiving sale for $10-15 each. You also don't *need* a water urn.

Clothing *can* cost more if you are frum, but it doesn't have to. Take a trip to the local outlet mall when the season changes and buy last season's clothes. Yes, you're buying two blouses instead of one, but those under layers can last a *very* long time. Who cares if the under layer is a little worn or stained under the arms since no one is going to see more than a few inches of it? And, again, the "designer gene" is NOT a requirement of being frum.

Vacations also don't have to cost more. I actually spend less on my vacations now because I'm usually bringing my own food instead of eating out every meal.

There are definite expenses that revolve around school tuition and the fact that you're going to have more children to feed/clothe/transport, but why are we making it out to be worse than it is?

Anonymous said...

If I were becoming frum right now my turnoffs would not be the expense. Realistically most baalei tshuva are going to be younger people since it's much, much harder to change your lifestyle as you get older (I'm not saying it doesn't happen, it's just less likely). Younger people aren't focusing on the future costs of tuition (which remains the BIG expense) and of raising a larger than average family. They're most likely happy to buy mitzvah related items such as kosher tefilin, seforim, etc., especially since these aren't incurred anew every year.

No, if I were becoming frum in today's internet age the number one turnoff would be the backbiting, judging, namecalling, fragmentation, and just general not-niceness displayed by commenters on frum sites and blogs (not referring to this one, of course). And this nastiness is directed from "frum" people to other frum people.

With more achdus we would bring the geula closer by eliminating this sinas chinam AND we could save money - I truly believe it - by eliminating waste in the yeshiva system (fewer schools, more consolidation, less fragmentation by hashkafah) and by reducing the materialism and one-upmanship that defines large segments of the "frum" community. Just a dream, of course.

Anonymous said...

May be nitpicking, but yes I "need" a shabbos urn. In fact I need two of them. We are big tea and coffee drinkers for Shaabbos and having 5 kettles on the blech is not a savings over having two urns.

It's also not always possible to take all your food with you when you travel or take a vacation. There's the real problem of keeping it refridgerated. And no, I'm not going to live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and tuna straight from the can for a week.

Mike--if you choose to wear only a kipah or a cap then your prices are fine. And let's not look at what yeshiva bochrim wore hundreds of years ago--that's only some yeshivas from then, not all, and then isn't now. If you wear a regular hat for davening then those hats are pricey if you follow the "minhag" of some of the communities and go for a Borsolino. A different hat would cost less but at the cost of lots of gossip in the community and lots of problems for some shidduchim. I think that may have been profk's point. Not many people who are brave enough to go against what their community has set up as normal.

Ahuva said...

Sarah, cold cuts and cheese can be kept in an ice bucket. I have yet to go to a hotel that isn't more than happy to provide me with as many ice buckets as I require. Add in salad, applesauce cups, breakfast bars and fresh fruit/veggies and you can eat quite well for a week off of cold food even if you're allergic to tuna and PB&J.

"Not many people who are brave enough to go against what their community has set up as normal."

This, in my opinion, is the real problem. And honestly I don't understand it, particularly not for BTs. Being a BT *is* breaking away from what we've always known and bucking the community, almost by definition!

Anonymous said...

Of course there are things that people can do to make things less expensive for themselves. Some of the comments discuss a few of those ways. But no matter what you do to cut money the posting is correct that being frum costs you more than not being frum. So what if a cap can be purchased for only $30? A non-jew doesn't have to spend even that smaller amount. So what if you only have to buy tefillin once? You still have to buy it that once and they are not cheap. Even if you choose to wear a stained top that doesn't take away from the fact that you had to buy two to begin with.

And while private school is really a matter of choice for a very tiny part of the non-jewish population, sending kids to yeshivas is a requirement for the vast majority of frum people. It's not a luxury for us but a religious necessity.

Another manager and I on the same salary level once discussed where our salaries go. He puts a lot more money into savings and for his kids college educations some day. Just remembered something you forgot to add in in your post--school uniforms and the cost for those. So yes, it costs a lot more to be frum then not.

Ahuva said...

Duvi, how many non-Jews do you know who don't own a single baseball cap? How many non-Jewish women don't own a single shell or a tank top? I happen to wear two tops at the same time these days, but I don't own any more than I did before I became religious.

For most of the people I know, the real pain is in the child-related expenses. For your your single (or childless) BT, it doesn't have to be significantly more expensive to be religious than to be not religious.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, you dump the cream cheese and deli in a cooler and pack a small suitcase with bread, etc. You request a fridge at the motel or you use the ice buckets as we did for years. If you want to get fancy, get prepackaged Meal Mart/Mauzone meals, double-wrap and have yourself a nice, warm dinner. Many of the inexpensive motels you get on etc. offer free continental breakfast which often included kosher Lenders' bagels, cream cheese, peanut butter and jelly, cereals. If you aren't beholden to Cholov Yisrael which my husband feels is actually anti-Torah at this point due to price gouging (sue us if you don't like it), then a kosher vacationer can eat pretty cheaply and pretty well. Even with the Cholov Yisrael, truth be told.

Lion of Zion said...


"Just remembered something you forgot to add in in your post--school uniforms and the cost for those."

i'm not sure why these are so expensive, unless there is some type of kickback to the schools or the schools require that uniforms be purchased from a specific vendor.

that having been said, remembering what the fashion competition was like in my MO school, i would much prefer the formula route for my son (assuming it is sensible)


"And honestly I don't understand it, particularly not for BTs. Being a BT *is* breaking away from what we've always known and bucking the community, almost by definition!"

as long as we are being honest, in a large part of the ortho world BTs are relegated to the communal margins. hence they are last ones to go against the social concensus, as doing such would make their place in the community even more suspect. (additionally, some BTs are fertile ground for this nonsense. they don't have an established minhag to follow and some are not well versed in distinguishing between requirement, optional and stupidity.)

Lion of Zion said...


"Not many people who are brave enough to go against what their community has set up as normal."

tough luck.

Anonymous said...

The main costs of being Frum are the following:

1. Tuition, tuition, tuition
2. Weekly food purchases for Shabbos and frequent Chagim
3. Health insurance and doctors'/dentist bills for larger families

The rest is primarily controllable. Even the Simchos if you do them with a bit of common sense and prioritize.

Anonymous said...

By the way, you can add the horrible new "frum" trend of eating only organic and health food. It is costing our people truckloads of money. I just don't get how this happened. It became cool somehow, especially in the Frum BT circles, to buy these ridiculously priced items like soy milk and quinoa. I think it's nice that people want to be healthy, but at what price? Also, are all these therapies that the frum are falling for nowadays covered by insurance. It seems way too prevalent among the frum. I can't imagine that all of it is covered. I see this happening more and more. Many in our community who don't read secular publications and don't watch T.V. are completely distrusting of conventional medical practitioners. Midwives (I guess they are covered), doulas (definately not covered). You don't see as much of this in the MO community if at all.

Lion of Zion said...


you can't fault someone for trying to eat healthy (although i don't think organic is necessarily necessary). i only wish this trend would hit the elementary schools.

"completely distrusting of conventional medical practitioners"

hey, anything that further removes you from the mainstream secular world must be better. (although in a medical context i'm not sure that midwives/doulas are really the best example of this phenomenon. fwiu midwives work within a larger medical practice. and if someone wants to pay a doula to rub her feet during labor , well she deserves that)

Anonymous said...


1) My point was to separate the cost of being frum from the cost of competing with your fellows (whether in the difference between a Borsalino or a cheaper fedora, or in deciding you don't have to wear a black fedora at all.)

2) Yes, one has to make material sacrifices for Torah. That should go without saying. And no amount of scrimping and saving will change that. But that doesn't mean we can't limit the extra cost by paying attention, and by distinguishing between the costs needed to observe Torah and mitzvot (e.g. tuition, building and running a shul, a kosher set of arba minim) from those socially imposed for other reasons (e.g. Borsalinos, 500 person weddings, $200 arba minim sets.) Those coming from chumrot and hiddur mitzvah are somewhat in between these two categories, but Chazal set limits on those, that are often not carefully obeyed.

Anonymous said...

I knew that this would rub some people the wrong way. I understand that people have a need to be healthy, but milk is healthy. When did soy milk become so important? Grains are healthy. Quinoa and others put out by high-end companies are not that important. Organic is nice and sometimes organic chicken is similarly priced to the other overpriced chicken in my local grocery, but no one can beat Pathmark Empire Chicken prices where I live and they are not organic. I've given birth a couple of times so I understand that each person should be able to make her own personal decision, but we are talking about trends and the difficulty some in the Frum world have with bucking trends. Right now, the midwives are a trend in the more right-wing circles. I know that these women work with medical practices, but there are times that these young women would do better to go to more experienced or high-risk ob/gyns and yet they do not because they feel uncomfortable with male doctors and they are being told that they don't need them and that it is better without. The doulas became popular because the more right wing, the less of a role the husband plays in the delivery room. There are Halachic issues, but beyond those, in some circles, the men do not attend childbirth prep classes and are completely uninvolved because a frum female doula is hired to support the woman. Again, this costs money and is a crutch, I feel. Also, many of the health-minded in the right-wing circles spend money on herbal and health supplements. It is a complete disconnect from modern medicine and I do understand that modern medicine is not infallible, but, come on, it is worth something, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

My sister-in-law recently had to undergo a littany of questioning and second-guessing from her "friends and neighbors" because she chose to have her son's tonsils removed. She had seen a top physician affiliated with an excellent institution who felt that this was necessary for many reasons, but yet she confided that she felt like she was made to believe that she was doing the wrong thing. She, who is a big health-food and midwife enthusiast, actually admitted that "everyone" seems to have a problem with the facts of modern medicine. They seem to want to take a more "holistic" approach in her Chareidi neighborhood and it isn't always the right approach. Yep. I told her to stand strong. I said, "If you had Internet access, I would send you a few great links, but...alas." This approach to health actually does cost these people more money. It can't be overlooked if you are tallying up the costs of being frum for some of us who have trouble bucking trends.

Lion of Zion said...


"The doulas became popular because the more right wing, the less of a role the husband plays in the delivery room."

i'm not RW, but i was very thankful that my wife had assistance from (volunteer) doulas at maimonides

"but there are times that these young women would do better to go to more experienced or high-risk ob/gyns"


"spend money on herbal and health supplements"

i wanted to post about this on my blog but did not because i'm not interested in debating it in the comments. suffice to say, the herbal med concept lacks any scientific basis and is actually a heck of a lot more dangerous that most people realize.

but anyway, just to repeat, anything that further removes you from the mainstream secular world must be better.

Lion of Zion said...


"isn't always the right approach"

no kidding. consider the refusal of vaccinations.

Anonymous said...

Forgot all about that.

Anonymous said...

ProfK - Being Frum is not more expensive than not being frum. (I am not counting stupidity that is found in frum community.)

You are forgetting that frum trends are way behind the secular community. For example when tamagachies came out they were a bargain for $30 and needed tending 7 days per week. By the time this trend reached frum community they were already $5 and had a sleep button for shabbos. So, if you have 2 children with 2 tamagachies you have spent a total of $10, but if you are living in secular world and have two children you spent $60 on them.

Another example is after school activities. In a frum world children spend a whole day in school and there is no time for extra-curriculam activities. In the secular world children go to swimming, dancing, music, horses, and other activities. All of which cost lots of money.

Another example is college. In the frum world the most expensive college is Touro, most go to city colleges or no college at all... In secular world college is expensive, it requires prep classes (thousands of dollars), heavy participation in sports, and tuition that is $40,000/year plus living expensnses and additinal car for a college student. It is not uncommon for parents to spend $50,000-$60,000 per year per child in college. That's over $200,000. In the frum world that $200,000 is spread out over the life of a child in yeshivah tuition.

As far as clothes is concerned, what makes you think that clothes in secular world are less expensive. Imagine a frum girl going to school in her uniform. She owns 3 uniform skirts and 7 uniform blouses. Total cost $200 for at least two years depends on her growth that year. (plus whatever is shabbos clothes). In a public school a girl (on a poorer side)owns 7-10 pants/skirts and 10-15 tops. Total cost at leat $400.

As far as food is concern the only difference in prices is meats. Just last week I compared chicken prices. Kosher Palace quarter legs cost $1.29 per pound. NetCostMarket quarter legs cost $.89 per pound.

And let's not forget Christmas. People go deep into debt buying presents for ALL friends and family members. The agonize over these expenses all year long. And those who want to outdo their neightbors spend thousands of dollars on decorations every year...

The grass is not greener on the other side and money is not a reason to avoid being frum.

Anonymous said...

And, you know what I mean, it's not the actual doula or the organic chicken, but the pressure that they "must" have them at all cost. The thinking--as we all have observed lately--has gone right the heck out the window. What happened to the good old thinking? "Is this good for me/my child? Is this necessary for me/my family? Is this right for me/my family?" The newspaper ad: MISSING: Independent Thinking. LAST SEEN: Somewhere out of New York. WEARING: Dockers and a striped polo shirt, non-descript, lived-in sneakers. IF FOUND, PLEASE CALL: Eh, who would even recognize him?

Anonymous said...

You are off on your calculations mlevin. The frum boys who use the technology toys out there get them just as soon as the secular world does. Re college tuitions you are also off. Touro is not the only college used--YU is also used and is more, much more expensive then Touro, which is not cheap by any means. The more expensive colleges that might run you in the range you give for tuition have the smallest number of students nationwide. Most college students in the US today are in the various state university systems or in NYC in the CUNY system. The majority of college students are paying nowhere near the $200K figure you give. For example Rutgers, part of the NJ state system costs Jersey residents a few thousand dollars a year to attend. Even its out of state tuition for those not from NJ is less than Touro College, and Rutgers is a lot higher ranked than Touro is. Plenty of frum kids in Rutgers. Ditto the CUNY schools, although not as many as years ago.

The after school activities you mention are not limited to just the secular world. My kids had swimming lessons and piano lessons and art lessons and gymnastics. My oldest daughter attended clowning school given by Lev L'tzan. I gave another daughter sewing lessons when she wanted them. The time to do these things is tighter but they get done by lots of frum people.

Anonymous said...

"I am not counting stupidity that is found in frum community.)"

But you have to count those stupidities, especially if they are a community wide stupidity. If you live someplace you cannot be so completely different from everyone else in that community. You may not like it but if you choose to live in that community then you are stuck with a lot of that place's customs and ideas. Which parent is so bent on doing their own thing that they would willingly make their children pariahs? My brother paid a fortune for a hat for my nephew because every single other boy in his yeshiva has that brand of hat in that style. Every one. Peer pressure is not a nice thing to see when a kid is too different from all the other kids. And my SIL doesn't wear denim in her neighborhood because the community looks at it as out of step.

Ahuva said...

"Peer pressure is not a nice thing to see when a kid is too different from all the other kids."

Isn't it important to teach the children to do what is right (defined in this case as what is best for the family), rather than what everyone else does? Every kid in my class had designer jeans. All of my peers went away on expensive vacations (usually out of the country).

I was so angry with them for making me different... and now I'm so grateful to them that I do not bend to peer pressure. Isn't it important to raise our children to have a backbone? Isn't that part of what being religious is all about-- doing what is right as opposed to what is popular?

Lion of Zion said...


"If you live someplace you cannot be so completely different from everyone else in that community . . ."

as i wrote above, tough luck.
yes, some people are forced to remain in certain communities for whatever reason, but most are not. people should be more careful where the choose to live and the consequences. and if you are that unhappy, move.

Anonymous said...

Once again, Prof. K. has hit upon a major issue and brought it out into the open. It is important and good that it be addressed, rather than just hovering in the background.

One must tread with caution, however. Rav Moshe Feinstein זצ"ל, reportedly commented that a problem with previous generations who lost many of their youth, religiously speaking, was that they would say es iz shver tzu zein a Yid (it is hard to be a Jew). Their children picked this up and took off. Instead, one should say 'es iz gut tzu zein a Yid !' (it is good to be a Jew!). "I Can't Afford to be Frum" is not that different than es iz shver tzu zein a Yid.

Another thing that comes to mind is the remark of Derek Bok, former President of Harvard U., re the high cost of education (esp. at places like that school). He reportedly quipped, 'if you think education is expensive, try ignorance'. Similarly, those of us who believe in our way of life should believe that it confers so many benefits that are so valuable, that living otherwise is not an option for a sane person.

Nevertheless, we must address some of the problems and try to improve things, as words alone will not pay all the bills.

"Frum Jews don't live in "bad" neighborhoods."

This is interesting. While I am not wishing on others that they live in a bad area, chas vesholom, historically, Jews did not only and always live only in upscale areas. There is also a difference between less affluent areas and ones that are less than safe, G-d forbid.

What has happened is, that to a large extent, among many of us, frum has become bourgeoise. One must live only in certain type of areas, only white collar jobs (if any ;-) are allowed, one must have the latest technology, etc.

That trend has gone too far. We must cut back and look to the past, a simpler and less affluent time. Maybe we had less then in terms of gashmius, but now people often look back fondly to those times. Things seemed more genuine, including the ruchnius. We should join the 'voluntary simplicity' movement. I think significant segments of the frum community in Eretz Yisroel live along such lines.

If our life and our Yiddishkeit would be simpler and more meaningful, I daresay that we would feel happier and feel less of a need for various expensive gadgets and vacations and feel less deprived without them.

Talk is cheap, but I think this is an important attitudinal point, that can translate into real change.

Anonymous said...

The high cost of being frum are

1) Tuition
2) Tuition
3) Tuition

and as Hillel said - all the rest is commentary

family of 3 kids= $50,000 per year

family of 5 kids $85,000

Anonymous said...

to mlevin

frum people do go to college - unless you consider MO people not frum - maybe that is why you did not include Yu and Stern as frum colleges - they cost $45,000 per year

The University of Pennsylvania another choice of the frum costs $55,000 per year

the frum have all the expenses of the non-frum only much more so - chasidim may be an exception

frumskeptic said...

Prof K: have you ever met a non-Jew or non-frum Jew and really taken the time to chat with them?

Considering you will claim you do know non-frum Jews, I wanna ask you

1) Do they live in bad neighborhoods? Afterall, you're outright saying that it costs more to be frum because of the good neighborhood.

2) Haven't you heard of parents encouraging their kids to study abroad? Very often the students who do so, do not end up with anymore "practical" credits than the yeshiva/seminary student you are referrring to.

3) Do you know that Layers are instyle? We happen to layer for tznious purposes, but the secular people layer out of style. Claiming that it costs us more money due to tznious, is unjustifiable.

4) Do you think that designers would be super rich because ONLY Jews have "genes" to buy that stuff? My aunt would spend more money on an outfit than half my friends would spend on an entire wardrobe.

5) Have you ever heard of Christmas lights? The crazy electric bills? The crazy dinners the christains make? THe fact they spend their entire bonuses on christmas gifts for friends/family? Their holidays aren't cheap at all.

6) Do you think that the SUV/minivan divisions rely on frum people for business? If they did, all SUV divisions would be closed down. PLus...owning a car doesn't necessarily mean you drive it enough for the price to really effect you. My dad has an SUV, he hardly ever drives it more than once a week. Usually we walk or use public transportation. Its more convenient. No need for keys or parking. And guess what? I don't live in a super frummy neighborhood. I have one kosher grocery store in walking distance, yet we still walk.

7) Havent you learned that Religius christains also have huge families. Traditional families (irreligious) have pretty big families as well.

8) Aren't you aware of the fact that halacha prohibits giving more than 20% of your charity away. And only 10% is required. There could be a billion organizations, you're still giving the same amount of money. Your point here is totally invalid on halachic grounds. I'm not even going to mention the philanthropy amongst non-Jews.

9) Puh-leeeeze. The Rebbeim ban half this crap. It's not Judaism which is expensive, its the fake frummies who listen to rabbi's on stupid points. They'll waste $2000 on sheitals which should be banned, and then complain because they paid a third of that price for something practical like a phone. go figure.

10) Are you aware that goyim are literate? Maybe they aren't buying Jewish books like we are, but they sure are buying secular books, and those can be pretty darn expensive as well.

11) Haven't you heard of bringing your own food? Thats what I do. vacation doesn't have to be more expensive.

12) Are we Muslims who need to venture to Mecca before death? L'Havdil Israel? We absolutely do NOT "need" to go to Israel. Stupid frum people who think we "need" to go do not qualify as an expense in this category. They should be ignored.

13) Do you truly beleive that only frum people have spread out families? I mean, i am frum now, but even before I was I had relatives in Boston. We had to, and still do visit them alot. We have relatives all over that we occassionaly went to visit. Spread out relatives and their weddings/events are not exclusive to frum people.

14) I would like statistics on sleep away camp. I've had many freinds in my PS days who've gone to sleepaway camp.

What makes you think frum camps are pricier? The secular ones have waaaay more activities, and less "learning" time. If the kid isn't learning they're probably using up resources or supplies or s/t that costs money, where as learning is a one-time investment in books.

15) Have you ever seen non-frum wedding invitations, or been to a non-frum or altogether non-Jewish wedding? Those things cost waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than the average frum wedding.

Ofcourse frum people couldn't recognize an elaborate event if it hit them in the face. But still. The cost of one secular persons wedding is probably double a frum wedding. So there you go, one frum kid is half a secular kid in wedding costs. So the secular family of two kids equals the same as the frum people with four kids on wedding. Go figure.

Seriously, crash a secular wedding, or check out the prices of basic things like invitations online. You'd take back the price of wedding statment.

Goyim are people too. They spend lots of money. THey have their own traditions and quirks and hobbies that require having cash. Thinking that only frum people have high living costs is totally ignorant. We have some things we save on, and some things they save on. Anyone that says "hmm, i can't become frum because I cannot afford it" is just using it as an excuse.

Think about your own wallet, let others think of theirs. Don't compare anything of yours to other people's stuff.

Zach Kessin said...

15) Have you ever seen non-frum wedding invitations, or been to a non-frum or altogether non-Jewish wedding? Those things cost waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more than the average frum wedding.

I have seen non frum events that cost a HUGE amount of money. But I have also seen or heard about ones that were very cheap. I know a woman who was quite happy to have the music at her wedding be from an ipod that she loaded with the music she liked. The food was BBQ done by a friend. Most Jews would never even think of doing these things.

But the major expense of the frum world is tuition. In almost any other part of the USA private school is pretty much only for people who are well off or sometimes get a scholarship or the like.

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for profk which you seem to be doing frumskeptic, but I can speak for myself. My husband is the only frum partner in his firm and only one of two Jews who are partners. We get invited to all the social occasions hosted by the other senior members of the firm. Yes, some of the affairs have been elaborate ones but most have not been, when placed in comparison to even an "average" frum wedding. It is still considered the norm to have a wedding reception that might or might not be as elaborate as the smorgasbord at a frum wedding. The number of people invited is usually far less then an "average" frum wedding. The Times categorizes a wedding with 300 people as a large wedding. Frum weddings with only 300 guests are small weddings. Even where there have been wedding dinners the number of people attending the dinner is nowhere near the number who might be invited to the ceremony. Read your social pages--small intimate weddings are in, at least if you aren't frum. The president of the firm married off a daughter. The ceremony was in church and the reception was in the church hall and included drinks and passed hors d'ourves. The wedding dinner that followed at a restaurant was for 80 people only.

You are missing this point too. The fancier, more elaborate weddings among those not Jewish or not frum are generally made by the segment that is well off. Sure, there are a few couples who save for years to have that "fairy tale" wedding. Most don't. In the frum community all segments, regardless of income level, make those weddings.

The posting didn't say that others don't have expenses. It said that frum Jews have expenses that others don't or that are higher then in the general population. And I notice that you didn't touch the idea of yeshiva tuition, or are you going to argue that everyone outside of the frum population also send their kids to private schools?

Anonymous said...

My dad has an SUV, he hardly ever drives it more than once a week.

How many people in your family frumskeptic? You need an SUV? It hardly ever gets driven? Then why own a gas guzzling, environment polluting car? You're paying insurance at a higher rate on that SUV but you don't hardly ever use it. You are exactly the example used in the posting--good public transportation available and you own the gas guzzler anyway. At least a family of 8-10 has the excuse that they can't fit into a small car. What's yours?

Yeah, and on all that spending for Xmas, that's personal choice on the part of the people who spend that way. Last I heard I don't have that personal choice in buying tefillin or a tallis or the other things that being frum requires me to have.

Lion of Zion said...


i think you misread the post and/or are missing her whole point

"I wanna ask you"



"The number of people invited is usually far less then an "average" frum wedding."

we invited about 250 people and about 190 came. i was working for a conservative institution at the time and i remember someone asking me what size wedding i was making. i responded that it was a small one and told her the numbers. she thought it was big wedding and didn't understand why i said small.

Anonymous said...

Frumskeptic--ProfK gave one example and you took it too far when you said " Do you know that Layers are instyle? We happen to layer for tznious purposes, but the secular people layer out of style. Claiming that it costs us more money due to tznious, is unjustifiable." Unjustifiable? By whome? We were at a wedding Sunday. The girls were almost all wearing sleeveless,backless or low cut front dresses with tops underneath them to fill in what would be untsniusdik. Are you seriously trying to tell me that those dresses are worn for dress up occasions by non Jews or non frum Jews with the tops underneath? Puleeeze! And it is not just the tops that add to the cost of frum dressing. Most girls who buy a wedding dress have to have the top and sleeves altered for tsnius reasons. More material means a higher cost for the dress. When mini skirts are in, or very short skirts, frum people have to buy from the few manufacturers who are making longer skirts. And they are not giving you that extra material for nothing. And if layers are so stylish maybe you could tell that to the hundreds of thousands of women who wear those tank tops in the summer without the layers? My office had to put in a dress code for this summer because the women were wearing those tank tops to work without any layering. And that was on a regular day. We did away with casual Friday wear because that was even worse.

Ahuva said...

"When mini skirts are in, or very short skirts, frum people have to buy from the few manufacturers who are making longer skirts. And they are not giving you that extra material for nothing."

Have you ever checked out the price on a mini skirt? Women's clothing prices have absolutely nothing to do with the amount of material involved. Do a quick search on the 'net. A short skirt made of decent fabric is running $45+. A long skirt of a similar fabric is running about the same price. The only reason to go to a frummy store for clothing is convenience. You can find clothing of the appropriate lengths elsewhere if you're willing to look. Most of my friends shop out of the J.Jill and Coldwater Creek clearance racks and do just fine spending no more money then they did before they became religious.

"More material means a higher cost for the dress."

Only if you're paying for the fabric and sewing it yourself (or hiring someone else to sew it). Clothing prices are based on the quality of the stitching, the brand, and what they think they can get away with which is why you have toddler jeans that cost $40 (or more).

Very few women never layer and don't have a single piece in their wardrobe that could be used for layering. Are you saying that those women who wore tank tops into the office don't own any long sleeved shirts that they could put over those tops if they choose? Those particular tank tops are probably a little low-cut, but a higher necked tank doesn't cost a penny more.

You might be able to make an argument that we do laundry more often then they do because we're layering all the time and they're not, but that argument is going to sound just a little silly.

ProfK said...

We had a wedding last night and it was a busy day so I didn't have a chance to monitor the blog too closely. All I can say is "wow" on the comments.

Please note that I started out the posting by saying that there are many reasons why people might choose not to be frum; money is only one of the reasons.

I agree with the commenters who said that the cost of tuition is the #1 money issue that separates the frum from the non-frum/non-Jewish segments of the population. But the other elements I mentioned in the posting all add to the cost of being frum, no matter how little or how much.

Budgeting is idiosyncratic; what one person considers as a necessity may be considered as a luxury by others. Some of frum expenses fall in this category; many do not.

Frumskeptic, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, as I am and as are the other commenters here. Re your statement "Prof K: have you ever met a non-Jew or non-frum Jew and really taken the time to chat with them? Considering you will claim you do know non-frum Jews, I wanna ask you" AND "Goyim are people too. They spend lots of money. THey have their own traditions and quirks and hobbies that require having cash. Thinking that only frum people have high living costs is totally ignorant." Why such animosity?

First, please point out one statement anywhere on this blog in which I have said that goyim are not people too. Or where I have denied that there are expenses for others than frum Jews. You won't find any.

As to the first statement, please tell me you are not really making that statement about someone who grew up in Oregon, attended public high school as one of only two frum Jews in the school, attended public colleges and universities, worked in the "outside" world including a stint at a UN advisory commission on the status of women, taught and still teach in secular colleges--CUNY and St. Johns--in addition to my "Jewish" college, and still have friends and acquaintances who are not frum and are not Jewish? Surely you jest?

Re summer camps, the American Camping Association states that there are about 7000 summer camps nationwide. They include in this listing general sleep away camps, registered day camps and specialized camps, such as cheerleading camp, basketball camp etc. The time frame the Association gives is that camp lasts from 3 days to 8 weeks. The "average" length of stay that they talk about is 1-2 weeks for a camping session. Some campers may go for 4 weeks; a few may go for 8 weeks. The size of the camping population varies. In perusing their lists I saw many camps with limits of 25 to 100 campers per trip.

I spoke to the director of one of the frum camps. Frum camps have two trips per summer--4 weeks or 8 weeks. The majority of the campers are there for the whole summer. He also mentioned that frum sleep away camps of only 100 campers are the exception rather than the rule; they are much larger.

A neighbor of mine works for a City agency that deals with underpriveleged children (not frum--amazing the people I come in contact with). I spoke with her this morning and asked her what they aim for when sending kids to summer camp. She said 1-2 weeks away. Only when there is severe trouble at home and a child needs to be out of the home environment do they push to get a longer camp experience.

Jews represent a bit under 2% of the US population, and frum Jews are around 1/6 of the Jewish population. If you crunch the numbers including length of stay and number of campers in a camp, then my statement that "The percentage of frum parents who send their children to sleep away camp puts us at the top of the list of those sending to camp" still stands. A larger percentage of frum parents send to sleep away camp than in other segments of society.

Ahuva said...

Profk, but is sending your children to sleep away camp a requirement of being frum? Am I going to be kicked out of my shul if I don't? :)

This conversation is starting to remind me of a guy I dated briefly who told me that fiscal responsibility was "goyishe." What is happening to us? Are we lemmings to jump off a cliff because everyone else around us is doing it?

ProfK said...

I didn't say that I approve of this "norm," just that it happens to be the case. The more to the right that you go, the more "institutionalized" sending to camp has become. You might not be kicked out of your shul if you don't send your kids to camp, but there are plenty of yeshivas that "frown mightily" if you don't. And they prefer sleep away camp to day camp, particularly for older campers. Yes, lemmings sounds just about right.

I wasn't a dedicated sleep away camp mother--one daughter went for 2 weeks, hated it, and that was the end of it for her. Another daughter went for three summers. My son went for 4 years, plus 2 years working in camp. But my kids are older and back when they were younger yeshivas had less say in "parenting" decisions then they do now. As I've said elsewhere on the blog, if yeshivas are going to be setting "parental" policies and if they are going to be acting as if they are the parents, then let them pay for summer camp.

Anonymous said...

Ahuva--my comment was about wedding dresses. Your answer that "More material means a higher cost for the dress."
Only if you're paying for the fabric and sewing it yourself (or hiring someone else to sew it)." wouldn't apply here since the majority of people do not sew their wedding dresses themselves. If you buy a dress in a bridal store and it is not tsniusdik and needs to have sleeves put in or lined or the top built up then you will be charged for that extra material and the labor. If you look at any brides magazine you will see that most of the dresses they show would need to be altered to meet even minimal standards of tsnius. And that goes for the gowns for the mothers and the bridesmaids/sisters too.

Just as a different example, Lands End sells its long sleeved tees for more money then its short sleeved tees. Same manufacturer so where does the difference lie? In the amount of material.

Anonymous said...

So maybe we could restate the discussion? ProfK's comment about the baal teshuva saying they can't afford to be frum is true if that baal teshuva still wants to spend on everthing he/she spent on before becoming frum. It does cost to be frum. If you are paying that cost but still want everything you had before becoming frum then yes, maybe that person cannot afford to be frum.

I'll use books as an example. If I bought $100 in books before I became frum but now that I'm frum I also want to buy seforim and Jewish books I will have to double the amount I'm spending on books or I will have to reduce the amount I can spend on secular books to make up for what I'm spending on Jewish books. If I still want to spend the same on the secular books and I want to buy the seforim but I can't afford to double the money then I have a problem.

And I would like to say this. Those vacation ideas about bringing food with you and using ice buckets and living on cold food may work for some of you. I'm single, and when I go on vacation, a vacation I've saved for, I'm eating out. I'm not going to live on peanut butter. I'm going to go out and have a good time. Yes, kosher restaurants, no matter what kind, cost more than treif restaurants. For a single BT who is used to that kind of vacation, telling them to bring tuna fish with them is not dealing with what they want out of a vacation.

It also amazes me that anyone can compare going to Israel to making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Leaving the philosophy out, would that same person consider a trip to Puerto Rico? How about Los Angeles or Florida? How about Las Vegas? Given the choice of one of those or Israel I'll pick Israel.

Anonymous said...

Jake, trust me on this one, I don't exactly "rough it" on my vacations. I think it's safe to say that cream cheese or tuna for lunch is acceptable. We do mix up a deli sandwich dinner with a microwavable Meal Mart dinner. But then again, that is because we travel with kids. I love a good restaurant just as much as the next guy, but, again, the kids... I think some of the disconnect on this thread is a result of the fact that some of the commenters are single and others are married with kids. Totally different perspective.
Ahuva, forgive me for not noticing if you have school-age, middle grades, high school kids, but if you don't then allow me to don my teacher/parent hat (as I am both) and tell you that if you are living in a New York community and your kids are attending Orthodox schools whether right-wing or MO, there will be peer pressure to go to certain camps, to do certain things. You can't just stand on a soapbox on your kids' backs and say "We are different. Live with it." I am always amazed at how many parents choose the school (and place to live) without giving any thought whatsoever to the pressures their children will face. My husband and I chose the school that best fit our own values keeping in mind not just the school Hashkafa, but also the lifestyle of the parents. And we are still making independent choices like not purchasing Gameboys and such. What we can't expect of our kids is not to attend the same sleepaway/day camp as their friends (although we do keep them home as long as possible) and not to follow anything the others are doing. You do have to give them a leg to stand on while they are in school. They may thank you for all of it later, but you do have to walk a tightrope as a parent and try to help them fit in a bit. I see too many parents who push that aside and have no understanding of the price their kids pay.
Frumskeptic, post again when you've had a couple of kids. Don't mean to sound condescending, but you kind of opened that door. And having been to weddings of non-Jews and non-Orthodox Jews, I can attest to the fact that they are almost always much smaller than those of the Orthodox. Smaller by the hundreds at times. Multiply that times the catering fee...Plus, you haven't at all calculated the cost of Aufruf/Sheva Brochos and the fact that most Orthodox parents subsidize or completely pay for the costs of setting up the new couple's home, while in the Non-Orthodox world that would be ridiculous as these two people are usually going to be well into their 20's or thirties, gainfully employed and likely living in apartments whose rent they are already paying.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with anonymous mom that some of the differences of opinion are single vs. married views. Vacations that I took with my family are way different from the ones I take with my single friends. I want that fancier vacation and I have the money to pay for it since I'm not paying tuition or supporting a family. That's one of those choices that you have to make when you are frum and married I guess. My non Jewish friends from college didn't have the really cheap type of family vacations. I was always jealous that they got to go to Orlando and places like that. But then they weren't paying yeshiva tuitions like my parents were doing.

I think that the prof is right though that all the little things add up plus tuition and it is more expensive to be frum, especi8ally if you have things or do things that are secular also.

Commenter Abbi said...

Jake, what is the problem with comparing a trip to Israel with a religious pilgrimage to Mecca? Muslims consider Mecca one of their holiest cities, we consider Israel our holy land. What does this have to do with Puerto Rico or LA?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Abbi but I guess I didn't make my point clear. I was responding to the comment

Are we Muslims who need to venture to Mecca before death? L'Havdil Israel? We absolutely do NOT "need" to go to Israel. Stupid frum people who think we "need" to go do not qualify as an expense in this category. They should be ignored.

I agree with you that Jews do need to go to Israel. But even if we leave that out, I feel that the commenter and others would see nothing wrong in taking trips to the places I mentioned and lots of other tourist destinations and yet get hot under the collar if you say you are going to Israel. If you are spending the money to vacation then why not Israel?

Ahuva said...

If you have the money and want to go to Israel, that's one thing. It's something else entirely when someone says that they "have" to go to Israel even though they don't really have the money.

Sure, we all love Israel, but it's wrong to put peer pressure on people and say that they're not frum enough because they're not spending thousands every few years to go to the Kotel.

Anon Mom,
I've seen the price kids pay from a kid's eye view. I hated my parents at the time for making me different and "lesser" than my peers. I disagreed with every reason they gave-- but I remembered their words. Once I reached adulthood, I started to realize how right they were and what a gift they'd given me by showing me how to live a responsible life. Raising a child is hard. Being a child is equally hard. And you are absolutely right that parents should take these issues into consideration when choosing schools and communities, but there is no perfect school/community. Bankrupting a family to bend to societal norms is not the answer. You have to find the happy medium if possible and make the tough decisions when it is not. We are not doing our children any favors by teaching them that they must fit in at all costs.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty sad to see that people compare Israel to any other tourist destination.

Surprise, surprise- it's NOT a Jewish Disneyland.

If you don't understand why people want to visit Israel so much, then perhaps you should take some time to learn your Jewish history.

It's not a crime to want to go Home.

Anonymous said...

It can work for some people Ahuva and it doesn't for others. You came out of it okay and see what your parents said as correct. It ruined my life for a long time and certainly the relationship with my parents. It's one thing to have family rules and standards on some things and to explain to children that you believe in doing things one way and that is the way it will be. It's another thing when you are made to be different in too many ways, and in ways that are more about control then trying to teach a sensible way of living. My parents were health nuts along with other things and I wasn't allowed to have any snacks like the other children and our meals weren't like theirs either. No one liked to come to eat in my house and I wasn't allowed to eat in other houses, not because of kashrus but because of cooking style. For our 4th grade end of year our rebbi had a bbq in the backyard of his home for his class. My mother drove me over with her soy dogs in hand. The hechsher on the dogs wasn't one that my rebbi used and he didn't want the dogs on his grill. My mom took me home. My growing up was thousands of incidents like this one. They never beat me but they beat me down in trying to make me different from everyone else.

It's nice to talk a lot about individualism and being yourself but it's also a valuable skill to learn to be part of a group and to share in a group's ideas. You can have an individual with great ideas about how to change things or make things better but if that person cannot understand the group he is trying to change, if he can't work with them to effect change, then what good is the brilliant idea?

Ahuva said...

TL, fair enough. Thanks for the reminder that it's not a one-size-fits-all world.

"It's not a crime to want to go Home."

No, it's not a crime. But Home is a place you live, not a place you visit. There are plenty of programs that make aliyah affordable.

Last I checked, moving to Israel wasn't a requirement of being orthodox. Visiting Israel constantly is not a requirement of being orthodox. Giving tzedaka IS a requirement of being frum. Why are we tacking on all these things that are NOT halacha and saying that they are "musts?" It's wonderful if you can afford to go above and beyond. It's fantastic if you can and want to do more-- but what happened to becoming BT as an escape from all the shallow materialism of the world? Why are we bringing it with us and imposing it on those around us? I really don't get it. Our focus is supposed to be on serving Hashem-- not on whether or not our kids go to sleep away camp with their friends.

Lion of Zion said...

i've actually never heard of regular trips to israel being one of the keep-up-with-the-cohens obligations. taking vacations in general, yes. but i've just never heard of israel in particular. actually, for those who do have the requirement of expensive annual vacations (e.g., pesah resorts), i wish they would consider israel as an alternative.


"Last I checked, moving to Israel wasn't a requirement of being orthodox"

check again. the obligation to live in israel is a matter of great debate both from a halakhic and an existential perspective in medieval as well as in modern sources (e.g., you can start with the ramban, who considered it a מצות עשה דאורייתא). i understand this is not relevant to most of us here (except for maybe abbi), but i just wanted to point that out that for some it is indeed an obligation.

Anonymous said...

Buried in the comments somewhere but I agree that for a baal tshuvah you aren't just talking about accepting halacha and living a frum life. You are also talking about giving some things up. Sure there are things that are ossur to do if you are turning frum but I'm talking about not necessarily being able to afford all the money or time to do the things that aren't ossur. Paying membership dues to a shul and for tickets for Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur may mean you don't get to go to Broadway or you can't afford the membership in the health club. Someone I work with is BT and he doesn't regret having come home to frumkeit but he does regret some of the small things that he used to enjoy. He was willing to make the tradeoff but those who work in kiruv have to make clear that the payoff is worth more then what is being given up. I don't imagine that is always easy.

And it would probably make it easier for a lot of potential BTs if some of those things that aren't connected to halacha but that schools and communities seem to see as necessities were cut back. Summer camp should not be something that schools insist on. Neither should expensive hats be or required study in Israel as a shidduch requirement.

Anonymous said...

Why is there such animosity once Israel is mentioned? Does mentioning Israel touch upon sensitive underlying issues?

I live in New York for most of the year, but I don't consider it my home. One could easily say that I visit my home but live elsewhere.

Israel is our Home. If one doesn't like Israel, or doesn't want to be there...something is very wrong.

Not everyone can move to Israel or visit frequently (and yes, if one can't move to Israel, one should spend as much time there as possible, because that's where we belong), but the desire to do so should be there.

Anonymous said...

As an Amateur Economist, I'm going to throw my 2 cents into the mix.

I was once going to try and do a project that trys to capture the actual differences in the CPI for a Frum Jew Vs. the regular CPI. Unfortunatly, I never got around to it. Even if I had, the cost benefit of doing such a study would have made the cost to prohibitive.

I went for a slice of Pizza instead.

Wow. $3.00 a slice.

I went to the Goyisher store.
What it's even more?!

Why complain?
Scream and shout.
You bring the high prices on yourselves.

Fancy kitchen you think you'll be needing.
Invite less guests into the kitchen.
Even Better, go make a BBQ.
And if you think meat is too expencive, go get a Heter for Hebrew National.
What the Hell is wrong with the triangle K anyways?

frumskeptic said...

To everyone who mentioned weddings:

I've been to my share of both frum/non-frum weddings. Even the "small" frum weddings do not compare to the "average" cost of the secular weddings. Maybe I happen to know people who are rich (nope) or who went deeply into debt for these things (possibly), but compared to the non-frum weddings I've been to, they were obviously more expensive. While the frum people may (as was pointed out) have more poeple at their weddings, the prices would atleast even out. A choice between sesame chicken and breaded chicken at a frum wedding is alot cheaper than a choice between some fancy shmancy french name for chicken, or super duper large beef steak at the non-frum wedding. Even the frum weddings with the chicken/beef choice are not as exquisite. Though, I must admit i was at a frum wedding that was absolutely the most expensively overpriced affair ever. I would've never had a wedding that big even if i could afford it. But she was rich, her hubby was rich, and its their right. But again, that was ONE wedding.

about aufruf/sheva brachos:

1) The aufruf is a one time thing. You pay it and thats it. it doenst have to be big. Just have some candy thrown a small kiddush with chulent, and the guy is good.

2) Sheva Brachos (in friends experiences) are paid for mostly by close family (not parents) and friends. And many keep the sheva brachos cheap (at someones home, at a pizza place if thrown by friends).

Seriously frum people have to just stop caring what others think and worry about what their own needs are!

Daniel: maybe my dad has an SUV cuz he can. Maybe he doesn't believe in all the environmental BS. Regardless, he drives it once a week and its his choice to pay the gas, insurance and whatever else there is. If he couldn't afford that SUV and the gas and the insurance, he would either make us walk more (that once a week included) or just get rid of the car. And that one day a week he drives is all for leisure purposes - go to a mall out of the city, go to movie, or out to eat. Its usually nothing important. I definitely wouldn't say he needs the car.

Anonymous: frum clothes is NOT more expensive than 'regular' clothes. As Ahuva pointed out, they don't charge based on fabric. Lands End maybe an exception (I can't even recall the last time I looked through their catolog to know), but generally in places where I shop (Gap, Macy's, Forever 21, Lord&Taylor, Mandee, Ann Taylor) I always find mini skirts hanging near the tznious skirts, and they cost the same amount. Same with long sleeve and short sleeve shirts and tank tops. About the girls in your office...when its hot they wont layer as much, but i can almost guarantee that for every tank top, they have a matching long sleeve shirt to match it as a cover up, or some sort of jacket like blouse that cannot be warn if there's nothing underneath it.

ProfK: You implied that goyim do not spend as much as Jews. Whatever you referenced too, Fine, are you close to them? YOu really understand their budgeting as well as you do your average frum person? My parents have many close friends who are not frum. They discuss their expenses infront of me. They really aren't much different.

Did you ask them how much their daughters sweet 16 dress cost? Or her prom dress? My coworker spent $700 on her prom dress. Excluding shoes, the purse, the prom tickets (maybe date paid for those, I don't know) and the limo (which by "frum" standards would probably be looked down upon if she DIDNT ride in a limo). My neighbor, not as nuts, spent around $300 on dress and a bit on shoes, plus she paid for tickets (her BF paid for his schools prom, and she paid for hers).

Maybe in Oregan goyim are different, but my coworker and my nieghbors are very down-to-earth normal people. They have no one to impress. These are the expenses people are "forced" (or so one would say about "fancy" weddings or sleep away camp in the frum community).

I'm not even mentioning the confirmations, the debutante balls some have, the Baptisms, the rehearsal dinner. What about other dances? Homecoming, Junior Prom? There are so many things!!! We can't just say "ONLY being frum is expensive". Spending money on such dumb things as Prom and limos seem silly to us, but to them its the norm. ITs not anymore easy for them not to do it, as it is for some frummies to gain some individuality.

About camp:

I don't buy it. The conformity is sickening. I understand every community requires some confirmation, but sending your kid to an expensive summer program, and then complaining about you rmoney problems, realy doesn't buy sympathy from me. Its your wacko problem. Its OPTIONAL. Yes, OPTIONAL. Tell your kids to get backbone. My sister hasn't gone to summer camp. She's 16, and we've been religious since she was 9. She goes to a prestigious HS. She has her click of friends. Is she in the popular crowd? NOpe. does she come home crying? Nope. She's secure, becauase my parents taught her (us) to not jump off bridges just b/c everyone else is doing it too. really, I promise, she's secure. And, in school, when fake people irritate her, she puts them in their place.

Plus, the statistics thing. I don't buy that much either. Non_Jews go to camp. Many send their kids out of the country and to summer school programs and other such things. Summer programs aren't exclusive to frum people, defenitly not summer camp.

I don't even know why I'm wasting my time arguing this, camp is OPTIONAL. It doesn't even matter if it costs goyim anything,because if one were in a financial rut, he shouldn't be sending their kid to camp to begin with.

Jake: You're not going to end up buying more books, just end up with more diversification on the type of book. YOu can't read two books at once, therefore, you'd just end up reading fewer of each book, and in the end, the same number of books. SO if you normall read 10 books a month, you'll end up with 10 books a month, even if some books are now Jewish books.

I do see your point on kosher food and vacation. BUt you still CHOOSE it to be that way. If you make the choice to spend $50,000 on your daughters wedding, and then the next day you turn around and complain you can't afford tuition, you're being an idiot. If you over pay for vacation, and then complain that its because you're frum, Its your own problem. Being single probably stops the overall complaining, but if a family man were to take his 5 kids and wife to the carribbean, and brings steak and a grill, and everyday he BBQ elaborate meals, its his own fault for not just having the Tuna. When my family goes away we use it as an excuse to diet. It depends on how you twist it.

A person trying to become frum would not be so disturbed by this, if he is, any decent Rabbi would just tell him to go vegatarian or something while he's getting used to it. He wouldnt say "damn vacation costs alot." If he did, he either isn't ready to be frum, or is just looking for an excuse not to be.

Either way, vacation shouldn't be an expense towards being frum. Plenty of people do not take vacations at all because they cannot afford them. Frum people should be happy they can atleast afford stuff.

Anon mom: YOu're right, I don't have kids, and I'm sure my POV will change a bit when I do have them. However, I am certain my pov will not change as drastically as you imply it will. My parents didn't raise me constantly allowing me to do everything my firends parents thought was ok. I believe I mentioned this on some other blog somewhere, but when I was younger, before I was frum, my family was traditional. Every year on Pesach I would have atleast one birthday party to go to (school break). All the guests at the parties would be eating pizza and drinking soda, while I was in my own little corner eating Tuna and potato chips. You think that as a kid I was ok with the fact taht I couldn't have pizza? Absolutely not. There were certain TV shows I couldn't watch. I wasn't allowed to date, or wear make up (until a certain age). And here I grew up, I am an individual. I am totally ok with my life. Infact I am grateful to my parents. Now that I'm at work and constantly reminded that I cannot everything in teh office, I don't care. I'm totally ok with it. I dont think "Oh wow this sux, they get free lunch and I don't" you know why? Its my choice. NO one put a gun against my head and said "be frum". By making ur kids do things to "fit in" you aren't doing them any favors. They need to feel as if its their choice to be frum, and not because its what society does. By giving them their own identification on what it means to be frum (and not a mindless drone) they will slowly begin to really think about every action, and thinking is usually a good thing. When they're 10, they wont think, but when they're older they will- as Ahuva mentioned kids wil thank you. LIfe is tough and is full of complicated choices... many fiscal ones. But if some things you just shouldnt have, and one should learn to live with that. "Lifes tough, wear a helmet" ~Boy Meets World

Plus, why would you want your kids to fit in? It ends up turning the issues you mentioned (of parents supporting married kids) into serious problems. If your kids are individuals, and thought for themselvs, and were practical, they wouldn't be dumb enough to be in a situation in which they couldn't afford to pay rent when they were married (unless there was an accident) Yes, I said that. I can see the attacks coming. to calculate your childrens rent into it being expensive to live a frum lifestyle is silly. You made that choice. Most people I know who aren't frum (after kiruv HS education) don't want to be frum because they don't want to end up poor like their friends who married learners. I're about to kill me. Its ok. I can handle it, your kids would cry because they don't know what it means to be attacked, because they've probably never had differeing points of view.

Israel subject: Not even going to touch on this. Its dumb. If you could afford it, go to Israel. To claim its a "requirement" of being frum is messed up. For generations we've had ancestors who haven't been able to visit Israel, yet suddenly its required of us. I don't buy it, I don't care what Tnspr or Abbi say. And Abbi...according to the Laws of Islam a muslim is REQUIRED to visit Mecca. As Jews, we do not HAVE to go. Its a nice thing to do, but it doesnt change our "frum" status. You see the difference?

If a frummy is going to complain about the fact that he cannot afford his mortgage and all the tuition and then have the audacity to spend $10,000 to take his family to Israel, he should be totally ignored. But the frum community would cry, pay his mortgage and then complain about how much it costs to be frum.

Btw, I know that tuition is the number one thing. But aside for tuition, Everything else basically events out. They have their expenses, we have ours. We should shut up, and mind our own business. Stop complaining about how good others have it, and GROW UP. If people didn't sit around and whine and invent other stupid ways to throw out money (ie camp, gaudy sheva brachos), we mighta had a solution in keeping tuition low (or extra part -time jobs ).

frumskeptic said...

sorry about the spacing. Don't know why that happened.

Anonymous said...

Frumskeptic, reduce the acid in your tone and you might make the points you are trying to make. Yes, goyim have expenses, and no, the posting does not say they do not.

While you are quick to attack the frum olam for overspending, the examples you give--proms for one--are also examples of overspending on the part of those who have them. You said that "Spending money on such dumb things as Prom and limos seem silly to us, but to them its the norm." When you say that you are also saying that following the herd is okay for them but not for us. I don't argue with that; if we did less following we would spend less money. But we are not talking about some utopian future here. We are comparing WHAT IS right now.

Let's put summer camp to rest. What ProfK said and what is borne out by the statistics is that as a percentage of their population subgroup, the percentage of frum children is higher in camp than the percentage of the non frum or non Jewish. Let's throw a big number out and say that 2,000,000 non frum kids go to camp each summer, which they don't according to the camping association, nowhere near it. What percentage of the general population is that number? Subtracting out for the Jewish population you are left with 298,000.000 people. That two million represents 1/149 of the population that is in camp. Now do that for the frum olam. The Prof used one million as her number for frum Jews out of the Jewish population. Let's say that only 10,000 children attend camp. That number would represent 1/100 of the frum population. You may not buy it but the numbers, even as estimations, bear out the fact that a higher percentage of frum kids are in camp. Again, you are arguing that they shouldn't be and the point of the posting was to show what is, not what should be.

When you say that "Btw, I know that tuition is the number one thing. But aside for tuition, Everything else basically events out." nothing can even out. The cost of even a cheap yeshiva's tuition is more in total than the events and spending you mentioned for the others. Add in all the events you mentioned and all the activities and you still do not come close to the $30-50K tuition bills for three children.

Re the books and spending, you are assuming that the amount of time to read is limited. If it is, then the spending remains the same. But if you expand your reading time because you now have two kinds of material to read, then the expenses will double.

You are assuming that putting a fancy name on a non kosher dish means that the price will be higher than a kosher dish with a more utilitarian name. You are wrong. Unless you are talking about the highest top-tier caterers or restaurants, the type that the general public never uses or goes to, kosher catering costs more. Our company has a list of approved restaurants that we can take clients to for business meals. Because of the nature of the business the restaurants are on the higher tiers. And the allowance given for these meals is higher for the kosher restaurants then it is for the non kosher ones. When we order in kosher meals for an in-house meeting for those who are frum we order the exact same meal so that no one is looking at what someone else is eating. And the cost of the kosher meals is higher than the non kosher ones.

Did it ever occur to you that perhaps the non frum people you know or the non Jews you know are the exceptions rather than the rule? Perhaps where you grew up things were different then they would be in the rest of the country. You are not any more privileged to speak authoritatively on what non Jews do than any of the rest of us. And as someone who is not married you cannot speak with authority on what expenses a frum married couple may feel they have to meet. Until you have children of your own your own experiences of being different from the crowd are still theory.

Not that she needs it but I offer it anyway. Why you are attacking ProfK is beyond me. If you were to go back and read all her postings you would discover that she has been arguing against the excess spending that takes place in the frum community from the beginning. She has been advocating change from the beginning. She is not a friend of the forced summer camp or of the forced anything else. I would imagine that she wouldn't be a friend of the forced limos for proms either. You missed the point of this posting. All things being equal, and no change to the status quo, it is more expensive to be frum then to not be frum.

Ahuva said...

Lion of zion, "for some it is indeed an obligation" Okay, for some, but I assume you don't want to argue that it's a requirement for all? Perhaps I misread the original post, but I was interpreting "I can't afford to be frum" as "I can't afford to follow halacha" (where halacha is defined as what is accepted across orthodoxy and not including areas where there is disagreement-- like keeping cholov yisrael). Considering the vast number of orthodox Jews living outside of Israel, I'm going to assume that the majority opinion is that it is not a halachic requirement to live in Israel.

Tnspr569, I'm not seeing any animosity towards *Israel* (and I apologize if my words sound that way). My exasperation is with all the rigidity and conformity that people want to layer on top of halacha. I would love to be in Israel every summer, but not at the price of losing my house, not being able to provide for my retirement, or not being able to take care of my family. My priority is to have a Jewish home and not make it more difficult for the community by putting myself in a position where I would someday have to depend on them financially. Everything else is secondary behind the survival of the family and the survival of the community.

"Re the books and spending, you are assuming that the amount of time to read is limited. If it is, then the spending remains the same. But if you expand your reading time because you now have two kinds of material to read, then the expenses will double"
You can't expand the number of hours in a week, though. If you double your reading time, you're going to be cutting something somewhere else. Maybe you'll be spending less time going to the movies, maybe you'll cancel/reduce your cable bill because you're reading instead and won't have time for all the extra channels. I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that there will be savings somewhere to balance out the cost of books if you really do double the books you read.

"All things being equal, and no change to the status quo, it is more expensive to be frum then to not be frum."

I think what frumskeptic is saying is that it's not more expensive when you compare apples to apples. If you compare non-Jews who are playing keep up with the Jonses with their proms, limos, private schools etc. to the expenses we've been discussing here. I don't know that it makes much sense to compare the cost of living of "sane" non-Jews to the kinds of expenses we've been discussing.

One thing is for certain-- there is definitely no reason to attack profk. She should be thanked for starting such an interesting discussion!!!

Anonymous said...

Frumskeptic, I loved "Boy Meets World." Bottom line, you're wrong about some stuff, but like other things in life (please forgive the dripping condescension but I'm close friends with the age of 40 right now so I'm gonna use that card) you will learn as you go. The cost of kosher food, the balance of raising your kids as individuals while helping them be well-adjusted, the reality of how extemely different being a parent is than having been'll come to you in time and in the meantime, it will be helpful to be frumskeptic rather than frumcynic.

Anonymous said...

had to actually schedule some time to read this comment thread. Maybe not the place to say it but that's why I like coming to this blog. ProfK doesn't write short postings for the most part and she doesn't mind when the commenters write back long postings either. There is some real conversation going on sometimes. I end up not commenting on most of the blogs I read because I may have something to say and I just can't get it into the way shorter comment length that you usually find elsewhere.

I agree with anonymous mom that the longer you live, the more you will have to adjust your thinking to fit into what is going on. I know for a fact that I, in my mid 30s, am thinking a lot differently then I did when I was single and when I was in my 20s. I've got a son who will be Bar Mitzvah this year and then on to high school. I've got one that is only 3. There are 3 other kids in the middle. Whatever theories my husband and I had before we actually had kids have changed a lot when dealing with the real thing. We swore we would never do a lot of things that we are doing now, and a lot of things that we did back then we don't do now. And listening to some of you who are even older then me I realize that the changes aren't finished yet.

Lion of Zion said...


"We swore we would never do a lot of things that we are doing now, and a lot of things that we did back then we don't do now."

such as?

Anonymous said...

ahuva- just because it's done, doesn't make it right. Each generation does things differently; sometimes they're right, other times they're not. No one is perfect...

frumskeptic said...

Anonymous mom and Tamar: You guys really should meet my grandmother. She actually keeps on telling me the exact opposite of what you guys are saying, she says "The older you get, the more you'll realize how little other people matter. Do your own thing and let them crap all over themselves if thats what they want"

its hilarious. Cuz she's old, and you'd expect better from her. But heck, she's so right.

So, while I did ADMIT I will definitly change as I grow older, I don't think I'll become one of you guys.

And, I really don't get how its different from being a parent than being the one "parented". I had my own experience being "left-out" and I realized how much I learned from it. As a good parent, I will recognize the importance of actually allowing my kids to be 'left-out' so that they can learn as well. You can't "parent" certain things, they have to experience them. So I really cannot fathom that point. I want my kids to have backbone.

About Tuition: I did say I agree that is a problem. I didn't say its cheap. I do think its a bit exaggerated (compared to some non-frum/goyish) expenses, but I did say, that YES, that is a problem exclusive to frum people.

Ahuva: Thank you. :) I did mean apples-to-apples

ProfK said...

No one is expecting you to turn into "one of us guys." Not possible--we are all individuals with different backgrounds. And you need to keep that in mind for when you have kids as well. You say:

"As a good parent, I will recognize the importance of actually allowing my kids to be 'left-out' so that they can learn as well. You can't "parent" certain things, they have to experience them. So I really cannot fathom that point. I want my kids to have backbone."

All parents hope their kids will have a "backbone." But when you force the issue on your kids you need to make very sure that the battle you have decided that they should be fighting is one that they will find equally necessary or equally as gratifying. Our kids are not just a second chance to go through our own childhoods again. We joke that we raised three "only" children, they are that different in their approaches to a variety of things, from each other and from us. What works with one child might not necessarily work with another one. And until you actually get to parent those children everything is only theory, no matter how good it sounds. Putting that theory into practice involves a lot of factors that you can't know about until you see those children in flesh and blood.

Anonymous said...


When we first got married our attitude was you take us exactly the way you find us and we're not changing anything for anybody. Then our kids went to school and their classmates came from a variety of frum practices. So I buy cholov yisroel for when the friends come over who eat only cholov yisroel. And the sheitle I bought when we were first married is rotting in its box--I wear hats everywhere and I'm not pretending I don't any more. I don't wear denim skirts when we shop or visit the family in Brooklyn, and I wear them when they visit me.

I read all the child rearing books before I had my kids. They're somewhere up on a shelf now because we found out that our kids didn't act exactly like those books. Time outs didn't work with the first two and we don't use them any more. Each of our kids needs something else from us at different times. Some house rules go for everyone and some apply to individual kids, because that is how it works better for us and for them. One of the kids needs mega amounts of sleep and so bed time is strictly enforced with him or he can't function right. Our daughter needs less sleep then he does so her bedtime is flexible. Our kid with mega food allergies is allowed to be a pickier eater as we are trying to figure out what works and doesn't for him. The kids without allergies aren't allowed to be picky--dinner is what I put on the table for them. We've learned to bend when we have to.

Hubby and I are real technology fans--he's in the business--but we're gotten a lot less permissive with the technology for our kids. They don't have cell phones and won't get them until they can pay for them. We have a computer for the kids to use for schoolwork, but computer games are strictly limited. We encourage active playing whenever possible instead of just sitting. We thought for sure we would be the parents that bought all the gadgets because of our interests, but we saw that is not the best things for our kids so we've changed in that respect. When they are older? I'm sure we will have to adjust again.

Ahuva said...

tnspr569, I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I'm from the view that it is difficult to be a light unto the nations if you don't live among them. Besides, there are some really remarkable rabbanim in America. I would personally hesitate before saying that they are committing an averia by not making aliyah.