Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Chodesh l'Shanah Redux


My comment in response to several of the comments there:


Chodesh l'shanah is the only protection that a Rebbe has against a system that underpays him (ask me offline if you need that confirmed), and can and does demote him, cut his paycheck and/or discharge him without due process. Just as a kesubah was instituted as a check on divorce, chodesh l'shanah serves as a check on the whim, caprice or malevolence of a supervisor, administrator or significant other. Our system is very different from the public school system. Rabbeim are not unionized, have no grievance procedures, and no ombudsmen.

It is shameful that YU's University-School Partnership advises schools to preclude chodesh l'shanah in their contracts. This is simply exploitation. I am sure they did not consult the Roshei Yeshiva as to the advisability of this maneuver - much less Ba'alei Mussar. The ethical lapse is extraordinary. What happened - if nothing else - to v'asita ha'yashar v'ha'tov?!

23 comments:

  1. so why is this only for rabbeim, and not for female teachers at jewish schools, who get paid less than rabbeim? or for workers at jewish restaurants? just because you claim there is an imperfection in the market does not mean that (a) the fix actually works correctly and does not hurt the market more (by making schools fearful of hiring more/better rabbeim) or (b) only Rabbeim are deserving of this special fix, when there is a general problem of underpaid teachers because people don't value them.

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  2. just read your other post, which provides valuable detail. notwithstanding your broad explanation of what a "basis" is, why must this requirement only be related to klei kodesh? what is the source of such a limitation, especially considering that almost always that only means men, so women are left with nothing? why is there no concern for impartiality with respect to the creation and imposition of such a rule, by klei kodesh for klei kodesh? And assumedly, if the community feels this takanah does not work/make sense (since it in many cases may lead to bad teachers staying on long after their best years), they should be able to negate it.

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  3. Milhouse,

    1. It should also apply to female teachers. Several years ago Rabbi Michael Broyde published an essay arguing that parsonage should apply to female teachers, והוא הדין בנידון דידן.

    2. A custom of the marketplace is precisely that. It was not "created" or "imposed" by RMF. He merely confirmed its existence. I do not know why the custom did not develop in regard to, say, Jewish restaurant workers. Perhaps it was because it was felt that Dina d'Malchusa was adequate for secular professions. But RMF did not - could not - extend (or curtail) the application of chodesh l'shanah, only identify its practice where the practice developed.

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  4. Are you able to confirm if it is in fact true that Yeshiva University is actively attempting to uproot the minhag of paying rebbeim chodesh l'shanah?

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  5. I cannot, but even if could be confirmed, it would not be RIETS, the "Yeshiva" of Yeshiva University doing the uprooting, but one of its other divisions. Rabbi Gedalia Schwartz, the AB"D of the BD of America that is affiliated with RIETS does enforce the minhag of chodesh l'shanah.

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  6. i dont know why you say rabbeim are underpaid.
    if you work for an institution then they can demote you or fire for any reason. thats how it goes in the working world.

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  7. I wonder if maybe rabbeim should form a teachers union. And hey, why not call it ועשית הישר והטוב?

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  8. rca rabbinic placement, later called RIETS rabbinic placement (now part of CJF) had a non mandatory standard rabbi contract that includes an arbitration clause (RCA BDA). dont know if anyone checks if its used all the time, but i know of cases where RIETS actively discouraged (including not placing in future, and non cooperation) rabbis with disputes from using the BDA, since they want the next placement at all costs (even if there will be no donations.) victor geller alludes to this practice in his book, even though he was the one doing it.

    2. does the chodesh leshana claim apply if a rabbi is fired "for cause"?

    3. if almost all rabbis are hired for a set term, i assume chodesh leshana (almost) never comes into play. true?

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  9. i dont know why you say rabbeim are underpaid.

    Because they are. Why else would I say it?

    if you work for an institution then they can demote you or fire for any reason. thats how it goes in the working world.

    That is not "how it goes" in the working world of education.

    Moreover, Halacha does not allow demotion or firing for "any reason." If such rish'us takes place, well, two wrongs do not make a right.


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  10. MiMedinat HaYam,

    Chodesh l'Shanah does not apply when a rabbi is fired for cause.

    However, once he has established a chazakah in a position, it applies even in a case in which a contract is not renewed. It is not limited to cases of termination. It is not, as some posters on Hirhurim - some of whom should know better - imply, relevant to a Rebbe who retires or otherwise leaves his position at his own discretion.

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  11. "Chodesh l'Shanah does not apply when a rabbi is fired for cause."

    "Cause," which obviously has to be proven legitimate before a competent Bais Din.

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  12. For what it's worth, I did not intend to imply in the comments to my post that Chodesh Le-Shanah takes the place of a pension. I only mentioned pension in the context of arguing that rabbe'im are underpaid. People misconstrued my point.

    Also, I have not confirmed that YU is advising schools to preclude chodesh le-shanah in their contracts. That is just an unconfirmed comment (albeit by a respectable individual who used his real name).

    And thank you RYGB for stating in the comments to your prior post that universal health care is a religious prerogative. I would say that I agree but my opinion is not worth much compared to yours.

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  13. there might be a basic unfairness here. if it doesnt apply when let go for cause, an institution might be reluctant to defend on charges of "for cause" for various reasons. thus, its in practice, a guaranteed payout. another reason to delete this clause in the contract.

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  14. i dont know why you say rabbeim are underpaid.

    Because they are. Why else would I say it?

    ...or, you are wrong. i have not found our mechanchim to be underpaid these days. i wonder why you say rabbeim are underpaid.

    if you work for an institution then they can demote you or fire for any reason. thats how it goes in the working world.

    That is not "how it goes" in the working world of education.

    Moreover, Halacha does not allow demotion or firing for "any reason." If such rish'us takes place, well, two wrongs do not make a right.

    you are coming down on the side of teachers. not surprising. i wish you would come down on the side of the parents/students. they are the ones who pay teachers' bills with the greatest mesiras nefesh, and the ones who really pay for teachers' errors.

    if i regularly saw vision and humility in teachers, i might be more amenable to your position.
    i would be happy to discuss these issues with you further.

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  15. Anonymous of Friday, January 11, 2013 7:30:00 AM:

    As for the scale of salaries for Rabbeim (and, en passant, the even more short-shrifted scale for women), see:

    http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/coffeeroom/topic/salary-expectations

    As to the bills, in most cases you are paying, proportionately, far more for the administration than for the rabbeim. At one workplace in which I was employed in the past, the principal was paid $400,000 per annum while a full time rebbe would get $50,000. Take a principal, a couple of assistant principals, an executive director (who probably makes more than the principal), not to mention other administrative non-teaching staff, and that is dominant destination of your tuition. I don't say that they should not get paid that much, necessarily, but it is not the rabbeim's salaries that are exclusively - or even primarily - the bulk of hefty tuitions.

    As to humility and vision, my personal experience with my colleagues is that the overwhelming majority of them possess both in large measures. As parents, we have also had our negative experiences with Rabbeim, but generally not on account of a lack of humility or vision on their part.

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  16. thank you for agreeing to open up this discussion. i am surprised that you are referring me to an anonymous list of comments. i hardly believe that your example of 400,000 vs. 50,000 is anywhere near the norm. my experience with teachers is that they do not think much beyond their classroom, when this is in reality only a small part of the kids life.

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  17. thank you for agreeing to open up this discussion.

    Hardly a discussion. WADR, you have cited no sources. I have cited a source and personal knowledge.

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  18. wadr, you have cited one anonymous bunch of talkbacks. hardly induces confidence. and i too speak from personal experience.

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  19. "As to the bills, in most cases you are paying, proportionately, far more for the administration than for the rabbeim. At one workplace in which I was employed in the past, the principal was paid $400,000 per annum while a full time rebbe would get $50,000."

    I went to a secular private school. The school had no principal, or any administration as far as I could tell. It was run well. Amazing, no?

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  20. hard to believe sam. who answered the phones? who cleaned the floors? who wrote the checks? who balanced the accts?

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  21. i guess i wasn't being literal when i said they had no administration - they had a secretary of sorts and probably cleaning people. but they didn't have a principal or anyone else like that as far as I could tell. It could be that the teachers themselves had other roles. i'm not entirely sure.

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  22. It's also quite possible that I have no idea what I am talking about and that they had a full administration. But I do know they had no principal. I know this because instead of getting sent to "The Principal's Office" like in the movies, we were simply sent to the office. The secretary had to deal with us. :)

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