THE ROSHEI YESHIVA SPEAK OUT: Rav Elya Brudny and Rav Yisroel Reisman Pen Joint Op-Ed in Wall Street Journal on NYS Yeshiva Curriculum Rules

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By Rabbi Elya Brudny and Rabbi Yisroel Reisman

In a sign of the historic challenge confronting the yeshiva community, the Roshei Yeshiva reached out to the mainstream media to raise the alarm about the new curriculum guidelines.

Together the two of us have 70 years of experience in Jewish education. Yet nothing could have prepared us for what the New York State Education Department did last month. On Nov. 20, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia issued guidance empowering local school boards to evaluate private schools and to vote on our right to continue educating our students.

The state government now requires private schools to offer a specific set of classes more comprehensive than what students in public schools must learn. Our schools must offer 11 courses to students in grades 5 through 8, for a total of seven hours of daily instruction. Public schools have less than six hours a day of prescribed instruction. Private-school teachers will also be required to submit to evaluation by school districts.

At a press conference announcing the new guidelines, a reporter asked Ms. Elia what would happen if a yeshiva didn’t alter its Jewish-studies emphasis to conform to her mandate. She responded that parents “would be notified they need to transfer students” in as little as six weeks. And if they didn’t? “They’d be considered truant, and that’s another whole process that gets triggered.”

Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal.

{Matzav.com}

13 COMMENTS

  1. The tzaddikim say “we have to do our hishtadlus and do teshuva etc…”

    So when will we finally start listening to our Leaders and do Teshuva as a loving nation together? Shouldn’t we be shaken up by the time we are in of non-stop horrific tragedies-coming directly from Hashem-striking klal Yisroel these days?

    It pains me that my own loving brothers, we have stooped so low and are living in denial thinking we can fool Hashem that we don’t get his wake-up message for teshuva and instead remain living at a time where we avoid facing reality and seeing the problems that are striking us R”L
    1)klal Yisroel worldwide hit with Measles outbreak and resulting in non-stop sinas chinam instead of loving each other and working together
    2)Israeli learning Torah Draft in IDF
    3)Klal Yisroel most valuable product-the torah-at risk of trying to be taken away and make our days secular C”V
    4)anti-semitism getting really bad and dangerous wordwide even in the USA.
    5)Etc….. Many other tragedies that occurred already R”L

    Please I beg you my loving brethren. Lets come together and wake up to do something as one loving nation to stop this time of non stop tzaros striking klal Yisroel worldwide

      • And be forced to abandon the Torah and Mitzvos when the IDF, backed by the leftist judges, drag me into their heretic army?
        Here in the US, if you have money, you can learn Torah all day and watch where you look without being discriminated against.

  2. It is very interesting and enlightening to read the comment section in the wall street journal website. It should give us food for thought. Here are some copied and pasted:

    Eddie Sweet:
    North American Jews keep voting for interfering Democrats and Liberals. They want to make all education state run by their teachers’ union buddies. Stop Dems and as FDR said, do away with public service unions.
    Likethumb_up1
    P
    SUBSCRIBER
    21 minutes ago
    Yet the NY Jewish community continues to vote for Democrats year after year after year.
    Likethumb_up1
    Octavio LimaSUBSCRIBER
    21 minutes ago
    These will continue until we convince ourselves that education is a service, that must be determined by the consumers of it, parents and students. Empowering bureaucrats and politicians to make that determination leads to arbitrary decisions such as these.
    Likethumb_up1
    Y
    SUBSCRIBER
    22 minutes ago
    Stop voting for Democrats. Problem solved.
    Likethumb_up1
    D
    SUBSCRIBER
    32 minutes ago
    Sue, sue and sue again.
    Likethumb_up
    D
    SUBSCRIBER
    1 hour ago
    The State, especially the Democratic & Progressive elements thereof, is atheistic.
    It is interested in itself, not the individual citizen.
    It has politicians, bureaucrats and labor unions to support and advance.
    At the expense of the electorate.
    It is its own God.

    It wants complete control – starting with children.
    Fight it to the end.
    Likethumb_up4
    R
    SUBSCRIBER
    2 hours ago
    Yes, you can sue. But it would be better for you if you moved out of the Communist State of New York. We have freedom in The South.
    Likethumb_up4
    R
    SUBSCRIBER
    2 hours ago
    Ms. Elia either made a stupid mistake-some of us read 6 hours of secular education daily, which is ludicrous. Or, she really wants to duke it out with the parochial school system. I agree that basic math and English comprehension/writing skills are extremely important, as is some basic American and world history (BTW-those who study Jewish history learn much of the latter, too), and a few yeshivos don’t do a good job on that. But, expecting parochial school kids to learn about reproductive biology in elementary school, and what types of alternative lifestyles (in graphic detail, apparently) are to be tolerated will NOT cut it, by orthodox Jews, or Catholics.
    If functional outputs are important, than focus on that. Otherwise religious freedom will end up in the Supreme Court.
    Likethumb_up6
    R
    SUBSCRIBER
    2 hours ago
    Another power play by the hard left ideologues of New York. It is a preview of coming attractions for when they regain political power at the national level.
    Likethumb_up6
    J

    William WahlSUBSCRIBER
    2 hours ago
    The Jewish response should be “I’ll see you in court.”
    Likethumb_up5
    M
    SUBSCRIBER
    2 hours ago
    (Edited)
    One approach is a class action suit by private schools. If it worked in Oregon, then it will work in NY.
    Likethumb_up3
    EDWIN D LINDGRENSUBSCRIBER
    3 hours ago
    Associate Justice James Clark McReynolds, who drafted the opinion for the unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in favor of the Society of Sisters, wrote “……the traditional American understanding of the term liberty prevented the state from forcing students to accept instruction only from public schools.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierce_v._Society_of_Sisters

    Individual liberty is the crux of this issue. So-called ‘progressive’ government, such as exists in New York State, is the enemy of individual liberty. They much prefer to eliminate all private schools and have the state perform all ‘education’ (indoctrination) of children. This also allows them to throw a bone to their enablers in the NEA and the AFT.

    I extend my best wishes for success to Messrs. Brudny and Reisman in their fight against the State of New York.

    Likethumb_up10
    S
    SUBSCRIBER
    3 hours ago
    Perhaps the regulators should instead have the public schools conform to a standard of modesty in dress, no foul language, respectful attitudes towards sexuality (with no teen pregnancies and abortions), no bullying, and zero tolerance for drugs, alcohol, and smoking.

    Clearly, they could find much room for improvement on these issues that directly impact on our society.
    Likethumb_up12
    J
    SUBSCRIBER
    3 hours ago
    There is another side to this story. First of all, if yeshivas want independence they should stop accepting the millions of dollars in public money they currently receive. Second, there is widespread concern that ultra orthodox yeshiva graduates are uneducated (other than in the Torah) and therefore unemployable. One study noted that the Hasidic village of New Square, in Rockland County, is the poorest in the state — with a 70 percent poverty rate. That’s not because the ultra Orthodox are dumb, it is because they have only a rudimentary knowledge of math, science, English, and history. The NY Post had a story of one yeshiva graduate who almost lost his job as an administrative assistant because he didn’t know how many zeros there were in 1,000,000.

    So let yeshivas teach whatever they want, with their own money, and let the Orthodox community support itself, without welfare and food stamps for unemployable yeshiva graduates.
    Likethumb_up7
    L
    SUBSCRIBER
    2 hours ago

    • and they are all correct.

      We stuck money from the governments of NYC, we beg for politicians to give us more and more free stuff, and then complain when they want something in return.
      If you live off the shver’s credit card, dont be surprised when he wants you for shabbos chanukah.
      It’s simple.
      New York area should tell their congregants to vote for Republicans who dont take high taxes, believe in religious liberties, and small non overreaching government.
      p.s. I dont feel bad for you New Yorkers. You reap what you sow.

  3. If you google the title of the article, then click on the link to the article, you can see the whole thing without having to subscribe.

  4. The simplest and cheapest solution is to mobilize 50,000 Yeshiva students and register them in the Public Schools and say we’re ready, let us in. Of course they will be unable to accommodate that. And when they see that we are united to pull off something like that they will think twice before starting up with us. And the sue the state in court for not providing us with PS education.

  5. Here’s the article:
    Together the two of us have 70 years of experience in Jewish education. Yet nothing could have prepared us for what the New York State Education Department did last month. On Nov. 20, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia issued guidance empowering local school boards to evaluate private schools and to vote on our right to continue educating our students.

    The state government now requires private schools to offer a specific set of classes more comprehensive than what students in public schools must learn. Our schools must offer 11 courses to students in grades 5 through 8, for a total of seven hours of daily instruction. Public schools have less than six hours a day of prescribed instruction. Private-school teachers will also be required to submit to evaluation by school districts.

    At a press conference announcing the new guidelines, a reporter asked Ms. Elia what would happen if a yeshiva didn’t alter its Jewish-studies emphasis to conform to her mandate. She responded that parents “would be notified they need to transfer students” in as little as six weeks. And if they didn’t? “They’d be considered truant, and that’s another whole process that gets triggered.”

    Government may have an interest in ensuring that every child receives a sound basic education, but it has no right to commandeer our schools’ curricula. Parents who want to send their children to a school offering a course list devised by the state enroll their children in the local public school. But parents who choose religious education want their children to have a specific moral, ethical and religious framework for life. Parents who choose a yeshiva want their children’s education to emphasize Jewish texts, history and culture.

    The new guidance should offend people of all faiths, and others are speaking out. The New York State Council of Catholic School Superintendents recently told Ms. Elia that they reject the guidance and are “directing all diocesan Catholic schools not to participate in any review carried out by local public school officials.” We expect others will join them.

    While these new guidelines affect all religious schools, we know they were directed at the yeshiva system in particular. In recent years, a small number of vocal critics have complained that a handful of yeshivas emphasize Jewish studies at the expense of secular studies. They ignore the parental and religious rights of those who choose yeshiva education, are naive about the pitfalls of putting state bureaucrats in charge of religious schools, and appear more interested in undermining parental control of yeshivas than in enhancing their secular studies.

    There are more than 440 yeshivas in New York state, educating 165,000 students. There will always be schools that need to improve and students who can be better served. But underperforming schools are the outliers, and they don’t define the yeshiva system. Imagine if the state launched a broadside against the New York City public-school system because many of its students are failing.

    The new curriculum demands so much time that it crowds out Torah study, our sacred mission. We also are troubled by guidelines that focus entirely on inputs. The lesson plan is all that matters to the state. Yet experience has taught us that what truly matters is what kind of adults our students become. Despite the uncertainty created by this “guidance,” we are sure that yeshivas across New York won’t allow the state to alter their emphasis on the Torah.

    In Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Oregon couldn’t force all students to attend public schools. It offered this stinging rebuke: “A child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” Ms. Elia and her colleagues would do well to absorb that message so that we can fulfill our “high duty,” our life’s work, of providing a well-rounded Jewish education.

    Messrs. Brudny and Reisman are rabbis and deans of Brooklyn yeshivas, Mir and Torah Vodaas.

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