Do Not Educate Our Children, G-d Forbid They Should Actually Be Doctors, Lawyers, Productive Members of Society

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Protesters: Religious education at yeshivas should remain unchanged


WEST NYACK –Several people from the Orthodox Jewish community in West Nyack protested changes being made to religious education.

Concerned families and school leaders say they don’t want to change how they are educating students at local yeshivas.

“This country was based on freedom of religion and freedom of speech. They’ve had this education for thousands of years. This is why we came out here,” said one protester.

The state Education Department held a training session with all of the school districts in Rockland County at BOCES located on Parrott Road.

School officials say the state spoke about the need to guarantee that private schools are getting substantial equivalency of instruction that are in public schools.

They say it’s to ensure that all students receive the education to which they are entitled.

Clarkstown police say a 36-year-old man from Blooming Grove was arrested during the protest for urinating in public.

 

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The Archdiocese and the Ultra-Orthodox Sharing Anti-Children’s Rights Causes: Apartheid – Faith – Based Education

New York should compel its religious schools to accept public oversight

 

Leaders of Jewish and Catholic private school systems in New York are refusing to accommodate curricula oversight by the state’s Education Department.

new york religious schools reject oversight
Parked school bus of United Talmudical Academy, a Jewish school in Brooklyn, New York. (Anulla, Flikr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

According to an article in Church & State, the online magazine of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, leaders of New York Catholic schools in December wrote this to state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia:

“We write to inform you that the New York State Council of Catholic School Superintendents, representing some 500 Catholic schools, rejects the recently released ‘substantial equivalency’ guidelines and is directing all diocesan Catholic schools not to participate in any review carried out by local public school officials.”

Mostly religious studies

The recent dust-up started in 2015, when news media began reporting on the quality of education offered at another religion’s private schools in New York — ultra-Orthodox Jewish yeshivas — when it became known that their students were mostly being taught the Torah, Judaism’s primary text, but very little about secular subjects, including English, science and mathematics.

“As a result, students were emerging from these schools with essentially no skills that made them, employable in any field outside of narrow religious studies,” the Church & State article noted.

Because New York government education officials didn’t want to unfairly single out schools of any religious tradition in their oversight of all schools curricula — public and private — they decided to have public school officials inspect each religious school every five years to make sure they were offering adequate instruction in non-religious subjects.

As did the Catholic school leaders, officials of Jewish schools also refused to cooperate with state officials in any educational oversight of their programs.

The protest even had an international connection. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported late in 2018 that Aharon Teitelbaum, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Satmar Hasidic group (which has a significant presence in New York City) vowed that “the Jewish people will not surrender to the wicked … even the state education commissioner.”

Teitelbaum even threatened the take his case to the Democratic Party now dominating the leadership of New York politics.

“It wouldn’t pay for them to start a war with all God-fearing Jewry in New York,” he said, according to the Church & State article.

So, what is this brouhaha really about?

New York public education officials promulgated new guidelines last year to assess the quality of classroom curricula at the state’s private schools and ensure that what they offer is “substantially equivalent” to that of public schools. This means instruction should match that of standard secular subjects taught at public schools.

Sounds reasonable enough, right?

But religious school don’t trust the public school system.

Faith vs. knowledge

As James Culrara, executive secretary of the state Council of Catholic School Superintendents, told the Albany (NY) Times-Union:

“We simply cannot accept a competing school having authority over whether our schools can operate.” (italics mine).

In fact, public and religious schools are not in competition with each other. Ostensibly, they are part of a shared educational system whose primary aim is to provide children with a broad, so-called “liberal” education that essentially teaches them about the realities of existence, not necessarily the surrealities (except perhaps in literature and art).

The problem is that religious schools tend to want to focus on theology rather than actuality. If you don’t know how huge a problem these schools (including homeschools) are for many of their students, take some time and read posts in the blog titled Recovering from Religion. You might also read a lovely, heartbreaking memoir titled Educated by a young, homeschooled woman named Tara Westover who eventually broke free only discover her almost debilitating ignorance about the real world.

Faith vs. reason

Fundamentalist religious schools tend to embrace the idea that anything not of God should not be prioritized. It can an aggressively inward faith of the type promoted by St. Augustine and Martin Luther, who held that reason and knowledge are not only largely unnecessary in human existence but a kind of sin to pursue. Why, Luther asked, try to understand something that is not understandable? Just believe. And if you don’t? Fake it till you make it.

Unfortunately, many kids who come out of fundamentalist religious schools often understand a lot about their religions and dangerously little about anything else.

This kind of apartheid education should be denounced, particularly in America, whose founders were Enlightenment men who emphatically wanted their new nation to honor fact over fiction, reason over religion, especially in the affairs of state, .

 

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The Female Narrative to the Yeshiva Education Story – The Chosen Ones versus the non-Chosen Ones

This story was published in The HuffPost Personal Section. We have only republished a portion and ask that you please click the following link to the original post here. We do not know if the author, Rebecca Mordechai knows of the existence of LM or if she would endorse our views so this is not intended as such an endorsement. The same is true of the HuffPost. 

In our view, it is particularly poignant insofar as it is the female’s view of the inadequacy of Yeshiva education, particularly as it is currently being argued in New York State. Few recognize that the female story is tragic, only in uniquely differing ways. This argument is worth considering with “equal rights” in mind, amongst many.

 

How My Religious Education Stalled My Career Potential

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Can Women Change the Face of Ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel and in the US? We Hope So – Michal Zernowitski

“There’s a huge gap between what the ultra-Orthodox establishment is doing and what the people want,” said Michal Zernowitski, who is seeking Labor Party backing to run for Parliament.CreditCreditCorinna Kern for The New York Times

Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Woman Defies Rabbis and Runs Left

TEL AVIV — It is primary season in Israel, and the creaky Labor Party, hemorrhaging support and desperate to project energy and vitality, has invited its 44 candidates for Parliament to a college campus for a night billed as speed dating with hundreds of voters.

At the front of a classroom sit an array of typical center-left candidates — a longtime incumbent, a well-known journalist, a leader of the Druze minority — and one who is like no candidate ever seen at this kind of gathering: an ultra-Orthodox woman.

The woman, Michal Zernowitski, grew up in a religious party that does not allow female candidates. The political parties supported by most of her neighbors in Elad, a bastion of ultra-Orthodoxy, belong to the right-wing governing coalition that she abhors.

Ms. Zernowitski, 38, has chosen a different path. It is hard to imagine a more arduous one. And yet she seems to relish the steep uphill climb.

Again and again, as the audiences move from room to room, Ms. Zernowitski waits her turn, smiles, stands and delivers a five-minute stump speech that turns heads and opens minds.

She rails against the state-funded but privately run ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, education system, where, she says, “your background” and “who you know” determine “who gets into the good schools.” She recounts how she became a trailblazer as an ultrareligious woman in high-tech, but laments how her children are stuck “in the same place I was before.”

She blasts the Haredi parties, which she says are a half-century behind the times on women’s rights, gay rights and many other issues, and the right-wing government over which those parties hold outsize sway, because she says it ignores problems affecting Haredi communities for fear of antagonizing its coalition partners.

And she explains, like an emissary from another planet, to urban hipsters who may never have talked with their black hat- or wig-wearing neighbors, that a “revolution” is underway among the ultra-Orthodox: The “new Haredim,” as she calls them — younger, worldlier people who use smartphones and commute to diverse workplaces in the big cities — are hungry for change, dying to engage with and be embraced by broader Israeli society, and ready like never before to break ranks at the ballot box.

“There’s a huge gap between what the ultra-Orthodox establishment is doing and what the people want,” Ms. Zernowitski says.

A man rises with a question for all five candidates: How can we bring more people with skullcaps into Labor? He means: Is there a way we can bring more of the Orthodox into such a heavily secular party, given that religious observance generally goes hand-in-hand with right-wing beliefs?

But a woman sitting nearby jumps in: “If Labor wants to change its image,” she says, “it’s Michal.”

At the very top, Israeli politics is consumed with the fate of Benjamin Netanyahu, the embattled prime minister, in April’s elections. But at the local level, the identity politics that divides Israelis in myriad ways — Arab and Jewish; Ashkenazi and Mizrachi; pro- and anti-settlement; secular and religious; left, right and center, and so on — has been producing unexpected results, nowhere more so than among the Jewish religious right.

In Beit Shemesh, a fast-growing ultra-Orthodox center, thousands ignored their rabbis’ orders and helped elect a woman mayor in October. In Bnei Brak, where Ms. Zernowitski was raised, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party won two seats, a signal achievement on a city council long dominated by Haredi parties. And in Telzstone, a tiny Haredi enclave on the outskirts of Jerusalem, an upstart who took on the rabbis’ anointed candidate in a special mayoral election last month earned 40 percent of the vote — a seismic shift, despite falling short, for a population that has long exerted power by voting in lock step.

The overwhelming majority of ultra-Orthodox still identify with right-wing policies, experts say. But those who do not are making their presence felt: In April’s elections, Adina Bar-Shalom, the daughter of the founder of one of the main Haredi parties, is running for Parliament on a social-justice platform and is widely expected to join a centrist ticket.

Ms. Zernowitski — who in keeping with modesty strictures wears a wig, but one so subtle it is impossible to notice — sees herself as embodying the generational yearnings of ultra-Orthodox voters who, unlike forebears who saw the land of Israel as holy but were uncertain about the state, want to feel more fully a part of the country in which they are citizens. “They’re trying to integrate into Israel and leave their ghettos,” she said.

As an advocate for women, too, she has an added motivation to break out of the confines of the Haredi world. After she finished a radio interview recently, she said, the station brought on a sitting Haredi lawmaker who said that women did not belong in politics just as they did not belong working at a garbage dump, “because politics is garbage.”

Actually getting elected, however, would require something approaching a miracle: Ms. Zernowitski’s chosen party, Labor, is in a shambles. Some polls show it winning just seven seats in the Knesset, down from 18 in the current government; one new poll suggested it might not win any seats at all. The primaries will therefore be a blood bath; any newcomer would be lucky to earn a winnable spot on the party’s ranked list among the returning incumbents, and many are battling for the chance.

So Ms. Zernowitski talks up the “tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands” of modern Haredi voters she says are waiting for a candidate like her — and begs Labor voters to take a leap of faith. “I believe that if you open the door, these people will come and vote,” she says.

The experts say she is unlikely to test that premise.

“She has no chance,” declared Gilad Malach, an expert on the ultra-Orthodox at the Israel Democracy Institute. But he said Ms. Zernowitski, if ahead of the curve, was nonetheless onto something: The Haredi parties are calcified and vulnerable to breakaway voters, he said.

“On the day that an ultra-Orthodox representative will be successful outside the classic political parties,” he said, “there’s a chance more people will choose that party because it works.”

At a Labor candidates’ night in Jerusalem, Ms. Zernowitski addressed a roomful of activists and retirees who snapped up her brochures. Afterward, Izzy Almog, 81, holding his cane, smiled up at her from his seat.

“Don’t be offended, but I don’t know what your chances are,” he said. “But you’re a long-term investment.”

Continue reading the New York Times article here.

Millions in Defrauded Yeshiva Funds in Israel, the US Should be Paying Careful Attention to the Playbook

5 ultra-Orthodox men jailed for defrauding state in fake yeshiva student scam

 

Members of the Kehillat Hamatmidim community claimed NIS 24 million ($6.5 million) in financial support for hundreds of fictitious students

Matityahu Hirschman from “Kehillat Hamatmidim” arrives at Jerusalem District Court to hear the verdict in a case against him, on January 24, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

 

The Jerusalem District Court on Thursday sentenced five ultra-Orthodox men to jail terms following their conviction for swindling millions of shekels from the Education Ministry by inflating the number of students learning at seminaries using forged identity papers and masses of impostors to fool school inspectors.

One of the defendants was sentenced to five years behind bars, four others were given sentences of between 16 months to four years, and another four defendants were give six months each, to be served as community service.

The defendants were also given fines of up to NIS 150,000 ($40,000) and the court ordered the eviction of public buildings belonging to the association which were involved in the scam, the Ynet website reported.

The senior figures in the Kehillat Hamatmidim community obtained some NIS 24 million ($6.5m) from the Education Ministry by providing authorities with details of hundreds of students it claimed were studying at its religious seminaries and learning institutes in their community — but were in fact forged details gleaned from Interior Ministry data leaked online in 2006 and apparently supplemented with photos of community members.

The defendants forged 1,650 identities and, in many cases, the same person’s photograph appeared on up to five different identity cards, before using the paperwork to apply for benefits for 25 different institutes.

According to prosecutors, the lists contained people who were not even learning in the seminaries or were members of ultra-Orthodox communities who refuse on principle to accept funding from the secular State of Israel. Others were found to be secular, the report said.

According to prosecutors, the lists contained people who were not even learning in the seminaries or were members of ultra-Orthodox communities who refuse on principle to accept funding from the secular State of Israel. Others were found to be secular, the report said.

Whenever Education Ministry inspectors came round to review the various seminaries, the defendants bused in the impostors to fill bench spaces and make up the numbers in the institutes, prosecutors said.

The incident first came to light in 2010 and in May 2018 the defendants were convicted on hundreds of offences of fraudulently receiving goods under aggravated circumstances, forging documents and identity papers, and money laundering. Two of the defendants were also convicted of obstructing the course of justice and harassing witnesses.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

NYC Yeshivas and More than $100M in Public Funds they Collect

NYC yeshivas collect more than $100M a year in public funds

 

 

 

New York City yeshivas collect more than $100 million a year in taxpayer funds — a lot to lose if the religious schools are found to deny students basic instruction in English, math and science.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia released new guidelines in November that give her the power to yank funding from yeshivas and other private institutions that fail to provide a “substantially equivalent” education to public schools.

Much is at stake. The city Department of Education gave Jewish day schools $97 million for teachers, books and afternoon busing last fiscal year, the DOE told The Post. But that’s only a partial accounting of the largesse, officials acknowledged.

The yeshivas — like other non-public schools — get millions more for pre-K programs, special-ed, food, child-care, security, technology and record-keeping on immunizations, attendance and state exams.

“If you add all the state and federal funding, it would be at least twice as much,” said Naftuli Moster, the founder of YAFFED, a group seeking enforcement of state standards. It spurred a probe, which has dragged on for 3 ¹/₂ years, of 39 yeshivas accused of skimping on secular education.

The DOE has yet to comply with The Post’s Freedom of Information Law request for funding data on the 39 schools — a request filed 22 months ago.

Four Brooklyn yeshivas, all high schools, have refused to let DOE inspectors inside to review their curricula, Chancellor Richard Carranza has told the state.

“For those yeshivas that refuse inspection, their funding should be shut out of any DOE contract,” said Patrick Sullivan, a former member of the city’s Panel for Educational Policy, which approves school contracts.

Avi Greenstein, leader of a group formed to defend the yeshivas, has said the schools want clarification on the state guidelines. Greenstein did not return messages last week.

Of $84 million in federal aid for academic instruction in non-public schools with low-income kids last year, the DOE funneled $36 million to 103 yeshivas, said DOE spokesman Will Mantell.

The DOE also distributed $7 million in state funds to 201 Jewish schools for books, and $54 million in state and city cash to 133 yeshivas for busing after 4 p.m., Mantell said. He did not give a figure for busing earlier in the day or list all funding for other services.

Some ultra-Orthodox parents have transferred their kids to more progressive yeshivas to give them a better secular education, or they pay for extra tutoring.

“I don’t care about the taxpayers,” one mom told The Post. “I care about having to pay $300 for a math class my 12-year-old son has to take at 6 to 7 p.m. after a long day of Jewish studies.”

Meanwhile, some yeshivas have been accused of ripping off taxpayer funds or have come under FBI investigation. Last March, two former staffers of the Williamsburg-based Central United Talmudical Academy pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court to stealing $3.2 million that the state Health Department paid to feed needy kids.

Overall, the city spends at least $255 million a year for non-public schools, including $151 million for transportation, according to Doug Turetsky, a spokesman for the Independent Budget Office.

YAFFED Lawsuit Tossed but Not on Merits, on Standing

Lawsuit over amendment shielding some Jewish schools tossed

 

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed an advocacy group’s lawsuit over a New York state lawmaker’s attempt to shield ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools from oversight.

U.S. District Judge Leo Glasser ruled late Wednesday that the group Young Advocates for Fair Education, or YAFFED lacks standing to sue over the so-called Felder amendment.

The group sued Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state education officials in July 2018 over State Sen. Simcha Felder’s amendment that effectively moved oversight of the ultra-Orthodox schools from local school districts to the state.

Members of the group say some of the ultra-Orthodox schools, called yeshivas, provide little or no instruction in secular subjects including English, math, science and social studies. They say some young people leave the schools barely able to read or write in English despite a New York state law that mandates that private schools provide an education substantially equivalent to the public schools.

Under new guidelines on the substantial equivalency rule released by the state education department last November, all private schools including religious schools are supposed to be inspected by local public school authorities every five years.

Glasser implied in his ruling that the new state guidelines might render the group’s lawsuit moot. He said that under the new guidelines, the schools covered by the Felder amendment will be required to comply with “all of the same curriculum and hour requirements applicable to other private schools” and will face additional requirements related to the religious portion of the schools’ curriculum.

Naftuli Moster, the founder of the advocacy group, said he disagreed. “The revised guidelines embody the separate and preferential treatment of ultra-Orthodox yeshivas, regardless of how the leaders of those schools feel about the guidelines,” Moster said in a statement. He said the group will press forward “in reforming the unjust system.”

The pro-yeshiva group Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools said it applauded Glasser’s decision. “YAFFED’s campaign of harassment of the yeshivas must end,” the group said in a statement.