This is not about a community’s right to religious freedom. So far, chasidic communities have not made the case that their religious beliefs forbid secular studies; in fact, in a twist of sexist irony, girls, who are not obligated to study Torah study, receive instruction in secular studies that is vastly superior to that of boys, and proves that the study of secular subjects is not anathema to its world, only to its boys. The end result, however, is the institutionalizing of ignorance and poverty not out of principle but out of neglect. Chasidic leaders simply don’t see the issue as a priority, and elected officials are too timid to poke a reliable electoral bloc with enforcing the laws.
And let’s make no mistake: It’s the law that’s currently being violated, and going unenforced. Average citizens don’t get exemptions from laws they dislike or find inconvenient. They can either lobby to change the law, or comply. Chasidic schools must do the same, and city and state officials need to start doing their jobs by making sure of it.
Shulem Deen, “Chasidic Schools Ensure Ignorance And Poverty”, The Jewish Week (18 September 2015), 38.