The Petition

You can download a pdf version of the petition by clicking here. Please share this file with your rabbi.

Education is a Jewish Thing

The ultra-Orthodox yeshivas of Brooklyn and Upstate New York have, for decades, been neglecting to properly educate their students in accordance with both Jewish and civil laws. While we are proud of the rigorous Judaic studies curricula in our yeshivas, we are saddened by the failure to educate our students in subjects that would help them to succeed practically in the modern world.

The Gemara says: Chayav odom lelamed es benoi umnus; a man must teach his son a profession. Nowadays, we do not teach our children ourselves, but hand the responsibility to our children’s schools – our respected yeshivas and the rebeiim who lead them. However, many of our yeshivas are failing to provide necessary instruction in this very important area.

The Jewish people, throughout history and across different communities, have always valued knowledge and education. The wisdom of Chazal and our revered sages, from the Talmud and its commentaries to sifrei mussar and chasidus, show intimate familiarity with the wisdom and knowledge of their time. Never in Jewish history have we aspired to raise children ignorant of the ways of the world.

According to Jewish law: dina demalchusa dina. The Torah requires of us to follow the laws of the state in which we reside. According to New York State law, all schools, public or private, must provide their students with an education that will give them the basic tools they need to succeed in life. Mandatory subjects include: English, mathematics, reading, writing, science, geography, history, music, art, health education, physical education, and more. Unfortunately, most Chasidic yeshivas fail to satisfy even a fraction of these requirements.

We, the undersigned, voice our concern regarding this violation of Halacha and the law of the land. We ask that our yeshivas modify their curricula to comply with relevant guidelines of the New York State Department of Education, and to ensure that our students are properly educated in all mandatory subjects.

Let us work together to provide a better future for our children.