This past week brought an extraordinary assault against the Chassidishe community by the New York Times. Timed to appear the day before a New York Board of Regents vote on regulations opposed by yeshivas, the true target of the Times story wasn’t educational enhancement nor was it the rights of school children. It was to stigmatize and delegitimize the entire Chassidic community, and to undermine their standing as New Yorkers and Americans.
There is room for healthy debate about the scope and extent of the responsibility to provide children with a basic education. Had the Times wanted to add its voice to that debate, it could have named the dozen schools whose performance it featured and called for improvements in those schools.
Instead, without naming the schools the Times painted a picture of horrible neglect at dozens and dozens of yeshivas. The Times claimed that corporal punishment was “common” in chassidishe schools today, that parents have to bribe Rabbeim not to beat their kids and that abuse was rampant in yeshivas because there were a dozen 911 calls to yeshivas over a five year period (without specifying the reason for those calls or whether they were substantiated).
To compound all this, the Times trumpeted the fact that over a five-year period chassidishe schools received $1 billion dollars in government funding. The Times glossed over the fact that $200 million of the funds were related to the pandemic relief efforts, and that a large part of the remaining money was for breakfast and lunch for students, transportation and the like.
All in all, the sensationalized $1 billion figure amounts to about $2,000 per student per year – versus nearly $30,000 per student per year in the public schools. Yet the Times Page One headline screamed “In Hasidic Enclaves, Failing Private Schools Flush With Public Money.”
It is unclear why $2000 a year per child makes the schools flush with public money. And one can search in vain for the Times articles bemoaning the many billions of dollars annually flushed down the toilet of the public school system.
But the Times wasn’t content to stop there. The Times then pressed public officials to condemn yeshivas. The Times reported on those who had negative things to say about yeshivas, and called out those who wouldn’t take the bait. But they ignored those elected officials who questioned the thrust of their article and had good things to say about yeshiva education.
That isn’t journalism. It is advocacy. It seeks not to enlighten readers or improve education, but to inflame public sentiment against chassidim and to penalize them for their way of life.
The Times claims to want to protect chassidish children – from their parents, but the only protection those kids need is from the Times and its fellow liberals who believe that government should have more say over a child’s education and upbringing than parents do.
That is the true danger, not only for chassidim but the entire Orthodox community.
Notably absent from the Times numerous articles and nearly 10,000 words is what they might do to assist and enhance education at schools that far from being financially flush are run on shoestring budgets. That is what failing public schools get: more money, more resources, more time and more support. Contrast that with what the Times demands for yeshivas: threats, penalties and punishments. That should tell you what their target truly is.
In case you had any doubt, Times editorial board member Mara Gay tweeted this yesterday:
“Happy Sunday! Today is a great day to read about how politicians in New York have allowed your taxpayer money to keep flowing to schools that purposefully deny Hasidic children basic education.”
Your taxpayer money? As if the parents of the 170,000 yeshiva children in New York don’t pay lots of taxes. Or as if poor chassidish children should be denied the nutrition provided to all low-income kids in New York. Ask yourself: is that tweet more likely to lead to better education, or to another attack on a chassid minding his own business on the street of New York.
Threats, penalties and punishments was also the theme of the New York State Education Department last week. A day after the Times article appeared, the Board of Regents adopted regulations meant to impact yeshivas.
In the days leading up to the vote, the Deputy Commissioner of SED gave an interview in which he highlighted the financial penalties they will impose on yeshivas that SED finds lacking and the even harsher penalties – including jail time – that await parents who send their children to these schools.
There was nothing about working together to enhance education, or about providing resources and support to those schools working to improve. That is for the public schools. For yeshivas, it is all about, threats, penalties and punishment.
The regulations adopted last week may not affect all yeshivas right now, but the precedent of government control of yeshiva curriculum and faculty is dangerous and unprecedented in our American experience.
K-8 yeshivas will need the blessing of their local school districts. The list of required classes is long today, and will only get longer. The criteria a local school district will use to define whether a teacher is “competent” is likely vastly different that those employed by yeshivas.
And all the while we will be at the mercy of those who want to penalize yeshivas and punish yeshiva parents.
The final chapters of this story are not yet written.
These events are occurring in Elul. Let us all take the opportunity offered by these Yemei Tefillah and Yemei Rachamim and let us all daven for a reversal of these g’zeiros.
— YWN Editorial Board
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)
I’m not about to do legal research, so I’ll just throw out a few ideas for other people. If curricular requirements for homeschooling aren’t as bad as their proposed requirements, why not homeschool and allow kids to congregate while being homeschooled in the same locations, what used to be called “schools”? If New York law for homeschooling isn’t so suitable, why not establish residence in a different state (like by moving some valuable possessions out of state, having a bunch of families jointly own or rent properties out of state, and have kids registered there as homeschoolers, who then happen to be more mobile in their homeschool and may even return temporarily to New York State while being homeschooled out of state? Dunno. I just figure there’s got to be ways around indoctrinating your kids according to NY rules. I would have hoped for a solution like this as soon as the state was requiring the vax for teachers…
This is one of the best op-ed pieces I’ve read in a long time. Kudos YWN editors for the great job.
Chassidisha children are getting a great educational experience. Parents are not stupid and would not pay the fortunes they’re paying for their children to be turned into meat heads! Hillary would say Nothing Burger! Nevertheless in the antisemitic world we live in, if the NY Times reported it, it’s fact. And don’t let anyone confuse you with the facts: the NY Times reported it!
The goyim and the secular (non-frum) Jews don’t like us. Is that a hiddush? Like, where have you been the last few thousand years. Are we likely to need to move in the foreseeable future, or perhaps the question should be, are we like to be able to stay put for the foreseeable future – as if there has ever been an occasion to stay put. Any time until Meshiach arrives is, was, and will be “dangerous”.
For the large frum population living in “blue” states, the most likely next move will be to “red” states. While the Conservative goyim’s religious tolerance is relatively newfound (within the last 250 years, and based more on the desire to avoid inter-denominational warfare), it might be genuine, in which case “red” states offer a good opportunity, Otherwise, who knows? Perhaps Ha-Shem might send us to a new planet. When things got bad in the late 15th century (for Spanish Jews), or the mid-17th century (for Ashkenazim), who would have though that Brooklyn would be the next in a long line of “New Jerusalems”.
“there were a dozen 911 calls to yeshivas over a five year period…” even if true – how many were there from each and every public school during the same period?
how about finally getting the message that you are not home??
Maybe its just a reminder that if you take money for “teaching kids” maybe thats exactly what you should be doing with it. Anything less is a sheker! Defending sheker in Elul is even worse!
Dear YWN. Yes. When they lie about your own community it’s so easy to see the falsehood and manipulation of ‘facts’. Maybe now you realize how false these people are in EVERYTHING they report, and stop amplifying those one sided AP articles…
Wasting no time, in the first paragraph he played the “Victim” card. It happens without fail even though it’s real tired & real old. Not to mention it doesn’t work & is counterproductive.
NYS heimeshe voted en masse for Democrats on command of their Rebbe. Now go ask the Rebbe to perform a mofeis. Pray and pour your hart to Hashem while at it in these Yemei Ratzon.
It’s OUR taxes that are being wasted on PS BS, kids who have NOTHING to show at all after wasting all OUR money!
Taxes are evil, gov’t supporting education is evil, in general – especially if it’s only certain ones
Excellent and well said.
Unfortunately, all this is brought upon us by our own wonderful “brothers” from within and out. Whether, Radicals or just Haters, losers with agendas or both.
As all Articles have obvious “Jewish” names.
As Yaakov prayed:
“הצילנו מיד ‘אחי.
מעשה אבות סימן לבנים (עי רמב”ן פ ויצא
– History Repeats Itself –
Who do you think was responsible on the closure of the Great Yeshiva of Volozhin?
(Note, also in the name of secular “education” in times when their very own peasants couldn’t even count)
Who was responsible on shutting Shuls, Yeshivas, mikvaos in the Soviet Union?
It is worthy to note the words of the saintly Chafetz Chaim, regarding the Soviet Communist ‘Shmad’ decree, initiated by the Yevsektsiya (Jewish section of the Bolshevik/Bund Soviet Communist party).
I will quote:
כשהשתוללה ה‘ייבסקציה‘, השלוחה הבולשביקית של יהודים צוררים שמררו את חיי אחיהם שומרי הדת, סגרו את בתי הכנסת ונעלו את המקוואות, פיזרו את הישיבות ואסרו על שמירת המצוות ולימוד תורה, אסרו, עינו, והגלו…
התפלץ לבו של מרנא בעל ה“חפץ
:חיים“ זיע“א ואמר
!הקשה שבגלויות היא גלות בין יהודים
והוסיף: הלא נראה, שהקדוש ברוך הוא גזר עלינו ארבע מאות שנות גלות שהתחילו מלידת יצחק, אלא שבנוסף נגזר עלינו להיות פרק זמן ’בארץ לא להם‘, בארץ זרה. יכולים היינו לקיים את הגזירה בחרן, ומדוע עזב יעקב אבינו את בית לבן כעבור עשרים שנה, כדי לגלות למצרים ?
מכאן ראיה, שגלות בין קרובים היא הקשה
– והנוראה. שהרי ”אֲ רַ ּמִ י אֹבֵ ד אָ בִ י“ ולפיכך ”
וַ ּיֵ רֶ ד מִ צְ רַ יְ מָ ה“. שפרעה לא גזר אלא על
הזכרים, ולבן ביקש לעקור את הכל.
אף כיום, סיים החפץ חיים בכאב, אחינו ובשרנו
הם המבקשים לעקור את הכל!
What an oped!
The NY Times is an anti-semeitic garbage pail. Fact.
It was a disgusting glaring anti-semeitic hit piece. This YWN Op-Ed just exposed them and NY State to show what they really are. Unreal.
great job exposing these animals.
Yasher Koach YWN for an excellent, well-informed and thought out editorial.
Let’s just focus for a moment on the penalty aspect of this new gezeirah for both schools and parents.
If R”L yeshiva students would be forced into public schools, would the already failing public schools be able to handle the load. Of course not. There would be no improvement in education only Chas V’cholilah criminal training to bring more crime to the streets. Even our detractors admit that there is currently no crime problem in the Jewish community. Maybe that’s their objective – that our community should be no different than their community. The New York Times (The “jewish” Schulzburger family) is part of the 21st century misyavnim
I could not agree more with this OP-ed. Kudos. The New York Times sought to fan the flames of hatred against religious Jews. Nothing more and nothing less.
They claim we are a deceitful, deceptive, scheming people.
Apparently you want to prove them correct. With friends like you who needs enemies?
its all being pushed by kathy hochul, vote zeldin
This op-ed is 100% right. This has nothing to do with chasidim, it’s the NYT anti religious agenda. PERIOD.
They refused to take an honest study on how successful the majority of Satmar businessman are. I was raised in the mainstream frume yeshiva system, with a strong english (and college) education, and continue (or at least try in Lakewood) to raise my children that way. But the chasidim have nothing to be ashamed of, and to call it a failing system, is ridiculous. To me, when the divorse, homeless, criminal population is the lowest in all the Chasidsh/frum communities, and the level of outreach and charity is the highest, that tells me that it is a highly successful system, and they should all learn from us.
A full page featuring this editorial needs to be published in the NY Times !!! Fantastic editorial
NPR HAD A SIMILAR STORY COUPLE WEEKS AGO.
Where were you then?
The question is why have the Rabbanim – “ Leaders “ have been silent when Jews (Yiddishe men and women get beaten up )?
You think a city where it has mostly frum Yidden would raise some noise, but no. They are afraid and call it self restraint just as Germany.
The op-ed is 100% on the money
I would just add that it is incorrect to assume that this threat is only for the Chassidishe yeshivas – it is against every Jewish mosad haTorah. We cannot and will not teach the filth and garbage that the PS system is teaching their students. And that is their goal. To try to bring us down c”v to their level of deviation and morals.
As for the NYT – they are the epitome of “muktzah machmas meeyos” and should not be found in any Jewish house.
Yes – this is a stark reminder that we are still in golus. We want Moshiach now !!!!
American Jewry is waaay to comfortable in the States. It reminds me of the Ohr Sameach’s statement אותם שאומרים ברלין זה ירושלים except now it is Lakewood and Boro Park.
All I can say is beat the rush and come to Eretz Yisrael now before you are u ceremoniously kicked out of America ( or worse)
I’m glad to see YWN calling out these haters of Hashem for what they are. But YWN has a long way to go in recognizing other parts of the anti-G-d agenda and alerting our people.
If you don’t know what you’re talking about it would be best not to make silly comments.
Ever heard of moshiach?
Great piece, now let’s start moving. Which prosecutor will take the case? Sue them for $1b in attempted damages, plus libel, public humiliation, yellow journalism…..whatever. (You can probably tell I’m not a lawyer, which is why I’m not volunteering my services.) Set up a go fund me page, I’ll happily contribute.
IMHO this whole discussion is missing some basic points. The Brisker Rav said that whenever there is action against religious observance it’s a message from Shamayim that we’re somehow lacking in that area of our observance and if we were to correct our problems that would take away their power to act against us, since they’re basically no more than puppets in Hashem’s Hands and He’s using them to get a message or messages across to us. There was a similar point expressed by R’ Elya Brudny, shlita, that underlying all this is the fact that we’re undercutting our chinuch with obsessions with technology and the like. In any case I understand that one of the top defamations lawyers in the country is being engaged to respond to the NYT’s ignoring a lot of important and easily obtainable facts relevant to their article. I’d also like to see some investigation about what it was that pushed those malcontents away from the system, there may be some lessons to us in that. This is not in any way to minimize or defend the distortions or the hatred of the NYT and the NYSED, just to point out that the real source of the problems might be much deeper and lie within us and unless we take action to fix those problems little we do will help. This has long been the attitude of Gedolei Yisroel in response to a whole string of decrees against us.
There are at least two inconsistencies in the position of our secular opponents.
The NY State Department of Education claims to be concerned and outraged about the lack of emphasis on secular subjects in Chasidishe schools. However, the NY State Department of Education demonstrates no similar level of concern regarding the breathtaking public school truancy rates exhibited by some ethnic groups in some schools. If the NY State Department of Education is honestly concerned with the welfare of all students, why does it not demonstrate a similar concern with (all) student attendance? In the “mind” of the NY State Department of Education, why is the circumstance of public schools offering a fine curriculum to tens of thousands of truant students preferable to the circumstance of Chasidishe schools with no truancy problem teaching a Jewish-focused curriculum which does not emphasize secular studies? How soon will the New York Times run an expose on ethnic communities with high rates of truancy in some schools? Just wondering.
Public school systems are toxic to our 3000-year old Torah lifestyle. Any objective inquiry into this claim will reveal that this toxicity is present in contemporary student behavior, language, values, attitudes, philosophies, etc. Aren’t there countries that provide free but polluted water to their citizens? In effect, they tell their citizens, “Drink our free water and die.” The New York State government is telling us, “Educate your children in our free public school system and die as a people.” We answer, “No, thank you.”
My solution to this problem of governmental control of yeshivos: First, enroll every Chasidishe child in a NYC public school tomorrow morning but do not allow them to attend. This way, they will be enrolled in schools with a NY Department of Education-approved curriculum, and have a truancy rate only slightly higher than that of some schools with a near 100% minority student body. Second, reorganize the the Chasidishe schools as youth groups and label our payes-wearing sons and tzniously-dressed daughters, “Troubled Youth.” Our children are troubled because the secular society provides them a free-education in a toxic school system.
A second inconsistency in the position of the secular society concerns personal rights. Secularists accord a woman (a term undefined by them) the right to terminate a pregnancy using any method she selects. However, secularists refuse to accord a parent the right to educate his/her child any way he/she pleases.
In closing, last night, my friend Weinstein asked me this riddle.
What did the Chasid say to the college professor?
“Your rent will be due on the first!”
Our secular, fellow citizens proudly declare, “My body, my choice, and I choose to abort.”
We, who have been educating our children for 2000+ years, say,
“My child, my choice, and I choose to Torah-educate.”
I think that these efforts to improve the education is wonderful and a wonderful way to move the community and society forward. To educate a fountain of knowledge, to diversify. To go to college and make big money, be independent and contribute to society, to eradicate racism and bigotry as well as fear, the only opponents of the change are the kinds of people who want to co tinue living in the past and forcibly drag everyone down with them but they have to accept that those days are over and soon, most of america will be democrat and it should be I.plemented everywhere. Everyone should have a chance and choice.