Monday, May 24, 2010

Areivim -- My Opinion on the Matter (and some numbers)

A number of years ago, a concept known as Areivim came into being.

All too often, we've all gotten mailings or seen advertisements about families that have fallen into destitution because of the death of the breadwinner of the family. Often these tragic circumstances will leave a widow with multiple children and little means to provide for them. The concept of Areivim was born out of that situation.

The concept behind Areivim is fairly simple. A group of 16,500 people each agree that if one of them dies, the others will pay a small fee for each unmarried child left by the deceased. The collected money (about $100,000) would then be made available to the widow/children to pay for wedding expenses when the children are ready to marry. In the meantime, the money would be invested and the dividends used to defray the costs of raising the children.

Over time, a number of organizations (two or three -- it's hard to tell) have sprung up, all with the same name and the same mission. The exact numbers change (size of the group, amount paid per orphan) change slightly, but all follow the same basic idea.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz recently contacted a representative of one of these groups and asked him some questions about the organization. The questions related to a number of different aspects of the program, including how the program is administered, grievance procedures, the actual feasibility of the program given the numbers provided and oversight and rabbinic approbation of the program. You can see Rabbi Horowitz's original questions and answer here, and the answers to follow-up questions here.

Having read the responses, I, like many others, am deeply troubled by this project. While I have no objection to helping widows and orphans (does anyone really have an objection to that?), I feel that there are serious problems with the program as it is laid out. My objections lay in three general areas: the feasibility of the project, the lack of transparency, the "flexibility" of the program and, lastly, some of the general attitudes that the program conveys.

Let's start with the feasibility of the program. I will admit up front that I am not an actuary. For all I know, I might be completely wrong in this area. If there are any actuaries out there who are willing to actually crunch the numbers for me, I'd be more than appreciative.

Let's start with the numbers given. The program is based on the following:

  • A group consists of 16,500 members.
  • If any of those sixteen thousand die, the rest of the group will pay $6 for each unmarried child left behind.
  • No member will pay more than $28 a month (i.e. the amount for four orphans).
  • No member will pay more than $288 (the amount for 48 orphans).
  • If there are more than four new in month, the amount will be rolled over into the next month. So, if a parent with seven children dies, the group members will pay for four orphans the first month and then the remaining three the second month.
Payments are made only if there are unmarried children left behind. If the decedent has no unmarried children (or if said unmarried children are over 35), then no payment is to be made.

The "magic number" that I want you to keep in mind is 48. The program, as it's designed, can pay for up to 48 orphans per year -- no more. If members cannot pay more than $288 a year and orphans are to receive $100,000* each, then the maximum number of payouts per year is 48. (16,500 * $288 divided by $99,000 [the amount given to each orphan] = 48.)

The program, as I understand it, is meant to appeal to those in the 25-60 age range. People over 60 will probably not have kids of marriageable age anymore while those under 25 are probably either don't have kids or are not insurance-minded yet.

I made a spreadsheet where I broken down the possibilities for this program. I made three different scenarios --

1. The population is evenly spread among the age groups
2. The population is skewed toward the young end of the spectrum
3. The population is distributed in a bell curve

The age groups are in column A. The mortality rate for the age group (based on the CDC -- warning PDF) is in column B.

I made (what I believe to be very modest) assumptions regarding how many unmarried kids a typical man in the yeshivish community of that age would have. It starts at one, goes up to five and then begins dropping at age 44 as the kids begin marrying out of the program. That figure is in column C. Personally, I think the numbers should be a bit higher, but let's work with these numbers.

Columns D-G are the first scenario, where the population is evenly distributed among the age groups. The number of members in each age group is about 471. By multiplying the number of members by the mortality rate (and rounding to the nearest whole number), I get the expected number of deaths. That's column F. The number of unmarried kids left behind is simply column F multiplied by column C. The totals are on the bottom.

The end result -- the group can expect 51 deaths and 122 orphans. Not good for a program that can only handle 48.

OK, what about scenario two -- where the population is skewed young (columns H-K). Let's say that the older crowd tends to opt out, so that the average age is in the middle but with twice the weight in the younger segments. Based on those figures, you can expect 32 deaths and 96 orphans. That's still twice as many as the program can handle.

What about if it's a bell curve distribution? That's columns L-O. The result? 42 deaths and 133 orphans.

The bottom line is that, no matter how you slice it, the program will not have the funds to pay out as promised. It won't even come close.

And, this is assuming the program only pays out on the death of the breadwinner. If the mother is included (as is the case in some of the programs) the situation only becomes much worse.

In addition, this ignores the fact that the program probably suffers from adverse selection. In short, those who can get insurance from a reputable company probably will (and, once they read the Terms & Conditions of the program -- see below) will probably opt out. Those that remain will be those who cannot afford or cannot get standard term life insurance -- and those are the ones who are at a greater risk of dying.

Lastly, the financial model is assuming that there is no overhead, no credit card collection fees, no delinquencies in payment, etc. None of those assumptions, of course, are reasonable.

Next, let's look at the transparency of the program (or the lack thereof).

While the program is said to have the backing of the "Va'ad Harabbonim," we are not told who is on the Va'ad. Repeated requests by Rabbi Horowitz to find out who the founder of the program is have gone unanswered. Personally, if an organization is unwilling to say who founded it and who is behind it, then you should be VERY wary of said organization. The fact that the organization is not willing to put forward the name of a single attorney or actuary who worked on this program (on a pro-bono basis) is also very troubling.

Then there's the "flexibility" of the program. What do I mean by "flexibility?" Specifically, the program is very flexible in terms of who will be paid in the event of a death. There are enough loopholes in the terms and agreements that you can drive a Mack truck through them. Take a look at the Terms and Conditions of the program (is there a reason the T&C are written in a hard-to-read coloring?). Let's start at the top:

The first paragraph makes it clear that the program is only for "Torah observant" homes. What does "Torah Observant" mean? What is the definition? If someone drinks Cholov Stam, are they still "Torah Observant?" What if they use the Flatbush eruv? Or the wife's snood doesn't cover all of her hair? What if the man doesn't have a regular learning schedule? What if he davens without a hat and jacket? What if they (God forbid, of course) are Zionists?

None of this is spelled out, of course. The determination of what, exactly, is a "Torah observant" home is very broad and ambiguous. Some would say that Zionists are idolaters (yes, some make that claim). Some would say that people who use the Flatbush eruv are Shabbos-desecrators. Are such people "Torah observant" according to the committee who will make the final payout determination? I don't know. Do you? I know that I'd hate to find out *after* the fact.

The T&C later reiterates and says:

The program is designated only for orphans who are Torah-observant!

My reading of this is that the payout is based not only on the parents being Torah observant, but the kids as well. Well, we all know that all kids rebel to one degree or another. They may go through a phase where they are lax in a particular mitzvah or set of mitzvos. Perhaps davening or learning will slide for a boy. Perhaps a girl might decide to rebel and wear a pair of jeans outside once or twice. This happens with teens and "normal" families and can especially happen in a stressful situation where a parent is lost. Who determines what is "Torah observant" for the kids. If they go through a rebellious phase, do they lose out on the monies put aside for them? Who determines just how much "rebelliousness' is permitted in terms of the program? Or is it one misstep and they're out?

Then there's this clause (bolding mine):

The program is a tzedaka fund that operates according to Halachah only, and is not an insurance plan. Therefore, the registration and acceptance to the program has a stipulation that in the event of a high number of unnatural deaths, Heaven forbid (such as war and/or earthquake etc.), and/or a situation arises which according to Vaad Harabanim’s determination does not permit charges to be made to the members (for instance an unusually high number of orphans and/or economic inflation and/or some other economic condition etc), the rabbis of Vaad Harabanim will decide whether to establish a fund and what its sum will be. All the obligations will be determined by Vaad Harabanim, and their decision will be final, without any option of placing a claim - in any place or legal framework - for indemnity and/or compensation and/or grievance of any kind.

In short, if there is an economic problem that causes the program to be unable to pay, the Va'ad gets to decide who gets what -- and there is no recourse or redress. Now go back and look at the numbers I projected earlier. Do you see this clause kicking in fairly often?

Lastly, I have some general problems with the program as it is set up.

I have a problem with the fact that the program FAQ states that people with life insurance are welcome to participate, but does not state that such people are not eligible to collect.**

I have a problem with the way the program is marketed. The program makes the point that it is not an insurance program. The reason for this is probably legal -- insurance programs in the United States are heavily regulated. The program states that it's a charity organization. But, in my opinion, it fails the duck test. The old rule of "if it walks like a duck, and smells like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's probably a duck" still applies. The fact that members (potentially) pay money in in order to receive benefits makes it too much like an insurance program to me. A true charity organization would, IMHO, try to take care of orphans and/or widows whether they were members of a paying program or not. Think of organizations like Tomchei Shabbos, for example. Are you asked to pay in so that if you fall on hard times they will pay out for you? No -- they help anyone who needs a handout whether you've donated to them in the past or not.

I'm also troubled that the program will cause people to forgo proper insurance. Ideally, people should have life insurance. Rabbi Horowitz's contact even admitted as such in his correspondence. However, I believe that most people will, once they sign up, decide they don't need insurance, since they have Areivim. Of course, they probably aren't aware of the numbers in the program and how unstable it is. They are far better off going with a reputable insurance company.

Lastly, I believe the program is being self-contradictory when it states that it's goal is to preserve the dignity of widows and orphans, but then turns around and states that the deceased's rabbi will have the final say on where the money is spent. What if the parent wants to send their kids to a co-ed school (like Yeshiva of Flatbush, for example). Does the family rabbi have the right to withhold funds because he doesn't like the school or disapproves of it's policies and hashkafos? What if he doesn't approve of the potential marriage partner of the orphan and he's convinced that the potential marriage partner will lead the orphan down the path to Modern Orthodoxy? Can he refuse to pay for the wedding from the funds on that basis? In short, by putting the funds in the rabbi's hands, you are potentially giving the family rabbi veto decisions over matters for which they have no business having a veto power. That doesn't preserve dignity of the widows and orphans -- on the contrary -- it robs them of it.

There is a very real need to help support widows and orphans -- but I don't believe this program is the answer. I believe that, while it may be well-meaning, it has far too many flaws in the economics of the program as well as the mechanisms to ever be truly viable.

The Wolf


* $6 per orphan for each of the 16500 members is actually $99,000, not $100,000. And, of course, the decedant isn't going to pay either. But I'll overlook those facts for now.

** To be fair, it does state that in the T&C, but that's in very small type and in a hard to read color.

67 comments:

Joseph said...

The program may well work as designed (and in fact this concept was pioneered in Eretz Yisroel and seems to have achieved some measure of success [in implementation] over there.)

Yet what I am confused about is why not promote tried and true plain 'ole Term Life Insurance? It is dirt cheap; a healthy 30 year old guy would pay approx. $200 a year for a $500,000 policy. A $100,000 policy should cost considerably less!

Dave said...

At best this program was good intentions with an incompetent implementation.

Having looked at the responses the representative has made to honest questions, I lean more towards "it's a scam".

Anonymous said...

http://orthonomics.blogspot.com/2010/05/areivim-friends-dont-let-friends.html

Commenter Abbi said...

I'm mystified as to why, if this is a yeshivish program, the husband is considered the breadwinner and women, who are the main breadwinners, are an afterthought edition.

Honest Abe said...

The Chasidishe men are the breadwinners.

Honest Abe said...

I'm not sure if the analysis accounted for the fact that the Areivim program only covers a parent who has (an) unmarried child(ren) under 35 years old. Therefore the parent themselves tend to be relatively young. Therefore the mortality rate for a parent of that age is statistically low. Therefore whoever ran these numbers may have overestimated the expected number of deaths.

32, 42, or 51 deaths per year, for a young group of 16,50,0 seems way over the top to me. BTW, the Areivim program has been in operation for over a year in the U.S., and from the little I heard (which admittedly isn't a lot), the numbers are nowhere near any of these ballpark numbers (32, 42, 51.) The program has also been in operation even longer (for a number of years) in Israel.

(A side point to also note is that statistically marrieds have a lower mortality rate than unmarrieds. I would also venture to say observant Jews have a lower mortality rate than society as a whole. I don't know how much the difference is, but this is not my main point in any event.)

BrooklynWolf said...

Abe,

The number of deaths are based on the mortality tables for the US from the CDC. The numbers should not be "way over the top."

I also made the generous assumption that the oldest people in the program are 60. I included no one older than that (and, in some projections, cut it to 59).

Take a look at the spreadsheet that I linked to. Please tell me where you think my analysis was wrong. Let me know what cells you believe are in error (and why) and I'll run the numbers again.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

Abe,

Take a look at this spreadsheet. I gave you a 20% discount on the mortality rate.

You still have far too many orphans (93 even distribution, 95 skewed young, 114 bell curve) than the program can handle.

The Wolf

Honest Abe said...

Did you account for that in Chareidi society most children are married by age 25 (ofttimes even married by age 20)? This would reduce the number of orphans that must be covered.

BrooklynWolf said...

Abe,

Did you even read the post and look at the spreadsheet? Yes, I accounted for that. I started reducing the number of kids in the house -- beginning at age 44 (figure an average marriage of 22).

I could bump it up earlier and begin dropping the number of kids in the house at age 42 if you like, but it's not going to change the numbers all that much.

Keep in mind that I made (what I believe to be) very generous assumptions WRT the number of kids in the house. I capped it at five -- many families in the yeshivish/chassidish world have more than five.


The Wolf

LW2 said...

Wolf-

You say you are not an actuary - but it certainly seems like you could be. That was very adequate analysis.

You probably have read by now the Orthonomics guest post and maybe some of the comments. People there claiming to be actuaries have pointed out mostly the same things you did here.

Let me point out that 100 deaths in 16,500 is an average mortality rate of around 0.6% for ages between 20 and 60. To illustrate how low that figure really is, think of it this way. If you start with a group of 1,000 twenty year olds, you are saying there will be 786 still alive at age 60 (0.994 ^40). I don't think that number looks realistic. What's more, if we assume that around 1% of the original 20 year olds live to be 100 years old, that means the average mortality rate between 60 and 100 is roughly 10.3% per year.

This is all crude mathematics, but I think it shows something that helps even the biggest skeptics understand your point. Even "our people" all die eventually (I think 1% alive at 100 is pretty reasonable), which means that they all must die at some time. Unless you are willing to believe 11% die by age 60 and then another 88% die after 60 at a very rapid pace, you have to accept bigger numbers.

Shmendrik said...

LW2:

"Unless you are willing to believe 11% die by age 60 and then another 88% die after 60 at a very rapid pace, you have to accept bigger numbers."

I don't know the exact numbers, but intuitively, isn't that exactly how human mortality works?

Here's a chart which illustrates it:
http://www.boingboing.net/images/pic-05-plattblog_life_table_2004.png

The numbers aren't necessarily important, but the general shape of the curve is. Far more than than 78% of 20 year olds are still alive by age 60. This table is for births in 2004. It appears that about 88% of infants will live to 60, so the percentage of 20 year olds who reach 60 would be slightly higher.

Dave said...

Areivim is a worthwhile Tzedakah. One should not change how much life insurance he should have based upon participation in Areivim.

BrooklynWolf said...

Dave,

People who have insurance are not eligible to receive payouts from Areivim. IMHO, most such people will opt out of the program.

My gut tells me that most people will view this as an insurance substitute. If even half the people in the program are potential recipients, then the program fails. I think the number is well more than half.

The Wolf

mlevin said...

I am not an actuary, but I think the claim that a fourth of all people die before 60 is a bit high. A lot of death that happens to young people (in their 20s and 30s) is due to irresponsibility and war or hazardous occupations. So since the group of people we are looking at here are responsible married parents who are not in the military or law enforcement or work as stunt men it is safe to assume that the death rate is lower.

That being said, looking at today's trend, there are more than 5 children per frummie family. So overall I would agree that numbers don't make sense, it's just that I would change a few of them.

BrooklynWolf said...

but I think the claim that a fourth of all people die before 60 is a bit high.


My model didn't show that a quarter of all participants would die... not even close. The numbers ranged from 32 to 51 out of a population of 16,5000. That's *much* less than a quarter.

So since the group of people we are looking at here are responsible married parents who are not in the military or law enforcement or work as stunt men it is safe to assume that the death rate is lower.

I provided an alternate analysis further up this comment thread where I cut the mortality rate by 20%. There were still too many deaths in the group for the program to work.

The Wolf

mlevin said...

LW2 said "If you start with a group of 1,000 twenty year olds, you are saying there will be 786 still alive at age 60"

That's roughly one fourth.

BrooklynWolf said...

Then I think he misinterpreted my numbers. As you can see in the spreadsheet, there would be only 32-51 deaths each year in the entire group.

The mortality rates come from the CDC, so I don't think they're out of line.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

I ran the numbers on the mortality rates from the CDC.

Starting with 1000 people at age 25, you are left with 896 at age 60. That's about 10% -- not 25%.

The Wolf

Dave said...

Wolf,

My point about Tzedaka is that Areivim is a worthwhile program to give tzedaka to yesomim. Forget any other aspect of it; it is worth joining just for that.

JRS said...

Dave said "Areivim is a worthwhile program to give tzedaka to yesomim. Forget any other aspect of it; it is worth joining just for that."

Areivim may indeed have been built on good intentions, but if there are flaws & problems with its implementation, if there are disturbing questions as to whether the money will be distributed fairly, wisely, or even at all, how, exactly, is it worthwhile to give one's money to it?
Such "aspects of it" may render it a poor choice of tzedaka.

Dave said...

At the end of the day, the money is going to yesomim. If one feels (or if it is true) their will not be enough money as intended for the yesomim (for the reasons explained by Wolf in his post for example), then that is even more reason to join as a matter of tzedaka, so that the yesomim dont lose out as much.

RAM said...

Dave said "At the end of the day, the money is going to yesomim."

Charities that are open about their operations are often evaluated based on the percentage of money that gets to the needy vs. the percentage used up in administration. We really don't know, and may never know, what proportion of received funds will reach the yesomim. Here, we are being asked to trust something we know basically nothing about, not even which people are responsible for what.

Dave said...

I believe Areivim states that every penny of income they receive goes only to the yesomim.

In any event, do you ONLY give to Tzedaka's that publish their percent?

Dave said...

(Every penny they receive from Areivim members, that is.)

BrooklynWolf said...

In any event, do you ONLY give to Tzedaka's that publish their percent?

How many other tzedakas do you know where you have to be a member of a paying group to get benefits?

IOW, they're not looking out for orphans/widows, per say. They are looking out for orphans/widows who PAID INTO the program.

That makes it much less like tzedaka in my book.

The Wolf

Dave said...

I don't know. But these yesomim are still yesomim. No one is looking (I hope) to deny these yesomim tzedaka.

BTW, some tzedaka groups generally provide benefits only to certain groups (i.e. a sefardic tzedaka might be helping other sefardim, etc.)

BrooklynWolf said...

But these yesomim are still yesomim. No one is looking (I hope) to deny these yesomim tzedaka.

Of course not. But are the orphans who COULDN'T pay into the system any less orphans.

BTW, some tzedaka groups generally provide benefits only to certain groups (i.e. a sefardic tzedaka might be helping other sefardim, etc.)

Yes, that's true. They may use religious, ethnic or geographic considerations. But I've NEVER heard of a charity ONLY providing beneifts to previously paying customers. Sorry... in my book, that's NOT charity.

The Wolf

Dave said...

" But are the orphans who COULDN'T pay into the system any less orphans."

No. We are all free to give them as well. That isn't reason to deny these yesomim (from Areivim) because other orphans also exist.

And why is ethnic qualifications more of a tzedaka than membership qualifications? I completely disagree with you.

BrooklynWolf said...

That isn't reason to deny these yesomim (from Areivim) because other orphans also exist.

No, but the fact that Areivim would deny orphans funds based solely on payment history (or lack thereof) is a reason NOT to give to Areivim, IMHO.

And why is ethnic qualifications more of a tzedaka than membership qualifications? I completely disagree with you.

You're free to disagree.

Nonetheless, you may have a point about that (ethnic charities). Can you name a tzedaka in the Jewish community that ONLY serves Sephardim, or Ashkenazim, or whatever?

The Wolf

Dave said...

"No, but the fact that Areivim would deny orphans funds based solely on payment history (or lack thereof) is a reason NOT to give to Areivim, IMHO."

Why would you c'v penalize the yesomim for what the organization does?

Re: ethnic charities, I see it often, but don't recall names off the top of my head.

BrooklynWolf said...

Why would you c'v penalize the yesomim for what the organization does?

I might chose to give to another organization that does not discriminate on the basis of previous donation history.

Re: ethnic charities, I see it often, but don't recall names off the top of my head.

There may be tzedaka organizations with ethnic names, but that does not mean that they serve EXCLUSIVELY those belonging to that group.

Example: Satmar Bikur Cholim does not provide services EXCLUSIVELY to Satmar patients/visitors.

The Wolf

Dave said...

Of all places to mention, Satmar Bikur Cholim services ANY Yid without the slightest hint of discrimination.

Anyways, _you_ suggested a few posts back that some tzedaka org's may use ethnic considerations. That's why I questioned you why you are more accepting of that than membership considerations.

BrooklynWolf said...

Of all places to mention, Satmar Bikur Cholim services ANY Yid without the slightest hint of discrimination.

Yes, that was my point. Even though they are a Satmar organization, they don't service only Satmars.

Anyways, _you_ suggested a few posts back that some tzedaka org's may use ethnic considerations. That's why I questioned you why you are more accepting of that than membership considerations.

That's right -- and your comment caused me to reconsider that qualification. Perhaps I might not consider ethnic tzedakos that serve exclusively that ethnicity truly tzedakos.

The Wolf

Dave said...

Oy vey, you need to be more inclusive in which Jew you give charity to. WADR, you're qualifications seem to be more influenced by the American sensibilities that rubbed off on you than Jewish sensibilities that should be natural to us all. I only tell you this out of love.

BrooklynWolf said...

Oy vey, you need to be more inclusive in which Jew you give charity to.

Not which Jew -- which organization.

I don't have a problem with donating to any of the orphans in Areivim. I have a problem donating to Areivim itself. I believe that the model it proposes cannot work. I believe there are far too many questions that need to be answered regarding how paymetns are to be made, who is to be considered eligible, etc.

If having questions (and refusing to donate until I'm sure the charity is sound and legitimate) is being "influenced by American sensibilities" more than "Jewish sensibilities" then I'm proud to have such "American sensibilities."

Only a chump blindly hands over his/her money when there are so many unanswered questions -- especially after repeated asking.

The Wolf

Dave said...

The concern you expressed in the post was the _viability_ of Areivim not the legitimacy. Areivim by all accounts is legitimate (and well intentioned).

By joining Areivim as a charitable endeavor, and considering your contribution only as a charitable gift, you are helping innocent orphans.

By not giving to Areivim, you're unlikely to reach these yesomim and charitably help them.

BrooklynWolf said...

The concern you expressed in the post was the _viability_ of Areivim not the legitimacy. Areivim by all accounts is legitimate (and well intentioned).

I have a real problem with a charity that *requires* you to pay in before receiving benefits.

If Areivim distributed money to widows/orphans in general, I would not have that objection. But the fact that they are limiting their help to previous "donors" is, IMHO, very distasteful. If that also is too "American" for you, then so be it.

By not giving to Areivim, you're unlikely to reach these yesomim and charitably help them.

Like most people, my charitable dollars are limited. I cannot give to every charity. So I choose. I may choose to give to Tomchei Shabbos instead, since they give food to any Jew who needs, regardless of past donations. I may give to Hatzoloh, Bikur Cholim, Misaskim or any of a dozen other organizations. There is nothing that says that I have to donate to Areivim.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

Wolf, I'll bet dollars to donuts you never intended to join Areivim, never even _considered_ donating to Areivim... but, hey, why not make a ruckus against a Tzedaka organization if you can smack 'em up real good. What could be more fun than that!

Dave said...

(I hope you can take that bit of sarcasm as constructive criticism.)

Dave (missed signing last post)

BrooklynWolf said...

Wolf, I'll bet dollars to donuts you never intended to join Areivim, never even _considered_ donating to Areivim... but, hey, why not make a ruckus against a Tzedaka organization if you can smack 'em up real good. What could be more fun than that!

There are LOTS of tzedaka organizations that I don't donate to and probably never will.

The difference is that I don't know them to be based on flawed premises, bad economics, opaque decision-making etc.

Dave,

How about this approach - instead of bashing me for asking questions, why not try answering them.

All you've done in this thread is state "Areivim is a worthwhile tzedaka." You haven't backed that up at all with any facts to prove it's worthiness. How about addressing some of my concerns about the organization?

The Wolf

Dave said...

"You haven't backed that up at all with any facts to prove it's worthiness."

If helping yesomim with tzedaka isn't isn't a fact backing up its worthiness, there isn't more I can add to this conversation.

RAM said...

There has been no lack of ways to give to yesomim and other Jews in need by conventional methods through charities with a track record and known personnel.

Aren't the Israeli "parent organizations" of these Areivim ventures, namely Kupat Hair and Vaad Harabbonim, among these charities?

Dave said...

RAM, those org's support Areivim but aren't its parent org according to their website.

So what "conventional methods" have you recently utilized to support yesomim, sir?

BrooklynWolf said...

If helping yesomim with tzedaka isn't isn't a fact backing up its worthiness, there isn't more I can add to this conversation.

And what will you say when it happens that parents who paid in don't get the payoff because the financial model collapses. Will you say that it's worthy then?

If payouts are to be decided by an arbitrary definition of who is Torah Observant (as per my questions in the post) with no avenue for recourse if one feels cheated, would you say it's still worthy?

The Wolf

The Wolf

Noam the Preacher said...

Hey Volvie
You're knocking it 'cause you didnt think of it and because the chariadem are running it.
Its a great thing, why cant you just admit the charaidem are doin' something nice?
My ConEd bill came a sheet about rebates the last clause says that they can plug the plug on the wholre rebate thingy anytime they choose, but it doesn't bug you, 'cause the rabbanim are not in charge.

BrooklynWolf said...

Noam,

No, that's not why I'm knocking it. In my post I praised Tomchei Shabbos. In this comment thread I praised Satmar Bikur Cholim. It's not because chareidim thought of it -- it's because the program has serious problems.

It's very simple... show me that I was wrong in my post. Please provide satisfactory answers to the questions I have and I'll be *more than happy* to put up another post stating I heartily support it.

Show me that the demographics and economics work. Show me that the concerns I highlighted regarding payout work. Show me that my questions regarding equitable treatment of people in payouts are answered.

My ConEd bill came a sheet about rebates the last clause says that they can plug the plug on the wholre rebate thingy anytime they choose, but it doesn't bug you, 'cause the rabbanim are not in charge.

I have no idea what you're talking about.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

Who is Volvie?

BrooklynWolf said...

Who is Volvie?

I'm assuming he means me. "Volvie" is a diminutive for "Velvel" which is Yiddish for "Wolf."

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

I believe Volvie is the Yiddish nickname for "Zev".

Noam the Preacher said...

Volvie is volf AKA Wolf.
Personal preference to call 'em by a jewish name, no insulting intentions.

I have read your blog, you seem to have general dislike for chariadem.
Maybe I'm wrong there, but the vibes keep on coming.
The con ed thing is about the fact that ConEd can say they will yank their rebate program if they wish for no apparent reason, but if the Ariavim people put in a disclaimer in case of exploding volcanos and mass death, you get hot under the collar.

Noam the Preacher said...

No the program is NOT professionally laid out, but does that make it a scam?

BrooklynWolf said...

Noam,
I have read your blog, you seem to have general dislike for chariadem.

No, I'm not anti-chareidi. I am critical of some of the ways that some elements in the chareidi community act or some of the attitudes held therein, but against the community as a whole? No.

but if the Ariavim people put in a disclaimer in case of exploding volcanos and mass death, you get hot under the collar.

It wasn't the "earthquake and volcanoes" disclaimer that got to me. Heck, I could understand if, God forbid, thousands of orphans are created at once that an emergency determination would have to be made. You'll note that I did not bold the "earthquake or volcanoes" part of the clause.

What got to me was the next part:

"or a situation arises which according to Vaad Harabanim’s determination does not permit charges to be made to the members"

Well, guess what? With the economic and actuarial model, that situation is virtually guaranteed. In other words, I believe that a ruling meant for extraordinary circumstances will become the norm. *That's* the problem.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

No the program is NOT professionally laid out, but does that make it a scam?

At no time did I use the word "scam" or intimate that it was anything other than a poorly-designed, poorly-planned and fatally flawed system.

I believe the intentions were good, but the plan itself is horrible.

The Wolf

Honest Abe said...

"I am critical of some of the ways that some elements in the chareidi community act or some of the attitudes held therein, but against the community as a whole? No"

Yet you lack being critical to the same degree of some of the ways that some elements in the M.O. community act or some of the attitudes held therein. And don't try arguing there is less to be critical of there. Au contraire.

Noam the Preacher said...

"I believe that a ruling meant for extraordinary circumstances will become the norm. *That's* the problem."

Why so negative, have no other programs functioned as they should?
I expect it to work just fine, sure collections and payments will be an uphill battle, and the numbers aint accurate, but it sounds fantastic.

Are you not frequently anti-chareidi?
Your blogging reflects this, if i'm wrong with my take on it maybe lighten up.
Hey why doncha take a vote, see what your readers feel?

BrooklynWolf said...

sure collections and payments will be an uphill battle, and the numbers aint accurate, but it sounds fantastic.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Yet you lack being critical to the same degree of some of the ways that some elements in the M.O. community act or some of the attitudes held therein. And don't try arguing there is less to be critical of there. Au contraire.

Since I am more ideologically aligned with MO than with chareidim, it should be obvious that there is less that I would be critical of.

Nonetheless, when the MO crowd does something stupid, outrageous or just plain dumb, I'll be there.

First and foremost, I'm anti-stupidity and anti-poor logic.

In any event, this post is about Areivim and it's problems. it's not about my ideological bent. Let's keep in on track.

As I said, show me how my numbers are wrong. Show me that my concerns are unfounded. If you can do that, I will be more than happy to put up a retraction with an apology.

The Wolf

Noam the Preacher said...

So no vote....?

"First and foremost, I'm anti-stupidity and anti-poor logic."
Got kids?
I'll take your word on it.

jewinjerusalem said...

Areivim has been around in Eretz Yisrael for a few years. Recently Americans are joining. I will tell you some of their rules per their brochures here in israel.

1- One who has insurance will NOT be eligible to receive from the fund. Even so he is still urged to join in order to give tzaddaka.
2- The payment to areivim is allegedly MUCH cheaper than normal insurance. [I will add that standard term insurance is much more expensive in israel than the US.]
3- The payment is made whether the father or mother dies. [Acturies: You better factor this in.]
4- If a family has other money they are not eligible to receive from arevim as they do not qualify for tzaddaka. [This is similar to #1.]
5- The money is not really for yesomim NOW. The money is designated specifically for weddings. That refers to the cost of wedding, and more importantly the cost of buying an apartment. While the money is sitting around [and invested] until the orphan marries, the accrued interest will be used for the family's present needs. [It's very debatable if this is really tzaddaka. It's setting aside money that will be needed after 10-20 years. is this a lack of bitachon?]
6- The askanim will decide who gets how much. [ I hope you have the right family name.]
7- All the costs of the advertising are contributed by well meaning ba'alei tzaddaka who feel that klal yisrael needs this. In other words there are absolutely no operating expenses. [Is this still true?]

Everything I write here is documented. lately in isreal we are asked to donate funds even though the family has areivim. This is nuts. I personally have trouble giving tzaddaka to a 5 year old orphan so he can get married "b'kavod" in 15 more years. In fact I don't give money to shnorrers to buy apartments when it's for immediate use.

BrooklynWolf said...

So no vote....?

If you want to comment about your perception that I am anti-chareidi, you are more than welcome to comment on it on your own blog (although I'd appreciate the courtesy of an email when you do). The topic here is Areivim, not my biases (real or supposed).


"First and foremost, I'm anti-stupidity and anti-poor logic."
Got kids?
I'll take your word on it.


I'm not sure what you're driving at here. Nonetheless, if you've read my blog as extensively as you say you have, then you already know I have kids.

The Wolf

Honest Abe said...

"[I will add that standard term insurance is much more expensive in israel than the US.]"

It may well be that Areivim is more useful and necessary in Israel than America, for this reason.

RAM said...

Dave asked me, "So what 'conventional methods' have you recently utilized to support yesomim, sir?"

Gifts to recognized tzedakah organizations that assist yesomim and other needy Jews. Is this so odd or unusual?

Dave said...

Which "recognized tzedakah organizations"?

BrooklynWolf said...

Dave,

Unless you're asserting that Areivim is the *only* tzedaka organization that gives money to orphans, I don't think it matters which particular organization RAM donates to.

Is it your assertion that Areivim is the *only* organization that distributes money to orphans?

The Wolf

LW2 said...

It's not just Wolf. There is a post about it on Orthonomics that includes the views of a number of actuaries. Rabbi Horowitz and commentors have expressed concerns on RYH's site. In short, it seems like all intelligent people feel that there are insurmountable problems with Areivim.

We're not beating a dead horse, because the horse is still breathing. But instead of just focusing on terminating Areivim, let's use the platform to promote an alternative. BUY ACTUAL INSURANCE for the poor families.

Orthonomics said...

It isn't a dead horse until the organizations who are pushing this program change course. It isn't a dead horse because we are in tough economic times and pouring money into a black hole is a sure what to work against the goal you want to achieve.

I'm unaware if my tzedakah money has helped any widows or orphans lately as I give to local organizations that assist those in financial need and I am basically unaware of who the recipients are. I do know that I have helped divorcees with advice as well as tzedakah and discounts on services. And I do know that here in America those in need have little use for waiting for a Rav to release the interest earned while there are bills to be paid and needs of the widow and children to be met. Life insurance proceeds in the bank will provide stability and dignity.

Anonymous said...

what i dont get is if our money is going to these families in our community who are they? does anyone know first hand of a situation or situations where people actually received money? are there any well known askanim who have been involved in setting up and dispersing such accounts what worries me is that in our community people know people who know people. chavrecha chavra iss lay. what is the poshut scoop about this? if it has an appearance of realness and truth im willing to risk losing the money to try to help