Posters Blaming Corona on Wigs Made from Non-Jewish Hair – School’s In Session in Ramat Beit Shemesh

Some of the students at a haredi boys school in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet, just west of Jerusalem, where classes are still being held, March 18, 2020. (Sam Sokol/JTA)
Some of the students at a haredi boys school in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet, just west of Jerusalem, where classes are still being held, March 18, 2020. (Sam Sokol/JTA)

‘We’re not scared’: Some ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel are ignoring virus rules

With several leading rabbis reluctant to comply with Health Ministry orders to shut down schools and yeshivas, many students believe they are not at risk from coronavirus pandemic

As I walked away, I noticed posters on the side of the building blaming the coronavirus pandemic on Orthodox women wearing wigs made from non-Jewish hair.

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Dear Israel – Why in a Democracy Hit with a Pandemic are Rabbis Allowed to Dictate the Law? Close Yeshivas and Prosecute.

A Palestinian sanitary department worker sprays disinfectant around Aida refugee camp, West Bank, March 16, 2020.

Highlights from Ha’Aretz in Israel – Covid-19 and Potential for Human Killing Machines…

To read the Ha’Aretz Article in its entirety, click here.

LIVE UPDATES:

■ 433 Israelis have so far tested positive for the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, with the vast majority of cases mild and 12 recoveries. Six patients are in serious condition. In the West Bank, 44 cases have been diagnosed so far, the majority of them in Bethlehem. Another 3,900 Palestinians have been placed in quarantine.

11:02 P.M. Chief rabbi says hospital synagogues will be closed amid difficulty to maintain social distancing

10:47 P.M. Nine Israeli soldiers contract COVID-19, over 5,000 placed in quarantine

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that nine soldiers have tested positive for the coronavirus, with 5,630 soldiers in mandatory service as well as career soldiers placed in quarantine.

Most of the confirmed patients in the army have returned from vacations abroad, with some of them coming into contact with people who were also diagnosed with the virus. (Yaniv Kubovich)

9:40 Prominent rabbi instructs to continue Torah studies in violation of Health Ministry directives

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, the spiritual leader of the United Torah Judaism party, ordered the ultra-Orthodox community to continue Torah studies in Haredi educational institutions despite the new Health Ministry directives forbidding it. (Aaron Rabinowitz) 

2:43 P.M. Police investigating quarantine violations, fake news

The police have until now investigated 86 people for quarantine violations and 21 people suspected of spreading fake news. In addition, the police issued 21 closure orders to business that kept operating despite directives, including event venues and gym.

12:34 P.M. Virus can persist in air for hours, study finds

The highly contagious novel coronavirus that has exploded into a global pandemic can remain viable and infectious in droplets in the air for hours and on surfaces up to days, according to a new study that should offer guidance to help people avoid contracting the respiratory illness called COVID-19.

Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, attempted to mimic the virus deposited from an infected person onto everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting, such as through coughing or touching objects. (Reuters) Read the full report here

7:40 A.M. Health Ministry announces 90 new cases

427 Israelis have so far tested positive for the novel coronavirus, up 27 percent from the previous tally of 337 cases, as testing for the disease expands.

7:38 A.M. Police make arrests for violating public health orders

The Israel Police arrested tne [sic] suspects who held a wedding with 150 guests in a synagogue in Beit Shemesh, violating the prohibition on gatherings larger than 10. (Josh Breiner)

Torah Umesorah – Putting Children, The Elderly, the Compromised At Risk AND Knowingly – Stop Supporting Them!

Torah Umesorah: Yeshivos And Day Schools Should Remain Open Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic

NEW YORK (VINnews) — The Torah Umesorah Vaad Roshei Yeshiva has released the following statement:

 

We have been asked, in light of the pandemic spread of the terrible coronavirus, whether yeshivos and day schools should close down until the danger of infection has passed.

It is our opinion, at least as of now, and at least in cities or municipalities where public and private schools are not required to close, that yeshivos and day schools should remain open. The koach haTorah generated by tinokos shel bais rabban is inestimable, and is urgently needed in times like these.

The general consensus among health officials at this time appears to be that schools may remain open, as evidenced by the fact that most local health authorities have not at this point ordered the wholesale closing of schools, neither public schools nor private schools. We do not think that yeshivos and day schools need to hold themselves to a different standard than that determined appropriate for neighboring public or private schools.

To continue reading click here.

 

ADDITIONAL READING:

Torah Umesorah: Yeshivos And Day Schools Should Remain Open Amid The Coronavirus Pandemic

Dr. Stuart Ditchek and Agudath Yisroel – Heroic Move to Advocate Yeshiva Closures Amid Covid-19 –

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This Orthodox Brooklyn doctor saw the truth about coronavirus weeks ago

On Wednesday evening last week, Dr. Stuart Ditchek convened an unprecedented meeting. At a synagogue in Midwood, Brooklyn, he gathered 170 rabbis, yeshiva principals and administrators (some streaming in via Zoom) to ask them to make a difficult, but necessary, decision: close their doors immediately to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Ditchek, a pediatrician and an Orthodox Jew who is well known in South Brooklyn’s Orthodox communities, has been working at the grassroots level over the past weeks, trying to urge yeshivas and synagogues to help “flatten the curve” of new infections, giving hospitals more space and resources to treat patients with coronavirus and other serious illnesses.

At the meeting, Ditchek presented the evidence in a slide deck: The infection rate is high. Children under 10 are not dying, but they are transmitting the disease. Limiting interaction of all kinds, immediately, will make an enormous difference compared with waiting even a few days, given the exponential rate of new infections every day.

“It was well received by about half of the room,” Ditchek said in a phone interview Sunday morning, in between seeing patients and speaking to rabbis calling for his advice. “It was not so well received by the other half.”

As the coronavirus has spread across the United States, it hit the Orthodox community early and hard. A synagogue, Yeshiva University and several schools in suburban Westchester County were among the first institutions in the country to close their doors in response to the virus.

Yet the Orthodox community has grappled in recent days about whether to push for full-scale closures of schools and shuls across the country. Many organizations — some persuaded by Ditchek, working around the clock — have closed. On Sunday afternoon, Agudath Israel of America, the largest Orthodox umbrella organization, reversed itself and started urging communities to shutter their synagogues and schools. There are still some holdouts, however, and Ditchek hasn’t given up on them.

 

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Couple Sues in Quebec, Canada to Compel Province to Ensure Children are Educated

From The Monte Scoop

Couple in Quebec Sue to Obtain for Others, What They Themselves Were Denied, an Education!

‘They aren’t seeking money. They want a declaratory judgment which, if they win, would force the province to take steps to ensure children who attend private religious schools are taught the provincial curriculum.

Yohanen Lowen, who first launched the legal action, alleges that, when he finished school at 18, he could barely add or subtract, couldn’t read and write in English or French and was left unequipped to find work outside his community.”

Hasidic couple’s lawsuit against Quebec could change what’s taught at religious schools

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Holding Yeshivas Accountable to Educating Children, Maimonides, Israel and the US

yeshiva students  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

Dear Readers:

While this post is largely the same as the article (and additional reading) posted yesterday, it cannot be understated that educational neglect in Yeshivas is a far-reaching problem. While Jews can boast a long list of Nobel Laureates, none came from a Hasidic and educationally deprived background where the children are not taught the simplest of lessons. Not all Yeshivas ascribe to system of teaching. The ones that do must be legislated out of that freedom. Children within those yeshivas don’t learn the basics and certainly do not learn advanced sciences, mathematics or civics and in the US, they cannot speak English – the language of the country. In Israel, at the very least the leg up on Hebrew comes from the religious texts. But that does not open the jail cell of illiteracy when it comes to English, Arabic and other languages taught in Israel.

In the US, the State of New York in particular, if a parent home-schools a child for whatever the parent’s reasons, and that child does not meet basic academic standards, the family can be (and IS) held to account for neglecting his or her children. Parents are charged criminally. These cases are rampant in the Courts in Rockland County and elsewhere.

New York is rife with lists of parents who have been successfully brought up on charges by school districts for improperly (or simply not) educating their children. And yet, Yeshiva children in the same or similar circumstances as that family of home-schooled children, are somehow NOT held to account for the lack of some of the most fundamental basic knowledge. Many of  these children are grossly under-prepared for living in the world with others, and while that may be by design, it is most certainly unacceptable. To state that they survive “on the goodwill of others” is technically compelling a child to a parasitic lifestyle [for lack of a more accurate description], an unfair fate.

There will come a time when New York, now on its way to an ultra-Orthodox majority (anticipated to take about 20-25 years) when famed hospitals will not have enough doctors to staff them because so much of the population will be functionally illiterate. To the Israeli narrative, there will come a time when Israel will be simply unable to defend its borders. Despite significant growth in children born to the ultra-Orthodox community, there is a dramatic decline in the numbers of children enlisting in the army service, mandatory preparation to protect the Israel’s borders. The numbers indicate a disproportionate section of Israeli conscription age children who are not enlisting; and Israel has not (for political reasons) compelled its ultra-Orthodox to an equal treatment IDF obligation to the detriment of every secular child living in that country.

The US is founded upon a strict separation of Church and State. It was architected as an escape of religious tyranny. Somehow we are slowly finding our way back to religious rule. It is just a tyranny of a different kind.

Israel was founded upon the principles of a Democratic and yet theologically oriented state. It is little by little finding its way to becoming little more than the Jewish version of some of the most fundamentalist of Arab states. The big difference is that while the Koran is taught in fundamentalist Islamic states surrounding Israel, so too, is military training. Eventually Israel will be out-gunned, out-maneuvered, and quite honestly out-educated. It is a matter of time. Population growth statistics and a lack of government oversight will eventually doom Israel to the very thing it was created to prevent and those ultra-Orthodox anti-education, anti-Zionists will have themselves to blame.

To those within Israel reading this, you must exercise your right to vote or others will be voting for you. 

The key to changing the tide lies in education. Jewish scripture and its interpretation speaks of education and self-sufficiency, almost demands it. Maimonides: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”  Maimonides in The Guide for the Perplexed wrote: “The person who wishes to attain human perfection should study logic first, next mathematics, then physics, and, lastly, metaphysics.”

The great scholars did not write treatises on educational neglect and welfare. That should not be the messages Yeshivas in the US, Israel or anywhere else in the world should be teaching either.

New York to reform yeshiva system, grads can barely speak English

According to Zwiebel, there are some 160,000 students studying at about 450 yeshiva schools in the state, and most of those schools would need to significantly alter their curriculum under the proposed regulations. A better approach, he says, is to work with struggling schools individually to improve secular education.
“We have to work on those things and get them straight and do it on individual school-by-school basis rather than creating a new aggressive oversight structure that goes, as far as I’m aware, beyond that which exists in any other of the 50 states,” he said.
A similar fight has been playing out in Israel, where attempts by the government to enforce general education standards on publicly-funded ultra-Orthodox schools were met with fierce pushback from community leaders and their political representatives. Some ultra-Orthodox schools in Israel receive exemptions that free them from having to provide core classes in math, science, English and other subjects. Only 12 percent of ultra-Orthodox students received matriculation certificates in the 2015-16 school year, far lower than the 77 percent of students who did so in secular and modern Orthodox schools, according to a 2018 report by the Israel Democracy Institute.
As in Israel, some members of the ultra-Orthodox community in New York worry that the proposed regulations are part of a larger effort to change their way of life.
“The danger is that if you try to change one thing, it will not stop there. Tomorrow you will say that we need to change our dress code, the way of our beliefs, and so on,” said Volvi Einhorn, 28, a yeshiva graduate who now works at a design firm in Brooklyn.
Einhorn said that ultra-Orthodox Jews can do well professionally thanks to the support they receive from others in the community. But Steinberg says that still leaves many people working at jobs far below their potential and does nothing to help people who decide they don’t want to live an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle.
“What if I happen to not want to be part of the community anymore?” Steinberg said.
Under the proposed rules, private schools that don’t comply with the regulations would lose funding for textbooks, transportation and other state services. If schools don’t comply and parents continue to send their kids there, the parents could potentially face jail time. The Education Department held a public commenting period that ended in September and is currently considering whether to enact the proposal.
The proposed regulations stem from a 2015 complaint to New York City’s Education Department by former students of 39 Orthodox schools who alleged that they had not received sufficient instruction in secular studies, particularly English.
The letter was organized by Young Advocates for Fair Education, or Yaffed, which advocates for improved education in Orthodox schools. Its founder, Naftuli Moster, grew up attending Hasidic yeshivas in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park and says he graduated barely being able to speak English.
“[The yeshivas] want to continue doing what they’ve been doing, which in our view is mass educational neglect and depriving kids of an education, subjecting them to lives of poverty and dependence on government assistance,” Moster told JTA.
To read the article in its entirety, click here. 

Educational Neglect in New York, Agudath Israel, PEARLS, YAFFED… “I was born here.”

Gene Steinberg, second from left in front row, with members of Freidom, the support group he founded for former haredi Orthodox Jews. (Freidom)

New York is trying to reform the Orthodox yeshiva system, which some graduates say barely taught them to speak English

NEW YORK (JTA) — Gene Steinberg was born and raised barely an hour outside New York City, but well into adulthood he could barely speak the language of his native country. 

Raised in a mostly Hasidic community 50 miles northwest of Manhattan, Steinberg, now 43, attended schools where Yiddish was the primary language of instruction. Until age 12, he received only an hour of instruction in secular subjects each day. After that, the number dropped to zero. From early morning until late in the evening, he spent his time immersed in the study of Jewish texts. 

When he went to enroll at a community college at the age of 37, he was told he had to take an English class aimed at new immigrants.

“I had a conversation with the person in charge and the first question she asked me [was], ‘When did you immigrate? What year?’” Seinberg recalled. “And I tried to explain to her, I didn’t immigrate. I was born here.”

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