Jewish State Senator Holds Budget Hostage Over Exemption For Yeshivas

    As Albany scrambles to pass a New York State budget before the holiday, one State Senator is using his unusual influence to demand that religious yeshivas be exempt from state education standards.

    The Daily News reported Friday that the demand by Senator Simcha Felder, who is key to the Republican’s control of the chamber, could derail the entire budget.

    Felder, who is Orthodox, is demanding that yeshivas not be subject to the state-mandated standards for secular education to which all public and non-public schools are held. The activist group Yaffed has agitated for enforcement of the standards at Hasidic boys yeshivas in Brooklyn, some which it alleges fail to provide sufficient secular education to their students. At Yaffed’s urging, New York City’s Department of Education has pursued an investigation of the yeshivas.

    Felder’s power play has drawn condemnation from across the state. In Newsday, the editorial board called his demand “outrageous.” “It’s enough to blow everything up,” one unnamed source told the Daily News.

    “If anything, we should be fighting in the other direction,” Naftuli Moster, Yaffed’s leader, told the Daily News. “These yeshivas are getting millions of dollars of public money.

    Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis.

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    Jewish State Senator Holds Budget Hostage Over Exemption For Yeshivas

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