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.


Non-Compliant Yeshivas and State Funding – Undoing Felder’s Damage, About Time…



Yeshivas could lose state funding for poor education

Yeshivas accused of providing inferior secular education were put on notice Tuesday that they could be shut by the state.

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

Parents will be notified to send their kids elsewhere — or be deemed “truant” — if they continue to attend noncompliant schools, the guidelines say.

“We want to ensure that all students receive the education they are entitled to under state Education Law, no matter which school they attend,” Elia said.

Complaints about shoddy education at some New York City yeshivas have raged for years.

A probe conducted by the city Department of Education culminated in August with a report that 15 Brooklyn yeshivas refused to even allow officials to enter and review their classes.

Elia warned: “Not letting someone in is not acceptable.”

The three-year city investigation by the DOE also found that at other Jewish schools, students were taught only basic math and no science at all.

Under the new state guidelines, the city Department of Education would continue to review the religious schools, which would have up to three years to clean up their act. Elia said the religious schools would have to provide 180 minutes of instruction per subject per week with “competent” teachers.

In grades 5 through 8, for example, yeshivas would have to provide at least one class per semester of instruction in English, math and science as well as courses in career and tech education.

Some of the changes were triggered by a controversial amendment pushed by Brooklyn state Sen. Simcha Felder — a champion of yeshivas — that was included in the last state budget and which critics complained watered down academic requirements at yeshivas. But Elia said the amendment gives her final authority to determine whether many of the religious schools are teaching the basics or not — and in the most extreme cases of noncompliance shut them down.

Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools, which represents parents with kids in yeshivas, said it was pleased the guidelines acknowledge that “religious schools are and will remain different from public schools in curricula, mission, emphasis and instructional approaches.”

But the group expressed concern that public school officials would be evaluating religious schools. “Today’s guidelines will encourage further deviation from the truth in pursuit of political goals,” the organization said.

Yaffed Sues State, Cuomo Promises to Leave Education Untouched and Tish James Joins Cuomo Ticket- Education in NY?

Group sues state over yeshivas

GROUP SUES STATE FOR GREATER YESHIVA OVERSIGHT — POLITICO’s Madina TouréAn organization seeking to reform curricula in yeshivas is suing the state over legislation that, in the group’s view, protects the schools from proper oversight. The organization — Young Advocates for Fair Education, also known as Yaffed — filed the suit on Monday morning in Brooklyn federal court. It named Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa as defendants. Lawyers from the firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan are representing Yaffed pro bono.

“Ultra-orthodox yeshivas, by our estimates, receive hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year,” said Naftuli Moster, Yaffed’s founder and executive director, at a press conference in Manhattan announcing the lawsuit.”This is clearly a problem and a problem that elected officials in New York have known about for decades and instead of improving the situation, the state allowed one lawmaker, Simcha Felder, who represents the interests of yeshiva leaders, to hijack the state budget process to ensure inclusion of an amendment that exempts ultra-Orthodox yeshivas statewide from having to provide a proper secular education,” Moster continued.

Felder, a Democratic state senator from Brooklyn who has been caucusing with Senate Republicans since he was elected in 2012, was accused of holding up the $168 billion state budget earlier this year until the state acquiesced to his request for yeshivas to be exempt from curriculum requirements. He provides the Senate GOP with a key 32nd vote. The final budget gave the state Education Department the authority to address the issue for bilingual teaching for a greater number of hours, a requirement that yeshivas fulfill.

The group contends that the state’s action flouts the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bans the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion” or “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

“The carve-out in the Felder Amendment is actually defined in a way that only those ultra-Orthodox yeshivas are included within that carve-out,” said Eric Huang, lead counsel for Yaffed. “These are defined by the fact that they’re nonprofits, that they have a bilingual program and that their education program is marked by very long days.” Read more here.

There Will be “No Government Interference” with the Education within the Haredi (Satmar) Community

Dear Readers:

In the Hebrew and English papers it is being reported that the Satmar community has received confirmation from Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with Senator Simcha Felder that there will “be no interference in the education of Jewish children.”

You will find the Hebrew article first and below it a very loose translation.


המושל הבטיח: “לא אתערב בחינוך”

ניו-יורק: הקהילות החרדיות מתאחדים סביב המועמדים שמתחייבים להשיג את התוצאות הטובות ביותר עבורם • בבית הרבי מסאטמר התארח מושל ניו-יורק אנדרו קומו שהגיע לגייס את תמיכת הרבי


החוגים והעדות מתאחדים סביב המועמדים שיביאו את התוצאות הטובות ביותר בשביל החרדים, זאת בהתקרב מועד הבחירות שיתקיימו בעוד שבועיים, לתפקיד הסנטור של המדינה. 

הסנטור החרדי שמחה פלדר, המייצג את תושבי השכונות ברובע ברוקלין, בורו פארק ופלטבוש, הגיע בשבוע האחרון לביקור אצל האדמו”ר מסאטמר במעונו בשכונת ויליאמסבורג לקראת הבחירות הקרובות, האדמו”ר ברכו בחמימות ואף הביע את תמיכתו הפומבית. 

בסוף השבוע הופיע בבית הרבי מסאטמר, מושל ניו-יורק אנדרו קומו. במהלך הפגישה, בה השתתפו ראשי החסידות ועסקני ויליאמסבורג, עלתה גזירות החינוך בארצות הברית. המושל הבטיח לאדמו”ר שלא יתערב בענייני החינוך במגזר החרדי. 

גם האדמו”ר מהר”א מסאטמר שיבח בחג הפסח האחרון את הסנטור החרדי ר’ שמחה פלדר, ואמר כי “זכות הרבים תלוי בו וזכות כל תינוקות של בית רבן תלוי בו ויש קונה עולמו בשעה אחת”. “אני יודע שהתקשורת תצא נגדך אבל זה הכבוד שלך בעיני כל העם היהודי לכל קהילותיו”, אמר הרבי

The following is a loose translation:


New York: The Haredi Community are supporting the candidates that are promising the best results for that community. At the home of the Satmar Rabbi was hosted the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo who came to enlist the Rabbi’s support.

Also in Israel there is an expansion of gathering support for candidates for the local elections in New York who will best advance the  beliefs of the Haredi community. The people are being encouraged to garner support for centered around candidates who will bring about the best results for the Haredim, and the choosing of candidates for Senator who come closest to continuing and advancing, the best interests of the Haredi community within the State [of New York].

The Haredi senator, Simcha Felder, the representative of the inhabitants of communities of Borough Park and Flatbush, cam this las week to visit at the head of the Satmar in the community of Williamsburg because of the upcoming local elections and the head invited him (Felder) and promised his election support.

At the end of the week, Governor Andrew Cuomo was present at the Satmar Rabbi’s residence. During the meeting, there was also the participation of the head of the Chasidic and the representative of Williamsburg, and raised the issues of the interference of the education within the United States. The Governor promised that during his tenure, there would be no interference by his office with the Haredi education.

Also, all of the members of the US Satmar commity who spent last Passover with the Haredi Senator Simcha Felder understood and reiterated that “the greater rights [of the Jewish people] are depending upon him and the rights of all children of Israel are depending upon him at this hour. “I know that the media is sending out negative messages but this is the honor of yours on behalf of the entire Jewish world and all of its people” said the Rabbi.