The Yeshiva Day School System — Costs and Considerations

One of the things that I appreciate the most about working with colleagues with backgrounds that are differ from my own — religiously, ethnically, nationally and politically — is being able to get an outsider’s perspective on Jewish communal issues. Recently, I had the opportunity to get my colleagues’ thoughts on a topic of increasing importance to me: yeshiva day schools, the private religious schools that most Orthodox Jewish children attend instead of public or secular private schools.

My colleagues, many of them public school parents, support school choice. Indeed, many have chosen to settle in towns with strong public schools for their children. But the yeshiva day school model seemed strange to them. Why create a separate system and pay for an education that is available for free?

There are many ways to view yeshiva day schools. The Orthodox community generally views them with pride, as a substantial communal achievement — and rightfully so.  In less than a century, a community of largely impoverished refugees, decimated by the Holocaust, came to a foreign country and established schools that rival that country’s most elite and established schools.  Almost every yeshiva day school produces graduates who attend the finest colleges and graduate schools, and their students regularly win national literary, advocacy, math and science competitions.  And the sweeping success of these schools has also been religious — there are more Jewish religious studies students in America today than at any time in its history.

And yet, this achievement has come at a cost, and that cost continues to be extraordinary and multifaceted.  The most obvious cost is financial: it costs an extraordinary amount of money to send a child to yeshiva day school and for our community to sustain such independent schools. But there are also other, associated costs which may be less obvious than the monetary costs, but which are no less profound.

This piece, the product of discussions with colleagues, friends, family and community members, discusses the yeshiva day school model and its associated costs, in the hope of helping the Orthodox community consider an increasingly burning question — is it worth it?

Personally, I believe that an honest consideration of the totality of yeshiva day schools’ costs — both financial and non-financial — leads to the conclusion that the current model is unsustainable and must change. Here, I share what I see as the costs and, in a following piece, I will propose a change to the Yeshiva day school model that addresses those costs.

None of this is easy to say. I am a product of the yeshiva day school system. My parents and others in my community devoted substantial time and financial resources to sustaining it. They did so with admirable intentions and sacrifice, and they have much to be proud of. But that system, which perhaps made sense in my generation, has become a monster that is devouring our community’s resources and eroding its character.

Investment breeds attachment. It is hard to move away from a system that we worked so hard to build and in which we invested so much to sustain. But investments cannot take on their own lives. It is both irrational and dangerous to prop up a system that we know is flawed and destructive simply to justify our prior investments in that system.

Change is also difficult. Inertia is an incredibly powerful force. We have this system and these schools that, with all of their flaws, we know and understand, and which offer a predictable result. Why expend the time, energy and cost — and take the risk — of crafting an alternative that may not succeed?  This piece demonstrates why that way of thinking is flawed, and why taking comfort in the familiar is a communal trap.

Personally, the urgency of our community breaking free of this system is very real. I am the father of children who are nearing yeshiva day school age, and if we fail to get our communal act together soon and address the system’s costs, I and my peers will soon bear the costs of that failure.

Understanding the Yeshiva Day School Model

Why do Orthodox Jews send their children to private yeshiva day schools instead of public schools?

Orthodox Jews posed with this question would probably answer that they send their children to yeshiva day schools to provide them with a Jewish education, which is not available to them in a public school. And that is true — public schools are secular in nature and do not offer religious instruction because they cannot offer such instruction. Courts have interpreted the United States Constitution’s Establishment Clause to prohibit state activities that could cause an “excessive entanglement” between the state and religious institutions.[1] Indeed, even prayer gatherings on public school grounds raise Establishment-Clause concerns.[2]

But that is not the entire answer. The Constitution, after all, does not prohibit religious activities that occur after school and off state-funded grounds.  Indeed, many public school parents send their children to after-school religious programs.  So why don’t Orthodox Jews do so too?  Why do Orthodox Jews create a completely separate system that forces Orthodox parents to pay for the secular education which public schools offer them for free?  Why do math and science have to be taught in a Jews-only school?

The reality is that yeshiva day schools are primarily designed to offer students a Jewish “environment,” rather than merely a Jewish education. One does not need a duplicative school system which includes secular studies to just teach Jewish studies — and Jewish classes and programming alone, even at the most advanced levels, does not cost anything close to what yeshiva day schools charge in tuition per student.

What is expensive is segregating our children from non-Orthodox children. It is the math and science classes, the arts and crafts, the music and the drama. It is the fancy facilities, the professional basketball courts and the hockey rinks with retractable nets. What is crushing us financially is that we go wildly out of pocket to recreate all of the things that public schools already offer us for free.

To be clear, unlike school segregation prior to Brown vs. Board of Education, Orthodox self-segregation is not motivated by bigotry. It is not because Orthodox Jews do not like their non-Orthodox neighbors.  It is because a Jewish lifestyle is all-encompassing and difficult to impart — and because that difficulty is magnified when a young and impressionable child is surrounded by friends who do not share that lifestyle. Indeed, most yeshiva day school parents hope their children will eventually attend secular colleges and/or graduate schools. And they would say, in complete honesty, that, when their child’s own religious identity is fully formed, they would be happy to see their child form close personal friendships with people who are not Orthodox.

All of this assumes three things. First, it assumes that yeshiva day schools actually produce religiously-developed Jews, or at least would be more successful in producing them than would a hybrid model in which Orthodox children attend public schools. Second, it assumes that self-segregation is an educational decision that Orthodox parents actually want to make. Finally, it assumes that the benefits of yeshiva day schools outweigh the costs.

We will challenge each of these assumptions, beginning in this piece with a discussion of yeshiva day schools’ true costs. In the next piece, we will propose a change.

Understanding the Yeshiva Day School Model’s Costs

  1. The Monetary Cost

How much does it actually cost to send a child to yeshiva day school?  Approximate figures for the tuition and fees (and there are a lot of fees) charged by a sampling of Modern Orthodox schools in the metropolitan area for elementary school for one child[3] are provided below.

SAR Academy

(Riverdale, NY)[4]

Moriah Academy

(Englewood, NJ)[5]

Ben Porat Yosef

(Paramus, NJ)[6]

Yeshivat Noam (Paramus, NJ)[7]
Total Cost (K-8) $215,950 $180,455 $172,620 $159,125
Yearly Average $23,994 $20,050 $19,180 $17,681

According to the United States Census Bureau, the median household income in the United States was about $53,657 in 2014.[8]  In the metropolitan area, local household income averages are higher, but not by much — the median income for a four-person family in New York and New Jersey in 2014 was about $84,000 and $104,000, respectively.[9]

Not all of that income is disposable. First, those income figures are pre-tax and yeshiva tuition is an after-tax expense. Second, a large portion of a family’s after-tax income supports the family’s basic survival costs. And how much does it cost the average American family to survive? According to James Lin and Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute in What we need to get by, the national standard living cost (which excludes private school tuition and is probably more expensive locally) for a four-person family was approximately $49,000 per year in 2008 (or over 90% of the average American household income in 2014).[10]

So, from the get-go, before vacations, summer camp or savings of any kind, a normal American family would need to earn an above-average American salary to send even one child to yeshiva day school.

How much above average? To send one child to Yeshivat Noam, the least expensive of the schools listed above, and just get by, a household would need to earn approximately $68,000 a year on an after-tax basis (or at least $90,000 before taxes[11]) — a wage higher than that of 71% of American households[12]; two children would cost approximately $80,000 after taxes (or at least $106,000 before taxes) — a wage higher than that of 78% of American households; and three children would cost approximately $100,000 (or at least $133,000 before taxes) — a wage higher than 86% of American households.  And, again, we are not including vacations, summer camp, synagogue membership, charitable donations or savings. In other words, even families that earn incomes that are excellent by American standards can barely afford to pay full tuition at a yeshiva day school.

2. The Parenthood Cost.

It is not easy to earn $100,000.

First, high-paying jobs typically require extensive training and one must be qualified before even applying for employment. Lawyers go to law school, doctors go to medical school and investment bankers typically get an MBA. Moreover, in each case, it is not enough to merely get the degree — one needs to excel. And not even those who excel are guaranteed jobs at graduation. Just ask anyone who graduated during the recession.

Second, assuming one lands a high-paying job, one has to keep that job. Employers at high-paying jobs demand a commensurate level of service and dedication from their employees. Associates at major law firms, for example, are expected to work long hours and consistently produce a stellar work product, and firms have little patience for those who do not. Putting aside potential advancement, just staying in good grace takes hard work and comes at an enormous personal cost.  Doctors — particularly those in residency or on call — can be gone for days at a time, often through Shabbat. And people in the financial sector keep schedules that are no less grueling.

Today, in most families, both parents work in order to ensure that between them, the family has the necessary income to survive. Given the cost of living and the difficulty in accumulating savings in a climate of economic uncertainty, most families do not have the luxury of being a one-income family. And, given the enormity of those costs, both parents are not only working, but working hard.

All of this means that parents today have less time to devote to their children than they did it in the past, and it also means that the time that parents are able to find for their children may not be quality time.  Yeshiva day school parents are often exhausted, and, in addition to their children’s needs, also struggle to care for their own — for hobbies, friends, religious study or just to find time to relax.

Yeshiva day schools rob our children of something that no yeshiva day school could ever replace for them — their parents.  Parents who, due to work demands, cannot attend their children’s Chumash plays or soccer games or help their children with their homework. Parents too exhausted on Shabbat to spend time learning with their children. And parents who cannot afford to take their children on vacations where they bond as a family because whatever disposable income the family does have is being channeled into yeshiva day schools.

Indeed, on balance, one wonders if children are better off with absent parents in yeshiva day schools than with present parents in public school. In the latter, at least they have parents to guide them through whatever religious challenges they face in public schools (and which, truth be told, they face also in yeshiva day schools).

3.  The Talent Cost.

The other casualty of parents being forced to take high-paying jobs to afford yeshiva day school is the important lower-paying jobs that people in our community forgo. The communal price we pay for this is enormous, and we pay it in several ways.

The first way we pay is through a decline in the quality of our religious leadership. The greatest young minds once became our community’s rabbis and teachers. Today, many go to Yale Law School or Harvard Medical School. Not because being a religious leader is less important or demands less skill than being a lawyer or a doctor, but because religious leaders make less money than secular professionals do, and because our costly lifestyle requires that we be pragmatic rather than idealistic.

The second way we pay is through a decline in our professional diversity. We are becoming a community that is professionally boring — lawyers, doctors, accountants, therapists and more lawyers. What happened to our writers, journalists, artists, architects, veterinarians and marine biologists? Why aren’t there Jewish carpenters and contractors? Because, today, kids “have to be practical” and choose pragmatism over passion.

The third way we pay is, ironically, through a decline in our communal wealth. Law and medicine certainly can offer a comfortable living, but they do not make one rich — or at least not nearly as rich as a person who starts a business and succeeds. Nevertheless, the average young Jewish person today does not start a business unless he or she has a family cushion on which to fall back.  Businesses are risky — there are no assurances than one will succeed and the expense of our lifestyle is certain and acute. Talented individuals who should take risk choose to play it safe, and opt for professions that offer the best possible return for the lowest possible risk.

The final way we pay is, tragically, through unrealized potential and wasted talent. Risk-aversion is a poor career justification. It is heartbreaking to think that smart and talented people put their capabilities aside and are wasted in “safe” professions that do not tap what they can truly offer. That yeshiva day school sentences countless parents to a professional life spent “coasting” rather than soaring.

Is Judaism’s vision for us to become ambitious dreamers, educators or whatever else we want to be or would be best at? Or are we all merely income- and child-producing machines? Is whatever benefit self-segregation confers worth professional dissatisfaction? Is it worth communal blandness and monotony? If the goal of our sacrifice is to keep kids within our community, shouldn’t we care deeply about what that community becomes? If the pursuit of communal continuity entails trading away our community’s character and vibrancy, what are we accomplishing?

4.  The Tuition Assistance Cost

According to the 2013 Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews (the “Pew Study”), 60% of all Jews have household incomes that do not exceed $100,000[13]. Among American Orthodox Jews, only 25% have household incomes that exceed $150,000.[14]  And yet, Orthodox families have about two children on average.[15]  Knowing the per-child costs ($106,000 to pay tuition for two children and just survive), how does the average Orthodox family afford such a lifestyle?

The answer is that they do not.

Until now, we have assumed that Orthodox families who send their kids to yeshiva day school pay the “sticker price” — full tuition — and that the burden of educating our children is distributed evenly so that each family carries its own financial weight. In reality, it is not. In most yeshiva day schools, many families pay less than full tuition for their children. And that is a problem.

It is a problem, first, for parents paying full tuition. When one’s peer parents are paying less than full tuition, those who pay full tuition feel taxed and exploited. The “sticker price” becomes the “sucker price,” and parents who pay it justifiably ask, “Isn’t it enough that I am paying for my own child, why should I also pay for other people’s children?” And when shouldering those extra costs requires full-paying parents to cut back on important things that they could otherwise provide for their children, like summer camp, vacations and extracurricular activities, those questions become harder to answer.

It is a problem, second, for any self-respecting parent on tuition assistance. Who enjoys asking others to financially help them send their kids to school? Which parent wants to go through the shame of submitting tax returns and putting their lifestyle — their car model, their home value, their vacations and the size of their 401K — under the financial microscope, laid bare before their children’s friends’ parents on the school’s tuition assistance committee? And it is not like people on tuition assistance are “losers,” “have-nots,” “takers” or “free-riders” who are “milking the system.” They are not. They are normal people facing an absurd system — one which crushes even people who are successful by American standards. As Dan Perla of the Avi Chai foundation put it, what we have is “a tuition system that has transformed nearly half of participants from community contributors to charity recipients.”[16]

It is a problem, third, for our communal dynamic. It is not good for Orthodox society to be one where the distinction between “haves” and “have-nots” is so pronounced and where financial success is so paramount. If we care so much about informal educational messages, what message does such a financial hierarchy impart to our children?

It is a problem, finally, because a resulting subliminal communal message of “wealth equals power” filters down to our schools and our children. Though schools will vehemently deny it, the reality is that schools favor children from families on the “plus-side” of their balance sheet rather than those on the “cost-side” of their balance sheet. Though that favoritism many not always be blatant, it is there. It is harder to expel the child of the parent who just paid for the school’s building or was honored at its dinner, than the child of a parent who cannot afford tuition. And a child who is unhappy with something at school will have a much easier time getting redress if his or her parent is on the board, than a child whose parent is not. And our children are well aware of those distinctions.

5.  The Dependency Cost

Another cost to having the expenses of the many borne by the few is our community’s gravitation toward the “Sugar Daddy” model, where our community is financially sustained by a small coterie of super-rich donors who expect to control the function of those institutions which they support.

The problem is that wealth and competence, or at least the kind of competence needed to run a communal institution, do not necessarily go together. Indeed, when the two diverge, when donors are not competent to manage the institutions they underwrite, our institutions are in a terrible bind. Unlike managers who owe their position to merit rather than money, it is not easy to oust donors who institutions need to survive. And faced with a choice between mismanagement and insolvency, institutions typically opt for mismanagement.

A cautionary tale about the dependency cost is Yeshiva University. By all objective accounts, the Modern Orthodox university is in deep financial distress. In 2014, Moody’s downgraded Yeshiva University’s bond rating, citing “poor financial oversight” and “management’s unwillingness or inability to adjust the university’s strategic plan and business model.”[17]  In 2015, Yeshiva University’s leadership received an overwhelming vote of “No Confidence” from its faculty.[18]  Indeed, just this February, The Forward reported that Yeshiva University had struck a deal to spin-off its Albert Einstein School of Medicine — a move that would cost the university almost half of its endowment.[19] Citing the university’s shrinking endowment and other board-level financial mishaps, a number of prominent voices have called for changes to the university’s leadership.

One would think that an institution in the midst of such obvious mishaps would oblige and take at least demonstrative action, perhaps a token reshuffling of its board, to allay communal concerns over its direction. But that has not happened. Not because Yeshiva University’s leaders are ignorant or do not care, but because they are stuck. As an institution steeped in the Sugar Daddy model, Yeshiva University desperately needs its donors’ financial support to survive. Faced with the choice between losing its donors and being mismanaged — instantaneous death versus slow death — Yeshiva University appears to have chosen the latter. Perhaps, with time, its donors will act responsibly and save the institution. Hope may not be much of an institutional strategy, but right now it’s the best Yeshiva can do.

The crisis in which Yeshiva University is steeped can happen to any Jewish institution that becomes too dependent upon a small group of “Sugar Daddies” for support. As yeshiva day schools grow more expensive and more community members are priced out of institutional involvement, it becomes more difficult to insulate our schools from the risk of being mismanaged by incompetent managers whom schools cannot afford to replace.

6.  The Societal Cost.

I grew up in Lawrence, a pretty suburb in Long Island, New York.  Despite its small size, Lawrence is well-known among American Orthodox Jews. The Orthodox community in Lawrence is relatively large and established. Its religious infrastructure — its synagogues, day schools, kosher supermarkets and restaurants — is impressive.

The other thing Lawrence is known for is its school board elections.  Though they have calmed in recent years, when I was growing up, school board elections — which pitted Orthodox parents against public school parents — were always heated and divisive events.

Local Orthodox parents, who derived little benefit from the public schools and were already burdened by yeshiva tuition, focused on public schools’ cost. These parents argued that there was little fairness in asking Orthodox Jews to pay for schools that their children did not use while denying Orthodox Jews a say in how those schools were fiscally run.

Public school parents, on the other hand, tended to focus on public schools’ benefits (which were admittedly greatly subsidized by Orthodox taxpayers), and feared that Orthodox involvement would hurt the schools. And their resistance was compounded by the simple fact that no parent wants a non-parent controlling their children’s school.  (yeshiva day school parents would presumably react similarly if public school parent sought control of the yeshivas).

Although both sides were inherently reasonable, no one bridged them. Public school parents did not help Orthodox parents see the benefits of the public schools, and Orthodox parents did not help public school parents understand the Orthodox community’s financial strain. So the two sides went to war, and although, when the dust settled, the Orthodox community had technically “won” control of the school board, everyone lost.

Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Negotiating states that negotiation “is about creativity, not compromise.”[20]  That means that the price of failed negotiations — or, in Lawrence’s case, no negotiations — includes creative solutions that never come to pass. In Lawrence’s case, perhaps if good will had been established, the Orthodox community could have negotiated, as some proposed at the time, to have public school teachers teach secular subjects in yeshiva day schools. Such a solution would not only have defrayed the Orthodox community’s costs more significantly than any tax cut, it would have aligned the interests of Orthodox parents and public school parents. Had it come to pass, both would have viewed the public schools and their costs as an investment in their children.

But it never did.

The tragedy in Lawrence’s story is that a creative solution to the dispute was available, and, if used, would not only have helped both sides, but could have been a model for other communities facing similar controversies. Parties that could have achieved so much together instead achieved far less acting apart.

Which brings us to yet another multifaceted cost of the yeshiva day school system — the societal cost.

The first societal cost is civic. Most communities view their local public schools with pride. Strong educational institutions are hallmarks of communities that value education and invest in their future. When our local public school’s basketball team wins a championship or its graduates academically succeed, we should feel like we achieved something.

But Orthodox Jews do not view public schools that way — we view them as alien institutions whose existence, supported by our tax dollars, compounds the financial stress that Yeshiva day schools already place upon us. And that’s out-of-character for Orthodox Jews, given how highly we Jews value education. (The percentage of Jews who have college and post-collegiate degrees is twice and triple the national average, respectively, according to the Pew Study). And it is out of character given how civically-minded Jews can be. Of course the Orthodox community wants its non-Orthodox neighbors’ children to be as educated as their own. So why do we take the opposite position with respect to public schools?

In her book Sidetracked, Harvard professor Francesca Gino stresses the importance of “framing” in human decision-making, and argues that the way in which choices are presented to us significantly influences how we respond.[21] Stated differently, our decisions are influenced by the perspective with which we consider our choices. I would argue that the Orthodox community’s financial strain, imposed by the yeshiva day school system, “frames” the perspective with which it views public schools — we view public schools through the lens of people who are desperate to cut costs.

The second societal cost is social. I had no close non-Orthodox friends growing up in Lawrence and, as far as I can tell, neither did my Orthodox peers or their parents. Not because our community discouraged it, but because there was no opportunity to form those friendships. And that is unfortunate. First, personally, I would have had a far deeper appreciation of my religious heritage if I had been exposed to people who did not share it. Second, communally, we need friendships that cross religious, societal and ethnic boundaries because social ties make it easier to bridge conflicts that arise from our differences. If those ties are strong, the chance of conflict is small. Indeed, I wonder if the school board saga would have reached the conclusion that it did — or would even have started — if those social ties existed in Lawrence.

The final societal cost is political. The Jewish community will need to expend enormous political capital to subsidize the current yeshiva day school model of self-segregation. Any measure proposed, be it vouchers, charter schools, or public school teachers in yeshivas, will be divisive and contested. It will require us to put aside other important political issues. It will require us to lobby and elect representatives locally and federally that support our views on this issue (but maybe not other issues). And it will require our community to weather intense legal battles — for years — to sustain whatever political accommodations we do achieve (if we achieve any at all). The question is whether it is all worth it.

7.  The Demographic Cost.

The final and most heartbreaking cost of the yeshiva day school system is demographic. That yeshiva day school tuition is causing families who are otherwise able to have and raise Jewish children to think twice about doing so.

My wife and I were taught by our parents that children are to be treasured as one’s “contribution to eternity.” And yet, each child carries a cost — a cost that yeshiva day school tuition makes crushing. While we would like a large family and are still young enough to have additional children, the looming costs of yeshiva day school are causing us — and many of our peers — to ask ourselves if we can afford doing so.

From a communal perspective, that is catastrophic. Financially-imposed birth control is far worse than the assimilation we are purportedly preventing through self-segregation. Assimilated Jews at least have hope; unborn Jews are simply lost. Nevertheless, we look past the cost — perhaps because, unlike Jews lost to assimilation, unborn children are a cost we cannot actually see.

But the cost is real.

Many commentators claim that the American Orthodox community has been “drifting to the right” in recent years and becoming more ultra-Orthodox. Demographically, they are right.  According to the Pew Study, Orthodox Jews make up only 11% of American Jewry, and of that 11%, only about 10% are Modern Orthodox Jews and the other 90% are ultra-Orthodox.[22]  When one further considers that, by some estimates, the number of children in the average ultra-Orthodox family is more than double[23] the number of children in the average Modern Orthodox family, is it any surprise that that “Orthodoxy” is increasingly synonymous with ultra-Orthodoxy?[24]

Therein lies the problem with the yeshiva day school model. We see the modern buildings, the cutting edge programming and technology.  We see the school spirit, the bumper stickers, the kids speaking Hebrew, and we communally pat ourselves on the back for the great achievement that these schools represent. But that achievement has and continues to come at a staggering cost, one that seems to get lost in all of the pomp and circumstance. And, in the end, all things considered, looking past all of the bells and whistles and the fanfare, what are we ultimately paying for? Sure, we have built a pretty communal edifice, but if the costs of that edifice ultimately reduce the size and erode the character of our community, what have we accomplished?

[1] Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)

[2] See The Establishment Clause and the Schools: A Legal Bulletin.

[3] Note that some of these are comprised of family-based fees, which means that if a family sent an additional child to the same school, the fee would be split among the children. For more detail, please see calculations in each footnote.

[4] See Total is the aggregate of (1) Pre-Registration multiplied by 9 ($18,000), (2) Tuition multiplied by 9 ($133,200), (3) Annual Fund Pledge multiplied by 9 ($58,500); (4) Annual Security Obligation, multiplied by 9 ($2,250); and (5) building fund ($4,000).

[5] See Total is the aggregate of the following (1) Early Registration Fee multiplied by 9 ($8550), (2) K Tuition ($13,500), (3) 1-2 Tuition multiplied by 2 ($30,760), (4) 3-5 Tuition multiplied by 3 ($47,235), (5) 6-8 tuition multiplied by 3 ($49,215), (6) Administrative Fee multiplied by 9 ($20,520), (7) Scrip payment in lieu of purchase multiplied by 9 ($3,375), (8) one-time building assessment ($7,000), (9) graduation fee ($300).

[6] See Total is the aggregate of (1) Application Fee ($800); (2) Early Re-Registration Fee multiplied by 8 ($6,000); (3) Kindergarten Tuition ($13,950); (4) 1-5 Tuition multiplied by 5 ($74,750); (5) 6-8 Tuition multiplied by 3 ($46,350); (6) Building Fund ($7,500); (7) Family Obligation multiplied by 9 ($18,000); (8) Security Fee multiplied by 9 ($2,700); (9) PTO Fee multiplied by 9 ($405); (10) Graduation Fee ($100); (11) Ipad Insurance Fee multiplied by 3 ($225); (12) K-4 Trips and Activities Fees ($275); (13) 5-8th Trips and Activities Fees ($1,565).

[7] See  Total is the aggregate of the following: (1) Registration fee multiplied by 9 ($7,650); (2) Kindergarten Tuition ($12,975); (3) 1-5 Tuition multiplied by 5 ($72,750); (4) 6-9 tuition multiplied by 3 ($45,525); (5) Security Fee multiplied by 9 ($2,250); (6) Graduation Fee ($175); (7) Six-Year Family Obligation paid in one payment ($7,000); (8) Annual Family Obligation multiplied by 9 ($7,650); (9) Scrip payment in lieu of purchase multiplied by 9 ($3,150).




[11] Assuming a 25% tax bracket, for Married Filing Jointly filers with an income range of $75,301 to $151,900 (See

[12] See

[13] A Portrait of Jewish Americans: Findings from a Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews (2013), 42.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., 41.

[16] Perla, Dan, “Putting a Cap on Day School Tuitions,” The Jewish Week (May 20, 2013).




[20] Weiss, Jeff HBR Guide to Negotiating (Harvard Business Review Press, 2016), xi.

[21] Gino, Francesca Sidetracked: Why our Decisions Get Derailed and How we can Stick to the Plan (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013).

[22] Pew Study, 49.

[23] Wertheimer, Jack Jews and Jewish Birthrate.

[24] Indeed, the same phenomenon is happening in other countries.  See “Majority of British Jews will be Ultra-Orthodox by End of Century,” The Guardian (16 October 2015).

About the Author
Yigal M. Gross is an attorney who lives in Teaneck, New Jersey with his wife Tamar Warburg and their children Ella, Sara and Yonatan.