Friday, November 07, 2008

Agudah To Require Fingerprinting

Remember this? Apparently, discussion does have an effect (Jewish Star via VIN):
New York - Originally reported in the Jewish Star, Agudath Israel of America has officially changed its position and now is prepared to actively support mandatory finger-printing and background checks for teachers in yeshivos. Though they did specify that they would like to see how a voluntary bill is enacted before actually supporting the bill. The change follows a wave of publicity orchestrated by Jewish media—newspapers, bloggers, and radio commentators-- that has drawn attention to sex abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community.

Speaking to VIN News, Rabbi Dovid Zwiebel, Agudah's Executive Vice President of Government Affairs explained that when the initial she'ailah was posed to the Rabbinical leaders, Agudah was authorized to support the bill for voluntary fingerprinting but to wait until "the yeshivos that voluntarily opt into the system had some experience with [it]" before either opposing or supporting the mandatory bill.

However, in light of the recent publicity to the issue, Agudah felt that it was in its best interest to support the mandatory bill, in Zweibel's words, in order "avoid the libelous misconception out there in certain parts of the world that we oppose background checks on the people hired by our Yeshivos."

Zwiebel also added that prior to this Agudah sent out mailings to all yeshivos and affiliated day schools across America urging them to do appropriate background checks when they hire their employees.

This is a great step forward, and kudos to the Agudah for taking it.