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Kiryas Joel's Biggest Industry: Education

Perhaps one of the most impressive characteristics of Kiryas Joel is the size of its private educational system. More than 5,500 children are enrolled in programs ranging from nursery to post-graduate rabbinical schools. A full third of Kiryas Joel’s population are enrolled in these schools, which function at 13 beautiful state-of-the-art buildings, and employ more than 500 teachers and support staff.

The large school-aged population accounts for the fact that the median age in Kiryas Joel is 15.0, compared with 35.9 in the State and 35.0 in the county, making Kiryas Joel the village with the lowest median age in New York State.

Torah education, which is based upon the laws and commandments handed down to the Jews at Mount Sinai more than 3,000 years ago, is a focal point of life at Kiryas Joel. Even adults participate in regular Torah study just as they do in thrice daily prayer services. While only a small minority of the Village’s inhabitants are college educated in the classical sense, virtually all benefit from an intense religious education, the equivalency of a post-graduate degree.

A typical day for a Kiryas Joel youngster begins as early as 6 AM with morning prayers and does not end until late at night. Young men continue their studies until they marry, and for many it continues for several years after marriage. Kiryas Joel’s private school network must raise funds for its budget from a means based tuition (many of the poor receive scholarships) and from private sources. The schools can only access government services for school lunch, bus transportation, and remedial education programs.

In its efforts to prepare students for jobs, a workforce development center was established for such programs as vocational education, adult education, computer, bookkeeping and office skills training.

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