Hundreds of Ultra-Orthodox Jews will gather in front of NYSED in Albany during the board of regents meeting to express opposition to proposed new regulations, of Substantially Equivalency in Nonpublic Schools and plea for its revocation.
On July 3rd, 2019, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) proposed new regulations for substantial equivalency of instruction for students attending nonpublic schools. (7/3/19 N.Y. St. Reg. EDU-27-19-00010-P)
Ultra-Orthodox Jews will gather to voice our dissent with these regulations. In a free and democratic society, the right of parents to educate their children in accordance with their faith must be respected. Wisconsin v. Yoder was a landmark case, with the Supreme Court establishing a legal precedent to protect the rights of religious minorities in regards to education.
Our current educational system was structured through the direction of our leading rabbis of previous generations, and serves as one of the cornerstones of our faith. Implementing the proposed regulations would damage a fundamental element of our religious practice, something we cannot in good conscience comply with.
If the proposed guidelines are eventually approved, then tens of thousands of people within the Torah adherent Jewish communities of New York State, will have no other choice than to engage in the storied American tradition of civil disobedience. We as a community are strict pacifists as prescribed by the Torah and any resistance on our part would be restricted to nonviolent noncooperation.
The Torah is our guiding light in all matters and we as a faith community are duty-bound to fulfll its precepts come what may. One of those dictates is to be law-abiding, loyal, and productive members of society in our countries of residence, stating clearly:
“Pray for the peace of the kingdom (of your country of residence),” and “the law of the land is obligating.”
The Torah admonishes devout Jews to display gratitude towards those who have bestowed kindness upon them and, given that, we are extremely thankful for the freedom that we experience, on a multitude of levels in the United States in general and New York State in particular.
However, the same Torah also commands us to resist laws which fly in the face of Torah precepts. we plea that these regulations not be implemented so as to not place ourselves in a position where we must disobey.
It should be noted, that if failure to comply with the guidelines, should they be approved, would result in the forfeiting of any or all government funding for uncooperative yeshivos, it would not alter our position in any way. No amount of money is worth altering the fundamental nature of yeshiva education. Any funding preconditioned on altering our educational system we, as parents, gladly eschew.
Even if penalties were to become even more severe, such as jail time, there is a silent majority of parents in our community, who are ready to pay whatever price necessary to insure Torah education remains intact in its historical entirety. The Torah obligates us to engage in nonviolent noncooperation until the absolute end in this matter. As a minority faith we have weathered many storms, many attempts to alter our convictions and modes of practice from a dizzying variety of groups and individuals. We are determined to resist this current attempt as well.
Bearing this in mind, we ask the Board of Regents to reject the proposed guidelines since we as a community cannot in good conscience and as servants of G-d carry them out. If New York State ultimately decides to make these regulations binding, then we have left no other alternative than to respectfully disobey. Their establishment will erode personal and communal freedom in New York, forcing us as a community to seriously reconsider if there is still a place for us in this state.
We ask the board of regents to reject this affront to liberty and the free exercise of individual conscience.
A rally, organized by PURITE.org will take place TODAY Monday, September 9, at 4:00 PM, in front of NYS Education Building, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany NY.