Letter: A Response

I read the letter posted on Lakewood Scoop as A Response to the Poignant Tuition Crisis Letter.

This is my response to the response.

The last sentence wrote:

>> THIS should be the primary focus of Lakewood, educating ALL of our children, before anything else, because if this were solved the need for most other charity would be unnecessary or greatly reduced.

I didn’t understand the second half of the letter until this last sentence, but this last sentence is a winner.

This sentence should be on banners, street signs and ads everywhere.

There are 4 reasons why this is true.

  1. It is a clear halacha in Shulchan Aruch that the city is obligated to pay for childrens’ tuition. This isn’t tzedakah, it is a chiyuv on those of means which comes before tzedakah.
  2. This is automatically needs-based, as opposed to most tzedakos, especially those that give to couples under the age of 30 and are often receiving support from their parents.
  3. The most basic practical reason is that explained in the first half of the letter. When paying people money most of it goes to the government in taxes and loss of government programs. The rest of the money goes to raising the standards of spending, especially when the money is distributed to couples under the age of 30. Such tzedakah does nothing to increase the amount of Torah in Klal Yisroel.
  4. Perhaps the greatest need that Klal Yisroel has is to continue growing at a fast pace. One example of this need is the war in Eretz Yisroel, which is solely about the fact there are not enough Jews to balance out the Arabs, therefore the Arabs cannot be absorbed as citizens which causes an unending crisis.

Therefore, the most basic tzedakah should be making it affordable for frum families to have large families. The greatest and most basic expense of raising frum children is tuition.

However, I must state that I strongly disagree with the letter’s assertion that we don’t need to abandon Lakewood. No! We do need to abandon Lakewood, for exactly the reasons stated in the first half of his letter. In cities with free tuition (some examples are in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, Arizona, Wisconsin, Missouri, Texas) and affordable housing, none of these issues apply. Families can still live on 50k yearly. They reap the benefits from all the taxes other frum Yidden pay. With a low income they are entitled to free healthcare, food and daycare. And the standard of living in many of these places is way lower than that of Lakewood.

Anonymous Kollel yungerman

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41 COMMENTS

    • You are exaggerating. All social services are federal. Obviously, the Republican states limit them considerably.
      But either way, who is on social services if they own a house in the Lakewood area and pay tuition for multiple children?

        • When did those people buy there houses and how much tuition are they paying?
          How about people whi bought a house since Covid and are paying current tuition prices for 5+ children.
          How can they possibly be on social services?

      • Additionally, the main restriction that Republican states is income limits. Considering that Cleveland is so much more affordable than Lakewood the income limits relative to cost of living is worth it.

        • This concept is very naive. I know numerous people that moved to Cleveland expecting everything to be cheap and free and they regret it every day. The job market there is very shvach and groceries are expensive and it’s not as cheap as you think. Not saying it won’t work for some people but the grass is not always greener on the other side.

    • serious question – if we didn’t have to pay any taxes, would we need “social services”, or would our community help fill those gaps?

  1. You need to verify the info before you say that ppl can live in other states on 50k because of tuition. I have more than 2 siblings living in one of these states and that’s not how it works. The schools charge almost double Lakewood tuition and the voucher is only about half that amount so in reality it’s not free. They’re paying more or the same as Lakewood schools. And both of them have 2 parents working and are making a lot More than 50k and struggling to make ends meet too.

    • You are right about Florida which is an expensive state to begin with.
      You are incorrect about Cleveland, at least in 1 of the schools, and certainly for people who need the break.

      • This is only because the majority of parents pay full tuition. If it large numbers of yungeleit of lower income families join these communities, the tuition structure will change dramatically. There’s no free lunch for private school.

        • No.
          If Cleveland woyuld be more popular among serious yeshiveleit they wouldn’t have to pay the Rebbeim as much.
          The state pays 8-10k. That is plent, considering that every child (even hanhalas children) pay that, and the cost of living for the hanhala is extremely low.

          • Cleveland doesn’t have room in the schools to seriously expand.
            It can expand if they would have a donor fund the expansion but as no one has stepped to the plate, and it’s a very poor city compared to Lakewood, it’s not currently a viable solution.
            If a successful Yeshiva such as BMG, Mir or Pragers would open a satellite community anywhere in Ohio(there are cheaper and nicer area probably in the Ohio rust belt), the free tuition combined with low housing will be a great yeshua for those struggling.
            Any way a letter writers wants to spin it, it’s impossible to make the numbers work in Lakewood with current housing and tuition prices(most purchased pre the spike in housing and intrest rates, and from those who did buy recently, they don’t have yet 5 kids in the school system).
            Please! Some gvir reading this, step up to the plate and get yourself a major zchus!

  2. I just asked my kollel friend that lives in one of these states that give free tuition vouchers and he told me the cost of health insurance per kid per month is MORE than the cost of tuition. And he pays massive co-pays and deductibles every time his kid goes to the dr. And for him to have a baby is over 5k for the hospital stay etc.!!!

      • Don’t thimk united Refuah is much worse than Medicaid (other than the price, obviously).
        If Ch”v something serious happens, where the price exceeds one million dollars, it is usually possible to get on a different insurance. People with medicaid also need to switch insurances if something like that happens.

  3. While I agree to the letter writer, one thing needs to be clarified. Not all the states he mentioned have free tuition today. the point is that they have very generous tuition vouchers, and if more and more people move there schools can be opened that don’t charge tuition.
    South Bend, for one, has free tuition already today, from what I’ve told. Cleveland is free for many people, not everyone)

    • what does “free” mean? If a bully took my lunch money and then give me a pickle, is the pickle free? where do all those juicy vouchers come from, and how is the crime in those places that are giving them out?

      • in cleveland it was started because they had a failing school district. vouchers for private school were cheaper than revamping the public schools. there are beautiful frum neighborhoods there– a lot more frum than deep into jackson, manchester, or howell.

      • Vouchers are saving them money, as they would otherwise be paying much more for public school.
        Ohio, Indiana etc have plenty of great neighborhoods. The Jewish neighborhhods in Cleveland are considered a safe neighborhood. Definitely far better than crime ridden NYC.

  4. I agree with the first part of this letter, 100%!

    The second part puzzles me though – we work for 6 months for Pharoah, and 6 months for our families.

    Let that sink in.

    In the context of “social services”, our ability to provide for our own families and communities is being taken away by unelected agencies and we’re begging for scraps of our OWN FOOD!

    Then we’re gushing and grateful to our “elected” slave masters, and we vote them back in! For “vouchers”? Really?

    On this day, 248 years ago, America fought a war over a 2% tax! Now that it’s 50% everyone thinks its okay?!

    Put it this way – a middle class Lakewood family with two parents working, bringing in $200,000 a year gives maiser on the remaining $100,000 after taxes. That’s $10,000. If that same family had access to the full $200,000, that’s $20,000 in maiser. Now, let’s say they gave the maximum of 20% al pi halacha, that’s $40,000 in tsedaka! MORE than enough to cover everyone’s tuition in Lakewood, and they are left with $160,000 to cover their living expenses and their own tuition!!!

    How is this possible? By electing representatives who will do away with the income tax, sales tax, inheritance tax, social security tax, payroll tax, gas tax, property tax, state tax, excise tax, and replace it with tariffs on imports and a fair tax on business profit (less than 20%), to pay for roads, police and a defensive military and flush the rest of the useless departments and agencies down the drain.

    With the support and guidance of Daas Torah, we can and must do a better job of meeting our communities needs than a corrupt den of vipers in DC who owe favors to their corporate masters and make laws to ensure their continued corrupt confiscation of the fruits of our labor.

    Our problem, is #1 there’s a clear and glaring taboo on giving towards tuition. #2 there’s a Stockholm Syndrome in our community towards reliance on the Government.

    Why is nobody talking about this? The most successful community businesses rely on confiscated tax dollars as income (in healthcare businesses, education and social services). Think about that!

    In Mitzrayim, we only paid 20%!!!

    Wake Up Yidden!

    Stop giving to any tzedaka until we have fulfilled our obligation to pay for tuition for all Jewish children in our city, INCLUDING THE BAIS YAAKOVS!

    Stop supporting any political candidates who believe that taxation is fair, or that promises to take money stolen from others against their will, to give us a measly cut of it!

    Pay your taxes (don’t break the law), but start focusing on the root cause of our problem, Stockholm Syndrome. (Google it if you’re not familiar with it)

    Free our mothers to raise their children, and throw off the yoke of slavery!

    In the meantime, I call on every Rov to demand that Lakewood fulfil the halachic obligation to support the tuition of every Jewish child before giving a penny to any tsedaka funds.

    • I understand the second half of this comment but not the first. If we are already paying so much taxes why shouldn’t we take any benefit from it? That sounds like Stockholm syndrome to me.

      • Stockholm Syndrome is a condition whereby hostages develop a psychological bond with their captors. I am proposing the exact opposite, in advocating for economic freedom for the sake of Torah. When we benefit from the involuntary contributions of others, isn’t that in and of itself theft? Shouldn’t we al pi halacha try and stop that? Is it a mitzva to distribute stolen money to tzedaka? Is it permissible to have hanoah from it?

        • I wrote that I understand the second half. It is the first half I don’t agree with. Ok, we should not vote for politicians who are pro-tax, but until change happens what should we do with the money that is already in the government’s hands. Should we let it all go to others?

          • I don’t object to getting what we can legitimately, I only object to supporting programs rather than fighting to be free. Even more than this, I think we need to demand that Tuition gets paid in Lakewood before any other donations to causes. Every time I log into LWS, I am met with a giant pop up advertisement for the tuition in E”Y and it makes me upset that we’re capable of that for them, but not for our own children! It’s literally a halacha!

  5. First of all as someone with a family that as a couple makes 200K a year we don’t pay $100,000 in taxes it’s $50,000. I agree with you that that is high but it’s half of what you’re claiming it is so you’re making up numbers, but you’re entirely incorrect.
    Number two the point you miss on trying to replace all taxes with tariff’s is first of all there are no politicians or leaders that are pushing as extreme agenda as you are that we can vote for and also if you’re going to try and replace all the money taxes brings in with tariffs then everything that you buy in the store is going to be 20% more expensive, The companies producing and importing product will not agree to absorb a 20% tariff and not pass that along to the consumers and then you wont gain anything because instead of giving the money to the government you’re going to be giving money to the companies that make all the food and clothing and things that we buy in stores.

    • You are correct about your Federal Income Tax, but you are missing the stealth taxes that you don’t even know that you are paying. I didn’t realize it either until I did the research.

      The combined effect of the following hidden taxes, in addition to your federal tax rate results in an average of 56% tax for the average American taxpayer – FACT:

      State Income Tax (NJ 6.37%), Property Tax (2% per year, you pay the value of your entire home over 30 years because the value goes up), Employer Payroll Tax (which would go to you if the employer did not have to pay it), Social Security Tax (12.4% combined) corporate income tax (21%), fuel tax (about 30%), state and federal excise tax (5%), alcohol tax (45%), workers compensation tax (2%), unemployment tax(.5%), hotel tax (5%), airline tax (60%), utility tax (25%), telecommunication tax (12.2%), severance tax (tax on taking anything out of the ground, passed on to you, about 20%), insurance premium tax (2.05%), licensing tax (varies), capital gains tax (15%-20%), inheritance tax (11%-16% in NJ), state and local sales tax (6.625% in Lakewood), and the tax on inflation – if costs go up, so does your tax.

      The way tariffs work, is that they encourage domestic production, putting money back into a system that sustains our country and are only charged to those importing goods to the US, NOT on domestic factories.

      All of these hidden taxes are passed on to – guess who? All of us in the costs of food, clothing and things we buy at stores, and taken out of the companies that pay our salaries already. we do have to have some form of taxation, and the only fair way to do it is taxing imports. this is basic economics – if Americans pay less for domestic goods, the foreign companies will have to charge American importers less to buy it.

      what you are calling extreme, is literally the impetus for the American Revolutionary War, and many politicians support this idea to varying degrees.

      Donald Trump has recently floated the idea of eliminating the Federal Income Tax, considered unconstitutional, it is also opposed by much of the Republican Party, especially Senator Rand Paul and his father former Senator Ron Paul, the Tea Party Republicans, and the Libertarian leaning Republicans, as well as textual Constitutionalists.

      If you all of a sudden get your 56% back in your pocket, and you have to pay 20% more for imported goods, would you be better off? would you just by slightly more expensive domestic goods which did not carry any tax burden and support your community?

      This is probably all shocking news to most, because it was designed to be concealed by those who write the laws that benefit from it.

      • The Revolutionary War was based on ‘no taxation without representation’. Allegedly, we do still have representation.
        You make good points, but there is that distinction.

      • Tariffs are far worse than any other tax, at least for the little guy. The only tax that makes sense is property tax (actually a land value tax).

  6. there has never been so much shefa in klal yisroel! people throw 300k purim partys in this town, we have total unnecessary organizations in this town ( i dont want to say them here) that suck money from the public, there’s plenty of money to go around, we need to just direct them to the right places

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