Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rabbinic Committees and Marrying off Kids..

A Guest Post by Rafi G
(originally posted at LII)

The problem of the finances of marrying off children, specifically in Israel among the yeshiva crowd, is well known. The "custom" has been that aside from paying for the wedding, the parents also often have to buy the children an apartment. Generally that obligation has been of the parents of the bride, but even in the best of situations it is split 50-50.

Recently, in the past few years, the issue has come to a head. The problem with the scenario is that few can afford it. Those that can, fine. But overall, the social group that is using that method is the one that is among the lowest socio-economic levels in the country. It has been widely discussed in the haredi press, and many attempts have been made in the last few years to try to alleviate the problem and remove the pressure, even if just a bit.

The problem really is that because most cannot afford it, they travel the world trying to raise money as they go collecting for "hachnassas kallah". It takes a toll on their lives, on the health, on the family. They go into serious debt to marry off the kids and provide them with a home.

BHOL is reporting on a new attempt to alleviate the problem. A group of avreichim from Ponevezh who are in the stages of marrying off children have realized that what they made their own parents do is just not possible anymore. Maybe their parents were working people and could take out another mortgage or dip into savings to buy them apartments (I have no idea why people think that just because you have a job you are able to afford extra apartments - maybe a different post). But they learn in kollel and barely make it to the end of the month and that is with just the bare minimum of basics. There is no way they will be able to buy their kids apartments.

So these avreichim have gotten together and decided they would agree among themselves to spend no more than $60,000 on their kids weddings. What that includes I don't know - the wedding itself? Also part of the price of an apartment? Gifts? I don't know - the article does not go into detail on that, but I will be staying tuned looking for more info on this.

As well, they are going to be going around the country trying to sign up 10,000 avreichim to agree to the same commitment.

Where they will get $60,000 is another problem, but it is better than a parent having to dish out $150,000 he does not have. So it relieves some of the pressure. And by signing up a large number of people, it lessens the social pressure that forces parents to take on all that debt - if others are not doing it, I will not feel obligated to do it. If they are only doing so much, I will only have to do so much.

The group went to Rav Shteinman to get his haskama that what they are doing is ok. Rav Shteinman agreed, and decided to set up a rabbinic committee to head the initiative.

I think the idea is great, and hopefully this is just the beginning of working solutions being found. What I find funny is that people want to spend less money, go less into debt, make weddings that cost less, buy cheaper apartments, buy apartments in cheaper neighborhoods, etc, and they feel they need the haskamah of a rav to do so. And we all know what happens once rabbinic committees get involved. You had a great idea - just follow through and spend less money. Why get others involved?Celebrate Passover 2009 with Magnificent Passover Gift Baskets from Oh Nuts.

No comments: