How would you spend 10 million dollars?


23 bTevet

Fifteen years ago I asked a rebbe in an Orthodox Jewish Day School in S. Diego [he has since moved elsewhere] what he would do to improve Jewish education if he had a windfall of 10 million dollars. He didn’t hesitate. He said he would hire religious gym and sports teachers. In his neck of the woods, if the day school students would see their gym teachers (who are often students’ role models) davening and studying Torah, this would have a tremendous impact on them. In a more serious vein, he said he would use the money to double the salaries of the morot and the rebbayim of the schools, as well as to increase substantially the remuneration of the principals.

I thought of this when last month I read a story put out by the JTA newservice, and subsequently publicized in the Jerusalem Post and elsewhere, with the somewhat confrontational and sensational headline “Yeshiva University’s center seen as attempt to counter Orthodoxy’s rightward shift.”

[BTW, what is wrong with a rightward shift?]

The article described the Center for the Jewish Future, with a budget of $6.5 million, as:

“a think tank dedicated to exploring the nexus of Judaism and modernity….[I]t has outlined several broad areas of focus. They include providing continuing education opportunities for young rabbis, addressing the evolving needs of Jewish day schools, developing social action projects within and outside the Jewish community, and finding solutions to ‘real-world challenges’ like organ donation and genetic testing within the confines of Jewish law.”

The Center for the Jewish Future describes some of its acticities on its website.

I wonder whether the S. Diego rebbe’s suggestion to increase the salaries and prestige of yeshiva and day school teachers would go much, much further in ensuring the Jewish future than a think tank. Dr. Marvin Schick has written about this issue from a different angle in an essay titled “Where have all the Rabbi’s gone?” that appears both on his blog and in the Jerusalem Post today (22 bTevet, Jan.22).

I wonder what Cross-currents readers would do if they were tasked with allocating a $10 million windfall to ensure the Jewish future?

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douglas hippchen
9 years 8 months ago

I think it would best be utilyzed in opening a quarry and preparing stones for the temple, since that is the Jewish future.

Steve Brizel
9 years 8 months ago

Former YU-Take a look at the Kollel Elyon and the Wexner Kollel. Neither are for the “kvetch on a bench” crowd. I think that
you should distinguish between the smicha program and the kollelim as to your allegations. I think that the Kolleleit in RIETS match up well against their contemporaries elsewhere, if not better.

former Yu
9 years 8 months ago

You are reffering to the kollel elyon which has about 10+ members, but there is not much opportunity or encouragement to anyone who wants to learn past smicha who is not a super-genius or does not have the right family connections. In terms of the reg. kollel and semicha there is not much in terms of standards or chaburos/publish. There are semicha and kollel tests but many people pass them w/o learning too much (Many do take them seriously).
However, my point was that for everyone outside of kollel elyon if people were encouraged to try to find opportunitites to continue in learening with teaching on the side like a community kollel YU would produce many more dedicated to kiruv. Instead you are encouraged (particularly by the new administration) to go out at an early age and give time to the community, but IMO in the long run that doesn’t produce many people dedicated long-term. Many people would stay at RIETS longer if they felt encouraged by the administration that it was a positive thing.

Steve Brizel
9 years 8 months ago

The question of what the CJF is or will be still looks rather amorphous. The reason why RIETS may not have the quantity for community kollelim is because it has very high quality controls over who enters and stays in their kollelim. You have to give chaburos, pass very tough bchinos very well and publish. It weeds out any potential “kvetch on a bench” types rather mercilessly. The Kollelim in RIETS and the RY will do fine as long as the president leaves them alone.

Southern Belle- I wasn’t being uncomplimentary to the community kollel concept. If it is meant to offer a Litvish kiruv alternative, that is all fine and well. It is just a far cry of what the original concept of kollel meant, even during the early Lakewood years of Torah Lishmah.

Anonymous in LA
9 years 8 months ago

You’re thinking about throwing $10M into the existing leaky bucket. It’s good money after bad.

In a city, $10M is chump change and won’t go far. With real estate and housing expenses obscenely high in LA, NYC and elsewhere, the best place for $10M is to think about seeding “new Lakewoods”.


[Blog created to handle my occasional lengthy responses.]