Betsy DeVos and Agudath Israel – The Irony of a One Woman Show and the Fall of Education


Mar 8

A truly historic meeting today at U.S. Dept of Education with the Secretary and Agudath Israel representatives.

DeVos praises Orthodox Jewish group that strongly backs public funding for religious schools

DeVos met with leaders of Agudath Israel of America, which is based in New York and has active branches in more than 25 states, including Texas, Florida, California, Maryland and New Jersey. Its leaders have successfully lobbied for using public taxpayer dollars to subsidize religious schools in several states.

In a statement released Wednesday, March 8, 2017, about the meeting at the Education Department with Agudath Israel leaders, DeVos said:

I applaud Agudath Israel for their leadership and commitment to providing their community with access to educational options that meet the academic and religious needs of their families. Agudath is a terrific partner and advocate for their families, and I welcomed today’s discussion.

I look forward to continuing to work with Agudath Israel of America, the Orthodox Jewish community and all who believe that every child, regardless of where they live or their family’s income, should have an equal opportunity to a quality education.

DeVos and President Trump have made clear that expanding school choice is an education policy priority.  The administration is believed to be considering a new federal school-choice program, likely a tax credit scholarship program that would offer individuals and corporations incentives to donate money to help families pay for tuition and other educational needs at private and religious schools. There is now is one federally funded voucher program, in Washington D.C., expected to be expanded by the Trump administration.

Trump has said he wants to spend $20 billion to promote school choice, while DeVos has spent decades advocating for charter schools and voucher/tax credit programs. A billionaire from Michigan, DeVos and her family have spent millions of dollars to support religious schools. In 2015, she said in a speech that traditional public education is “a dead end,” and her critics say that she wants to privatize public education, a departure from any previous U.S. administration.

Last week, Trump and DeVos made their first official joint trip to a school — a Catholic school in Florida. It was the first official school trip for Trump, and the first time a U.S. president had visited a Catholic school since Ronald Reagan visited St. Agatha Catholic School in the Archdiocese of Detroit on Oct. 10, 1984, years after he was elected.

In New York, Agudath Israel has been instrumental in winning state funds for Jewish schools, and has praised Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, for ensuring that millions of dollars in state funds would be spent for security and other services for these schools. On March 5, Cuomo announced a new “New York-Israel Commission” to strengthen economic and cultural ties between New York and Israel, and among the members is Sol Werdiger, chairman of Agudath Israel.

Although Agudath Israel of America does not ordinarily advocate for Cabinet members, it urged its supporters to lobby the Senate to confirm DeVos, with whom it has worked for years on school-choice issues. When she was nominated as education secretary by then-president-elect Trump, the group put a story on its website saying in part:

Shlomo Werdiger, chairman of Agudath Israel’s board of trustees, expressed his enthusiastic support for Mrs. DeVos’s nomination. “I have had some excellent discussions with Betsy DeVos,” Mr. Werdiger said. “She is intelligent, compassionate and effective. President-elect Trump has chosen wisely.”

The organization supported the Hasidic Jews who took control of the school board in East Ramapo, N.Y., more than a decade ago and were accused by state officials of financial mismanagement that harmed the public schools in the district but helped the private Jewish schools. In 2015, Agudath Israel lobbied against a bill in the state legislature that sought to appoint an overseer for the school board, and despite support for the bill from Cuomo and the chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, it didn’t pass in the state Senate. In 2016, a compromise bill passed that provided more state money for public schools but did not include a state-appointed board monitor.

The Education Department issued a release Wednesday about the meeting between DeVos and Agudath leaders. Here’s the complete text:

This morning, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos met with leaders of Agudath Israel of America about her commitment to supporting all educational opportunities, the importance of IDEA and higher education.

Agudath leaders thanked the Secretary for her leadership and expressed their desire to work closely with her to ensure their schools and community members have access to quality educational opportunities that respect their religion.

After the meeting, Secretary DeVos issued the following statement:

“I applaud Agudath Israel for their leadership and commitment to providing their community with access to educational options that meet the academic and religious needs of their families. Agudath is a terrific partner and advocate for their families, and I welcomed today’s discussion.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Agudath Israel of America, the Orthodox Jewish community and all who believe that every child, regardless of where they live or their family’s income, should have an equal opportunity to a quality education.”

Attendees included:

Sol Werdiger, Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Rabbi David Zwiebel, Executive Vice President

Rabbi Abba Cohen, Vice President for Federal Affairs, Washington Director and Counsel

Rabbi A. D. Motzen, National Director of State Relations

And other members of Agudath Israel of America

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has made school “choice” a policy priority, met on Wednesday with leaders of an Orthodox Jewish group that has been instrumental in pushing voucher programs across the country. She praised their “leadership and commitment” in helping communities secure schools that “meet the academic and religious needs of their families” and said she looks forward to working with them.


SATMAR – Keep the Women Uneducated and Keep Them Chained.


The New York Times

In Brooklyn, Stifling Higher Learning Among Hasidic Women

In the mid-1940s, Joel Teitelbaum, an eminent and charismatic rabbi, immigrated to the United States, colonizing a section of Williamsburg in Brooklyn for his Hasidic sect, the Satmar, its name taken from the Hungarian town of Szatmar, where Rabbi Teitelbaum had fought to resist the encroachments of a modernizing society.

Subsequent decades have seen virtually no retrenchment in the sect’s mistrust of the larger world.

Among the Satmar in Brooklyn, use of the internet is condemned and secular education is considered of little use. In recent years, though, it became the fashion among some Satmar women to pursue special-education degrees after high school, typically online or through religious colleges. The women often go to work not in philosophically suspect places like Greenwich Village, but in schools within their community. Now, even that minor advance has been rolled back; some Satmar leaders issued a decree proclaiming that the practice would no longer be tolerated. A letter from the United Talmudical Academy, the governing body for a consortium of schools, meant for girls entering the 12th grade and their parents, stated that they “shouldn’t God forbid take a degree which is according to our sages, dangerous and damaging.”

The letter went on to say that girls shouldn’t learn college subjects and that those who refused to obey would be denied positions as teachers. Leaders, they said, had a responsibility to protect the religious educational system from outside influences. The notion is not an invention of the Hasidim, Allan Nadler, the director of Jewish studies at Drew University and a scholar of Hasidic practice, explained. The Mishna, a multivolume compilation of Jewish law that predates the Talmud, contains a prohibition against “external books.” Still, Mr. Nadler maintained, the recent decree reflects what he has observed over the years as a deepening fear of wider society.

The Talmudical Academy did not return calls seeking comment.

A history of pandering to the ultra-Orthodox in Brooklyn goes back at least to the days of Mario M. Cuomo. Politicians who might otherwise feel free to lecture black and Hispanic communities on the importance of grit, self-reliance and the sacred path of higher learning express remarkably little outrage over the habits of a group that essentially enshrines its own dependency on the system. According to a 2011 study by the UJA-Federation of New York, the Jewish philanthropic organization, just 11 percent of Hasidic men and 6 percent of Hasidic women in and around New York City hold bachelor’s degrees, while the poverty rate among Hasidic households stands at 43 percent, nearly twice the figure citywide.

A reliance on public assistance is remarkably common among the Hasidim, explained Lani Santo, the executive director of Footsteps, an organization begun in 2003 to help those who decide to leave the ultra-Orthodox world. “Even if you want to be able to have a community that is maintaining its own traditions,” she told me, “you still need to be able to have the tools and skills to support your family.” Political leaders, beholden to the enormous voting bloc that the Hasidim, and especially the Satmar, provide, remain reluctant to say something so obvious.

The recent Satmar decree is more than a feminist issue; it is a humanist problem. Through lower grades and upper school, girls in the community typically wind up with a more secular education than boys because boys devote most of their time to Talmudic study. Women will typically have better command of English and math, Ms. Santo explained, and are able to get better-paying jobs after finishing school. When they may need to pull back after having children, their husbands, for whom college is deemed equally ill-advised, find themselves either not working at all because they are continuing their religious training or too poorly equipped to find remunerative work.

Many of them, Libelle Polaki, an exile from the ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn, told me, will resort to selling things online, which must be regarded as its own kind of sacrilege given the prohibitions against certain technologies. At 28, Ms. Polaki expects to graduate from the Borough of Manhattan Community College in December. This semester she is taking six classes and auditing two others. At a cafe in Williamsburg psychographically distant from the Williamsburg in which she spent part of her life, she spoke of the hard work it took to get where she is.

Having suffered through an arranged marriage, she said, she was forced to pay off her husband, with a sum of approximately $18,000, to get divorced; a philanthropist helped her come up with the money. She held several menial jobs after high school that made her miserable, one working for Satmar leaders doing secretarial work; one in a matzo factory; and another in a group home for adults with developmental disabilities, where she was fired, she told me, after reporting abuses by the staff.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

Enslaving the ultra-Orthodox Children by Denying them an Education – Israel



Last week we reported on a Satmar decree that women are not to receive a secondary education. Any woman who receives a secondary education will be forbidden from teaching within the Satmar community. Ostensibly, if a woman decides to go out and get a secondary education she will be effectively excommunicated. In our view, the purpose of the decree was to guarantee the cycle of subjugation of women within that community. As a side matter, no woman will be able to be a doctor, a midwife, a teacher, etc. because she will not be educated enough for any of those fields. Moreover, while many states and countries demand that funding to non-public schools requires some version of “substantially similar” education, if children within the Satmar community are being taught be teachers who themselves are uneducated, a “substantially” similar education is simply an oxymoron.

The following article was published in Israel this morning and represents an extraordinary statistical analysis of the rapid decline, if not destruction, of education within the ultra-Orthodox community and its affects on the educational system of the country at large.

We have summarized the article. If an English version comes out, we will publish accordingly.

In Israel every child is required to graduate high school with a “Certificate of Bagrut.” This certificate is necessary for kids to go to university and to get jobs within Israel. In order to qualify for the certificate, there are core courses: English, Math, Hebrew and a few others and then there are electives. The children within the public schools, similar to the United States, England, Australia and elsewhere spend years of learning these core courses and the electives in order to qualify to pass these exams obtain certificates and become active participants in the Israeli workforce and economy.

Within the ultra-Orthodox community, there is a 1% pass rate. In other words, only 1% of the ultra-Orthodox community throughout all of Israel has that certificate. Moreover  cities like Jerusalem, which once had the highest pass rates, are declining in pass rates as their ultra-Orthodox communities increase in proportion to the decrease in non ultra-Orthodox members.

The results of this analysis provide a picture of the future of education in ultra-Orthodoxy as follows:

  1. The children are going to have little choice but to remain within their own community as they will not have educational capital necessary to function outside of it;
  2. The less educated the ultra-Orthodox population becomes the less services will be available to them from within their community and the more dependent they will become upon others to support them. This includes and is most prevalent regarding doctors, lawyers, midwives, hospital personnel, etc.;
  3. The entire population of Israel is in greater danger from forces within and without as not only is its army service being affected by the ultra-Orthodox who do not serve in the army; but its education within the world stage is diminishing disproportionately to the surrounding countries which, despite what may or may not be fundamentalism is little-by-little exceeding Israel in educational levels.
  4. This picture illustrates what will happen on a global scale if the non-ultra-Orthodox world does not impose educational standards and draw a line in the sand in terms of maintaining them. Put simply, as the ultra-Orthodox communities grow at exponentially faster rates than non-ultra-Orthodox and non-Jewish communities, the economic ramificaitons on a world stage will be devastating. The situation is simply not sustainable on a continuing worldwide level.


הנתונים נחשפים: בדקו את מצב החינוך ביישוב שלכם,7340,L-4847626,00.html

בית ג’ן מובילה בזכאות לבגרות, מודיעין הרשימה עם בגרות בהצטיינות וסכנין רשמה הישג נאה בעניין בלמידה. משרד החינוך מפרסם בפעם הראשונה שיקוף של בתי הספר התיכוניים ב-260 רשויות מקומיות. איפה בלטו בחמש יחידות מתמטיקה והיכן מנעו נשירה? היכנסו וגלו את התמונה המלאה ביישוב שלכם

שחר חי ויוסי מדריסוביץ’עדכון אחרון: 29.08.16

היכן שיעור הזכאים הגבוה ביותר לתעודת בגרות? איפה השיגו את תעודות הבגרות המצטיינות ביותר? איזה יישוב הצליח למנוע הכי הרבה נשירה ממערכת החינוך? כמה תלמידים היו מעורבים בתקריות אלימות? והיכן קידמו את המורים? משרד החינוך מפרסם הערב (יום ב’) לראשונה את התמונה החינוכית של בתי הספר התיכוניים ב-260 רשויות מקומיות בישראל.

בעבר, המדידה התייחסה לשיעור הזכאות לבגרות בלבד. במשרד החינוך ציינו בהתייחסם למדידה הקודמת כי “הדבר יצר רושם מוטעה שהזכאות לבגרות היא חזות הכול. עשייה חינוכית, ערכית ומשמעותית חשובה לא פחות”. לכן הוחלט במשרד לציין כי הישגי בתי הספר משקפים מעורבות חברתית, מניעת נשירה ממוסדות חינוך, שמירה על טוהר בחינות ועוד. המשרד הכליל גם את נתוני הגיוס לצה”ל, אולם נתון זה נכון לשנת תשע”ב.

את טבלת הזכאות לבגרות מקרב הלומדים ברשות בשנת הלימודים תשע”ה מוביל היישוב בית ג’ן עם 99% הצלחה. אחריו ברשימה: כאוכב אבו אל-היג’א עם 98%, קריית עקרון עם 96%, גבעת שמואל וקדומים עם 93%, מועצה אזורית לב השרון עם 92%, מועצה אזורית ערבה תיכונה, רג’ר ויבנה עם 91%, וגבעתיים, חורפיש, מודיעין ומזכרת בתיה עם 90%.

מבין הרשויות הגדולות, בראשון לציון השיגו בוגרי תשע”ה 77% הצלחה, בחיפה 76%, בתל אביב ובבאר שבע 70%, ובירושלים 47%. בתחתית הרשימה ניתן למצוא את מודיעין עילית וקריית יערים עם אפס אחוזי הצלחה, בני ברק 11%, ג’סר א-זרקא 15%, ביתר עילית 16%, ורכסים עם 12% זכאים לתעודת בגרות מקרב הלומדים ברשות.

נתון נוסף חשף את הזכאות לתעודת בגרות מצטיינת. בתל אביב נרשמה בסעיף זה עלייה מ-8.2% מהתלמידים שקיבלו תעודת בגרות מצטיינת בתש”ג ל-8.9% בשנת תשע”ה. גם בבת ים חלה עלייה: מ-3.1% בתשע”ג ל-6.1% בתשע”ה. מודיעין רשמה בסעיף זה תוצאה מרשימה עם עלייה מ-11% בתשע”ג ל-17.6% בתשע”ה. גם חיפה רשמה הישג כשעלתה באותן שנים מ-10.3% ל-11.7%.

רק 1 מכל 10 תלמידים חרדים זכאי לבגרות

באשדוד חלה ירידה בזכאים לבגרות איכותית: מ-3.7% בתשע”ג ל-3.3% בתשע”ה. ירידות נוספות בקבלת תעודות בגרות מצטיינות נרשמו בגבעתיים (16.4% בתשע”ג לעומת 14.5% בתשע”ה), בנס ציונה (מ-12% ל-10.8%), בטירת כרמל (מ-2.1% לאחוז), בדימונה (מ-2.8% ל-1.2%), בראשון לציון (מ-7.9% ל-7.2%) ובירוחם (מ-7.2% בתשע”ג ל-6.9% בתשע”ה).

התמונה החינוכית מגלה גם את מעורבות התלמידים באירועי אלימות. הממוצע הארצי בתחום זה עומד על 7%. בבאר שבע, בית שמש וכפר קאסם נמצא בשנת תשע”ה כי 9% מהתלמידים בכל אחת מהערים היו מעורבים בתקריות אלימות. בירושלים, נתניה, עפולה ואום אל-פחם 8%, בחיפה, אשדוד, חולון ואילת 7%, בתל אביב, רעננה, הוד השרון, חדרה, הרצליה ופתח תקווה 6%, בראשון לציון וטירת כרמל 5%.

הנתונים מגלים גם פירוט מלא לפי כל יישוב בתחום שבדק את המסוגלות, את הסקרנות ואת העניין בלמידה. סכנין רשמה הישג בתחום זה עם הצלחה של 74% מהתלמידים. בג’דיידה-מכר נרשמו 71% הצלחה, בעילוט 67%, ברמת גן 53%, בירושלים 50%, בתל אביב וכרמיאל 47%, בקריית טבעון 40%, במבשרת ציון 38% ובזכרון יעקב 37%.

התמונה החינוכית לבתי הספר התיכוניים בדקה גם את הקרבה והאכפתיות בין המורים לתלמידים בכל יישוב. כאן נמצא כי בקלנסווה דיווחו 55% מהתלמידים על חיבור בינם לבין מוריהם. בלוד השיבו בחיוב על השאלה 53% מהתלמידים, בנצרת 48%, ברעננה 46%, בחיפה 41%, בטירת כרמל 39%, בחולון 38%, בנתניה 37%, בבני ברק 36%, באילת 35% ובהוד השרון ורחובות 33%.

בפרק שבדק את העידוד למעורבות חברתית ואזרחית השיבו בחיוב בנושא זה 62% מהתלמידים בלוד ובחצור הגלילית. בעכו 57%, בגבעתיים 52%, בחולון 48%, בתל אביב 47%, במבשרת ציון 46% ובחדרה 45%.

במערכת החינוך נעשה לאורך השנים ניסיון לשמור על התלמידים בבתי הספר מבלי לפגוע ברמת ההישגים. באריאל נרשמה בתשע”ה ירידה באחוז הנושרים (מ-0.8% ל-0.3%). אחוז הזכאים לבגרות באריאל ברמת חמש יחידות במתמטיקה עמד בשנת תשע”ה על 14%, עלייה של 6% מהשנה הקודמת. אחוז הזכאים לבגרות בעיר ברמת חמש יחידות באנגלית נמצא גם כן בעלייה וגבוה ב-5% מהממוצע הארצי.

בבית ג’ן, שמובילה בשנים האחרונות בזכאות לבגרות, עומד אחוז הנושרים בתשע”ה על 0.5. שיעור הזכאים לבגרות ברמת חמש יחידות לימוד במתמטיקה עמד בתשע”ה ביישוב על 12%. מדובר במגמת עלייה לאורך השנים ואחוז גבוה במעט מהממוצע הארצי. אחוז הזכאים לבגרות ברמת חמש יחידות באנגלית עומד בבית ג’ן על 29, והממוצע הארצי הוא 31.9%.

באשדוד אחוז הנושרים גבוה מהממוצע הארצי ועמד בתשע”ה על כמעט שני אחוזים, מדובר בעלייה של 9% מהשנה שקדמה. שיעור הזכאים לבגרות ברמת חמש יחידות במתמטיקה עקבי לאורך השנים האחרונות ועומד על 11%, גבוה במעט מהממוצע הארצי. ברמת חמש יחידות אנגלית אחוז הזכאים בעיר עומד על 30%, מדובר בעלייה קלה במהלך שלוש השנים האחרונות.

בדימונה אחוז הנושרים גבוה מהממוצע הארצי ועומד על 2.3% – עלייה של אחוז וחצי מהשנה שעברה. שיעור הזכאים לבגרות ברמת חמש יחידות עמד בתשע”ה על 7%. אחוז הזכאים לארבע יחידות לימוד באנגלית עמד על 28 – עלייה של 4% מהשנה שקדמה לה, ומעט מתחת לממוצע הארצי.

בראשון לציון נרשמה עלייה באחוז הנושרים מ-0.6% ל-1.3%. שיעור הזכאים לבגרות ברמת חמש יחידות עמד בתשע”ה על 13% – שלושה אחוזים מעל הממוצע הארצי. אחוז הזכאים לבגרות ברמת חמש יחידות באנגלית בעיר עמד על 40%, גבוה ב-8% מהממוצע הארצי.

בתל אביב אחוז הנושרים בתשע”ה עמד על 1.7 – עלייה של שני אחוזים מהשנה שקדמה לה. מדובר בנתון שגבוה בכשני אחוזים מהממוצע הארצי. שיעור הזכאים לבגרות ברמת חמש יחידות עמד על 12% – עלייה של שני אחוזים. אחוז הזכאים לבגרות ברמת 5 יחידות במתמטיקה עמד על 47, גבוה ב-15% מהממוצע הארצי.

בירושלים אחוז הנושרים בתשע”ה עמד על 2.2%, לעומת הממוצע הארצי – 1.46%. שיעור הזכאים לבגרות ברמת חמש יחידות במתמטיקה בעיר עמד על 7% ובאנגלית על 28%. בחיפה שיעור הנושרים עמד על 1.6% – עלייה של שלושה אחוזים מתשע”ד. שיעור הזכאים לבגרות ברמת חמש יחידות במתמטיקה עמד על 17%, ובאנגלית על 45%, גבוה ב-13% מהממוצע הארצי.

בקריית אונו, אחוז הנושרים עמד על אחוז אחד בלבד. אחוז הזכאים לבגרות ברמת חמש יחידות במתמטיקה עמד על 26% – עלייה של שבעה אחוזים מהשנה שקדמה. מדובר בתוצאה שגבוהה ב-16% מהממוצע הארצי. אחוז הזכאים ברמת חמש יחידות באנגלית עמד על 72%, גבוה ב-40% מהממוצע הארצי. עם זאת מדובר בירידה של 3% מתשע”ד.

שר החינוך נפתלי בנט אמר לנוכח פרסום תמונת המצב בתיכונים: “בתי הספר הם לא מכונות של ציונים אלא חממות של ערכים. בית ספר שבודק את התלמידים רק לפי הציון – לא מעניק חינוך, אלא נותן מסר שלילי לתלמידים. הבטחתי למורים שפגשתי בשטח והיום אני מקיים – נמדוד בתי ספר לפי מדדי איכות, ערכים ומניעת נשירה לצד מדידת זכאות”.

הוא הוסיף כי “אני מאמין ששינוי שיטת המדידה תביא לשינוי משמעותי במערכת החינוך. מדידה לא סותרת ערכים. היא כלי לצמיחה ולשיפור. השאלה האמיתית היא מה מודדים. אם מודדים רק הצלחות וזכאות – מפספסים את הערכים, את ההתעקשות על כל תלמיד, את החינוך לעזרה לזולת, ואת זה אנחנו משנים היום”.


Raising Money to Deprive non-Religious Parents of their Rights to their Children

Ultra-Orthodox Jews launch million-pound fundraising bid to stop children living with ‘irreligious parents’

Ultra-Orthodox Jews are raising £1m to prevent “pure and holy” children from leaving the strict faith community and living with “irreligious parents” in an “evil culture”, The Independent has learned.

The fundraising drive has been established to fund the legal fees of divorcing parents involved in child custody battles with ex-partners who want to join mainstream society.

The Independent has seen flyers for a fundraising event in the Stamford Hill area of London that call for the community to back the bid, saying: “Rescue The Children Convention: We now need one million pounds and therefore the community is requested to join in with a minimum sum of £500.”

A copy of the flyer obtained by The Independent

The flyers were accompanied by a letter of support from a local rabbi stating they wish to fight cases involving 17 children: “To our great pain, and our misfortune, our community finds itself in a terrible situation – 17 of our pure and holy children where one of the parents, God rescue them, have gone out into an evil culture, and want to drag their children after them.

“This is a decree of apostasy and this situation has motivated our rabbis who are in Israel… to come here in a personal capacity to increase prayer and to gather money for legal fees, and to achieve this a convention has been organised of prayer and also to collect money.”

Leaflet distributed in North London, calling for donations ()

The Charedi community is notoriously insular and practices a 19th-century interpretation of the faith. Engagement with the secular world is deeply taboo, Yiddish is spoken as the primary language and arranged marriages are standard practice. Men wear 19th-century Eastern European dress including long black coats and black hats, while married women must dress modestly and cover their hair.

Campaigners and former community members have told The Independent the tactical funding of legal fees tears families apart by denying those wishing to leave the religion access to their children as a punishment for no longer believing in ultra-Orthodox Judaism.

They say the practice unfairly skews child custody battles in favour of the funded parent who remains in the faith groups, rather than enabling custody to be decided on the basis of the best interests of children. Many who join mainstream society have little grasp of the English language or legal system as well as no financial resources, they are severely disadvantaged in court cases and can struggle to understand or articulate their experiences or get adequate legal representation.

A spokesperson for GesherEU, a charity supporting people wishing to leave Charedi communities, told The Independent: “[Child custody cases instigated by a parent leaving the community are] seen as a huge threat to the Charedi community, knowing that people can leave the community and take their children with them and give them a decent secular education and live successfully outside of the community.

“It is very common within the Charedi community for the religious parent to receive full financial support throughout the court process to ensure the children remain within the community. The parent who stays religious will receive fully funded solicitors and barristers with the sole intention of ensuring the children remain resident with the parent who stays in the community.”

“The religious parent will be pressurised into filing for full custody and even lie in court so that the other parent is seen as ‘an unfit parent’ and lose custody/contact with their children. Often parents who leave will experience domestic violence as the religious parent will resort to threats and emotional and physical abuse to try and coerce their spouse to remain married and living within the Charedi community.”

They added that the knowledge the community will try and keep a child with a believing parent acts as a deterrent for anyone questioning their faith and considering leaving: “An event like this is a clear warning to those thinking of leaving as well as a scare tactic: ‘If you leave we have all the money power and resources to fight you and ensure your children stay within the community are alienated from you.’ This does work to some extent and deters many who would otherwise leave knowing they will be facing a legal battle with possibly devastating consequences.”

Last year, the community came under scrutiny when it emerged one school threatened pupils with expulsion if their mothers drove them to school on the grounds that it was “contrary to the rules of religious modesty” for women to drive. An investigation by The Independent earlier this year found more than a 1,000 children in Charedi communities are attending illegal schools where secular knowledge is banned and they learn only religious texts, meaning they leave school with no qualifications and often unable to speak any English.

The Independent has seen details of legal cases brought before British Family Courts in recent years whereby the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has funded legal fees of a ‘believing’ parent in the hope that they will be given custody of the children above the other parent. In a 2013 ruling, a judge told the court: “The mother and father come from the… Charedi community of ultra-Orthodox Jews. A major reason for the marriage breakdown was that the mother no longer wished to follow the strict tenets of that community. She remains an orthodox Jew but wished for a way of living for herself and the children which allowed greater diversity of educational, personal and economic opportunity. Her wish has come at a price. Her own parents and siblings are no longer in contact with her.

“The financial cost of this litigation is significant. The mother does not receive public funding, and pays the legal costs from her own pocket. The father’s legal costs are paid for by his community and by his parents… This is a grossly disproportionate misdirection of the father’s available financial resources. It is also a wearing down of the mother’s resources. I did not make a costs order on this occasion but, if these or similar disputes are continued, the court may have to intervene with costs orders in future to prevent further financial injustice to the mother.”

A court case last year exposed the extreme pressure individuals feel when leaving the community as a woman sought to divorce her husband after alleging sexual and domestic violence, and gain custody of their daughter. Court records seen by The Independent show the woman was unable to read or write English and was represented on a voluntary basis by lawyers due to lack of funds. It is not known how her ex-husband’s legal fees were funded.

The ruling notes that the woman says she was beaten and raped repeatedly throughout her marriage but “was inhibited from speaking out about her abusive experiences contemporaneously because of the culture in which she was living… where she would have no audience and no sympathy”.

The woman told the court that when the woman attended a GP’s appointment for vaginal pain incurred by rape, her husband attended with her to translate English for her, meaning she was unable to get help there too.

She said that once she did speak out and seek custody of her child, community members spread rumours she had been sexually promiscuous. “A member of the community threw eggs at me for disclosing the violence and allegedly bringing shame upon the community,” she said. The woman was granted custody and left the country soon after to begin a new life with her child.

Imtiaz Shams, co-founder of Faith To Faithless an advocacy group for ex-religious people, told The Independent: “Faith to Faithless has come across many parents for whom leaving their faith has had huge consequences for their relationship with their children. Many have had to “go back into the closet” in terms of their lack of faith, even from their own children, simply to protect this bond.

“Leaving faith can put the financial and social weight of the whole religious community against the parent: it is part of the systematic prejudice faced by non-religious people from religious communities. Leaving the Ultra-Orthodox community can be particularly difficult as these parents can be isolated, may not know what their rights are or have the financial and emotional support required to fight these custody battles.”

He added: “We call on the Government and civil society to do more to protect non-religious parents and their children, who may not have the resources to challenge the discrimination they face.”


Chabad Jew Celebrating the Deaths in Orlando

Are our Fundamentalist Jewish Counterparts Any Different than the Worst Kind of Fundamentalist Muslims?

Is the man speaking in this Video an Aberration or is this Feeling Shared by Mainstream Chabad?

Lost Messiah, June 14, 2016

We are posting this video which leaves little to be said. It should be viewed with great urgency. For many of us it represents nothing more and nothing less than an embarrassment to who we are as Jews and a sense of despair.

To those of us non-Jews or simply conscientious observers, this represents a slow destruction of a people, a decline in what was once the Jewish conscience, a peaceful moral compass.

We view this video and those like it as nightmarish in its/their implications.

Are our ultra-Orthodox Jewish counterparts one day going to demand that their wives be clothed in Burkhas, claiming the fundamentalist version of a Jihad? Are they going to be praying to a G-d who many of us understand is peace-loving, finding portions within Jewish texts to justify murder?

Orlando represented, for anyone with a conscience, the senseless killing of human beings. Orlando was an act carried out by a single man out on a violent and brutal mission and there was, in our view, nothing G-d loving in the events that transpired. For a Chabad Jew to turn it into something justifiable is unthinkable.

Are we in the process of viewing a demise in the Jewish morality? Are we now giving a justification, for anti-Semitism of the worst kind? You might be surprised by your response.

The UK Ahead of US for Equal Standards of Required Education


Teaching ultra-Orthodox Children Subjects in Preparation of life Outside of their insular religious community, demanded in the UK – far too much to ask in the US

May 5, 2016

Few US states are enforcing laws requiring publicly funded non-public schools to provide their children with a  “substantially similar” education as their public school counterparts. This is a problem within many religious communities, though most profound amongst the ultra-Orthodox Jewish who not only refuse to teach subjects like mathematics and science, but also do not teach their children English. For all intents and purposes, ultra-Orthodox yeshiva educated male children stop learning secular subjects around age 13 and girls little beyond that.

While the US lags behind in cracking down on these schools, and in turn helping the children who are being subjugated to a life of illiteracy, the UK is miles ahead. In a recent article, “Chasidic school loses appeal against ban on new pupils” it was reported that:

The Care Standards tribunal ruled that the Department for Education’s restriction against taking new pupils was “proportionate and necessary” until the school met the required standards for independent schools.
The ruling will have significant implications for the independent Charedi educational sector in the wake of a tougher Ofsted inspection regime that has operated over the past two years.

In the case discussed in the article, the ruling is so far beyond just secular subjects but rather focuses on teaching respect for women, teaching diversity, gay marriage, sexual orientation. In the US, we are still struggling enforcement of laws requiring that ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students learn math and science.

“Dayan Friedman [of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations] had written that if something was forbidden by the Torah, “we are not allowed to put our minds to it, to understand what is done… nor broaden our knowledge of it.”
But Judge Brayne said that pupils would not be equipped “to enter modern British society, which accepts as part of its diversity civil partnerships, gay marriage, families with same-sex parents and acceptance of transgender persons”.
He also said the school needed to do more than simply acknowledge the existence of other faiths in order to promote “fundamental British values” of respect and tolerance towards other people.
Pupils needed to know that “members of different faiths have different beliefs, customs and values, and something about those matters”.
Although Beis Aharon was rated as satisfactory by Ofsted six years ago, it was judged inadequate by inspectors in 2014 and has received two follow-up visits.
The school, which has introduced the teaching of English to children in years one to four, said that it needed more time to implement other improvements to its secular curriculum.
But Judge Brayne said the tribunal panel felt that “the extent of failure to meet standards is serious and we believe only with the pressure of the sanction will the school’s leaders prioritise the work needed”.
He added that the failures were enough to warrant a “more severe decision” from the department.
Chasidic children had the “same right to an education which meets the standards set for independent schools” as any other child, he commented.”

To read the article in its entirety click here.

The US states should be enforcing laws demanding that publicly funded non public schools require teaching basic subjects like  math, science and English. It would certainly be too much to ask that children be exposed to the realities of sexual orientation, respect for women, and other issues forbidden to be discussed, no less taught.


SHOCKER: “Chestnut Ridge” investor has discriminatory past

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 3.05.18 PM

April 21, 2016

In what should come as no surprise, (at least) one of the investors in Shalom Lamm’s Chestnut Ridge in Bloomingburg (a development that undoubtedly violates the Fair Housing Act, among other laws and statutes) has a documented history of discriminatory practices.

Jacob “Yaty” Weinreb, principal of Weinreb Management, discriminated against a same-sex couple who were tenants in one of his rent-stabilized Manhattan properties. The Daily News reported on the couples’ lawsuit against Weinreb:

Lesbian couple sues landlord for refusing to allow both names on lease

An Upper West Side lesbian couple is suing their landlord for refusing to put both of their names on their lease in what is believed to be the first case of its kind since New York legalized gay marriage in 2011.

Dava Weinstein, 68, and Dorothy Calvini, 64, say their landlord, Jacob Weinreb, is violating their rights by refusing to recognize Calvini as a co-tenant in their West 86th Street rent stabilized apartment.

The couple were married in Iowa in March 2011 to commemorate 35 years of partnership. Three months later, gay marriages were legalized in New York.

The contend their landlord violated their rights by refusing to put Calvini on the lease because New York law recognizes gay marriages in other states and requires gay couples to be given the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Weinstein and Calvini have been living in the same apartment since 1977 with only Weinstein’s name on the lease.

Their troubles started last December when Weinstein had to sign a new lease and added Calvini’s name as a co-tenant. Weinreb rejected it, explaining later that New York State law does not recognize Calvini as a tenant.

When he refused for months to budge on the issue, Weinstein signed a new lease without Calvini on it, but then the two women filed suit with the help of the gay rights group, LAMBDA.

LAMBDA attorney Susan Sommer said Weinreb “refused to budge” even after getting a letter from her explaining that New York recognizes gay marriages in other states and the women had to be treated like any other couple.

“They stuck to their guns. It amounts to rank discrimination,” she said Thursday morning.

Sommer said this was the second case that LAMBDA has handled in the last year where a gay couple had trouble getting both spouses’ names on a lease, but in the first instance, the landlord backed down before the matter got to court.

“We suspect this could be the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

Sommer said other married same sex couples might not know their rights to put their spouses on their leases as co-tenants or they could be “reluctant to rock the boat” with their landlord for fear of losing their rent regulated apartment.

She said it is far better to have both spouses on the lease than to have to prove, after one spouse dies, that the surviving spouse has a right to stay in the apartment.

Neither Weinstein, a clinical licensed social worker, nor Clavini, a geriatric nurse, were available to comment.

A manager in Weinreb’s office said his firm has no comment at this time.

A month after the suit was filed, Weinreb settled out of court, adding Calvini’s name to the lease and paying the couple $20,000.