ORTHODOX JEWISH LEADERS have made it clear to a Hackney council enquiry board that they are fundamentally opposed to their followers’ children being made to study the national curriculum.
The council thinks that more than 30 Orthodox illegal schools operate in the Stamford Hill area of the borough and Ofsted, the governmental schools inspectorate, has been highly critical of them, closing a school that did not teach English. Hackney last year set up a board to look into the issue.
Rabbi Judah Baumgarten, of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, said that registration would require the abandoning of views held for 3,000 years or more. “And that,” he added, “is a problem”. Ofsted was trying to force “certain issues [which] are against our religious beliefs… on our schools”.
The schools inspectorate has criticised schools of the Haredi (sometimes spelt “Charedi”) group for refusing to include the concept of gay relationships in lessons.
Joseph Stauber, headmaster of Talmud Torah Yetev Lev, a boys’ primary that is registered, told the board that “our children” should not be taught things that were “against our religion”. “That’s why,” he said, “we keep on hiding.”
The ultra-Orthodox Haredis established themselves in north Hackney in the late 1800s, determined to follow a strict interpretation of Judaism. They number at least 20,000 and families are large. The preference is for boys to be taught in Yiddish at religious schools rather than in English at secondaries.
Muslim educators in London will be carefully reading the findings of the board when it reports. If there is any suggestion of Jewish faith schools being released from educational obligations, madrassas will reasonably enough claim the same.
Hackney councillor Abraham Jacobson responded: “Jewish schools generally speaking follow the national curriculum.
“The problems arise when it is in direct conflict of Judaism. Haredi Jewish children… are educated in school and are not taught about sexual matters.
“The meeting was about unregistered schools for boys aged between 13 and 15.
“The conflict has arisen due to the fact that some boys are formally taught only Jewish studies from age 13 to 15. Later they receive formal training and education…
“While the number of GCSEs passed may be a good box-ticking exercise, one should also focus on social achievement [in areas such as] crime, gangs, drugs, drunkeness, unplanned births, children born to a single mother, broken homes and citizenship.”
The Haredi were light years ahead of the general population on the above. Jacobson added: “Perhaps others should follow the Haredi system of education.”
David Altheer 110117
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