When it comes to the cost of life as a frum Jew in the 21st century, there’s so much to discuss, so much to analyze
There’s a folder in my email Inbox called “Cost of Living.” It’s been there for years. Inside that folder are multiple emails addressing different aspects of this very intimidating subject. When it comes to the cost of life as a frum Jew in the 21st century, there’s so much to discuss, so much to analyze — and beyond the hard numbers, so much emotion and angst.
Over the years, as Yom Tov season approached and we gathered ideas for brainstorming sessions, I’ve clicked open the folder and looked inside. Then I always closed it. Yom Tov is a time to celebrate, to disconnect, to focus on our blessings. It never seemed like the right time for an honest discussion of the price of frum life today.
This year, we decided to finally take the first step and open up the conversation. As we step into the succah and declare our reliance on the true Provider, perhaps we can draw on that fortitude to talk about the tough decisions and balancing acts so many of us are making — as frum Jews living in a society that’s trying to juggle spiritual priorities with material pressures.
Everyone we spoke to had their own suggestions: You must cover this, you must include that, it will never be complete without a discussion of this issue or that crisis. So from the get-go, we made it clear that this is not meant to be a comprehensive or complete treatment. It’s the first round in what we trust will be a long and involved dialogue about this critical subject that affects us all.
It was important to us not to present the topic as a crisis or disaster. A cause for concern, yes. We included material about people who came this close to drowning, but we also featured voices of people who are coping, making smart decisions, and doing their best to juggle multiple weighty balls. And we included the perspective of advisors who see people at the most broken and provide them with the tools to restore dignity and self-worth.
We hope that you find yourself, and your priorities, reflected somewhere in this supplement. And we pray that together, we can raise awareness, develop solutions, and find our individual and communal balance as an elevated nation living fully in This World while knowing that the only capital we really own lies in the chesed we do, the spiritual gains we make, and the gifts we share with others.
Wishing you a joyous Yom Tov,
Shoshana Friedman and Nomee Shaingarten
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