Over and over throughout my time in yeshiva I heard this constant refrain, that we were better than the public schools because we had a higher graduation rate, and didn’t require drug screenings and metal detectors. And I believed it. I believed that the education I was getting was far better than whatever public school had to offer, and that I was intellectually and morally superior to my public school peers.
Then I grew up and realized that the world isn’t quite so simple.
I’m now seeing a resurgence of this ridiculous idea in the wake of the debate over private school curricular standards in New York State. Since that topic as a whole is very complicated and nuanced, and would require more than one post to fully flesh out my opinions, I just want to focus on this one specific aspect of it: The idea that yeshivas are academically and morally superior to public schools.
What really kicked my opinions of yeshivas in the teeth was when I started volunteering for Our Place, a drop-in center for Jewish kids at risk. Sure, I’d been abused for years in the frum world and had dropped out of yeshiva, but I still thought before that point that it was really just me and my life experiences, and that the image I had of the frum world in general, and the yeshiva world in particular, were sound and valid.
Just to give an example, the idea that yeshiva guys would do drugs or have sex before they were married was inconceivable to me. Mind you, I was 19 at the time, but I’d never really stepped out of my personal bubble. When I started volunteering at Our Place, reality came at me fast and hard. A lot of the kids there were regular drug users, some of whom were drug dealers, some of the kids were in gangs, some of them had knocked up their girlfriends, and so on. It was, to 19-year-old me, at once heartbreaking and eye-opening that this myth I had believed about the frum community and the people within it was nonsense.
More shocking even than that was the way a lot of the community seemed to interact with and feel about this group of boys. Many of them had been abused, the community had silenced it or covered it up, and when they inevitably started “acting out” as a result of their trauma, the community threw them out. One night I got curious and asked a bunch of the boys there whether they had been able to speak to their rebbeim about a range of topics. Unanimously they said no. They had been kicked out of yeshiva for asking. Then they’d been kicked out of the next yeshiva for asking, and so on. They were only taken seriously when they were finally sent to what they characterized as “babysitting/kiruv” yeshivas, where, since they were already at the rock bottom of the yeshiva world, the rebbeim had nothing to lose by engaging with them.
Why? Because at that point the yeshivas and rebbeim had nothing to lose. There was no longer any image of perfection to maintain because they were dealing with kids the community had rejected for threatening to shatter that illusion. Of course, by then these boys were soured on the community and yeshivas in general, and never lasted long in these places.
Every so often one of them would die. A suicide, or a drug overdose, or a gang-related killing. Not a word in the charedi press. Not a tear shed for them. Not a world written in remembrance. These boys die without so much as a peep from the community that excised them to retain this illusion of perfection, to prop up this ridiculous idea that we’re so much better than “them” both academically and morally.
Public schools don’t get to be selective with their student bodies, they have to work with whatever district they happen to be in. They have to find a way to make it work. If their district happens to be an a high-poverty, high-crime area, then they have to try to educate that population, even though the children in that district may have more immediate, existential priorities than learning their reading writing and ‘rithmetic.
Yeshivas, on the other hand, get to be selective. They get to choose what “types” of people they accept. They get to expel with impunity. They get to abuse, and cover up, and expunge the victim from their narrative, all in service of maintaining this lie that yeshivas are by definition better than public schools.
Setting aside the fact that many yeshivas actually do graduate and issue diplomas to students who aren’t, in fact, deserving of them by artificially inflating their grades, it’s very easy to claim academic superiority when you make your job easy by eliminating anyone who you think might disturb that illusion.
Comparing yeshivas to public schools in this regard is therefore disingenuous at best, and malicious at worst. The yeshiva world can’t have it both ways. It can’t refuse to serve, and in doing so deny the existence of, the kinds of children that public schools are compelled to and still maintain that they somehow by nature operate at a higher level. They don’t get to expel from school and ostracize from the community children who struggle with drugs, who have sex before marriage, who suffer from mental health issues, who come from broken, or abusive homes, who have questions of faith, and then claim that because they’ve washed their hands of such problems they are therefore better than the ones who haven’t.
The system is built on the blood of those discarded children, and that blood boils on the ground as these liars stand on their corpses to more loudly proclaim their lies.
According to the High Court of Justice’s ruling, by December 2nd, the Knesset must pass a new law regulating the enlistment of ultra-Orthodox civilians to the IDF.
The proposed draft bill threatens to dismantle the coalition and prompt early elections.
The Council of Torah Sages of Degel HaTorah, the Lithuanian faction of the United Torah Judaism party, is expected to convene on Monday or in the coming days in order to decide whether the party’s opposition to the bill still stands, or if a compromise regarding the enlistment of the ultra-Orthodox population is possible.
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‘Kill next woman soldier you see’ reads flier against haredi IDF service
In a severe escalation of incitement against haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment in the IDF, a flyer was recently distributed in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods that called for the murder of women soldiers, IDF commanders and anyone involved in recruiting haredi men into the army.
Until now, the campaign against haredi IDF service has refrained from calling for violence, sufficing instead with severe incitement and vitriolic verbal attacks against haredi soldiers, officers and recruiters.
The flyer, however, is very different from materials normally printed and distributed by such groups. Some doubt has surfaced as to whether the flyers were part of the central anti-enlistment campaign because its wording is unlike that of standard pashkavillim, public notices commonly used in the haredi community.
It was also not professionally printed, as are regular pashkavillim and anti-haredi military service materials.
The flyer, titled “A Ruling of Jewish Law,” instructs young haredi men who are drafted into the IDF: “If they take you by force to the army of destruction, it is permitted for you and you must do the following actions: Take the rifle that you received and kill any woman soldier you come across so she merits [the precept of] ‘be killed instead of transgressing.’ Kill any [IDF] commander who holds you [in the army] by force. Kill anyone who drafts or entices or helps [to draft haredi men].”
The notice also said that soldiers should kill themselves in order to fulfill the precept of ‘be killed instead of transgressing,’ which in normative Jewish law applies only to instances in which one must murder, engage in forbidden sexual relationships or commit idolatry.
Police are investigating the source of the pamphlet, which incites to violence.
For the last four years, extremists in the ultra-Orthodox community have waged a campaign against haredi men serving in the IDF out of belief that the state is trying to eradicate their religious identity by secularizing them in the army.
Ultra-Orthodox IDF soldiers, officers and officials involved in encouraging haredi enlistment have frequently been subjected to verbal abuse, physical assault, harassment and even death threats. Flyers, posters and booklets inciting against haredi IDF enlistment have been published and disseminated in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.
A poster that is certainly part of the anti-enlistment campaign, which was disseminated earlier this week in Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh, promises as much as NIS 810 to haredi children if they verbally abuse haredi soldiers.
The poster lauded an incident last month in which a haredi child engaged in abusive behavior toward a haredi soldier and was detained by the police.
The poster noted that the child’s behavior was “in keeping with the Torah and the instructions of the leading rabbis who have ruled that one must disgrace [haredi soldiers].”
“Remember pure children! You are on the side of Torah, the side of God, you will be victorious! These evil people will not succeed in destroying your future,” reads the poster, which refers to haredi soldiers as “hardak,” an insult meaning weak-minded haredi.
“But, so that we too will have a portion in your massive merit, we have decided to grant to all children who they dare to put in a police patrol car – because he fulfilled the religious commandment to shout ‘hardaks get out’ – a present or voucher worth NIS 530, a number that has the numeric value of ‘hardaks get out now,’” states the poster.
Any child struck during the arrest, the poster promises, will receive a further award of NIS 290, the numeric value of “fist.”
Only those under the age of 15 qualify for the reward, which will be delivered to the child’s house, according to the poster.
Police have stepped up efforts in recent months to counter assaults against haredi IDF soldiers, conducting arrests and investigations against those behind the incitement campaign.
Rabbi Teitelbaum Criticizes Loss of ‘Implicit Understanding’…
We find it utterly remarkable that either of the two warring sons of the Satmar Grand Rebbe Teitelbaum has the right to opine on the behavior of anyone else. After all, the two new Satmar sects (one for each brother Teitelbaum) of the Satmar [cult] cannot even agree with one another about how to live their lives [or govern the lives of those within their respective communities]. Either the brothers Teitelbaum are fighting over a financial inheritance under cover of religion; or they are fighting over interpretation of that religion (proving that it may not be all black and all white). Regardless, for either brother Teitelbaum to call the rest of us “”Egyptians” encouraged by “worthless people” who regrettably are awakening a complicit “benevolent government” is hypocrisy at its finest.”
Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum of Kiryas Joel should be looking at the deplorable behavior of members of his own community before he has the audacity to criticize others. He might just want to say a “Meshaberach” (prayer for the sick) for his own community and not cast stones.
Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum unlike the Jews in Egypt, you and your people [a cult] are free to go elsewhere. You are not being held anywhere against your will, only being asked to comply with the laws and comport to a socially acceptable set of standards of behavior [like not molesting children in Yeshivas – or elsewhere, and like educating your children in substantially similar subjects as other children in the State in which you reside]. In Israel, you are being asked to serve in the army and in London to teach your children what public school children learn. If you are not happy with the laws of the country in which you live, go somewhere else. No one needs to “Let [your] people go.” They are free to leave without need of 10 plagues.
From Clarkstown What They Don’t Want you to Know on Facebook:
The Number One Problem For Hasidic Communities? – Could it be that Rockland and Orange Counties are populated by “Egyptians” encouraged by “worthless people” who regrettably are awakening a complicit “benevolent government” and thereby creating “bad times” for an extreme sect of Judaism?
How to manage the rapid growth of its Hasidic population coupled with a move of Hasidic populations north into Rockland County and beyond is indeed a topic of intense local interest. Our featured article from Haaretz.com gives some insights on that situation from both Hasidic leaders and Hasidic dissidents.
It begins by noting that the recent scrutiny of the Haredim and their unsustainable mode of living supported by a ‘benevolent government’ is being pushed largely by dissidents, in some cases ex-Hasidim, who say they are acting in the best interests of the community.
“We need to know what kind of danger we’re in,” the Satmar rebbe in Kiryas Joel, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, said in a widely publicized May 4 speech about the threat of closer state supervision of yeshiva curricula. “These are bad times for us Jews, terrible. We need to pray to God that they should not interfere with the upbringing of our children.”
For a long time, Teitelbaum said in his speech, there’s been an implicit understanding between state authorities and the leadership of Hasidic communities like Kiryas Joel that the state wouldn’t interfere in communal affairs.
But that implicit agreement may be breaking down as it becomes more difficult for authorities to ignore abuses – sexual, educational or financial – allegedly taking place within these closed communities. The prospect of outside interference threatens one of Kiryas Joel’s raisons d’etre: Hasidic control of the community’s affairs.
“Until now there were also strict laws, but because we live in a kingdom of benevolence [a reference to government authorities] to put it bluntly they simply turned a blind eye to what’s going on by the Jewish children,” Teitelbaum said in his speech, which was delivered in Yiddish and then translated into English for widespread dissemination. “They didn’t want to look, the benevolent kingdom. Now, too, they’d continue doing that, the government would have continued, they’re happy not to look and not to know. But these worthless people are stirring up in various ways and are demanding in court, forcing the government that they should take a stance.”
The “worthless people” are people like Naftuli Moster who is advocating for better education in the ultra insular communities.
“I’ve been to those yeshivas, I know exactly what the effects are,” said Naftuli Moster, executive director of Yaffed, an organization he founded that lobbies lawmakers to force Orthodox yeshivas to offer quality secular studies in addition to Torah studies.
“You’re not gaining anything by depriving people of an education. The very Satmar rabbi that made that speech also encourages people to earn a living, to his credit, but at the same time he’s the one who has jurisdiction over the yeshivas that are depriving Hasidim of the very tools necessary to earn that living,” Moster told JTA. “So what do people end up doing? Oftentimes they resort to criminal activity and other shenanigans to earn that living.”
People like Moster who make a charge of ‘resorting to criminal activity’ against the Haredim are referred to as “self-hating Jews” while those not of the Jewish faith are accused of being “anti-Semites”.
But look at the facts ….
FBI investigators were in Kiryas Joel, and in Rockland County and in Brooklyn investigating alleged fraud by Hasidic institutions in the federal government’s E-rate program provided to bring technology into yeshivas and the FBI were in Kiryas Joel a second time investigating child abuse allegations.
Further, the New York Daily News and WNYC public radio published and broadcast a joint investigative story scrutinizing the outsized number of low-income, Section 8 housing vouchers that have gone to the Hasidic community in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn – a Satmar neighborhood with close ties to Kiryas Joel.
The WNYC story attributed the voucher aberration to Hasidic “self-dealing that’s impenetrable to outsiders” and cited lawsuits arguing that the Hasidim obtain housing vouchers through unfair or unlawful means. The story also noted that Hasidim are taking the vouchers with them to places outside the city, like Kiryas Joel.
Meanwhile, Teitelbaum expresses fury that fellow Jews are the source of much of the pressure …..
“Due to our many sins, it’s very painful to talk about it, there stood up several “worthless people” from our own who have studied in Hasidic yeshivas, and sadly they arrived I don’t want to say where. They decided to wage war against the whole ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of New York,” the rebbe said. “They went and “snitched” to the governments of New York City and New York State with complaints that the students of the yeshivas, of all yeshivas (elementary and middle school) are not learning enough general studies as required by law.”
In the ‘Jew in Rockland’ video produced by the Rockland Hasidic community, the accusation was made that Rockland was basically a growing throwback to the Nazis in the Germany of the 1930s.
Now there is a new moniker being applied to Rockland’s citizens – they are akin to “biblical Egyptians” ……
Joseph Waldman, a longtime Kiryas Joel community leader who heads a local welfare organization, said the “unprecedented assault” on the Hasidic community stems from local non-Jews’ fear of its rapid growth – just as the biblical Egyptians feared the rapid growth of the Israelites in Moses’ time.
“That’s the reason they were trying to make the trouble for the Jews in Egypt: The first thing they were afraid was the Jewish families growing so rapidly,” Waldman told JTA.
“Here, they are fearful that they’re going to be overwhelmed either by the growth of the environment or by political clout through the bloc votes.”
“They want to stop the community from growing,” he said. “That’s the reason for all the problems.”
Read on …….
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‘Implicit Understanding’ Between Hasidic N.Y. Community and Authorities Fades
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/news/1.720200
May 5, 2016
Tafkid, meaning position or job, is an organization in London created introduce Charedi children to life beyond their insular community, to teach subjects like English and Math and to help them find jobs. Ultimately, such an organization’s mission is to provide Charedi children with a future beyond Talmudic study and to reduce the poverty within the community.
The Charedi community in London has decided to warn their members that children should not be working. Any organization offering them a job, like “Tafkid” is actually enticing children to go “off the derech” (off the path). The clear statement in those words is that the community should not be self-sustaining and should live off of the provisions of others: for to work means to be misdirected.
The reality is that children who are introduced into the world beyond their insular community, who are educated beyond Talmudic studies, Yiddish and Torah represent a threat to the Charedim, not only in England but in the world writ large. When you deprive a child of an education, you are depriving that child a future. By keeping children from being properly educated and working you enslave that child forever.
That way of life is ultimately unsustainable.
Chareidim in London are freaking out because of a leaflet that offers them Jobs and Education
Below is a copy of the leaflet by an organization called “Tafkid” that offers Chareidim an opportunity to get an education or a job, Chas Ve’sholim!
The above “warning” is hinting that “Tafkid” wants to entice Jewish children to go “off the derech” …
I have a suggestion to the Chareidie leaders, if you don’t want organizations like Tafkid enticing your children …. make your own organization that helps children with free tutors and lessons in English and Math …
How about that?