Yonanan Lowen, 37, a graduate of the Hassidic school system in the Jewish community of Boisbriand, north of Montreal, says he can’t read or write in French, can barely comprehend English texts and unable to follow the most basic tasks required of elementary school students, the Toronto Star reports.
Lowen has four children.
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Lowen has denounced Quebec’s education ministry, his local school board, the province’s director of youth protection and the two schools he attended, demanding $1.25 million in compensation.
He argues that he has been deprived of his right to an education under Quebec’s charter of rights and the province’s education law, due to the combined neglect of all the above institutions.
“I feel like a child of six years old, alone in the world, who doesn’t have parents, who doesn’t have somebody to take care of him. A child is helpless. He can do nothing by himself and this is how I feel, ” Lowen told the Star. If his demands are not met by December 15, he says will sue.
Right now, Lowen ekes out a living teaching Aramaic part time to secular adult Jews at a night school in Montreal. He also receives welfare.
Lowen’s statement that his Haredi yeshiva curriculum did not include subjects like French, English and mathematics, the study of which was actually discouraged because it would interfere with religious studies, fits with the worst popular view of what goes on inside those yeshiva walls.
“The perspective is that even someone who is blank and hasn’t learned anything, his soul is more pure than a boy that has learned the ABCs, ” Lowen told the Star.
According to the Star, a ministerial committee has been attempting to devise ways of dealing with Quebec’s uncertified Jewish schools. The committee reached a negotiated settlement earlier this month permitting Yeshiva Toras Moshe in Montreal to focus strictly on religious material, leaving parents to homeschool their children in secular subjects.
Critics have questioned the ability of Haredi parents to teach the secular curriculum adequately.
In 2006, the education ministry wanted to force the closure of Yeshiva Toras Moshe, established in 1952. The yeshiva does not receive any public funding. But their application was rejected, because the judge could saw no reason to impose emergency steps after a half-century of official neglect.