I am thrilled to see Shulem Deen publicizing the intentional neglect of basic education in the chasidic world and implying there appears to be a still darker (illegal) side (“Chasidic Schools Ensure Ignorance And Poverty,” Opinion, Sept. 18).
During my chasidic years, we were enjoined to send our many children away to yeshivas when they were teens. Although the students were high-school age, many of the Lubavitch yeshivas had obtained college accreditation as offering courses in “philosophy,” “Hebrew language,” etc. Each time my son or daughter entered, we were asked to sign a blank application for a federal student grant and told (by the administrators) that they “would fill it in.” We refused, but we were baal teshuva [returnees to the faith] and college graduates and understood that this [may have constituted] fraud. Most of the other parents trusted, or accepted, the process. Besides, when someone refused, they were charged “full” tuition, which was painfully high.
The writer is author of “Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home.”