Letter: We’ve Lost Our Focus

We were discussing the whole school story at the Shabbos table this week, and I wanted to share a point that came up.

In short, unfortunately we have our priorities messed up.

There are literally many millions of dollars spent on parties all year for various occasions in and around Lakewood. Many are for legitimate causes. But, we have lost focus.

It’s no secret that the Lakewood area has seen some of the most extravagant events around which are talked about around the globe. On the other hand, the school issues plaguing the Lakewood community are also talked about around the globe.

And I think that’s embarrassing.

We b’h are a blessed community with a tremendous amount of wealth and chessed. Yet, we can’t get our act together and put our priorities in order to ensure that we don’t go through this roller coaster painful school acceptance process every year.

If the amount of money spent on these one-time parties in this town would be cut back and instead be put into founding and funding more schools, we would be seeing a drastic drop in issues and an increase of everlasting Torah and chessed.

Just an observation.

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37 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Letter writer,

    You are absolutely 💯 right!

    Lemeisa, those who should care, sadly don’t.

    May I humbly suggest that instead of writing letters, step up to the plate and start putting your suggestions in place.

    Hatzlocha

  2. Agree 100%. However even if there was funding, you still need someone to work their brains off to get a high school off to a good start. That is because Noone wants to be part if the first few yrs, and other modes are still “grabbing” the “good” girls, leaving the new one with not much if a chance to start with a knock

  3. Absolutely! there is no reason that a Darchei style campus has never been discussed. Having a large school with multiple tracks can cater to maintain the range of standards in lakewood.

  4. In general we’ve lost our focus! To see the adds for $1000 mishloach manos , while there are people who can’t afford daily expenses is a shanda! Everyone should scale back (!!!!!) and give the extra $ to their friends and neighbors who are struggling (even if they don’t look like they’re struggling)

  5. On point. On many levels.

    If there would be more school funded we would have less overcrowded classrooms which lead ultimately to many kids falling behind and leading to dropouts which could lead to OTD.

    If we had more school with various options of level of learning ( as well as vocational) and more focused on teaching how to learn and read in a pace all children could keep up with- vs covering x amount of ground bt 7th grade, we would have less stressful children and families, less dropouts and OTD by 8th grade which would lead to less need of intervention including addiction and psychological issues. And dare I say criminal activities.

    Our focus needs to be on our diamonds. Our future.
    Not extravagant materialistic items we can purchase and events we can create

    • Hashem has given our generation a tremendous amount of wealth. Wealth that has never been seen before. What a bracha!!Its not our money. It’s His!! Our job is to use it wisely. Hashem can give and Hashem can take in an instant. Its a test. Can we be His partner? Is it really His intent that we put an emphasis on expensive meats even l’kavod YT, extravagant shalach manos or outlandish vacations? Is that why Hashem has blessed klal yisroel with so much wealth?

  6. Very true. But thete is a huge amount of tzedakah given in Lakewood . 60million fir Adirey Torah in 1 year. 15 million fir a big yeshiva in YerushLayim. Many many tens . of millions for many very worthy mosdos . All these causes are extremely worthy . But somehow, people feel that local elementary and high schools ,especially girls schools should be mostly a user pay system ,that it’s up to parents tuition to fund them. The Lakewood girls high schools are run on a very professional level and they need the same funding and resources as out of town schools who charge more than double the Lakewoodtuitions ,but the Lakewood tuition for high schools are not enough . Unless the high schools all change their level by hiring only young teachers straight out of seminary , disbanding their mechaneches programs that trues to bske sure tge girls all stay mentally happy and healthy, by stopping their extracurricular and tutoring programs etc etc. Then maybe the tuitions would be enough. Tuitions are almost enough for elementary schools that have much lower expenses than high schools. Even mesivtas can make it because Rebbeim are willing to work for much less than experienced high school teachers and mesivtas don’t have professional English departments ,and don’t have all the extracurricular that girls have. And gevirim donate to mesivtas because it’s for Torah but they donate much less for girls.

  7. Beautiful Shabbos table thought.
    Since you have this great idea you should be the first to start 2 or 3 schools and the money will for sure come in since there is so much of it in our town.
    Once you start there will be others that follow and all the credit will go to you.

  8. The people are ready to fund new schools that’s not the issue. We simply don’t know how to operate them. This is not a money issue.
    However, what’s embarrassing is that people keep feeding this negativity against a town that would give their right hand to help them.

  9. To Falafel.

    You are not correct. It is mostly a money issue. There are talented people who can make schools and even existing schools could either expand or make a second division of their school on another campus. They have made it clear that if they have the funding thyley will do it. But the askonim offer peanuts compared to what is needed. Elementary schools require much less initial funding and much less of an annual deficit once they are up and running. High schools require about double the nnual operating expenses of elementary schools. Out of town ,the high school tuitions are about double the elementary, but in Lakewood , most yeshivaleit and lower income families don’t have such a big difference between elementary and high school tuitions.

    Just building a basic building today in Lakewood for a medium size high school will cost you close to 20 million dollars . The land costs are well over a million dollars an acre so if you need 4 acres it’s 6million dollars plus another12 to 14million in todays highly inflated construction costs. And then you have to pay your staff well or you will not have a school that anybody wants to come to. .

    If money was no object and if parents paid 10,000 high school tuitions ,we woukd have many more schools and smaller class sizes .

    But its a lot more fancy to give to other causes. A worthy cause that raised 65million dollars last year.just took a group of donors to Japan and the Far East on a trip. The local schools don’t do that

  10. The professionally run high schools have English departments with different tracks, qualified teachers and lots of expenses. They also have huge extra curricular expenses and pay a lot it for social ndemotional work by teachers and others.
    The mesivtas have none of this , dont pay the Rebeim extra for coming to daven or talking to the boys which yhe high schools have to pay ,yet the most sought after mesivtas charge higher tuitions even for a yeshiva man than the high schools do . And a typical mesivta Rebbi salary is much less than the combination of teachers need for each high school class.

  11. People in the position to donate have been turned off by many of the local mosdos. The holier than thou judge mental attitude that so many people unfairly experience from local schools does not put those same institutions at the top of their charity giving priority list.
    As others have mentioned, there are many Torah institutions that receive tens of millions of dollars from local people. No small part. This is because the approach the donors with some degree of respect. I’m not talking chanifah, normal sense of gratitude and connecting to a person can make them feel more inclined to help out.
    In Lakewood, all these schools spend so much effort, trying to promote elitism and exclusiveness, don’t expect the same people put your nose up towards to passionately get behind a project of sponsoring more of such schools.

  12. It’s not about the money. It’s about the humongous undertaking and sacrifice of mental and emotional stability to run a school. It takes so much out of you on a day to day basis for the rest of your life, and most people are not cut out for the stress of running a frum school holds. I know people who run schools and they look burnt out and overwhelmed. People bad mouth them all the time when they don’t accept every person who walks through their door and are run through the gutter. Lashon hora and falsities are spread around by those who were not accepted and they have to still keep going and hold their head up high when they are being pulled on all sides. Most people cannot handle this lifestyle and neither can their families.
    Kuddos to all who have sacrificed their lives for klal yisroel but most don’t have the stomach. And that’s why more schools are not being opened.

  13. People have offered to make high schools that would not be elite and would allow Rabinim and Rosh Yeshivas to control the acceptance process to
    accept any frum Shomer Shabbos child. They just wanted the town to totally fund any deficits after tuition and to fund all the costs of building the buildings. The askonim told them that no such funding was available . Maybe a few hundred thousand for the first year or 2 and after that you are on your own . They were also told that a school that accepts everybody would not get any good enrollment in Lakewood. . So its not the schools fault . This is what parents in Lakewood want. And the funding being availabkei is a myth

  14. Simple question to all of those that denigrate what they perceive as “holier than though attitude”. And no, I am not in a position that this is relative to me, not to I mean to be cynical or challenging. It’s something that I’ve wondered about for a while. Is it that? Meaning holier than thou? I’m sure that sometimes it is. But does it have to be that? Why can’t one respect and appreciate someone else, possibly recognize that he or she is even better than him in many ways, but want to raise his children in a way that is different that his or her “friends” chosen life style? Why is he or a he obligated to place their child in an environment that they considers to be a risk to their chinuch and values? And no, don’t argue that it’s how it’s alway been because the risk of influence was incomparable. And, even then there are those whose chinuch was compromised. Why doesn’t a parent have the right to choose their path in chinuch?

  15. I know some people who have successful schools on Lakewood. They are so burnt out and won’t consider expanding because of all the agmas newest and name calling thst they get.

  16. Isn’t it so easy to point fingers at the 1% instead of looking inward at what we all can do to help the situation like not needing to always get into THE BEST and allow the second tier school thrive

  17. All this talk is a waste of time. The problem boils down to this idea of people “owning” schools and yeshivos. These are community things that the chachamim were mesaken every city must have, and if it stayed that way everyone would be thrilled to support it. When it becomes a “family” business people are not so excited. And it also causes everyone’s pride to get in the way of truly caring about the community. Who wants to own a yeshiva for shvache bochurim? If the school owners would look at themselves as oskei btzarchei tzibbur they would just fill the need.

    • Great point you made! However I get uncomfortable every time I read such a letter because I know exactly what is coming next- its called the blame game!
      Every person gets their blood pressure hyped up trying to determine who’s fault it
      is that there are so many fine beautiful girls sitting at home with no school to go to. Is it the high school owners? Principals? Maybe its the elementary schools that must open high schools? Or what about the parents? It’s actually comical to see every person immediately shift the blame to the next person. Instead, let’s spread joy peace and love. And don’t forget a helping hand! Every person should ask themselves what can I do to help the klal climb out of this crisis we have gotten into. And after that we can daven that there should not be even another single girl that has to endure such pain. V’ zeh hu! Nothing else is needed. You get nowhere with this kind of talk.

    • You are right. But unfortunately the Community has shirked its responsibility to create and fund the deficits of all the necessary schools that we need . By the way ,you are part of the community that shirked its responsibility and that’s why a few tzadikim have stepped up to create what we and you as a community have not done. If the community would comeupwiththe hundreds of millions we need to create community schools ,then we could close down all the family owned schools. Until then thank those families that your children have a school. It’s easier to slingmyd than to actually do .

  18. The “powers that be” in the yeshiva world don’t care about the “kehilla” ay large as they don’t feel it is “their” kehilla.
    Contrast that to chassidim, where every chasidus feels a responsibility to have schooling with afordable tuition-and they do.
    Affordable housing such as Kiryas Yoel, vizhnitz in the Catskills, linden for bobov.
    If the sponsor of Adirei Torah would have just spent some millions on schooling and housing solutions it would have gone straight to the pockets of those that need it most, and be a long term solution for starting out with the kollel lifestyle.

  19. Everybody complains about the terrible people who run the private schools and that we need to make community schools ,but in reality the complainers are not willing to spend one dollar of their money to make and fund those schools . The chasidim were trained well. They give all their tzedakah money to the kehila and they have millions available to subsidize tuitions and run and build their schools. We just don’t care about our community on a communal basis. A lot of yechidim do a lot of chesed in Lakewood ,but as a community we have failed .

  20. It’s just a matter of time till the Chasidim in lakewood take over . They have the communal funds to buy all the buildings for their mosdos while our community calls our Roshe Mosdos terrible names and gives no money to our Mosdos. Eventually our Roshei Mosdos will get sick and tired of the name calling and slowly start selling their buildings to the Chasidishe Mosdos. Then we will all be pushed out of Lakewood. .we will have nobody to blame but ourselves.

  21. I have heard that the problem will not be so bad. Since Bais Faiga now has a new high school, all Bais Faiga girls, even those who may have had siblings in other schools can now automatically get accepted there similar to Bais Shaindel taking all Bais Rivka Rachel and Shiras Devorah taking all of Bais Tova and Meon taking all of Bnos Melech and Chedvas taking all of Bnos Bracha girls . So that leaves a lot of room for the other high schools to take oldest non Bais Faiga girls. At least the Bais Faiga parents must be breathing easier that their daughters are now assured of a spot in a high school .

      • I happen to know for a fact that Shiras Devorah does accept any BT student assuming they apply and really want to come to Shiras Devirah HS . There may be cases where they gave people a hard time to start but the never left a Bais Tova student without an acceptance at the end .

  22. To MM

    As far as each newer school adding on one class per year .

    First of all a normal school starts off with one class per grade . Than after 4 or 5 years they add another. And so on . The newer schools started with 3 or 4 parallels per grade. It’s somewhat abnormal to start with such a large size before you even get a chance to develop your school .

    Second. It’s very expensive to build new buildings. A school with 4 parallel needs at least 15 to 20 million for land and a building. Then it takes years to get town and state approvals and then years to build These newer schools are still sitting in small trailers. Yes if the community was funding all our schools ,both existing and new ,then they could possibly grow faster.

  23. I have to be honest. I don’t like to give building fund money to institutions because I believe in the long run it lines the pockets of the family that own the school. Especially when they sell property like Torah Temimah in NY just did (I’m not saying that they are keeping a significant amount of money for their families in salaries as I don’t know but I have reason to be suspicious). If the books are open to the public so we can see how it is divided then I would trust that it is לצרכי ציבור. Unfortunately, I’m not too trusting.

    • It’s no problem , that is your right not to give money. But then don’t complain when there is no building for the number of students in our town

  24. If you don’t know ‘stuff’ as a “FACT” you can not publish it even if you have STRONG suspicions.

    Thats LOSHON HORAH 101.

    You may even owe the family a public apology.

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