The Seminary Squeeze

For nearly three decades, seminary in Eretz Yisrael has been the de facto route for thousands of graduating seniors from across the United States. But as families grow larger and money gets tighter, are things beginning to change?







Rabbi Tuvia Vinitsky was a realist: there was no way he could afford to send his daughter to Eretz Yisrael. But the Chicago web developer and middle-class father of five also knew the pressure would be immense.

“So we made a pact,” he says in a phone interview. “Nine other fathers and I — we all didn’t have the means, at least without neglecting day school obligations, so we agreed to stick to our guns and reinforce each other.”

Come registration time, however, Rabbi Vinitsky was left in the cold. Only one other father kept his word.

“One father shook his head in defeat and told me, ‘my daughter threw a fit like you never saw,’” recalls Rabbi Vinitsky.

Attending seminary in Eretz Yisrael today has become au fait, a near compulsory step for thousands of girls for whom the experience is nothing less than transformational. What began in the 1960’s as an unpopular option for idealistic young women has morphed into a cottage industry, attracting about 85 percent of graduating girls from 70 high schools across the United States.

“I don’t think I would’ve conceived of living my current lifestyle had I not gone to seminary in Israel,” says Miriam Gitlin, a mother of six who’s made the Holy Land her home. She says that even more impactful than the learning (which was certainly beneficial) was the regular experience of being hosted on Shabbos by an assortment of deeply committed families. “I saw people whose lives literally revolved around Torah and halachah. Their backgrounds were similar to mine, but they were happily living without lots of things I took for granted. That was a huge eye-opener.”

But as tuition for seminary in Eretz Yisrael creeps steadily higher each year  — along with ever-rising financial shidduch expectations — stretched-too-thin parents are beginning to reevaluate the trend. Is seminary appropriate for all girls? What are the benefits? What are the risks? And can local institutions offer comparable — but fiscally viable —alternatives?


Seminary: What’s the Purpose?

Whether in the Holy Land or chutz la’aretz, most educators agree that the seminary year is vital.

“Girls are not ready to build a Jewish home straight out of grade 12,” says Rabbi Shneur Aisenstark, who has served as principal of Montreal’s Bais Yaakov for nearly 50 years. “There’s a wholeness that develops in the seminary year; the growth is significant.”

Jerusalem-based Me’ohr Bais Yaakov Seminary menahel Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald points out that the majority of girls today are not graduating high school inspired. “They’re leaving frum, but they don’t have the inspiration that can carry them through difficult times.”

Far more than 13th grade, seminary is a transition year, transforming students from youthful schoolgirls into receptive adults.

“A high school student is not prepared to hear things like a girl who’s completed the system,” says Rebbetzin Ruthy Assaf, founder and principal of V’At Alis, a popular Brooklyn seminary.

Rebbetzin Assaf’s program, for one, places heavy emphasis on marriage preparation and relationship tools, offering courses like Tanach-based binyan habayis, psychology, and communication skills. These classes, she explains, are not offered in most high schools simply because the girls aren’t yet ready for them.

If the goal, then, is a changeover year in which girls can acquire greater self-awareness and vital tools for life’s next stage, many mechanchim feel there is no better place to accomplish that than Eretz Yisrael.

“The air is different; it is avirah demachkim,” says Rabbi Michoel Green, overseas director of Bnot Torah/Sharfman’s in Jerusalem. “Chazal tell us that nothing can compare to growth that takes place in Eretz Yisrael.”

He stresses that at Sharfman’s, it’s not just about an “incredible” experience, or an enthralling chavaya. “We don’t believe in simply offering the ‘greatest year ever’; we believe in empowering our students to forever move in a positive direction. This is about the future.”

Others point out additional advantages of seminary in Israel: total immersion in a Torah-centered lifestyle, and exposure to families who live in extraordinary simplicity for the sake of ideals.

“The dedication of bnei Torah in Eretz Yisrael is exquisite,” says Rabbi Greenwald. “In this more connected culture, girls have a chance to connect to something deeper inside themselves.”

Minus the distractions and the malls, girls can see themselves from a fresh point of view. They can reassess priorities and appreciate values their parents have always held dear but may have struggled to fully instill due to the secular world’s deification of “stuff.”

“When girls are out of their comfort zone, in a dormitory with no car in a foreign country, and learning beautiful, intelligent lessons each day from exceptional people, the inspiration can be life-altering,” he says.


The Cookie Cutter Problem

Few would contest Rabbi Greenwald’s statement. But is the “life-altering” experience for everyone?

No, asserts Rebbetzin Assaf. “I would never propagate anything against Eretz Yisrael, but any time you create a one-size-fits-all chinuch model, you have a problem.”

Some girls are not cut out for spending a full year away from home, she says. It takes them months to adjust, and even when they manage to overcome the severest period of homesickness, they never feel happily settled.

Other girls find the pressure of Shabbos placements unbearable. While seminary administrations will always provide back-up accommodations, some parents argue that girls don’t always find these arrangements satisfactory: they often wind up feeling out of place and uncomfortable—physically, emotionally, or both.

Devorah, a mother of seven who attended a “top” Eretz Yisrael seminary, is not planning on sending her own daughters away. She’d like them to spend a short time in Eretz Yisrael and then study locally.

“A dorm is an unnatural situation, and the lack of supervision is not for everyone,” she says. “A year is too long to be away from home at such a crucial, vulnerable time in life.”

Seminary offers independence in abundance, and Rebbetzin Assaf says parents must be certain that their daughters have the skills to use it wisely. “What happens with all that free time? Does everyone know how to handle it?”

Rabbi Tuvia and Mrs. Shana Vinitsky are currently working to found a local seminary option for girls from the Windy City (they began efforts prior to the failed “pact”). Articulate activists both, the couple believes the Eretz Yisrael independence boon is overrated at best, counterproductive at worst.

“Dropping a previously sheltered girl 6,000 miles from home in order to become independent is analogous to tossing a non-swimmer into the deep end of the pool,” Shana says. “It may work, but it's a lot more stressful on everyone.”

Independence and responsibility, the couple contends, are best gained in incremental steps starting at a young age. There are plenty of ways to encourage those traits without spending thousands of dollars.

Matti, a Lakewood mother who attended seminary ten years ago, feels the wealth of free time caused her to make poor choices.

“No one really kept tabs on us, so I often went to my grandma's apartment to watch TV—and I know I wasn't the only one. Schoolwork was too easy, and there was no structure for downtime. The mall was officially off-limits, but girls from our school were always there. It was like a year-long camp experience, only more laid back.”

To provide girls with a seminary option closer to home, Rebbetzin Aviva Feiner, rebbetzin of The White Shul in Far Rockaway, opened Machon Basya Rochel seminary in Far Rockaway in 2011 at the behest of several local parents. A resident of Israel and seminary teacher for close to 10 years prior to returning to the United States, Rebbetzin Feiner has seen many girls—even “Bais Yaakov” types—fall prey to the freedom, sometimes getting involved in inappropriate relationships.

Seminaries themselves acknowledge the risks—but contend that if the right safeguards are in place, the potential is unparalleled. “As with any chinuch decision, parents have to choose a school that takes physical and personal safety seriously,” advises Rabbi Michoel Green from Sharfman’s. “They should ask to review the school’s conduct policy; they should ensure the faculty makes itself easily accessible to parents.”

Shana Aaronson, a Ramat Beit Shemesh mother of three and a social services coordinator for Magen, an Israel-based child protection organization, recently created Project Shomreini, which offers conduct code templates to seminaries. She says that while safety issues are a concern—and parents must be discerning when choosing a seminary—it would be a shame to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

“We’ve discovered some yucky stuff that has to be dealt with, but that doesn’t mean we need to take this opportunity away from our girls,” she says. “There’s no reason we can’t rise to this challenge in a respectful, responsible way.”

Rebbetzin Feiner points out that despite the risks, for some girls, there’s no alternative: Eretz Yisrael can induce a turnaround like no other place.

“The good Bais Yaakov girl comes good…and leaves more good,” she says. “But then there are girls for whom it completely changes their lives.”

Shana Aaronson—who endured a particularly rocky adolescence—belongs to the latter group. “I credit much of who I am today to my seminary experience,” she says.

What’s more, many parents report positive changes resulting from the independence.

“My daughters came home with better judgment,” says Chaya Kahn, a Cincinnati teacher who’s sent four daughters to Israel so far. “They developed into mentschen—I watched it happen.”

This self-reliance, says a satisfied Lawrence father who’s sent three daughters to seminary, is particularly important in today’s generation. “We coddle our kids,” he says. “To experience a year on their own is extremely valuable.”


A Crushing Burden

Many girls are perfect candidates for seminary: responsible, eager to grow, and deeply appreciative of the opportunity. For this group, the primary obstacle becomes the price tag, which currently hovers at about $23,000 (without airfare and additional expenses).

“It’s bizarre,” says Rabbi Zvi Holland, a father of seven who—with the support of Baltimore Posek Rav Moshe Heinemann—recently spearheaded efforts to reopen Maalot Baltimore seminary to first-year students as a local alternative. “At a time when parents are about to spend a minimum of $20,000 on a wedding, and then a minimum of $1,000 of monthly support for three to four years for the new couple [at least $12,000 a year] they are hit with another $25,000 expenditure. And this is just for one kid!”

The crushing cost causes many parents to borrow without a repayment plan, neglect their day school tuition obligations, or require community tzedakah.

Rabbi Shlomo Simon runs the credit counseling department of the Chicago Chesed Fund, a $4 million dollar a year organization that provides needy Jewish Chicago families with funds, food, clothing, furniture, and financial counseling for debilitating debt.

While chasunah expenses are the number one reason people end up at his doorstep, Rabbi Simon says seminary tuition is “not far behind. Seminary costs are difficult for the average family to afford, yet they feel obligated to do so. The end result can be a family close to bankruptcy or worse.”

Rabbi Kranz*, a Jerusalem native and owner of a successful seminary who agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity, is the first to concur that this trend is flawed.

“Seminary is a luxury,” he says. “Today it’s become essential, and that should not be the reality. It’s an avlah to parents who can’t afford it.”

Agudath Israel of Illinois dayan Rav Shmuel Fuerst addressed several tuition-related shailos in a 2005 recorded shiur. He stated that parents who don’t pay full tuition to a community school (a school that commits to educating every child in the community) are still permitted to send children to camp—since it’s critical to keep a child engaged and off the streets. But the din is not the same for seminary in Eretz Yisrael.

“Seminary is wonderful for many girls…but day school education is a chiyuv of v’shinantam l’vanechah,” he said.

Middle class families get hit hardest with seminary tuition, since significant scholarships are available to lower-income homes via PELL (a federal college grant), TAP (a college grant for New York residents), and MASA (an organization that funds students studying in Israel).

But according to Rabbi Kranz, it’s not only the poorest that are eligible: if a family is making no more than $17,500 per dependent, they can receive up to $12,000 from TAP and PELL combined. “This means that a family with seven dependents can be making $122,500 and still be eligible,” he points out. What’s more, families earning less than $22,500 per household member can get $3,700 from MASA, and families involved in chinuch generally receive an automatic $1,000 to $2,000 discount from the seminary. So even poorer families who don’t get full government grants, he concludes, are left with a relatively modest $5,000-$10,000 to pay out of pocket (excluding expenses).

“But that’s a lot of money,” persists Rabbi Holland, noting that a yearly taxable income of $120,000 is extremely tight for a frum family with seven dependents—and that not everyone lives in New York (to qualify for TAP). “More than half of shidduchim problems go away when there’s money, and this is clearly a family without means. How is this girl going to get married and support herself? Even if she pays for airfare and expenses on her own, she’s losing over $10,000 that can be spent on secular education.”

But some mothers find this super-pragmatic, penny-pinching approach to girl’s chinuch disturbing. Mrs. Frieda Weissman*, a Brooklyn nurse who has sent six daughters to seminary despite sparse finances, wonders about the seeming double standard.

“Why do we fargin only boys the essential years of spiritual preparation?” she asks. “When it comes to girls, we are so practical and money-focused, but from boys we have minimal expectations. Before these girls must dive into getting a degree and selling themselves to the shadchanim, let them have at least one more year of dedicated ruchniyus!”

After sending four daughters to seminary, Chaya Kahn of Cincinnati is similarly without regrets—even as she pays off some of the remaining debts.

“If you care about your daughter’s spiritual wellbeing, if you think it might help her become a better person overall, isn’t it worth the money? If I’m going to spend $100,000 or more on a college degree, I think I should invest $25,000 on ruchnius development.”


In Search of Transparency

Coupled with the overwhelming costs are the doubts some parents harbor about the wholesomeness of all seminary administrations. While klei kodesh educators are generally regarded as dedicated, wholly idealistic individuals willing to live simply for the sake of the klal, the seminary model stands out as different, since its staff is generally compensated with salaries far beyond those of their Israeli counterparts.

“Parents should know that most seminaries are not mosdos; they are businesses,” says Chicago father Rabbi Tuvia Vinitsky. “These people have the right to make money—it’s a free world—but parents should know what they are getting.”

Seminary owner Rabbi Kranz candidly agrees with this assessment, but argues that the majority of larger mosdos in America (excluding community schools) operate in the same way: they are non-profits in name only, led by pseudo-boards comprised of family members and friends controlled by one individual. (His own seminary, notably, is registered as a for-profit.)

The reason these universally applicable gripes are only directly toward seminaries, says Rabbi Kranz, is because the year is optional—and many overburdened parents wish the system would change.

But other educators chuckle at the notion of seminary administrators getting rich.

“I wish schools were able to make ends meet,” says Rabbi Michoel Green of Sharfman’s. “I know of several that struggle to get through the year.”

Many parents question why seminaries charge much more than yeshivas. Rabbi Green says this is because seminaries rely solely on tuition; their fundraising potential is limited.

“It is very hard to fund women’s learning. One noted seminary—a place that produced thousands of bnos Torah—needed a Facebook campaign to keep the school in existence. In a kollel, you can have ‘parnas hayom,’ you can get a donor to pay $100,000 to put his name on the aron kodesh or dedicate the Rosh Yeshiva’s office mezuzah. These fundraising points do not exist at the seminary level.”

What’s more, he says, parents get what they pay for. As compared to yeshivah boys, seminary girls generally enjoy better facilities, better food, and a greater array of teachers who offer personal attention.

“A yeshivah might have six primary rebbeim for 80 guys; in our seminary, we have 50 faculty members for 60 girls,” Rabbi Green offers as an example.

Rabbi Kranz takes this contrast further: in his seminary, dorms are mopped and scrubbed every day by a cleaning crew. The girls take two trips each month, on average. The three full meals served each day feature expensive, quality foods, including a fresh salad at every meal. Every single Shabbos, a beautiful, official Shabbos seudah led by a teacher’s family takes place in the dorm, so girls know they don’t have to feel any pressure.

“When you offer services on a higher level, the budget has to reflect this,” he says.

Valid as this reasoning may be, the bottom line is that thousands of families are still being choked by the cost. Rabbi Vinitsky relates an encounter with a tearful friend. Despite this friend’s rav encouraging him to opt out of seminary due to poor finances, ultimately the father could not withstand the pressure from his daughter and wife (who had fond recollections of her own seminary experience). Now minus $20,000, debt collectors were hounding him.

“I tell girls to remember this,” says Rabbi Vinitsky. “The sad look on your father’s face at the airport is not just from the idea of missing his baby girl.”


Pinpointing the Pressure

If parents truly can’t afford it, why are they creating a financial maelstrom with awful ripple effects?

Unbearable pressure, suggests Rabbi Zvi Holland. Maybe that’s why he has received hundreds of hearty yasher koachs from baalei batim and roshei yeshivah alike for his willingness to go against the grain and encourage the opening of a local alternative. “I was amazed at the stature of the people who responded positively. To me, it’s a wonder. We all agreed, but no one said anything.”

Much of the pressure comes from the girls themselves, who don’t want to be the “odd ones out.”

One father, who ultimately relented to his daughter’s wishes, described her reaction to the possibility of not going to seminary this way: “All her friends were going, she didn’t stop crying. She told me her life would be irreparably damaged.”

Some girls do handle the seminary “no” gracefully. Brocha Miller, a mother of four who now lives in Monsey, understood that seminary in Eretz Yisrael was not an option.

“I’m not a person who looks to my friends as a measure of my experience. My father was a pulpit rabbi in Pittsburgh; we developed a very out-of-town kiruv attitude of ‘what does our family do?’”

Brocha attended Yavneh Teacher’s College in Cleveland, which she says was both intellectually and emotionally stimulating. There, she built a relationship with a revered mentor who made her shidduch one year later.

Baltimore native Golda Fast—who now lives in Eretz Yisrael with her family—also didn’t go to Israel due to finances. But she says she had a “pretty pessimistic view” of why girls go in the first place, so she didn’t feel badly.

“Throughout high school, my older sister and I questioned people about the metzius that every girl was ‘expected’ to go to sem in Israel, about what benefit there was. The answers we got were not of the sort to make me worry about not going.”

Golda instead attended seminary in Montreal, which she says was a wonderful experience that left her with real role models. During that year, she also took a short trip to the Holy Land, during which she spent four days living with family friends.

“I think I got more out of those four days of immersion—just shadowing them around—than most girls get out of spending a year in a dorm. Of all my classmates, most of whom went to Eretz Yisrael for seminary, I can count on one hand those who are still living here. And here I am!”

Nessie Vinitsky, who graduated Bais Yaakov of Chicago two years ago, admits she was totally devastated when her father informed her that seminary was not an option. “The truth is that deep down, I didn’t want to leave home for so long. But when it’s in the moment, when everyone in school is all hyped up about it, you feel so left out. Plus, the fact that my father didn’t allow me made it harder—when you can’t have something, you want it more.”

Interestingly, a two-years-older Nessie now says she feels no resentment: “In the end, I had the best year of my life.” The personable young woman began studying toward a degree while working in a preschool, and turned to outlets like exercise and artwork. Forced to make new friends because 41 out of her 44 former classmates were in Israel, she became close to several older girls she met through exercise and work connections. “I really grew and matured through these relationships,” she says. “Looking back, I am so happy.”


In Nessie’s case, the pressure stemmed from peers. But often parents, too, feel compelled to send, lest their daughter’s shidduch resume is found lacking. Is this concern warranted?

Yes—for better or for worse, says renowned shadchan Rabbi Meir Levi. What’s changed, however, is that seminaries in America are gaining traction.

“It used to be that parents put a premium on seminary in Eretz Yisrael, but now there are plenty of high-caliber schools in America,” the longtime matchmaker says. “As long as the girl went to a fine institution, more and more parents are perfectly happy.”

Rebbetzin Ruthy Assaf, whose Brooklyn seminary of over 90 girls is now in its third year, happily reports that her alumnae are finding shidduchim in impressive numbers.

“I don’t believe any shidduch is clinched because of a school,” she says. “Rather, it’s because the individual spent a year in an environment that encourages wholesome development. Shadchanim are busy with us; they know what they are getting.”

But veteran shadchan Shloime Lewenstein is not so quick to dismiss the resume value of an Eretz Yisrael seminary. In his experience, while the “seminary factor” has little influence on the shidduch prospects of girls from more yeshivish, rebbe-type families, “if she’s from a more baalebatisher home, it’s not so simple. Many mothers who see that a girl didn’t go will knock it off right away…or put her at the bottom of the list.”

For his part, Rabbi Holland objects vehemently to the notion that parents must bite the bullet and cough up thousands of dollars for the sake of ensuring their daughter’s future. “If sending your daughter to seminary will be destructive—either financially, hashkafically, or chinuch-wise—it cannot be that it’s a reasonable hishtadlus.”


Close to Home

Numbers on the ground do show a small but meaningful shift to staying local. American administrators report that while seminary in Israel is still very much the norm for girls outside the New York area, more and more tri-state area girls are opting to study closer to home.

“Brooklyn is our biggest feeder, followed closely by Monsey and Lakewood,” says Rebbetzin Assaf. “We also have quite a few girls from Toronto, Cleveland, and Baltimore.”

The majority of girls attending Machon Basya Rochel in Lawrence are also from Brooklyn. “We started off five years ago with a Brooklyn car; now we use a bus,” menaheles Rebbetzin Aviva Feiner says.

But across the ocean in Yerushalayim, Rabbi Kranz challenges this evaluation, reporting that his number of applicants from Brooklyn, Lakewood, and Monsey has actually increased this year. He asserts that local seminaries are increasingly filling up thanks to population growth (and insufficient spaces in Eretz Yisrael seminaries) but the actual proportions are not changing.

Notably, intense, full-day US seminaries do not offer the bargain parents are seeking—but for cash-strapped families, the difference can be significant. Rebbetzin Assaf’s full-day seminary charges $14,500 without the optional two-week Eretz Yisrael trip (which costs an additional $2,500), but TAP, PELL, and seminary-sponsored scholarships are similarly available. Rebbetzin Feiner’s Machon Basya Rochel, charges significantly less, with tuitions of $7,600 (full-day) and $5,600 (half-day). In Lakewood, official seminary tuition hovers around $11,000 (including dorm expenses).

But apart from the price tag, educators assert that local seminaries have other compelling advantages.

“Girls who stay close to home are not growing in a bubble—they go home at night, or at least for Shabbos. There’s something more real about growth that takes place in a natural setting,” asserts Rebbetzin Assaf.

Indeed, the results of artificial “growth”—the assumption of ideals or dreams not truly reflective of a girl’s essence—can be far-reaching. Yehudis, a mother of five, relates the story of her cousin Shiffy. The oldest of a balebatish Flatbush family whose mother never worked outside the home, Shiffy returned from seminary convinced that she wanted a learner for life. Several months later, she married a scion of great leaders—a unique baal kishron who lives and breathes Gemara—and ten years later, she still struggles to accept the simple lifestyle they must maintain. “I had enough of this mesirus nefesh,” she once shared.

Rabbi Shneur Aisenstark believes that if a girl hails from a healthy Torah family, she has a lot more to gain from her parents than from being on her own. “Unfortunately, the impact of parents in our times is underestimated,” he says.

He quotes an insight he heard directly from Rav Matisyahu Solomon on the pasuk al kein yaazov ish es aviv v’imo v’davak b’ishto: “There is no in-between. Ideally, a person should go from one home (his parents’) to the next (his own).”

Regardless of one’s take on the benefits and drawbacks, everyone seems to agree that Eretz Yisrael seminary as the across-the-board default is neither wise nor fair.

“No one is being malicious; they are servicing a market,” says Rabbi Zvi Holland. “But the trend of everyone being expected to go has to stop, and it will—with me or without me. It will stop because the costs are not manageable for the tzibbur of bnei Torah.”

Where is all the money going?

Many parents are itching to know where the $23,000 tuition they pay—multiplied by 100 students—is going. Rabbi Kranz, owner of a Jerusalem seminary, offered to un-shroud the mystery.

In 1997, seminary in Eretz Yisrael cost $10,000 (the equivalent of $14,750 in 2014). Today, the average cost is $23,000. Why the drastic upsurge, far higher than the rate of inflation?

For one, the dollar-shekel rate has been lower over the last 10 years or so, hovering at around 3.5—in contrast to the 4.4 or 4.5 of days of yore. The remaining differential, Rabbi Kranz says, can be attributed to living costs in Yerushalayim—particularly food and arnonah (residential tax)—which have in recent years become exorbitant.

Now that the dollar has made a comeback, however, and is near 4 shekels, shouldn’t seminaries be offering reduced tuitions?

“We set the tuition for this year before the dollar shot up,” he says. “We’ll be giving out many more scholarships though.”

Can parents expect a tuition reduction next year, if the rate stays steady? “No, that would set a bad precedent and make parents upset if I had to drastically increase the official tuition the following year [in the event of a shekel plunge]. But I’ll probably offer significant across-the-board scholarships.”

Rabbi Kranz’s seminary, Midreshet Ploni Almoni, enrolls about 100 girls each year. On average, they receive $19,500 from each girl, including grant money (though official tuition is higher).

One year’s budget in seminary Ploni Almoni:

  • Payroll: $950,000 (this includes cleaning staff, kitchen staff, building management, teachers, administration, office staff, and Shabbos coordinators). Rabbi Kranz notes that the highest salary paid belongs to the full-time menahel, who receives $65,000 a year. “It’s a nice salary by Israeli standards, but it’s half the money that an American principal in this kind of position would get. I am not overpaying in any way, shape, or form.”
  • Mortgage/rent: $300,000 ($25,000/month for 12 months)
  • Water/electricity/arnonah (district tax): $110,000 ($11,000/month for 10 months)
  • Food: $209,000 ($22,000/month for 9.5 months)
  • Office and cleaning supplies: $25,500 (about $3,000/month for 9.5 months. A staff cleans the dormitories and kitchen daily.)
  • Trips and shabbatons: $150,000/year. Girls go on at least one tiyul or shabbaton a month, usually two.
  • Mandatory pension for employees: $69,600 ($5,800/month for 12 months)
  • Miscellaneous: $43,000 ($4,300/month for 10 months) This includes repairs, local transportation, and payments to families who host large groups of girls.

Total expenses: $1,857,100

Total received in tuition: $1,950,000

Profit yielded: $92,900

“A $90,000 profit for a $2 million budget business is not very promising,” Rabbi Kranz notes. “You’re talking about a 5 percent gross return. No real businessman would ever consider such a business.”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 560)

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