The Collapse of Charedi Society III: The People Respond
A few weeks ago, I posted a guest post from Marty Bluke that rapidly became the all-time most read post on this blog. It was a discussion from Mishpachah magazine on the economic collapse of chareidi society. A follow-up post discussed what the charedim will do about it. Now, Marty informs us that there was another follow-up in Mishpachah. They report receiving over two hundred and fifty letters on this topic (!). Here are two of them, first in the original Hebrew and then in translation:
My parents pay our rent and we go to them and my wife's parents just about every shabbos, and we also take frozen foods and cans. Yes we are parasites like the ones that you write about with disgust, and all of the older people who read the article probably clucked their tongues. All my life I was taught that I was supposed to sit and learn, also when they married me off, they expected me [to sit and learn] and I expected myself to sit in kollel. In my kollel we get 1000 shekel a month if we get it, sometimes we don't get anything. My wife works and makes 3000 shekel a month. So what do you want? We should die of starvation? We should live in the street? We shouldn't buy diapers? What do you want from us? You know that in the winter electricity costs 500 shekel a month and child care for 2 kids costs 1500 shekel? ...
An irritated/anxious Avreich
They married me off at 18 and three quarters. Suddenly, I learned that 4 pieces of salmon for Shabbos cost 50 shekel and that yellow cheese is much more expensive than regular cheese and that my studies cost so much money that there is no chance that I could ever pay for it myself. My husband learns in a kollel where new Avreichim don't get paid. We don't know exactly when a new Avreich turns into an old one [and starts getting paid]. I go to school and my parents pay for it. We go to my parents practically every day for lunch and we take vegetables for dinner and we also come for shabbos. If someone thinks that this is wrong, he should think twice before he marries off his next child this way. I know that I sound chutzpadik but I am not chutzpadik, I am frustrated.
Chava L. Yerushalayim
Marty comments as follows:
These letters paint a very bleak picture indeed. The children are frustrated, angry and upset that they have been put into this situation and you know what I don't blame them, what can they do at this point in their lives? They are married off completely unprepared for life. What is worse is that they are resentful and angry at their parents and Charedi society for putting them in this position. That doesn't bode well for the chinuch of the next generation. If you read between the lines of these letters, there is a lot of pent up anger with the Charedi system which at some point may simply explode.
The articles points out that the average Charedi kid who gets married has no clue about finances, home economics, etc. and therefore their big solution is to have classes when they are engaged to teach them these basics. IMHO, this is like a bandaid for a gunshot wound. Even if you have a PhD in Economics, you can't make something out of nothing. As the Avrech pointed out in his letter, you can't support a family on 4000 shekel a month, no matter how economics savvy you are. If 1500 shekel goes to child care and 500 for electricity that leaves 2000 shekel (about $500) for everything else for the month, that just doesn't add up.
The only way that this disaster can be treated is to start giving charedi kids a proper secular education and teaching them that working for a living is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, they are fighting this tooth and nail. Change is happening, but at a very slow place. There are already too many korbanos in the charedi world. The question is, will things change fast enough to prevent them dragging the entire economy of Israel down with them?