Struggling to pay the bills

By Simon Rocker
September 2, 2011

A poignant letter in this week’s Jewish Tribune reveals one family's battle to keep their head above water in these hard economic times.

The anonymous writer used to raise money for Jewish schools, then he lost his job, home and became bankrupt. Life is now a constant struggle.

For a while, paying Jewish schools weren’t a problem but then they became a “living nightmare” for him. I assume he is a member of the Charedi community and therefore has sent his children to one of the independent strictly Orthodox schools.

He continues:

“Recently, a school governor decided that my minimum payment should be £1,500 per term….I had already been given a plastic card banning my son from all areas of the school because I had paid nothing.

“But then I owe everybody money… gemachim [loan charities], rabbonim, personal loans, grocery bills.

“I have to find £1,800 per month just for rent when many months I earn nothing at all….

“… When I had put together £1,000 to pay part of a term’s school fees, the rent went unpaid that month, and I still cannot pay it.”

He goes on to say that a governor of the school spotted him when he took his family on “our first few days’ holiday in seven years” and he was asked where he had got the money for that. “Surely he was right. I should not have taken this vacation. However, my wife has driven our children to school for the last 20 years every single day without complaint. If not me, then surely she needed a break?

“For the first time in my life, I was aware that my wife and I were sacrificing food so that our children could eat properly…

“So, please, before we assume that all those not paying full school fees are a burden, have a little rachmonus for those who sincerely cannot afford to pay and I beg of you, pleasae stop sending us threatening letters, ‘ban cards’ and regular reminders of how much we owe.”

I wonder how many more tales there are like this.


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