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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Saturday, September 23, 2017

For some time now, a movement has been growing to push Chassidic yeshivas in New York City to alter their curriculum – which overwhelmingly focuses on intense study of the Talmud and other Torah tracts – to include a significant amount of standard academic lessons in such secular subjects as English, math, science and history. The movement has been led by Naftuli Moster – who claims the Chassidic yeshiva he attended provided virtually no education in these areas – and his group Young Advocates for Fair Education.

In a letter delivered to City Hall in July of 2015, Yaffed specifically cited 39 New York City yeshivas it claims do not provide academic instruction that is required by state law. The letter generated a city investigation into the matter. But after much time has passed, Moster claims that Mayor de Blasio is purposely stalling, given his close relationship with the Orthodox community in Brooklyn and beyond.

Many from within the Orthodox world are skeptical of Moster, as they believe he has become less religious over time and is simply out to target the Chassidic yeshivas. Yet a group of Orthodox families and community leaders has come together to try and improve secular studies in cooperation with the yeshiva leaders, who are wary of undue outside influence.

The Jewish Voice agrees that there is a serious void of secular education in many of the fervently Orthodox yeshivas. Too many young men and women graduate these schools with woefully inadequate skills in math and English. This often becomes a serious handicap for them when they attempt to find a job and establish a sustainable career.

At the same time, we recognize the importance of providing a solid Torah education that will solidify the students’ religious knowledge and dedication. Ultimately, all sides must come together and cooperate to ensure that a proper balance is struck. In the end, the yeshiva students will come out the winners.