Pray for us!
That’s the message a leading Hasidic rabbi gave to his thousands of followers in response to the city Education Department’s investigation into its schools failing to teach secular subjects as required by law.
“These are bad times for us Jews,” said Satmar leader Aaron Teitelbaum during a May 4 speech. “We need to pray to God that (city officials) should not interfere with the upbringing of our children.”
“Worthless … snitches” in the community are urging the Education Department to take action “which the government doesn’t even want,” the rabbi said at a large synagogue in upstate Kiryas Joel.
The Education Department last summer announced that it is investigating more than a dozen private schools to ensure their curriculum follows secular education standards.
That review remains ongoing nearly a year later.
Advocates contend the Education Department is just stalling.
“This speech is concerning in many ways,” said Naftuli Moster, who founded Young Advocates for Fair Education, a group advocating for yeshivas to meet secular standards required by state law.
“Most concerning is the apparent collusion between community leaders and the (department) which might explain why the city investigation stalled early on,” he added.
The Teitelbaum address was transcribed and distributed to followers living in different areas.
The Hasidic leader also says the city has long ignored the state law regarding secular education.
“To put it bluntly, they simply turned a blind eye to what was going on by the Jewish children,” Teitelbaum said. “They didn’t want to look.”
City authorities say the review is active.
“We take this matter very seriously,” said Education Department spokeswoman Toya Holness.