New York State’s New Curriculum Requirements Threaten Orthodox Schools and Religious Freedom

Out of concern that some Orthodox schools are providing inadequate secular education, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) has attempted to issue stricter rules governing the curricula of nonpublic schools. Moshe Hauer and Michael A. Helfand do not object in principle to the state taking a more active role in supervising the education of ḥasidic children, but they find the most recent set of regulations concerning:

The government, of course, has a responsibility to ensure that all minors receive adequate education so that they can be full and productive members of democratic society. But in fulfilling this responsibility, the state needs to make sure that its rules do not overreach. It needs to take adequate account of the distinctive dual-curriculum model of Orthodox Jewish schools and respect the religious way of life that these schools perpetuate. New York’s proposed new rules fail in this regard, and would undermine the ability of some Orthodox Jewish communities to pass down their faith to the next generation.

The proposed list of required areas of study goes beyond general subjects to include courses in physical education and “kindred subjects,” patriotism and citizenship, highway safety and traffic regulation, and fire and arson prevention. While these are all valuable subjects, this list veers from the core requirements that ought to be legally necessary to allow a school to keep its doors open. And it sets a dangerous precedent: if Jewish schools are to embrace government oversight to ensure substantial equivalency, they need guarantees, built into the regulations themselves, that future bureaucrats will not simply continue adding to this list, using this proposed framework to incorporate even more peripheral pedagogical requirements into the substantial equivalency inquiry.

Some Jewish schools, as well as the people who teach and learn in them, don’t conform to the images of education in the minds of most 21st-century Americans. But our society should support these minority communities in their pursuit of their way of life. Majoritarian notions can all too easily, without a proper check, produce assessments that fail to acknowledge the benefits of an integrated educational program.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at First Things

More about: Freedom of Religion, Haredim, Jewish education, New York

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia