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Where should you send your kids for school?

Your kids won’t be imbued with decent values from our era’s public schools. They won’t be taught to respect authority or to love their country and flag. They will learn about condoms and LGBTQIA+, but there are no guarantees that they will learn about history, math, science, and English literary excellence.

They won’t start the day with a prayer to a Supreme Being greater than they, nor will most even begin with the Pledge of Allegiance and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Even if the school “allows” the pledge to be recited or the national anthem to be sung or a “moment of silence” to be had — a big “if” — there may well be some kid demonstratively sitting in protest, another kneeling, others shuffling with eyes rolling. There won’t be uniform respect and patriotism, with hands over hearts and pride in the words.


In public school, they may learn about homosexuality or lesbianism or drag queens-this or transgender-that. They may learn about condoms or “safety techniques” to avoid pregnancy or tools for the “day after” or options for abortions.

But respect for authority? They will learn that police are racist. They will learn that their parents can sue their teachers or the principal. They will learn that teachers can be fired if they get out of line by expecting kids to be prepared. Also, by the way, they will learn that their parents are not as smart as they thought they were. Who knows? Maybe they even will hear of boys and girls who later learned that their daddies are not really their daddies, or of others with two live-in daddies.

What will they learn in class? In history, perhaps in 1619 Project lessons, they will learn that America was founded in racism by racists who came here to own slaves. If the kids are White, they will learn that they are racist even if they don’t know it yet. Perhaps they will be asked to stand and apologize to those not White or to the wall. In math, they will learn that there are no “correct” answers, that all answers are right. Two plus two certainly can be four. But it also can be five or eight, as long as that is Your Truth.

Let me take you back six decades to Yeshiva Rambam of Brooklyn, circa 1960. I was in first grade in this Orthodox Jewish parochial school. Each day began with the pledge and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Sometimes, we also sang “America the Beautiful” or “G-d Bless America.” We placed our little Jewish hands on our big Jewish hearts and learned to love America. We learned about Americans who gave their lives for our freedom. And Mrs. Sherman taught me the difference between then and than. The Yankees no longer were “better then the Mets.” They were “better than.” During the religious half of my school day, Morah (the title for teacher) Rothberg taught me to respect my parents and to say please and thank you.

In second grade, Rabbi Schroit taught me my first Torah, the biblical verses about Noah and the Ark. We learned our first foreign language, memorizing translations for those verses’ Hebrew words. He also taught us to love and respect our parents. He was a man of impeccable character. During the secular half of our day, Mrs. Platt taught us how to dial a telephone and how to answer if called. Never begin by asking, “Who is this?” Rather, begin with: “David Fischer speaking. Hello.”

And so it went. Mrs. Raucher taught me grammar in fourth grade, while Rabbi Fastag taught us Hebrew songs about the holidays. Mrs. Ganzel taught me a world of reading, writing, and arithmetic in third and fifth grades. Mr. Bettinger finished ninth-grade math with us by the end of seventh grade, leaving Mrs. Wolfson frustrated the next year because we already knew the eighth-grade stuff and were ready for sophomore-year high school geometry. Meanwhile, having hardly begun mastering Hebrew and only the book of B’reishit (Genesis), we entered fifth grade by being immersed in the language of Aramaic and the Babylonian Talmud. We learned about ownership rights and ethics, the difference between owner liability the first time his ox gored someone versus its third goring. We learned the laws for what to do if we find lost objects — when we are required to publicize and return what we found. And we learned we are required to stand respectfully any time an elderly person comes within our ambit. And we learned to respect our parents.

It was more of the same in yeshiva high school at Brooklyn Talmudic Academy. We finished the entire New York state high school math curriculum by the middle of sophomore year, so Rabbi Cooper and Mr. Rubinstein ended up teaching us college math — calculus and stuff — the rest of the way. We kept learning the Talmud. Kept learning American history with Mr. Merlis, who told the best jokes and the corniest puns. Mr. Zuckerman taught high school chemistry at the college level. Mr. Berkowitz did the same in biology. Mr. Tarendash in physics. And Mr. Strum taught me literary writing skills.

Get this: In twelve years through yeshiva high school, we never heard a word in the classroom about homosexuality, lesbianism, pregnancy, or abortion.

We all emerged loving America deeply, patriots one and all. And we knew of Nathan Hale’s only regret and of Patrick Henry’s heroic disjunctive demand.

But weren’t there any misfits? Glad you asked.

In our first year of yeshiva high school, there were three boys who were rambunctious. Twice a year, we kids would be assigned, in groups of eight, a two-hour oral examination in the Talmud conducted by an exceptionally holy rabbi who oversaw the religious direction of the school. Whenever that rabbi entered the classroom to speak with a classroom rabbi, everyone would jump out of our seats and stand in respectful attention until he exited the room or signaled for us to sit. One time, the three amigos were part of an octet assigned that day’s oral exam at the rectangular table headed by the holy rabbi. They clandestinely brought a basketball into the room and started dribbling it and kicking it to each other under the table while the oral exam proceeded. Of course, at some point it inadvertently got kicked astray and, of course, ended up rolling under the table until it gently struck the holy rabbi’s shoes. Everyone laughed in embarrassment. The rabbi smiled gently. That trio were the very worst of the misfits our school had. Pretty good, huh? And, oh yeah, the next day the three fellas were expelled from the school. No more misfits.

The great debate in the 1970s was whether we kids in the yeshiva parochial schools would end up so cloistered and insulated that we would be unable to contend and compete in a fundamentally non-Jewish secular world. So, most nonreligious parents sent their kids to public schools. What became of us, the cloistered?

Sven (fake name) ran a “C” average in high school. He learned the stuff; he was just a slacker and never studied for exams. Two decades later, my sister sent me “regards” from the guy, explaining that he now was their family doctor, a prominent physician. His best friend in high school, Olaf (also a fake name), ran the same “C” for the same reason. Olaf buckled down in college and ended up chairman of a medical department in one of America’s most prominent hospitals and the world expert on a rare disease, leading him to deliver guest lectures annually to medical researchers all over the world. Buzz (a real nickname) was the greatest of teenage baseball players, and he could have been a major league star, but he would not pursue those talents because games are played on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons, the Holy Shabbat. So he instead became a partner at the nationally prominent Ernst & Young accounting firm. Me? I went to Columbia University, got elected by the undergraduate student body to represent the entire college in the Columbia University Senate, and went on to become a rabbi, then a clerk for a federal appeals court judge, then a big-firm attorney and law professor, and then a contributing editor for this great magazine. We all came out as success stories.

If you send your kids to an American public school circa 2023, you are — forgive me — absolutely nuts. A parochial school will teach your child patriotism, respect for your parental authority, respect for teachers and institutional authority, respect for police and other first responders, respect for those who serve and defend our country at home and abroad, and solid traditional values. Parochial-school kids have separate bathrooms and are not soaked with eight to twelve years of LGBTQ indoctrination and free condoms. They will learn to recite and sing the words to the pledge and the national anthem with pride. They will grow strong without needing safe spaces and trigger warnings to protect them from microaggressions. They will learn real history, real math, real English literature, cursive writing, and the stuff of Dead White European Men and Women.

And they will learn about the Creator of the universe and His Intelligent Design, gaining a little humility to understand that the world does not revolve around them. They won’t be perfect. Contrary to what Gillette and to the emasculators say, boys always will be boys. But girls won’t; they will be girls. Kids still will get out of line once in a while. But, when the final numbers are tallied, most yeshiva graduates do not get shot by cops and know to respect them, most do not perpetrate mass shootings, and most learn more secular studies in half a school day (since the other half is set aside for religious, spiritual, and moral instruction) than their public school peers cover in a full day.

Adapted by the writer for The Jewish Press from a version of this article that first appeared here in The American Spectator.


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Rabbi Dov Fischer, Esq., is rav of Young Israel of Orange County, California and is Vice President and Senior Rabbinic Fellow at Coalition for Jewish Values. He is a senior contributing editor at The American Spectator, was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, and clerked in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. His writings have appeared in Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, and in several Israel-based publications.