Friday, August 26, 2005

Even in Shekels, Jewish education isn't cheap

In a few discussions we've had about the high cost of Jewish education on this blog, my old friend Danny has a couple of times recommended that people move to Israel where they can get a good Jewish education for free, funded by the state.
Turns out that the cost of a good Jewish education is becoming a burden for many orthodox parents in Israel as well. Partially it's due to funding extra hours of religious study that the state doesn't pay for (that was certainly the case, for example, in the mamalachti dati torani -- state funded religious school, with extra Jewish studies -- I went to for primary school). But not always:
Jerusalem's prestigious yeshivas, for example, charge up to NIS 13,000 a month. Religious school principals often charge fees to finance things they are not permitted to charge for, such as raising teachers' pay or decreasing class size.
The Education Ministry does not check, and parents mostly refrain from complaining, because they want to give their children the best.
The average Israeli salary, just to give you an idea of how outrageous that sum is, is around NIS 7,000 -- could they really have this figure right? No wonder Avital Goldberg, one of the organizers of an action committee on this issue, says, rather familiarly,
"Anyone who wants his children to go to a religious state school has to take out a mortgage."
It's interesting to see that they are feeling this pressure although they are only paying for the Jewish Studies portion, unlike most Jews in the diaspora who have to pay for an entire private school.
In any case, the good news is that there is clearly a demand everywhere around the world for more intensive Jewish education. The bad news is that it is beyond the means of many families and individuals and no one yet has worked out how to pay for it....


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