THE CURIOUS CASE OF KIRYAS JOEL:
The Rise of a Village Theocracy and the Battle
to Defend the Separation of Church and State
Monday, October 31, 1:30 p.m.
Twenty years ago, in the middle of the night, the NYS Legislature created a publicly funded school district for Satmar Hasidim in a village called Kryas Joel in update New York. Marking the first time in American history that a public school district was established for a religious group, the Legislature’s action eventually led to a landmark Supreme Court case, which still stands today as the most important legal precedent in the fight to uphold separation of church and state. At the time, Louis Grumet, Director of NYS School Boards Association, became the plaintiff in this landmark case. In his new book, Grumet opens a window into the Satmar Hasidic community, where language, customs, and dress have let to clashes with neighboring communities. Grumet details the inside story of his fight for the First Amendment and the fascinating ongoing debate over freedom of—vs. freedom from—religion.
Photo credit Megan Groppe