If the Agudah Won’t Stand Up for Chaim, Who Will?
Ensuring a Torah-true education for our children
Teaching is in my blood.
My mother was a teacher, my grandmother was a teacher, my great-grandmother was a teacher, and I’m certain that the ancestors preceding them must have been teachers as well. When I first embarked on my teaching career, for various reasons I chose to teach limudei chol.
But I didn’t focus only on the chol. Instead, I strived to show my students the yad Hashem in history, nature, and their own lives. I was careful to avoid any mention of kefirah or ideas that were antithetical to Yiddishkeit. Over the years, I developed a curriculum that I was very proud of.
Apparently, my principal was happy with it too. A few years ago, she hired me to be a curriculum advisor in our elementary school. It was hard work, but it was extremely gratifying and fulfilling.
And then came the bombshell.
The New York State Education Department began to propose regulations regarding substantial equivalency, threatening the autonomy of yeshivos under their jurisdiction. I thought of my carefully planned lessons, the hashkafos and insights I wove into them. What would become of my curriculums if the government was allowed to poke its head into our insular school?
If our pure children would be forced to master material according to secular dictates, what would become of their future?
I thought of the brave Jews, hiding in caves and learning Torah while the Yevanim hunted them down. Images of Soviet Jews being pursued by the KGB for the crime of teaching Torah marched through my mind.
The kedushah of our nation was under attack. Was there anything we could do about it?
When the State Education Department initially proposed substantial equivalency in all schools, the Agudah was galvanized into action. In 2019, the issue seemed to be resolved when the State Education Department withdrew its proposed regulations following a petition that consisted of 140,000 signatures. However, new regulations proposed this year threaten to make substantial changes to the material being taught in our yeshivos.
Once again, the Agudah rose to the occasion by coordinating a record-setting campaign to accumulate signatures for a petition – this time way more than the original 140,000. Over 250,000 signatures, petitions, and letters flooded in opposing the regulations.
With its vast influence in government corridors, and with persistent, untiring effort, the Agudah will continue to fight for the right to teach our children according to our mesorah.
Because if they don’t stand up for us, who will?