Monday, May 13, 2019

A Looming Catastrophe

There were two items in the news recently, which separately were upsetting, but which together are downright terrifying.

One was a report about the dramatically increasing number of students in charedi schools who are not receiving any significant secular education (see the original Hebrew article in The Marker, and the English report in Haaretz). There are two types of such institutions. One is the mosdot petur - the charedi elementary schools which receive barely any secular education. The number of children in these institutions has now risen to 90,000. The other are the yeshivot ketanot - the yeshivot for boys in grades 9 to 12 who received a basic secular education in elementary school, but who receive no further high school secular education whatsoever. The number of boys in these institutions has nearly doubled over the last decade, to 37,000.

Many community leaders in the charedi world say that this doesn't matter. After all, they say, there are so many new programs for adults that provide professional training and enable them to "catch up" for all the secular studies that they missed. You don't need a secular education in elementary school or high school.

Which brings us to the second news item.

According to the Times of Israel, the state comptroller's office released a truly alarming report. Despite over half a billion shekels being invested in last eight years in special academic programs for charedim, these programs have been a disaster. Only 22% of charedim in these courses are men - and an astonishing 76% of men drop out!

The reasons for the extremely low enrollment and high failure rate are obvious. It's not easy to take time out to study when you already have a wife and children to support. And it's especially difficult to bridge the gap to a proper education, when you have virtually zero secular education and no experience with academic demands such as writing essays and doing tests.

If a charedi young man is very brilliant, and very motivated, he may be able to catch up. But the vast majority of young men educated in the charedi system will lack either the time (because they start too late), the motivation (because they have been taught that it's the wrong derech), or the academic ability to gain a professional education.

It should be noted that the huge increase in the number of students in such institutions is not only due to the high birthrate in the charedi community. It's also due to the influx of Anglo olim, many of whom - despite having received a secular education themselves - decide that their children will not receive such a benefit.

As the Israel Mishpacha magazine reported a few years back, charedi society is in a state of financial collapse. It's only getting worse. And as the charedi population grows - a third of first-graders are charedim - they could take the whole country down with them. As Jonathan Rosenblum memorably once wrote, we all need charedim to get academic education and professional employment. The alternative is the economic ruin not only of charedi society, but of all Israel.

Unfortunately, the current government is going to be making this situation far worse, in order to reap political support. It's going to take the general public to somehow try to salvage this situation, and to try to motivate charedim to give their children a full secular education.


On another note - Here is my availability for scholar-in-residence in different parts of the world this year:

England: Shabbat of June 15 or 22
NY/NJ: Shabbat of November 9
Florida: Shabbat of November 2nd (parashat Noach) or November 16

If you are interested in arranging a program, please email me at director@biblicalnaturalhistory.org.

48 comments:

  1. 'The current government is going to be making this situation far worse in order to reap political support.' I don't know why you're surprised / dismayed by this, since this is exactly what this government has always done. I hope that you are equally dismayed by the fact that before the election, you effectively urged people to vote for the continuation of this government.

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    1. I was going to say something like this. Someone can think Bibi is best for Israel's security, but he's also been blatantly obvious in his quest for political power. If he needs to give in to charedi demands for educational autonomy in order to remain in power, he has and will continue to do so. At some point people (including you, RNS) will need to decide to vote for someone who can ensure Israel's security as well as stand up to the charedim.

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  2. "It's also due to the influx of Anglo olim, many of whom - despite having received a secular education themselves - decide that their children will not receive such a benefit."

    YEARS ago -- early-1980s -- I heard Rav Bulman speaking in Jerusalem about "the problem" with חוזרים בתשובה. Exactly as you wrote, many/most of those from the US, UK, and other Commonwealth nations had already acquired a formal, post-secondary education, before emigrating to Israel. Rav Bulman said the problem would be with their grandchildren, whom we would see "begging for money at the כותל המערבי".

    More than thirty years later, and his words ring true for many of the (grand)children of those חוזרים בתשובה who became חרדים (if either the parents or the kids remained in Israel).

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  3. One more point that should be mentioned - many of the poor families living in E.Y. today rely on the collection of money from the Diaspora to support them - either direct collection or organizations like Kupat HaIr, etc. Historically, the population in E.Y. was usually small enough that the Diaspora can support them. However with the looming increase in numbers, and the fact that the Diaspora is shrinking (45% of the world Jewry lives in E.Y. today), that support will become impossible to sustain.

    Additionally, may of the dollars/shekels/pounds/euros/etc flowing out of Diaspora should really stay there - Aniyim Irecho Kodem.

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  4. quite appalling, and they are enforcing this non-nonsensical strategy abroad.

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  5. The only obvious answer to all this is the establishment and enforcement of proper (secular) socio-economic solutions, albeit done with obvious respect to the Haredi community. The clear path towards a form of Iranian 'theocratic democracy' is inevitable, the writing is on the walls but everyone seems to be waiting for Moshiach...

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  6. A few thoughts...

    This should be seems as a blessing, it will hurt deeply and the house of cards will fall and good things will happen.

    As an aside, don't force change on the charedim, there motto is no change. The change will happen albeit stealthily. A good example is participating in the IDF, which is becoming more common.

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    1. Their motto may be no change, but their most fundamental principle is עת לעשות לה' הפרו תורתיך. They are not in the least shy about change when it suits them.

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    2. עת לעשות לה' הפרו תורתיך = No change.
      עת לעשות לה' הפרו תורתיך ≠ Being irresponsible.

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  7. And on top of that they are talking of working people paying more taxes. Sigh...

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  8. A Looming Catastrophe
    It's NOT looming its already here.

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  9. Good news:

    שינוי מגמה: החרדים עובדים ומרוויחים יותר
    נתוני התעסוקה של הלשכה המרכזית לסטטיסטיקה מצביעים על מגמת עליה בשיעור הגברים החרדים העובדים כמו גם הנשים החרדיות העובדות • במקביל, נרשמת עליה בשכר של גברים ונשים חרדים
    2אלי שלזינגר , ח' אייר תשע"ט 13/05/2019 14:59
    תגיות:
    תעסוקת חרדים ,

    חרדים עובדים

    למרות הטענות אילוסטרציהצילום: מרים אלסטר, פלאש 90
    על רקע דו"ח מבקר המדינה שהצביע על ירידה במספר החרדים באקדמיה ועל נתוני נשירה משמעותיים, תמונת המצב מנתוני התעסוקה של הלשכה המרכזית לסטטיסטיקה לרבעון הראשון של 2019, מצביעה על מגמת עליה בשיעור הגברים החרדים העובדים. שיעור הנשים החרדיות העובדות ממשיך להיות גבוה מהיעד הממשלתי.

    על פי נתוני הלמ"ס, שיעור התעסוקה של גברים חרדים עלה ברבעון הראשון של שנת 2019 הן לפי ההגדרה המקובלת של מוסד לימודים או מקום מגורים והן לפי הגדרה עצמית. שיעור הגברים החרדים העובדים עומד של 52.6%, עליה של 2.4% ביחס לנתוני התעסוקה של שנת 2018.

    הנתונים שכללו גם נתוני הכנסות מעבודה (שכירים) בשנת 2017, מצביעים על עליה בשכר של גברים ונשים חרדים, וצמצום משמעותי של פערי השכר השעתי בין נשים חרדים לנשים שאינן חרדיות.

    בעוד בקרב גברים חרדים, ממוצע השכר עלה בצורה מתונה מ-52.8 ₪ ל-53.2 ש"ח לשעה, אצל נשים חרדיות נרשמה עליה של 6.6 ש"ח לשעה, לרמה של 60.5 ש"ח לשעה, בעוד ממוצע השכר השעתי של נשים יהודיות שאינן חרדיות עומד על 61 ש"ח.

    נתונים חיוביים אלה, הינם שינוי מגמה ביחס לנתונים של השנים האחרונות שהצביעו על סטגנציה ואף ירידה במספר החרדים העובדים. לדברי מרדכי פלדשטיין מנכ"ל קרן ק.מ.ח (קידום מקצועי חרדי), "הנתונים המעודדים המצביעים על עליה בשיעור החרדים העובדים ועליה ברמת השכר שלהם, לצד הירידה במספר החרדים באקדמיה ואחוזי הנשירה הגבוהים, מוכיחים את הצורך בחשיבה מערכתית מחודשת שתמנע מהסללה גורפת לאקדמיה, ותקדם התאמת 'חליפת תעסוקה' אישית לכל פונה".
    לדברי פלדשטיין, "גם ב'מרכז כיוון' – מרכז ההכוון התעסוקתי המוביל לחרדים, אנו דוגלים בגישה זו של מתן ריבוי פתרונות תעסוקה יצירתיים לציבור החרדי עם מגוון הכשרות מקצועיות, שמעניקים את המענה המושלם לכל חלקי האוכלוסיה החרדית, מה שמוכיח את עצמו עם הצלחות ונתוני השמה מרשימים".

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  10. While charedi education in the US is different from that in Israel, it is an issue here in NYC. There is a special election today in New York City for a vacant City Council seat and a Jewish candidate is campaigning to prevent government oversight of private schools -- even though New York State has regulated education in private schools since 1784! She even used the term "white supremacy" to describe such regulation attempts. She is not favored to win and many Jewish leaders are supporting a different candidate.

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    Replies
    1. Unofficial results show that that offensive Jewish candidate got 4.5% of the vote. The winner was the candidate supported by the Jewish leaders.

      Delete
  11. A government program not working? I was unaware such a thing even existed.

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  12. Yet, you supported, in effect, the election of a government beholden to the haredi parties, which will only continue to enable this kind of disastrous policymaking. It's a little late to start thinking about the consequences now.

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  13. Yet, you supported, in effect, the election of a government beholden to the haredi parties, which will only continue to enable this kind of disastrous policymaking. It's a little late to start thinking about the consequences now.

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  14. You guys are being very pessimistic. I can assure you on the ground there are constant changes coming into play. Most Haredi schools teach full math and english and whatever else. My kids are all in excellent schools and get proper education. Parents are not stupid. The growing insolated communities of hyper-haredim kanoiim types that don't learn any secular subjects mostly take care of each other and they will have to decide on their own what to do. Most of that is isolated in their respective communities, while Haredim at large are all well aware its a different time and everyone wants their kids to have a better life.

    Everyone I know Haredi has this mentality now. I've heard it from many mouths. "I dont want my kids to have this poverty...." There are also TONS of people who do jobs outside of the gov't because they are simply against the gov't in general and keep their businesses outside. I know one haredi you would think is prime. He has a kollel his own, in mea shaerim. You would probably say sometimes correctly, that they are doomed as you mention above.. But - this guy shockingly enough to many of you has his own highly successful multimillion dollar amazon business!!! Based and operated in the US mostly with a few workers here, he mostly pays for the Kollel from his own financial success and a some additional help from a few other friends... But they live here, and do not work on paper.... So they goto the negative demographic but the reality is they are not poor... So things are not so grim. But yes we need to open more doors to Haredi employment problem is israel is highly anti-haredi especially in good paying sectors.

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    1. Is he paying taxes in Israel?
      And if what you say is true why does so much public money go to kollels, surely they can support themselves.
      Not sure also based on what you think otherwise qualified haredim are being discriminated against.

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    2. "Most Haredi schools teach full math and english and whatever else." Can you provide some evidence for this claim?

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    3. Why don't you ask a Chareidi who went to school? I heard Chareidim are three D people.

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    4. Most Haredi schools teach full math and english and whatever else.

      Every single researcher with an interest in the topic has come to the opposite conclusion. This is not something subject to opinion. We can, and have, investigated what schools actually teach. Maybe you're living in an alternate universe and your comment got cross-posted to ours.

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    5. Avi before I accept what you say can you point out to me any research on the web?

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  15. There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics
    The Cross Currents gang will come up with their own stats to show that yeshiva grads in the workforce without any primary secular education earn as much as those with university diplomas, sometimes even more!
    In addition, Israeli Chareidim will quietly tell you that the number of Chareidim going to the army and into the workforce is increasing rapidly but that it's being kept quiet so as not to upset the "Gedolim" who really do think that all Chareidim are sitting and learning and are happy to do so.
    So who to believe?

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  16. Part of the reason for the apathy of the the general public is the Haredi image of authenticity. In order to get the general public to take the catastrophe seriously, that image must be destroyed. If more people agreed with me (https://bit.ly/2Ysh6Jw) (https://bit.ly/2JzBOTE) that the Haredim generally are polytheists, the general perception that they are kofrim b'ikar would destroy their image of authenticity.

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    1. the addresses that you gave (https://bit.ly/2Ysh6Jw and https://bit.ly/2JzBOTE) seem to be hidden behind all kinds of security, so i couldn't check them out. i am very curious as to what your argument is in support of the belief that the Haredim generally are polytheists. that might be true of some elements of chabad, but they hardly represent haredim in general. other than that not sure what you're referring to.

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    2. Try the main URL of my blog:

      https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8183657833780632395#allposts

      The posts are "החרדים: יהודים עובדי אלילים של ימינו" dated 10/4/18 and "This picture illustrates that Harediism is idolatrous" dated 3/12/19. I'd be interested to read your reaction.

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    3. couldn't get in there either, apparently you need a google account, and it won't recognise my gmail account as aduquite. considering how difficult it is to get in to it, i wonder how many readers your blog can have.
      in any case, i tried searching the term "החרדים: יהודים עובדי אלילים של ימינו" found mostly flat earth type stuff (but still not your blog).

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    5. Apparently, the URL I posted is only for my private use. I found that out by Googling "avi rosenthal's blog". I got to my blog, but with a different URL: "http://av1r0senthal.blogspot.com/". Try that.

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    6. Avi Rosentha,
      ok, i was finally able to get in and found the post that you were referring to. your contention here that charedim are polytheists and therefore are not an authentic expression of judaismin rests on 3 assumptions.
      1. in your post you give a specific definition to polytheism, while i won't address that, clearly it is not a universally accepted definition.
      2. you contend that charedi ideas such as "daas torah" meet your definition of polytheism.
      3. that such polytheism is non traditional and hence inauthentic judaism.
      for the sake of this conversation i will concede the first 2 points, but the third is clearly incorrect. daas torah (and what you refer to as "godolalitry") is clearly supported by numerous statements in chazal. as such these are tradition concepts and authentic expressions of rabbinic judaism. if anything, assuming that your first 2 contentions are correct, you are really arguing that chazal were polytheists (by your definition). that is a whole different kettle of fish.

      in any case, i imagine that the owner of this blog would not like us to carry on this conversation on his blog, so if you care to continue the conversation, contact me at amcha613@gmail.com

      Delete
  17. gedolim, wake up

    Diagnosing the original source of the problem is the critical factor in correcting it.
    While I have my own thoughts on the aetiology of this disaster, I'd be curious to hear other people's thoughts on it. What do you think is at the root of all this?

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    1. The root of it in my opinion is the over-emphasis of the importance of limud haTorah in the wake of the shoah. It certainly was a horaas hashaah for the following 10, 20, 30 years to make sure Torah would not be forgotten ch"v but it was never advertised as such. So now we have what will soon be a century of indoctrination that limud haTorah takes precedence over, or can provide the same results as, basic education and economic self sufficiency. Being involved in the latter 2 is part and parcel of the first, not the enemy of it.

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    2. JD: I believe that in America they were indeed worried that the Torah would be forgotten, which was how we got the modern-day yeshiva system. In essence, many Jews coming to America around that time, both before and after the war, weren't staying religious and their kids weren't growing up religious, so they tried to rectify it. It was talked about when it first started, but over time it did indeed morph into this thing that claims "Torah study is all that matters," and it spread from there to some degree. The problem was that people started believing that this system was the original, partly because they didn't want to teach "secular" history and other subjects, so we have a chicken-and-egg problem: nobody will acknowledge that things weren't always done this way, but nobody was taught enough to know this way was not the original way of doing things. Their product was too "successful," unfortunately.

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    3. @JD @Not Charedi

      I am in agreement with both your comments.
      I would take it one step further in that the rabbis that made these large decisions, and those that followed, failed to understand chazal, especially when they spoke in allegory (see Rambam's intro to perek chelek). The result is that they created a false reality through the kollel/yeshivah system by basing it on midrashic comments, and therefore think they're fulfilling the "true Torah way". All they're doing is blurring the lines between pshat and drash, thereby perverting God's Torah and shaming chazal.

      The main Mishna that comes to mind when it comes to the failures of the yeshiva world and the gedolim that keep it going is Avot 1:11

      אַבְטַלְיוֹן אוֹמֵר, חֲכָמִים, הִזָּהֲרוּ בְדִבְרֵיכֶם, שֶׁמָּא תָחוּבוּ חוֹבַת גָּלוּת וְתִגְלוּ לִמְקוֹם מַיִם הָרָעִים, וְיִשְׁתּוּ הַתַּלְמִידִים הַבָּאִים אַחֲרֵיכֶם וְיָמוּתוּ, וְנִמְצָא שֵׁם שָׁמַיִם מִתְחַלֵּל

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  18. In theory a proper Torah education should include a lot ( although not all) of the aspects covered in any secular curriculum. I see the problem as a lack of educational coherency in the Torah education that the chareidi world itself professes to offer.

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    1. Can you expand upon your assertion that "a proper Torah education should include a lot ... of the aspects covered in any secular curriculum"?

      It seems to me that the bulk of "Torah education" (at least these days) consists of study of gemara (not even tanach or halachah lema'aseh*, much less any hint of secular subjects). Perhaps this is not what you refer to as "proper" Torah education?

      *As an aside, it never ceases to amaze me how ignorant many frum folks are of how to properly observe some very basic halachot, notably hilchot shabbos.

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    2. Mr Goldreich, this is nonsense spouted by people who have never engaged in any rigorous secular programme of a graduate/diploma level.

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    3. Baal Ha Boss: Mr. Goldreich wrote "in theory". Like (my favorite example) learning about arithmetic series and then using them to understand that in Mishnah Menahot 13:2 R. Yehuda expects you to bring 1830 esronim. AFAIK nobody has ever designed such a curriculum. As for the Haredim, it's not just "a lack of educational coherency". They deny the need to know a whole bunch about the world outside Torah in order to truly understand Torah.

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    4. Well, during the times of the Gemara, this was likely possible. A little math, agriculture, business, government, history - they are all in there. Even into the Middle Ages, the school curricula included the "Trivium" of logic, grammar, and rhetoric, and the "Quadrivium" of mathematics, geometry, music, and astronomy. All of these in some way are in Gemara [maybe not music so much].

      But now there is, er, MORE.

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    5. And then of course, if you want to make a point of learning general knowledge from Torah, it's useful to highlight it when it shows up. Since we live in a world where secular learning is derided or at least avoided by those learning full time, this will not happen; the mathematical/scientific/historical comments will never be expanded upon beyond the face value quote.

      (In part, we can blame secularists with an axe to grind who used science and history to fight against religion, resulting in the religious people to insulate against this. Only in part, of course; we also have contradictory statements about chochmah yevanis...)

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  19. About two months ago there was a fundraiser in Golders Green for Rabbi Kessler of Kiryat Sefer raising Kimcha Depischa for 10k families.

    The same day I was shown a photo of a letter where he slammed an initiative in Kiryat Sefer to teach Charedi men how to become gainfully employed.

    You cannot have your Rogelah and eat it.

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  20. From someone who did not get a secular education past year 9: this sort of thing is why I and so many of my age mates are turning their back on chareidi society, and often religion with it. Because it is riddled with hypocrisy, idiocy, and a leading class that refused and still refuses to answer our questions honestly when we asked "What about the real world?".
    It's why we who left look at the yeshivos that we were so proud of, and laugh when they collapse. It's why we look at the rabbeim who taught us and feel only disdain for 98% of them.
    It's why we hate so much of that society, because we we told that they were better, but they weren't, and not only were they not better, but they were just the blind leading the blind...

    However, we see some that do actually live up to what they preach as chareidim who earn their own way, those we can respect, which is funny as they seem to get no respect from their fellow chareidim...

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    1. This comment is tragic, and entirely understandable.

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  21. The comments that claim that the economic status of the kollel learners is reasonable and far from abject poverty are very misleading. Most of us readers are English speakers who were the beneficiaries of upper middle class backgrounds. Our parents have or had money, we received higher education and make a living in our professions. The kollelniks we are friendly with benefited likewise from the same financial security. Some have money, some inherited money, some married money. They do not live in poverty thanks to their parents or grandparents who worked hard to supply them with money.

    The Israeli kollelnik did not have these financial sources. The iluyim married money, a few inherited, but the vast majority are teetering on the brink.

    The Roshei Yeshiva,(with few exceptions like Rav Shteinman zt"l) by marriage or by wealthy benefactors, are clueless as to what poverty is really like and hence easily spout the mantra "God provides, here look at me!"

    The system is collapsing, and the big mouths that assure that all is well are the elite haves. The have-nots have no one to whom to turn.

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    1. I don't know if it brought them any more money but I remember reading somewhere that Rebbetzin Steinman was brought up in a wealthy household. So probably a bad example to bring.

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    2. RALS (supposedly) lived very frugally.
      The same thin mattress the tziyonim gave him when he made Aliyah. Same small apartment. (for how many children?)

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  22. Could be, I don't know anything about the Rebetzin. I did read several times that Rav Steinman himself had personal wealth worth only a few thousand shekels. He lived with the same furniture for 50 plus years. He learned sitting on a backless wooden stool which was set high so his feet would dangle in the air. He claimed this prevented him from dozing off while learning. Quite remarkable.

    ReplyDelete

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Charedim in the IDF? An Insider's Perspective

As a sequel to yesterday's post about the IDF massively overstating the numbers of charedim in the IDF, here is an eye-opening account...