Mayor Adams Meets With Rav Wolfson and Yeshiva Admins, Reaffirms Support for Yeshivas

By Reuvain Borchardt

BORO PARK — Mayor Eric Adams met Wednesday night with Rav Moshe Wolfson, shlita, and yeshivah administrators who thanked him for his support for yeshiva education, as the state government is seeking to regulate the secular-studies curriculum at private schools.

Rav Wolfson typically does not get involved in politics, but made an exception in this instance due to the importance of the yeshiva education issue to the Orthodox community.

“Being that I am not a political personality, I shy away from political involvement,” Rav Wolfson said. “Tonight I have made an exception for an exceptional person.”

Rav Wolfson said he wished to offer the mayor a “deep expression of gratitude for the assistance granted our community especially in aiding our development of our most precious commodity: our dear children. Our children are our future, are G-d’s gift to us, and any help we receive in raising them to be an honor to G-d, refined, valuable, productive adults, is greatly appreciated.”

Adams told Rav Wolfson he was “humbled by your willingness to meet with me … Seeing that traditionally you do not involve yourself in political encounters, it means a lot to me.”

Adams reaffirmed his support for yeshivas. Recalling his 2021 mayoral campaign, in which he received a large number of Orthodox endorsements and votes, Adams said, “There was only one thing you all asked for: ‘Protect our children. Protect our children.’ And I promised you then, and I’m promising you now.”

The state Board of Regents passed regulations last September that would for the first time empower the state Education Department to approve each private school’s secular-studies curriculum, after some graduates of Chassidic yeshivas alleged that their secular education inadequately prepares students to earn a livelihood and participate in contemporary society. But yeshiva advocates maintain that parents should have autonomy in deciding their children’s education in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs, that the totality of a yeshiva education is superior to that offered in public schools, and that yeshiva graduates live more successful and meaningful lives than do public-school graduates.

Though the regulations were passed by state government, their enforcement in New York City is largely the responsibility of the city’s schools chancellor, appointed by the mayor.

Adams has a long-standing relationship with the Orthodox community since his time as state senator and Brooklyn Borough president, and as mayor he has repeatedly expressed support for yeshiva education. In a speech last month at a Teach NYS dinner, Adams said that said that government should actually strive to emulate yeshivas’ successes in public schools. “[Rather than] asking what are you doing in your schools, we need to ask what are we doing wrong in our schools and learn what you are doing in the yeshivas.”

At the meeting Wednesday night, Adams was presented with a plaque signed by over 50 yeshiva administrators thanking him for his support.

As the yeshiva battle has been waged in media as well as in the halls of government, the Orthodox community says it has been victim of inaccurate portrayals and smears by a biased press.

Adams said at the meeting, “It’s unfortunate that those outside your community don’t understand that all you want to do is live in peace, educate your children and be able to provide for your community.”

Yeshiva groups have sued to overturn the regulations. A state judge in March issued a ruling viewed as largely favorable to the yeshivas, and the state Attorney General’s office is appealing the ruling.

Photos courtesy of Sam Lerner. Videos courtesy of Williamsburg 365 News.

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