You may have heard that the New York State Education Department recently published proposed Regulations about “substantial equivalency of instruction” required for students attending nonpublic schools.

This can have severe ramifications for yeshivos and day schools across the board in NYS, so we wanted to provide some answers to common questions we are receiving about this serious development.

Q: How might the proposed regulations affect my child’s yeshiva?

A: The Regulations, on their face, may require schools to make major adjustments to their limudei kodesh and secular programming. 

For example, the proposed regulations specify 1) the number of required hours – as many as 4-5 hours per day, depending on grade level; 2) more than 12 required subjects, including, at the lower elementary level, consumer and family science, visual arts, theater, media arts, career development, occupational studies, etc.; 3) assessment of teachers to an undefined standard.

Results, grades, competencies, graduation rates, or other factors regarding equivalency to public schools are not taken into account for these purposes. 

To view the proposed Regulation click here.

Q: Didn’t the court already strike down the SED Guidelines 3 months ago?

A: Yes, those Guidelines were thrown out by the NY State Supreme Court in response to lawsuits brought by Agudath Israel, PEARLS, Torah Umesorah, and other groups. However, the court struck down the Guidelines because the State Education Department failed to comply with the technical requirements for new rulemaking. By publishing its “proposed Regulations” in the NYS Register, SED has now started an “official” process in compliance with those requirements.

Q: How do the new proposed Regulations differ from the previous Guidelines??

A: The new Regulations are substantially identical to the previous Guidelines.

Q: What happens now?

A: There is a sixty day public comment period (until September 2) when individuals can voice their concerns regarding these proposed regulations. At the conclusion of the process, the Regulations come before the Board of Regents for a vote, expected this fall.

Q: I heard that State Education Commissioner Elia resigned earlier this week. Does that mean this is over?

A: No. The impact of Commissioner's Elia's resignation on this issue is still to be determined, but the proposed Regulations have already been published and the comment period is in place.

Q: What is being done to fight for parents who choose, and sacrifice dearly, for their children to attend yeshivos?

A: The Agudah has been working with organizations in the community - PEARLS and Torah Umesorah, among others - to oppose the newest incarnation of the state's attempt to control yeshivos. It should be noted that the Catholic and NYSAIS independent schools (which, together with Jewish schools, form the majority of nonpublic schools in NYS) also strongly oppose these regulations.

Q: Is there anything I can do?

A: Yes! SED is required, by law, to read comments submitted. While many have previously signed petitions, which is important, these comments are required to be read by law. We have set up a system, where, with just a few clicks, you can voice your opinion on this critical matter.

Q: I live in Chicago, but the overreach of these regulations concerns me. May I register my comment?

A: The regulations do not restrict comments to NYS residents. 

Scroll for more news
Money, power, position.  The fervent desire for and pursuit of these things has defined much of human history.  Our lust and need of these things, lays at the foundation of our behavior as individuals and nations.  The pursuit of these things has sometimes resulted in the best of what the world offers, and, more often, the worst.  Men who have lusted for these things have built transcontinental railways; they have built libraries, museums and hospitals.  They have also destroyed countless lives.  The pursuit of these things seems to exemplify our greatest strengths when, in fact, they often betray our greatest frailties.  So often, the fire that burns within us, driving our lust for money or power or position, is the emotion that cries out “me, me...
Baltimore, MD – Dec. 11, 2019 - It is with deep sadness that informs the community of the petirah of Rabbi Chaim Wallin, ZT’L, in Eretz Yisrael. The levaya will be tonight 11:15 pm at Shamgar.
An apparent road rage incident led to a white box truck having two of its tires shot at on I-83 Tuesday afternoon, Baltimore police said. Officials said they received a call at 12 p.m. for a white box truck on I-83 that had been shot. A preliminary investigation suggests a road rage-type incident occurred near the Dunkin' Donuts on Reisterstown Road in northwest Baltimore. Police said a silver pickup truck followed the box truck onto I-83. The driver of the box truck told police that someone in the pickup truck began shooting at his box truck between Northern Parkway and Coldspring Lane. A front and rear tire of the box truck were shot out, police said. No injuries were reported. No arrests have been made.
Baltimore City schools will begin classes before Labor Day next year. School Commissioners approved the 2020-21 calendar at their regular meeting, deciding to start school on Monday, August 31. The last day of classes is scheduled for Friday, June 11, 2021 with five days built in for inclement weather, allowing for the school year to end as late as June 18. In 2016 Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order mandating a post-Labor Day school start, but lawmakers overrode it allowing local school boards to decide when to start classes.
Read More
Gov. Larry Hogan Wednesday outlined a slew of proposed funding and legislation to further assist Baltimore City officials in curbing violent crime. At a press conference in Annapolis, Hogan announced millions in support to local, state and federal prosecutors, and harsher penalties for repeat violent offenders. Hogan would fund 25 new positions in Attorney General Brian Frosh's office and $21 million to the Baltimore Police Department and State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby's office. He said the state is also working with U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur to task new federal prosecutors with focusing on violent crime in Baltimore. Hogan also directed 500 state, federal and local officers to back up city police and asked state law enforcement agencies to maintain a more vis...
Chai Lifeline is heartbroken to inform you that one of the victims of yesterday's horrific attack in Jersey City was our own dedicated Bike4Chai and Achim B'yachad - Chai Lifeline volunteer, Moshe Hersh Deutch, Z'L,  HY”D. Our thoughts and tefilos are with all those impacted by this senseless act of violence. Project Chai, our crisis intervention, trauma and bereavement department, is currently on the scene working closely with the local community. We encourage anyone in need to contact our 24-hour crisis hotline at 855-3-CRISIS or email Professional counselors are on standby to offer assistance in English and Yiddish.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is considering announcing at the Knesset plenum Wednesday that he intends to waive immunity if a unity government emerges in the final hours before the dissolution of the 22nd Knesset. Netanyahu may declare that he is giving up immunity only to reveal that the Blue and White Party refuses unity at all costs. Over the last few hours, the prime minister has held consultations with senior Likud officials, and even with his lawyers. At the end of the meetings, he will decide whether to waive the immunity. Earlier, the Knesset approved a bill to dissolve the 22nd Knesset and to hold elections for the 23rd Knesset on March 2, 2020. Blue and White chairman MK Benny Gantz on Wednesday afternoon accused Prime Minister Netanyahu of seeking to force third electio...
NEW YORK (UJO Williamsburg) The community is saddened and is mourning the loss of two innocent, people, the most-special of our community. Mindel Ferencz may she rest in peace, was a pioneer. She and her husband were of the very first to relocate from Williamsburg, due to the sky-rocketing prices of housing, to settle in Jersey City. They did not do it for themselves, but to pave the way for a new community that lives harmoniously with their neighbors. She was a caring and nurturing mother for her five children, and at the same time helped her husband who ran the first kosher grocery in the area, to ensure that the community’s families have were to shop and feed their children. A life of selflessness, and dedication to others, full of love, was cut short by vicious hate-filled murd...
Parsha Hashavua
Parshas VaYishlach - Do Not Be Jealous Of Riches; Envy Righteousness, And Pursue It

Money, power, position. 

The fervent desire for and pursuit of these things has defined much of human history.  Our lust and need of these things, lays at the foundation of our behavior as individuals and nations.  The pursuit of these things has sometimes resulted in the best of what the world offers, and, more often, the worst.  Men who have lusted for these things have built transcontinental railways; they have built libraries, museums and hospitals.  They have also destroyed countless lives. 

The pursuit of these things seems to exemplify our greatest strengths when, in fact, they often betray our greatest frailties.  So often, the fire that burns within us, driving our lust for money or power or position, is the emotion that cries out “me, me, me!” to the exclusion of all others.  It is jealousy.  Jealousy makes us want these things and want them to the exclusion of others having them as well.

Jealousy is the terror of seeing someone achieve more than us.  In the possessions or status or position of another, we see not the glory of their achievement but only our own shortcomings.  But rather than acknowledging this and dedicating ourselves to addressing those shortcomings, we demean and diminish others, we “bring them down” rather than “raise ourselves up”.

Sometimes our jealousy festers in our thoughts and souls, souring only ourselves.  Other times, it drives us to commit unspeakable acts.  History’s first murder was the direct result of jealousy.  When God accepted Abel’s offer, Cain became mad with jealousy and killed his brother.  When Joseph was given his coat of many colors, his brothers became jealous and threw him in a pit.

We look at these Biblical examples and too often we comfort ourselves with the “broad distance” between the primal emotions that prompted such horrible acts and our own feelings of jealousy.  After all, we live in a time when “wanting things” is a sign of our good sense.  But is wanting these things good sense?  Is the gap really that large?

We should ask ourselves, what would we be willing to do – in our historic moment of vast wealth, travel, fame, and celebrity – to enjoy a bigger “piece” of the pie?  What would we do to make sure others don’t get that bigger piece?

In Parashat Vayishlach, we are informed that, “Yaakov set up a monument over her grave; that is the monument of Rachel’s grave to this day.”  Once again, the construction of a Biblical phrase forces us to look more closely at its meaning.  That Yaakov “set up a monument over her grave” seems to tell us all we need to know so why in the next pasuk are we informed, “…the monument of Rachel’s grave to this day”?  

In parsing out the importance of this repetition, we can also glean profound insights into how the drive that engenders the destructive emotion of jealousy can also propel the more noble feeling of envy.  As we observe the yahrzeit of my grandfather, Rav Bezalel Ze’ev Shafran on 14th Kislev, his explanation on a remarkable passage in Masechet Shabbat [152b] shows us the way. 

The Talmud relates of some workers digging on land belonging to Rav Nachman.  In their labors, they happened upon a grave, disturbing the dead man’s peace.  They were frightened by the man’s shriek from within the grave and, running in fear, went to inform Rav Nachman that, “a deceased man scolded us!”  Hearing this news, Rav Nachman hurried with the workers to the grave.  There, he leaned toward the grave and inquired as to the deceased man’s name.

“I am Achai son of Yoshiya.”

Rav Nachman looked back at the cowering workmen and then faced the grave.  “Didn’t Rav Meri teach that even the bodies of the tzadikim will disintegrate in their graves?” he asked.  “How is it that your body did not disintegrate?” 

“Who is Rav Meri? I don’t know who he is.”

“You may not know who Rav Meri is but surely you are familiar with Koheleth, ‘…and the dust returns to the earth as it was.’ (12:2) 

 “Whoever taught you the posuk from Koheleth clearly did not teach you the posuk from Mishlei, ‘U’rkav atzamot – the rotting of the bones – kin’aa – jealousy.’ (14:30) That is, he who lives with jealousy in his life will turn to dust when he dies, but he who bears no jealousy, his bones will not disintegrate.

“Now, the posuk in Koheleth speaks to most people who conduct their lives driven by jealousy but when I was alive, I did not bear jealousy in my heart and so my bones did not rot.”

Rav Nachum was much impressed with the explanation. Indeed, the Talmud concludes the passage with him reaching out and touching Achia’s body - chaziye d’is bei meshasha and finding that it was whole; even the flesh had not rotted. 

We know from our own experience that jealousy eats at the essence of our being.  Thinkers, religious and otherwise, have noted its destructive, corrosive influence through the ages.  William Penn wrote that, “The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves.

Jealousy not only stokes our own wants but also seeks to tear down the goals and achievements of others.  A story speaks to this very thing.   A jealous man was once given a most generous offer – “Make whatever wish you want and it will be granted. However, whatever you wish for, your neighbor will get twice as much.”

This offer created turmoil in the man.  Yes, he could receive great riches but in doing so his neighbor would get even more!  That was unacceptable to him.  What would he do?    Finally, he hit upon the perfect thing.  “Take out one of my eyes,” he demanded, preferring to suffer – and double his neighbor’s suffering – than to profit and thereby double his neighbor’s profit.

Wanting is a treacherous, relentless human drive that leads to jealousy.  It also has the potential to lead to a similar but profoundly different emotion – envy.

My grandfather taught that envy is the positive side to jealousy.  When we are jealous, we want things we should not.  Envy is to be desirous of the things we should want.  That is, it is possible to be envious of a fellow’s kindness, his sensitivity, his decency, knowledge and diligence.  In other words, to envy these positive attributes, we might be motivated to attain those same positive attributes for ourselves.  That type of envy, may well enhance one’s behavior and serve as a motivator for self-improvement.

“Let not your heart envy sinners.” (Mishlei 23:17) Don’t be jealous of the wicked who seem to prosper. Don’t be tempted to follow in their footsteps, but rather Mishlei teaches, be envious of the righteous, of those “Who fear HaShem”. 

Such envy will enhance one’s life and midos.  It is to be commended.  That is the ultimate meaning of the Talmudic expression, kina’as soferim tarbe chochma – Envy of the wise shall increase wisdom.

It is with this wise perspective and understanding of the nuance between jealousy and envy, that my grandfather turned his attention to the posuk, “Yaakov set up a monument over her grave” – this matzeva, this monument, is set on her actual burial place.  Of course, what’s the point? Because it is about Rachel that the Torah tells us that (after seeing that she did not bear children to Yaakov), “… Rachel became envious of her sister.”  It is because of this that we may have presumed that she became as the “dust of the earth”.  But if that were so then the monument Yaakov erected stands over nothing but a clump of earth.  But the posuk repeats, “it is matzevas kevuras Rachel – the grave containing the actual remains of Rachel; not mere clumps of earth.  Her grave holds her actual body.  This is actually her place of burial.  Her bones did not rot ad ha’yom ha’zeh – until this very day.

She felt the envy of Mishlei not the jealousy of Kohelet.

Koheleth suggests she would have turned to dust.  But Mishlei gives us the insight.  She was envious, envious of her sister’s good deeds!  She had the type of envy that increases good in the world.  As Rashi states in Vayetze, “She was envious of Leah’s good deeds. She said, ‘were she not more righteous than me, she wouldn’t be privileged to have so many children.’”  

She recognized that the other attained goodness and riches because of their ma’asim tovim.  Such kina’a is not only permitted, it is to be praised.  It is a kina’a that results in good things.  We are human.  We want things.  So long as we want the right things we bring honor to ourselves and our souls.  Wanting the wrong things turns our souls to dust, long before our bodies.

It is a distinction my grandfather elucidated with great wisdom and sensitivity.

HaRav Bezalel Ze’ev Shafran, Zt’l

Read More
NEW YORK – (NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo) “My heart breaks for the police officer and the three victims killed in yesterday’s attack on a kosher market in Jersey City. “We now know that this disgusting act of violence was a deliberate attack on the Jewish community in Jersey City. Out of an abundance of caution, I am directing State Police to increase patrols and security around synagogues and Jewish establishments while New Jersey law enforcement further investigates this horrific act. “Anti-Semitism and violence against the Jewish community are on the rise both in our state and across the nation. We must stand united, be vigilant and stamp out this vile disease of hate wherever we see it. New York is a proud home to the Jewish community and we will continue to rej...
JERSEY CITY, NJ (VINNews) – On Wednesday morning, law enforcement officials revealed that one of the shooters involved in yesterday’s attack which left multiple people dead, had previously posted anti-semitic content online. Officials did not reveal whether those posts involve general anti-semitic sentiments or if they were targeted specifically towards the ultra Orthodox Jewish community in Jersey City. Jersey City, located in Hudson County, New Jersey, is home to nearly a quarter of a million people. Over the past few years, a few dozen Orthodox Jewish families from New York City moved into the Greenville neighborhood which was targeted in yesterday’s attack. A 2017 NY Times article reported this development as a concern for the city as a whole. For example, the Time...
SimchasSimchas Simcha
The two suspects who engaged in a deadly, hours-long gun battle with law enforcement at a kosher deli in Jersey City appear to have targeted the grocery store, the city’s mayor said early this morning. A review of security footage from the store during the Tuesday-afternoon shooting that left five people dead, including the two suspects, made it “clear” that the gunmen chose the Jewish establishment, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop (D) said on Twitter. “I’m Jewish and proud to live in a community like Jersey City that has always welcomed everyone,” Fulop wrote on Twitter. “It is the home of Ellis Island and has always been the golden door to America. Hate and anti-semitism have never had a place here in JC and will never have a place in our city.&...
A suspect involved in a prolonged firefight in Jersey City, N.J., that left six people dead, including one police officer, had published anti-Semitic and anti-police posts online and investigators believe the attack was motivated by those sentiments, a law enforcement official familiar with the case said today, the NY Times reports. The attack claimed the lives of two frum Yidden. The law enforcement official could not provide more details about the suspect’s online posts or where they had been published. He said that investigators were still reviewing that information. So far, the authorities have not identified the shooters, who were killed in the firefight. The Jersey City mayor said surveillance footage indicated that the two shooters had targeted the JC kosher supermark...
Nichum AveilimNichum Aveilim Aveilim
The two people who stormed a kosher grocery store in Jersey City with rifles, killing three people inside and also murdering a veteran detective, have been identified as David Anderson and Francine Graham, four law enforcement sources familiar with the case tell News 4. Three sources say Anderson was a one-time follower of the group, the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. There was a note with religious writings in the U-Haul he and Graham allegedly drove to the scene. Officials also said there were online postings connected to Anderson’s social page with anti-police and anti-Jewish writings. Investigators are looking to see if Anderson himself posted that material. The new details came shortly after local authorities announced a review of surveillance video clearly showed the market...
Agudath Israel of America and its constituents were heartbroken and outraged over the murders of three civilians and a police officer yesterday at a kosher market in Jersey City, N.J. We offer our deepest condolences to the families of the innocent people who were killed, and we pray for the speedy recovery of those who were wounded in the brazen attack. We commend the law enforcement teams that arrived so quickly at the scene of the shooting and whose members put their lives on the line to protect their fellow citizens. That two of the murdered were Jews, that law enforcement officials have indicated that that the store had been targeted because of its Jewish connection, and that an anti-Semitic, anti-police manifesto was found in the vehicle the murderers had stolen only add to our ang...
Job Listings Jobs
Jerusalem, Israel - Dec. 11, 2019 - President Reuven Rivlin on, Wednesday, December 11 / 13 Kislev, welcomed a delegation of United Nation ambassadors. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon is leading the delegation of 22 international ambassadors.  American Zionist Movement President Richard Heideman (AZM) and President of International March of the Living Phyllis G. Heideman also participated in the event.  The president welcomed the ambassadors to Israel and to Jerusalem, noting that over the last 72 years, Israel has been transformed from a developing state into a start-up nation and innovation hub. “Israelis see every challenge as an opportunity, and we are ready to share our expertise with all nations, in order to advance the UN’s Sustainable Devel...
JERSEY CITY (VINnews) — Leah Minda Ferencz, a'h, H'yd, the co-owner of JC Kosher Supermarket in Jersey City, was named as one of the civilian victims killed in the horrific shootout Tuesday in Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Ferencz had incorporated the store, the only kosher store in the vicinity, together with her husband, Moishe Ferencz, in 2017. Ferencz and her husband were both present in the store Tuesday morning, but Moishe had walked out of the store and stepped into the adjacent shul just prior to the incident. Chabad Rabbi Moshe Schapiro, who shops at the kosher store and attends the shul next door, said he spoke with the store owner, Moishe Ferencz, who was unaware of what had happened to his wife. “He told me he had just walked out of the store into the s...
Classifieds Classifieds
The White House Chanuka party Wednesday night will feature a first for America’s chassidishe community — it will mark the first time a chassid will light the menorah at the annual event, Yochonon Donn reports for Boro Park 24. Mr. Moshe Margareten, who first conceived the idea of prison reform which culminated in President Donald Trump signing the bill into law last year, will be honored with the kindling, although it will be without a bracha, because the White House is hosting the Chanukah party two weeks early due to the year-end vacation season. “I got a call from the White House a month ago, saying that they’re considering me,” Mr. Margareten said. “They asked for some information. The Secret Service wanted to spe...
Local man who responded to shooting in kosher store in Jersey City's small Hasidic community speaks with Arutz Sheva about scene of attack. One of the first responders from a Jewish organization on the scene of Tuesday’s deadly shooting in a kosher grocery store in Jersey City said authorities had found some 300 rounds of ammunition and three pipe bombs in a van linked to the shooters. Speaking with Arutz Sheva Wednesday morning, Isaac Wollner, a member of the local Chesed Shel Emes organization, said the shooting took place in the heart of Jersey City’s small Hasidic community, which Wollner said numbers around 80 to 90 families. "I came here about an hour after the shootout finished. I was one of the first to respond to the command,” said W...
Chesed Chesed
The mayor of Jersey City, N.J. said early Wednesday that gunmen likely targeted the kosher market where a deadly shooting occurred on Tuesday. “After extensive review of our CCTV system it has now become clear from the cameras that these two individuals targeted the Kosher grocery location,” Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted. He did not elaborate as to why he believed the JC Kosher Supermarket was targeted. The police shootout with two men armed with high-powered rifles erupted after midday on Tuesday in Jersey City, New Jersey‘s second-largest municipality directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan. The six dead included three civilians, one police officer and both gunmen, authorities said. 33-year-old Mrs. Leah Mindel Ferentz z”l of Jers...
More articles