What do you want to be when you grow up? That’s not a common question for boys attending ultra-Orthodox yeshivas in New York. That’s because many of these schools focus on Judaic studies, preparing students for a life of religious scholarship — at the expense of basic reading, writing, math and science. New York State law mandates that private and religious schools provide a curriculum equivalent to that of public schools, and a 2019 report by New York City’s Department of Education found that only two of the 28 yeshivas it investigated met these requirements. This is especially problematic, considering that the city’s yeshivas receive over $100 million in state funds annually.
Authorities have failed to enforce the laws, allowing the community, which is a strong and unified voting bloc, to disregard secular education requirements. In the video above, a mother pleads with city and state officials to enforce the law so her son can receive one of the most basic rights: education.
Beatrice Weber (@beawebwriter) is a former member of New York’s Hasidic community. Her son still attends an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva.
Chaim Levin is an alumnus of Yeshiva Oholei Torah, an ultra-Orthodox school in Brooklyn.