"…So now Mr. Moster is taking legal action. A handful of modern Orthodox supporters have agreed to cover the legal fees and, with Mr. Moster, are interviewing lawyers. The plaintiffs in a lawsuit, however, must be either students who are currently enrolled in Hasidic schools or their parents. Mr. Moster said many families in New York’s Hasidic enclaves were sympathetic to his cause. So far, a small number of parents have agreed to take part in a lawsuit if they can remain anonymous. They worry that the yeshivas will expel their children and that the community will ostracize them if their names are revealed.…"
Above: Yaffed billboard in New York City 2013
The New York Times has a report on ex-hasid Naftuli Moster's and his Yaffed (Young Advocates for Fair Education) organization's battle to get hasidic yeshivas to teach secular subjects and teach them at a level comparable to secular public schools – which is the law.
But as we've reported here many times before, those hasidic yeshivas break that law every day, as does New York City and New York State.
The sad fact is that politicians like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and former mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State's Governor Andrew Cuomo and ex-governor George Pataki sell their souls for the bloc vote of Satmar and other hasidic groups, and it is often hasidic kids who suffer because of it, either through illness contracted through metzitzah b'peh (MBP; the direct mouth-to-bleeding-penis sucking done by hasidic mohels immediately after removing babies' foreskins) or from 12- to 14-years of completely inadequate education.
Many former hasidic yeshiva students have complained to the state and city about this defective education, but neither government has ever done anything to force those yeshivas to comply with the law. Worse yet, these governments often lie to the students who complain. Here's an example from today's Times article:
…In 2011, Mr. Moster founded Young Advocates for Fair Education, or Yaffed. Its aim was simple. The state’s Education Department requires the city’s nonpublic schools to teach a curriculum that is “substantially equivalent to that provided in the public schools,” and requires local school superintendents to ensure the standards are met. Mr. Moster says those standards are not being met.
So he sat down with three superintendents in New York whose districts have large Hasidic populations. “Two of them had no idea it was their responsibility to enforce the law,” he said. “In one case I was pointing out the regulations online.”
In a statement, the city’s Education Department said Mr. Moster needed to identify wrongdoing in specific schools for superintendents to investigate. “Superintendents cannot just show up at private schools for random inspections without a reason,” a department spokesman said.…
Lets see. Multiple complaints from ex-yeshiva students covering the spectrum of hasidic yeshivas, complaints that were made this year and last year and the year before and the year before that, etc., stretching back more than a decade. But there is no basis, New York City says, for it Io investigate.
Worse yet, school superintendents claimed they did not know it was their responsibility to enforce the law. This is also very likely a lie.
New York State denies it has any responsibility to enforce the law, either:
…He also sent a concerned letter to the State Board of Regents, which oversees the State Education Department. He received a response that said that “although there is an equivalency of instruction requirement,” nonpublic schools “largely operate outside the scope of state-mandated general education requirements and oversight.”
To Mr. Moster, this meant that the state was acknowledging its responsibility and then willfully ignoring it.
He went to Albany to plead his case in person but said the meetings were unproductive.
The state department would not discuss Mr. Moster’s letter to the Board of Regents with The New York Times or speak about the equivalency mandate except to say that enforcement was the city’s responsibility. For its part, the city said the state was responsible.…
So Moster and his group are suing:
…So now Mr. Moster is taking legal action. A handful of modern Orthodox supporters have agreed to cover the legal fees and, with Mr. Moster, are interviewing lawyers. The plaintiffs in a lawsuit, however, must be either students who are currently enrolled in Hasidic schools or their parents. Mr. Moster said many families in New York’s Hasidic enclaves were sympathetic to his cause. So far, a small number of parents have agreed to take part in a lawsuit if they can remain anonymous. They worry that the yeshivas will expel their children and that the community will ostracize them if their names are revealed.…
Not surprisingly, when word of the lawsuit leaked out, the hasidic community attacked Moster. It used his status as an ex-hasid to smear him, and despite his continued connection to at least a part of Orthodoxy, they painted him as goy (non-Jew) and turncoat.
The reality is that the failed hasidic education system costs New York City and New York State taxpayers millions of dollars each year, dollars paid out in various welfare-related benefits to hasidim who cannot find well-paying jobs in a competitive job market that requires skills and education.
That should give the majority of New Yorkers more than enough reason to vote against politicians like de Blasio and Cuomo who coddle hasidic groups like Satmar in exchange for the groups' bloc votes and financial support.
Similar problems with hasidic yeshivas exist in Israel, Belgium, England, Canada and other countries. But unlike New York State, governments in most of these places are trying to crack down and force these woefully inadequate hasidic schools to comply with the law of the land.
Moster's lawsuit will hopefully do more than just draw attention to the problem as it exists in New York State. Hopefully, it will force government to compel these hasidic yeshivas (yeshivas Moster is not directly suing) to comply with the law.
Update 2:12 pm CST 11-23-2014 – If you want to contact US, New York State and New York City officials to urge them to enforce the law against these hasidic schools (and in support of the hasidic children hurt by those hasidic schools) here is a list of email addresses:
[Hat Tip: Dr. Gershon Mendel.]