The battle by a group of Jewish advocates against what they say is a substandard secular curriculum in New York’s Jewish schools suffered a blow when a judge threw out their lawsuit against New York State.
Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED), which is headed by advocate Naftali Moster, had sued New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia in July. YAFFED had argued that a law enabling yeshivas to skirt regulations mandating a strong secular education ran afoul of existing legislation.
However, Judge Israel Leo Glasser threw out the case, finding that YAFFEDs had no legql standing to bring forward the lawsuit and called their case “hypothetical”.
The federal lawsuit sought to overturn an amendment adopted several months ago that lowers the requirements on secular subjects for yeshiva students.
State Sen. Simcha Felder, who is an Orthodox Jew, singlehandedly held up the state budget deal on March 31, a day before it was required to go into effect, until the amendment was granted.
“The law is unconstitutional because it’s tailor-made for Orthodox yeshivas, so for a religious group. That’s a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution,” Moster had told The New York Times. The group estimates that 83 yeshivas in New York City and 38 elsewhere in the state do not meet state standards.
The education of the approximately 57,000 students at New York yeshivas has been under a spotlight for failing to hold to the same standard of basic secular instruction as other schools.
New York City launched a probe into its yeshiva system in 2015 following a complaint YAFFED, charging that that 39 Orthodox institutions were failing to meet standards set by state law requiring private schools to offer a curriculum “substantially equivalent” to that of the public system.