When Nisan and Gilan Gertz stepped off the plane at Ben-Gurion International Airport with their children last August, they were seven of almost 4,000 North Americans to make aliyah in 2009 – the largest number to do so in a single year since 1983.
There were a lot of reasons that the Gertzes chose to move their new home in Beit Shemesh, some 25 miles west of Jerusalem, from their home in Passaic, N.J. There was “inspiration and spirituality,” as Nisan describes it.
But money was also an issue.
Four of the Gertzes’ five children – the oldest is 15, the youngest is 3 – were enrolled at Jewish day schools, which together cost the family upward of $50,000 per year in tuition.
“All of our money was being dumped into the increasing cost of education and the increasing cost of health care,” said Nisan, who is an architect specializing in the development of hospitals while his wife is a clinical social worker. “I describe it as being on a treadmill.” The summer home they’d always wanted, the yearly vacations to nice places, all seemed less and less attainable as tuition bills mounted.
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