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November 29, 2015 / 17 Kislev, 5776
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JPress Forum: Metzitzah B’peh, Vouchers, Weiner Charms the Crowd

There are not many issues the Democratic mayoral hopefuls agree on, especially when they are seated at one table.

All the Democratic candidates oppose school vouchers.

All the Democratic candidates oppose school vouchers.

Appearing for the first time with all of his Democratic rivals on stage, Anthony Weiner sought to stand out, for the second time in a row, ahead of his competitors. At a Jewish Press mayoral forum in Manhattan Beach, Mr. Weiner claimed to be the first to oppose Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s regulation on the traditional practice of Metzitzah B’peh.

“I first spoke about Metzitzah B’peh when I ran in 2005,” Mr. Weiner said at the first forum on issues relating to the Orthodox Jewish community. “I was trying to get anyone possible to talk about it in the context of that campaign because, you know, this didn’t start last week,” he said. ”This has been going on for years now, that this battle has been going on, and for me it comes down to my values as someone who believes in the ethos of New York.”

Adding, “Part of that ethos of New York is we all come from different places, we bring different cultures, we bring different ideas, and we are never too far from our mother country. We try to bring those traditions here and that’s very, very important and part of the fundamental structure of the frum community.”

Mr. Weiner was quoted in the Jewish Forward during his first run for mayor, in 2005: “It is not the place of the Department of Health to be deciding on a religious practice. I am troubled, based on the facts of this case, about whether or not the city has overreached here.”

In comparison to Mr. Weiner walking around the issue, the remaining candidates directly addressed the issue at great concern to the frum community. Sal Albanese and Bill de Blasio promised to review the issue and discuss the matter with the rabbis and community leaders in order to find common ground. Speaker Christine Quinn defended the consent form requirement as a balance between religious freedom and public health concerns. John Liu and Rev. Erick Salgado were the only candidates to pledge to discontinue the city’s anti-Metztitzah B’peh regulations.

There are not many issues the Democratic mayoral hopefuls agree on, especially when they are seated at one table. However, on the one issue that is of great concern to the Jewish community, amid the high cost of tuition and transportation, all of the candidates held hands together in opposing school choice vouchers or tax credit relief.

At The Jewish Press forum in Manhattan Beach Wednesday evening, none of the viable candidates seeking to succeed Mayor Bloomberg expressed their support for some kind of relief to struggling parents who are not willing to enroll in the public school system.

In a previous conversation with this reporter, Republican mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota promised to fight hard for school choice vouchers if elected. “The mayor can use the bully pulpit to advocate in Albany for private schools,” he said. “It’s important that our children are properly educated. The role of the government and the role of the state is making sure they have the proper textbooks, making sure they are secure and making sure that they have transportation. The children that go to parochial schools and yeshivas are residents and the children of taxpayers in the city of New York, and they are not getting their fair share,” he asserted.

“On the issue of tax credits, I have been in favor of that. I have yet to find a way that it would cover the full tuition, but some form of a tax credit, to give relief to parents who pay for property tax as well and all the other taxes in New York, and are also paying tuition,” Mr. Lhota proclaimed.

About the Author: Jacob Kornbluh is described as an up and coming Orthodox Jewish Blogger, writing about Local, national and Israeli politics, and a freelance reporter for various publications. Kornbluh's work has been featured in Haaretz, the NY Times, local blogs, and on local Jewish Radio, Kornbluh also covers the NYC 2013 mayoral race in general and a focus on the Jewish vote in particular at: http://nymayor.blogspot.com. Follow Jacob on Twitter @jacobkornbluh and his daily blog: jacobkornbluh.com

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