LA Yeshivos Struggle With Terror Threat

After a terror threat to Los Angeles schools that shut down its massive public education system, the city’s many mosdos haTorah struggled with whether to follow suit or to carry on with business as usual.

Rabbi Shlomo Goldberg of Yeshivas Ohr Eliyahu said that administrators discussed the issue early in the morning as soon as the news became public and decided to openwith some extra security.

“They [police] described the nature of the threat to us and said that there was no specific threat to any private schools,” he said. “They left it up to us to decide.”

The Menahel of another yeshivah that decided to open, but asked not to be named, told Hamodia that the administration had consulted with law enforcement and security agencies who advised them that there was nothing to suggest any specific threat to Jewish schools, and they did not feel that that the children’s safety would be compromised.

“We did add additional security guards as an extra precautionary measure,” he said.

By early afternoon, authorities announced that the terror threat was thought to be a “hoax,” but schools remained closed while additional security checks were carried out. Still, administrators of those yeshivos that opted to follow the lead of the city school system said that given the circumstances, they stood by their choices.

“It was a tough decision,” said Rabbi Moshe Abady of Tashbar Yeshivah Ketanah. “As frum Jews we understand the value of limud haTorah and tefillah as part of ensuring our security, but at the same time we have to balance that with the hishtadlus that we are expected to make to ensure the safety of our students.”

Both the girls’ and boys’ buildings of Tashbar were “swept” by security personnel, as were Los Angeles’ public schools, said Rabbi Abady, adding that the choice was made after careful consultation with other yeshivah administrators.

“I feel it was the right decision,” he said. “It’s 2015, not 1980; you don’t take chances.”

The Gindi Maimonides Academy also opted to close for the day.

“If an entire school system with hundreds of thousands of kids decided to close, I think it is enough of a reason to err on the side of caution,” said Rabbi Baruch Kupfer, the school’s executive director.

Maimonides has been employing two armed guards for some time, but following the Paris attacks, the administration added a third.

“We live in very difficult time and any possible threat needs to be taken seriously,” said Rabbi Kupfer. “If anything would have happened [after the school decided to remain open], we would have never forgiven ourselves.”