Chabad Lawyers Speak Out Against Proposed Yeshiva Regulations

Attorneys Maimon Kirschenbaum, Levi Lesches, David S. Eagle, Motty Rivkin, Leibel Gniwisch JD and Zev Herman explain why they are opposed to the proposed regulations and why every Chabad chosid should submit their objection today.

Attorneys Maimon Kirschenbaum, Levi Lesches, David S. Eagle, Motty Rivkin, Leibel Gniwisch JD and Zev Herman explain why they are opposed to the proposed regulations and why every Chabad chosid should submit their objection today.

In these final hours to comment on the New York State Education Department’s proposed regulations for “substantial equivalency” requirements in education, we, attorneys of Chabad background, make this last-minute call for all Anash to submit their opposition to the State’s proposed guidelines.

Every Chabad individual must voice unyielding opposition to the State’s proposed regulations, regardless of whether they incorporate secular instruction into their own children’s education.

If I Personally Support Teaching Secular Subjects in Frum Schools, Why Should I Oppose the Regulations?

You are not being asked to oppose secular education in frum schools. You are being asked to protect frum choice in schooling. You are being asked to step up and protect the Rebbe’s vision for Chinuch Al Tahras Hakodesh

Put simply, this is an assault on our community’s freedom to continue the Rebbe’s educational approach. As Chassidim, we must stand up for the Rebbe’s Moisdos, so that parents who choose to perpetuate Chinuch Al Tahras Hakodesh can do so. Even parents that desire secular education for their children should agree that Chabad is entitled to have school choice and Moisdos that offer the choice of Chinuch Al Tahras Hakodesh.

Furthermore, the proposed regulations defraud the frum community over school funding. Under American constitutional law, school vouchers, covering the costs of secular education, would constitute a less suspect means for promoting secular education in frum schools. The pending regulations represent New York’s attempts to have its cake and eat it. The State wants to dictate how frum schools are run while continuing to send frum tax dollars exclusively to public schools. Every frum parent should be opposed to the continued refusal to provide financial assistance to frum schools.

If I was Personally disappointed in My Parent’s Choice to Educate Me Al Taharas Hakodesh, Why Should I Oppose the New Regulations?

We are Yidden. Yiddishkeit cannot exist without institutions that produce a future generation of leaders, capable of internalizing and then re-teaching Shas, Poskim, Halacha, and Chassidus

We have a vibrant debate within our community regarding secular education, ranging from Rabbi S.R Hirsch’s endorsement for Torah U’Madah to the contrary approach adopted in certain Poilishe communities. An individual negative experience cannot serve as the solitary metric for determining the intrinsic value of Chinuch Al Tahras Hakodesh. 

It is for our communities to internally determine how our schools will pass Torah on to the next generation. It is not for the State to dictate minimum standards on assimilation to any community—whether Yeshiva of Flatbush, Oholei Torah, or United Talmudic Academy.

This is a noncontroversial matter. Indeed, the proposed regulations run contrary to accepted and noncontroversial principles of multiculturalism and diversity. Chinuch Al Tahras Hakodesh is consistent with basic values for the promotion of diversity. Communities should have the option of teaching Yiddishkeit through authentic Jewish educational principles. It is easily understood that perpetuating Jewish culture, Chinese culture, Japanese culture, or any other ancient culture, requires educational institutions dedicated to perpetuating those traditions. Chinuch Al Tahras Hakodesh is entirely consistent with largely noncontroversial secularviews on diversity and multiculturalism. 

The Education Department Has Probably Decided its Outcome. Why Should I Spend Time Submitting a Comment?

The New York State Administrative Procedures Act (SAPA) requires the Education Department to consider the public response and publish a response to public comment. 

New York law gives you the power to oppose lawmaking by unelected officials. Courts take public comments seriously, and courts will examine whether the Department gave due consideration to public comments. Concomitantly, courts take the failure to comment seriously as well. 

If you care, comment.

The OU is Handling this. Why Do I Need to Spend Time Submitting a Comment?

As we are all aware, not all frum denominations share Chabad’s commitment to Chinuch Al Tahras Hakodesh. As a result, we cannot rely on others to protect Chassidus Chabad.

Unfortunately, the “Felder Amendment” is being interpreted by the Department as acknowledging the Department’s right to impose certain minimums standards on secular education.

We do not doubt our position. Our Rebbeim—particularly, the Tzemach Tzedek and Rebbe Rashab—were Moiser Nefesh to oppose such “compromises.”

Fortunately, the United States Constitution supports Chabad today. We do not need to put our safety at risk to oppose those who would accept compromises on frum education. We simply need to take the five minutes to put our name to the letter below and inform the State of New York that the “Felder Amendment” does not represent Chabad! We must inform the State of New York that neither Mr. Felder nor any other ‘Askan’, has the authority or ability to authorize New York regulation limiting Chinuch Al Tahras Hakodesh.

Please voice your opposition to the proposed regulations now.

You can do so by emailing: [email protected]  

Subject: Comments on proposed rule I.D. No. EDU-13-22-00025-P

What if I am Reading This After Midnight?

Still sign.  Occasionally, agencies will consider untimely comments.

David S. Eagle

Motty Rivkin

Maimon Kirschenbaum

Zev Herman

Levi Lesches

Leibel Gniwisch, JD (U. Penn, 2022)

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