What We Do
Yaffed is dedicated to improving the secular education curricula in ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic Yeshivas across NY through awareness, advocacy, and grassroots campaigns.
Yaffed is a nonprofit organization founded by individuals raised within Hasidic and Haredi communities, and is committed to improving secular education in Hasidic and Haredi schools.
Yaffed employs a three-pronged approach. While we believe it is the government’s responsibility to enforce the law and ensure every child receives the education to which they are entitled, we do not believe this alone will solve this issue. We also believe that it is important to build grassroots and community-based support for change. And finally, we employ consistent and persistent awareness campaigns in the media. Each one is essential to our work.
Our Theory Of Change
Raising awareness about education equality issues that matter to everyone.
Grassroots and community-based advocacy to support change.
Acting to enforce laws ensuring every child receives the education they deserve.
Why awareness, advocacy, and organizing? Why focus on these three specific areas, and why do they each matter?
At Yaffed, we are deeply committed to true and deep change. That means that you cannot simply impose something as massive as changing the lives of 64,000 children (and the schools in charge of them): change must occur in a multi-pronged, intentional, and heartfelt approach.
Thus, it is through advocacy that we believe that we can make a difference in changing the hearts and minds of those from our communities. All who are committed to Yaffed have in some way been connected to these communities, from being born there to living there today to sending our children to these very schools. We know how massive a shift it will take for some to change, and we know that law enforcement alone won’t change that.
Which is also why we use the tactic of awareness: the work we do is often overshadowed, especially on the ground in Haredi communities, by leaders who are committed to the entrenched status quo. Without a constant light on the importance of education for Haredi children, this disinformation will continue to spread. Further, it is only with this outside pressure that these leaders will realize that their control is relegated to within their communities.
Combined, these approaches bring us closer every day to finally achieving our goal: providing every Haredi child with the education they deserve.
Over the next few years, Yaffed’s mission gains more attention through a billboard campaign and a New York Times article. Then, in 2014, Ami Magazine, an ultra-Orthodox publication, publishes an advertisement from Yaffed, sparking backlash from yeshiva leaders.
One year later, Yaffed appears before the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) to address concerns directly to the NYC Schools’ Chancellor.
A year later, the New York State Education Department finally releases its guidelines for enforcing substantial equivalency.
Finally, in December 2019, the New York City Department of Education releases the results of its investigation, confirming that the vast majority of the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox yeshivas they visited are not providing an adequate education.
The fight continues: but so does Yaffed's resolve. Join us.
Yaffed is founded by Naftuli Moster and graduates of Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox yeshivas. They begin meeting with state and local education officials to inform them about the issue and their responsibilities under the “substantial equivalency” law.
Yaffed sends out first newsletter and begins receiving coverage in Jewish community press.
Yaffed launches its first billboard campaign.
Naftuli Moster and Yaffed are profiled by the New York Times, bringing national attention to education in yeshivas.
Ami Magazine, an ultra-Orthodox publication, publishes an advertisement from Yaffed, sparking backlash from yeshiva leaders.
Yaffed sends to the Department of Education a letter signed by 52 yeshiva graduates and parents alleging educational neglect in 39 yeshivas in New York City. The following day, the city announces it will launch an investigation.
For the first time, Yaffed appears before the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) and addresses concerns directly to the NYC Schools’ Chancellor.
Yaffed releases a report, the first of its kind, detailing the scope and seriousness of the problem.
New York State Education Department releases guidelines for enforcing substantial equivalency.
Yaffed hires its fourth full-time staff member, reaching the highest capacity in its history.
In response to a technical decision by a state court to strike down the guidelines, the State Education Department proposes regulations to begin enforcing substantial equivalency.
Yaffed hosts its first dinner event, honoring State Senator Robert Jackson, Anita Altman, Eric Huang, and Sandy Weichman. The next day, the New York City Department of Education finally released the results of investigation, confirming that the vast majority of the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox yeshivas they visited were not providing