Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Many activists claim New York’s recently-released guidelines are an attempt to quash Torah education. They may be right – but not in the way they think. Far more dangerous than the number of hours they require yeshivos to teach science, math, and history is their goal to normalize biblically-forbidden abominable conduct.

In 2010, New York passed a law amending section 801-A of its Education Law. It now states: “the regents shall ensure that the course of instruction in grades kindergarten through twelve includes a component on civility, citizenship and character education.” It continues: “for the purposes of this section, ‘tolerance,’ ‘respect for others’ and ‘dignity’ shall include awareness and sensitivity to harassment, bullying, discrimination and civility in the relations of people of different…sexual orientations, [trans]genders….”


Thanks to the disgusting education public schools receive because of this law (I can’t go into detail as this is a family newspaper), nearly one in four New York City teens today, as the New York Post recently reported, identifies as something other than “straight.” If that is what only a few years of propaganda can accomplish, who knows what ideas will fill the minds of New York city youth, G-d forbid, in a decade’s time.

So far, 801-A has not been applied to private schools, but it contains no language explicitly exempting them, and it was clear from the outset that it was only a matter of time before activists would try to bring yeshivos under its province. I worked successfully with others to get Bill A08310-2011 – which exempts private schools from 801-A’s requirements – through New York’s Assembly twice, but the Senate hasn’t passed it.

Many worry about yeshivos being forced to teach so many hours of secular studies that Torah instruction will have to be curtailed. But combatting these time requirements does not get to the core of the problem. Chazal teach us that Bilaam tried to stop children from learning Torah (see Pesichta to Eicha Rabbah).  Bilaam’s most dangerous move, however, was spreading sexual immorality. When all his other schemes fell through, Bilaam (who was actually Lavan, according to Targum Yonasan) said to Balak:

“I shall advise you what you should do to this nation in the end of days.” He then proceeded, as the Gemara (Sanhedrin 106a) tells us, to outline the entire plot of Baal Peor, remarking to Balak that “the G-d of [Israel] hates ‘zima’ (sexual immorality).” It’s very telling that Bilaam speaks of “the end of days,” which may very well refer to our era. Bilaam’s last hurrah – his most serious and dangerous scheme – is connected to sexual immorality.

Interfering with Torah instruction to children was “Plan A.” It didn’t work; in fact, it strengthened us. So he turned to immorality, which can pervert, and even destroy, us.

In our generation, the government has helped us put up eruvin, not get fired for keeping Shabbos, and perform bris milah. It’s inconceivable that it will insist on implementing guidelines that limit the number of hours we teach Torah. However, in a generation in which the left has made homosexuality its idol, an attempt to force yeshivos to teach respect towards homosexuality is practically guaranteed.

To get a sense of how the Left thinks about this topic, it’s useful to keep in mind the words of New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm. In an effort to attain government oversight of yeshivos, he wrote:

“Yeshivas, private schools and parochial schools – unlike public schools – are not subject to Council oversight or much of the NYC Human Rights Law. Too often their leaders embrace homophobia, transphobia, and other horrific ideologies and subject our young people to them on a daily basis in the classroom. It is our duty to protect LGBTQ students in every school. We must not bankroll hate with tax dollars. Lamentably there is no mechanism in this legislation to prevent such a thing from happening.”

With these words, he attempted to remove New York security officers protecting these schools.


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Yonasan Teleky studies in yeshiva and is active in moral politics. He has worked in behalf of politicians running on a traditional morality platform.