As a secular Jew, I find it hard to write about the Hasidic community at a time of rising anti-Semitism. But the way they have organized their political power in New York to protect their religious schools is a cautionary tale. They have amassed political power by voting as a bloc. They have used that political clout to gain huge amounts of public money to fund schools that don’t teach English and don’t teach most secular subjects, even though state law requires them to offer an education that is equivalent to a secular school. They ignore the law because they have friends in high places.

The New York Times told the story on Sunday. The Hasidic community is about 200,000, or 1% of the state’s population. Their first priority is to protect their schools. State law says that religious schools, which receive public funding for required services, like transportation and special education, must offer education equivalent to public schools. Recently a state court fined one of thr state’s largest yeshivas $8 million for misusing public funds. The Times previously reported that the 100 of the state’s yeshivas have received more than $1 billion in public funds in the past four years. Most don’t take the state tests but when some did recently, not one student passed the tests. Why? Because they are taught in Yiddish or Hebrew, and many never study history, science or other secular subjects.

The secret of their power was the relationships they cultivated with politicians. Andrew Yang sought their support when he ran for NYC mayor but it was too late: they had already pledged their loyalty to Eric Adams, who won. To win their support means hands off their schools but keep the money flowing. On election night, a Hasidic leader was on the dais with Eric Adams. They previously forged close relationships with Rudy Guiliani and other mayors and governors.

As the Times reported:

During last year’s mayoral primary in New York City, Andrew Yang, then a leading Democratic candidate, made a calculated investment: If he could make meaningful inroads into the Hasidic Jewish community, its bloc of votes could help carry him to victory.

He hired a Hasidic Democratic leader in Brooklyn as his Jewish outreach director. He publicly pledged not to interfere with Hasidic Jewish religious schools, which were being investigated over whether they were providing a basic education. Still, some were not persuaded.

“I told him he might be a very nice person, but I don’t know him,” said Rabbi Moishe Indig, a leader of the Satmar Hasidic group in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “I said we have a good history with someone who is here for years; we know that he cares for the community. It’s not nice to take an old friend and throw him under the bus.”

That old friend was Eric Adams, then the Brooklyn borough president, who won the primary and became mayor in January. Mr. Adams, like Mr. Yang, has been supportive of the Jewish schools’ independence, saying on the eve of his inauguration that they generally served as the basis for a “well-rounded quality education.”

Particularly disgusting is the Orthodox takeover of school boards in communities in Rockkand County and in New Jersey where their own children do not attend the public schools. The school boards use their power to cut school budgets and to direct public funds to their yeshivas. The children in public schools in these districts suffer the cuts and lack of voice.

Politicians offer services beyond protection of the religious schools.

As mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg once drew more than 10,000 members of the Hasidic community to a rally where they filled six blocks of bleachers. In 2004, he helped bring water from the New York City drinking supply to Kiryas Joel, a village 50 miles outside the city — a project still ongoing.

Mr. de Blasio worked with Orthodox leaders to ease regulations of a circumcision ritual, metzitzah b’peh, that led to numerous babies becoming infected with herpes.

Mr. de Blasio also faced scrutiny in 2019 for acting too slowly to declare a public health emergency in Orthodox communities in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, over a measles outbreak and for not requiring vaccination sooner. The community also resisted vaccination requirements during the coronavirus pandemic, and cases were often higher in their neighborhoods.

In this year’s governor’s race, Mr. Zeldin is enthusiastically courting Hasidic leaders,many of whom are concerned over new state rules requiring private schools to prove they are teaching English and math. Mr. Zeldin, who is Jewish, has defended the schools in his visits to Hasidic areas in Brooklyn and Rockland County, and frequently mentions that his mother once taught at a yeshiva, although it is unclear if it was a Hasidic school.

Many Democratic leaders are also hesitant to criticize yeshivas, or call for greater oversight of them, including Governor Hochul, who said in response to The Times’s investigation that regulating the schools was not her responsibilit

Unfortunately, the otherwise excellent Times article did not mention one of the leading critics of the yeshivas, Naftuli Moster, who organized a group of yeshiva graduates to call attention to the failure of the yeshivas to provide a secular education. Moster was born to a Hasidic family of 17 children. He attended college and then earned a degree in social work. He was keenly aware of the limitations of his yeshiva education. He founded Young Advocates for Fair Education(Yaffed), an advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that students at Hasidic yeshivas in New York City be given a secular education.