A Heder, an Orthodox Jewish School" by National Library of Israel / Public Domain

NY Legislators Must Help Orthodox Jewish Kids and Rescind the Felder Amendment

Jan 17, 2019

By Hemant Mehta

As we’ve posted about before, New York State Sen. Simcha Felder — a “Democrat” who caucused with the Republicans, giving them a one-vote majority — essentially held the state’s budget hostage until it agreed not to interfere with the curriculum at yeshivas, the schools for Orthodox Jews. That meant there could be no oversight of schools that did a pathetic job of educating students about anything other than their holy book.

But one of the consequences of the 2018 elections was that Democrats won a clean majority of seats in the State Senate. Felder’s vote no longer matters as long as the other (actual) Democrats stick together, which is what they seem to be doing so far.

We’ll get back to the new politics of New York in a second.

To make sense of this story, you also need to know that a group of students affected by the weakened oversight, called Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED), sued state officials last summer. They said that the law, which singles out Orthodox schools for this special treatment, violated church/state separation.

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