“Canada is burning” over regulation of Haredi education, warn Yiddish posters

The country’s enforcement of education standards is seen as a warning sign for US Haredi Jews

Ad in Haredi circular

Jun 30, 2023 3:35 PM


“New York is smoking while Canada is burning” reads a message that can be found throughout Haredi neighborhoods in the state. The concern is not for wildfires in the country’s forests, but for the regulation of Haredi education in one of its provinces.

The Quebec government has increased the enforcement of education standards for non-public schools in recent years, leaving the Haredi community in what posters and advertisements call a “battle for survival.” The posters instruct people from Canada, the U.S., and England to donate funds to an organization over the phone, ostensibly to lead a fight against Quebecois education regulation, in an effort to preserve the “pure and holy Torah.”

It is unclear what recent events prompted the advertising campaign, which drew the attention of non-Haredi New Yorkers. They are published by a group calling itself Hamshochos Hadoros, a Hebrew phrase meaning “the continuity of the generations.” The organization does not appear to maintain a website, and Shtetl could not find any registration of the organization as a nonprofit in the US or Canada; the ads assert it is a newly-created organization.That the ads are running in New York is presumably meant to play off of concerns in the local Haredi community about education enforcement there, amid news investigations in recent years and an impending report on the state of Haredi education in the city.

“It is not possible to cooperate with the government because giving in to their demands means turning chas v’sholom [“God forbid”] our children into goyim [“non-Jews”],” one ad reads.

The back-and-forth between the 10,000-member Montreal Haredi community and the Quebec government on education issues goes back almost a decade. After a 2014 investigation found that 280 out of 320 boys in the Hasidic education system who were examined were “developmentally compromised,” with some unable to read a menu or count change, authorities stepped up their involvement and “raided” schools, in the words of the Montreal Gazette, with police and social workers, “to investigate allegations of educational neglect.” Following on those efforts, legislators introduced fines for schools operating without the Education Ministry’s knowledge or approval in 2017. At the same time, some Haredi families registered their children as homeschooled, while maintaining enrollment in non-registered schools; statistics showed that Haredi families in Montreal increased their registrations for home schooling threefold in two years. The government then responded in turn, requiring homeschooled students learn an expanded range of subjects in the same year as their peers, as well as write ministry exams, beginning in 2019.

The advertisements detail the group’s concerns about education regulation. One rails against what the ad says is a government requirement that each child between the ages 6 and 16 meet “face-to-face '' with government inspectors at least once a year to ensure “that he in fact receives a goyish [non-Jewish] education.” The ad asserts that police and child protective services have enforced the law “tooth and nail.”

The ad characterizes Quebec’s education policy as singularly rigorous. “It’s the only government in the global liberal education fight which enforces with a strong arm the education decree on each person for the last three years.”

Different versions of the poster carry headlines like, “Canada is the Front Runner in the Global Liberal Education Battle!” and “Whose Kid is This, the Government’s or the Parents’?”

Calls to Hamshochos Hadoros had not been returned at press time.