Q:What was the purpose of the kinus?
A:The purpose was Asei l’maan tinokos shel beis rabban. No more and no less. We’re in a matzav where we aren’t at all positive about what the future holds for chinuch haTorah in England. The rabbanim felt that making a kinus was the best way to deal with this problem. It wasn’t a demonstration or a show of force; it was just to have tefillas harabbim that the gezeirah should be nisbateil.
Q:So this was simply a tefillah directed to Hakadosh Baruch Hu.
A:That’s right. It was a tefillah mainly for and by the children, but it was also accompanied by as many adults as there were children. We estimate there were 7,000 people, and that is in a kehillah our size. I don’t think there has ever been such a gathering of so many Yidden in London since it became a town.
Q:I’m assuming that since it was done so publicly in the city streets, it was also done to send a message to the government. Or is that not at all the case?
A:That wasn’t the reason at all. However, when I spoke with officials in the Department of Education afterward, one of the officials said, “We are aware, we have seen pictures, and it has made an impact.” It was in the local papers and the Jewish newspapers, but it didn’t make it to the television and that wasn’t the reason for it at all. It was meant to be internal rather than external.
Q:Was there a message for acheinu Bnei Yisrael, or at least those who reside in the UK, or was that also not something you were looking for?
A:There was a message. People outside the chareidi community are not yet aware of the pain that the chareidi tzibbur is going through, and I think they’re slowly starting to become aware of it. People don’t understand how important chinuch is to the community. In other communities, if the government makes a ruling they will find ways of compromising, but we don’t have the leeway to compromise within Yahadus. These are areas where we can’t give in. If we will have to choose between obeying the law of the land and listening to the Ribbono Shel Olam, we will listen to the Ribbono Shel Olam.
Other groups don’t have the Torah hakedoshah, which means they have the ability to compromise sometimes. We can’t compromise on our Torah.
Q:There are some natural allies to such a need—the other people of faith who reside in the UK.
A:As I’m sure you know, an organization called Chinuch UK has recently been formed, and we’re looking at formulating our strategy. In the next week there will be a big meeting at which we will receive direction and daas Torah from the Torah leaders of the UK chareidi community.
Q:Are you also reaching out to the gedolim of Eretz Yisrael?
A:Everyone is being mazkir this challenge by all the gedolei Yisrael, but at the moment I’m not aware of any tefillos being organized outside the UK. That’s something we’ll have to consider in the future.