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Protecting Our Children

One wouldn’t know it by reading your news story about employee fingerprinting and background checks in yeshivos (“Leiby Kletzky Killing Renews Call for Oversight of Yeshivas,” August 5), but it is a fact that the two main national organizations representing the yeshiva movement – Torah Umesorah and Agudath Israel of America — have strongly urged yeshivas to perform background checks of prospective employees.

Torah Umesorah’s guidelines on child abuse, issued in 2007, include the following directive to yeshivas and day schools across the country: “In light of disturbing findings that individuals convicted of child molestation and abuse have been discovered working in numerous institutions that service children, it is essential that all yeshivas conduct thorough investigations into the background of each prospective employee, whether he be a rabbi, secular studies teacher, bus driver or janitor… In addition, each yeshiva is encouraged to conduct a criminal record search on prospective employees.”

In February 2009, shortly after the New York State Education Department instituted a process through which nonpublic schools across the state could voluntarily access fingerprint supported background checks for prospective employees, Agudath Israel sent all New York yeshivas a memo urging them to participate in the state fingerprinting program, and providing them with detailed information about how to go about doing so. Agudath Israel renewed this call as recently as June of this year.

Rabbi David Zwiebel

Executive Vice President

Agudath Israel of America

New York

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