The New York State Board of Regents has tried for years to enforce a state law requiring orthodox Jewish religious schools to teach core subjects in English. Yeshiva graduates have complained that their education in Yiddish and Hebrew left them unequipped to function in the modern world.

Despite the state law, a Brooklyn Yeshiva decided to drop the only secular subject taught in eighth grade.

A Hasidic Jewish school in Brooklyn recently notified parents that it will stop teaching secular studies to eighth graders, even though state law requires such classes, according to a new complaint filed by an education advocacy group.

Yeshiva Talmud Torah Ohr Moshe, on the outskirts of Borough Park, sent a letter to parents last month stating that it would replace its middle schoolers’ nonreligious study course with a class on practical laws of the sabbath observance.

The change was made in response to requests from parents, according to the letter in Hebrew obtained by THE CITY.

Before the switch, the school only offered students 45 minutes of secular education per day, according to Yaffed (Young Advocates for Fair Education), the advocacy group that reported the school to city investigators…

The latest complaint from Yaffed to city education officials comes seven years after the group’s initial grievance against close to 40 schools triggered a review by the city Department of Education — an investigation school officials claim is ongoing.

Yaffed and other advocates contend thousands of Hasidic boys get little, if any, basic secular education in religious schools. That includes traditional math, language and science classes.

Some students struggle to speak and read and write English when they graduate from high school, according to accounts from graduates.

Mayors Play Dumb

Mayor Eric Adams has said little lately about the ongoing issue and advocates are urging him to take a more aggressive approach.

The former Brooklyn borough president was endorsed by many Hasidic leaders in the general election for mayor, with some citing his statements supporting them in the face of the drawn-out investigation into their schools.

On the campaign trail, Adams visited an unnamed Brooklyn yeshiva and praised its curriculum.

”I was really impressed by what I saw,” Adams told the Forward last March. “Watching those children understand grammar, understand English, saying they like writing and reading, it was amazing.”

Yes, it is amazing to see children understanding grammar and English when their school instruction is solely in Yiddish or Hebrew.

He noted that the school was among 28 being investigated at the time by city officials but refused to name the school…

In December 2019, the Department of Investigation released a report stating that former Mayor Bill de Blasio had been aware that the investigation was purposely delayed, in part to help him gain support in Albany for an extension of mayoral control of schools.

The report said City Hall engaged in “political horse trading” with state politicians by holding back the yeshiva report in a bid to maintain power over the education system.

Shortly after that, former Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza made public his letter to the state Department of Education explaining what his agency had found: 26 of 28 of the yeshivas named in the original complaint were still not in compliance with state education requirements.

DOE investigators found little or no evidence of secular classes at two of the three high schools they checked since August 2018…

The yeshivas have long pushed back on any meaningful oversight and insist that they are in compliance with state law. At the same time, they’ve argued that education officials should be more concerned with struggling public schools and lobbied elected officials to try to change the law requiring all students to receive a basic secular education.

Why don’t city and state officials require Yeshivas to obey state law and teach their students in English for a meaningful part of the day? Politics. There are a large number of Orthodox Jews of many different sects in New York City and State. They vote as a bloc, and they vote their self-interest. Candidates for city, state, and federal offices court their endorsement.

The Yeshivas receive millions of dollars in state and federal funds. New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who is running for office, added $295 million for non-public schools in her proposed budget. Many more millions pay for using, security guards, and COVID-related costs.