Rabbis have written opinion pieces warning that children in the yeshiva community are under siege by the New York State Education Department. They were reacting to erroneous information that yeshivas would be required to provide students with seven hours per day of secular subjects as part of their daily curriculum — even more than is required from the state’s public schools.
News outlets such as Mishpacha and the FJJ in Brooklyn announced we were under attack, and warned that our educational systems were about to be undermined. In the aftermath of the tragic killings in Pittsburgh in early November, these same media outlets blasted headlines questioning whether Jews would ever again be able to attend shuls freely.
Some of these publications discussed at length the need for security personnel and for congregants to carry guns in shuls. They used the antisemitism card, telling us hatred of Jews has become a terrible and desperate problem that needs our immediate attention.
Now these pronouncements are being issued to scare the community into believing that our educational freedoms are under attack. Really it is little more than a misunderstanding about how yeshivas function.
Be that as it may, how does it help to declare public fast days on days that we were scheduled to fast anyway according to our calendar? Why the scare tactics when communication and understanding are needed most?
We understand the need to move papers and magazines off the newsstands and into people’s homes. The need to possibly exaggerate a crisis that might not be one can serve those interests. But as we know from the past, the panic and scare tactics are usually more counterproductive than anything else.
If the idea is to frighten and control people, panic does just that. If the objective is to help our yeshivas, this is the wrong way to do it.
We are talking with school officials and those with a long view of the issues that will benefit the overall community. More on that subject next week.