Q. With the financial pressures which we are all facing, how many “Jewish” expenditures are indispensable?
A. The add-on costs of Jewish observance and involvement seem to add up to 20% of a family’s income. Some of these costs are explicitly required in the Torah, such as giving charity. Others flow on from Torah principles.
Since prayer is required, there are the costs of belonging to a synagogue. Teaching your children Judaism entails education expenses. Eating kosher, putting m’zuzot on your doors, observing Shabbat and the festivals – all add to family expenses. Since you need to know how to be Jewish and the history and principles of Judaism , you need Jewish books. Playing your part in the Jewish world means supporting global Jewish needs.
The costs add up, and though the decision is yours as to how heavily you spend on and support Jewish causes and what your own particular situation requires, the figure of 20% seems more or less accurate. Naturally, this all presumes that your Jewish identity is of crucial significance to you and your family.