Satmar Rebbe Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum and Agudath Israel of America have praised state Senator Simcha Felder for forcing through legislation that modifies state-imposed secular curriculum requirements at yeshivot.
“There are those who acquire their place in the world to come in just a single moment,” Rabbi Teitelbaum said during Chol Hamoed, according to a recording posted by VIN News (vosizneias.com). “In the name of all of the holy kehillos in all of the state of New York … everyone should say ‘yasher koyach Reb Simcha’.”
“The Satmar Rebbe told me it was a life or death situation, that nothing could be more important than preventing government from interfering with religious freedoms, particularly a religious education,” Felder told VIN News. “He made it very clear to me that nothing was more important than this crisis that was facing yeshiva parents.”
Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel executive vice president, noted that the Satmar Rebbe is the leader of the largest single yeshiva community whose followers would be most impacted by any state laws that attempt to regulate private school education.
“I personally feel that we are better off today than we were a week and a half ago,” said Rabbi Zwiebel. “The final version acknowledges the academic rigor and critical thinking skills of the yeshiva learning experience, several points that were not apparent under the old law.”
The movement to defend yeshivas against regulatory oversight was never intended to be a complete exemption from state law that requires private schools to meet mandated educational criteria, Rabbi Zwiebel said in a statement released by Agudath on Tuesday (published at the bottom right of this page).
“We acknowledge that government has the right to ensure that children in all schools, including ours, receive a sound basic education that prepares them to function as productive citizens. What we take issue with is excessive government regulation or oversight that would require yeshivas to conform to the same curricular requirements as those used in public schools.
“Our position is that yeshivas, in order to carry out the fundamental religious mission for which they were created, need to be given great latitude in designing a rigorous academic program that may differ from that offered in the public schools but nonetheless gives students the skills they need to be productive members of society. We believe that the Felder bill strikes an appropriate balance along those lines.”