How much does it cost to get engaged in Charedi Israel?
Well over 20,000 shekel and this is not including the wedding, an apartment, sheva berachos, etc. This is just the engagement period. Here is a list of gifts that need to be given:
Watch - Chasidim give a gold watch costing $1000+ many times costing between $1500 and $2000. In yeshivish circles they spend less only around 1200 shekel
Diamond ring - starts at $450
Necklace - $800 - $1200, Chasidim add another necklace for another $300 - $700
Bracelet - $500 - $700
Earrings - $250
Candlesticks - $300 - $500
Set of Machzorim - 750 shekel
Siddur and Tehilim - 300 shekel
This comes out to almost $4000.
Watch - Chasidim $1200 - $1500, yeshivish $500
Shas - 1500 - 3000 shekel
Tur - 1400 shekel
Kiddush Cup - Chasidim $400 - $500, Yeshivish $100 - $200
Menora - $300 - $700
Esrog Box - Chasidim $200 - $600
Atara - Chasidim $200
Miscellaneous - $250
This comes out to around $3000.
Remember, this is a very poor society, a very large element of the Charedi population lives under the poverty line. To spend these sums of money on (impractical) wedding gifts seems ridiculous especially when you need to multiply this by 7 (for each of the kids).
There is a problem of priorities when people who can hardly put food on the table are suddenly spending thousands of dollars on jewelry.
All the numbers are from this week's (Teruma) Hebrew Mishpacha magazine.