Thousands of Orthodox Jews gathered in Albany to rally in support of maintaining the independence of New York State’s private schools.
Monday was the date of the NYS Board of Regents’ last scheduled meeting ahead of next month’s vote on proposed regulations for private schools. If passed, the regulations would be the first in the history of the United States to dictate the curriculum and hiring practices of private schools.
Orthodox Jews travelled to Albany to deliver their unequivocal message, coupled with a plea to the Board of Regents. “Torah Education has succeeded for 3,334 years” proclaimed the banner above the dais, upon which sat fifty of the state’s respectable rabbis. “Substantial equivalency is an attack on religious freedom” stated another banner, referring to the two words in the century-old law that have been seized upon by the Orthodox community’s detractors.
A delegation of rabbis met with some of the Regents in the DOE building before the rally began. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” was the message conveyed by Rabbi Elya Ber Wachtfogel, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva South Fallsburg. Rabbi Chaim Flohr, described the painful situation which NYS would be putting the Orthodox community into by passing the regulations.
Outside, in the park, the same message was echoed by Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro, a brilliant author and pulpit rabbi in Queens. “We don’t own Judaism,” he thundered. “We were entrusted with the Torah,” and we are not authorized to change an iota of it. “If, G-d forbid, the regulations pass, we have no option but to put our children first.”