Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kollel Lifestyle

Someone brought up an interesting comment on an earlier post of mine- that comparatively, the lifestyles of a Kollel family in Israel and the US are about the same.

I found that interesting at first. It seems that the Israeli Kollel family sacrifices more- they dress, eat, and live differently. 2 bedroom apartment, hand-me-downs or gemach dresses, and shopping cannily for the best sales out there. But, actually, it was a very good point- because in the US, this Kollel family might also live in a 2 bedroom apartment, get hand-me-downs, and shop just as frugally.

Of course, the US family pays for tuition (albeit reduced), has a car (albeit a junky one), and pays for health insurance. But the Israeli family pays for bus cards, a small fee for tuition, and both families pay for rent or a mortgage, if they are so lucky.

Somehow though, it still seems to me that the Israeli family lives much more frugally. I have a friend who debates on whether to serve couscous or rice, as the couscous is much cheaper. (No, she doesn't starve herself and her family- it's called having a large family and budgeting well.)
And somehow, those Israeli apartments seem smaller than an American one could ever seem. (Although, I lived in a shoebox basement apartment for a while in the US- you can survive in one of those if you must.)

Israeli families encourage their children to participate in Chugim, after school activities and groups, and so do Americans. It may be slightly different- the American boys may play organized sports, while the Israeli boys may build stuff from electrical and wooden appliances, but the activities do exist on both sides.

Both families try to make a living, and they usually are able to make it on their own.

Neither one of these families seem deprived, even though in the US they may debate over where is the cheapest place to buy eggs (I found for 1.99 through Peapod- Aldi's would probably have cheaper) and they have the same debate here (.70 agurot per it comes to almost equal prices.)

The ruchniyus aspect? Well- I vote for Israel, but I'm biased, because that is why I came back here to live. I'm sure in large Kollel communities, like Lakewood, they have ruchniyus as well- but somehow I think Israel trumps that.

In America, there are more options open for education- for children, as well as adults. No one seems to blink when a girl heads to a non-Jewish graduate school in the US, while in Israel- you'd better think twice about going to a secular college. But even that is improving, as more recognize the need for education.

In short- I can see how the two lifestyles would be comparable. But I can see differences.
No matter where they live- they still are trying to lead a life of Torah- and I give them kudos for that. (Don't start commenting that I said that everyone else is not leading a life of Torah- I didn't say it, I don't think it.....)


chanie said...

Just found your blog...
(And I'm also in Yerushalayim. :))

nmf #7 said...

Chanie- welcome! Hope you're enjoying the blog, as well as Yerushalmi life!

Randomizing Sequencer said...
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Randomizing Sequencer said...

Right, so the key word is 'relatively.' If you look at the difference between how an American Kollel family lives and how an American regular family lives, and then you look at the differece in lifestyle between Israeli kollel families and non-kollel families, when you compare those two differences, you might find them to be in proportion.

But either way, as you said, Israel definitely lends itself to that kind of lifestyle. There is something to be said for living in a place where people around you are completely immersed in Torah and learning; you can't help but be influenced.

nmf #7 said...

Randomizing- very true. Thanks for the points!