"…[H]igh prices are not a given. There are many things that can improve the affordability of Jewish living. First, there needs to be greater cost transparency.…[I]ncredibly, the London Board of Shechita cannot provide any data or explanation as to why the price of kosher meat has [so dramatically] risen over time.…"
Two British economists, Anthony Tricot and Andrea Silberman, have found that it costs Jewish families in Britain about 12,700 British Pounds (about $18,000) more per year to live than non-Jewish families.
The biggest extra costs?
Kosher meat and education. Kosher meat prices have skyrocketed over the past decade, well outstripping the cost of inflation, and school is still a burden for families, even though the government subsidizes some of the schools' operating costs.
Writing in The JC, Tricot and Silberman urge Jewish community leaders to find ways to economize in order to reduce the steep financial burden on families – a burden the grows disproportionately larger and harsher the more Jewishly observant a family is, not just because more children mean more costs, but because haredim tend to earn less than non-haredim and have lower levels of education than non-haredim:
…[W]e are a small community so we will inevitably miss out on the economies of scale seen in the wider market.
However, high prices are not a given. There are many things that can improve the affordability of Jewish living.
First, there needs to be greater cost transparency. For instance, few synagogues publicise their membership prices on their website. And, incredibly, the London Board of Shechita cannot provide any data or explanation as to why the price of kosher meat has risen over time.
Secondly, the community needs to identify cost efficiencies even when they are difficult.
In many areas, synagogues could merge, but personalities and denominational politics often get in the way. Kashrut authorities also need to find ways to produce and license food more cost-effectively. The Sephardi Kashrut Authority is a good example - certifying Kingsmill bread as kosher and using CCTVs in restaurant kitchens to keep down supervision costs.
Thirdly, the community needs to harness the power of competition to drive prices down. There are too many impediments to switching synagogues, such as the inability to transfer accumulated burial rights to a different denomination.
Similarly, kashrut authorities need to value the interests of consumers over that of producers when deciding whether to license new stores or products.
And communal organisations need to give greater consideration to inclusivity by offering activities and services at a wider range of price points.
You can read it all here.