PHOTOS: Secretary Devos Makes Historic Visit To Orthodox Girls’ High School; To Visit Yeshiva Darchei Torah On Wed

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(PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE)

As first reported by YWN, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited an Orthodox Jewish school.

Fulfilling a promise made at an Agudath Israel of America’s leadership mission to Washington in March, 2017, DeVos made the historic visit on Tuesday morning to Manhattan High School for Girls, spending more than three hours sitting in on classes and meeting with students, faculty and board members. The visit to the school was facilitated by Agudath Israel of America and, in addition to being Secretary DeVos’ first official trip to a Jewish school, is believed to be the first such visit by any sitting Secretary of Education.

After being welcomed warmly by Agudah executive vice president Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel and school principals Mrs. Tsivia Yanofsky and Mrs. Estee Friedman-Stefansky, Secretary DeVos sat in on classes in Scriptures, forensic science, English literature and music. The secretary listened during a class on Jewish history and genealogy as students shared their families’ stories of escaping Nazi persecution in Poland during World War II, telling the teens how her family members in the Netherlands helped Jews escape to safety during the Holocaust.

Board members and teachers discussed their commitment to educational excellence that prioritizes strong religious studies while also offering a top tier secular curriculum during a roundtable meeting with Secretary DeVos, observing that the school prepares students for success in later life without compromising on their Jewish values in any way. Describing the school as “a holistic learning environment,” the secretary expressed her admiration for the high standards in evidence that imbued the girls with a clear level of confidence.

An informal lunch meeting with students had girls sharing their high school experiences freely with Secretary DeVos, discussing extra-curricular activities, today’s technological challenges and political matters. Several students spoke enthusiastically of their willingness to travel several hours daily to enjoy the school’s stellar academics and Secretary DeVos appeared touched by one girl who told of the school’s support during her battle against leukemia, noting that she hoped to become a pediatric oncology nurse so that she could repay the many kindnesses shown to her during her own illness.

Before leaving the group, Secretary DeVos told the girls how much she enjoyed speaking with them, remarking, “I am very, very impressed with everything I have seen and heard. I know you will be successful in whatever you do.”

At the conclusion of the visit, a pair of twelfth graders presented Secretary DeVos with several gifts, which included a framed illuminated teacher’s prayer, written in both Hebrew and English. Both Mrs. Yanofsky and Mrs. Friedman-Stefansky emphasized that Manhattan High School was honored to introduce Secretary DeVos to the world of Jewish education, giving her a firsthand look at students who are both well educated and deeply committed to their religious roots.

“The resounding message around the table was that we do not live bifurcated lives,” said Mrs. Friedman-Stefansky. “We empower our students with interdisciplinary knowledge and a range of skills they need to contribute to the greater world around us. Secretary Devos expressed her support of the value we place on the arts and cultivating empathy and respect for others.”

“It was a distinct pleasure to serve as a prototype of the many fine Orthodox Jewish institutions throughout the United States,” added Mrs. Yanofsky. “Today our students were ambassadors for the Jewish community and I am deeply appreciative for this unique opportunity.”

Secretary DeVos’s visit to Manhattan High School and a second visit to Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway are both the result of continued advocacy by the Agudah on behalf of yeshiva parents.

“Agudath Israel has worked with Secretary DeVos for more than a decade trying to give all parents the opportunity to choose the best and most appropriate school for their children,” said Rabbi A.D. Motzen, the Agudah’s National Director of State Relations. “We are proud that the Secretary’s first school visits in New York City are to two of the Orthodox community’s finest schools.”

With the number of students enrolled in Jewish schools nationwide increasing annually while other nonpublic school constituencies have seen their numbers dwindle, Secretary DeVos’s visit was long overdue, said Rabbi Zwiebel.

“What Secretary DeVos saw today at Manhattan High School for Girls – a deep commitment to Jewish education as the key to Jewish continuity – will surely give her greater insight into the trend-bucking phenomenon of Jewish school growth,” remarked Rabbi Zwiebel. “Clearly, the Secretary was delighted with what she saw, and just as clearly, the prestige of our Jewish schools received a significant boost.”

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)




11 COMMENTS

  1. Are we really going to sit here and pretend that the education at Manhattan high school is even remotely comparable to the education at other frum girls/boys schools.

  2. Good PR for Agudah and Zwiebel and the two schools. However, Devos couldn’t find an hour in her schedule to visit a single NYC public school just like she told 60 Minutes that she has “never had the opportunity” of visiting a single inner-city public school in her hometown of Detroit. You may not like it but more than 90 percent of the DoE budget is for public schools. Her choice of going to two yeshivos in NYC but skipping public schools says much about her total incompetence for the job she holds.

  3. Are we really going to put down Agudah and Mrs devos???
    She wanted to get to know how the operations of a Jewish school differs from a public school, so she can make decision accordingly. Thank you Agudah for arranging this and thank you Mrs devos for caring enough to make the visit. The reason she doesn’t go to public schools is that it’s not new to her, she in ow that system already.

  4. To #3 Gadolhadorah: Why can’t you be just a little bit intellectually honest and admit that she can do no right in your eyes because she was appointed by your least favorite president and that you despise Orthodox people? The fact that a sitting US SecEd has never visited an Orthodox Jewish school under these circumstances means that it is long overdue. They and other high sitting officials have visited countless inner city schools in the past. There’s absolutely nothing “incompetent” with visiting an Orthodox Jewish school. You just have a grudge.

  5. Gadol, one of my best friends is a liberal from head to toe, and we get along very well. Everything becomes about “fairness” and “equality” and “minorities”, etc. I hear criticism when he thinks the government provides “too much” for our shul, Jewish schools, Israel, etc. The truth is if the city paints identifiable street crossing lines for the shul crossing, that shouldn’t be looked about as “taking too much” or ignoring others. By all means, doing the same thing to make a safe situation for African American church goers is commendable.

    Betsy DeVos planned a visit to this particular school in this particular city. The parents of the students are taxpayers (towards public schools) and also pay a tuition for this private school. The school created dozens of jobs by existing. Let me assure you that no one is getting cheated, so please don’t cheat this opportunity from this school, teachers, parents, and students . They pay taxes and provide jobs just like all other demographic groups in the city. Ms. DeVos has and will continue to visit African American and Latino inner city schools too, across the country- not to worry!

  6. Plus, I’m hopeful that one day there will be “fairness and equality” in my designation of my NJ property taxes. Having several children in a private Jewish school, yet paying (in property taxes) for the public schools and not using any of their services. Waiting for a school voucher system. The goal is that ANY tax-payer can take advantage of this, not only Jews.

  7. Kol hakavod to the Agudah. Thank you Secratary Devos for your understanding and caring.
    Be”h, only good can come from this meeting. I feel it was a Kiddush Hashem.

  8. To TGI:
    First, read my comment. I began by saying it was a great for the Agudah and two schools to get this recognition. And yes, I do think several of the Trump appointees, including her, Carson, etc., are incompetent, just as I believe many are outstanding (Mattis, Azur, Mnuchin, Lighthizer, Pompeo, etc> My point was after a year, she still has not found time to make visits to large inner city schools in New York, Chicago, LA or even her hometown of Detroit which is where her agency dollars are focused and where she has pledged to bring new ideas and innovations. Watch her 60 minutes interview from 3 months ago and if you still think she is competent, then we just are using different metrics of competence.

  9. I think people misuse the word “historic” these days.
    (How likely is this visit to be in a history book in 100 years?)