Hasidic Jews blast NY Times investigation into secular education that ‘defames an entire community’

New York’s Mayor vows to resume investigation into secular education at Hasidic schools after a blockbuster report by the New York Times. 

By Debbie Reiss, World Israel News

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has promised to deliver on a probe started by his predecessor, Bill de Blasio, into the Hasidic Orthodox school system after the New York Times published a bombshell investigation on Sunday criticizing its secular education curriculum.

De Blasio launched an investigation in 2015, but it was discontinued through the pandemic, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

According to state law, all private schools are required to teach subjects “substantially equivalent” to those offered in public schools.

A spokesman for Adams told the Times that the investigation would resume and that “he believed schools should be culturally sensitive and meet high standards.”

Sunday’s investigative piece, which was over a year in the making, documented test scores, public records, and testimonies from hundreds of people with ties to Hasidic schools, including former students and staff.

The article, published in both English and Yiddish, concluded that the students are “suffering from levels of educational deprivation.”

Only nine schools of some 100 investigated were found to test at grade level, the report said. Many of them don’t provide instruction in math, science or English.

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Adams enjoys broad support from the Hasidic community and his senior adviser, Joel Eisdorfer, is a Hasidic Jew.

According to his spokesman, however, “the mayor’s decisions are not influenced by political support.”

Adams told reporters on Monday that he was “not concerned about the findings of the article.”

“I want a thorough investigation. I want an independent review and that’s what the city has to do. And we’re going to look at that,” the mayor was quoted by Spectrum News NY1 saying.

Simcha Eichenstein, a Hasidic State Assembly member from Borough Park, Brooklyn, slammed the Times‘ investigation and its conclusions.

“The summary makes clear that the forthcoming article in the Times will defame an entire community based on sometimes anonymous critics, cherry-picked data, and outright lies,” he wrote in the New York Sun.

He also took to Twitter to blast “a pitiful rehash of cherry picked data and inaccuracies, peddled by the same group obsessed with Orthodox Jews. What’s clear is that the NYT is not interested in the positive value of our schools, just spreading lies for clicks.”

The New York’s Board of Regents will vote on Tuesday on a regulation that would enable private schools to comply with state law “while also maintaining their unique culture and beliefs in the delivery of instruction.”