SAD STATE OF EDUCATION: New York Notifies Yeshiva That It Must Teach About Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco Abuse


New York State’s new regulations of private schools have not even been adopted yet, but YWN has learned that it is already being applied to Yeshivas.

A Brooklyn yeshiva received a letter yesterday from the Department of Education informing them they need to have another inspection. Why? Because they want to see the yeshiva’s instruction in such subjects as patriotism, citizenship, the history, meaning, significance and effect of the provisions of the New York State Constitution; New York State history; education regarding alcohol, drugs, and tobacco abuse; and highway safety and traffic regulation.

The State has been saying that its new regulations will only focus on English, Math, Science and History. But that’s just not true, and this letter proves it. There’s not a word about English, Math or Science. Instead, a yeshiva elementary school will be evaluated by whether it teaches about alcohol, drugs, and tobacco abuse, highway safety and traffic regulations and the history, meaning, significance and effect of the provisions of the New York State Constitution.

If you think this is nuts, you are not alone. YWN asked New York lawyers whether they were required to study the New York State Constitution in law school. The answer was a unanimous no! So the State is trying to hold yeshiva elementary schools to a higher standard than New York law schools.

The letter also undercuts another of the State’s mischaracterizations about its new regulations. The State has been trying to convince people that it does not impose a minimum number of hours that secular studies must be taught. But let’s look at the letter. It demands that the yeshiva provide a “schedule of the day that describes the periods during which secular subjects and religious subjects are taught in each grade.” What other reason could there be for this demand?

This letter proves what leading Roshei Yeshiva and others have been saying: these regulations are about politics, not education, and that we cannot allow the State to control Yeshiva curriculum.

The public comment period for these regulations begins later this week. We need to make our voices heard. We need to let the State know that we will not remain silent as our rights as parents and religious Jews are trampled on.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. I understand where our community is coming from. Either we don’t have these problems, or don’t believe that teaching about it will solve them. Maybe teaching students about it will make things worse. But it’s not fair to say “it’s all about politics”. These are, of course, very serious issues and many believe that teaching about it in schools will be helpful. Just like we believe that teaching about shemiras halashone, midose, etc helps.

  2. I mean, technically, any New York lawyer when admitted take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of New York. So, assumedly they know (or should know) what they swear to uphold, but who knows, maybe it’s like naaseh venishma.

  3. Good. Doesn’t anyone realize how rampant substance abuse is in the frum community? Are you all so blind to how bad the problem has become? Perhaps if Yeshivas are forced to face the issue head-on, we won’t lose so many young people to drugs, alcohol or lung cancer.

    While we’re doing it, discuss gambling as well.

  4. I think that in NYC schools are meant to teach that the constitution is bad, patriotism is racist, citizenship is a personal choice that has nothing to do with where you were born or whether you applied legally. The Yeshivos should just bring the inspector into the classroom and say “everything in America is was and will be racist” and that “alcohol and drugs are a personal choice”, and then the inspectors will be satisfied!

  5. These topics are not controversial. Most of this stuff is already taught in Flatbush schools. Alcohol, drugs and tobacco abuse is prevalent in our community so should definitely be touched on as well. the rest is history and safety, What’s the big deal?

  6. What’s wrong with the curriculum proposed for this Yeshiva? There is nothing wrong with it. When I attended Yeshiva Toras Emes in Los Angeles 62 years ago, Rav Isachson Ztz”l would come into our one and only classroom (at our yeshiva on 3rd Street) which contained the entire school of 40 students, stand at the front of the room, place his right hand over his heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. The AAA would send instructors to our Yeshiva to teach us community responsibility and safety issues. They even set up a safety program and gave us armbands with ranks of Captain, Lieutenant, Sargent, Patrolman. (those of us who were volunteers) We helped the other students cross the streets, carpool, get on the bus, etc. There were all kinds of civic programs that today’s students miss out on.

  7. I believe every yeshiva should teach about the harm’s of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. The rest Of stuff mentioned maybe should be taught in high school. But secular seat time will be a contentious issue and there will be other issues.

  8. Take out our “Dreidels” when the jackbooted inspectors arrive, with the fake learning instructions to show them. Put them back into that locked drawer as soon as they’re off the Yeshiva property.

  9. Every Yeshiva parent should register their children in the public school system. You’ll see how quickly they run to the yeshivos to reopen and do whatever it is they need to do. This idea will work. Once and for all they will learn to leave the yeshivos alone!

  10. Shouldn’t we be teaching our kids about safety? Is there no concern for drug and alcohol safety and education in our community? Teach it with our hashkafa! But please, teach!

  11. Wait, they are about to force to teach about lgbtq +++. Thank the Holly New Square and Kiryos Yoel for helping elect these officials. At least they are getting all their section 8 and welfare checks.

  12. Legally it makes sense for the government to start with something non-controversial.

    If the school was into sarcasm, they could reply that they tell the students that substance abuse is something the goyim do, and they shouldn’t imitate the goyim, because frum Yidden know better than to imitate the goyim (and by implication, those Jews who get involved in substance abuse are off the derekh).

    For all these standards, the legal issue will end up being whether a yeshiva is performing at the same level as the minimum that will result in a government school not be closed down. Since many government schools produce students who are functional illiterates (sometimes in multiple languages), as long as yeshiva students are at least functional illiterates (most are actually functionally literate in two or three languages) the state would run into an constitutional issue if they insist that private schools outperform the public schools.

  13. I am sure Aguda is on top of this. this is just another backend way for them to control the curriculum and to eventually teach toeiva.

  14. Alcohol and drug addiction are killing kids in our community all the time, so of course every school should be teaching kids about how and why they should stay away from it. Obviously if the state starts mandating how that should be presented then there is a problem.

  15. 147: vote for what Republicans? Ones like Ed Day who are out to weaken and destroy Yeshivos in whatever way they can? Voting based on a candidates party affiliation is good for preventing braincells from being overworked, but not much help for getting results that are good for the community.

  16. Finally, it’s true that the NY state constitution is an optional subject in law schools if it is offered at all, but i think it may be a required topic on the bar exam. In any case, I think that fact is more of a sad commentary on law schools than a fact relevant to issue of what Yeshivos should be teaching.


  18. Absolutely

    I cant think of anything more likely to save the lives of many than teaching all children about alcohol, drugs, smoking, bad driving. All of these are tremendous problems in our community. Best news all day.

  19. Aml
    add cheating on taxes as well, and why so many frum yidden are addicted to netflix shows.
    btw , everyone brings in experts to schools to discuss technology and making new programs to limit its use. why arent we asking what the underlying issue is? why isnt our Torah teaching filling up the youth to the point where they arent interested in fake stuff, bc the Torah is so real??

  20. The real issue is their legal authority to regulate our schools. Does content-related authority over private schools exist under the State Constitution?

  21. next week those in the 5 towns have a chance to send a message by voting for a Republican frum guy named Ari Brown, just like the message with Inna was shown we can send a message with Ari Brown.

  22. Of course teaching about the dangers of drugs, smoking and alchohol is a good thing. EXCEPT that I don’t want the SED telling me what or how to teach. Once they get their foot in the door they will be telling other subjects we need to teach. SED leave us alone already. אומרים לה לצרעה, לא מדובשך ולא מעוקצך”

  23. This is what happens to the schools that opened their doors to these inspections
    Nothing good came from it
    All the schools should agree not to cooperate at all
    If you give a finger they will take a hand nothing will satisfy them until we teach zero Torah and only tumah and nonsense. This isn’t and never was about “basic education” like math science and language because most of the schools I know do an excellent job.

  24. I’m really not seeing the problem with this mandate considering that yeshivas don’t start teaching kids abt these issues until long after they’re already sunk into it and that little speech of “by the way drugs are bad” isn’t gonna cut it anymore. So maybe this will actually help kids be aware of these things at an age where it’ll actually help them.

  25. we teach our children that the constitution guarantees us the right to practice our religion, the way we see fit, not the way the bored (intentional) of education sees fit.