HaRav Brudny, HaRav Reisman, And HaRav Bender Write Joint Op-Ed In Albany Newspaper About Threat Against Yeshivos

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The following Op-Ed titled “State policy threatens the enduring tradition of Jewish education” appeared in today’s Albany Times Union

Midnight on Tuesday marks the deadline to submit comments about the State Education Department’s proposed regulation of private schools. Already more than 160,000 members of the public have written to express their opposition to these regulations. Let us explain why.

For two thousand years, Orthodox Jews have prayed daily that “we and our children, and our children’s children, and all Jewish children be sincere students of the Torah.” If these regulations are adopted, it will be that much more difficult for our prayers to be realized.

The State has twice previously over the past four years proposed new rules for yeshivas and other private schools. Undeterred by the rejection of its two prior efforts, the State recently released a new set of proposed regulations.

These regulations require local school boards to inspect and approve – or disapprove – yeshivas and other private schools. They require instruction in nine subjects in addition to English, Math, Science and Social Studies. And they ascribe zero value – educational or otherwise — to the Jewish Studies curriculum that is the core of Jewish education.

Almost all Orthodox school-age children attend a Jewish school. This is not a recent development. Organized elementary school learning, beginning at the age of six, was regarded as compulsory in Jewish communities thousands of years ago.

The Jewish school day typically begins with Jewish studies classes, which generally run into early afternoon. English, Math, Science and Social Studies are customarily taught four afternoons a week.

The morning curriculum includes the study of Biblical and other Judaic texts. which deal with a wide array of subjects and require rigorous analysis and critical thinking. These Jewish studies classes have been described as “the application of the scientific method to the study of texts.” They also include ethical and philosophical works, which provide students with foundational lessons in character development and a moral framework for life.

The State justifies its regulations under the guise of ensuring “substantial equivalence” between the yeshivas and the local public schools.

Yeshiva students already have a heavy workload and a longer school day than their public school peers. These regulations would require yeshivas to shift hours and resources away from those classes and towards courses that parents do not want and that educators do not suggest are core requirements.

Dr. Martin Luther King said that “the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” That is an apt description of the objectives and outcomes of yeshiva education.

Ours is an extraordinary success story. In addition to and in conjunction with the development of Torah scholars, the Yeshiva system produces large numbers of highly successful professionals in every field, not to mention entrepreneurs and businesspeople who employ thousands of New Yorkers. Most importantly, yeshiva graduates become lifelong learners, engaging in daily study long after they leave school.

The regulations and those who drafted them are not impressed by such things, because the sole focus is to measure curricular inputs while ignoring educational outcomes.

Fifty years ago this month, the Supreme Court in Wisconsin v. Yoder upheld the rights of Amish parents to retain for their children a “mode of life [that] has come into conflict increasingly with the requirements of contemporary society exerting a hydraulic insistence on conformity to majoritarian standards.” The Court recognized the “fundamental interest of parents, as contrasted with that of the State, to guide the religious future and education of their children.”

Twice daily in our prayers, we recite the Biblical commandment to teach our children: “Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children.”

Governor Hochul has yet to comment on the State’s proposal. We hope she does, and soon, because if adopted the regulations will undermine the fundamental tenets of both our faith and our liberty.

Rabbis Elya Brudny, Yaakov Bender and Yisroel Reisman are Rabbis and Deans of Yeshivas Mir, Darchei Torah and Torah Vodaas in New York.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. just continue operating the yeshivas and cut ties with the state. if they don’t want to call it a school anymore, ok then.

    the important thing is that we continue to teach torah to our youngsters.

    just ignore the stupid govt…

  2. Beautifully written. May the Ribono Shel Olam have mercy on the tenets of our faith. Our future is our children! General Washington recognized, in his letter to Rabbi Isaac Seishas even before the Constitution was fully drafted, that this country would allow for freedom of religion. Our Yeshiva system is our faith, it is our religion, it is our future. Hopefully today, Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan, when all parents are charged with saying the תפילת השל”ה for their children’s successes, the teffilos of our parents will break open the Shaarei Shamayim and the גזירה annulled.

  3. Spare me!
    I’ve been dealing with Williamsburg and Boropark yeshiva “graduates” for nearly 40 years now. When they leave these “schools”, they can barely SPEAK English, let alone read and write!
    Their math knowledge ends at basic arithmetic and knowledge of science or social studies is nonexistent!

  4. “Governor Hochul has yet to comment on the State’s proposal. We hope she does, and soon, because if adopted the regulations will undermine the fundamental tenets of both our faith and our liberty.”

    Don’t count on her. Kathy Hochul is an UNELECTED privileged white woke Karen trying to curry favor with the extreme radical left pro “choice” murderers and the militant mishgav zachor Karens and Darens. A wicked evil woman who must be replaced!

  5. Well said. Unfortunately, the valuen of a yeshiva education is not going to convince anyone. In today’s woke climate, the best arguement is to cry “Freedom of Choice”.

  6. Kachina is 100% correct. It’s wrong to claim that the yeshiva graduates include allot of professionals when the chaidesh graduates are barely learning any English at all. I am a chasidesh graduate and was mostly given a third grade level secular education and I will never ever forgive our chasidesh mosdos for that .

  7. If yeshivas want to continue getting government funding, they should offer (or explain of they already offered) a positive program that address government concerns without the excesses. For example, the letter mentions too many subjects in addition to core subjects. how about a commitment to the core subjects, including testing with published results? When they can show that yeshiva students using their excellent learning skills, as described, pass those test with flying colors, it will be easier to convince government to accept our position.

  8. Mr. Kach, it’s sad you disapprove of Torani chinuch, but You Tube has plenty of clips showing American college students being asked questions one would have once asked a 7th grader, and these college “students” don’t know the answers! “Who fought in the Civil War?” Who was the US President before Biden?” “How many States are in the United States?” “How much is 3x3x3?” They don’t know the answers. You failed to mention in which capacity you “dealt” with Yeshiva students for 40 years.

  9. @Baby Squirrel

    Yeshivas receive a ton of funding from the State. If your willing to compensate with your tuition money fine, most people are barely able to pay tuition now as it is.

  10. Its amazing how the ones arguing for freedom from govt oversight are the ones that prove how much it’s needed. No right is unlimited including Freedom of Religion. You can’t feed your child poison due to freedom of Religion. You can’t yell Fire in a crowded movie theater due to freedom of speech. You can storm the Capitol and disrupt hearings because of freedom of assembly, etc. It’s not that hard despite many not wanting to hear it. Every child must be enrolled in and attend public school. However if you prefer to send your children to private school it is permitted as long as the private school provide an education similar to public school. This doesn’t mean because a PS is failing your exempt from teaching. It means your curriculum generally matches the public schools. That is it, nice and simple. The arguments about Freedom of Religion or test scores in certain public schools are just blowing smoke into a fire. They may make you feel good or make you feel like an IberChochem but in reality they’re meaningless and just shows the govt why a better education is needed and how the claim that “We teach critical and analytical thinking skills” has no basis in reality.