Yeshiva Deprives Students of Secular Education and Mayor De Blasio Offers Praise

De Blasio Praised Brooklyn Yeshiva Accused Of Depriving Students Of Secular Education

From: The Gothamist

Oholei Torah in Crown Heights. Mayor de Blasio praised the yeshiva, which is under DOE investigation, in a letter this spring. (Emma Whitford / Gothamist)

In May of this year, long after the Department of Education announced an investigation into dozens of yeshivas for failing to provide a basic education to their students, Mayor Bill de Blasio effusively praised one of the yeshivas that was being investigated.

In a letter obtained by Gothamist, de Blasio congratulated Crown Heights yeshiva Oholei Torah for “giving its students the tools they need to build solid foundations for their futures,” even as alumni accuse the ultra-Orthodox school of leaving them unprepared for college and a career.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has yet to issue any findings related to their investigation of educational neglect at 39 yeshivas in New York, and has allegedly blown through several promised deadlines since the probe was opened over two years ago.

At a press conference outside City Hall on Wednesday, secular education advocates criticized de Blasio’s support for the school, and accused the mayor and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña of dragging their feet on the investigation for fear of offending the powerful Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox voting blocs.

“The politics behind this is obvious—the city is absolutely terrified of calling out the Hasidic yeshivas, because the findings would indicate that they’re not even close to meeting state requirements [concerning education],” Naftuli Moster, the executive director of Young Adults For A Fair Education [Yaffed], which acquired the mayor’s letter, told Gothamist.

The letter was included in a commemorative “journal” distributed to guests at the yeshiva’s 60th anniversary dinner this year, according to the group. It will be included in a forthcoming Yaffed report, which alleges that Oholei Torah provides no secular education to its students, in grades kindergarten through twelve.


“It feels like the mayor just is not even pretending to care,” said Chaim Levin, 28, who attended Oholei Torah in Crown Heights from 1995 to 2005. “It’s like, he’s rewarding very bad behavior. Bad behavior that’s been going on for 60 years of this school’s existence.”

Oholei Torah did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the mayor’s letter, or Yaffed’s allegations. The Mayor’s Office declined to comment on the letter.

In July of 2015, around 50 yeshiva parents, alumni and former teachers sent a letter to the DOE expressing their concern that the Orthodox schools were almost entirely focused on intensive religious studies, to the exclusion of math, English, science and social studies.

According to a report put out earlier this month by Yaffed, the lack of instruction in secular education leaves “young men lack[ing] the requisite skills to obtain employment with a decent income to support themselves and their (often large) families.” The report recommends that the DOE establish a task force to improve education in the schools, and that all funding be cut to schools not meeting state benchmarks by summer 2019.

In response Yaffed’s report, the pro-yeshiva group Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools [PEARLS] released a statement noting that the purpose of the ultra-Orthodox schools was for “children to receive a religious education that is central to their cultural identity, and that teaches young men and women to become thriving, respected members of the community.” The group rejected Yaffed’s recommendations.

“The vast majority of Hasidic boys’ high schools do not teach any secular studies, zero, not even English,” Moster said in response.

Such practices would place yeshivas in violation of a state law requiring all private schools to provide education that is “at least substantially equivalent” to that provided in public schools. While the city has promised a good faith investigation into the potential neglect, Moster says they’ve missed at least two deadlines that they set for themselves.

Toya Holness, a spokesperson for the DOE, told Gothamist, “The investigation is ongoing and we are treating this matter with utmost seriousness.” She also provided Gothamist with a letter showing that the DOE had made scheduled visits to six yeshivas through the city, and planned to make additional visits throughout the month. She declined to answer a question about whether the department had a deadline for releasing their findings.

According to Moster, the DOE promised to release a report about the schools last summer, then pushed that back until this summer, and now appears to have backed off their commitment to a deadline entirely,

“If the only issue was waiting until after the elections, I would say fine,” he noted. “The problem is what this delay symbolizes: the city will bend itself backwards to appease a handful of powerful Hasidic leaders. If the report does ever come out, I’m expecting them to water it down dramatically.”


Yeshiva Camp and Alcohol Use – A Community Ignoring a Problem and a Rabbi Taking Action

Dear Reader:

We are publishing this Letter to the Editor of Yeshiva World News because we think it is information that needs attention. We do not know if the writer of the letter reads our site, nor was it sent to us by him. He does state that he sent it to several publications that took no interest in his concerns; something we find both reprehensible and endemic of the society in which this problem is being ignored.

This problem cannot go away if it is not actively and openly discussed and addressed. We commend the author’s courage.


The Alcohol-Drinking At Yeshiva Camps Is Out of Control And Being Ignored

Dear YWN readership.

I regret saying this, but my letter was sent to 4 Jewish publications before the summer, and unfortunately, it was ignored. I have since updated it to reflect new information (from as recent as last night), and humbly request it be published for the sake of saving lives.

Parents sending their boys to summer camps in the Catskills may think their boys are safe, but they aren’t.

No, I am not referring to pedophilia. That problem has Boruch Hashem been dealt with by organizations such as Amudim and the Gedolim behind them who devote their lives to helping the victims.

The topic I want to address is alcohol-drinking in camps. But not just any camps. I am referring to the elite “yeshiva / learning” camps. I have decided to leave the names of these camps out and hope that this letter alone will hopefully awaken the masses.

Please don’t start telling me that this is a minor percentage, because it’s not. This is a roaring problem that is largely being ignored and not being taken seriously by the people running these camps. I humbly question why the Roshei Yeshiva of these boys allow them to go to any of these camps as it’s no secret regarding the alcohol consumption at these camps. In fact, I have had many conversations with leading Roshei Yeshiva about this, and they just shrug their shoulders.

Just last night a bunch of these camps joined together to go to a well known amusement park. The day was capped off with a concert and a band with singing and dancing. I don’t think your readership needs to see the footage of the drunk boys staggering all over the place, so I’ll hold that for round two – If immediate action isn’t taken.

What are these camp owners waiting for? Do we need a few boys to die of alcohol poisoning before people boycott these camps? Why is the “zero tolerance for a smartphone” enforced but the drinking epidemic being ignored?

I should add (not that it makes any difference) that I am not referring to drinking beer. I am talking about bottles of hard liquor that the boys have stashed away.

I am demanding that the camps take action before I and others like myself take appropriate action to ensure the problem is dealt with another way. We will make sure your camps are (legally) exposed and blacklisted by every single family in America.

Thank you for publishing my letter, and I am sorry for being so harsh, but the reality demands this.

Have a wonderful and safe summer.

Yeshaya Dovid Braunstein – Lakewood

Yeshiva Students in Ramapo Endangered by Ignorance



It may be difficult to conceptualize the state of the Yeshivas throughout Ramapo and Rockland County. They are being inspected along with other schools, but appear to have the most egregious violations. Many do not have fire-alarms, fire extinguishers and sprinkling systems are unheard of. Many have classrooms littered with trash, and garbage bins littered with everything from food leftovers to papers. In many of the buildings’ rooms there are open electrical fixtures with exposed wiring, simple fixes but also tragedies waiting to happen.

In some of the yeshivas and day-schools the bathrooms are unfit for NYC rats, no less children. Others have doorways blockaded or padlocked, potential escape routes unavailable to students in the event of a fire. There are no lit exit signs in some, dirty food-service areas in others and the list of violations goes on.

In some cases, the violations don’t necessarily mean that these buildings are going to be shuttered for good, only that the they need to be rectified, made safe, made secure and cleaned then reinspected in the future.

One would think that anyone using the words of G-d as his or her source material for daily life would want to see children educated in safe and clean environments, would want not to be putting the lives of the children at risk.

The issue of the obstacles placed to inspection is couched as anti-Semitism, an argument that inspectors are singling out Jewish organizations over others. That may be true. Some of the same buildings requiring inspection were not properly inspected in the first place and are not registered as Yeshivas. Is this a Jewish issue? In our view it has become one by virtue of circumstance. In general the parochial schools being inspected are not creating obstacles to inspection and most have valid CofO’s. Do ultra-Orthodox Jews have a habit of neglecting to acquire a CofO and proper permit? Well… yes. Again by circumstance, they do. Should they be provided an exemption by virtue of a specific covenant with G-d. Nope. Children’s lives are at risk and that needs to change.

We propose that if it were anti-Semitism in its purest form guiding the decisions to demand inspections, the anti-Semites in question would not be making significant effort to keep these children safe, they would be hoping for tragedy instead. This is about safety.

For the true anti-Semite, the bodies of Jewish children in body bags may be appealing. For those responsible for inspecting the Yeshivas in question, such a result is unacceptable. This is not anti-Semitism at work.

Perhaps it is time for the Yeshiva Machers to insist upon inspections rather than create encumbrances to them.   The word of G-d demands it.

ed day

The Law Be Damned – State Ordered Fire Safety Inspections Of Private Schools Are Being Met By Resistance.

Inspectors have been denied entry to several locations. The claim is that the inspectors are not interested in safety but are carrying out a political agenda having ulterior motives associated with County Executive Day.

Day insists that the law will be equally applied to all with special treatment to none.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the ghettoization of Ramapo has now become confrontational to both State and County authority.…/rockland-exec-yeshiva-inspection…

The Murder of Chaim Weiss -Hoping to Help Solve

Chaim Weiss

The murder of Chaim Weiss – is there a child sexual abuse angle?

by: Eric Aiken, May 25, 2016

Last week I was contacted by Detective Captain John Azzata from the Nassau County homicide department regarding the murder of Chaim Weiss. Chaim was a 15 year-old student at the Torah High School on Long Beach, Long Island. He was brutally bludgeoned to death as he slept in his dorm room bed on Friday night, November 1, 1986.

The murder has never been solved. No one was willing to furnish the police with any useful leads. In a yeshiva with 140 students that ate, studied, prayed and socialized together, not one person admitted to seeing anything, hearing anything or knowing anything about Chaim’s murder or murderer.

When police entered Chaim’s room, his body had been moved, a yahrzeit candle had been lit (on Shabbos) and the window to his room had been opened on a frigid November night. (Opening a window is in accordance with the Orthodox custom for the deceased.)

The case was so profoundly disturbing that it was featured on Unsolved Mysteries and written about by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News and numerous other publications.

The Weiss family is still devastated by Chaim’s murder. They still grieve and mourn his loss. They still contact Detective Captain John Azzata every week asking if anyone has shared with him any information.

What happened to Chaim is every parent’s worst nightmare. What makes it even more painful for the Weiss family is knowing that someone has information that could identify Chaim’s murderer and no one will share that with the police.

The Torah commands us “Do not stand by while your neighbor’s blood is shed” (Lev. 19:16). It is way past time to end the unimaginable suffering of the Weiss family and Chaim’s aging parents. If you have any information at all about Chaim’s murder, now is the time to call the police.

Perhaps you know someone who was a student or teacher at Torah High School. Maybe you know someone who knows someone who was. Please share this post with as many people as possible.

Any tips can be shared completely anonymously by calling 800-244-TIPS. There is a $25,000 reward available.

You can also contact Detective Captain John Azzata at 516-573-7788.

If you don’t want to contact the police directly, you can contact me at

Eric Aiken is the owner of


see also:

Nassau County, NY – Police Now Believe Faculty Member Or Student Responsible For 1986 Murder Of Yeshiva Student

Nassau County, NY  – It’s been nearly three decades since 15-year-old yeshiva student Chaim Weiss was bludgeoned to death with a “hatchet-like weapon” in his Yeshiva of Long Beach dormitory on Long Island.

Law enforcement authorities reopened the cold case three years ago and interviewed 100 former students, but still came up empty as to who was responsible for the heinous and cold blooded murder that took place on Halloween night 29 years ago.

“It’s one that has really stuck with me,” retired Detective Robert Edwards told the Daily News ( “He was sleeping in his room, a place that is supposed to be safe.” Edwards said some 140 students were initially interviewed when the crime was first committed, but they all “lawyered up” and claimed they didn’t know what happened. “We got nothing,” Edwards recalled.

Yeshiva administrators went to check on Weiss after he did not attend Sabbath morning prayers on November 1, 1986, and discovered his body. His skull was crushed from the blunt force trauma he had sustained to the head. The murder weapon was never recovered.

Weiss’ Staten Island-based parents are still distraught by the loss of their son and are hoping for answers. His father, Anton, visits Chaim’s grave every year before the anniversary of his murder. He also routinely meets with the Nassau County police captain who is assigned to the case.

Police have said there were several strange things about the way the body was discovered. His body had been moved to the floor, a window had been opened in the room, and a memorial candle was placed in the room – all rituals in accordance with Jewish tradition. Weiss was one of only two students who didn’t have a roommate, and there was no sign of a struggle or anything missing from the room.

Investigators have ruled out initial suspects, including a mentally ill man, Halloween pranksters, and a janitor. The police now believe the murder was committed by a fellow student or a faculty member.

“How could this happen and nobody hear or say anything? Somebody’s got a secret,” said Nassau County Police Capt. John Azzata.

Azzata said police still plan to interview another 100 former students again, in the hopes that maturity may have changed their minds about speaking up. “People are aware of what transpired back then and you’d hope with maturity they’d come forward now,” Azzata said. “That hasn’t happened yet.”

NOVEMBER 01, 2015


Unsolved Mysteries, Chaim Weiss

Richard Joel, Y.U. “I told him to get on with his life”

School: YU President Richard M. Joel



Eric Aiken, May 9, 2016 –

Richard Joel, President of Yeshiva University – 212-960-5300

Yeshiva University is the premier Modern Orthodox rabbinical seminary in the world. Thousands of Y.U. students have become ordained rabbis through Y.U. Many of them lead prominent synagogues and Orthodox institutions.

Unfortunately, some Y.U. rabbis have a very long history of either failing to protect Orthodox children and adults, supporting convicted child sex predators, failing to defrock abusive rabbis and ignoring the pleas of victims for help, as will be shown below.

1) Y.U. was sued by 34 former students alleging that Rabbi George Finkelstein, Rabbi Macy Gordon and Rick Andron sexually abused them over the course of many years. The case was dismissed not due to lack of evidence or witnesses willing to testify, but on statute of limitations grounds.

A report commissioned by Y.U. at a reported cost of $2.5 million confirms that abuse took place in many Y.U. locations, by numerous individuals and over the course of many years.

The summary report states –

The Investigative Team has concluded that multiple incidents of varying types of sexual and physical abuse took place at YUHSB during the relevant time period. This conduct was carried out by a number of individuals in positions of authority at the High Schools at various times throughout the period covered by the Investigation, including, in certain instances, after members of the administration had been made aware of such conduct. In addition, the Investigative Team found that, during the relevant time period, sexual and physical abuse took place at other schools comprising the University as well.”

The Y.U. lawsuit was thrown out due to New York’s disgracefully short statute of limitations (courtesy of the Catholic Church and Agudath Israel).

In Judaism, there is no such thing as a statute of limitations. Criminal acts are never forgiven without the offender begging forgiveness from each and every victim and fully compensating the victims for their lifetime of pain, therapy and the damage that they suffered.

Ironically, the world’s most prominent Modern Orthodox rabbinical seminary uses secular law to skirt the Torah and Jewish values because of a statute of limitations that Torah law does not recognize.

Despite Y.U.’s own damning report –

  • No one was fired over the scandal.
    • Victims, to my knowledge, have not been compensated for the harm they suffered.
    • Y.U. will not publicly identify the molesters.
    • Y.U. will not name the rabbis and officials who covered up the abuse.



norman lammFormer Chancellor Rabbi Norman Lamm has publicly admitted that he allowed Y.U. molesters to be hired by other Jewish institutions and he did not warn them.

Contrast Y.U.’s rabbis’ actions with an entirely secular university that had a similar sex abuse scandal – Penn State. In the Jerry Sandusky case, university officials lost their jobs, Penn State was severely sanctioned and Sandusky went to jail for at least 30 years for the sexual abuse of students that went on for years. Penn State has already paid $60 million in compensation to 26 victims and may pay more.

Instead of hiding behind its lawyers, it’s time that Y.U. displays humility, compassion, leadership and a commitment to adhering to Torah law.

  • Y.U. needs to reach out to each and every victim, apologize, beg their forgiveness and amply compensate them for their lifetime of suffering.
  • In addition, Y.U. needs to publicly identify every person it believes to be a sex offender and warn the communities in which the offender lives and works about him.

2) After Y.U. president Richard Joel made 2 public declarations that Y.U. was safe, Y.U. hired a convicted child sex offender, Akiva Roth, to teach Hebrew.

3) Rabbi Matis Weinberg was alleged to have abused numerous Y.U. students in Israel. Y.U. terminated its study abroad program in 2003 because of Weinberg but does not say what Weinberg is believed to have done to Y.U. students. I personally warned Y.U. rabbis about Weinberg 22 years prior to these events. They knew of abuse allegations against Weinberg for decades and yet Y.U. students were still sent to a yeshiva where Weinberg had access them.

4) Rabbi Marc Gafni was once a Y.U. rabbinical student and he also ran a teen outreach program from a Y.U. office. He has publicly admitted to having sexual relations with Sara Kabakov when she was 13. She alleges that she told several Y.U.-ordained rabbis about Gafni and that they either ignored her or defended Gafni.

Judy Mitzner alleges that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Gafni when she was a minor. She claims that she reported the abuse to Y.U. and that nobody did anything to protect her or stop Gafni.

“So, what is wrong here? Why did Yeshiva University (who heard my story at the time directly from me, and stories from others) permit Mordechai Winiarz (aka Marc Gafni) to continue his employ as the director of the then Jewish Public School Youth Movement?”

(From Judy Mitzner’s blog)


5) Rabbi Baruch Lanner is a former Jewish school principal and youth group leader. He is also a convicted child sex offender who was protected for years by Y.U.-ordained rabbis. Even after he served 6 years in jail, he was allegedly welcomed into the home and synagogue of Y.U.’s high school principal, Rabbi Michael Taubes.

6) Evan Zauder is a convicted child sex offender who was a rabbinical student at Y.U. Before his sentencing (he received 13 years), 50 individuals sent letters to the judge requesting leniency for Zauder.

Some of the letters were sent from prominent Y.U. staff including:

Rabbi Ezra Schwartz, Rosh Yeshiva of RIETS;

Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Vice President of university and community life;

Dr. David Pelcovitz, professor of psychology and special assistant to Y.U. president, Richard Joel.


Letters were also sent to the judge by prominent rabbis including:

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Congregation Bnei Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey;

Rabbi Reuven Taragin, Dean Yeshivat HaKotel (Rabbi Mordechai Elon, Yeshivat Hakotel’s former Rosh Yeshiva, was convicted of child molestation);

Rabbi Baruch Taub, Rabbi Emeritus of Beth Avraham Yosef of Toronto Congregation.

No one sent letters to the judge voicing support for Zauder’s victims or advocating for a jail term commensurate with Zauder’s crime. Nothing tells victims of Orthodox child sex offenders that rabbis don’t give a damn about them like the Evan Zauder case.


7) Rabbi Barry Freundel is a world-renowned, Y.U.-ordained rabbi. He was also my rabbi in Washington, D.C. Freundel is currently serving a 6 1/2 year sentence after being caught secretly video-recording 150 women over the course of several years as they undressed to go into one of the most sacred places in Judaism – the women’s mikva (ritual bath).

I can’t think of one rabbi who has done more to damage and traumatize thousands of Orthodox women around the world than Freundel. There are women who refused to use the mikva (causing tremendous marital strife) after reading about Freundel’s disgusting betrayal of his rabbinic power. Women Freundel converted publicly questioned whether they even wanted to remain Jewish anymore.

Yet Y.U., to my knowledge, has not revoked his ordination. For that matter, I am not aware of any rabbi who has sexually abused women or children who has had their ordination revoked by Y.U.

Even the Catholic Church, as horrible as they have been (and still are) in protecting molesters, defrocks molester priests. In a recent 10-year period, the Catholic Church defrocked 848 molester priests and censured another 2,500. I have never heard of a single rabbi, anywhere, whose ordination was revoked due to him being a sexual predator.


Y.U. President Richard Joel, the $2.8 million man

According to The Jewish Forward, Richard Joel, Yeshiva University’s president, reportedly told a man who complained to him that he was molested at Y.U., “[I] told him to get on with his life…”

Also, according to The Jewish Forward, in 2014 (the year that the Y.U. lawsuit was dismissed on statute of limitations grounds), Richard Joel received a compensation package of $2.8 million. This made him by far the highest paid executive of any Jewish non-profit. His previous year’s salary was $900,000. Also in 2014, Y.U. ran a deficit of $150 million. Nice work if you can get it.


Eric Aiken is an advocate for Orthodox victims of child sexual abuse and the owner of






Yeshiva in Ramapo Shut Down for Repeated Violations


Officials: Yeshiva in Ramapo shut down due to unsafe conditions

“A trash-ridden yeshiva in Ramapo that was shown on FiOS1 News last month has now been shut down by building inspectors.

An orange sign was posted on the doors of this yeshiva Thursday, after a second inspection by Ramapo officials deemed the building unsafe.

Building inspectors took notice of the compound, which was hidden from the main road behind a patch of trees, back in April, when it was being used as a matzo factory. It was damaged, and laden with trash and debris.

After an initial inspection, town officials said clean up or get out.

According to Ramapo fire officials, in a second inspection Tuesday, inspectors decided the conditions were still too unsafe and plastered the shutdown notice on the doors.

This property on 33 Forshay Road has been cited for numerous safety violations in the past, including no building permit, certificate of occupancy, or fire safety equipment, according to The Journal News.

This move comes after New York State recently called on Ramapo to ramp up their enforcement of fire prevention and building codes, and demanded that they provide all documentation of previous inspections and results.”

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.