Letter: It’s a Mess

So here we go again, between camp and school and I’m sure everyone is thinking the same thing- IT’S A MESS!!!

I am a life insurance salesman and every week I have to report my numbers to let my manager know how much I’m working. It’s a point system and we are supposed to get a minimum of 12 points a week. You know how many I submitted last week?!? TWO!!! That’s right, just two! Attached to the spreadsheet with my numbers that I submitted this week, I wrote to my boss- “I will be on vacation until Columbus Day.”

He took it as a joke, but it’s really not. My son finished camp Friday, he doesn’t have Yeshiva until next Wednesday. We just sat down for an hour (he’s 6 in case you are wondering) and planned our schedule for the week. Monday is Camden Aquarium, Tuesday is I Play America, Wednesday is 6 Flags and Thursday is roller skating. He can bring a friend to each trip as well. We will have a great time and use the opportunity to spend time together which we will both cherish for a long time. Great, that’s this week while he is off and the girls are still in camp.

Next week- We will be taking a family trip Sunday- Tuesday and then the fun starts because he starts Yeshiva on Wednesday and the girls don’t start for another two weeks! I don’t know what I will be doing with the girls from August 23- September 6, but we will have to figure something out.

Then Slichos, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Succos… No Victor (my boss) I won’t be back at work until Columbus Day (October 9, Isru Chag)!!!

This calendar issue comes up year after year. Boys are on Elul schedule, girls go by Labor Day. Everyone talks about it, but nothing has really gotten done. It’s been going on for long before I’ve been born and it doesn’t look like anything is getting done about it. I know Torah Umesorah tried addressing the issue this year, but I don’t know what ended up happening with that.

I have the luxury of working whenever I please, and Boruch Hashem, my wife has a decent amount of flexibility as well, but what are all the people who must work their full work schedule for the next few weeks doing about this?

I am not intending to knock anyone or any systems. I couldn’t be happier with my children’s schools, camps… My kids love going to school and had great summers as well. This town is one beautiful community with wonderful schools, shopping, chessed… We love living here.

I am not looking to give my opinion or solutions, as with an issue that comes up year after year and affects every family in this town, should be addressed by people who are far smarter than I am.

All I am asking is for someone to solve this once and for all!

Moshe F

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  1. I am not being at all obnoxious when I give my comment. Non Jewish parents have their children home from mid June until after Labor Day. We have all figured it out. It is part of the responsibility of having children. You, not society need to raise them.

    • Your 100% correct. But when you pay a premium of $20k plus for tuition. That bill has to be paid somehow.

      We are not complaining about taking care of our kids. It’s the extreme financial pressure we are concerned about and how to handle both. Keep in mind according the NJ standard of living your ok if you make $100k a yr.
      But with 4 kids and our obligations 200k a yr will barely get you by

    • Thanks Carol. You don’t come across as obnoxious at all. Please give some ideas how you manage with 10-11 weeks with the kids off and 2 working parents.

      • Moshe, we have a wonderful county park system. Cattus Island Park has a great nature center, just as fun as an aquarium, not as overwhelming. Also Jake’s County Park has a 2 story nature center. Both parks have trails and playgrounds. Just pack a lunch, drinks and all these cost is gas. I have 2 grown daughters and I kept summer simple when they were young. Read books, play games. We had no TV rule. Enjoy your children when they are young. All of a sudden, they are adults.

  2. Yes. Everything that you say is correct. We are all in the same boat. But, the solution is not on the yeshivos. It’s an often individual problem, and maybe communal that needs solutions on that level. Yeshivos are not babysitting BH service. They are an educational institution build around specific schedules. Rebbeim and Moros are people too. And educators. Not child care providers.

    • Thanks Jake,
      In no way was I saying it’s the Yeshivos problem. They do more than their share. I am just asking that the schedules alighn a little better so we don’t have a discrepency that spans over 3.5 weeks between camp and school.

      • Come to Brooklyn, The girls have a minimum of 4 weeks. Stop being a winey baby, and be an adult. Part of being an adult is taking responsibility on your own. The job is yours and only yours. That job is 24/7/365. No school what so ever is responsible for your children. Figure out a way to work within the school system. If not, stop having children, you’re sounding like an abusive parent.

      • Why? My kids will still find a way to entertain themselves with whatever we have in the house. Play dough. Old school lego. New style toys, like klicks. They with adult assistance and supervision manage just fine. Mind you in Brooklyn without a backyard, just a shared small courtyard. Yes, we did that for the entire covid as well. Enough of this stupidity.

  3. Sign up for a camp after camp. Join a merry go round with some neighbors. Team up with a family member and take turns watching each others’ kids. Hire a high schooler to babysit.

    I don’t understand why you weren’t able to work last week. All my kids had daycamp until Friday.

    • Great idea.
      Try this with an 18 month old. I called 10 of high school girls but no one wants to work those weeks. Camp after camps start at 2 years old. I’ve been looking for something for 2 months already and got no where. If you know of something please let me know!

    • Yeah, last weeks poor performance was totally on me! (Life Insurance is always slower in the summer.) It’s just when you realize you had a bad week and you are only going to have less time for the next six weeks…

  4. Thank you hashem for giving me children that I love and cherish.

    Just think of all the family’s that would love to have your problem but haven’t been able to.



      Steven, I’m not complaining. Chas V’shalom!

      I just don’t think there is anything wrong with asking that the schedule’s of school and camp, boys and girls allign a little better.

  5. You sound like a great father but you really don’t have to take your 6 year old on all these fancy trips each day.
    Go to the Jewish library and get him lots of books.. buy him some arts and crafts, different projects, you can buy a handheld computer game for $15.99. Tell him that if he plays nicely and lets you work for a while you can take him to buy ice cream or pizza. You can go to the park for an hour and then set him up with a project when you come home and get back to work.
    Of course you won’t be able to get in the same amount of hours as you usually do but you really don’t need all these major trips.
    Save that for chol hamoed.

  6. Sign up for an in between camp there are plenty! What exactly are you asking for – these poor boys should have even less vacation than that actually do!?!!? Brooklyn kids have been off all July, summer was 10 week’s since I could remember Give the boys and staff they’re measly 4 weeks please!!

  7. @Carol, your comment does come across as obnoxious because it feeds into tropes about the Lakewood Orthodox community. Nobody is looking to have society take care of our children. We pay tuition for private school and we pay tuition for private camp. The letter writer is simply asking that schools and camps, which we pay for, do a better job of aligning their schedules.

  8. I noticed you said Iplay America–
    Heads up–I hope the NJ inspection sticker is up to date.
    Also, one of the employees on the rides is very very very slow. My family had to wait for one ride almost 1 hour and 40 minutes. They gave up , they went to a different ride and the employee was nice and let them on right away. Manasquan Reservoir is very nice. Maybe do research on Turkey Swamp Park in Freehold-that also might be a good idea.

    • Yes! My car is all ready for a sneak peak from the Freehold police! Thanks for the heads up!
      We went recently and had a great time. No issues with employees.
      As I responded earlier, I am going a little over the top with these trips and a park is a great idea. Thank you!

  9. Sounds like you have a time management problem. I have Bli Ayin Hara 10 kids. In my job we also have a point system. Let your kids entertain themselves by buying a few things for them to paint or by going to friends. You can take them out for an hour or so to the park. And get up on time and do some work and stop complaining.

    • Thanks Gershon! 10 kids, that’s great! I only have one son and he needs a lot of attention. Play dough, paint… not going to work for a week and a half but thank you.
      As far as time management, I don’t think that’s my issue here as much as I can improve a little on that. I’m at my dining room table at 5:00 every morning with a coffee and an open Gemara so I do start early!

      • You’re not the only one with a job and that rises early. there are hundreds if not thousands of us doing just that. It’s time to grow up.

  10. As a father of a previous six-year-old, if you don’t rip up that activity sheet and switch to more basic, I am scared what your letter will look like in four years from now. You need to learn how to do simpler things, just because he has off for a few hours does not mean that he needs to go to Six Flags great aventures. We are all in the same boat. I worked a full week last week. I am not sure what you are talking about. My kids understand very clearly that they need to play with friends on the block, and yes, once in a while, I will take them on a trip but not every single day. That is ridiculous. You’re setting yourself up for disaster.

    Lemonade stands, popcorn, stands, call, visiting, cousins, bike trip around Lakewood lake, there are so many things to do.

    Wishing you much luck!

    I would love for the gap to be smaller as well just as much as you do, but until that happens, it’s lemonade stands for me!

    • Yes Jacob, it’s a bit over the top. I will be more mindful in the future as I don’t want my kids to be the ones asking me to pay for their trips to Florida when they are 16!
      Thanks for the warning!

  11. Years ago when I grew up in Brooklyn there used to be one week off between school and day camp, 8 weeks of day camp then another week off between day camp and yeshiva. These days day camp starts the Monday after school finishes which leaves the big gap between day camp and school. Maybe go back to the old system which can possibly divide up the break

      • How about we make the schedule for the person we all feel for, the almon or almanah with a house full of children and works 40-50 hours a week. They can’t take time off. They need school and camp to last 552 weeks a year. Including erev yom tov and chol hamoed. Are you ready to fund that?

  12. did you stop to thank Hashem for bringing your children back from the summer happy healthy and safe?!

    even before that did you thank Hashem that you are not spending the summer in the air conditioned family waiting room of a medical facility?!

    and even before that did you thank Hashem that you have a home, and the means with which to provide for your family?!

    Ilu finu malei shirah kayam…EIN ANACHNU MASPIKIM LEHODOS

    • Yes I did!
      I wake up every morning and thank Hashem for my beautiful family and all that I have!
      I’m not complaining Chas V’shalom!
      Just asking for the schedule to be a little more alligned!

  13. it’s all about the nebach rabeim that are the only ones in our society that work so so hard from 9:00 – 2:00, that need to be off 4-6 weeks in the summer and all Yom tov as well, the rest of the world doesn’t matter, just pay your tuition and keep quiet, otherwise no chance of getting your kids into any school.

  14. Grow up all of you. If you don’t want to be a parent, we can resolve the shidduch crisis. Take all those that don’t want to be parents and remove them from the process. you have that many less resumes to worry about.

      • I’m extremely warm and caring. However the constant complaining from Lakewood parents about their having to be responsible for their own children shows something about Lakewood. It shows that Lakewood isn’t about anything more than people being selfish. The Torah says in Parshas Bereishis that we should multiply and rule the world. So be parents and rule the world. I know of a story where a man with major issues was allowed to marry even though he was not capable. As the marriage fell apart that same community backed the husband basically keeping the woman with a child an agunah. That lasted until her father sat down with the leaders of that community. When he asked them why they allowed this guy to marry, they responded he also has a mitzvah to father children. This man, a talmid chacham in his own right and told them as follows. If you feel it’s so important for him to marry and father children, please make your own daughter the karbon for these people. Leave the rest of us out of the equation. Well, guess what, all of a sudden bes din found him and the woman got her get. Thus I said if you don’t want to be a responsible parent or are incapable of being a parent, don’t marry and father children.

        • Shmendrik, you look like you want someone to respond to your comments so I will do that.
          If I may clarify, all my letter was saying/asking as that there is a 3.5 week span where kids will be home and if someone can please try to help the schedule align a little better, it will be easier on families.
          Clearly, I am not the only one saying something about this because Torah Umesorah tried getting the schools and summer schedules to line up better.
          I also find it very ironic that you are saying Lakewood parents are selfish and don’t want to take responsibility, when I am taking a tremendous amount of responsibility by taking a week off from work to spend time with my son. The only criticism I have received is that I am spoiling him too much as these trips are unnecessary for a 6 year old. I acknowledged that and will be more mindful when planning his breaks in the future.
          Look, you live in Brooklyn, I live in Lakewood. There are pros and cons to living in Brooklyn and pros and cons to living in Lakewood. Every community will have its challenges and in life we have to pick the challenges we want to deal with.
          I am happy for you that you are happy in Brooklyn (anlthough you really have come across as very bitter in all your comments) and I am very happy in Lakewood. I don’t see why you feel the need to come on this website and bash our community with degrading generalizations that come across as someone who has deep hatred and is angry at a community he has nothing to do with.
          Neither myself or almost any of the commentators were denying or not owning up to the greatest responsibility we have which is our children as you have accused us of doing multiple times. We are just asking that if possible, thought can be put into making the schedule a little easier so we can go about our daily routines and provide for our families.
          I don’t attack people who live in Brooklyn. I am happy for them that they are happy where they are and feel they are in the place where they can grow the most, and raise their families with the values they would like to.
          I would appreciate if you can please show the same respect to us in Lakewood, be happy for us that we are happy where we are and respect the fact that even if we have values you don’t agree with, that we are doing what we feel is best for us and our families.
          In the zechus of the Ahavas Yisroel, we should all greet Moshiach together real soon!

          • I have many relatives in Lakewood. My issue is that every year you clowns, yes clowns complain about the same thing. Like you’re special and have a legitimate issue. I hate to disappoint you, your complaint is not legit. We have the same issues every where we go. Thus you need to stop complaining and do your job. I don’t have it any easier in Brooklyn. But we in Brooklyn don’t do this every year. In Lakewood that’s all you do, complain. that’s my issue. That’s the Issue Carol the gentile brought up as well.

    • When it comes to “midwinter in Florida” it’s the schools issue but when it comes to hardworking parents who suddenly have 3 weeks of no coverage for their kids it’s not their issue? They should care because working parents are stuck. Camp after camp is only for younger kids. I’m sorry all those who don’t work the summer and are on government programs “don’t get it” but it’s a big issue mayb try putting yourself in our shoes for a minute.

  15. You make some very valid points and they are worthy of being discussed but just not sure what you mean when you mention Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succos. That has nothing to do with the ‘mess’ you are describing. Additionally the days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succos span over 3+ weeks and there are plenty of days aside from the actual Yomim Tovim and Shabbos that one could still get work done. Agreed, they are not full weeks especially when you have all the ‘Erev’ Yom Tovs to consider as well and all the Yom Tov preparations but its a stretch to suggest that those 3 weeks are totally out of the picture and they’re weeks that work cannot be done. (maybe you won’t score a 12 but it won’t be a 2 either)

    • Yes, you are correct. Yom Tovim aren’t part of the mess. And this year it’s actually better for a work schedule as they are Shabbos-Sunday not in middle of the week. (Not that the days of the week that Yom Tov fall out on should ever be part of any equation.)
      And now that you mention it, I actually had some of my greatest weeks over the Yom Tov season! (40% of life insurance sales happen the last quarter of the year.)

      • BE”H this year you’ll do even better this last quarter than in previous years…. seems like you’re a great father and a great salesman….

  16. @Moshe. First of all let’s not exaggerate. Most Rebbeim start earlier than 9 and many end later than 2. On top of that they prepare lessons, mark papers and have some type of side job(s) to make ends meet. Often that means teaching English and/or tutoring 2 or 3 kids an evening. On top of that they often teach and/or do other jobs in camps to help pay the bills. Even with the current more respectable salaries that many mosdos are giving, experienced mechanchim are making way less than is needed and compared to what people in the business world are making (even youngsters starting out), they are way behind. So please don’t be sarcastic about the time Rebbeim don’t teach because generally they are not on the beach during that time.

  17. I live in an out of town community and everyone figures it out. Either hire a post seminary girl to watch and play with your kids during the day, or do round robin with other families where you only have to take off one day to take your son on a trip (with friends!) When you work together as a community you will find many available options. Many other parents are in your same situation. Share the burden and enjoy the benefits!

  18. Look , this is a very tough situation.
    Girls Schools can’t early because
    A. The traffic nightmare that’s created without busing
    B girls schools can’t afford to pay the teachers to come earlier
    C many female teachers are running camps and they rely on that extra income

    Having said that :
    I was looking at your schedule and if I was Victor your boss, I’d fire you for taking off so many days for a 6 year old.
    Does she really need to go in so many trips ?

    You have to stretch yourself and be a dot more creative
    The merry go round people have it right
    Or how bout bubby
    Adopt a bubby ?
    Or even a few girls in her class rotate
    Or even get done 12-13 year olds looking to make cash

  19. I have nothing particular to weigh into this topic. But want to offer a huge compliment to Moshe F for keeping the tone of his original post as well as all of his responses so positive and respectful.

  20. Looks like his main request is reasonable. have the schedules align better. I love spending time with my kids but its definately more efficient work-wise and entertainement-wise if they’re all off at the same time.

  21. @Mirm Agree! Moshe F, very impressed how you have raised the issue and kept the tone positive and respectful throughout all the comments (some of them negative and/or derogatory).
    I have nothing helpful to add except that I also live in Lakewood but my sons attend one of the Heimish/Chassidish yeshivas and they ended school in the summer a week later, thus began camp a week later so their last day of camp is the end of this week, same as my daughters. It’s wonderful! They go back to school a week later too, week of 8/28, just one week before the girls start.
    I am very happy and grateful it worked out so nicely for me this year, but I understand the non-heimish/chassidish schools put a bigger priority on starting earlier in Elul.

  22. @moshef. You and others here appear to believe that taking care of your children is someone else is responsible for taking care of your children. That is a big mistake. In Brooklyn we have the same problem, as I’m sure many other communities do as well. We suck it up and deal with it. We take our vacation/time off from work when our children have vacation. It’s extremely difficult to entertain children of assorted ages, plus some are boys and some are girls. But it’s a reality of life. In Eretz Yisroel they have to deal with it as well. It’s time for parents to be parents and take responsibility for their own children.

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