What’s Next for New York Yeshivos?
By Reuvain Borchardt
The New York State Board of Regents passed regulations on September 13 that for the first time give the state direct control of yeshivos’ secular-studies curriculum, in response to allegations from former yeshivah students that some Chassidish yeshivos provide an inadequate secular education.
The regulations would require that, in order to satisfy the longstanding legal requirement that they provide an education “substantially equivalent” to that offered in public schools, all private schools must now either register as offering state Regents exams, be accredited by an approved accrediting body, use assessments approved by the State Education Department that demonstrate student academic progress, or have its curriculum assessed and approved by the LSA (the local school authority, defined as the Schools Chancellor in New York City, and the local school board elsewhere). Schools who fail to satisfy this requirement may lose state funding, and children attending these schools would be deemed truant, with their parents facing fines and jail.
Two days before the regulations were passed by the state Board of Regents, The New York Times published an article that alleged Chassidish yeshivos are offering an inadequate secular education while getting substantial government funding.
Yeshivah leaders have decried the regulations as an unnecessary and improper infringement on parental rights and religious liberties, and have criticized the Times article as an inaccuracy-laden smear piece.
Hamodia convened a roundtable discussion of yeshivah leaders to gauge their reactions and discuss their next steps in this years-long battle.
Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niederman — A spokesman for the Satmar community of the Rebbe Harav Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, shlita, and executive board member at Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools (PEARLS), an umbrella group of chareidi-yeshivah-community leaders.
Rabbi Joel Rosenfeld — Bobov community leader and executive board member of PEARLS
Mr. Avi Schick — Partner at the Troutman Pepper law firm and president of the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School, who has represented the Orthodox community in cases related to education and other religious-liberty issues.
Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel — Executive Vice President of Agudath Israel of America, and executive board member of PEARLS
What is your reaction to these regulations passing the Board of Regents?
Rabbi Zwiebel: It’s been an interesting odyssey, starting with guidelines that were proposed in 2018. Those were so clearly objectionable and problematic that everybody kind of understood those made no sense whatsoever for our community. Those regulations spoke about specific courses, noting about specific grade levels the precise hours that schools were expected to offer those classes. The required hours for secular studies would have left virtually nothing for limudei kodesh. And those regulations would have required nearly all yeshivos to submit to reviews by the LSA.
The good news is that in response to the 140,000 comments that were submitted to SED (the State Education Department), the overwhelming majority opposing this, SED wisely withdrew the proposal and went back to the drawing board. What emerged when they did resubmit the regulations, although highly objectionable, let’s acknowledge it was superior to the ones that had been proposed in 2018. Significantly, there was nothing at all that spoke about the number of hours necessary for specific courses. And, by the way, I saw that The New York Times in a recent editorial spoke about how that’s a shortcoming of the regulations, that they don’t impose hours, which the Times would have preferred. They like the old version better.
The other positive thing about this new version is that they created alternate pathways to equivalency, which a number of our yeshivos will be able to utilize and be deemed substantially equivalent without any intrusive evaluations by the LSA.
The bottom line, however, is that it appears a good number of schools will still be subject to those kinds of intrusive visits. This is the first time that schools will be forced to open their doors on a regular basis to government bureaucrats, who are going to come in and evaluate what’s going on in the schools: Who are your teachers? What are their qualifications? What are you teaching? How are you teaching it?
Those are the sorts of intrusions on our autonomy which are totally unacceptable and, as a result, will require us as we move forward to see what we can do to resist these new regulations.
Mr. Schick: The regulations transform what has been a 125-year relationship between yeshivos and New York State. For all that time, there has been a presumption of equivalence that was in place until there was a complaint. Now, a yeshivah’s curriculum and faculty will need to pass a local school board review in order to be able to operate. That fundamental change is an extraordinarily important one.
Beyond that, while it is accurate that these regulations do not provide a required length for each required class, there is a very long list of classes that are required. They go far beyond the core subjects of English, math, social studies and science. Then there is the concern about the LSA assessing the competence of our teachers. Yeshivos hire teachers based on a variety of criteria. I suspect the criteria and the values and the mission of the yeshivah may differ greatly than the criteria that will be used by an LSA.
So there’s very good reason for serious concern.
As Rabbi Zwiebel said, there are a fair number of yeshivos that have K-12 schools — an elementary school combined with a high school — and the high school administers Regents exams, so the school will be exempt from LSA review. That may be common in Brooklyn, but I don’t think that is the case in Queens, Monsey and other places, where many if not most of the elementary schools do not have an affiliated high school. That means that even yeshivos that give what we believe is a robust secular education are going to have to have that assessed and decided by the LSA, which may have its own view of what a robust secular education should look like.
Finally, there’s always the additional concern when dealing with a bureaucracy that the level of intrusion that we see today is merely the beginning and will expand over time.
Rabbi Rosenfeld: I’ll just add that the first set of regs [regulations] basically would have affected Chassidish yeshivos, Litvish yeshivos, Modern yeshivos, boys’ schools, girls’ schools, Catholic schools and other private schools. The way the regs are now, and with all these pathways, etc., and as The New York Times article notes, and as we knew all along, the target was the Chassidish yeshivos. The issue now will only be with the Chassidish yeshivos. In this way these regs are worse than those previously proposed: on the face of it, it appears to be targeted at Chassidish yeshivos.
Rabbi Niederman: I tend to agree with just about everything that was said, but I have to differ with the notion that this should only concern the Chassidish yeshivos, or non-Chassidish yeshivos that are K-8. Because you see that all the yeshivos — including Modern Orthodox yeshivos — objected strenuously to these regulations. They feel very strongly that they don’t want the watchdog from outside telling us what we should do and what we should not do and whom we should and should not hire.
And there’s no reason for it. You see the products of the public schools and the products of our schools, and it’s very clear that there’s no justification for them to intrude, even if they offer an alternate pathway to equivalence that doesn’t include a review by the LSA. The presumption is that you are not good despite decades of experience and success, and you have to fight to prove to the government that you are good and hope that the LSA agrees with it. That is extremely troubling. And that is something that we cannot and will not accept.
What is your reaction to The New York Times’ article about yeshivos published just before the Board of Regents vote?
Rabbi Niederman: It’s a false article, filled with misinformation. It accuses yeshivos of doing something wrong, saying that a hundred- thousand children don’t get a secular education, which is not true — as proven by the tremendous economic success by Chassidish-yeshivah alumni in all sectors of the economy. It tries to paint a picture of yeshivos siphoning off money from the public, when these resources go directly to the children. It was a terrible smear campaign directed and orchestrated against the Chassidish community. As the newspaper of record, they should not be blind to this and should have discussed our beautiful way of life and the very successful lives led by our yeshivah graduates. But that did not fit their narrative.
Rabbi Rosenfeld: It seems the article was coordinated with SED, because they had to come out with a certain outcome. There’s no question that they heard other sides of the story, but they chose not to print them. And with the article coming out a day before the Regents committee voted, it almost seems like it was coordinated, that this should be the outcome of the article to give backing to the Board of Regents to pass the regs. That’s just my feeling about this article, in addition to the antisemitism and anti-chareidi sentiment.
Rabbi Rosenfeld, you are one of the Chassidish leaders who received an email from the Times asking for your comment about the upcoming article. When did you receive the email? And did you choose to engage with the Times or did you not respond?
Rabbi Rosenfeld: We received an email on Monday evening, September 5, saying we had to respond by Wednesday, September 7, at noon.
We did give a response, basically saying that a lot of what they told us the article would say is not true. They chose not to put in our statement, although they did follow up to ask what my title is, so there was a discussion of using the quote, but then somebody decided not to use it.
Mr. Schick, I’d like to hear your reaction to the Times article generally, but specifically, about the issue of state financial support of yeshivos. What is your response to those who say, “He who pays the piper calls the tune” — that if yeshivos don’t offer an education the government deems appropriate, the government shouldn’t have to give them money?
Mr. Schick: I think it’s a mistake to look at the Times article and to try to play ping-pong with this or that specific assertion. The Times article was just beyond the pale in that it was targeted not to achieve anything with regard to education; rather, its goal was the marginalization of the frum community. So they went about trying to paint the frum community as abusers, as people who neglect children, as people who harm them. And then they called around to politicians asking, do you agree there should be an investigation? The goal here was to make the frum community the untouchables of American society. The message was that elected officials and people in government shouldn’t engage with us, shouldn’t be sympathetic to us, shouldn’t assist us.
That, more than anything else, is what needs to be combated. It’s true that there were lies and half-truths and misstatements and inaccuracies and lack of context. But the bigger picture is they’re just trying to push the frum community out of mainstream, polite society.
In terms of the financial picture they painted, there were no great surprises. They took a large number of kids — at least 50,000, but perhaps many more — over a five-year period, they included pandemic relief aid that went universally across the country to all employers, they included nutrition programs that provide breakfast and lunch to kids, they added in busing, and it adds up to a large round number.
But when you break it down, you’re talking about something that probably amounts to about $2,000 per child per year. That is a lot less attention-grabbing than what they described. It was just an incredibly misleading picture, and it was meant to inflame. There was no context given; there were no details given. You would think if the Times spent the year investigating this, they could have provided a per-child, per-year number. They chose not to — for a reason. And I think that’s really the way to understand what the Times article was about.
Rabbi Zwiebel, I’d like your response to the Times article, and in particular, if you can address what you believe the motivation of the Times was. Was it a sincere desire to see that every child gets a solid secular education? Or do you agree with Mr. Schick that there was something more nefarious here, about wanting to make Chassidim the untouchables?
Rabbi Zwiebel: I don’t think there’s any question that the society of which the Times is a part has long regarded Chassidim as “the other.” And this is just piling on top of the notions that they don’t care about the safety and well-being of their children, that abuse is rampant in the community, that they engage in these barbaric religious practices like metzitzah b’peh which are harmful to the health of their children, that they shield their children from all knowledge and information, that they shut them off from the internet and all these other things, and story after story and context after context of situations where the frum community generally, and the Chassidish community in particular, are portrayed as medieval, barbaric, and misinformed. That’s been going on for quite some time.
There was an interesting article in the Times a couple of years ago by one of the reporters who took note of the spike in antisemitic incidents across New York, almost all directed against Chassidim, and she wrote that if hate crimes like these would be committed against other minorities, there would be candlelight vigils in Manhattan and it would be headline news all over the place. But when it happens to a Chassid walking the street in Williamsburg, it’s no big deal. That was actually written by a Times reporter, who noted Chassidim were being treated differently.
It’s not a surprise to see them follow the theme that has animated much of their coverage of this community, to the extent there has been any coverage. And here was a marvelous opportunity for them.
Agudah’s Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, and the Vaad Roshei Yeshiva of Torah Umesorah, released a joint letter right after the regulations passed. Rabbi Zwiebel, I assume you were involved in drafting that letter, which included the line, “We all stand as one!” While, as we discussed, these regulations would mainly affect Chassidish yeshivos, it seemed a motivation behind that letter was to say that, even if not everyone is affected equally by the regulations, the frum community is united in opposition.
Rabbi Zwiebel: There is concern across the spectrum, because even if you’re eligible for one of the alternate pathways that we discussed earlier, for the first time the state has now established a precedent of the LSA review, in which schools could be forced to allow local inspectors to come into their front door and see what’s going on. So today they may be focusing on one kind of school, but chances are, given the progressive direction in which society is moving, and particularly in New York State, next maybe they’ll try to outlaw teaching about traditional marriage and morality.
People who oppose traditional morality have a very powerful and very aggressive lobby. And I think we can safely assume that they will be targeting not just the Chassidish yeshivos, but also the other yeshivos — as they recently have with Yeshiva University, for example.
The Times article mentioned corporal punishment. Rabbi Rosenfeld and Rabbi Niederman, respectively, is that going on today in Bobov and Satmar?
Rabbi Rosenfeld: The Times basically wrote it’s standard practice that corporal punishment goes on. They mention a story they say happened in Bobov, that someone said he was dragged on the floor and banged into a locker. We know that a week earlier they had emailed an administrator in Vizhnitz and claimed the same story happened there.
Those kinds of stories never happened. It’s not tolerated. If somebody would drag a kid and bang him into a locker, it’s not something that would be tolerated at all.
Corporal punishment was used in all sorts of schools, public and private, decades ago. But currently, the policy of Bobov Yeshiva, and most Chassidish yeshivos that I know, is that no corporal punishment is allowed.
Rabbi Niederman: I’m not the administrator of a school, but it does not happen. Baruch Hashem, having grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the system, I would have heard if it exists.
When the original regs were proposed a few years ago, 140,000 comments were submitted, almost all in opposition, and that convinced SED to pull the regs back and work on new ones. After they released those new regs in March of this year, 350,000 comments, again almost all in opposition, were submitted — but SED hardly made any changes to the regs, and the final regs that passed on September 13 were almost identical to those proposed in March. If 140,000 comments were successful in killing the previous iteration of the regs, why were 350,000 comments unsuccessful at killing the regs this time around?
Mr. Schick: I’m not convinced this was an appropriate public-comment process. What is supposed to happen is that SED would review the comments and evaluate alternatives. That didn’t happen. SED wasn’t interested in alternatives and didn’t engage in a contemplative or deliberative process. It was a foregone conclusion that the Board of Regents would pass these regs.
These regs were structured so that they provided exemptions for at least essentially all non-Jewish private schools in the state. All independent schools and all Catholic schools will be deemed substantially equivalent without requiring a review from the local school authority, through some combination of the accreditation pathway and the registration pathway [being accredited by an SED-approved accrediting body, or registering as having a Regents program]. Nearly all, if not all, LSA reviews will be at yeshivos, and so it was easier for SED to ram through a regulation whose impact was confined to the Jewish schools.
You were all involved in lobbying efforts against yeshivah regulations. Would you like to discuss anything about the negotiations that went on? Do you feel there was a good-faith effort to understand the yeshivah community, or do you feel the yeshivah community was ignored? Do you have anything to say about the negotiations during the past few years?
Rabbi Niederman: There were no negotiations. But there were discussions, and we bent over backward to actually have professionals speaking to professionals, explaining to them, responding to them. Rabbanim went down to Albany a number of times and spoke to SED officials. The officials said the Rabbanim should send a letter — they sent it but never got an answer. So there was a discussion — we spoke to them, they asked questions, but there was no response. So there was no input.
Rabbi Zwiebel: I would say that the process would have benefited tremendously had there been real consultation. Unfortunately, while they will correctly point to the fact that they met with us a number of times, and we initiated contacts and made meetings with individual members of the Board of Regents over the course of the several years that this has been going on, the outcomes of those meetings were nowhere near the kind of dialogue that we had hoped for, and some real give-and-take and the ability to actually shape the ultimate form of the regulations. So this process was not something that we could point to as having worked the way it’s supposed to.
Considering the current state of affairs, would there be any regulations that you would be willing to accept, or is your view that government has no role whatsoever in setting the secular-studies curriculum of private schools?
Rabbi Rosenfeld: Our position is that the government has no role in setting the standards, as we said all along. Additionally, we don’t think that the government needs to, because we do have a secular-education regimen that, along with Judaic Studies, in totality prepare a child for whatever they need to function in today’s society. So there’s no need for the government to interfere.
If a parent says he doesn’t want to educate his kids at all but has them sit at home all day and do nothing, I could understand that maybe the government has an interest in getting involved. But when we’ve been doing something for thousands of years and it’s actually working, there’s no need for government to come in and upend everything.
Mr. Schick: There will always be concern about government regulation in the area that is central to our religious life, just like there was concern with regard to metzitzah b’peh years ago. In that instance, what New York City enacted didn’t prohibit metzitzah b’peh, but by regulating in the area, it set a terrible precedent.
Yet I believe that if government made a good-faith effort to engage and identify pathways that work with yeshivah education, just as they identified pathways that work with the education of the other segments of private schools, and just like they have a commission now to accommodate the learning patterns of public-school students by amending the graduation requirements — if the state did that, they would find willing partners in the yeshivah community to identify something constructive and to move forward.
Rabbi Niederman: When you say, “the current state of affairs,” remember that the substantial-equivalency law has been on the books for over 100 years. And during this time period, the yeshivos have been providing a secular education that, combined with the academic values derived from Jewish Studies, more than meets that requirement.
But there is a sea change now — instead of the DOE simply investigating a school if there is a complaint, a newly created school has to go to the government to get pre-approval for educating our own children. That is totally unacceptable.
Rabbi Zwiebel: For government to say that the law does not recognize the rights of parents to choose the kind of education they want for their children, and does not recognize that there are considerations including the Constitution’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion, in choosing the education most appropriate for their child — that’s simply wrong, and there are a number of cases which have given credence to that. At the same time, there are a number of cases that have spoken about the state’s authority to ensure that children who go to school will emerge with certain basic skills that will enable them to be functioning members of society. So this question may very well end up in the courts again, in the context of these regulations.
That leads right in to my next question: What are the next steps now for the yeshivos? Is there going to be an immediate lawsuit? Will the yeshivos try to get SED to approve accrediting agencies that will work with the yeshivah community? What are the next steps we can expect to see?
Rabbi Niederman: The yeshivos are going to continue to teach their children, the way they’ve been doing successfully for so many years.
Rabbi Zwiebel: It’s hard to speak about what the next steps will be because — while the Rabbanim pointed out that we are one and Klal Yisrael stands together — different yeshivos may react to their specific situations in different ways. None of us here — neither Satmar nor Bobov nor the Agudah nor PEARLS — controls the entire yeshivah community. Each yeshivah is an independent entity. That was one of the problems with The New York Times story; they stereotyped that if something is going on in one yeshivah it must be going on in all yeshivos. The reality is that each mosad has its own vaad hachinuch, its own board of directors, and its own mesorah that it has to uphold. They may each approach this in a different way. So I think we may see a number of different next steps, so to speak, ultimately driven by yeshivos’ individual decisions.
Some of you today referred to the metzitzah b’peh battle the Orthodox community fought a few years ago. Now we have this yeshivah battle. Do you feel that there’s a bigger war going on over religious liberties, and that there will be continuous battles over various aspects of religious practice in a state that’s becoming more and more liberal even as its chareidi community is growing?
Mr. Schick: I think there are a couple of things happening at the same time, all of which conspire to work against us. The first is that the reach of government only expands. Especially as our politics move left, there’s a belief that government is always the solution.
Secondly, the values of the frum community are increasingly at odds with the values of the society in which we live.
The third factor is that there is no longer a societal recognition of the need for accommodation. It was common years ago, when the various civil rights laws were enacted, to provide pretty broad exemptions for religious institutions whose values would conflict with those. That’s no longer the case. Now, exemptions aren’t made in new statutes, and the exemptions in old statutes get challenged.
These three factors certainly lead to the increased tension that we’ve seen in a variety of contexts, and that, unfortunately, I think we’ll continue to experience.
Rabbi Niederman: Yes, I said years ago with metzitzah b’peh that this is not the last battle we would face.
And let me also say that while society has growing elements whose interests and values oppose ours, the religious Jewish community has grown as well, baruch Hashem — and at a quicker pace.
B’ezras Hashem we’ve overcome the challenges in the past, and we’ll continue to overcome them now.
When Gov. Hochul is asked about the regulations, she doesn’t support or oppose them, but says that SED operates independently of the governor. What is your response to her response?
Rabbi Zwiebel: In a certain respect she’s absolutely right; SED and the Board of Regents operate independently of the governor. So in theory, at least, in a certain sense, she’s right.
At the same time, there’s no question that the top executive of New York State, who is an integral part of the budget-making process in New York State and therefore has substantial influence over the Board of Regents and SED — she is the governor today, and polls show she is likely to be reelected — we had hoped would be more forceful in her public statements about it. She does say that she worked on the issue behind the scenes. That could be, and you have to take that for what it is. But it will be helpful moving forward if we can look to the governor, whomever he or she may be, as an ally in the broader fight that we are in.
Mr. Schick: In the technical sense, SED is not an agency that on an organizational chart reports to the governor. Then again, the Legislature certainly acts independently of the governor, yet every governor interacts with the Legislature all the time.
Lots of people, with all sorts of goodwill and good relationships, tried to get some movement, some activity, some support. It didn’t happen yet. And as Rabbi Zwiebel said, let’s hope that past is not prologue, and what goes from today forward is more supportive of the yeshivah community, especially on the broader range of issues that we confront day after day.
Rabbi Rosenfeld: When Gov. Hochul came to visit Bobov during the primary race, we asked that, while she doesn’t control the Board of Regents, what might she be able to do regarding yeshivah education? She replied that as the governor she sets the tone in Albany and she does have a great relationship with the Board of Regents, so they value her opinions. Additionally, she said, she could use her bully pulpit to express her support.
While we don’t know what she did or didn’t do behind the scenes, we were certainly disappointed that she did not follow through and support our position publicly.
Lee Zeldin, Gov. Hochul’s Republican opponent, said he opposes these regs.
I’ll direct this question specifically to Rabbi Niederman and Rabbi Rosenfeld, the only two on this panel who make endorsements. First Rabbi Niederman. How much should, and how much will, this issue affect whom the community’s endorsers in fact endorse in the upcoming gubernatorial election?
Rabbi Niederman: There’s no question that this issue is on people’s minds — not only the endorsers’. And when the gubernatorial candidates came to neighborhoods in our community, they heard at every event and meeting that education is our key issue. It’s not about the endorsers. This is on the mind of every voter.
You said education is the key issue. Is it possible for a theoretical prominent endorser in the community to endorse someone who does not take a stance that the community is happy with on the key issue?
Rabbi Niederman: Let me just say: The election is not today. Endorsers can only make an endorsement based on what they hear from their people. He’s a representative of his people. This is an issue that is on everybody’s mind, and we are sure we will hear from the voters, who will make a decision based on what they feel is in their best interest.
Rabbi Rosenfeld, how much should, and how much will, this issue affect whom the community’s endorsers in fact endorse in the upcoming gubernatorial election?
Rabbi Rosenfeld: There’s no question that we have generally become a one-issue electorate, and our main issue is the yeshivah issue. This is our lifeblood. So everything runs around that.
If this is the major issue, is it possible for an endorser to endorse someone who takes a stance on this issue that the yeshivah community is not happy with?
Rabbi Rosenfeld: If somebody would take a position directly against yeshivos, there’s no way we’d be able to endorse them.
If you’re asking in a case like this, where so far we haven’t heard from the governor, that’s a discussion that we have to have, to interpret exactly what it means. But there’s no question that without the governor coming out with something positive for our yeshivos, it would be very hard for leaders in our community to endorse her.
Alright, everyone, it’s time for closing statements.
Rabbi Rosenfeld: The sad thing about both the regulations and The New York Times article, is that neither see the beauty of our education and of our outcomes. They don’t give us any credit for the ethics, the critical thinking and in general the education of our limudei kodesh. Maybe we just all need to do a better job of PR and explaining ourselves to those outside our community.
Rabbi Niederman: As far as the intent of The New York Times article: I think this was the first time that The New York Times discovered Yiddish and decided to post an article in Yiddish. I guess since we’re not all substantially equivalent we don’t speak English and wouldn’t know about the article — so they wanted to make sure that we all know what they think about us.
Is there any question about what the intent was?
It was an unbelievable act by the Times to try and become ambulance chasers — hoping that those who, unfortunately, fell out of the system and could not read English, maybe this Yiddish article would lure them to come and speak to the Times.
It is outrageous.
Mr. Schick: We’re at something of a historic moment, where in the same week, the world’s most prominent newspaper devoted its most significant resources to attacking the frum community, and almost simultaneously, New York State, home to the largest frum community outside of Eretz Yisrael, was on the receiving end of regulations that directly impact chinuch. We certainly have to take stock of what that means. That’s for the Rabbanimand the Roshei Yeshivah andthe Admorim who guide our communities.
As for those in the trenches, I do think we have to consider the messages we send. We have become very adept at juggling the deep personal values that we all live by with the values of the governing elite in New York, which are very often at odds with our own values. There are very good reasons for that.
Yeshivah education hits way closer to home. This is not about some general societal value that conflicts with our values but largely impacts people other than us. This is us. This is our core achievement: the creation and sustaining of the yeshivah system after the Holocaust, from a handful of schools with 5,000 kids, to what we have today — over 170,000 children in 450 mosdos in New York.
If we’re not clear to ourselves about what that means, we’re surely not going to be clear to others about what that means to us. And if we’re not sending clear messages about it, we’re surely not going to get the results that we need.
Rabbi Zwiebel: I received an email this morning from a member of the public whom I don’t know, with what I thought was very chashuv divrei tochacha, which I acknowledged immediately. He said: you’re putting out all these statements, and talking about all the work you’re doing behind the scenes with government officials to prevent these things from happening — but nowhere in your statements does it speak about siyatta diShmaya. I thought that was a very correct criticism. And I thought about it this morning when I said tachanun: Habet miShamayim ur’eh ki hayinu laag vakeles bagoyim. That’s what it is right now. The New York Times article and related matters are creating a situation where hayinu laag vakeles bagoyim.
And we ask Hashem, habet miShamayim ur’eh — look down from Heavenand see that uv’chal zos, in spite of everything, shimcha lo shachachnu: 350,000 people wrote about how important it is to them for their children have a chinuch al pi taharas Yisrael, entirely pure and clean and not influenced in any way by the trends of the society around us. And we daven to Hashem, na al tishkacheinu. We should have a gut gebentched yohr.
This roundtable discussion originally appeared in Hamodia Prime magazine.
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