The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
One of the burning issues being debated across America is the issue of school tuition vouchers. Many are advocating school choice as a means of allowing parents the opportunity to shop around for the best education for their children. Others, particularly those who send their children to religious day schools, are supporting vouchers as a constitutional means of securing funds for the secular portion of their children's education. That is, they seek the amount allocated by government for the education of all children. To be sure, there is ample room for debate on whether it is good law and whether it is, in any event, good policy.
We believe that the answer is affirmative in both respects. But we surely recognize that some may reasonably differ. So we were dismayed by an article in last week's Forward reporting on remarks delivered by Reform's Union of American Hebrew Congregations President Eric Yoffie at their recent convention. Not only were Yoffie's comments the height of incivility, but they were carried on the Forward's front page.
The article was entitled “Reform's Yoffie: Jewish Support For Vouchers an Embarrassment.” The story jumped to page 7 with the headline, “Yoffie Says Voucher Fans Are 'Shameful.'”
And here is part of what the article said:
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Reform movement's Union of American Hebrew Congregations, told a gathering of 6,000 synagogue leaders that he was 'embarrassed and ashamed' by pro-voucher arguments in the Jewish community….
“The people who engineer voucher proposals are almost always those with no interest in maintaining the public schools and whose real aim is to secure funding for their own schools. We can now add to the list Jewish organizations that have supported vouchers, or remained silent, hoping to secure funding for yeshivas and Jewish day schools,” Rabbi Yoffie said.
Public schools, he added, “were the ladder that we used to climb from poverty to affluence in American life, and how dare they deny it to others.”
Plainly, Yoffie has a problem with full day religious schools per se, a strange position for the head of Reform's rabbinic arm. Indeed, the convention at which he spoke was centered around increasing Jewish learning as a way of stemming the growing lack of Jewish identity among Reform youth and correcting an appalling lack of Jewish tradition. It seems highly incongruous in this context to tout the public schools as the gateway to affluence at the expense of rigorous religious instruction. So much for the transcendence of religious commitment.
We also note that the Orthodox are rather handsomely represented in the professions. But perhaps Yoffie hasn't noticed.
But what is really shocking is Yoffie's language. Is seeking educational dollars commensurate with what is allocated to all students an “embarrassing” enterprise? Is it “shameful” for the Orthodox community to support a correction in a state of affairs in which by undertaking to pay tuition taxpayers forfeit government education funds available to all?
One senses that what Yoffie fears is this: with equity, the financial burdens on members of the Orthodox community will be eased. And he will not abide anything that will make easier the lives of those who every day demonstrate that rigorous, normative religious practice need not mean a diminution in full participation in American life.
In sum, it would have been nice had Yoffie made his point sans the venom. And it seems to us entirely unseemly that the Forward would have so prominently featured his diatribe. Doubtless there is a message therein.
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We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.
During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai
20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse
Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting
She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes
Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times
Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program
“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me
Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.
The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.
The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.
“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”
“Let’s get something straight so we don’t kid each other…[the Iranians] already have paved a path to a bomb’s worth of material,” said Mr. Biden. “Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal.”
The president is unwilling to cede any of what he considers his exclusive powers in the area of foreign policy and has struggled mightily to keep the Senate away from any role in the kind of deal to be negotiated.
A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.
More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.
For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.
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