Any parent in Bais Yaakov in 1999 will remember the peanut revolution. Overnight, peanuts were no longer allowed in school. Why? Because one child in the school had a deathly peanut allergy. Today, peanut-free schools are commonplace. Back then, it was unheard of. The parents protested: “What are we supposed to send in our kids’ lunches?” they asked.
But Rabbi Mendel Freedman, z”l, the principal of Bais Yaakov Elementary School from 1979 until 2015, stayed firm. “It’s pikuach nefesh,” he said, “and every child needs to be able to learn in a safe environment.” He had consulted with several rabbanim and wasn’t afraid to stand behind the new policy. To the teachers in the school, he said, “If it were my own child, I would do the same thing.”