Speak up!

'The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity'W.B. Yeats Most of my readers will be aware of the article I recently wrote in the Jewish Chronicle. I don’t need to elaborate any more on what I said there, even though the Chronicle, in its wisdom, declined to run some of…

Enough is enough

Last Monday I appeared on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme to discuss allegations of Charedi schools pressuring parents to take up their legal right to opt out of sex education lessons. I argued that there was no evidence that either Yesodey Hatorah or Lubavitch were pressurising parents and that they were merely doing their duty…

No True Charedi

Many readers of this blog will be aware of my participation in a debate carried out in the pages of the Jewish Chronicle concerning the ongoing standoff between Charedi schools and the Department for Education on the topic of compliance with the Equality Act 2010 . I was moved to write my articles above all…

Improving schools: courage, not cash

Ten years ago, secular education in the typical Chassidic boys school (cheder) in Stamford Hill looked very much like it was: a joke. Textbooks were outdated and motheaten, curriculums and syllabuses were non-existent, and the words ‘lesson plan’ were never so much as uttered. Six years ago, however, the authorities in England reversed their decades-old…

Social Media: the freedom to forbid

The most immediately obvious characteristics of Charedi society, both to those observing from the outside and to those of us living within it, are the restrictions it places upon its members. These restrictions envelop every hour of our life: from the clothes that we wear, to the food that we eat, to spending two hours…

Chol and the ‘Dignity Gap’

The vast majority of Charedim want their sons to be educated at least to the level where they can read and write fluently in English. It’s true that there’s a committed minority who would, if they could, abolish secular education (Chol) altogether, but there’s an equally dedicated minority who are passionate about giving young Charedi…

An Introduction

Charedi Judaism came into being as an ideological movement, a union of Chassidim and Misnagdim who agreed to put aside their differences and unite around their shared beliefs. The ideological commitments that underpinned this movement were, for the most part, negative: opposition to Haskalah, opposition to Zionism, opposition to religious reform, and opposition to assimilation.…