First town hall of the year discusses Brooklyn’s Hasidic schools

NYHS held its first town hall meeting on Thursday, September 29th on the topic of Brooklyn’s Hasidic schools.

Town Hall is a forum for the school community to engage in civil discourse where every member is on the same level. It was led by 11th graders Josh Benezra and Hannah Klinghoffer. 

This topic was chosen by the agenda committee because it was “A relevant training topic.” Said Benezra. According to a New York Times investigation in September, the yeshivas fail to provide students with life skills and basic subjects like math, and, as a result, neglect their responsibilities. 

This sparked a discussion over whether such a thing was the fault of the school or the parents. Many students felt that it was the parents’ fault for putting their children in such a school. “It shouldn’t just be the parents’ decision, so there should be some boundary making sure the kids aren’t just listening to parents and they should also get the option to choose their life,” said Merav Frank, a 12th grader.

Several students disagreed with Frank. “Is it really all the parents’ fault?” asked Becca Benezra, an 11th grader. She argued that “this is the only school for these kids in the area and as a result parents do not have a wide range of schools to choose from.” Multiple students asked why the government permitted such things to occur, even for private schools.

Yehonatan Rothstein, in 12th grade, suggested that potentially the reason is because “almost 90 percent of the community votes and politicians will go to these schools and speak highly of them to gain their favor.” Students and teachers moved past this comment quickly. The discussion took a turn when Mr. Kaplan, who teaches English, brought up the idea of what is considered useful life skills and what is not. “Those of us who are learning about the digestive system, how is that going to help you in the future?” he asked. This topic carried out a debate on what essentially is acceptable in our modern world and what is not. Overall, students agreed that it is a parent’s obligation to prepare their children for the real world so they can have successful careers and prosper while teachers are only doing what their jobs ask of them.

Numerous students were unhappy with the town hall’s subject. Students had been eager to talk about the new phone policy at NYHS and were saddened to find out they would be unable to. “I wish we would have talked about something that related to us more,” said Gabriella Hassan, a 9th grader. “It was nice but I wish it was a topic about NYHS.” 

Other students, such as Elizabeth Gabby, in 9th grade, enjoyed it. “I was impressed by it, I thought the discussion evolved well and that later comments were clearly influenced by the former, even without personally participating I felt that it was relatively engaging,” she said. Teachers like Ms. Park and Mr. Legel were essentially glad about not speaking about the new phone policy. “I’m not sure our community is ready for this discussion because we are still adjusting to the new policy,” said Park. “I do think there will be a time for it, just not until later.” “It’s important to model what town hall looks like to the new students and staff. Now that we all have seen town hall I think we can dive into deeper discussions,” said Legel.