Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Chassidim Are Not Catholics

In an interview published in your paper two weeks ago, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman says that Catholic schools also oppose New York’s new educational guidelines. But they likely do so because they don’t want to teach their students the secular stance on creationism, male-female relations, etc. – not because they don’t want to teach their students math, history, and science.


Catholic schools teach their students these subjects. Many chassidic yeshivos, however, do not. There must be a way, then, to compel them to give their students a rudimentary general education – thereby giving them a fighting chance should they wish to pursue higher education later on – without making them teach politically-correct views on specific subjects that are at odds with Orthodox Judaism.

I’m pretty liberal on social issues, but I’d be happy if chassidic students were taught math and sanitized versions of great literature and science and never learned about “alternative lifestyles,” gender politics, or the history of feminism.

Rabbi Reisman said it would be nice if a spirit of cooperation to work together existed. I wish he would have followed up on this point and offered a concrete suggestion on how to make sure chassidic students receive an adequate secular instruction if not via state inspections and mandated guidelines.

Not providing a serious suggestion for doing so seems like a surefire way to make sure these kids don’t ever leave their shtetl. It seems to me that if Rabbi Reisman and other Orthodox rabbis were supremely confident in the beauty of a Torah lifestyle, they wouldn’t be so nervous to instill in children the desire for more advanced secular learning.

Tova Stulman


Rabbi Broyde Is Wrong

I was surprised to read Rabbi Michael Broyde last week misleadingly characterize the Supreme Court ruling Wisconsin v. Yoder. This court did not rule that parents’ rights to educate their children always supersede the interest of the state. Rather, the court ruled that due to the Amish people’s historical focus on farm work, their children were exempt from compulsory high school education.

As the yeshiva education saga continues, Wisconsin v. Yoder will surely be used as an argument against government meddling with yeshiva curricula. But misrepresenting a Supreme Court ruling will not change the law. The fact remains that the court ruled that Amish children are obligated to attend school up to, and including, 8th grade.

Chassidic yeshivos fail to provide an education that is substantially equivalent to that offered in public schools up to 8th grade. Hence, Wisconsin v. Yoder decision will be of no help in defending chassidic yeshivos in court.

Rabbi Yossi Newfield
Brooklyn, NY


Rabbi Broyde responds:

Thank you, Rabbi Newfield, for your comments. You’re right that Wisconsin v. Yoder only addressed the question of high school education for members of the Conservative Amish Mennonite Church. But the central legal question of whether the state has the ability to ever compel education – at any grade level – when this education destroys the religion in question remains a more open question, whose answer I am uncertain about.

The court ends its Yoder decision with the following statement:

Aided by a history of three centuries as an identifiable religious sect and a long history as a successful and self-sufficient segment of American society, the Amish in this case have convincingly demonstrated the sincerity of their religious beliefs, the interrelationship of belief with their mode of life, the vital role that belief and daily conduct play in the continued survival of Old Order Amish communities and their religious organization, and the hazards presented by the State’s enforcement of a statute generally valid as to others. Beyond this, they have carried the even more difficult burden of demonstrating the adequacy of their alternative mode of continuing informal vocational education in terms of precisely those overall interests that the State advances in support of its program of compulsory high school education. In light of this convincing showing, one that probably few other religious groups or sects could make, and weighing the minimal difference between what the State would require and what the Amish already accept, it was incumbent on the State to show with more particularity how its admittedly strong interest in compulsory education would be adversely affected by granting an exemption to the Amish.


Kudos To Utah Senator Mike Lee

On behalf of all my G-d-fearing Jewish brethren, I would like to congratulate and express my gratitude to Senator Mike Lee from Utah for his singular opposition to the reappointment of Chai Feldblum as commissioner of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC).

Ms. Feldblum, a vociferous LBGT advocate, has recently overstepped her boundaries by publicly opining that she would favor sexual freedom over religious liberty rights. The job of the EEOC is to file federal discrimination lawsuits on behalf of those denied equal employment for any number of reasons, not to render decisions on which rights or freedoms are superior under the Constitution.

That is the job of the Supreme Court, and it is anticipated that it will soon be wrestling with that very question as the state of Colorado is seemingly hell-bent on insisting that LGBT rights are more important than a private baker’s religious liberty.

Last June, Justice Sotomayer wrote a dissent in which she, like Commissioner Feldblum, opined that in the not-too-distant future religious adherents and advocates of religious liberties will have to sometimes yield ground to those pursuing social and sexual “freedoms.”

Hopefully, and with the assistance of courageous lawmakers like Senator MIke Lee of Utah, that day will never come.

Lawrence Kulak
Brooklyn, NY


Palestine Was Captured Axis Land

There is a myth perpetrated by jihadists, as well as their sympathizers and apologists – along with those simply ignorant of history – that the state of Israel was “stolen” from the Palestinian people in order to serve as a salve for Europe’s post-Holocaust conscience.

In fact, like East Prussia, Israel was an Allied territorial claim from the defeated Axis. After World War II, the Allies divided the German province of East Prussia between neighboring Poland and Russia. The Allies had the same right to divvy up Palestine as it saw fit.

In 1943, Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, refused refuge to 500 Jewish children, knowing they would then be sent to Nazi concentration camps. The next year, speaking on Radio Berlin, he told his Arabic audience, “Kill the Jews wherever you find them.” He also raised three Muslim SS divisions, the 13th Handschar, 21st Skanderbeg, and 23rd Kama.

Just like a former Reich province became Russian and Polish lands, Palestine – with a man like al-Husseini leading it – became Jewish land. Both were enemy territory.

Howard Menkes