Brooklyn, NY – Commitment To Higher Quality Secular Curriculum In Chasidic Schools On Display At Yeshiva Education Fair


    Assemblyman Dov Hikind attending the eventBrooklyn, NY – Students at five Chasidic yeshivos in Borough Park had their moment in the spotlight yesterday, displaying both their creativity and their knowledge of science and social studies at an end of year education fair.

    Yesterday’s event, held at PS 180 in Borough Park, is the first of many to come, said Rabbi Avrohom Greenstein, executive director of the recently created Yeshiva Principals Association, which has been working with Chasidic boys schools in Brooklyn to ensure that students receive a well rounded education. Participating principals have been having meetings throughout the year, sharing resources and ideas to improve the quality of their secular curriculums.

    “We have big plans,” Rabbi Greenstein told VIN News. “We will be bringing in experts on curriculum, testing and other areas, all in the spirit of making improvements, so that the time that we have available in our schools for English is being used properly.”

    Rabbi Greenstein said that the group currently has seven member schools in Borough Park but that he has been approached by principals from others parts of Brooklyn, with a possible expansion to Rockland County also in the works. The Yeshiva Principals Association is developing a new secular studies curriculum to be instituted at member schools in the future.

    “We have been working collectively with educational experts and there is going to be a big rollout for our yeshivos,” said Rabbi Greenstein. “The yeshivos are really catching on to these ideas in a big way and are encouraging students to learn secular subjects in a way that is in keeping with our philosophies.”

    Sunday’s education fair included students in fourth through eighth grades representing Yeshiva Imrei Yosef Spinka, Yeshiva Beth Hillel Krasna, Yeshiva Ohr Moshe, Yeshiva Yesodei Hatorah and Yeshiva Mevakshei Hashem. The event included separate men’s and women’s viewing hours, with parents, rabbonim, school principals and administrators from many other yeshivos enjoying an opportunity to speak with the boys about their projects.

    Rabbi Yochanan Zehnwirth, principal of the Klauszenberg yeshiva, spoke briefly about the importance of Chasidic yeshivos providing a well rounded secular education and introduced the Kossover Rebbe, Rabbi Shraga Feivish Hager, who discussed the importance of allocating sufficient time for a general studies curriculum. Other speakers included both faculty and student representatives of each school.

    “Each one of those kids spoke better than most politicians I have heard,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who also attended yesterday’s event, which included an awards presentation to all participating schools and students.

    12 year old Yitzchok Drew, an eighth grader at Yeshiva Beth Hillel Krasna, was excited to share his three dimensional project which involved painted rivers, streams and mountains, fluffy white cotton ball clouds, a Lego fisherman and a model of a water tower.

    “It is a simple but interesting cycle,” said Drew, who gave a detailed description of how the heat of the sun causes oceans to emit vapors which condense into clouds. Electrical currents produced in the clouds cause thunder, lightning and the rain which ultimately fills the water sources that supply our home faucets.

    Drew said that he had spent approximately three weeks constructing his display. The educational component was part of his daily routine, noted Drew, who said he is always studying.

    Among the highlights of the education fair for Hikind was seeing proud parents enjoying their children’s accomplishments and the passion and enthusiasm evident throughout the room.

    “I am a guy who reads a lot but I learned so much yesterday from these kids,” said Hikind. “Some of them sounded like future Albert Einsteins and the way they explained things and were so excited I had to tell some of them to slow down just so I could follow what they were saying. It was gratifying to see that while there is no doubt that Torah is the most important thing that our children are learning, these kids are learning so many other things as well.”

    This year’s event is the first of many planned by the Yeshiva Principals Association and Rabbi Greenstein said that they hope to bring the expo to both Brooklyn and Albany next year in an effort to demonstrate the schools’ commitment to a secular education.

    Rabbi Mendy Balkany, principal of Yeshiva Bais Hillel Krasna, described the expo as an impressive achievement on several levels.

    “We have broken ground on a new wave of collaboration amongst school principals,” said Rabbi Balkany. “Up until recently, every school was an isolated learning center but this has fostered a sense of greater purpose. From the preparatory stages through the actual event there was a spirit of unity, with principals working together to ensure the event’s success and I think this is going to carry forward to benefit the students, the schools and the community.”
    12 year old Yitzchok Drew, an eighth grader at Yeshiva Beth Hillel Krasna.
    Allowing students to see the work of their peers in other institutions was a tremendous motivator, observed Rabbi Balkany, who said the boys were impressed to see both rabbeim and secular studies staff coming to admire their handiwork. With so much interest generated by yesterday’s event and increasing requests from parents to broaden the secular curriculum in Chasidic schools, the Yeshiva Principals Association expects to see many more schools coming on board within the next few months.

    “On the whole the Chasidic community has always been business driven, but we have seen a growing interest in professional careers with people becoming PAs, therapists, accountants and lawyers,” said Rabbi Balkany. “We wanted people to get a glimpse of our program, to see that we are serious and always looking to improve. The quality of secular education in Chasidic schools is being raised dramatically and the priority placed on general studies is going to be elevated as well.”

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      • You took the words right out of my mouth – is this just for show – or are the BOYS going to get a REAL English education and be able to go out into the real world.

        • If the boys are speaking their knowledge then how can this be just for show??? the ones going to authorities about our yeshiva systems were busy doing other things while their classmates were being taught and waking up too many years later and saying hey….where have I been or rather where did the yeshiva go wrong??

    1. This is oure rubbish. Its a show. And how about chasidish and yeshvish high schools? Do they offer a secular education? Oh is it because your typical 9th grader can really sit and learn all day? I’d like to know what productive actvity are these boys doing with their time in the afternoon while not obtaining a secular education. Because I don’t believe most have zits fliesh to learn torah a whole day. So you will ask and they do have zits fliesh for secular education? The answer is yes. Secular education is a different pace and at the end of the day easier to follow than gemara all day.

    2. A well rounded secular education is essential for the talmidim to become productive members of society. The children have the intelligence and drive to master a wide variety of subjects that will only serve to increase their natural curiosity about how the world works. Equipped with a complete secular education on par with the public school system, these young men (and women) will someday be among the most successful adults in the region.

      Best wishes to all the talmidim in both their limudei kodesh and their secular studies. יפה תורה עם דרך ארץ.

      • I’d actually go one step further; that a secular education is essential for talmidim to become talmidei Chachomim in todays society.
        Just look around at all the big speakers, all the highly sought after rabbonim, or the gedolim of past years, they all have a complete grasp of the English (or their native) language and have well rounded grasp of the secular education and society.

    3. As is with most things, change happens when it is consumer driven – this time the parents. If parents want their children to have a better secular education, then the schools will have to provide it. Kol Hakavod that the rebbeim can make this happen in a heimishe environment where Torah is still the ikkur but the talmeidim still come away with a well rounded secular education. There is still a long way to go for “the system” but this a great start. As people see what is possible, more parents will demand it and the yeshivos will accommodate.

    4. What a tremendous Kiddush Hashem! How fortunate am I that I was able to participate in this event. The amount of knowledge and creativity was astonishing. The truth is that many Yeshivas, including most of those in attendance are doing, nature, geography, history, science, etc. fairs/expos for many years. This event was the first time that Yeshivas came TOGETHER to showcase the achievements of their pupils. So happy that now it is publicized in an expo. Thank you to Assemblyman Hikind and all the organizers for this collective show of support.

    5. In my oppinion this is one of the hassidims deception, train a few to show the world or government how they are being sducated of course its all a smoke and mirrior trick,get your way by hook or crook deceive deceive and more deceive

    6. I have a few hassidishe neighbors whos boys stoped english education after their bar mitzva ,theese boys in the video are still in elementary years i bet most if not all quit going to english classes after their bar mitzva its a know fact among the hassidim not so with girls.

      • The English in your response makes me wonder how early your own English education ceased. Kol hakovod to people trying to address the problem of poor secular education in chasidishe schools. I wish them much hatzlocha.

    7. I’m proud to read about this thank you VIN News!

      Is there any doubt in the Kehila that our children can compete ?
      We should give all our youngsters the best education and tools for their future !
      There’s something so beautiful about seeing and hearing a young chasidish looking child with an exemplary vocabulary elaborate in detail about his project!
      This is the face the outside world needs to see these are our future leaders.
      Kudos to all parents that are demanding that yeshivas and chedorim provide their students with the tools necessary to make their own choices about the derech as adults they feel would be best for them and their families!
      This article has made me smile from ear to ear!

    8. Let me be clear: 1) This expo was done by 5 schools who have been having intramural educational events for many years. One of them has been doing it as long as 12 years already! Two other schools are doing it for 5-4 years. The others are more recent (with a minimum of 2 years).
      2) Change in Yeshivas will only happen on their own pace. Forcing the schools will only make them resist it. As long as the conversation is positive and there is support from the parents to increase general education, we will progress.
      3) We will never have the method, amount or time as in a Public School. We don’t want it – if YOU do, send to Public School (it’s free!).
      4) WE, as a community will determine what is “needed” not the government or some imposing organizations.
      5) The goal was to merely publicize what the Yeshivas are doing and to encourage others to follow.

      • You still dont get it,that the hassidishe yeshivas are stifling the childrens future what does it take for you to understand that thousands upon thousands of children are being shortchanged and their lifes will be very harsh without a good secular education,in short they the childrens lifes are stolen from under them..

        • Right, because everyone with a secular education is ‘makin it rain $ in happy paradise’. This Shtrummer-esqu vilification of the community’s Yeshivas will get you nowhere to improve the state of our education. But improving our standards isn’t your concern now, is it? No, you want a full secular education, well, never happening. We as parents aren’t interested in that. What we want is a condensed General Education which will adhere to our standards, use the time allowed effectively, and lay the groundwork that our children can use to progress if they so choose as adults in different fields. Do we still have room to progress? Definitely, always. But according to our design.

      • 1)Support from parents to increase general education? You mean the rosh yeshivas and rebas won’t ostracize the parents for wanting secular education? And I’ll take it even further do you know that there was a mesifta years ago that tried fighting the trend. And Brisk didn’t take his boys. So he was forced to discontinue. If the government mandated it avrham yeshouha would have to shut his fat trap.
        2) Noone is asking for the same amunt of education as public schools. But some education with regents diplomas (and in NJ standards that live up to that ) is expected. Don’t forget many public school students are from disadvantaged familes and need more time to grasp the material.
        3) WE as a community get bullied by rabboinim and are not capable of standing up to them. We need the government to force them.

        • You disrespect the institution of ‘Rav’ and Rabbunim as a whole, find a religion that doesn’t demand our adherence to their guidance and instruction.

    9. 6) For all those that insinuate (not the ones who say it outright – you are beyond shame) that this was just a show or a pose: shame on you!
      You insult the hard work, effort, knowledge, and integrity of these children, the families that support them, and the educators that nurture them. All their hard work, every day, after a long day in school. You deny that?! They studied and worked to present their knowledge and creativity in history, science, geography, nature, etc. in a fluent English. This isn’t A show, it is THE show – of their skills. Do your soul a favor and apologize.

      • IF this is a real step in the right direction, you can thank Moster. If not for the attention he has brought to this issue, this wouldn’t have happened.

        • This has been happening for years, and has been in Jewish publications including VIN & YWN on multiple occasions. The only ‘new’ thing was that Yeshivas participated together to show their best that were chosen at an event. The only thing you can thank Moster for is making our resolve firm in the face of forced, foreign oppression.

    10. 1) Yes! English is not their first language, I’m not even sure it qualifies as their second or third (behind Lushon Kodesh, Aramaic). So even if they would only know a rudimentary English it is amazing (on top of their regular workload).
      2) Just “reading and writing”?! These kids know sciences, history, nature, and geography. No, not as taught in the public school system, but with much more knowledge retained for their future. How many 6th – 8th graders in public could explain the geocentric/heliocentric models, their differences and effects? Or which states make up the Mountain Region in the USA? Or the difference in molecules based on their atomic structure? I doubt you could without googling it.

    11. American Day Schools provide excellent secular courses in addition to Limudei Kodesh. There is every reason for Yeshivas, whether Chassidish or Litvish, to do the same. Why shouldn’t our boys and girls be given the educational advantage their peers in public, private, and alternative schools have. Many Day Schools are now STEM schools in which Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are the focus of the secular curriculum. If these children are to grow into mature, responsible, law-abiding adults, they must learn English and all the secular subjects. This is turn will help them earn decent parnassah. Since nowadays it takes both partners in a marriage to have gainful employment, it is necessary for girls to also have a well-rounded education. Many have aspired to professional careers in law, health, science, and education. A person cannot have “too much” education. Even if person decides upon a blue collar career (plumber, electrician, welder, etc.) they still need a proper education. Yeshivas and seminaries need to partner with vocational schools to make this a reality.


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