New York State’s Regulations for Private Schools Threaten Religious Freedom

Jan. 22 2019

In November, Albany issued a new set of guidelines for the state’s independent schools that not only increase the requirements placed on these institutions but also authorize public-school administrators to evaluate local private schools. Yaakov Bender, the principal of a Jewish school in New York, argues that the new policies pose a threat to the freedom of religious parents, and parents in general, to determine the educations of their children:

The parents who choose our school do so . . . because they want an education that is rooted in Jewish texts and informed by Jewish morality, history, culture, ideals, and hopes. What they do not want is a curriculum chosen by the local school district [or] a school schedule that is subject to the approval of the local school board or teachers who answer to Albany. . . .

Religious [schools] are also concerned that control over the academic curriculum today will lead to control over the values they teach tomorrow. These concerns are not so easily dismissed.

Witness what is occurring in England, where an all-girls Orthodox school was recently designated “inadequate” [by government bureaucrats] because students did not receive “a full understanding of the world.” The school was criticized for not affirmatively promoting respect for same-sex marriage, for not providing sex education, and for not teaching evolution, which conflicts with the school’s religious beliefs. In the eyes of the UK Office for Standards in Education, this all added up to a failure to provide students with “a well-rounded education.”

However well-intentioned New York’s regulators of today may be, history teaches that once the autonomy of independent and religious schools is undermined, the reach of the state will only expand. Even now, the government has “offered” to evaluate our Jewish- studies classes, which are chock-full of academic and intellectual value. But an evaluation today will lead to a suggestion tomorrow and a mandate down the road.

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Read more at Times-Union

More about: American Jewry, Freedom of Religion, Jewish education, Politics & Current Affairs

The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media