MOSTER CONTINUES HIS ATTACKS: YAFFED Sues NY State Over Hasidic Yeshiva Education; PEARLS Responds

YAFFED's Naftuli Moster (front row, 2nd from right) joined activists on the front steps of NYC's City Hall, April 5th 2018 [Credit: YAFFED/Facebook]

Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED) today filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia, and N.Y. Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa. They are seeking to stop the state from enforcing legislation that was intended to shield the Yeshivas from some government oversight.

YAFFED founder Naftuli Moster says there are 83 Hasidic yeshivas in New York City and 38 in other parts of the state where secular education such as English, math, science and social studies is given little or no attention. An estimated 115,000 children attend those schools.

There are about 275 Orthodox Jewish yeshivas in New York state, but many are ‘modern Orthodox’ schools that provide a full secular curriculum along with religious studies.

Department of Education spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said the department is working on updating its guidance on equivalency of instruction at the yeshivas.

Pesach Eisen told the Associated Press that at the ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools he attended in Brooklyn, most of the day was spent studying religious texts with classes taught in Yiddish. One class at the end of the day was spent on secular subjects including English and math, enough to be “able to go to the food stamps office and apply.”

“Everything was super basic. … Nobody took it seriously, so even if you were a studious person you had no chance,” said the now-32-year-old Eisen, who had to take remedial classes and study intensively on his own before he succeeded in graduating from college in 2016.

“When we grew up there was no such thing as big aspirations — ’I want to be a doctor, I want to be a lawyer, I want to be a businessman,’” said Eisen, who no longer practices the ultra-Orthodox faith. “It’s, ‘I want to be a rabbi. That’s the only thing.’”

Defenders of the yeshivas say parents have the right to send their children to schools that provide a Jewish education consistent with their beliefs and traditions.

“We specifically for generations have chosen this kind of education for our children,” says Ari Goldberg, who has seven children attending Hasidic yeshivas in Brooklyn. “This is what we want. Why should it be taken away?”

The yeshiva backers also say critics err by just counting the minutes of a school day spent on secular studies.

“The problem solving, the literacy, the critical thinking, all that is in Judaica studies as well,” said Yitzchok Kaufman, a Brooklyn yeshiva alumnus and parent.

YAFFED was founded in 2012 with the aim of pressuring New York City and New York state to enforce the substantial equivalence standard at yeshivas. But that effort was dealt a blow last spring when a state senator who represents a heavily Orthodox Brooklyn district threatened to hold up the state’s $168 billion budget unless the state agreed not to enforce the substantial equivalence rule in the same way at ultra-Orthodox yeshivas as it’s enforced at other schools.

The legislation pushed by Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans in the state Senate, singled out schools with long days, bilingual programs and nonprofit status — in effect, yeshivas — and put the state Department of Education, not local school districts, in charge of determining what curriculum rules those schools must follow.

Although the schools are private, they are not entirely free of government oversight because of a state law requiring that instruction in non-public schools be substantially equivalent to the instruction given at the local public school.

Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools (PEARLS), is not party to the suit, but submitted the following statement to YWN to set the record straight:

“No one cares more deeply about the quality of education our yeshiva students receive than the parents who send them there.

PEARLS was not involved with the legislation and is not party to the lawsuit. The legislation has not impacted our work, nor will this lawsuit. Our pride and commitment to the diverse education our tens of thousands of students receive daily remains unwavering, and the ongoing assault on our yeshivas has become arduous for our community.

We also continue to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide high quality, standards-compliant textbooks, teaching guides and professional development. The educational materials we helped develop are already in use in dozens of schools, benefitting thousands of schoolchildren.

Today’s lawsuit recycles many false claims about yeshivas that were previously made in Tweets, Facebook posts and press releases. They are no more true or valid now that they are contained in numbered paragraphs.

The depiction of yeshivas in YAFFED’s complaint is supported only by YAFFED’s own self-styled “report,” which was itself based solely on a small group of self-selected YAFFED Facebook friends. And even among that group, there are literally zero complainants about the vast majority of yeshivas YAFFED continues to mischaracterize.

The City’s Department of Education and the State Education Department are familiar with the curriculum in our schools. We are confident that those who have made education their lifework will not be swayed by the inaccurate picture today’s lawsuit portrays.

Ultimately, parents must have the right to choose how their children are educated. Today’s lawsuit asserts that the legislation will result in excessive entanglement between government and religious schools, while at the same time seeking to use the government to outrageously attempt to deny parents the right to direct their own children’s education and upbringing.”

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC / AP)


  1. Dont kill the messenger. Do the right thing and teach our children how to fend for themselves, to be literate, to be an independent thinker. Stop making our children into a bunch of blind sheep.

  2. One possible approach would be to forego prescriptive rules defining hours spent on certain secular subject matter for religious schools as long as their student achieved minimal performance scores on examinations testing their proficiency in basic subject matter. That is essentially the way some states measure home-schooling student performance. Those schools whose students fail to meet the standards would only then be required to satisfy “time-base” curricula standards. The bottom line is that the government may have a legal right to require parents to provide their children with basic skills needed to get a job and function in society but that right must be balanced with the parents’ religious freedoms.

  3. Naftuli was the failure – not the school he attended. This ‘moisor’ was a behavioral challenge and always got into trouble. He failed to live up to the standard of the school’s curriculum. The school is at fault that they didn’t hold him back and let him move forward each year! The fact remains that his classmates are holding prestigious jobs and are earning well. He failed but as it is with all sore losers they seek to change the rules of the game! He lost so he’s blaming the world! He’s the disgraced.


  5. it is obvious that this Moster has hatred against the yeshiva world and is out to do only harm.
    Yeshiva learning sharpens the mind and we have seen that yeshiva people do live good healthy moral and ethical lives while those who go to secular schools pick up the schmutz and perversion that abounds there.

  6. those yeshiva-trained boys can out-think the vast majority of public school kids.Just watch ,Mark Dice’s interviews on Youtube!

  7. First of all, those who write about living on welfare, food stamps, medicaid etc. This has NOTHING to do with the education they receive. Any family, jewish or non jewish with 1 or 2 children earning the minimum wage will qualify for food stamps etc. In addition, many of the wives are stay at home moms. In kiryas yoel and I’m sure in any orthodox neighborhood, a young man gets married and hs kollel check is minimum wage. But the day he leaves kollel many of them move on to do very well for themselves, despite what you call a lack of education.
    Second, I tutor children in Chasidishe yeshivos. The problem is not the education they receive, its the language they speak. Moster is not changing this. Chasidishe parents are going to continue talking to their children in Yiddish, and the children are going to talk to their friends in Yiddish. I have found, there are three categories of students who graduate from a chasidishe yeshiva. 1) those who know English. They can read and write usually up to a fourth- grade level 2) They can read but as the level gets higher they have very little comprehension. Most students are in this category. 3) There is some comprehension if you talk to them, but They can’t speak or write.

  8. Facts speak for themselves: the chareidy and chassidic community have produced generations of the finest and most successful graduates. Borough Park, Williamsburg and the rest around the world host tens of thousands most successful business people in all branches, all professions. The rate of people fending for themselves in the chareidy/chassidic community is probably higher then in the general society, where most people work low class jobs at minimum wage and have no idea how to manage a household and family.
    There is no problem with our educational system not in the US not in the UK not elsewhere and there is no justification for unwarranted interference.
    These Jew haters hate themself just like those constantly blackmail the state of Israel.

  9. Moster couldn’t care less about the Chassidim he just wants to get at them. He’s envious of the many successful chassidim that have major businesses and real estate etc. A person in monroe sold a softwareto Bill Gates for 39million

  10. It is so laughable

    I’m working in the financial industry, we are a couple of Yeshiva graduates in huge office full of collage graduates, and we all did great from the start while the collage graduates with the 50K collage debts to pay, are struggling to make their very first sale for months, I just thank God for being born in a Yiddish community, the brains we get from learning Torah – no college or education in the world can replace that.

  11. Cause all those who attend public school graduate with a full skill set.
    Especially in the south Bronx.
    His reasoning skills lead me to believe he never went to a ”Hassidic ”yeshiva, but rather he attended public school and that’s why he never had a decent education.
    He is probably just jealous

  12. שם רשעים ירקב thru all the generations the meshumodim made all the tzaros.
    let’s all pray ולמלשינים אל תהי תקוה

  13. Throughout the long galus, it has always been the shoneh upireish that caused us the most tzaros. This moser is just another Leon Trotsky who wants to join Korach viadaso. Vilamalshinam al tihe sickva.

  14. klugeryid
    July 24, 2018 9:21 am at 9:21 am
    Cause all those who attend public school graduate with a full skill set.
    Especially in the south Bronx.
    His reasoning skills lead me to believe he never went to a ”Hassidic ”yeshiva, but rather he attended public school and that’s why he never had a decent education.
    He is probably just jealous
    You are not so klug of a yid after all.
    And Since when do we try to emulate the public schools?
    We should educate our children so that they can sustain themselves without relying on others and the government.
    If you are mishtadel and u still need outside help then fine. But to bring up children like a bunch of illiterates is dead wrong!

  15. OP-ED : The war against yeshivas
    Hasidim’s business success proves their schools more than hold their own
    Recently, self-appointed critics have attacked Hasidic and other Orthodox schools for their lack of emphasis on secular education. They intimate that these schools leave their students ill-prepared to participate in commerce and to succeed once they graduate. But their misguided criticism is off the mark.

    While the city’s Department of Education said it would investigate, the reality is that yeshiva education is remarkably effective in providing the tools necessary for success in the secular world. Indeed, I would challenge any secular educational system to match the results accomplished by our school system.

    Some examples: The largest and most successful photo supply company in the United States is owned and operated by
    Hasidic Jews who were educated at Hasidic schools in New York. They employ hundreds of workers who deal daily with the most sophisticated buyers of cutting-edge technology in the nation. Hasidic Jews also fill senior IT, financial and corporate positions there.

    Hasidim also own major commercial and residential construction companies. They regularly deal with the largest financial institutions, renowned architects and the finest law firms in New York City. And many of their subcontractors who are licensed plumbers, electricians and HVAC technicians are products of Hasidic schools.

    Our community is home to accountants, comptrollers and computer experts who hold high positions in banks and other financial institutions. The number of Hasidic businessmen who regularly travel to Asia is so great that hotels in China, Japan and other countries in the Far East make
    accommodation for them so they can observe the Sabbath.

    Manufacturers of everything from plastics, building materials, and every consumer good imaginable are produced by graduates of these much-maligned schools.

    This success stems from the rigor of the education they receive. In studying Talmud, the students develop analytical skills and critical thinking of the highest order. This is the essence of a most demanding curriculum. Students learn to analyze and critique text with precision. They learn how to analogize and how to recognize false lines of logic. They enter the business world with skills that not only equal but are more often superior to those taught in secular schools. They accomplish this even though English is a second language to many of our students, who are raised in Yiddish-speaking homes.
    Of course, there is poverty in our community. But it is simplistic and inaccurate to suggest that the emphasis on Jewish studies is at the root of those financial challenges. It is common for both husband and wife to earn between $75,000 and $100,000 annually yet struggle because large families are common. That is a choice made of religious conviction, not the product of inadequate education.

    There is also a cadre of scholars who devote their lives to the study and teaching of Torah. They serve as the intellectual and spiritual leaders of our community. They are charged with the responsibility of dealing with the complexities of modern society according to the tradition of the ages. Their responsibilities run the gamut from resolving controversies arising from complex business disputes according to Jewish law to advising families and physicians about end-of-life issues
    Job discrimination is also a major factor. How many employers in New York refrain from hiring Hasidim, not because they don’t have the ability but because employers simply don’t want Hasidim in their offices or as the face of their company? It is ironic that those critics of Hasidic schools, who profess to be looking out for the well-being of Hasidim, are entirely unconcerned about this discrimination. Those who complain about Hasidic poverty should be on the front lines of the battle to ensure that job opportunities are available to willing and able Hasidim.

    Our graduates have been successful in utilizing what they have been taught, both in their Jewish and secular studies departments, and have been successful in building remarkable careers, businesses and institutions. Critics of our educational system are blissfully ignorant of the enormous successes it has produced. What
    they really seek to take issue with is our value system, one that is in dissonance with that of the secular society that surrounds us.

    On that we broach no compromise. We will continue to improve our schools, but we have no reason to apologize for them. Others might look to our system for its excellence in teaching the most important of all skills: how to reason, analyze problems and construct a moral and ethical framework for life.

    Whatever the profession or endeavor, those who possess these vital skills are the best educated. [CRAINS]

    Aaron D. Twerski is a professor at Brooklyn Law School and former dean and professor of tort law at Hofstra University School of Law.

  16. Unfortunately this is happening all over the world here in the uk the government are mixing in with the heimshe schools telling us what to teach
    Subjects a Jewish child does not need to know eg cyber bullying etc

    And yes we have sadly acheinu bnei and bnois Yisroel being moiser to the government maybe if we daven for these people’s neshama”s that they do to teshuva and we also do teshuva then yehi rotzoin that we see a quick Yeshoua and the coming of moshiach bimharo

  17. Rule #1: Never, never never go to secular government to enforce requirements on the Jewish community; there are too many lessons, including modern day ones (i.e bris milah),, to list. Therefore, while they may have a good point (I have raised several children through the system and it is significantly insufficient for a good secular education), it may never lobbied outside of our interior world.

    Could it be that there are some that want their children not to be exposed to secular subjects to prevent them from getting future outside employment? They need to understand that without a good secular education, children are very handicapped in future employment but ALSO in their learning Gemera (like the half an amud Rashi in Yoma that can be done in four lines of algebra, the Mishnas in Eruvin of the area ratios of a circle in a square and Kidush HaHoduch, etc.)

  18. Pesach Eisen– are you kidding me?! The former Hasid who married a non-Jewish woman several weeks ago??!! He’s concerned for the success of my children. Right!!

  19. I’m a little confused. Yes, i agree that learning talmudic logic is very helpful to attorneys. However, if you don’t have English reading comprehension above a 4th grade level or put together a coherent sentence, how can you be a lawyer, accountant, IT person etc.?
    How many successful Chassidim went to schools that stopped English instruction at an early age and became lawyers? CPAs? IT people?
    Please provide hard stats, not more anecdotes.

  20. @anonymousJew I don’t have hard stats. Nobody has. But the here are plenty of Hasidic professionals, i.e. therapists, CPAs, IT guys, web developers, programmers, marketing gurus, etc.

  21. “How many successful Chassidim went to schools that stopped English instruction at an early age and became lawyers? CPAs? IT people?
    Please provide hard stats, not more anecdotes.”
    Here are stats for you. My children were raised in Chasidishe schools. My daughter is a Doctor MD, my son is an RN BSN, my other son is running a successful import business, my other 2 children are also doing well in their respective business and myself that had more education than all of them put together is the worst off financially. So here is my message to Mr. Moster go back to Kollel for a few years and maybe it will help you financially.

  22. yosself, even at chassidish yeshivas, girls get more secular education. At what age did your son’s yeshiva stop teaching English? Aaron Twersky grew up in Milwaukee, and more than likely attended schools that taught English past the 4th grade.

    My point is, you don’t have to convince me that chassidim are successful. What you, nor anyone else has answered is:

    of successful Chassidim

    1. how many became chassidim at a
    later age, after their primary
    2. how many, like Prof Twersky ,
    grew up out of town and likely
    went to schools that provided
    secular education
    3. how many, like the moser, went
    to schools that provide limited
    secular education, and little to no
    English after the 4th grade.

    You’d have to tell me how many successful people fall into the 3rd

  23. Shmuly D: Certainly there are some kids who come out of these yeshivas and succeed, but most do not. But if the yeshivas are doing as good a job as you say, there should be no worry about the inspection. And the kids should perform as well as the gentiles on academic tests. The truth is that the yeshivas are dooming most kids to ignorance and poverty. Here’s what Wikipedia says about Kiryas Joel:

    “The median income for a household in the village was $15,138, and the median income for a family was $15,372. Males had a median income of $25,043 versus $16,364 for females. The per capita income for the village was $4,355. About 61.7% of families and 62.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 63.9% of those under age 18 and 50.5% of those age 65 or over.”

    According to 2008 census figures, the village has the highest poverty rate in the nation, and the largest percentage of residents who receive food stamps. More than five-eighths of Kiryas Joel residents live below the federal poverty line and more than 40 percent receive food stamps, according to the American Community Survey, a U.S. Census Bureau study of every place in the country with 20,000 residents or more.”

    Here’s what it says about the Jews of Williamsburg:

    “Because Hasidic men receive little secular education, and women tend to be homemakers, college degrees are rare, and economic opportunities lag far behind the rest of the population. In response to the almost 60% poverty rate in Jewish Williamsburg, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a beneficiary agency of the UJA-Federation of New York, partnered with Masbia in the opening of a 50-seat kosher soup kitchen on Lee Avenue in November 2009.”

    They’re going to soup kitchens. Don’t tell me about how they’re all engineers. Most of them can’t do the math.

  24. 115,000 students! What would happen if a sizable portion of these students and parents go to the school boards and say that they would like to enroll into public school. Is the system obligated to place the? Can they place them and do they have the funds and resources like classrooms and teachers to comply? What happens if the students after say a week or two pull out and go back to their respective schools? Could they repeat the same scenario the next year? Maybe a move such as this should be done as a vehicle to arrive at a compromise. Yes, more secular subjects like math and English needs to be taught but I have a problem with the “substantially equivalent “ requirement.