Rabbi Yosef Adler

Rabbi Yosef Adler has been the Morah d'Atra of Teaneck´s Congregation Rinat Yisrael since 1979. He is also the Rosh HaYeshiva of Torah Academy of Bergen County since 1990 where he teaches the honors Gemara shiur for the ninth and tenth grades.

A gifted educator and respected posek, Rabbi Adler strives to pass along to our congregation the wisdom and values of his mentor, the Rav, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik zt”l. His overall goal, as he has often stated, is to produce a generation of B’nai Torah who recognize their responsibilities to G-d, their fellow man, and Medinat Yisrael. During a recent mini–Sabbatical in Israel, he wrote a commentary on the Haggadah based on the teaching of the Rav, zt”l.

Excerpted from Interview in Kol HaMevaser, Nov. 2011.....

AC: Do you think that in today's economic climate, with increasing financial pressures on families, there is a "tuition crisis"? If so, what can be done about it? Are you, in your position as Rosh HaYeshiva of TABC, pursuing any solutions to lower (or at least not increase) tuition?

RYA: Now, there's no doubt that schools have taken a look at themselves and tried to cut things, tighten things up a little. There's no doubt. We have managed not to raise tuition for two consecutive years........ And I think that this is going to continue - that the overwhelming majority of people will recognize their responsibility, though I haven't found a full-fledged system yet.

In Bergen County, we have what's called NNJKIDS, which has raised more than a million dollars over the last two years, so that every elementary school has gotten $300 per student a year for the last two years. Now, that's $300 a year, which means preventing another $300 increase in tuition, above and beyond whatever they did increase. The idea is to try to shift responsibility for tuition not just to the tuition payers, but to the community at large. We have not yet accomplished our objective.

The OU has a proposal, which I've pushed in my shul, and they have to get this going across the community. Rabbi [Hershel] Schachter says that 75% of your tsedakah allocations should remain right here in your backyard. (Here the community decided that might be a little too aggressive, so they're trying 50%.) Of that, 50% should be directed to Jewish education. So if somebody gives $15,000 a year to tsedakah, $7,500 has to stay here in Bergen County, of which 50% has to be given to Jewish education. That's your tsedakah allocation. If this were to be implemented, this would make an enormous impact on Jewish education in our community. It would pump in thousands of dollars, and it would not cost a person an extra penny, because instead of giving it to yeshivot in Israel, hospitals in Israel, and things like that, Rabbi Schachter would say, instead of giving to Yeshivat Har Etzion and Sha'alvim, give it to your local schools. He's spoken publicly about this. He's spoken at the OU.

There's another program, which I think can have a lot of potential if people will buy into it. In Chicago, there's this one guy by the name of George Hanus, who came up with "the 5% plan." Every shul you go to has a big sign listing the people who've signed up five percent. Five percent of your will is to Jewish education.3 We haven't done that yet. We're not a community that's dying yet, thank God. But in several years, that could make a substantial difference. In Chicago, it's made a big difference.

Every single person knows five percent of his assets have to be given to Jewish education. Those types of things, in the long run, can generate a lot of funds. But with this 50%, remaining in your keep, your tsedakah money, you don't have to ask the person for one extra dollar, just change the priority. That's important. That can raise big money. And I'm hopeful that it will make an impact.