Multiple calls have been issued for London’s Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Schools, to crack down on Charedi schools because of their failure to include liberal British values in their curriculum as previously reported on VIN News.
One of the gathering’s organizers, Avrohom Yankel Landau, said that this was the third such prayer rally held in recent weeks in the United Kingdom, following on the heels two similar events in Gateshead and in Manchester. Bringing the community together in prayer, was actually the second step in a lengthy process of trying to stave off government intervention which could potentially shutter countless Charedi institutions, said Landau.
“We tried very much until now to follow in the footsteps of Yaakov Avinu,” Landau told VIN News. “When Yaakov was preparing to meet with Eisav, his first step was to prepare a gift and use diplomatic methods to smooth the way.
We have tried to plead our case in Parliament. We have gone right, left and center to the Minister of Education and it doesn’t sound like they really understand. Like Yaakov Avinu, we have taken the next step – engaging in a day of prayer.”
Organizers had hoped to hold the event in an area park, but the lengthy permit process had them opting instead for K’hal Toras Eitz Chaim on Lordship Road, where bleachers, benches and chairs were put out to accommodate the overflowing crowd.
Landau estimated that approximately 120 prominent rabbonim, roshei yeshiva and dayanim were joined by members of the Charedi community, yeshiva bochurim and more than 2,300 children from 18 local Talmud Torah schools for the nearly hour long gathering which included the recitation of Tehillim, Selichos and other prayers.
Police marveled at the orderliness of the gathering said Landau, who noted that the Charedi community has no intention of changing its stance on governmental regulation.
“They want to introduce things into the curriculum that we cannot abide,” said Landau. “This is not tolerated and we will never agree to this.”
According to the BBC, the investigation into unregistered religious schools began after 34 students and two teachers from a London yeshiva found themselves stranded by rising tide while on an outing on the Kent coast in July 2016 and had to be saved by rescuers.
Ofsted has estimated that there as many as 300 unregistered schools serving students of different religions, but supporters have said that because they do not teach secular studies, these institutions should not be classified as schools and should be exempted from government regulation.