Lawsuit demands NY yeshivas meet higher standards for secular subjects


(JTA) — Some former yeshiva students are suing New York state to stop an exemption for current yeshiva students from learning state-required secular subjects.

The federal lawsuit filed Monday in Manhattan District Court seeks to overturn an amendment adopted several months ago that lowers the requirements on secular subjects for yeshiva students.

State Sen. Simcha Felder, who is Orthodox Jewish, 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 suit was filed by Young Advocates for Fair Education, a group founded by Naftuli Moster, who along with many of its members was educated in one of the yeshivas that they say did not provide a sufficient secular education. It names as defendants Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state education commissioner and the chancellor of the State Board of Regents.

“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 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.

In 2015, the city Department of Education said it was opening an investigation into 36 yeshivas to verify their adherence to state requirements. No results have been released.

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