Recently we had the pleasure of hosting a breakfast for about 40 people. In order for everyone present to enjoy comfortably, we knew that all dairy products that were used had to be chalav Yisrael. Please keep in mind that we were more than happy to accommodate everyone, and with great simcha Nina prepared for this event. Each time she needed to make another dairy purchase she would return in a state of shock. We are not discussing the milk. The cheeses, the sour cream, the butter, the boxes of cheese blintzes needed for a blintz souffle, each and every item was so much more expensive that it just baffled her mind.
Someone please explain how one can buy Shoprite or Breakstone’s butter for $1.99-2.59 and chalav Yisrael butter is being sold for $5.99 minimum? The first thought that came to our minds is the tremendous burden that these costs must place on families who are stringent about using chalav Yisrael. Has anyone compared the price of a quart of Friendly’s ice cream to the equivalent in chalav Yisrael ice cream? We look at young couples who are starting out on their life together with little money, as many have one partner learning in yeshiva, and they have to face these astronomical expenses.
We also find that the number of Jewish clothing stores that cater specifically to Torah-observant women are able to sell dresses, skirts, blouses and sweaters, in many cases, for five times what the price would be in a “regular” clothing store. Granted there is a tremendous advantage to looking at clothing that has in most cases the proper sleeve length and skirt length. Yet we have to say that for years, though it might have taken extra effort, we were always able to dress our daughters and Nina in clothing that originated in “normal” stores. Yet we probably saved each time at least half of the cost of what the garments are in a store catering to the religious woman. The average kallah today “knows” that she must go shopping in Brooklyn to Coney Island Avenue stores to find dresses that are appropriate. Prices that are totally out of perspective for the type of material and style that goes into these specific dresses seem exorbitant. Yes, in many cases they give you extra material to fill in the ¼ of an inch of skin showing at the neck. Wherever they are, be it in Brooklyn, Monsey, Lakewood or other cities that are in close proximity to the religious world, they are able to take great advantage of the “frum” world. As long as everyone keeps buying they will keep selling.
Not only do these ridiculous prices consume the world of the Torah-observant woman, but has anyone checked to see what the prices are these days of men’s hats? Does it have to be a Borsalino in order for it to be kosher? We checked the website attached to this brand and it seems that they do make less-expensive hats, but in discussion with yeshiva bachurim we heard numbers like $350 thrown around in terms of their needs.
As many know, there are various brands of sheitels and falls. We remember when Nina got her first wig after being married for two years. Until then she always wore a hat or scarf. Whatever it cost it was the only one that she was going to wear for a long time. Today, a kallah, prior to her marriage, is the proud owner of at least one fall and at least one if not two wigs. It would be unheard of to think that perhaps when starting out on this unfamiliar path of covering one’s hair it might make more sense to start off with a wig that is not as expensive so that one can get used to the feel of having something tightly attached to their head day in and day out. How many times have we heard young girls say that they wish they had waited to get a better sheitel for some time after she had married so that she would have a better feel and idea of what she really liked. Thousands and thousands of dollars used toward these purchases, which in many cases cause misery and discomfort until many adjustments are made.
A simcha is a wondrous occasion but for some it actually puts them in the poor house. We are only mentioning the accoutrements that are attached to the joy. Good luck to all who are able to do it without concern for the dollars and cents being spent. Yet we wonder what type of a message we are sending to our children. We are especially concerned for the young couple starting off on this new path who face these outrageous costs on their food products and so many other things attached to their new way of life. There has to be a way to lower their costs. Are we alone in our thinking? We would love to know.
Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick are living in Bergenfield after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Rabbi Glick was the rav of Congregation Ahavat Yisroel as well as a practicing clinical psychologist in private practice. He also taught at Champlain Regional College. The Glicks were frequent speakers at the OU marriage retreats. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for young adults with special needs. They can be reached at [email protected]