Religious Judaism is a lifestyle choice. An expensive lifestyle choice. According Heeb's money issue, a religious, single man can expect to pay about $5,000 a year for observance.
There has been a lot of talk, lately on the web* about the cost of Orthodoxy, but where does all the money go?
Heres the breakdown:
1)Specialty clothing, and hats, or wigs (not cheap) for married women. Menswear includes a couple suits, maybe a hat, and several pairs of tzitzit.
2)Private Schools: Yeshiva education and a year in Israel for each of your (many) children. Scholarships are available, but there is a large demand and a small supply.
3)Kosher Food: This week at D'Agostino markets, brisket is $4.99/lb, the kosher equivalent? Fischer Bros is selling for $14.98/lb. Even if you account for the fact that the latter is pre-cooked, still ridiculous. And don't even get me STARTED on cheeses.
4)Synagogue dues: for someone in my position, to join my shul is $475 a year. A family can expect to pay closer to $1800. That doesn't count religious school, bar mitzvah tutors, or sponsoring kiddush.
5)Housing: You need to live somewhere within walking distance of a synagogue. On the UWS rents are about $1100-$1300/month per person for a room in a cheap(er) apartment. Buying a house in Teaneck or one of the other big Jewish communities is a huge expense given what you get. The small supply and large demand drive up the prices.
6)Single Sex Gyms: Ok, so this isn't totally necessary, not everyone needs to work out, but if you, like the Moderator of Frumteens.com, think that women can only work out while modestly dressed and away from men, then it is a neccessity. Otherwise, you get no physical activity, and that is clearly problematic.
7)Learning: It is expensive to learn in Kollel in the US. For a man to spend all day learning, either his wife must support him, or they must live on funds from their families. Either way, it is a pretty big financial burden. This category also includes any adult education classes, at JCCs or even Drisha. It all costs something.
This is why I plan on living on my own farm. I'll make my own cheese, and live simply. Who's with me?
*August 16, 2006 Evanston Jew
August 20,2006 Michelle
August 23,2006 Orthomom
September 19,2006 Ask Shifra
September 19,2006 Orthomom
September 26,2006 Sephardilady
September 26,2006 SerandEz