Professor Aaron Twerski’s Letter to New York State Education Department Decrying Intervention in Yeshivos

To the Board of Regents:

I write to express my strong opposition to the proposed rules governing yeshivos. I am currently the Irwin and Jill Cohen Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. I have taught at the University of Michigan Law School, Cornell Law School and the Boston University School of Law. I also served as dean at Hofstra Law School. I am the author of over sixty law journal articles and three books dealing with Torts, Products Liability and Conflict of Laws. In total I have been a professor of law for over fifty years.

I am the father, grandfather, and great-grandfather of over 100 descendants all who attended yeshivos. I came to Borough Park for the express purpose of providing my nine children education in Chassidic schools.

My opposition to your rules is vociferous. The responsibility for education of their children is the prerogative of the parent, not the state. The Chassidic lifestyle rejects much of the current culture. Our views on morality are often diametrically opposed to what has now become standard in society.

We have done a magnificent job in educating our children. They are deeply religious, highly disciplined, hard -working and industrious. Among my descendants are teachers, a chief financial officer of a major newspaper, a comptroller of a large network of nursing homes, a builder who rehabs homes in many neighborhoods of the city, and a director of a school for children with learning disabilities.

What you propose is an assault on the Orthodox and Chassidic communities. You have, to date, rejected the evaluation of our Talmudic studies as “equivalent”. As a law professor for over five decades, I can tell you that the intellectual rigor of Talmudic studies exceeds by far the standard fare in public education. Our children are taught how to read text critically and are schooled in the Socratic method. They enter the world of commerce with the skills to be problem solvers and their successes are notable.

I would think that before undertaking such a serious assault on our communities, you would take the trouble to truly understand our educational system. That has not happened. No one has reviewed the outstanding accomplishments of our students. They far exceed that of students in the public schools. I wonder whether you have even taken the trouble to look at the yellow page directory of our community. There is not a single trade or profession that is not represented.

It is not merely “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. You ought to come and see and learn from us. You sadly paid heed to the complaints of some malcontents. You must listen to the voices of the tens of thousands who view the education of their children as the essence of their being.

We cannot and will not acquiesce to the destruction of our value system. Your oversight is not needed and is not welcome.


                                                                                    Aaron D. Twerski

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!