Letter: Who Comes Up With The Calendar?

There is a big question on the minds of many people in Lakewood over the past few long weeks. Who comes up with the school calendar?

The schools seem to be completely in sync with each other, but don’t seem to know where the calendar actually comes from. Are the hard-working mothers and fathers that pay the tuitions not a thought in the decision? Yes, the Yamim Tovim are early this year so it doesn’t always work out this way, however, the ‘calendar makers’ knew this from years ago this was coming.

I myself work and my husband is in Yeshiva. My boys finished camp on August 5th like most boys I know did as well. They were home from Aug 6th-Aug 18th (they are too young to watch themselves). By Monday Aug 9th my husband was already back in Yeshiva. I could not work with them home. Aug 18th when they finally went back the girls finished camp and have been home since. They will begin school on Aug 31st (with 11:30 dismissal, too short a day to actually go to work) and my first day back to work will be Sept 1st. 2 and half days before I need to take off for Rosh Hashana.

Schools, would you like my husband not to go to Yeshiva? Would you like the mothers and fathers not to go to work? How would you like us to pay our bills (tuition) and keep a job? Yes, our children are our responsibility and not the schools or camps, but there has to be something offered to help out. No camp or school option for a little under a month is simply not fair.

Lakewood used to be based completely of Yeshiva’s schedule, but something seems to have gone wrong recently and the only ones that seem to gain are the schools and playgroup Morahs. There is no reason why girls schools couldn’t have started this week. Wouldn’t they schools want to have a chance to teach something about the Holy Days of Rosh Hashana? Settle the girls a little before the holidays begin?

It always seems to be a perpetual blame game…
If you ask the boys camps why they end so early. They say the Mesivta boys co back to Yeshiva, so they don’t have staff.

If you ask the boy schools why they don’t start earlier. The Rebbeim need some time off and the teachers don’t have babysitters so we can’t have full days.

If you ask the Girl’s schools, they blame the babysitters

And if you ask the babysitters, they say they follow the Girl’s school calendar.

So, we are putting out there the hardworking people of Lakewood want to know who are we supposed to ask?

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  1. Here’s a simple answer from a teacher…we don’t get paid to work in August. Yes, that’s right. Schools can’t just magically start. They need the teachers to be there. You may not like our summer vacation but then again you might not like our salaries either…

    • There is no reason a teacher can’t work a week in August when they get paid for September and work about 5 days. As you tell me when I pay tuition that it is a yearly price, just divided in twelve, so it’s not about whether there is school in September. A teacher is a yearly salary, and that should include full hebrew months, regardless of where it falls out.

      The fact that schools can get away with this with no say from parents is not acceptable. All it takes is a few schools to force a change, but no one wants to be first.

    • Please don’t be a teacher if you dislike the job and pay so much. We are talking about starting 4~5 days earlier shouldn’t be such a big deal. I’m sure the school can compensate.

      • I love my job. Why else would I teach? I’m just curious how it works in your industry….is every new thing your boss requests (out of your responsibilities) no big deal for you too?

        You do realize that the very act of teaching inherently goes way beyond any job description.

    • Well, i believe you got paid for June even though school ended couple days before the end of June. So maybe you can come in a couple days in the end of August in exchange.
      This letter is 100%. It’s really not normal that for basically a month either my boys or my girls were home. I’m lucky that my employer was a mentch about it.

    • R, this is so. not. about. you. This is about your achrayis to the students who you claim to care deeply about. Is it better for these kids to sit at home klutzing endlessly (forget about complicating the lives of their parents) or should they be in school, learning about the most awesome days in the Jewish calendar. If you dont feel like you have a responsibility to your students you are in the wrong business. But the good news is the job market is HOT right now. You can always chose something that makes you happeir and gives you a better salary, since it appears thats what its all about for you. During Covid we all talked about what a problem it was that all the kids were home for so long, nothing good came from it. But here we are, less than a year later, and the same people who virtuously decried the situation are feeding it. Stop with the money. That could be worked out if anyone cared to try.

      • Wow, I hope I don’t teach your kids. I happen to love my job and care deeply for my students going above and beyond any job responsibility. Maybe, that’s why I need my break so badly in the summer. Teachers are human. The needs of our children (and their parents) increase every year. I didn’t start the year yet and I’ve already gotten phone calls from parents regarding their children for the upcoming year. The emotional toll teaching takes is immeasurable. I have other skills that I can easily use. I choose to stay in teaching because I’ve been blessed to help numerous students who suffered through school until they reached my class.

        So, yes, as a teacher and a mother – this is so about me. And my students. Don’t burn teachers out – we’re not in this for paychecks (even though our families also need food, shelter etc.) we’re in this for the children. But we’re human. And summer breaks are a huge perk of the job. If I lose my summer income (unrelated to teaching) I can no longer teach and I don’t speak only for myself.

        Most harmful to children is the parents’ attitude of wanting them out of their hair at all times. And I’m a mother too. I get it. I really do.

      • Some of the comments here are extremely hurtful.
        I am wondering if the flash flooding on Friday August 27 is connected somewhat to the hurtful comments.
        I forgot to mention and also the power outage.
        I do agree that most comments are good.
        If you ask, then why are the good people suffering?
        I am sure that your Rav can explain that to you.

  2. There is some truth to your letter; the disconnect and inconsistency regarding boys/girls schedules and the difficulty it has caused. But, the reality is that raising a family requires one parent to have flexibility, period. When both parents are in an inflexible situation anything can trigger a heightened response. This year’s schedule only brought it to the surface.

    • Haven’t you got it backwards? Camps should base their schedule on schools, not schools on camps.
      And Schools should base their schedules on whatever is best for the children’s chinuch. What a revolutionary idea!

  3. When Hillel made the calendar , I Dont think he realIzed woman we’re gng to work , while their husband were sitting in Yeshiva. I agree with YUKS-one parent has to be flexible with kids schedules. Maybe your husband can rotate babysitting so you don’t loose out on your salary? Also- most people are sad for sunmer to be over And actually enjoy this last week of sun, swimming, and no pressure of running out to catch a day camp bus in the morning . Sit back and smell the roses !

  4. Couldn’t agree more. The schools expect tuition to be paid in full + donations and all sorts of other items from the working parents, but we don’t get taken into consideration when it comes to scheduling. This summer has been a disaster. Most companies allow a week off in the summer and most can figure out an extra day or two here and there if needed, but to have children home for almost a month is unacceptable. To be able to hold down a job is practically impossible under such circumstances

  5. @yuks tell that to all the families in Lakewood with two working parents in order to put food on the table (and pay tuition). Also “flexibility” doesn’t entail a full month off.

    @R we as parents get paid to work in order to pay your salary the rest of the year. We aren’t asking you to work more than what is required. The idea is to coordinate the boys and girls schedules so they are off the same two weeks.

    As for the letter — perfectly said. Schools ask for more and more tuition but aren’t willing to accommodate or take into consideration the parents who need to work in order to pay tuition. It doesn’t make much sense.

  6. Can we discuss why the girls get home 11 am on Fridays once we’re at it ???? Does tuition not include Fridays ?
    I have a few children who need to shower and do their hair on a short Friday but we don’t need that much time ! Every school out of lkwd gets out atleast 12/1 and 2-3 in the sunmer months !

  7. I don’t understand why there can’t be more coordination but school is a 10 month thing. It isn’t there to babysit your children. I live in BP and some girls schools started today while some camps ended today and I understand one camp ends Sunday. None of this makes sense.

    Except, some school buildings house a camp in the summer and a few week transition is required to prepare the building. There’s no quick and easy solution.

    Can you split babysitting with a relative or neighbor?

  8. How about parents who both work? Kids off for a month is outrageous. Boys should not be off for so long, it is extremely unhealthy. The schools demand no technology in the homes and parents should refrain from sitting their kids infront of videos, even Jewish ones, well what do you expect kids to do for 2 weeks. And they finally go back to Yeshiva, only to have a half a day for a week! What does that help? This schedule is bonkers and makes no sense.

    • I had my boys home for two weeks. It was exhausting but we had tons of fun! Hooked up with some neighbors with same age children, we rented pools, went to parks, went the beach in the evenings. And if one mother had to be away that day we filled in. Nothing else got done but it’s all in the mindset , those two weeks in my mind were blocked out for the boys. I do t know when or how YT will happen but it always does!

  9. To R: If you’re not paid to work in August then you should work the entire June!! Where were you on June 30? Not in the classroom I bet!! You are paid for 10 months a year. That dose not matter on the calendar dates.

  10. Dear letter writer,
    I completely agree with the letter you wrote and I feel your frustration. However, as the husband of a 7th-grade morah, I can tell you that my wife does not get paid for August. Every August my wife gets to relax so she is recharged and ready to give her best for the upcoming school year. This issue does come up every few years before an Ibur Yur, but until we figure out a way to change our calendar, this is probably how it will remain.

  11. If you start paying 10k in Tuition and 700 monthly for playgroup you can get all that but you want cheap you can’t expect anything
    don’t have the chutzpah to say that a playgroup morah gains when she is the business office registration and school office and principal and secretary and janitor and pays the rent and utilities and all other expenses and gets salary of a regular teacher oh btw I’m not a morah but don’t say someone else is gaining when your not ready to pay the price

    • This is not a tuition argument.

      It’s a matter of trying to coordinate schedules so it works better for everyone. If it’s done right no one will end up working more days.

      Use the Jewish Calendar for everyone, Yeshiva, boys, girls and playgroups.

      (if it was a tuition argument lets not forget Girl’s schools raised tuition by $400-500 last year after “COVID cost them so much” but we got zero school the year before for 6 months)

  12. While we are at it, let’s have girls school on Sundays! Girls are bored and need structure. Otherwise I’m busy paying for clubs! Skip Friday if teachers need a day off…. they are barely there anyway!

  13. People are getting bogged down in whom to blame, who has it better, and how much the money should deserve.
    Go back to basics.
    What do the children need? Is it beneficial for them to have nine weeks off in the summer? Is it good for children to start school one week before Rosh Hashana and have the start interrupted by constant yomim tovim? Why do we have limudei chol in school? Is the answer to that question not relevant during the summer?
    The schools have greater power than they think. If they changed to the Jewish calendar, the camps would adapt. They can’t claim that they need to use the Goyishe calendar because the camps do so, and because Brooklyn does so. We are not dependent on Brooklyn or on camps, they are dependent on us.

  14. U sound very frustrated but keep in mind that
    1. all schools are rented out to daycamps the whole summer and if you ask anyone who works in a school they will tell you that it is a big huge job to get the building ready for school. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into getting the building ready there is no way they can start school the day after camp ends. As it is even with a week between camp and school the school staff work overtime to get the building ready u can’t imagine how hard the staff works to turn the building over and put it in order for the first day.
    2. Also keep in mind that schools are not babysitting services they were created to educate the kids and thats all. They are not obligated to be open to babysit for u every day that u need to work.
    3. All over the USA including Brooklyn and out of town communities there is a full ten week summer vacation and in some places the boys also have off 8-9 weeks and all over the world the parents figure it out it’s not like this is exclusively a lakewood issue. But somehow lakewood parents have a harder time with it then parents every where else this comes up every snow day, every mid winter day…. Let’s change our attitude and thank our school staff for working so hard to get everything ready for the first day.

  15. Reb Shalom,
    Thank you to your wife for her dedication.

    She does get paid for June but school ends before June is fully over. So she can work those few days in August.

  16. Maybe the answer is to have school 12 months w/day camp built in to the curriculum. This way there’s no worry about when the school year begins/ends, when summer camp begins/ends. Both would be intertwined. Wondering if this system exists already. A gbentched 5782 to all.

  17. Girls school don’t start because of bussing ! I have been carpooling my 5! Boys to three different yeshivas on four different schedules the traffic is INSANE! The bussing doesn’t start until September. I think that is a big reason the girls don’t start.

  18. You could always move E”Y were the boys and girls r off from tisha b’ av and the boys start R”H and the girls started last week. all thy have camp for is 10days. I don’t think American kids can handle such schedule.

  19. The author brought up a point about schools working around yeshiva schedule. At this point, there are probably more people working than in yeshiva.
    I would love to write a letter complaining how everything in lakewood runs on yeshiva schedule. To the extent that if one’s husband is not in yeshiva, they have to take a more flexible job to accommodate yeshiva schedule.

    • Soooo, the schools do NOT run on yeshiva schedule, which you should have read in the article.

      The boys were off from camp and school 1 1/2 weeks in the beginning of Elul zman, and the girls are off from camp/school for 2 weeks at the end of Elul zman. And none of those days overlapped.

      So how is that for going according to yeshiva schedule? By killing the most important zman in the whole year??

      And no, not all wives work for a flexible employer (such as those who work for goyim) who can give them off for a month so the husband can go do what he needs to do uphold the world.

      I would love to hear what life altering thing runs on the yeshiva schedule that prompted you to write your comment. I would bless it.

  20. Firstly, as mentioned, schools need 2 weeks to get ready after day camps leave
    Secondly, there is no free bussing prior to Sept 1. So that would mean either paying for private bussing, or sitting in traffic for hours.

  21. Another thing about school teachers is some like to complain that its a no pay job when in reality they don’t really break it down.

    At $30,000 a year, (which I heard is a super low estimate most are paid more, especially boys teachers) There are only 140-145 days of English a year with 4 hours a day tops. Thats over $50 an hour. Not too shabby if you ask me.

    Its a job you chose so please don’t be bitter about it.

    • If you think this teachers work is only in the classroom you are making a mistake. Most teachers and rabbeim spend as much time and likely more preparing for class than in the classroom. Ask yourself this… Would you rather have your regular job or be a teacher? I think teachers and rabbeim are severely underpaid.

      P.s. I am not a teacher.

  22. To sum up the issue: do we say schools must conform to parents schedules or vice versa?
    As there are more parents than those who work in schools most would choose the former because frankly this discussion is just about getting other people to do what’s good for me.

  23. There are some chassidishe girls schools that started on August 26. And provided free babysitting for the teachers on site so there is no reason to complain or look for excuses.

  24. While we r at it how about we discuss why mid winter vacation which I am all for by the way it’s very healthy for everyone to recharge their batteries can’t be coordinated to be the same week for boys schools girls schools and high schools I have three different weeks of mid winter vacation this year it’s crazy can’t even do a family day trip why can’t that be taken into account? I have no problem taking off from work to spend time with my kids but three different weekends / weeks? What’s up with that?

  25. I think the schools are afraid that you might go away with your family on vacation, so they purposely make the boy schedules and girl schedules not match up. The problem is the children then lose out when their parents decide to take them out of school for vacation. Not only do they lose out on their education for those days that they are absent, but they also learn from their parents that they can disregard school rules.

  26. Oy!!!! Complain, complain, complain! How about focus on “V’samacta bchol hatov” instead. We take so much for granted, oy Hashem yerachem!!!


    • You are right – we have so much tov.

      We also have a problem that needs to be solved.

      Even inherent in the problem, we can thank Hashem, for the kids, for the great schools…

      …but we still need to find a solution.

  27. It’s not about yeshiva or work it’s about it affecting the middle class – decisions generally are not made by or for the middle class

  28. To not working: maybe you can have some sympathy for parents who are. Most moms don’t work out of want but rather out of need. Regarding the letter, try working and then having to pick up one child and at 1 and another at 2 and then running back to work. Forget about how much the cost of extended camp is for 1 week for the nursery aged kids. Couldn’t agree more with this letter.

  29. I actually send my boys to a school which starts beginning of Elul, which fits with my high school boys who Start Rosh chodesh. If you look around some schools have better schedules then others. I agree the girls needs to adjust.

  30. Don’t blame the schools. It’s the camps. In order for them to keep up their prices they make the dates work for them. We’re not paying enough tuition to start blaming schools.

  31. Teacher here, and I would have no problem starting the last week of August on a year such as this. After all, I didn’t work the last week of June and I did get paid for it. I think it’s only fair.
    Any new teachers should receive extra compensation since they weren’t paid for it last June.
    Our students fair much better and our jobs are far easier when our students have a calm home and their parents aren’t completely frazzled. Count me in.

  32. As someone from out of town who has worked both as a teacher and in the office of schools I would like to point something out . Basically we count the school days that are in the calendar year and times that by how many hours the person works per day and then divide it by either 10 or 12 months and this makes up how much a teacher is paid . And also add in for sick / personal days . Teachers are NOT paid for Yomim Tovim .. I understand your being upset with Tuition but that’s the schools issue . Nothing to do with teachers salary . Most teachers do not even know this as they are paid a yearly salary and don’t sit and do the equation

  33. There are a lot more ramifications that you missed out in ur letter
    1. The fact that many boys were left on the streets , for untold many hours to play in the forests caused a huge amount of dangers
    2. The fact that camps did not have staff and had to end early

    Rabbi Krohn ztl SCREAMED about this many years ago!
    It’s high time everyone get into sync together
    We should gather together
    Torah Umesorah
    Agudath Israel
    Lakewood Vaad
    And sit down together and get everyone on the same page (Brooklyn and Lakewood together)
    Either we All boys and girls follow the Elul Yeshiva Calendar Camps Schools Playgroups and Colonies alike or
    We all follow the secular calendar
    It’s that simple and will make life easier on everyone !

  34. I agree with this letter 100%. I don’t know why teachers take this personal. All we working people are asking for is to make it possible for us to work so we can pay the schools. If some say it should be day camp or some say it should be school it doesn’t matter. We just need something so we can work. If teachers still need to relax then let the schools open and have the older grades do activities with the younger grades. If you want to charge us then charge us. But we need an option to send our children to so that we can keep our jobs and work hard so that we can pay the schools. Many of us don’t have any summer break or Yom Tov break. We are working hard and we don’t complain. We just need it to be possible and with our kids home for weeks it makes it impossible.

  35. Why do so many blame the schools and not the camps? Why should the sleepaway camps not have to follow the school schedule? And why the anger at tuition which is for your child’s CHINUCH and yet people pay camps fees without the same anger? Multiply the camp fees by 6 and school is a bargain.

    • Again, this is not a tuition argument. I happily paid full tuition without complaints and still find this situation very difficult. All the people are asking for is for the schedules to all coordinate. Summer and vacations, so the parents can work.

      We are no even asking anyone to work more than they already do. But please all work and take off on the same days.

      It’s not always about money.

  36. Blimi is correct about the mid winter vacation. That is more annoying . To the writer, you knew that this issue was a possibility when you had kids. What did you do a few years ago when this happened. Maybe get together with a few neighbors and make a day camp for the few days when there is no camp and School didn’t start yet. It’s so wrong that people complain about difficulty’s with having children . Be grateful to Hashem that you HAVE children. Think about how many people are reading this who don’t have children and are in pain because people are complaining about what to do with their children. Honestly did any of the responses even help the writer? Or was this a letter to vent?

  37. My husband is also in yeshiva and so far he had to take off 2 weeks (and counting) of elul first seder and coming late to second seder for babysitting

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