August 5, 2007

by Reb Yudel
Failure of Haredi leadership: The Rochester example -- or: Surprise, surprise, Steve Brizel knows not of which he blogs

A while back on CrossCurrents, I noted
There is no question that the Conservative movement lacks the sort of institutional gedolim exemplified by the Rav, R. Lookstein, and Torah UMesorah aka R. Kaminetsky. Unfortunately, so does today’s Orthodoxy… to give one under-reported example, look at what is happening in my hometown of Rochester, NY, where one marginally viable community day school was split into two less viable schools by the city’s haredi leadership.
Steve Brizel, after googling around for information about Rochester, wrote:
# FWIW, I discussed this issue with one of my closest friends who has close friends in Rochester from their days in NCSY. He informed me that the community school there was in danger of becoming overly watered down in terms of admissions standards and curriculm. Based on those facts alone, one cannot claim that the Charedi faction in Rochester caused the demise of a school but rather improved communal standards so that the school would serve both the short term needs of the community and the long term goals of providing an Orthodox Jewish education for appropriate students.
ad kan Steve's friend of friends. I just heard from one of my Rochester contacts, who has actually been involved in Rochester Jewish education, and this is what he wrote:
Before the division of the school, I observed a fifth grade Hebrew class where a student, from a frum home, could not identify the Hebrew word for "fire." The student had never connected the havdalah service with the word "fire." The teachers, under the supervision of the Orthodox Judaic assistant principal, were making absolutely no effort to teach Ivrit b'Ivrit as the board had directed. I cannot speak directly to the admissions standards, but the word in the community was that if you were not Shomer shabbos, the school did not want you.

Further, any child that was not from an Orthodox home could expect to be insulted by other students, with no recourse to any expectation of common derech eretz from some of the Yeshivish teachers.

These approaches to Jewish education and Kiruv may be tolerated in some quarters, but should not be tolerated in a community day school which seeks to bring children and their families to a greater knowledge of, and commitment to, Jewish practices, knowledge, and observant.

Steve Brizel should also know that "appropriate students" for the new Yeshiva school does not include the grandchildren of Rabbi Kilimnick who had a major impact on so many of the members of NCSY in Rochester over the last 30 years.

Ad kan my correspondent in Rochester. Meanwhile, those interested in the current state of affairs at Rochester's Talmudic Institute of Upstate New York, whose leadership headed the day school split and which is my high school alma mater, can join the discussion underway at

Those questioning TIUNY's recent contributions to the broader Jewish community can relax and enjoy this Purim video: TrackBack


Here's another orthodox problem:

Posted by: Yisrael Medad at August 20, 2007 2:39 AM
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