In the past few weeks Klal Yisrael banded together as YAFFED, a nonprofit advocacy group made up of former chassidishe yeshivah students, felt compelled to push the city and state into regulating the secular studies offered in our yeshivos. Is that the right approach or is speaking directly to our schools more effective? Do we want the government meddling in everything we do? When do freedom of religion and freedom of speech intersect into dictating how and what to teach in religious schools?
Taking you back a few weeks, I had the honor and privilege of attending President Trump’s Chanukah party at the White House with my teenage son, where we met Secretary of Education Betsy Devos. My son shared with Ms. Davos a bit about what he was learning in school and his plans for future and career. Was she impressed with what he had to say? Did their short conversation about his education and aspirations make an impression on her? Did his off-the-cuff words help build the case for allowing our yeshivos to oversee their own curricula? I have no idea, but I can’t help hoping that my son, in his yarmulke, white shirt, black pants, and the ideas he conveyed in his articulate and polite English, gave her food for thought.
Our children are the future of our nation. It’s why their education is so important to us, and why, as Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel pointed out in the interview you will read in this issue, we spend so much of our hard-earned money on it. For us, education does include science, math, English, and history. But those are icing on the cake. Our focus has always been – and will always be – Yiddishkeit, mesorah, and the Torah. These are the essence of who we are and what we need to transmit to our children. And we will remain as a nation united to ensure that these ideals remain our core curriculum.