Why is there such a big gap in US Jewish day school teacher salaries?

Jewish day school teachers in the Tristate area or the West Coast range from $60,000-$90,000. In Florida, the salaries range from $40,000-$75,000 and in the Midwest $32,500-$50,000.

 Jewish private school SAR High School in Riverdale, the Bronx, New York (Illustrative). (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Jewish private school SAR High School in Riverdale, the Bronx, New York (Illustrative).
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

According to an Israeli nonprofit, envisioned and funded by the Diaspora Affairs Ministry in close partnership with the Jewish Agency, teachers in New York and West Coast Jewish schools earn an average of almost twice the salary of smaller Jewish communities such as in the Midwest. In addition, Jewish day school salaries are substantially lower than salaries in American public schools. These elements may be a possible answer to the difficult situation of Jewish education in US schools - even though the tuition rates are one of the highest in the country.

According to TalentEDucators, the salary range for a teacher in a Jewish day school in the Tristate area or the West Coast is between $60,000 and $90,000. In Florida, the salaries range between $40,000 and $75,000 and in the Midwest between $32,500 and $50,000.

TalentEDucators is a global initiative that aims to address the growing challenge of recruiting and retaining high-quality educators in Jewish education. Its staff constantly map the demand in Jewish formal and informal education, profiling those who can deliver and ultimately matching them while providing them with a support network and mentoring.

“Our long-term goal is to discover untapped talent: those who with the right training, mentoring and support can become excellent Jewish educators.”

Aharoni Carmel

“Our long-term goal is to discover untapped talent: those who with the right training, mentoring and support can become excellent Jewish educators,” said the organization's founding CEO Aharoni Carmel, a veteran principal of educational institutions both in Israel and the US with over twenty years of experience in the field of education.

The initiative is a social startup that works as a full-time headhunter for Jewish schools around the world. “Educators and aspiring educators apply through our website, indicating their preferences for formal or informal education, location and student ages, along with uploading their resumes,” Carmel said, explaining the process.

Kasowitz presenting LEGO bricks to Jewish school children (credit: Courtesy)Kasowitz presenting LEGO bricks to Jewish school children (credit: Courtesy)

After educators apply, “we set up an interview to better understand the educator’s strengths,” and, “following a vetting process, we match our accepted educators to an appropriate position within one of our partner educational institutions," he said. "The candidate then goes through that institution’s internal hiring process. Once an offer is accepted, we will step back in to support that candidate through funding for mentoring and professional development. We additionally provide a community of support through a cohort during the first year of employment.”

TalentEDucators was established three years ago, but has been fully active for a bit more than two years. Within this period, Carmel shared that 3,831 applicants were recruited, 822 candidates were accepted after a thorough vetting process and more than 170 candidates were placed, with about 20 more teachers to be placed in the next month or so. According to initial guidelines of the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, the organization operates in only three English-speaking countries, as a proof-of-concept, with plans for expansion to other countries in the near future.

Why do teachers not want to teach at Jewish day schools?

“As the age of the student rises, the easier it is for us to find people for the teaching position,” he said, adding that it is “impossible” to fill vacancies for early childhood and a bit less difficult to find staff for elementary schools.

One of the reasons that teachers in the US aren’t very excited about teaching in Jewish day schools is the fact that the salaries are usually lower than in public schools. In addition, Carmel explained that the Jewish schools, which are all private, barely offer any social benefits. According to Statista.com, during 2020-21, public school teachers in the United States made an average of $65,090 per year.

According to the TalentEDucators CEO, 15,000 students are impacted on a daily or weekly basis by the educators they have placed and that “we aim to add 6,000 students to our reach each year.”

Carmel explained that the program he runs is a “present for the Diaspora Jewish communities,” and that it wouldn’t be applicable “without the comprehensive and ongoing support of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the great leadership and visionary perspective of the Diaspora Ministry and specifically of current Minister Dr. Nachman Shai, who strongly believes in the importance of education and the great impact of educators.”