The Truth about Hasidic Education

Earlier this month, the New York State budget passed with new language that would somewhat relax the government education requirements for Yeshivas. Following this change, activists who left Hasidism and are fighting to enforce more secular education were quick to denounce the law. Shulem Deen wrote in the The New York Times “Why does New York Condone illiteracy?” and Hasidim took to Twitter to fight back. My Facebook feed is filled with outcries against corruption and uneducated children.

When Hasidic education is in the news, I bite my tongue. While I too was educated in the Hasidic community, I am a woman, and women are said to get more education, which is to say I learned more English. I left the Hasidic community when my son was five and still in Kindergarten in the Satmar community. But most of all, I find it hard to say anything because this conversation is so often reduced to moral absolutism. This is a fight in which both sides have set themselves up as the saviors of the children, the heroes to the victims, and anything besides heroism will get shouted down by indignant advocates whose work is here to save the day.

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