Civility In Cedarhurst

Dear Editor,

I was at the Cedarhurst protest tonight and wanted to mention one thing that troubled me a lot—the behavior of some people on our side of the line definitely veered into chillul Hashem territory. We have to be better, for the sake of Israel and how the world views us, we absolutely must control ourselves. Tensions are high, people are angry, and like any human they will make mistakes. But the world is watching and waiting for us to slip up….

Case in point, one twitter “journalist” filmed a bunch of our people holding up their middle fingers and cursing out Neturei Karta members when they appeared. I understand the sentiment, but it’s an absolutely terrible look for our community.

Separately, I had to ask several teenagers holding a megaphone to stop yelling childish insults into it at the Palestinian side (e.g., “you’re ugly”) while waving Israeli flags. They all complied immediately and understood when I explained why they should stop. But then an adult behind them just picked up the chant and started yelling it.

The eyes of the world are on us, and we are held to a higher standard fairly or unfairly, and must adhere to it, or we just set our own cause further back and resemble their caricature view of us. Little mistakes are blown way out of proportion and will hurt support for Israel and the Jewish cause in the world.

One of the most memorable lessons for me growing up was learning that the Jews did not publicly celebrate the Egyptians’ deaths at the Yam Suf, because Egyptians were created by Hashem too. I see no difference with publicly celebrating the deaths of our current enemies or behaving as if a conflict that has resulted in the death of thousands on both sides is a sporting event. I wish there was a way to encourage our community to stand tall, together, and be stoic. We do what we must and refuse to back down, because we sadly have no other choice, but we fully understand the gravity of our actions and the price we pay in human life in doing so, and don’t take that lightly.

Am Yisroel chai!

Avi M


Where Do The B Average Students Belong?

Dear Editor,

Once upon a time in a faraway place (OK, Long Island 20 years ago) yeshivas wanted kids. They wanted the Jewish children out of public schools and did everything they could to encourage families to send to yeshiva instead. Somewhere between then and now most yeshivas got pretty crowded (or shut down) and if they are still standing, decided they needed to become a prep style school for “the best of the best.” They even charge prep school tuition, and the only thing missing is the level of education or resources a prep school would provide.

It’s so great that there’s so many children who want to go to yeshiva that the schools can afford to be picky and to choose which students they deem are good enough to enter their institution. I know running a school isn’t easy, and of course the smarter and more advanced your children are the easier you can assume they will be to teach, and the more parents will be willing to pay to send their children to your school. The exception is if it’s a “special needs program” and you’re only taking kids with special needs and that’s your audience. You can charge anything you want ($100K+ per child, per year) and no one is supposed to bat an eyelash—just “sue your district for it” they say, like that’s easy or affordable for everyone to do.

So what about those kids who are not the top of their class and the best students naturally? Who don’t have straight As but also aren’t necessarily special ed either? Where do those children who try their best but still don’t have a great GPA deserve to go to school? Should they be sent to public school because they’re not perfect on paper?

Some parents are lucky enough or informed enough to know to select the “correct nursery school” that is a feeder school for the next stage. Hopefully your B grade child will be able to stay under the radar and just continue all the way until high school in that institution. After all, not getting perfect grades isn’t a reason to kick children out of school, right? Well, there are plenty of high schools that don’t take their own elementary students anymore either.

But what about those kids whose parents made the wrong decision about their elementary or preschool and either switched or didn’t send to a place that has middle and/or high school? Which unlucky school is supposed to be pressured into taking those children with imperfect grades? What are parents supposed to do? Calls are made by the family, the family rabbi, the school rabbi… and all you still see our closed doors. Schools in our neighborhood do not care if the child will end up in public school; they just don’t want the students to be their problem. What then? Well, besides writing a letter like this I just want parents in the same situation as me to know that they’re not the only one. I know there are still many kids who are not accepted to any local high schools for September. Schools put you off and tell you they will get back to you, they waitlist you, or reject you with no explanation.

We’re supposed to pretend like money doesn’t matter either. It’s a surprise that even after you accept a place in a school, you then get to give a violating amount of information over to the school and beg for scholarship, which you may or may not receive, and probably won’t know until right before the school year starts. Then it’s too late to find another school and very hard for many families to cope. They go on Tomchei Shabbos, they take home equity loans to afford it, going to crippling debt on credit cards with high interest… and the sad part is they are supposed to feel grateful that their child has a slot in high school. The tuition committees do not all take into account if you’re helping a child pay for college, even though they of course encourage your child to go to college. They say that there are alternatives to finding funding for college tuition, and for most that’s very high interest loans that are the same ones you can take for elementary too. Let’s hope that’s not the next stage that the schools encourage.

Meanwhile, I am wishing strength to all the parents and children whose self-esteem, wallets, and sanity are taking a hit. The kids get the message that they’re not good enough when they get rejected or waitlisted, but your child’s mental health is not the problem of the school that rejects them. The decision makers and school boards hurting us will get the pleasure of justifying these decisions to Hashem one day instead.


Sometimes You Just Have to Do What Is Right

Dear Editor,

I appreciate it is difficult for a president to balance America’s traditional support for Israel with the need to be an “honest broker” in the Middle East. However, given the pro-Hamas opinions of many people in his administration—as well as some Democratic members of Congress—maintaining that balance seems too great a challenge for President Biden.

The most recent evidence is the leak that the U.S. is considering unilaterally recognizing an independent Palestinian state after the war. I’m certainly not arguing against contingency planning for the future, but this leak is a slap in the face to the men and women who are fighting a war against Hamas terrorists. Simultaneously, it effectively encourages Hamas’ bad actions. Why should they release hostages or give an inch if Israel’s most important ally is sending mixed signals.

(Speaking of the hostages, as someone who is old enough to remember the Iran hostage crisis in 1979–1980, I’m shocked at how little we hear about the Americans being held today by Hamas.)

Mollifying the leftists in the Democratic Party is clearly taking its toll. No one in the administration can get these employees to fall in line behind Biden’s stated policies. Senior leaders in Congress like Senator Schumer and Congressman Meeks make impressive statements of support, but I don’t see them standing up to their progressive wing either.

In the end, the buck stops with the President. He needs to stop listening to diplomats who prioritize a reproachment with Iran. Stop listening to Congressmen who are willing to hold Israeli aid hostage to other priorities (Ukraine, Taiwan). Instead, America must do what is right.

Stand firm against the evil of Iran and Hamas. Make sure our friends in Israel have what they need to survive in the face of this evil, lest evil wins and the whole world suffers.

Paul King

Candidate for Congress


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