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  • Writer's pictureChaim Levin

Education in New York State

The older I get the more reluctant I am to talk about my life and the things I’ve been through. Sometimes, when I think about how much of myself I’ve put out there, especially from such a young age, I feel kinda gross. I never did it because I liked the attention, I did it because I felt like I had an obligation to speak up. How can I stay silent when thousands of children are being denied a secular education? How can I just live my life knowing that the very same school that robbed me and many others of a basic secular education continues to operate with impunity and even pride?

It’s important to highlight the fact that there are many yeshivas and religious schools that do a great job at providing both secular and religious education to their students. Such yeshivas exist across many facets of orthodox Jewish communities including within the Chabad Lubavitch world that I grew up in. Instead of using this fact to ignore the failing yeshivas,(that account for thousands of children) this fact should tell us that it IS possible to provide students with a full secular and religious education at the same time. The success of these schools prove that no one should ever have to choose between their religious values and the need to have a basic secular education as well.

If your knee jerk reaction is to tell children in these schools to “just switch schools” then you are ignoring the root of the problem and also the reality that children don’t really get to make such choices because they are, well, children.

Watching the reactions to this video throughout today I honestly feel exhausted and hopeless for the future of children who have the misfortunate of attending one of these failing yeshivas. I see people complaining about terminology, I see people minimizing the severity of this issue, and I see people lodging personal attacks against me and others who dare sound the alarm about this disastrous state of affairs.

I hope for and look forward to a time in which I did not have to put this out there about myself and about a community that is still very much part of my life whether I like it or not. But until real leaders with courage stand up for children who currently have no voice, children who cannot simply “switch schools” (because they are children), I will keep speaking to anyone who is willing to listen and hopefully help change this reality once and for all.

In the meantime, if you want to support those who are actually making a difference, support Yaffed. They are doing the work that certain communities and leaders have chosen not to do.

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