Copyright 1997 Bergen Record Corp. The Record (Bergen
August 13, 1997; WEDNESDAY; ALL EDITIONS
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. A04
HEADLINE: HASIDIC FACTION BLASTS
PATAKI ; 400 RALLY TO OPPOSE STATE-FUNDED SCHOOL
SOURCE: Wire services
KATHLEEN SAMPEY, The Associated Press
BODY: Some 400 members of a
dissident sect of Orthodox Jews gathered Tuesday outside Gov. George
Pataki's Manhattan offices to protest a law setting up a
state-funded school district for disabled children from the Hasidic
community of Kiryas Joel in Orange County.
The dissident group says it opposes the creation of the public school district for religious reasons. State and federal courts have struck down earlier legislation because it violated the separation
of church and state.
Both the mayor and
the religious leader of Kiryas Joel asked Pataki to let the school district become public.
Chanting in Yiddish and carrying signs that read,"Jews Resist Secularization," and"Faith and Torah is Not for Sale,"the group huddled behind police barricades at the midtown office.
"It's a disgrace to God. It's a disgrace to our religion,"said Joseph Waldman, a protest organizer who is also a candidate for the county legislature."There are thousands in the Hasidic community who are against this. The governor stabbed us in the back."
The school was established 10 years ago and has been trying to secure state funding ever since. Community leaders say
handicapped children now have no access to the rigorous
religious education required of observant Jews.
Pataki on Monday signed a bill into law creating the Kiryas Joel Union Free School District to accommodate
disabled Hasidic children. The bill frees up state funds for
facilities and teachers.
"Governor Pataki signed this
because he believes it's in the best interest of
schoolchildren,"said gubernatorial spokesman Michael McKeon.
Kiryas Joel is largely composed of
Orthodox Jews from the Satmar sect. Waldman and others have formed a
dissident faction to Kiryas Joel Mayor Abraham
Wieder and the community's Grand Rabbi, Moses Teitelbaum.
Over the years, there have been charges of fraud and reports of violent clashes between the two groups. Wieder, a staunch supporter of
the school's new status, says the 200 or so handicapped
children in the community attend Satmar parochial schools for a part
of the day and are therefore not deprived of a religious
In a statement, Wieder praised the governor
and state legislature for their"strength and sensitivity."
He declined to comment on Waldman's remarks.
The law creating the district was struck down twice, by
the state's highest court earlier this year and by the U.S. Supreme
Court in 1989, on grounds that it violated constitutional guarantees
of separation of church and state.
governor expects no more court challenges, McKeon said. The new law"should correct those issues"raised in lawsuits, he added.
GRAPHIC: PHOTO -
ASSOCIATED PRESS - Hasidic demonstrators at Gov. George Pataki's Manhattan
offices Tuesday protesting his signing of legislation aimed at allowing Orthodox
Jews in the village of Kiryas Joel the power to establish a
special education district. Although some residents of the Orange County enclave
want the district, others do not.