Sep 10, 2011

Is There A Connection?

The other day, someone told me about how a school applies after-school vouchers towards the during-the-day program.  It got me thinking.  There have been so many articles and lectures and gatherings about chinuch over the past two decades, so many angles explored, so many problems addressed.  And yet, I haven't heard anyone raise the possibility that children's chinuch is compromised when the schools they attend misappropriate funds or do other financial shenanigans. 

Is it because nobody considered this as a possibility? Is it because it's silly and one thing (cheating) has nothing to do with the other (chinuch)? Or is it too sensitive a topic and nobody dares to address it?


  1. If you ask anyone who is off the derech or less frum after 2 decades of expensive chinuch, why he or she chose a less frum path, most will bring up the hypocrisy of "pick and choose" Judaism. If fraud is simply the lesser of 2 evils, why is it wrong to choose what laws to keep and which to discard?
    It is a sensitive topic because money for chinuch is severely drying up and many in high positions such as the OU are sending out emails that we have made an unsustainable system. Children from poor families are being turned away from yeshivas and there are no alternatives anymore such as after school Talmud Torahs. Poverty is a very real issue today and rabbonim are quiet on the issue. Of course every rabbi will try to encourage their constituents to give more tzedukah and support Torah learning but other than lip service, not much is concretely being done. Large families whose parents are in kollel or chinuch cannot afford tuitions. Numerous yeshivas have closed their doors. Grandparents, particularly those who either have retired, or who have dozens of grandchildren, are not really able to help much. They have also exhausted their resources marrying off and supporting kollel (in Chabad that would be shlichus) children.
    No one really has an answer so the blame is continually shifted; we blame the hanhalla, the parents, the government, frum society, and the rabbinate. I guess that if every parent were not busy working full time and raising a large family, they could form a task force to raise money, create alternatives, and deal with government representatives. At present though, we have no such activists.

  2. Regarding your first point, I don't believe it. I think it's an excuse and not the reason they are not religious. They're not religious because of taavos, because of unhappiness, almost never for philosophical/intellectual reasons.

    As for yeshivos closing and lack of money for tuition, let's see how yeshivos in Chassidic communities manage to stay open. Their yeshivos are community schools and are supported by the community. They are in no danger of closing and the tuition is low.

    Back to the point in my post, I read (though did not see a source) that R' Mendel of Rimanov said that a parent who earns money dishonestly and purchases food with that money, is feeding his children ma'achalos asuros (forbidden, unkosher foods), and that food will have a harmful effect on the child's neshama. Similarly, when Torah study is made possible through tainted money, the result is a Torah that is tainted, a Torah that does not impact on the neshama and in Heaven as Torah can.

  3. Chassidishe communities are self-contained and have a viable leadership. A chossid in a community like that never looks out only for himself or his own family. He also directly sees the fruits of his labor in his community. If a person sends tzedukah to a yeshiva that he has no connection to in answer to an appeal, he or she does not know if the yeshiva survived or not. Therefore, he or she will most likely respond to the appeal with a nominal donation.
    If I live in a community, raise my children in the community, and then they in turn stay in the community to raise their children there, I, in all selfishness, have every reason to invest in that community. It would behoove me to buy in the stores of that community, even if they didn't have sales or accept coupons. It would motivate me to volunteer for the yeshiva ladies auxiliary. I would have no excuse to stay home from the mikveh dinner or not attend the bikur cholim chinese auction. The money and effort would be spent making sure that my family would have shuls, schools, shops, mikvaot, etc. Such a system gives plenty of incentive to invest in the local yeshivas. Where I live, the local yeshiva attracts many out of town bochrim while some in town bochrim attend out of town schools. This free-choice system means that parents who don't use the yeshiva, feel free not to involve themselves with the yeshiva's welfare. In an ideal situation, every bocher would find a place for himself in the local yeshiva and every local person would feel an obligation to keep it afloat. The Chassidishe communities have that level of achdus toward their own mosdos.